Archives For Libyan Civil War

The Libyan Civil War 2011- We investigate, we uncover, fairly and impartially

The terms of a settlement between the UK government and Abdel Hakim Belhaj over his rendition and torture case are due to be revealed today. the treatment of Belhaj and his wife, who were kidnapped in Thailand and flown to Tripoli on a CIA plane in an operation involving former foreign secretary Jack Straw, Sir Mark Allen, the former head of counter-terrorism at MI6, as well as the agency itself and the Foreign Office are shocking and disgraceful. Torture and rendition are unacceptable, however, ethnic cleansing is similarly unacceptable and this article is to draw attention to the collaboration between NATO and Belhaj in the ethnic cleansing of the Tawergha, a dark skinned ethnic group, during the Libyan conflict in August 2011. Continue Reading…

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The Report of the The International Commission of Inquiry on Libya has been issued and provides some interesting reading. Continue Reading…

Guernica by Picasso

According to NATO’s own figures, Sirte has been bombed with 340 “key hits” from 25th August to 16th September. (we have been tracking the official NATO numbers in War: what is it good for – absolutely nothing.)

Continue Reading…

Will US and Qatari war crimes be investigated by the ICC?

As far as the HRI investigation into the cluster bombing of Misrata is concerned the crucial passage in today’s statement seeking arrest warrants for Muammar Abu Minya Gaddafi, Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and the Head of the Intelligence Abdullah Al Sanousi is:

The Office will further investigate allegations of massive rapes, war crimes committed by different parties during the armed conflict that started at the end of February, and attacks against sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries. “There will be no impunity for such crimes in Libya,” said the Prosecutor.

We will see if Luis Moreno-Ocampo has the balls to thoroughly investigate the war crimes committed by coalition forces.

On the issue of the apparent targeting of Africans by the ICC, there is a denial in the Q&A section. This denial doesn’t really hold water. If Libya was guilty of the cluster bombing of Misrata, Gaddafi could be held responsible by the ICC, if Barack Obama or Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani are found to be responsible the ICC will not be able to prosecute them.

The reason for this is the following paragraph which the US insisted on before allowing the referral to the ICC:

6. Decides that nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a State outside the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya established or authorized by the Council, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by the State.

USA and Qatari officials are not subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC unless their States waive their jurisdiction as they are not party to the Rome Statute.

Something seems to have been forgotten here by the American exceptionalists: something even the ancient Romans knew – the goddess Justicia is blind.

Did Qatar bomb Misrata? – the dangers in allying with an Arab dictatorship.

There have been a number of breaks in our ongoing investigation into the cluster bombing of Misrata over the last few days. We now have a lot more information about the disposition of forces on the relevant days (mid-April) and a new line of enquiry has opened up – and that is the involvement of the Qatar Emirates navy and marines.

At this stage HRI cannot release all the information or sources as investigation are ongoing, but we are going to release throw a few facts out there because it is important that journalists and politicians start asking more of the relevant questions.

There is evidence that Qatari naval forces possessed the particular weapons system used to deliver the MAT-120 (the cluster munition found in Misrata).

The evidence that Spain sold Qatar category 4 munitions (bombs) at the relevant time is in the Spanish National Report.

Qatar has refused to sign up to the Convention against Cluster Munitions.

We also have evidence regarding the presence of Qatari military units in the Mediterranean around 14th April.

The knowledge that a Qatari C-17 has been involved in supply of material to the war against Libya is a matter of public record as are some of the movements of this craft.

As Hillary Clinton said when confronted with the information about the use of cluster munitions in Misrata – the situation on the ground in Misrata was complex.

This is a long and complicated investigation and we are following up several lines of investigation.

Update 31 August:

Footage of captured Qatari weapons being smuggled to the Libyan rebels:

 

Instalaza has been claiming 40 million euros, according to Spanish newspaper Cincodias in compensation for damages and lost profits after Spain decided to ban cluster bombs.

The claim was put into the Spanish Executive, but the company refuses to say what the result has been. For their part, according to this newspaper report, the Spanish Defence Ministry denies receiving any such demand.

The newspaper repeats the claims that Instalaza exported to Libya and points out that if this is the case it would have needed the approval of the Directorate General of Armament and Equipment of the Ministry of Defence which was headed in 2007 by the current Chief of Staff of Defense, Air Force General José Julio Rodríguez.

The arms sale would have had to have the approval of the the Interministerial Regulatory Board of Foreign Trade in Defence and Dual-Use.

This Board is chaired by the Secretary of State for Commerce, vice-chaired by the Foreign Minister and has the participation of the general director of Strategic Affairs and Terrorism, the intelligence director of the CNI, the director general of Ordnance, the director of the Customs Revenue Agency, deputy director of the Guardia Civil operation, the Police, the Secretary General of Foreign Trade and the general secretary of the Ministry of Industry. Its decisions are binding on the Ministry of Foreign Trade, which is the body granting export licenses.

