SecDef: Still ‘no idea’ who Libyan rebels are

SecDef: Still ‘no idea’ who Libyan rebels are

The international intervention in Libya doesn’t make the front pages much anymore, but it’s still on. People in the military are still paying attention, at least: A Marine in the audience at Secretary Gates’ all-hands at Camp Lejeune asked him about it on Thursday in a highly telling exchange, both for what the Marine asked and what Gates answered.

From the transcript:

Q: Good morning, sir. Corporal Edwards from 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion. My question is in regards to the conflict in Libya. I read article in the U.K. newspaper the Telegraph a little over a month ago, and it was an interview with one of the rebel leaders. He explicitly said that some of his fighters had fought with the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. I found this to be somewhat disheartening, since we as a country were supporting the rebels militarily and through public opinion. Who are these rebels in Libya? And how do we know that they won’t be like the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, where we’re supporting them today and then getting blown up by them tomorrow?

GATES: Well, I think that the honest answer to your question is that with the exception of some of the people at the top of the opposition or the rebels in Libya, we don’t know who they are. And I think this is one of the reasons why there has been such reluctance, at least on our part, to provide any kind of lethal assistance to the opposition.

Clearly, after the way that Gadhafi has treated his own people, as the president has said, he needs to go. But I think most of us are pretty cautious when it comes to who — who the opposition is. The truth is, my impression is that it’s extraordinarily diverse. We deal with a handful of people in Benghazi, but we forget about those who led the uprisings in cities all over Libya when this whole thing started. And who are they? And are they genuinely anti-Gadhafi? Are they tribal representatives? Are they — kind of who are they? And we have no idea who those people are, but they were the ones that led the major uprisings in Tripoli and a variety of the other cities.

There are tribal elements to this, and I don’t think we know very much about the tribes that are involved and where their loyalties lie between Gadhafi and between the opposition and so on. So I — and we have seen reports that there are some extremists that are fighting for the opposition. We see information and we hear from the opposition that they’re trying to isolate those people and get them out of the movement because they realize the risks associated with that in terms of international support. But the truth is, I think, frankly, one of the reasons that we have been as cautious as we have in terms of providing other than humanitarian support and some non-lethal assistance to the opposition is because of what we don’t know. And I think we have to keep a wary eye on it in terms of how this thing progresses.

Did you copy that? A young American service member is frustrated that the U.S. and its allies could be helping some of the same people who have attacked or killed Americans in Iraq or Afghanistan — understandably. What’s more, as the Libya intervention approaches its second month, Gates is giving the same answer American officials were giving before it began: ‘We don’t really know who these guys are.’ Still? What about the CIA and British special operators who have been on the ground all this time? What about the Libyan opposition leaders who are visiting the White House today? Seems like there have been plenty of opportunities for the international community to find out much more about the beneficiaries of its assistance.

Does anyone believe, especially after the intelligence and special-ops coup of the bin Laden raid, that Gates and NATO “have no idea” who the rebels are? Here’s a theory: American officials know exactly who the rebels are, which is the actual reason they want to provide only “non-lethal aid.” From a cold-eyed, Eisenhower administration perspective, it could be a good compromise: If the rebels overthrow Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, there’s a bad guy taken care of; the international community can swoop in and make sure the terrorist elements in the rebellion are put in check. If Qaddafi crushes a rebellion riven with al Qaeda fighters or other bad eggs, that takes care of them. Either outcome thins out the world rogue’s gallery. Although Gates was reluctant at first to go along with an intervention, his Langley roots run deep: He may have made the case inside the administration that the U.S. benefits by letting two groups of villains wear each other down for as long as possible, especially since NATO is protecting the innocent Libyans in the western cities like Benghazi.

The question is, how much longer can the government forces and the rebels go on pummeling each other?

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In other words, They are muslim Brotherhood and Al Queda but we cannot say that because it would expose Barry Obama’s true agenda.….

You know you sound ridiculous right? Get a brain and start doing some analytical thinking for yourself.

When USA don’t take opposite leader in the hand, immédiately citizen was unknow people.
Who is karzai? who is soldiers in ANA?…

A horribly short sighted strategy courtesy of Hillary Clinton and Samantha Powers. Who’s watching those handheld missiles that the rebels and their al-Queda friends are getting their hands on? Who’s going to protect additional weapons once Gaddafi’s killed by NATO?

The fall of Baghdad part II.

You know that insulting a person is not an argument, large chunk of the people who are fighting are Islamists, that is fact.

oh nice to see, corporate bloggers are alive and kicking, Losers if you love gaddafi that much go and fight with him,and may i recall gaddafi threatened to “align with al qaeda” if he is ousted.Like the baathist’s did in iraq, loosers! get your short sighted analysis right,al qaeda and gaddafi need to me removed.

