Tripoli says its forces have intercepted two boats from Qatar carrying a cache of weapons for rebel forces. Libya is under a UN arms embargo, but France has admitted to supplying weapons to Libyan rebels.
The load reportedly intercepted on Monday is said to have included about a hundred Belgian-made assault rifles, along with thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Arms-trafficking expert Brian Johnson-Thomas told Russia Today television that the supply of weapons by France is more likely to lead to more human rights abuses than to help protect civilians as originally stated by UN.
“All guns start off being legal, but when they get diverted they go God knows where,” Brian Johnson-Thomas explained. “And of course with a gun you are in a position to commit various human rights abuses.”
The Security Council arms-trafficking expert pointed out that supplying weapon to either side in the Libyan conflict is a measure banned by the UN Security Council.
France has been among the main powers behind the NATO-led air campaign, which is officially aimed at protecting civilians from alleged assaults by Gaddafi’s forces.
However, many view a change of regime in Libya as the main reason for the alliance’s involvement there.
France’s latest move has invoked extensive criticism from Russia and the African Union, while China has indirectly objected to it.
“The sending of arms to the Libyan rebels is illegal, yet it has been going on almost since the beginning of the conflict there”, believes Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya from Center for Research on Globalization.
“It definitely is violating the United Nations’ sanction as well as international law. There is something called the ATT [the Arms Trade Treaty] and under the ATT they cannot supply arms to the rebels,” he said. ”This is not new news either. They have been saying it from March that they have been sending arms to the rebels. In the London conference, the Prime Minister of Qatar said they were going to send arms. He said that in front of Hillary Clinton and all the representatives of the NATO states were there.”
“Reuters and the Wall Street Journal all said that the United States was sending arms through Egypt to the rebels. It is reported, it is documented,” Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya added.
Meanwhile, the NATO-led intervention in Libya and the unrest in Syria have been described as gradual steps in a decades-long plan by the US and its allies to completely reshape the face of Africa, according to independent journalist and peace activist Thierry Maysan.
“It’s quite obvious that the USA wanted to enter war at the same time with Libya and Syria. That wish was made public by John Bolton in 2002. The plan was passed over to France and Britain, who decided to bring it to life in November last year,” the author believes.
“What is called public uprising of the free-loving people are actually coup attempts staged by the Western” nations, Maysan says.
“The operation in Libya in particular is marked by an astounding number of lies fed to the public”, he added.
“By the time of the UN Security Council vote everyone had decided on the basis of reports submitted to the council. And the Security Council was certain that during the demonstrations in Benghazi the government killed 6,000 citizens – a terrible number. But now five months later the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, which accused the Libyan leadership, has produced the number… Now the prosecutor is building up his evidence on 208 victims instead of 6 000,” he pointed out.
In another example, footage was circulated by foreign TV channels allegedly showing Gaddafi’s soldiers raping women in retribution for the uprising. The video later turned out to be a rare Libyan amateur porn flick, Maysan said. The lies are meant to hide what the West wants to do in the region, the journalist believes.
“NATO keeps lying at every stage, which is surprising, because during the war in Kosovo NATO would normally lie only to conceal its mistakes. This time it’s being done not to conceal the mistakes, but to conceal the strategy,” he told Russia Today.
“The initial plan to overthrow the government in Tripoli has now obviously failed, so now the strategy has changed”, the journalist believes.
“Western TV channels don’t speak of oppression and rebellion anymore, but of a civil war, thus trying to prepare public opinion for a declaration to divide the country into two parts: Cyrenaica on one side and Tripolitania on another, with the UN forces in between to separate the parties,” he said.
Civilian losses are not important for those behind this plan, Maysan says.
“From the moment it was decided to launch this operation, the lives of civilians have not been taken into account. Everything we used to see in the Middle East is not transpiring in this region. This is just a beginning. It’s just a question of re-arrangement of this region, and we are yet to see a series of wars,” he anticiptes.
The scenario for Syria was designed in exactly the same way as the scenario for Libya, but it went in another direction, the activist argues.
“I think some countries, Russia included, thought better of it and prevented it. That is why at the moment there is no war in Syria. Even though some Western leaders repeat every day that it is necessary to go to war,” he said.
As the French Parliament is scheduled to vote on an extension to the military campaign in Libya, some analysts believe the campaign has turned into a disaster and a ground invasion is the only option Sarkozy now has.
Boxers like to brag they will crush their opponent, but they are often wrong, and get a nasty surprise getting knocked out.
Much like a boxer before an easy match, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe boasted France would win Libya in “days or weeks”. The war is into a fourth month, with no final round in sight. Nicolas Sarkozy with his Western allies seem shocked that their little opponent is fighting back.
“It’s not just an embarrassment for Sarkozy, it’s an embarrassment for the whole of NATO for the whole West,” Lode Vanoost, deputy speaker of the Belgian parliament believes.
Paris even admits arming Libya’s rebels. Those weapons may well be going to terrorists.
“Militants from Somalia went to Libya for training within the last two or three years. We have the flight records and everything else. So it’s strange in many ways. The Western support of some of the rebel groups in Libya must be questioned, because in some cases I think we are effectively arming Al-Qaeda,” says Brian Johnson-Thomas, an arms trafficking expert for the UN Security Council.
It is making a mockery of the UN resolution on foreign intervention in the country.
“They are violating in every possible way, bombing civilians, giving arms to the rebels, etc. None of this was in the spirit of the resolution,” says writer Jean Bricmont.
Witnesses add that the NATO bombing of Libya is causing widespread atrocities.
“For every one military person that was supposedly a casualty there were ten civilians,” Franklin Lamb, a human rights lawyer who works in the Libyan capital Tripoli, describes the situation.
France categorically ruled out sending ground troops. But some experts predict it is the only way to break the Libyan deadlock.
The moves are splitting the NATO coalition. Silvio Berlusconi, head of the key partner Italy, admits invading Libya was a mistake. And in a stunning U-turn, the French Defence Minister says Colonel Gaddafi should negotiate with the rebels.
“This is the same man they already indicted in the International Court. Technically, from a legal point of view, it’s even impossible. What they’re saying now is that a person accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity is a suitable partner in negotiations. And of course our media here are not going to pose these questions – certainly not in France. On the contrary,” Belgian MP Lode Vanoost says.
Russia has abstained in the UN’s vote warning foreign bombs would bring havoc in Libya. Juppe said his latest talks with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov were “lively”. It is diplomat speak for a “blazing row”.
With French presidential elections just nine months away, Sarkozy advisors said a successful war could resurrect his chances. Instead, one paper writes, “Libya’s becoming a slow-motion car crash for France’s deeply unpopular president.”
Sarkozy is a fan of jogging. Excessive sweating is understandable, as his Libyan sprint is turning into a marathon.