The Happy Arab News Service

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oh the mess

Gaddafi supporters have erected human shields around Tripoli. Yet, the British have hit one of Gaddafi's compounds. I don't understand who is giving orders to bomb and what there. The impression is of some kind of anarchy. All they had to do is to tell Gaddafi to retreat some 50 miles away from Misurata and Benghazi and bomb him if he fails to comply. Instead they are bombing Tripoli while Misurata has been apparently overrun by Gaddafi forces right under their noses.

The US seems to have let itself be dragged into this for the sake of keeping alive the option of humanitarian interventions. Yet, the mission is exceeding its UN mandate so massively that everybody from the Arab League to India are distancing themselves from their mission now. The US says the UN is not to take part in fighting there, yet the French are trying to bomb a passage into Ajdabiya for the rebels. The French in particular seem to be on the loose. It's such a problematic and critical country for Europe and they are acting like amateurs. Hard to believe that this is what NATO has become.

Though I should notice that everything that preceded this operation, from the media spin about alleged Gaddafi's atrocities to the planning stage, was apparently no better. It was a mess from the beginning and it continues this way. This is likely the most mismanaged operation in NATO's history

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Next in line, please

This one continues my previous Next in line which became too long. Notice I don't cover everything since a while. This is a very selective coverage.

Last updated: March 20, 2011

March 2, 2011

Now bring the traitorous agent of the Jews to trial

This one is something you are not going to see reported on al-Jazeera, which is based in Qatar and basically a baby of the local emir. MEMRI says dozens of thousands liked pages calling for a revolution against the traitorous agent of the Jews and Yankees. There seems to be no media coverage of Qatar in the mainstream media either. So MEMRI is going to be your al-Jazeera for Qatar.

Though it contains no clear doctrine or specific information regarding the aims of the revolution, or the manner in which it is to be conducted, the pictures and texts posted to the page indicate fierce protest against Qatar's foreign and domestic policies under the current emir, and against the actions of his wife, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, and her involvement in the country's affairs of state. The page's profile picture shows the emir's photo with a large X on it, and bears the message, "For the sake of Qatar, bring the traitorous agent of the Jews to trial."

Source: MEMRI

Don't hold your breath, Qatar is the richest kingdom in the Gulf. Nevertheless, keep in mind that life is not without nice little surprises.

March 19, 2011

Keep Hope Alive

In general, I hate when people don't wait and push themselves into the queue. In particular, after I had everybody lined up in an orderly fashion. However, for Syria, any time and every time.

Frankly, I don't hold my breath, but maybe there are things for which even I don't dare to hope. I bet it's not for nothing that doctors always recommend to hope for better.

March 20, 2011

The watch school triumphs as the lion blinks

The protests in Syria having gone into their third day, the watch school triumphs as the lion of the Golan blinks...

An official statement said "infiltrators" claiming to be high ranking officers had been visiting security stations and asking security forces to fire at any suspicious gathering.

Citizens should report anyone suspected of trying to fool the security apparatus "into using violence and live ammunition against any suspicions gathering," the statement said.

Source: Reuters

With your kind permission, ya lion of the Julan, let me solemnly declare that from now on anybody who orders to or actually shoots at the protesters is an infiltrator. Yallah open the floodgates!

The second tsunami hits the shore. Everybody, please seek a higher ground

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Shalom Pearl

The most bizarre installment in my Shalom Haver sequel. Bahrain's famous landmark is gone amidst a fierce Saudi and Bahraini crackdown on a Shia rebellion that was raging on the island during the last weeks.

I have no idea what to say about this, but in this region symbols are important and we told you so. You've been WARNED!

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

The mad dog of the Middle East and the Chihuahuas of the West

“Let’s just call a spade a spade,” Mr. Gates said. “A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses. That’s the way you do a no-fly zone. And then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. But that’s the way it starts.”

Source: NYTimes

Therefore, a no-fly zone would begin with airstrikes on known air defense sites. But it would likely continue with sustained patrols by SEAD aircraft armed with anti-radiation missiles poised to rapidly confront any subsequent threat that pops up. Keeping those aircraft on station for an extended period of time would be necessary, along with an unknown number of strikes. It is uncertain where the radars and missiles are located, and those airstrikes would not be without error. When search radars and especially targeting radars are turned on, the response must be instantaneous, while the radar is radiating (and therefore vulnerable) and before it can engage. That means there will be no opportunity to determine whether the sites are located in residential areas or close to public facilities such as schools or hospitals.

Source: Stratfor

CROWLEY: You know what? President Reagan called Muammar Qaddafi the mad dog of the Middle East. Well, the mad dog of the Middle East just met the Chihuahua of the West in President Obama.

Source: FoxNews

From one of the Time's blogs here comes am amateur map of Libyan air defenses created using Google Earth and .. well, and just Google search. According to the blog, Pentagon officials say that the map is "a pretty good snapshot of the Libyan air-defense network".