*be removed

I am a Libyan-American who loves this great country of ours, the USA. I was born in Libya and still have family there. I am very familiar with Libya and the rebels. I am fortunate to have been able to immigrate and make the USA as my home. My brothers and sisters were not as fortunate. They remained in Libya to live under the tyrannical regime of Gaddafi. Please make no mistake about it; Libyan-Americans like me love our adopted country and support our troops. Our loyalty to this country runs deep. What I am telling here is the truth about the Libyan opposition.
The Libyan opposition is made of all Libyans. The rebels or Libyan opposition is made of students, engineers, doctors, lawyers, shopkeepers, housewives, women, men, old and young. Libya is about 6 million people. The number of extremists is certainly less than 1000. That is less than 0.02%. Yes there is a number of young disfranchised men who ended up in Iraq. These young men were living in a desperate situation under the Gaddafi regime and without hope for decent living. They came under the influence of extremist elements affiliated with Al Qaeda and were recruited and engaged in extremist acts. The overwhelming majority of the Libyan people reject any form of extremism and extremists. Gaddafi regime deliberately and covertly promoted the recruitment of these young men and their travel to Iraq, hopping to get rid of them because they were opposed to him, and also because he was opposed to the Iraq war. Gaddafi was opposed to the removal of Saddam Hussein because he knew that his turn will come sooner or later. Today, the Libyan uprising gave all Libyans, including those who were identified as extremists, hope in living in a free country in peace with the world. All are fighting to liberate Libya from the evil of Gaddafi. The Libyan people are very grateful to the US for helping to rescue them from an imminent massacre by Gaddafi. Please speak to Senator McCain about the hero’s welcome he received when he visited Liberated Libya. Also, please speak to the pilot who crashed in Libya about how was treated by the Libyan rebels.
This is the first time in history that there is an overwhelming support from all Arabs and Muslims for the US intervention in Libya. This is a golden opportunity dispel myth that America is imperialist and all it cares about is Oil. For more than 40 years, the dictators of the Middle East have been oppressing their people by falsely using America as an enemy. Now with America coming to the rescue of the Libyan people, the truth about America is seen. The Oil contracts are already in place. So, it is clear, America’s intervention in Libya is not about Oil. After all, Gaddafi is threatened by the Libyan. He is willing to give anything to anyone to stay in power. America could have chosen to strike a deal with him and turn a blind eye, and let him annihilate the Libyan people under the excuse that he was fighting Al Qaeda like he was trying to convince everyone. No, America decided to the right thing, and act out of basic human values, not to allow a tyrant massacre his own people so he and his kids can stay in power and live in luxury.
America’s intervention in Libya is a true paradigm shift that transformed the view of Arabs and Muslims of America. It presents the greatest opportunity for America to assert its moral authority over the tyrants of the world. This has tremendous implications on our ability to establish peace and stability around the world, and secure our national interests in a peaceful way. China’s and Russia’s influence is minimized. The free people of the Middle East will not be doing business with China and Russia. Now they have very compelling reasons to do business with the free world and not enable the corrupt ways of China and Russia. The Libyan people are very excited about the new opportunities to be America’s friend and business partner.
Please note that before Gaddafi, Libya was an ally of the USA. The US and UK liberated Libya from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in WWII. Most Libyan people are fond of the US. I ended up being an American by choice out my childhood encouragement from my father. He told me many stories about his friendships with Americans.
I ask you to travel to Liberated Libya and see for yourself. I am certain that you will not find extremists, but you will find just human beings who want to live in dignity. I am certain that you will find people who welcome you with open arms because you are Americans.

Obama supports the Islamic Brotherhood again like in Egypt like Jimmy Carter support of the Ayatollah Khomeini back in 78 which it turned out a great disaster. Same for Libya its sad.

Boy are you going to be disappointed when we betray you. Ask the Iraqi shia how they feel.

A very poor article for this conversation to start from, does Phil think that we should only deal with pure hearted pacifists? As long as we know and support the leadership, we know and support the country. Saudi Arabia is hardly a peaceful democracy, and we get along with them pretty well.
Does Corporal Edwards want to demand that we only deal with people who have always loved us? Many countries have been hostile (like Russia) and are now not hostile. People who fought in Afghanistan might have been fighting against some other Afghan faction. At one time Fatah in the West Bank was a terrorist organization, now Israel negotiates with them.
We should enthusiastically support the Libyan western forces and that will give us some leverage when Gadhafi is gone. Other people here can fantasize about a conspiracy but they are clearly not American patriots. If they were, they would give a lifelong patriot like Sec Gates (and Sen McCain) some support.

I’m a bit skeptical after the whole Screwball debacle.

It’s more about who they have ties to. We bombed fighters just like this in Somalia for having such ties.

This is another propaganda pamplet like everything that comes from the rebesl side, so no change there if they get into power. In no other uprising of the Arab spring did the protestors take up arms, what was the state to do, let themselves be shot. Your representatives say you need arms to protect yourselves only then why if that is the case can you not stay where you are and not move to attack other cities and wait for diplomacy to take its course. In this war both sides are shooting bullits and bombs. More civilians are being killed whether from fighting between the sides or at sea trying to escape, and that is when they are not being killed by the rebel forces claiming they are mercenaries or spies! And what will heppen if the rebel forces reach, God forbid, pro Gadaffi cities — more destruction, more summary executons. The rebels should sit down at the table with mediators and accept that if Rome was not built in a day a new Libya can’t be either and an uprising for democracy is worth little if it murders and kills to get there.

