Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gaddafi Wanted to Be ‘Queen of England’

DESPERATE Gaddafi Wanted to Be ‘Queen of England’ Franco Origlia / Getty Images

Gaddafi Wanted to Be ‘Queen of England’

Muammar Gaddafi was so worried about NATO ousting him that he secretly offered Britain’s Foreign Office to give up power altogether and become a figurehead—“like the Queen of England.” The desperate offer apparently made Foreign Secretary William Hague all the more confident that Gaddafi was vulnerable. Still, David Cameron faced skepticism from British intelligence and his own cabinet, The Guardian reveals, but pressed ahead anyway, fearing he’d otherwise be remembered for deciding to “pull up the drawbridge” on the Arab Spring.

How David Cameron swept aside sceptics over Libya campaign

Guardian investigation reveals PM pressed for military action and Gaddafi secretly sought figurehead role

  • Article history
  • Cameron-libya
    David Cameron, right, in Libya with NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil and French president Nicholas Sarkozy. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters
    A Guardian investigation into David Cameron's six-month Libyan campaign has revealed how the prime minister overrode scepticism from his cabinet and MI6 to press for military action, and how Colonel Gaddafi secretly wanted to become a figurehead of the country "like the Queen of England".
    In interviews with senior Whitehall figures and five ministers the Guardian has established that the National Transitional Council assured Britain that sleeper cells were ready to rise up in Tripoli once rebel troops entered the capital. Defence sources say Britain provided logistical support to the rebels in the capital, as well as in the Nafusa mountains, including a bombing campaign that cleared the way for the rebels to come down from mountains towards Tripoli.
    Britain also took the lead in pressing, in the early summer, for the military campaign to be used to put pressure on Gaddafi from the west of Libya. The French, who had led the way in pressing for a no-fly zone in February after Gaddafi besieged the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, believed that Gaddafi could be overthrown from the east. Liam Fox, the defence secretary, describes the shift, supported by the chief of the defence staff, Sir David Richards, as "a tilt to the west".
    Chief political correspondent Nicholas Watt, RUSI defence analyst Mark Phillips and the Independent's Bruce Anderson join Hugh Muir to discuss the PM's first war Link to this audio Gaddafi told Britain in secret messages sent to the Foreign Office that he was willing to start a political process that would end with the Libyan leader becoming a head of state like the Queen.
    In a sign of his erratic and desperate negotiating strategy, which persuaded ministers that Gaddafi would eventually be overthrown, the Libyan leader indicated not just that he had been in power as long as the Queen , but that he was prepared to become a figurehead in the same way as her. "It would be like the Queen of England, is how they thought of it," one minister said. "He would be a non-powerful president, not even in power. They would go as far as he would be a figurehead. But this was not on for the rebels, of course." The Guardian investigation has also established that:
    • David Cameron overrode scepticism in his cabinet when he took one of the biggest gambles of his premiership in March to press for a UN security council resolution to authorise military force to protect civilians. Kenneth Clarke, the justice secretary who was described by one cabinet minister as the "biggest dove", thought that partition was the "logical thing".
    • MI6 was privately sceptical of military action, arguing "it is better to stick with the devil you know".
    • The world was "48 hours from watching a humanitarian disaster unfold" in Benghazi before to the US, French and UK air strikes, according to Fox. Cameron did not want to allow another Srebrenica – the massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Bosnia in 1995 – on his "watch". Friends say he feared he would be remembered as the "pull up the drawbridge" generation" if he did not act to defend the Arab spring.
    • The US, which had initially been sceptical about a no-fly zone, ended up pressing for a tougher UN security council resolution. This led to UN resolution 1973 in March which authorised "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya. Fox said: "The Nato operation would have been impossible without the contribution of the Americans."
    The offer from Gaddafi to serve as a figurehead, plus intelligence from within Tripoli, was one reason the foreign secretary, William Hague, remained convinced that what he described as his "Anaconda strategy" would squeeze Gaddafi from power. Hague believes Gaddafi overplayed his hand, insisting he would agree only to a political process in the course of which he would retire to the role of state figurehead.
    The foreign secretary, who has described the Arab spring as the most important event of the 21st century, warned that there would have been grave consequences if Britain and France had not succeeded in persuading the UN to sanction military action. "If Benghazi had fallen it would have been a huge setback for the Arab spring in countries like Egypt and Tunisia. It would have shown that a dictatorial ruler can successfully fight back and entrench himself again. That would have carried a strong message. [Syrian president] Bashar al-Assad now would be feeling in a stronger position and probably getting active assistance from a well-entrenched Gaddafi regime."
    Hague added that he was stunned by the success of the high-precision GPS-guided Brimstone missiles after Fox ruled that the collateral damage target – the risks to civilians – should be set at zero. "I saw in Tripoli one of the buildings where they managed to hit the top floor to stop the sniping from the roof without damaging at all the floors underneath. This is the amazing precision of the targeting. Things have really moved on even since the Iraq war. The criterion for targeting was zero civilian casualties and that was rigorously stuck to." Some senior Whitehall officials interviewed by the Guardian confirm that the French and the UK might have taken military action, even if they failed to secure a UN resolution, on the basis of averting a humanitarian disaster. "We would have had to look at the humanitarian necessity option. We would have had to ask the attorney general whether the situation was so grave that we could act."
    Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, who was briefed by officials on Whitehall's lessons from Iraq as soon as he was asked by Cameron to draw up a stabilisation plan, outlined a five-point plan on how to avoid mistakes from Iraq. It now forms the basis of the National Transitional Council's plans.
    Mitchell praised Cameron for ignoring critics who said the military campaign would never work. "David was brave and proved right in the beginning, because he said we cannot allow a massacre to take place in Benghazi. All the soi-disant experts said, you can't do it from the air, the Americans said it was naive - but he stuck to his guns."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Scenes from Kashmir