Source: Swampland

As you probably know, during the last week the forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have overrun the rebel-held az Zawiyah and Ras Lanuf. The rebel force between Ras Lanouf and Brega appears collapsing and at this rate Gaddafi's forces may soon start marching on Benghazi itself. Naturally, as the regime forces intensify pressure on the rebels, the controversy around the no fly zone grows more intense both internationally and domestically within the US and Europe. So here is the map of the Libyan SAM network again with a map of Libya's cities below.

What you should do is to locate the city of Ras Lanuf on both maps since this is where the rebels and regime forces are currently fighting each other. By juxtaposing the two maps, you should then find the next concentration of air defenses to the right. It basically overlaps with the city of Benghazi, currently under the control of the opposition. The next air defense bases are the cities of Darna and Tobruk, but everything to the east of Benghazi seems to be in the opposition hands. Basically you don't have air defenses anywhere near Ras Lanuf for the very simple reason that the Libyan SAM network is designed to protect big cities such as Tripoli and Benghazi. Neither to the left you have any air defenses until you reach the city of Misratah. Given that Misratah is presently under the opposition control, it's not even obvious that its SAM defenses are operational.

What's the moral of the story? There may exist many reasons why the West should try to avoid getting drawn into the business of setting up no-fly zones over Libya. However, from the purely military perspective a no-fly zone is a pretty safe business. The country is huge, but for most practical purposes Libya is no more than a highway and a string of port cities along the coast. The fighting mostly goes in two locations. The first one is a point on the Benghazi Tripoli axis where Gaddafi and rebel forces are facing each other, right now it's Brega and Ras Lanuf. The second one is a rebel enclave in Gaddafi's backyard around the city of Misratah.

Basically, the rebels are not interested in any no-fly zone over Tripoli since they don't control the capital anyway. The opposition needs only two limited no-fly zones over Ras Lanuf and Misratah. This a very small area to monitor and control. As far as Ras Lanuf is concerned there are no air defenses there at all and it's not obvious that those of Misratah are operational. From the opposition's perspective, if NATO can stop the advance of Gaddafi's forces towards Benghazi along the coast, the rebels are safe everywhere except Misratah.

Stratfor seems to have spotted a multitude of potential difficulties in Libya, but in reality it's the easiest topography for military operations one can find around. The terrain is flat and the rival forces are operating along a highway near the coast, Gadaffi's forces and their armor being totally exposed to attacks from the air.

Basically, all NATO has to do is to position a couple of US carriers opposite Misratah and Ras Lanuf at the distance of a few minutes of of flight from the shore, and wait for a call from the rebels or an alert from an AWACS system. Gaddafi fighter planes can be grounded by destroying runways on government controlled airports. Helicopters are not fast enough to get away anyway. The rebels were apparently also requesting air strikes against armor and artillery positions. It's hard to see why these should be challenging targets for NATO planes. As an extra bonus, all rebel strongholds are port cities that can be easily resupplied with food and fuel from the sea, no land access and ground troops are needed.

Of course it's none of the NATO business to assist the rebels in retaking cities. Winning the civil war is the rebels responsibility. But there is no military challenge in imposing a couple of coastal mini no-fly zones with a view of blocking Gaddafi's advances to the east and protecting Misratah. Targeting tanks and vehicles moving across an open area is an exercise for beginning pilots. Neither ground troops are required, nor a massive air campaign. It's a matter of political will only. No fear! Forward, Obamahuas!

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The revolution will be tribalized

France 24 - The battle of Brega


Time: Fearing God, Not Gaddafi

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the fearsome leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in 2006, once said, "I will go to Darnah to see what is this city that is sending so many.

BBC: How Libya's rebels have held their ground

Independent: Gaddafi forces lay a textbook ambush to the rebels, decimating the force that was heading for Sirte

CNN: Morale is high and so are the troops

WSJ: Tribal Politics Underlie Libya's Rifts

Before standing up to rebel forces at Bin Jawad, members of the Hasoony tribe had a taste of what may lay in store in a post-Gadhafi Libya.

Early in the uprising, armed rebels stormed the farm of the Hasoony tribe's leader in Benghazi, Hillal Hasoony, and killed him, say tribal leaders and local officials...


Other senior Hasoony members have fled Benghazi, and tribe leaders couldn't be reached for comment.

Sky News - the battle of Zawiyah

Associated Press - Gadhafi Supporters Pour Into Streets

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The return of the King

Last updated: March 1, 2011

February 28, 2011

From the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, the Arab kings are having it tough these days. Wage and subsidy increases are wrecking budgets around the region but seem to be failing to stem rising calls for political reform that would curtail the royal wings. In Bahrain the protesters are even regularly promising to overthrow the monarchy, plainly inviting the ruling dynasty to order to shoot them again. Yet, not everything is lost for the kings. The insurgents in Libya are reported to have recently taken to waving flags of the former monarchy.

