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Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban


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Tripoli
frank_davis4
frank_davis
I've been paying a lot of attention to events in Libya, and in its capital city, Tripoli. I have a personal interest. Some 60 years ago I lived there for about 6 months in a house overlooking the harbour.

So when I saw video footage today of Gaddafi speaking in Green Square in Tripoli, I wondered if it really was Green Square. I dug up a few photos, and fairly soon managed to work out that he was standing on the ramparts of the Red Fort (Assaraya Alhamra) in Tripoli, right by the harbour.

tripoli red fort On the right below is part of the video footage, and above it a photo of the Red Fort. So yes, he actually was there earlier this evening. Interesting way of validating a news report.

But why was he up on the ramparts? Why wasn't he down in the raised, covered pavilion at street level (which seems to be a permanent feature, given that it's in all the photos), where his supporters would be able to see his face as he spoke to them. I suppose the obvious answer was that he didn't want to get too close to them, and didn't entirely trust them. If it all turned nasty, he was behind some stout walls.

As best I can gather from the news reports from Al Jazeera, most of the east of Libya, which is where the oilfields are, is in the hands of the rebels. A couple of towns to the west of Tripoli, including Sabratah and Az Zawiyah, are also in rebel hands. I've visited the ruined Roman city of Sabratha, so I know that place too.

With many Libyan diplomats deserting the regime, and a number of Gaddafi's senior people fleeing, it looks like Gaddafi's days are numbered. Except that he shows no sign of recognising this himself. And since several of his sons seem to have well-equipped military brigades of their own, and the rebels seem to mostly be armed with stones or at best hunting rifles and pistols, there's likely to be a terrible bloodbath if Gaddafi uses his superior loyal military forces to recapture the rebel towns one by one.

Obama has said next to nothing. Nor has Cameron, except to say that there would be consequences for any crimes. And the UN seems to be simply formulating the right words for doing nothing beyond imposing sanctions on Libya, and freezing bank accounts. I can't see how that will help.

Meanwhile, everybody else is scrambling to get out as fast as they can. The Brits seem to have mostly managed to get out. A ferry-load of Americans followed today. Petrol prices are soaring all round the world, as Libya's oil exports have dried up. I read today that Libya supplies a quarter of Italy's natural gas. And the Italian government are very worried about hundreds of thousands of Libyans seeking asylum in Italy.

It's not just Libya either. There were continuing demonstrations in Tunisia (where Ben Ali was toppled a month or two back), and also in Egypt (where Mubarak was toppled), and in Iraq, and Yemen, and Bahrain. The whole region looks set to catch fire.

Yesterday in a rambling speech broadcast on radio, Gaddafi was blaming the insurgency on Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, who had been drugging the youth with pills to make them riot. Today, standing on the Red Fort, he was pointing the finger at Italy and Turkey, and threatening a bloodbath.

If it was down to me, I'd be seriously considering landing a rapid deployment force in Benghazi in eastern Libya to shore up the rebels there, and prevent a bloodbath. And then I'd bring in some more firepower to defeat Gaddafi's units in the field. Then I'd call elections and hand Libya back to the Libyans. But I doubt anyone will actually do anything in the least bit like that. Too obvious.

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And where is the blessed EU in all this? Invisible! And the UN? Invisible! The mind boggles.

Yes, isn't it interesting that, despite us all being part of this EU superstate thing, it's being left to individual countries to rescue their nationals from Libya? No sense of people all being EU citizens.

And the UN is simply appalling. All they seem able to do is to make speeches and wring their hands. The WHO and its smoking bans is part of the UN. They're all small-minded bureaucrats.

Frank

And where is the blessed EU in all this?
Perhaps they are sat in an office in Brussels to ensure the smoking ban is really enforced.

And the UN?
Perhaps they are still in Iraque, looking for 'weapons-of-mass-destructions...


Yes, isn't it interesting that, despite us all being part of this EU superstate thing, it's being left to individual countries to rescue their nationals from Libya? No sense of people all being EU citizens.

This was particularly noticeable when some EU countries even provided taxis for their citizens whilst the English were asked to make their own way to the airport with no places on flights guaranteed.

Ranty says...

(Anonymous)
Frank,

You are quite right. I have passed the Red Fort hundreds of times. He was definitely there.

