Developing world and BRIC news about Nato Invasion of Libya

Citizen Reporter from UK interviews people in Loyalist Libya

Witness: Alleged Libyan rape victim appears bruised after deportation

By Nic Robertson, CNN
Jue 3, 2011 -- Updated 1018 GMT (1818 HKT)

Nasha Dawaji, a U.S.-based Libyan pro-freedomactivist, said she was with three key members of the National Transitional Council, the rebels' government, when they first learned that al-Obeidy was forced from Doha and arrived in Benghazi on Thursday.

Al-Obeidy had a black eye, like she had been punched, Dawaji said. She also had bruises on her legs and scratches on her arms.

The council members were upset upon seeing al-Obeidy's condition and vowed to open an investigation, Dawaji said.

Al-Obeidy grabbed the world's attention this spring when she accused Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's security forces of gang raping her.

She fled the country and was in Qatar awaiting resettlement as a refugee when she was deported early Thursday.

In the hours leading to her deportation, armed guards had been posted outside her hotel room, preventing a representative from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees from helping her, al-Obeidy told CNN. The UN agency had prepared papers for her departure from Qatar to begin a new life.

Al-Obeidy said Qatari authorities then took her and her parents from the Kempinski Residences & Suites in the Qatari capital. She said she was beaten and handcuffed, then forced onto a military plane to Libya.

She also said the Qataris had taken everything from her and her parents -- including cell phones, her laptop, and money.

An official at the Qatari Embassy in Washington asked CNN to e-mail questions about the deportation, but did not respond to them. The embassy in London also asked for written questions and CNN is waiting to hear back.

CNN also placed numerous calls to various ministries in Qatar but could not reach anyone for comment. Friday is a holiday in the country.

The hotel in Doha said it did not have anyone available for comment. Kempinski's corporate office in Geneva, Switzerland, was unaware of the incident. An official there said the office may offer a response later.

Al-Obeidy told a journalist that officials in the National Transitional Council had pressured the Qataris to expel her. But, according to Dawaji, she did not blame the rebel group for the beating itself.

Her deportation came despite repeated requests from the UN refugee agency and an official with the world body told CNN.

"We tried all night to prevent her deportation," said Vincent Cochetel of the UNHCR office in Washington. He said the Qatari authorities had informed UNHCR that they had a court order that al-Obeidy's visa had expired; and they ignored UNHCR's arguments that she already had refugee status.

"Forcibly returning a refugee who survived gang rape not only violates international law, but is cruel and could trigger further trauma," said Bill Frelick, refugee program director at Human Rights Watch. "All eyes are now on the authorities in eastern Libya, who should allow al-Obeidy to leave the country."

Human Rights Watch called on the National Transitional Council to allow al-Obeidy to leave rebel-controlled Libya immediately. The New York-based activist group added that a rebel group spokesman had told the group that she was free to travel domestically and abroad.

Al-Obeidy received worldwide attention on March 26 when she burst into the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli while international journalists staying there were having breakfast. She told reporters she had been taken from a checkpoint east of Tripoli and held against her will for two days while being beaten and raped by 15 men.

She was forcibly taken out of the hotel by security forces in a scuffle that was captured by television cameras.

She was not heard from again for more than a week as Gadhafi's representatives said they were investigatiing her claim.

The alleged suspect also filed counter-charges for slander.

Then on April 4, she spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper by phone about the alleged rapes.

"They had my hands tied behind me and they had my legs tied and they would hit me while I was tied and bite me in my body. And they would pour alcohol in my eyes so that I would not be able to see and they would sodomize me with their rifles and they would not let us go to the bathroom. We were not allowed to eat or drink," she said, speaking through a translator.

"One man would leave and another would enter. He would finish and then another man would come in," al-Obeidy said.

She later fled Libya to Tunisia with the help of two defecting Gadhafi army officers and their families. French diplomats drove her from the border and handed her off to rebel officials -- members of the Transitional National Council -- who organized her flight to Qatar.

After arriving in Qatar, al-Obeidy made public statements saying the National Transitional Council was using her. The council denied that, but her presence in Qatar appears to have become an embarrassment to the organization. Qatar's government is allied with the rebels.

Now, she and her family are in eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, the hub of the rebel movement that is battling to oust Gadhafi, Libya's longtime leader.