Good Evening Folks,

One again I have to agree with Charles Houston and to a large extent with Dr. Alyaser. If you really want to know who these people are just go to FaceBook or one of the other social networks and start looking around. There are thousands of postings.

My on point of perhaps some disagreement with Charles is that I think what is happening the “Arab Spring” if you like goes way beyond any single European drawn political unit (Country). The momentum is building, this is change with in Islam itself. The critical mass seems to women and all Muslims under 30, it is al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood or an sub group.

So far President Obama has played it about right, help when asked but back off, and let Muslims take care of Muslim business. Sec. of State Clinton advice to China this past week to not oppose the Arab Spring. I won’t going into Islamic or Chinese history here, few if any of you have ever studied it or understand but the movement is moving toward the Pacific, China is by the way the largest Muslim country in the world.

For anybody interested in watching this develop I would suggest tune in to the posting of young Palestinian males from Jordan and Gaza. Egypt last week in uniting Hamas and Fatah went a long way is applying pressure to Israel to having to get serious and deal with the Palestinians and a state of their own. Another group to watch are the Kruds.

Byron Skinner

In addition to the Facebook postings that Byron mentioned, please watch this speech and interview by Dr. Mahmud Jibril and interview at the Brookings Institution, “Discussion on the Future of Libya”. (–1/). It will give you a very good idea why America needs to be at forefront in leading the international assistance of the people of the Middle East in their quest for freedom. This is the wrong time for America to step back.

The reality is that we could be making a huge mistake if we judge what is going on today in the Middle East by past events. Again, I stress that we are witnessing a transformation that is led by young people who do not subscribe to the old captivating ideologies and conflicts. They have been freed by Facebook and Twitter. They will not be allowing Al Qeadas or Gaddafis to control their future. I read and write Arabic fluently and I have the opportunity to learn how these young people think. They have no idea about Jeffersonian style democracy, the American Constitution, or even the Libyan constitution of 1951 (, but it is clear that they want to be free and live in a democratic state.

America’s leadership is needed to make sure that these people realize their freedom, because the payoff for will be huge. We will secure strong ties with the new democratic states of the Middle East. It will create an environment where peace between the Palestinians and Israelis is possible. It will help the Iranian people free themselves, force China to accelerate the evolution to democracy, and accelerate the end of the North Korean regime. And the highest payoff will be the expansion of the world market and the recovery of the the American economy.

The historical record shows that violent overthrows conducted by foreign powers egged on by wealthy expats who expect to parachute in after all the killing is over, destroy the country.

If you cant win control of the country yourself then what you are is just another minority group asking to be propped up by an imperial power.

Good Afternoon Folks,

Although much of what Dr. Alyaser says I can agree with I must take issue with his statement that “This is the wrong time for America to step back”. A lot of the problems in the Middle East were created by the Muslim perception that American was only interested in the oil and would support any tyrant that would do business with American oil companies which were personified by the election of two Presidents who are beneficiaries from “Bush Family Trust” which is heavily invested in Middle Eastern Oil..

This Pyratical Capitalism of American capital has made a lasting negative impression on the Islamic world. If the US is to create a new image of itself we must let the “Arab Spring” be all Arab. Egypt so far has shown what can be done if left alone by the US, the Nile Rover Project will bring water and life to much to Sub Sahara Africa, Mubarak resisted this for decades. Egypt’s joining of Hamas and Fatha is a start in the right direction toward a Palestinian State. All of this done by Egypt in only three months and without a government.

The US must step back and let the Islamic world decide its own future. After all This part of the world has bee at tis now for about 5,500 years, who are we with only about 230 years of governmental experience to pass judgement. Past event on provide a point of reference as to what works and what doesn’t and Colonialism and Tyrants don’t work.

Byron Skinner

N. Africa=European Problem (immigration, security, oil, commerce, perception, imperialism, etc.). Europeans Problems=Dumped/Blamed upon Americans while Europeans reap economic benefits.

Thanks doc for the heart thought letter–
I am an American as were my perents and their parents, and I love this country more so for the reason like yours where others from around the world can come and take in what we have to offer and contribute to our nation as well as love our nation like i do. I was ashamed when our troops abuse forigen nationals as well as when our government makes poor choises that effect other countries negativly, and i guess i am that way because i do love this country so much and i want the rest of the world to know that we are a nation of good (for the most part) poeple, and care about others and we will take in people like you , which makes this country a better place . P/S I hope we get rid of tyrant and make libya a better place for your family.

Indonesia is the largest muslim country, by population.

You know that defending a person who sounds crazy makes you sound crazy?


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