You are also right about him being finished. His closest supporters may just be too terrified to tell him the truth. He is a psychopath and it would be dangerous even for his sons to tip him the wink. I have hard Saif al-Islam speak many times on TV and I was genuinely hopeful that when he took over, the country would be transformed. I was very surprised and shocked to hear him ramble on for over an hour on state TV about civil war, drugs, and a misguided youth. But with daddy listening, what else could he do? I also know the revolt has surprised the hell out of most of the citizens of Tripoli. They expected the folks in Benghazi to kick off, as they hate Muammar with a passion. They may hate him in Tripoli as well but they rarely say anything. What I found was that if we discussed him in a public place like a cafe or restaurant, they said nice things about him. Once we were in an office or someone's home, they were freer with their distaste.

What should make all of us feel a little better is that Benghazi is home to the Libyan special forces and two infantry brigades. They should be able to defend themselves well. Launching an attack on Tripoli 1000kms to the west would be more problematic but not impossible. They need to either knock out Muammar's planes or somehow gain air superiority. Once you have the skies, the war is all but over.

Events have happened at an astonishing speed. Not sure what the final chapter will say.

CR.

I heard today that the commander of the Libyan special forces had sided with the rebels (after siding with Gaddafi a few days ago). Also today that parts of Tripoli are under rebel control.

Frank

Re: Ranty says...

(Anonymous)
I met that guy! I sat here open-mouthed as he was interviewed by Al Jazeera. I sat in that same office for an hour and a half. He had some poor staff sergeant running around like a blue-arsed fly fetching me tea and biscuits. Then when he discovered I smoked he sent the guy out to hunt down an ashtray for me. He wanted to buy $2M worth of Motorola radios from me but I couldn't sell them as sanctions were still in force at the time. For the record, he was a lovely guy. I am glad he is on the "right" side now.

My friends in Tripoli are getting more scared with each passing day. The mercenaries aren't too fussy about who they gun down.

I hope they kill the mad bastard soon. He ain't leaving of his own free will and volition.

CR.

That seems like a fair enough plan, but these military things take a while to organise, even if they'd started seriously planning it a week ago, it still takes at least three or four weeks to get the invasion going (see e.g. Falklands).

That's why I was proposing a rapid deployment force, which I believe are available. The Falklands was a bit different, because it had been captured and required an invasion of an island many thousands of miles from Britain. In Benghazi, if the rebels agree, troops could be flown in with light weapons in days or hours.

Frank

"If it was down to me, I'd be seriously considering landing a rapid deployment force in Benghazi in eastern Libya to shore up the rebels there, and prevent a bloodbath. And then I'd bring in some more firepower to defeat Gaddafi's units in the field. Then I'd call elections and hand Libya back to the Libyans. But I doubt anyone will actually do anything in the least bit like that. Too obvious"

I agree. But of course this would probably be impossible today because some fathead would bleat about "sovereignty"

I do find it ironic, given the colossal sums spent on armaments and the military - even in post-cuts Britain - that all this firepower will not serve to prevent a bloodbath in a state run by a paranoid maniac.

I recall the same feelings at the time of the Falklands war. I had written to my MP complaining about the waste of money that nuclear weapons represented to Britain at that time; I pointed out that for the billions expended on Trident and our "nuclear deterrent" had conspicuously failed to deter the repulsive General Galtieri.

"If it was down to me, I'd be seriously considering landing a rapid deployment force in Benghazi in eastern Libya to shore up the rebels there, and prevent a bloodbath. And then I'd bring in some more firepower to defeat Gaddafi's units in the field. Then I'd call elections and hand Libya back to the Libyans. But I doubt anyone will actually do anything in the least bit like that. Too obvious"

I agree. But of course this would probably be impossible today because some fathead would bleat about "sovereignty"

I do find it ironic, given the colossal sums spent on armaments and the military - even in post-cuts Britain - that all this firepower will not serve to prevent a bloodbath in a state run by a paranoid maniac.

I recall the same feelings at the time of the Falklands war. I had written to my MP complaining about the waste of money that nuclear weapons represented to Britain at that time; I pointed out that for the billions expended on Trident and our "nuclear deterrent" had conspicuously failed to deter the repulsive General Galtieri.

Styx (http://blackdogblog-paul.blogspot;com)

Correction

(Anonymous)
Anonymous is Styx (http://blackdogblog-paul.blogspot.com)

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