In Washington, State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said Thursday that the department is "very concerned" about al-Obeidy's safety and had communicated with her. He said officials were working with international organizations to make sure she is safe and finds asylum in "a third country."

CNN's Khalil Abdallah and Tim Lister and Journalist Sherif Elhelwa contributed to this report.


Click to play
Qatar deports alleged Libyan rape victim(CNN) -- A witness who met with Eman al-Obeidy after she was forced back to Libya from Qatar said the alleged rape victim appeared battered and bruised.


Unknown new Human Rights Organization claims NATO responsible for use of cluster bombs in Misrata. (This is highly unsubstantiated but very full of informative details)

The cluster bombing of Misrata: The case against the USA

Posted: 2011/05/26
From: Mathaba

The ongoing HRI investigation of the cluster bombing of Misrata in April 2011 has found convincing evidence the bombing was committed by US naval forces.


Posted on May 25, 2011by HRI MarkThe bombing of Misrata

On the 15th April 2011, during the day, sub-munitions of a MAT-120 cluster bomb were shown to Human Rights Watch (HRW) and C.J. Chivers, a journalist for the New York Times, in Misrata. On that evening, during ongoing clashes between rebel and loyalist forces, Human Rights Watch workers witnessed 3 or 4 cluster munitions landing in residential areas of Misrata. HRW attest to further subsequent such bombings.

Civilians were killed in these attacks and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, condemned:

“The reported repeated use of cluster munitions and heavy weaponry by Libyan government forces in their attempt to regain control of the besieged city of Misrata.”

She noted that one cluster bomb had reportedly exploded a few hundred metres from a hospital in Misrata while another two clinics were apparently hit by mortar or sniper fire.

“Using imprecise weaponry such as cluster munitions, multiple rocket launchers and mortars, and other forms of heavy weaponry, in crowded urban areas will inevitably lead to civilian casualties.”

The rush to judgement

Both HRW and C.J. Chivers immediately blamed these attacks on the Gaddafi regime and the news has been a front page and first item on the television news around the world.

Here are the relevant HRW and NYT reports:

The Human Rights Watch Report of 15th April on which the Ghaddafi forces fired cluster munitions story has been based.

CJ Chiver’s report on 15th April, ‘Qaddafi Troops Fire Cluster Bombs Into Civilian Areas’

Fred Abrahams on BBC Radio 4 Today Program 16 April 2011

In response to the question of why he assumed the munitions, which form part of NATO’s arsenal, were fired by Libyan rather than NATO forces, Fred Abrahams said,

“Because the MAT-120 is mortar-fired and NATO has no troops on the ground.” Link

When initially confronted with the information that cluster bombs had been found in Misrata, Hillary Clinton’s reaction was:

“That is worrying information. And it is one of the reasons the fight in Misrata is so difficult, because it’s at close quarters, it’s in amongst urban areas and it poses a lot of challenges to both NATO and to the opposition.”

The MAT-120 cluster bomb can be fired by naval forces

The MAT-120 cluster bomb

The MAT-120 ammunition is indeed mortar-fired, but it is a heavy weapon of a specific type which can be used in specific weapons systems, mounted in a turret.

Here is the AMOS system on a CB-90 in action:

Weapon of choice for Special Operations

The combination of the MAT-120 ammunition and the Combat Boat 90H has been described as ideal for fire support in urban environments and is one of the only weapons systems in the coalition armoury that can be used for this task.

As Captain Evin H. Thompson, Commander of US Naval Special Warfare Group Four, said in June 2007, in relation to a specific question about US Navy use of the CB90-H and AMOS system (which fires the MAT-120):

“The Amos or something like that – tied into my reduced signature boat gives special operation and our Navy the ability to clandestinely be someplace with the capability to act if circumstances allow.”

US Naval Special Group Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen are specifically trained in night-time raids and close support of SEALS units in coastal waters and have possession of a flotilla of CB-90s.

NATO admit bombing inside Misrata

During the period that these munitions were used there was fierce fighting between rebel and loyalist forces with coalition forces providing firing support and special services support to the rebels in order to prevent loyalist forces retaking the town, which would have seen an end to the rebel’s last foothold in western Libya.