Kashmir is a scenic land of tranquil beauty. A longstanding dispute over control of the region ensures that life for Kashmiris is anything but tranquil. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir, and a fortified Line of Control separates forces. China also administers part of the region. Two wars have been fought between Pakistan and India since borders were drawn in 1947, and the predominately Muslim area chafes under Indian control. In August mass graves were disclosed that likely held the bodies of "disappeared" civilians killed during insurgencies years ago. The disclosure was one of a series of incidents which keeps the region tense. The political dispute and attendant violence disturbs what should otherwise be a culturally vibrant, lushly beautiful idyll. Collected here are images from the last several months in Kashmir, a region of roughly twelve and a half million people.
1. Indian tourists enjoy a traditional Shikara boat ride on Dal Lake in Srinagar, India on July 7, 2011. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

2. Kashmiri boys run for cover as it rains in Srinagar July 14, 2011. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

3. Kashmiri Muslims pray as the head priest, unseen, displays a holy relic believed to be a hair from the beard of the prophet Mohammed at the Hazratbal Shrine on the outskirts of Srinagar on July 1, 2011. Devotees thronged the shrine on the second day of the Muslim festival of Mehraj-u-Alam, which marks the ascension of the prophet to heaven. (Dar Yasin/AP)

4. International Lalit and local Drass polo players compete in a game of polo in Drass, Kashmir on July 9, 2011. T he tournament was organized to promote tourism in Jammu and Kashmir. (STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

5. A relative of a disappeared Kashmiri youth looks at the photographs of missing people during a demonstration organized by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, a prominent local rights group, in Srinagar on July 10, 2011. Human rights workers have complained for years that innocent people have disappeared, been killed by government forces in staged gun battles, and suspected rebels arrested and never heard from again. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

6. School children perform a ritual during a prayer ceremony inside their school in Jammu September 8, 2011, held for the victims of a bomb blast outside Delhi's High Court that killed 12 people. (Mukesh Gupta/Reuters)

7. Residents watch as an Indian police honor guard performs a drill at the Mazar-e-Shohda (Martyr's graveyard) in Srinagar on July 13, 2011 during a ceremony held to mark the 80th anniversary of Kashmiris slain by the army of a Hindu king. Authorities in Indian Kashmir deployed thousands of security personnel in the main city of Srinagar to prevent separatist protests on a key state holiday. July 13 is marked in Indian Kashmir as "Martyrs' Day", which marks Maharaja Hari Singh's use of force in 1931 to quell protests against his rule, resulting in the death of 23 Muslims. Separatists had planned to hold anti-India demonstrations but authorities responded with hardline measures detaining and arresting key separatists. Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

8. A boy injured in a grenade blast is taken to a hospital in Srinagar on July 13, 2011. At least six people were injured when an explosive device went off in south Kashmir's Pulwama district. A police officer said the explosion was probably caused by a grenade left in the area after a recent encounter between militants and the army. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

9. Kashmiri children wait for customers as they sell corn on the outskirts of Srinagar on July 14, 2011. Monsoon rains that lash India from June to September are considered crucial for farmers whose crops feed millions of people. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

