Benghazi, Hollywood propaganda and Syrian war reality

This (audio) video says about itself:

Matthew Alford on Military Media Manipulation (1/6)

4 August 2011

Matthew Alford has taught at the Universities of Bath and Bristol and is now an independent scholar working on issues of American cinema, power and politics.

Author of “Reel Power: Hollywood Cinema and American Supremacy

And these five videos are the sequels.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Benghazi: The real story

Monday 21st March 2016

HOLLYWOOD, as lecturer Matthew Alford explains in his 2010 book Reel Power, “routinely promotes the dubious notion that the United States is a benevolent force in world affairs.”

Thus Michael Bay’s $50 million recent film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi tells the story of the September 11 2012 attack on the US consulate in Libya, which killed the US ambassador and three of his colleagues.

As with movies such as Black Hawk Down (2001) and Lone Survivor (2013) the audience watches as a small band of brave US servicemen heroically fight back against hundreds of faceless Arabs, with no apparent motive other than a hatred of Westerners.

13 Hours is clear about the benevolent intent of the US in Libya, with the initial credits explaining the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had an annex close to the US consulate, where operatives gathered intelligence to try their best to get weapons taken off the black market.

In an extensive February 2016 investigation into the US intervention in Libya, the New York Times repeats this official narrative, explaining the US “struggled against weapons proliferation” after Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi had been overthrown and killed.

However, a number of reports show there is far more to the story than the US government, 13 Hours and the New York Times would have us believe.

In August 2013 CNN reported that dozens of CIA operatives had been on the ground in Benghazi and that “the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing remains a secret.”

According to one source quoted by CNN, the CIA has been involved in an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out. All of which begs an obvious question: if the CIA were simply attempting to stop weapons proliferation in Libya, why would this need to be covered up?

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s reporting on US actions in Libya may provide the answer. According to an article he published in the London Review of Books in April 2014, the CIA, with the assistance of Britain’s MI6, set up a “rat line” to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya to Syria via southern Turkey. “The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,” says a former intelligence official quoted by Hersh.

Citing a classified annex to a US Senate intelligence committee report, Hersh notes the funding for the weapons transfers came from US allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

A formerly classified October 2012 US Defence Intelligence Agency report echoes Hersh’s discovery, noting that “during the immediate aftermath of … the downfall of the [Gadaffi] regime in October 2011 … weapons from the former Libyan military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya, were shipped” to Syria. Importantly, the report explains the shipments ended in early September 2012 — the date the US consulate was attacked and when Hersh also says the shipments ended.

Michael Morrell, the former deputy director of the CIA, confirmed the existence of the weapons shipments in testimony to the US House intelligence committee in November 2012. However, the part of the transcript showing Morrell’s response to a question asking whether the CIA was involved in co-ordinating the weapons transfers is redacted. “Long story short: the CIA was watching closely as our allies transferred weapons to Syrian rebels,” explained the independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, summarising Morrell’s testimony and the CIA report.

So, while many of the details are fuzzy, it seems clear the US was transferring weapons from Libya to Syria or, at the very least, was fully aware its allies were doing this and did nothing. Weapons, it should be noted, that a plethora of experts and observers — from former Nato secretary-generals to the United Nations — have warned will only escalate and deepen the war in Syria.

In addition to contradicting the Establishment-promoted image of US-British power as benevolent and positive, the real story of Benghazi fatally undermines the dominant narrative that, as BBC Today programme presenter Nick Robinson recently noted, the Obama administration has had a “deep unwillingness to get engaged in” the Syrian war. Or, as well-respected think-tanker Shadi Hamid argues, US policy in Syria has been one of “defensive minimalism.” Furthermore, the Libyan-Syrian “rat line” story also highlights another inconvenient truth: Hersh notes that “many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida.”

If, as the independent media icon Amy Goodman has said, “the role of journalism is to go where the silences are,” then the CIA and MI6 role in Benghazi should be the first port of call for anyone looking to shine a light on the nefarious machinations of the Western powers in the Middle East.

Ian Sinclair is the author of The March That Shook Blair: An Oral History of February 15 2003, published by Peace News Press. He tweets @IanJSinclair

In Syria, militias armed by the Pentagon fight those armed by the CIA.” (Nabih Bulos , W.J. Hennigan and Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times)

NATO’s allies killing each other and civilians in Libya

This video, recorded in Britain, says about itself:

Libyan human rights activist forced to flee Libya

25 April 2013

Magdulien Abaida is a Libyan human and women rights activist who was abducted, beaten and threatened by an Islamist militia in Benghazi. She was forced to flee to gain asylum in the UK and this is her exclusive story speaking out about her ordeal – which she was not able to do whilst in Libya. This was a BBC Newsnight film produced by Sharron Ward, reported by Tim Whewell. Director’s cut version.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Battle in Libya’s second city

Added: Wednesday 15 Oct 2014, 17:37

In the second city of Libya, Benghazi, a fierce battle has been raging all day between radical Islamic militia men and troops of former general Haftar.