If this is the case, it is a scandal and would mean the Spanish National Reports on Arms Exports were written to deceive the Spanish and international public.

The paper claims Instalaza was granted three licenses to export cluster munitions to Libya in 2007 amounting to 3,83 million euros. It seems unlikely that three licenses would be required for this export.

Human Rights Investigations demands:

1) The public release of the full details of the exports of all cluster munitions by Instalaza as these weapons were apparently used in war crimes.
2) A full account by Spain of why their National Reports did not mention the export of cluster munitions to Libya and action to be taken against the officials involved.
3) We repeat our call for every one of the parties to the conflict, including Libya, Qatar, the UAE and the USA to sign up to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

See our article on the cluster bombing of Misrata for a balanced view as to who used cluster munitions in Misrata.

Amnesty International have published a flawed report on human rights violations in Misratah.

Of the MAT-120 the author states “Spain sold these to Libya in 2007.”

Asked for evidence, one of Amnesty’s writers pointed to speculative reports in the Spanish press.

The report is one-sided, with almost no mention, let alone criticism of the rebels or of the military intervention in Libya. There is little historical context and no attempt to understand the nature of the conflict in Libya or to even discuss considering the conflict in terms of a war of aggression.

The only context given to the conflict is in the footnotes, where it is briefly explained that,

As anti-government protests rocked Misratah – Libya’s third largest city – on 19 February, the first protester was killed by forces loyal to Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi. His funeral the following day drew large crowds and, as was happening elsewhere in eastern Libya, most members of the army and security forces left the town (and a small percentage joined the protesters). The (mostly light) weapons left behind by the departing forces were seized by the thuuwar (or revolutionaries, referring to the protesters who took up arms against Colonel al-Gaddafi’s regime) and shortly after, the city declared its allegiance to the Interim Transitional National Council (TNC) based in Benghazi (Libya’s second city, in the east of the country).

There is no discussion of the smuggling of arms and fighters into the city, under the guise of humanitarian aid, even though the footnotes allude to this smuggling and that it includes 106mm rockets.

Reading this report, you would have little idea that NATO have been bombing inside the city of Misrata for the last four weeks, as reported here and as even NATO have admitted.

To paraphrase The Dude – More information comes to light:

“In 2005, a Spanish company announced that it was going to co-produce with the Finnish defense company Patria a 120mm mortar projectile with submunitions. In 2006, Patria advertised a 120mm mortar projectile that contains 21 submunitions, stating that the dual purpose submunitions contain “electronic fusing…which involves both self-destruction and self-neutralization features, guarantees zero risk of dangerous duds.

During the Dublin negotiations in May 2008, Finland said that it was in the process of acquiring electronically-fuzed cluster munitions from a Spanish manufacturer.  However, there is no indication that a production line was ever opened up, and the deal was cancelled in light of Spain’s decision to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”

via Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor.

Patria are, for those paying attention, the company who produce the AMOS and NEMO mortar systems. The Spanish company is, of course, Instalaza.

The International Commission of Inquiry investigating Human Rights violations in Libya ended field visits to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia on 29 April.

HRI has already submitted information to the United Nations regarding the use of cluster munitions in Misrata.

HRI will be submitting further information.

On 15th April Human Rights Watch issued a statement asserting,

“Government forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, have fired cluster munitions into residential areas in the western city of Misrata.”

Subsequent reports indicate a large number of civilians died in these attacks.

According to Fred Abrahams, Human Rights Watch assigned responsibility for these attacks to the loyalist forces on the basis that this munition was only fired from land-based mortars.

In fact, the MAT-120 is a specialised heavy cargo mortar system which is typically fired from a turret and which can be mounted on a small sea-based vessel.

The assignment of responsibility for these attacks to the Gaddafi forces is therefore, at best, premature.

Indeed, there is evidence these munitions are in the armoury of the coalition forces, the weapons systems needed to deliver them are in the coalition armoury and the coalition military leadership, including US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates regard the use of these weapons as effective and legitimate.

As the purported use of these munitions by Gaddafi’s forces has been an important factor in escalation of the Libyan conflict, it is a matter of urgency that Human Rights Watch correct their original report and ensure the world’s press are aware of the mistake made.

In addition, we would ask Human Rights Watch to provide a full explanation of

1) How this mistake was made, including from where the false information came from that these weapons could only be delivered by land-based weapons systems.

2) Why later investigation by HRW did not turn up this error.

Given the new information we have uncovered we would also expect Human Rights Watch

1) To issue a demand for full disclosure of coalition possession and use of cluster munitions in the Libyan conflict.

2) To issue a demand the coalition forces provide a full explanation of their operations, including special operations, off the coast of Misrata.

Update 23 June – No reply received – see later articles for updates on the HRI investigation.