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Archive for the ‘RIOTS UPRISINGS’ Category

Finally, the Libyan revolution ended the way it was supposed to.

“A few quick victories, some conspicuous acts of personal bravery on the Patriot side and a colorful entry into the capital,” as Evelyn Waugh would have put it. That was the Western policy for the war—except that the war went on longer than it was meant to, and it might not be over yet, either. On Monday, the rebels reached Green Square and declared victory. On Tuesday, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the regime’s dauphin, was driving around Tripoli in an armored convoy, declaring that the rebels had been drawn into a clever trap.

But then, that’s the problem with wars and revolutions: They have a way of diverging from the policy and confounding the planners. They continue even when they are supposed to be all but over. They spill into other areas and lead to new conflicts. Even wars that end with solemn surrender ceremonies and elaborate peace treaties sometimes have unexpected afterlives. World War I begat World War II, World War II begat the Cold War, the Cold War begat the Korean War, and so on.

The Libyan revolution needn’t end in civil war. At the same time, there is no guarantee that it won’t. Either way, our ability to influence the course of events is limited. We can aid the rebels, as we have been doing all along: In fact, they’ve quietly received not only NATO air support but also French and British military training, as well as weapons and advice from elsewhere in Europe and the Gulf, most notably from Qatar. But we can’t fight their war for them, we can’t unify them by force, and we can’t write their new constitution. On the contrary, if we make ourselves too visible in Libya, either with troops on the ground or too many advisers in dark glasses, we will instantly become another enemy. If we try to create their government for them, we risk making it instantly unpopular.

What we should do instead—to use a much-mocked phrase—is bravely, proudly, and forthrightly “lead from behind.” When the NATO engagement started, I argued that Obama’s best weapon was silence—no false promises, no soaring rhetoric, no threats. Keep this their war, not ours. The result: The rebels who marched into Tripoli and waved at Al-Jazeera’s TV cameras looked like a Libyan force, not a Western one—because they were. Those pictures of them stomping on Qaddafi’s photograph looked a lot more authentic, and will play better in Libya and across the Arab world, than the pictures of Marines pulling down a statue of Saddam Hussein in 2003, his head draped with an American flag.

There was a price to pay for our silence. The absence of visible American leadership—indeed, the absence of any Western leadership—might have worked brilliantly for the Libyans, but it has been a disaster for the NATO alliance. Not by accident did the U.S. defense secretary, Robert Gates, lash out at NATO’s European members at the height of this conflict: After only a month of forays, the alliance’s weaknesses were on full display, as never before. European armies that joined the conflict ran out of arms and ammunition; most of those that stayed out didn’t have arms and ammunition to lend them. The two most prominent interventionists, the French president and the British prime minister, hardly spoke about Libya at all. There was no public support for the intervention in the West because it had so few public advocates in the West. That’s not a good sign for the future. But then, that’s our problem, not Libya’s.

Fortunately for us, leading from behind in Libya is not merely the only option, it’s certainly still the best option. This was their revolution, not ours. Now it’s poised to become their transition, not ours. We can help and advise. We can point to the experience of others—in Iraq, Chile, Poland—who have also attempted the transition from dictatorship to democracy and who can offer lessons in what to do and what to avoid. We can keep expectations low and promises minimal. After all, we have a lot to learn about the Libyan rebels, their tribal divisions, their politics, and their economics. And we have a lot of ammunition to replace back home.

GADDAFI FINISHED IN LIBYA UPRISING AGAINST THE TYRANT

Remnants of forces still loyal to Gaddafi have staged a desperate stand in Tripoli as rebels fought their way into the capital, but the whereabouts of the veteran leader was a mystery.

World leaders urged Gaddafi, 69, to surrender to prevent more bloodshed and appealed for an orderly transition of power, as the six-month-old battle for control of the oil-producing North African nation appeared to enter its final stages.