Our update on the bombing of Misrata shows that NATO admit to bombing using “certain weapons” within the city of Misrata.

The incorrect reports that Spain sold the MAT-120 to Libya.

We have found the reports that Instalaza, the Spanish manufacturer of the MAT-120, has admitted selling these weapons to Libya turn out to be baseless. In fact Instalaza have denied selling these weapons to Libya.

The munitions found in Misrata were dated 2007 (batches 02/07 and 03/07) and the Spanish government ceased issuing any export licences on 11 June 2008.

The false reports that these munitions were sold to Libya rests on a misreading of the Spanish Government’s National Reports export data for arms exports – and this is a misreading which has been contained in media reports, which must have been read by the organisers of the bombing of Misrata.

The Spanish government reports show licenses were issued by Spain for exports to Libya in category 4, which includes bombs and missiles, in 2007 and an export was made in 2008 in this category. The amounts were for 3 licenses in 2007 valued at a total of 3,823,500 Euros and actual exports under 2 licences of 3,839,21 Euros in 2008. There is no detail in the reports on these shipments and what they consisted of or who the companies were (although detail is separately given on dual-use equipment in 2008 – radars and lab equipment).

Of the countries to whom Spain sold category 4 munitions in 2007 and 2008 only three countries are involved in the Libyan conflict and have not signed up to the cluster munitions treaty – and those countries are Libya, Qatar and the USA. But everyone has rushed to blame Libya based on a misreading of this report.

Analysis of official Spanish government documents shows Spanish company Instalaza didn’t export cluster weapons to Libya in 2007/08.

In fact the MAT-120, as a mortar round, is a category 3 munition (ammunition), not a category 4 one (bomb), and Spain didn’t export any category 3 munitions to Libya in 2007 or 2008. So the bombs Spain exported to Libya in 2008 were not the MAT-120 but something else. Spain did export category 3 munitions to the USA.

Below is an extract from the Spanish National Report on Exports of 2007 showing the way different items are categorised:
 
DESCRIPTION OF THE 22 ARTICLES FIGURING ON THE LIST OF DEFENCE MATERIAL (ROYAL DECREE 1782/2004 OF 30 JULY)

2 Smooth-bore weapons with a calibre of 20 mm or more:
Firearms (including pieces of artillery), rifles, howitzers, cannons, mortars, anti-tank weapons, projectile launchers, flame throwers, recoilless rifles, signature reduction devices, military smoke, gas and pyrotechnic projectors or generators and weapons sights.

3 Ammunition, devices and components
Ammunition for the weapons subject to control by articles 1, 2 or 12. Fusesetting devices including cases, links, bands, power supplies with high operational output, sensors, submunitions

4 Bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles
Bombs, torpedoes, grenades, smoke canisters, rockets, mines, missiles, depth charges, demolition charges, “pyrotechnic” devices, cartridges and simulators, smoke grenades, incendiary bombs, missile rocket nozzles and re-entry vehicle nosetips.

 These categories, used in the Spanish Report, are in line with those of the Common Military List of the European Union.

This means that the contention that the MAT-120, the mortar fired ammunition was exported to Libya from Spain is based on a misreading of the report. In fact, according to the Report, Libya could not have been supplied with the MAT-120.

Of the countries to which category 3 exports were actually made in 2007 and 2008 (after the date of manufacture of the bombs found in Misrata and before the the Spanish government banned their export) only the following country has not signed the Convention against Cluster Munitions and is involved in the conflict in Libya: The USA

The weapons systems trail.

A limited number of weapons systems can be used to fire the MAT-120 and these include the  USA-built Combat Boat 90H (CB-90) with the AMOS system on board which is manufactured under licence in the USA by AAI Corp.

The United States leadership fully approve of cluster munitions

The USA has refused to sign the Convention against Cluster Munitions and these weapons are normal parts of their arsenal with the USA possessing a very large stockpile of cluster munitions.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said cluster munitions are regarded by the US as:

“Legitimate weapons with clear military utility.”

In fact, Secretary Gates signed the policy on July 9 2008 that all cluster bombs in the US armoury should be of a similar type to the M-120 by 2018.