Not only a former general. Also a (former?) CIA agent.

Who announced yesterday he would reconquer the city from the Islamists.

Benghazi since this summer has been in the hands of the radical militias, who are united in a coalition. Only small parts of the city and the airport of Benghazi are still in government hands.


Residents of the city report to international news agencies that there was fighting in various districts. They also said warplanes were flying over the city. According to news agency AP these are Egyptian aircraft.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are said to actively support the militias; Turkey and Qatar are, on the contrary, on the side of the government.

NOS TV had that wrong, and deleted that last sentence in an update. Quite the contrary, Associated Press says:

Egypt‘s direct military involvement, however, reinforces the notion that Libya has become a proxy battleground for larger regional struggles, with Turkey and Qatar backing the Islamist militias while Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are supporting their opponents.

Whether the wrong earlier NOS version or the presumably correct later Associated Press version: supposed allies of the USA and other NATO countries in the war ‘against ISIS‘ (really against ISIS? The Turkish government against ISIS? Or about oil?) are killing each other and Libyan civilians in Libya.

Egypt says Erdogan’s UNGA speech ‘full of lies and fabrications’. The Turkish president accused Egypt’s President al-Sissi of coming to power in a coup in his speech at the annual UN meet: here.

Warriors of Ansar al-Sharia, one of the militias, are said to have attacked an army base this afternoon. Ansar al-Sharia is held responsible by the United States for the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi in 2012, where the ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

Parliament fled

The armed militias in Libya make a central administration of the country impossible since the fall of former dictator Gaddafi. Also in the capital, Tripoli, the government has no power at all. A militia from Misrata, a city east of Tripoli, is calling the shots there.

The Libyan government and parliament have fled to Tobruk, in the northeast of the country near the border with Egypt.

From Associated Press today:

Egyptian warplanes are bombing positions held by Islamist militias in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi as part of a large-scale operation to rid the city of militants who have held sway there for months, two Egyptian government officials said on Wednesday.

From Middle East Eye:

Pentagon officials have claimed that Egyptian airbases were used by United Arab Emirate pilots in a mysterious series of airstrikes that have hit the Mistratan [sic; Misratan] Led Alliance (MLA) in Tripoli last month. Ten Libyans, picked up in August, are thought to be in the custody of Abu Dhabi‘s State Security Agency (SSA) and are at risk of being tortured, according to Human Rights Watch who called for the UAE to reveal their whereabouts earlier this week.

Co-ordinated car bombs went off outside the Egyptian and United Arab Emirates embassies in Libya today, causing some damage but no casualties: here.

It seems clear that the ties between Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with the exception of Qatar, are evolving dramatically in economic and military matters, at a time when the unrest in Yemen and Egyptian concerns over the continued chaos in Libya are leading to a profound military cooperation between the two sides: here.

In a blow to anti-Islamist factions, Libya’s highest court has ruled that general elections held in June were unconstitutional and that the parliament and government which resulted from that vote should be dissolved: here.

The black flag of ISIS flies over government buildings. Police cars carry the group’s insignia. The local football stadium is used for public executions. A town in Syria or Iraq? No. A city on the coast of the Mediterranean, in Libya. Fighters loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are now in complete control of the city of Derna, population of about 100,000, not far from the Egyptian border and just about 200 miles from the southern shores of the European Union: here.

While the world’s attention is focused on disputes in coastal Libya, the tribal-controlled south is unstable, and a collapse of order would have consequences for the whole region: here.

Military planes loyal to Libya’s recognised government attacked an opposing ground force seeking to seize the country’s two biggest oil ports on Sunday: here.

OBAMA’S SECRET PEACE DEAL “Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, two U.S. allies that have been fighting a proxy war in Libya since shortly after the 2011 overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, have agreed in principle to resolve their differences, The Huffington Post has learned. This previously unreported commitment, made between top leaders under pressure from President Barack Obama during talks at Camp David on May 14, suggests that peace negotiations in Berlin between the Gulf states’ Libyan proxies may yet bear fruit.” [Akbar Ahmed, HuffPost]

Women’s rights activist murdered, then witness murdered in brave new Libya

Salwa Bugaighis, AFP photo

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Witness of murder of activist in Libya is dead

Saturday 28 May 2014, 15:04 (Update: 28-06-14, 15:29)

The only witness to the murder of the Libyan human rights activist Salwa Bughaighis was also murdered probably. His body, covered with torture marks, was left by unknown people at a hospital in the eastern city of Benghazi, local media say.