10. A Kashmiri Muslim lights candles near the grave of a relative during Shab-e- Barat, on the outskirts of Srinagar on July 17, 2011. Muslims visit ancestral graveyards for the salvation of the departed souls and also believe that all sins will be forgiven by praying to Allah throughout Shab-e-Barat night. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

11. An Indian soldier stands guard as a Kashmiri woman passes by during a strike which followed the alleged rape of a married woman by soldiers, in Srinagar on July 23, 2011. A general strike called by the Hurriyat Conference paralyzed the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley during a second day of protests against the alleged rape. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

12. Indian soldiers returning from border posts are briefed at the Siachen base camp on the border with Pakistan on July 19. The nuclear-armed South Asian nations have competing territorial claims to Siachen, often dubbed the world's highest battlefield, and troops have been locked in a standoff there at an altitude of up to 20,000 feet since 1984, when Indian forces occupied the glacier. (Channi Anand/AP)

13. Tourists park on a strip of land at the Pangong Lake, near the India-China border in Ladakh, India. Ladakh is a remote part of the former princely state of Kashmir. While Kashmir is best known for the Indo-Pakistani standoff, part of Ladakh, an ethnically distinct region with historical ties to Tibet, has been controlled by China for decades. (Channi Anand/AP)

14. A member of the Association of Parents of Disappeared People cries during a protest rally to demand information on the whereabouts of missing relatives, during the International Day of the Disappeared in Srinagar on August 30, 2011. Human Rights Watch on August 25 urged India to launch an inquiry into scores of unmarked graves in Kashmir after a government commission said they contained over 2,000 unidentified bodies. An armed insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir has claimed 47,000 lives since 1989 by official count, with separatists putting the toll twice as high. Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

15. A Kashmiri man works to dismantle an old bus in Srinagar July 28, 2011. Old buses are dismantled and the parts are sold at negotiable prices to scrap dealers. (Fayaz Kabli/Reuters)

16. Tourists ride camels at Nubra valley in Ladakh. The heavily militarized region borders China. (Channi Anand/AP)

17. An Aryan Brogpa woman, wearing traditional outfit, pauses in Darchik, Jammu and Kashmir state. The Brogpas, or Dards, or Drokpas, as they are also known, claim to be pure-blooded Aryans and have been the subjects of study and debate among historians and researchers. Brogpas are prohibited from marrying outside their community to preserve their racial purity. (Channi Anand/AP)

18. Sunita (right) applies henna on the hand of a woman at a market in Srinagar July 1, 2011. (Fayaz Kabli/Reuters)

19. Indian boy Naresh waits for customers as he displays his toys at a market in Srinagar September 8, 2011. (Dar Yasin/AP)

20. Kashmiri Sikhs pray inside a Guruduwara to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Hargobind in Srinagar July 5, 2011. Thousands of Kashmir's Sikhs thronged to Guruduwars or Sikh temples across the region to offer prayers on the occasion of the 416th birth anniversary of Hargobind, the sixth Guru of Sikhism. (Fayaz Kabli//Reuters)

21. An Indian vendor selling toys waits for customers at a market in Srinagar September 8, 2011. (Dar Yasin/AP)

22. Kashmiri boys dive and swim in the Dal Lake during hot weather in Srinagar on July 5, 2011. (Dar Yasin/AP)

23. Women selling vegetables wait for customers at a market in Leh, 275 miles east of Srinagar on July 7, 2011. (Fayaz Kabli//Reuters)

24. An Italian tourist stands on a hilltop overlooking Leh city from Namgyal Tsemo Gompa monastery in Leh, capital of Ladakh, on July 8, 2011. The Buddhist-dominated Ladakh region, situated at a height of 11,499 feet, is famous among foreign tourists for its monasteries, landscapes, mountains, and rich cultural heritage. (Fayaz Kabli//Reuters)

25. A Ladakhi woman and a child walk on a road in between Stupas in Stok, Ladakh on Jul 9, 2011. (Fayaz Kabli//Reuters)

26. Ladakhi women spin a prayer wheel known as "Mannay" at Spituk Monastery in Leh on July 12, 2011. (Fayaz Kabli//Reuters)

27. A Kashmiri boy jumps into Nageen Lake from a bridge on a warm sunny day in Srinagar on June 30, 2011. (Dar Yasin/AP)

28. A Bakerwal, or nomadic man, smokes a water pipe as his wife cooks evening meals outside their tent at a camp on the outskirts of Srinagar on June 27, 2011. (Fayaz Kabli/AP)

29. A roadside vendor sells vegetables on the eve of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan at a market in Srinagar on August 1, 2011. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