As Richard Kidd, Director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, U.S. Department of State, wrote in “Is There a Strategy for Responsible U.S. Engagement on Cluster Munitions?” April 28, 2008:

“Cluster munitions are available for use by every combat aircraft in the U.S. inventory, they are integral to every Army or Marine maneuver element and in some cases constitute up to 50 percent of tactical indirect fire support.”

Yet, the alleged war crime of bombing Misrata is also being used by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other authorities to justify an escalation of the conflict in Libya.

The coalition operation in Misrata

On the 14th of April, NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen confirmed that Admiral Stavridis had briefed foreign ministers that Gadaffi’s forces were now in populated areas and that “to avoid civilian casualties we need very sophisticated equipment.”

The US Combat Boat 90 or similar can be transported using a US transport aircraft to anywhere in the world in short order or transported to the immediate region using a naval support vessel.

The main ships involved from the United States Navy – ie “supporting Operation Unified Protector, off the coast of Libya” on the 14th and 15th April are attached to the Kearsarge Amphibious Group – Kearsarge (LHD-3) itself was in port in Augusta Bay, Sicily during the nights on which Misrata was cluster bombed.

The first ship is the USS Barry (DG-52) which is a destroyer and probably the destroyer spotted by CJ Chivers off the coast of Misrata.

Here is USS Barry earlier in the Libyan operation firing Tomahawk missiles into Libya:

Interestingly, the commanding Officer of USS Barry used to be Admiral James G Stavridis, the Admiral who is particularly keen on information wars and controlling the internet.

USS Barry participated in an exercise (FLEETEX 2-94) which involved covert SEAL team extraction in shallow water off the Carolina coast. USS Barry is based at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, also the base of Eva H. Thompson – the commander of Special Warfare Unit Four, who we have quoted before, praising the usefulness of the Combat Boat 90 and AMOS system.

The second ship of interest is the USS Ponce (LPD-15), an Austin-class amphibious transport dock. Anamphibious transport dock is a warship that embarks, transports and lands elements of a landing force for expeditionary warfare missions. This ship had something of the order of 851 enlisted servicemen and 72 officers on board.

Interestingly shortly after the Misrata operation, both the skipper and executive officer of USS Ponce, Commander Etta Jones and Lt. Cmdr. Kurt Boenisch, were relieved of their commands.

The third ship, of interest, is the USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) which is a dock landing ship and travelled through the Suez canal to join the others on April 13th, the day before the cluster bombing of Misrata. A dock landing ship is a form of amphibious warship designed to support amphibious operations. These amphibious assault ships transport and launch amphibious craft and vehicles with their crews and embarked personnel. usually these forces would be marines and/or special forces.

Embarked on these ships were certain units, including the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (26MEU) and Naval Beach Group Two (NBG2), TACRON 21, Four and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron TWO TWO (HSC-22).

The commander of the task force was Captain Dan Shaffer – who doubled up as Commander Task Force 65 (CTF-65) and Commander Destroyer Squadron 60 (DESRON60). He is under the command ofAdmiral Stavridis.

Operating from an amphibious transport dock ship, the forces involved, operating at night, could have been confident that they would not be discovered using these weapons.

The forces would also have been confident the use of these weapons would be blamed on the Gaddafi regime, as the operation organiser’s research would have shown (wrongly) that the MAT-120 was a a weapon possessed by Libya.

Human Rights Investigations calls for:

1). A full investigation into the possession and use of cluster munitions by all forces in the Libyan conflict with no impunity.

2). The suspension of military personnel found to be involved pending investigation and prosecution for war crimes.

3). A full investigation by the US authorities.

4). There should be investigations by the United Nations and by each of the nations participating in the coalition as the use of these munitions in a residential area is a clear violation of UN Resolution 1973, and

“those responsible for or complicit in attacks targeting the civilian population, including aerial and naval attacks, must be held to account.”

5). All members of the coalition, including the USA, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to declare their use of cluster munitions and to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

6). An end to the ’information war’ and military distortion of the public debate.