Rebels say they are now in control of most of Tripoli, a sprawling coastal city of two million people on the Mediterranean Sea, but it was not clear whether Gaddafi was still in the Libyan capital.

Rebels swept into Tripoli two days ago in tandem with an uprising within the city. Reuters reporters saw firefights and clashes with heavy weapons, including anti-aircraft guns, as rebels tried to flush out snipers and pockets of resistance.

Hundreds seem to have been killed or wounded since Saturday. But Gaddafi tanks and sharpshooters appeared to hold only small areas, mainly around Gaddafi’s heavily fortified Bab al-Aziziyah compound in central Tripoli.

Civilians, who had mobbed the streets on Sunday to cheer the end of dictatorship, stayed indoors as machinegun fire and explosions punctuated some of the heaviest fighting of the Arab Spring uprisings that have been reshaping the Middle East.

U.S. President Barack Obama, saying the conflict was not over yet, cautioned rebels against exacting revenge for Gaddafi’s brutal rule. “True justice will not come from reprisals and violence,” he said.

The president also made plain that the United States would oppose any group within the loose coalition of rebels from imposing its power over other parts of Libyan society.

“Above all we will call for an inclusive transition that leads to a democratic Libya,” Obama said.

In an audio broadcast on Sunday before state TV went off the air, Gaddafi said he would stay in Tripoli “until the end”. There has been speculation, however, he might seek refuge in his home region around Sirte, or abroad.

In a sign Gaddafi allies were still determined to fight, NATO said government forces fired three Scud-type missiles from the area of Sirte towards the rebel-held city of Misrata.

Bab al-Aziziyah, a huge complex where some believe Gaddafi might be hiding, was the focal point of fighting in Tripoli.

NATO warplanes bombed the compound in the early hours of Tuesday, al-Arabiya television reported citing rebel sources.

“I don’t imagine the Bab al-Aziziyah compound will fall easily and I imagine there will be a fierce fight,” Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, spokesman for the rebel National Transitional Council, said in an interview aired by Al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera television, quoting its correspondent, said violent clashes were also reported near the oil town of Brega.

Rebels said they held three of Gaddafi’s sons, including his heir apparent Seif al-Islam. Al-Jazeera TV said that one of them, Mohammed, had escaped, adding that the body of another son, military commander Khamis, might have been found along with that of powerful intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.

FEARS OF REPRISAL, REVENGE

Western powers are concerned that tribal, ethnic and political divisions among the diverse armed groups opposed to Gaddafi could lead to the kind of blood-letting seen in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

In a move that could ease tensions, a rebel official in the eastern city of Benghazi said, however, that efforts were under way to make contact with authorities hitherto loyal to Gaddafi.

Foreign governments which had hesitated to take sides, among them Gaddafi’s Arab neighbours, Russia and China also made clear his four decades of absolute power were over.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said Libyans claiming to represent Gaddafi were making “more desperate” efforts to negotiate with the United States in the last 24 to 48 hours.

Washington did not take any of them seriously because they did not indicate Gaddafi’s willingness to step down, she added.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who took an early gamble on the rebels and may now reap diplomatic benefits, called on the Gaddafi loyalists “to turn their back on the criminal and cynical blindness of their leader by immediately ceasing fire”.

Late on Monday, Sarkozy spoke to Britain’s David Cameron by telephone about the Libya situation, according to a press release from the French presidential palace.

“They both agreed to pursue efforts in supporting the legitimate Libyan authorities as long as Colonel Gaddafi refuses to surrender arms,” the statement read. Paris has offered to host a summit on Libya soon.

FACEBOOK UK RIOT STIRRER GET JAIL TIME
Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, one of two men jailed for four years over a Facebook post.Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, one of two men jailed for four years over a Facebook post.

Two men who posted messages on Facebook inciting other people to riot in their home towns during the recent English outbreaks of violence have each been sentenced to four years in prison by a judge at Chester Crown Court.