30. Kashmiri participants holding flags are reflected in water during the opening ceremony of the water sports competition on Dal Lake in Srinagar on July 29,2011. The three-day water sports event was held to promote water adventure sports and attract tourists. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

31. Kashmiri Muslims offer prayers on a street on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Srinagar on August 2, 2011. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

32. A child stands along with protesters and watches Indian policemen from a distance during a protest in Srinagar on August 3, 2011. Kashmiris shut down shops and businesses in a general strike to protest a man's death in police custody in the Indian-controlled portion of the disputed Himalayan region. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

33. Muslim children recite verses from the holy Quran at a local madrasa, or Muslim religious school, during the holy month of Ramadan in Srinagar on August 3, 2011. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

34. Monks wearing masks perform a dance on the first day of a two-day festival in Hemis Gompa, Ladakh on July 10, 2011. The annual festival celebrates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Lamaism (an off-shoot of Buddhism) in the eighth century. The two-day festival is marked by ritual dancing in which dancers wear masks representing deities and evil spirits. (Fayaz Kabli/Reuters)

35. An inmate practices laughter therapy during a yoga camp inside Kot Bhalwal jail on the outskirts of Jammu on September 10, 2011. (Reuters/Mukesh Gupta)

36. A Muslim boat man prays on his boat after breaking his fast during the holy month of Ramadan in Srinagar on August 8, 2011. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)#

37. An Indian soldier patrols as a Kashmiri boy sits outside his home in Srinagar on August 14, 2011. Security was beefed up across the Kashmir Valley ahead of India's Independence Day on August 15. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)#

38. A farmer works in a paddy field near the fenced border between Indian and Pakistan in Suchetgarh, southwest of Jammu, on August 1, 2011. As India and Pakistan embark on a tentative peace process and try to decide how to open their borders to trade and travel, it will be the situation on the ground in places such as Suchetgarh that determine the pace of the detente. (Mukesh Gupta/Reuters)

39. Police use colored water from a cannon to disperse protesting state government employees of Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar September 8, 2011. The employees demanded a hike in their salaries. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)#

40. A woman removes lotus leaves from the water of Dal Lake in Srinagar on August 10, 2011. Dal Lake is famous for its natural beauty and a popular destination for both Indian and foreign tourists. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)#

41. Muslim children run playfully toward a flock of pigeons in the compound of a shrine in Srinagar on August 9, 2011. (Altaf Qadri/AP)#

42. A man takes a nap on sacks of onions at a wholesale market on the outskirts of Jammu September 14, 2011. Indian inflation climbed to its highest in more than a year as prices of food and manufactured goods surged. (Mukesh Gupta/Reuters)#

43. A worker clears a road which was damaged by a landslide as her child rests in a basket on the outskirts of Jammu on August 17, 2011. (Mukesh Gupta/Reuters)#

44. A passenger train leaves Jammu on the outskirts of the city August 5, 2011. India's struggle to build a railway to Kashmir has become a symbol of the infrastructure gap with China, whose speed in building road and rail links is giving it a strategic edge on the mountainous frontier. Nearly quarter of a century after work began on the project aimed at integrating the revolt-torn territory and bolstering the supply route for troops deployed there, barely a quarter of the 215-mile Kashmir track has been laid. (Mukesh Gupta/Reuters)#

45. A girl dressed as Hindu Lord Krishna rests in a hammock during the celebration of the Janamashtmi festival in her school in Jammu on August 20, 2011. Janamashtmi, which marks the birthday of Hindu god Krishna, is celebrated across India on August 22. (Mukesh Gupta/Reuters)#

46. Indian Army soldiers patrol outside their camp at Gurez on August 20, 2011. Troops in Kashmir fought a deadly battle with suspected rebels crossing the Line of Control from Pakistani-controlled territory. One soldier and 11 suspected rebels were killed, according to the army. (Farooq Khan/AP/pool)#

47. A Kashmiri Muslim woman carries her daughter as they watch the funeral procession of Haji Syed Mohammad Yousuf, a 61-year-old retired teacher and worker of the governing National Conference party in Locktipora on October 1, 2011. Yousuf died in police custody after the region's top elected official handed him over to investigators probing charges that he took money from people promising to get them nominated as lawmakers. (Dar Yasin/AP)#

48. The India-Pakistan border appears as an orange line in this photograph taken by the Expedition 28 crew on the International Space Station on August 21, 2011. The fence between the two countries is floodlit for surveillance purposes. Srinagar (left), Islamabad (bottom center), Lahore (center near the border line) and Delhi (top center) can be seen as brighter spots. (NASA/Handout/Reuters)#