7). An end to the ongoing bombing of Libya which is against the spirit and intent of UN Resolution 1973 which was intended to protect civilians, not justify bombing of civilian areas, never mind justify war crimes and the cluster bombing of Libyan cities. 

evidence-based, independent and rigorous investigation of human rights abuses
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  • Gyvonnealdred 6 days ago
    I was able to get on to ljbc.net yesterday as it came up under www.en.ljbc.netand was able to post a message to the people of Lliba. It has been removed today. Surely it is time for payback as there must be some smart people out there who can cause problems to the terrorists from NATO. Surely something can be done to stop this terrorist attack on Libya. The real truth is not being reported in 99% of news channels or newspapers. God please help Gaddafi and the good people of Libya. If he won't help maybe there are others...
     show more
  • momma T 6 days ago
    I think the USA should stop interfering with these 3rd world countries.  No humanitarian aid, no funds, no help what so ever.  Let them all rot and starve to death.
    Like Reply
  • Umm Aminah Muhammad 6 days ago in reply to momma T
    Momma T before you speak you should have all of the facts. Notice I said "FACTS", for decades Libya has been isolated from most of the world and hit with sanctions on top of sactions.  Please do not "CONFUSED" and try to lump countries that are currently receiving US AIDE and think that every country on Allah's blue & green Earth must in some way be on "FOREIGN WELFARE".  On the contrary, Libya's was setting on trillions of it's Governments' very own currency and because of the unjust sanctions placed upon it wasn't able to spend it.  Libya was the...
     show more
  • We would absolutely welcome your proposal. Now please make it happen. We don't want your aid, aids, help, bombs, technology, missiles, medicine, drugs, people, nothing, lift your hands from Africa and let us rot alone please. If you could make that happen, you'd be our best friend.
  • Mahdi al-Gathafi 1 week ago
    Where does the US government get off, not in Libya that's for sure. The use of cluster munitions against civilians and in residential areas is breaking international law. A BIG CRIME against humanity. The perpe-traitors have much to answer for, not just for using cluster munitions in Misurata but also Jadu and Arrujban.
  • It was obvious, from the start, that NATO used cluster bombs ... as a device to, amongst other things, further vilify Brother Qadafi.

    And, yes, I will continue to use that spelling of his name, from when I studied at the Mathaba in Tripoli in 1991.

    It breaks my heart to be seeing the Libya I loved being destroyed.

    It was bad enough, in 1991, to see the effects of economic sanctions and the results of the US/UK attempt to murder Brother Qadafi in 1986 ... but now it has gone beyond all that to genocide and all out war...
     show more
  • You can do much good where you are Brother Gerry. Please connect with us. Please join at http://greencharter.com/files/... and we make invitation to network with other good people in your country.
  • Which reminds me http://greencharter.com/files/
    --we should be talking about the precepts & principles of this work - asking questions and such.  Do let us all know when on what site this can be held  ( on OPEN FORUM? )
    veronika wyrembek liked this Like Reply
  • veronika wyrembek  4 days ago in reply to Np_2007
    i would love, to have a talk about it. but where in my UHO (unknown hells objekt)-netbook is a translater-funktion? "translating with Bing"  isnt practible. where is the secret?
    Like Reply
  • Dear Friends, and others too, of which so many great ideas, good advice, and conversations going on here under the news items. It seems that the best place to have ongoing conversation on various topics, more focused and easier to find, would be athttp://mathaba.org -- what do you think? Perhaps in there too there are too many forums, let us know what you think, what should be moved/ or combined, created or closed. We're open to most ideas.
    Like Reply

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Russia's Libya role irks China
By M K Bhadrakumar 

Russia went to the Group of Eight (G-8) summit meeting at Deauville last week as an inveterate critic of the "unilateralist" Western intervention in Libya, but came away from the seaside French resort as a mediator between the West and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The United States scored a big diplomatic victory in getting Moscow to work for regime change in Libya. 

No sooner than he got back to Moscow, President Dmitry Medvedev ordered his special envoy to Africa Mikhail Margelov to travel to Libya "in the nearest time". Margelov is liked in the West and by Libyan rebels. He admitted, "Gaddafi's future is the 'most delicate topic'." 

The Western version is that in the middle of the G-8 summit, Medvedev suddenly declared that "Gaddafi has forfeited


legitimacy" and Russia plans to "help him go". But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted: "It wasn't a Russian initiative. It was a request, an appeal from President Sarkozy, from President [Barack] Obama, from other participants." 