Jordan Blackshaw, 20, set up an “event” called Smash Down in Northwich Town for the night of August 8 on the social networking site but no one apart from the police, who were monitoring the page, turned up at the prearranged meeting point outside a McDonald’s restaurant. Blackshaw was promptly arrested.

Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, of Latchford, Warrington, used his Facebook account in the early hours of August 9 to design a web page entitled The Warrington Riots.

The court was told it caused a wave of panic in the town. When he woke up the following morning with a hangover, he removed the page and apologised, saying it had been a joke. His message was distributed to 400 Facebook contacts, but no rioting broke out as a result.

Sentencing Blackshaw to four years in a young offenders’ institution, Judge Elgan Edwards, QC, said he had committed an “evil act”.

He said: “This happened at a time when collective insanity gripped the nation. Your conduct was quite disgraceful and the title of the message you posted on Facebook chills the blood.

“You sought to take advantage of crime elsewhere and transpose it to the peaceful streets of Northwich. The idea revolted many right thinking members of society. No one actually turned up due to the prompt and efficient actions of police in using modern policing.”

The judge said that Sutcliffe-Keenan “caused a very real panic” and “put a very considerable strain on police resources in Warrington”. He praised Cheshire police for their “modern and clever policy” of infiltrating the website.

The heavy sentences came as defence lawyers and civil rights groups have criticised the “disproportionate” sentences imposed on some convicted rioters as the latest official figures show nearly 1300 suspects have been brought before the courts.

The revelation that magistrates were advised by justices’ clerks to disregard normal sentencing guidelines when dealing with riot-related cases alarmed a number of lawyers who warned it would trigger a spate of appeals.

Also yesterday, a looter was warned he could be jailed for helping himself to an ice-cream cone during disturbances.

Anderson Fernandes, 22, appeared before magistrates in Manchester charged with burglary after he took two scoops of coffee ice-cream and a cone from Patisserie Valerie in the city centre. He gave the cone away because he did not like the flavour.

Fernandes admitted burglary in relation to the ice-cream and an unconnected charge of handling stolen goods after a vacuum cleaner was recovered from his home. District judge Jonathan Taaffe said: “I have a public duty to deal swiftly and harshly with matters of this nature.” Fernandes will be sentenced next week.

In sentencing four other convicted Manchester rioters, a Crown Court judge, Andrew Gilbert, QC, made clear why he was disregarding sentencing guidelines when he said “the offences of the night of 9 August … takes them completely outside the usual context of criminality”.

He added: “The principal purpose is that the courts should show that outbursts of criminal behaviour like this will be and must be met with sentences longer than they would be if the offences had been committed in isolation.”

The Ministry of Justice’s latest estimate, at midday yesterday, shows the courts have dealt with 1277 alleged offenders of whom more than 700 have been remanded in custody. Two-thirds of the cases were in London.

About 21 per cent of those appearing before the courts have been juveniles. The proportion of alleged youth offenders was higher in Nottingham, Birmingham and Manchester.

But Sally Ireland, policy director of the law-reform organisation Justice, said: “The circumstances of public disorder should be treated as an aggravating factor and one would expect that to push up sentences by a degree, but not by as far as some of the cases we have seen.

“Some instances are completely out of all proportion. There will be a flurry of appeals. There’s a question about this advice [from justices’ clerks] and whether it should have been issued at all.”

Rakesh Bhasin, a solicitor partner at the law firm Steel & Shamash, which represents some of those charged following the riots, said some reported sentences seemed to be “disproportionate”.

Paul Mendelle, QC, a former chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “The idea that the rulebook goes out the window strikes me as inherently unjust. It sets all manner of alarm bells ringing. Guidelines are not tramlines. There are guidelines and they take account of aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

“There have been rulings following the Bradford riots and Israeli embassy demonstrations that said which sort of guidelines should be followed. I don’t see why [magistrates] should be told to disregard these.”

Guardian News & Media


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