The witness was the bodyguard of Bughaighis. He saw how she was killed, Wednesday night at her home in Benghazi with a shot through the head. Her husband has since been missing. The guard was shot in the leg. After the murder, he was taken away by police for questioning.

The situation in Benghazi is very tense. Radical Islamist militias are fighting a power struggle with a [retired] general of the Libyan army.

Libyan artists in danger

This video says about itself:

Tadrart Acacus, UNESCO World Heritage Site

21 July 2009

Tadrart Acacus is a desert area in western Libya and is part of the Sahara. It is situated close to the Libyan city of Ghat. Tadrart means ‘mountain’ in the native language of the area (Tamahaq language). It has a particularly rich array of prehistoric rock art. The Acacus has a large variation of landscapes, from differently coloured sand dunes to arches, gorges, rocks and mountains. Major landmarks are the arches of Afzejare and Tin Khlega.

Although this area is one of the most arid of the Sahara, there is vegetation, such as the callotropis plant. The area is known for its rock-art and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of the importance of these paintings and carvings. The paintings date from 12,000 BC to 100 AD and reflect cultural and natural changes in the area. There are paintings and carvings of animals such as giraffes, elephants, ostriches and camels, but also of men and horses. Men are depicted in various daily life situations, for example while making music and dancing.

Now, four years after the making of this video, both this ancient Libyan art, and today’s Libyan art and its makers are in danger.

After George W Bush invaded Iraq, 90% of that country’s artists were killed or fled to other countries.

Something similar happens now as the consequence of another so-called ‘humanitarian’ war, the NATO war on Libya in 2011.

From Magharebia (Washington DC, USA):

Libya Chaos Impacts Artists

By Asmaa Elourfi, 17 April 2014


Benghazi — With Libya’s capital of culture facing daily bombings and assassinations, artists are left in a perilous position.

To get a handle on the situation, Magharebia met in Benghazi with Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi, a 42-year-old actor, playwright and songwriter. He began his theatre career in the ’90s, before later performing at events in Tunisia and Morocco.

As al-Obeidi explains, Benghazi’s “chaos and insecurity” is taking a toll on the city’s famed cultural and literary activities.

Magharebia: As an artist, how do you see the situation in Libya now?

Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi: Writers, poets and intellectuals fully realise the deteriorating security situation and have their own visions about it. They only wait for calm to prevail to present their ideas on how to deal with these issues.

This is because artists are the closest ones to the street; in my opinion, they are the real mirror of the street.

Magharebia: What’s keeping writers and actors from proceeding with their careers in Libya?

Al-Obeidi: There are many obstacles, but the fact that theatres are not fully prepared for theatrical troupes is the main obstacle.

Writers have their own very profound imaginations, but the entities concerned with writers are not playing their roles as they should. For example, Benghazi, which is the cultural capital, has its own literary experiences and elements, and is known for its art, creation and culture, but its literary production is very modest.

Magharebia: What are your latest works?

Al-Obeidi: I’m now writing another play titled “I’m without Address”, a monodrama depicting the condition of Arab citizens following the revolutions, the ambiguity they live in, the concepts that have changed and the schizophrenia they live. The play is being rehearsed now by al-Mashhad al-Masrahi theatrical troupe in Morocco. I’ve also released, at my own expense, my first collection of lyrics and popular poetry.

Magharebia: What do you see for your country’s future?

Al-Obeidi: Building Libya is not an impossible wish. We have to reach national reconciliation and put aside hatreds and clean our hearts before we can talk about building the state or institutions.

We as Libyans are Arabs, and we depend too much on traditions, habits and tribes, and this is a double-edged weapon.

If we can utilise all of these capabilities, we’ll reach the shore of safety and the country and future generations will rest. However, if we proceed with retaliations, hatred and double standard policies, we’ll continue in this dark tunnel.

Magharebia: What part does an artist play in this?

Al-Obeidi: Their role is important and vital. They have to work day and night to get their ideas across using all peaceful means. They have to embody their visions through their works of art because the street is now looking for an alternative to solve the crisis, and here comes the role of the pioneering artist who can reach all categories of society with his/her distinguished style.

This is because the artist is loved by all, and stands at the same distance from all; therefore, the artist shouldn’t deal lightly with his assigned role in society, as he is responsible before history.

Libya remains in the grip of rivalrous rebel factions. Three years after ousting dictator Moammar Kadafi, the militias have turned to smuggling and extortion, and left Libya without a real government: here.

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