There is no telling if the Libyans indeed want their royals back, but if they do, they have the heir apparent readily available in London. It's since a while that the prince is sending signals that he would be more than happy to oblige. Things look shit for some kings as of late, but for other kings the age of kings may be not over yet.

The King of kings of Africa performs "The Return of the King" live on Libyan TV

March 1, 2011

Not all kings are created nuts

By the name of Allah I swear that I have nothing against the Shia. However, if I were the king al-Khalipha, the streets of Manama would have been running red with the blood of Shia protesters long ago. But everybody has his own responsibilities and I am running this blog while the king us running Bahrain and so the streets of Manama are running nowhere as they are packed and jammed with throngs of Shia demonstrators.

Rumors and conspiracy theories are hovering around Bahrain but the story started with the Shia, after a few days of scattered protests, having reached unobstructed the Pearl Roundabout, a famous landmark of the kingdom.

Once on the square, the crowds quickly developed a taste of chanting death slogans against the ruling dynasty, despite conciliatory noises coming from the royal quarters. That very night the security services paid a visit to the protesters peacefully sleeping on their newly liberated Tahrir (Or so they say. I did not notice they were sleeping).

One conspiracy theory circulated at the time was about an internal split within the ruling family. The crackdown was staged by the hardliners at instigation by the Saudis who were basically plotting to have the moderate king overthrown and replaced with somebody with bigger balls. Not sure about what happened to this theory, but the situation right now is pretty much the original square one with the protesters sitting on the square and promising to overthrow the dynasty while the king is busy suggesting new concessions, releasing prisoners and returning opposition leaders from exile.

Now Bahrain is an absolute black box for me and it's very possible that the king's concessions are indeed signs of weakness. However, somehow I struggle to convince myself that the king ran out of other options. The Shia may be in majority in Bahrain, but the Sunnis are many, they are not a negligible minority and the security services are in their hands. And there is that causeway connecting Bahrain to Saudi Arabia which, as some people suggest, was designed with a different purpose in mind than just shipping young Saudi trouble makers out of the country during weekends.

From my limited revolutionary experience, I would suggest that the Shia get to the negotiating table as soon as possible with a list of reasonable demands such as for example a more representational electoral system based on the principle of a country as one voting district casting ballots for party lists. It's out of my deep sympathy for the Shia and their cause that I am suggesting this. Never mind that as a natural revolutionary I am rubbing my hands with glee in anticipation to see this region put on its head. It would be sad to have another massacre in Bahrain to signal a reversal of fortunes for the revolution presently sweeping the Arab World.

And, as a matter of fact, not all kings are created nuts. Some are actually nice guys. And even those, who are not, can be often quite responsive to a few kind words and a bit of quiet. Even in the most ferocious king of kings there's hiding a shy and timid guy. Humans are complex personalities. But you'll never see the king's other side, if you don't try.

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Gaddafi declines to reveal a hidden imam


Time: Will the Mystery of Lebanon's Missing Imam Be Solved?

The National on democracy in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East

Hussain Abdul-Hussain
Last Updated: Feb 27, 2011

. . .

Eight years after the end of autocracy, citizens and elected officials seem to have little or no understanding of democratic institutions. Friday's "day of rage" protests, when as many as 15 were killed, showed that Iraqis have been unable to differentiate between rallying for a cause, and simply expressing frustration mixed with violence. In one example, angry protesters in the governorate of Wasit burnt the mayor's offices, a key institution of local government.

Harbouring grievances against the elected mayor, who was elected in 2008, is legitimate. But setting fire to a public building, which actually is owned by the protesters as much as anybody else, shows the lack of a distinction between the mayor and public offices in general. And protesters shouldn't be resorting to arson anyway.


Young Palestinian activists have finally found a worthy cause to protest about - The Fatah Hamas split. As long as they are ready to waste time and revolutions on such nonsense, we are safe from another intifada here. On the other hand, Abbas and Fayyad may be not as unpopular in the West Bank after the Palileaks as we believe.

But many Palestinians in the West Bank seem generally satisfied with Mr. Abbas’s administration, which has restored law and order after years of chaos.

Mr. Abbas called for elections by September but Hamas immediately rejected the idea. Mr. Abbas now says that they can take place only if they can be held in the West Bank and Gaza at the same time.

Unlike some regional despots who have ruled for decades, Mr. Abbas is not an autocrat and has been the president only since 2005. He has said that he is not keen to run for another term, and he has on occasion threatened to quit.

“Abbas and Fayyad are very good for us,” said Muhammad Abu Ghazaleh, the owner of a jeans store in Ramallah. “They gave us security.”

Source The New York Times

A few days after Gaddafi has let journalists in, the Guardian says things are actually patchy and Gaddafi seems to still have many supporters in West Libya. The Guardian: Zawiyah

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