The Kremlin is obviously eager to inject a fresh lease of bonhomie into Russia's "reset" with the US. Medvedev's meeting with Obama at Deauville failed to resolve the differences over deployment of missile defense system in Europe. The Kremlin is uneasy that the West is coolly ignoring Russian protestations about the intervention in Libya and a growing discord with the US is the last thing Medvedev wants. 

A credibility problem
However, Russia's u-turn displeases China. Beijing feels that Moscow led it up the garden path and left it alone. Russia virtually dumped the "joint cooperation" project on the Middle East and North Africa that Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi worked out at their meeting in Moscow last month as a new dimension to Sino-Russian strategic partnership. 

A Moscow-datelined commentary by Xinhua displays genuine irritation. It begins with a wry remark that Russia "strikingly joined the Western powers" in urging Gaddafi's exit. It adds, "Experts and analysts believe Russia made the move to protect its own interests in Libya and have a stake in the country's future. Yet they remain skeptical over whether Russia could help make a difference in the Middle East country." 

The commentary analyses that Russia was all along fence-sitter wagering which side in the Libyan internal conflict would ultimately prevail and, therefore, it criticized both the West and Gaddafi. But Moscow could lately see that the NATO was determined to have Gaddafi ousted and that realization "might have helped Russia make up its mind" to tag along with the West. 
Xinhua said there were weighty considerations behind this opportunism:
Moreover, seeking to protect its interests and stay relevant in the post-conflict Libya is perhaps another key reason. Russia sees Libya as an important partner in the region, having poured billions of US dollars of investment in Libya in sectors like oil exploration, railway construction and arms sales. Already, a chaotic Libya is crippling Russia's investment there. 

As NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] air raids are gaining further momentum, it's only natural for Russia to start considering its own role as it cannot afford to stay out of the picture. 

Additionally, some of the Western nations' promises and offers at the G-8 summit also prompted Russia to make the turn. At the summit, the Western countries pledged to facilitate Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization by the end of this year while ahead of the summit, France and Russia reached a deal under which Paris would sell four Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Moscow.
Xinhua expressed doubt, however, whether Russia would meet with success in its newfound role, since "Moscow has limited influence in Libya ... [and] Gaddafi's departure from power is still distant." 

Significantly, The People's Daily featured a separate article highlighting that China has all along pursued a highly principled policy toward the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. The implied comparison with Russia's unpredictable course is obvious. The commentary underlined a great consistency in China's Middle East policies in regard of its observance of the "basic norms of mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs when it comes to international relations ... Regarding the violent conflicts in certain countries, China calls on all related parties to settle differences through dialogues and negotiations and to avoid violence". The People's Daily explained:
China has forged an image of a trustworthy and responsible country by adhering to its principles and showing flexibility when dealing with various problems according to the actual situations in international forums such as the United Nations. Based on the principles of respecting national sovereignty and non-interference in others' internal affairs, China did not vote in favor of the UN Security Council's resolution for establishing a no-fly zone in Libya. 

However, it did not cast a dissenting vote either based on the purpose of protecting civilians and the positions of various parties, such as the League of Arab States and the African Union ... 

Meanwhile, China also opposed interference in the internal affairs and the sanctions approved by the UN Security Council and by other international institutions, which have made the problem more complicated.
The article asserts that "China's peaceful foreign policy has paid off" in the Middle East. China seems to anticipate that Russia's image would take a beating over Libya, and seems to distance itself from negative fallouts. 

Obama is the winner 
A credibility problem is bound to arise in the Chinese mind. China has brought its position much closer to Russia's over the developments in Middle East, even suggesting it would block any Western-sponsored moves against Damascus in the United Nations Security Council. China will need to rethink how it responds if the Libyan issue comes up again in the United Nations Security Council. There can be fallouts on other areas such as the Afghan problem. At Deauville, Obama "gave Russia", as Time magazine put it, a US$400 million contract for the supply of helicopters to Afghanistan. 

The deal has been wrapped up when hardly a fortnight remains for the summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at Astana, where Afghanistan tops the agenda. On the other hand, a country acting in its self-interests in any given situation - that is not something that shocks Chinese sensitivities. Besides, Libya is not a major template in the Sino-Russian strategic partnership. 

On Thursday, it became clear that a major gas deal between the two countries is going to be signed on June 10. After holding talks with the visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan in Moscow, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said, "We are expecting that we will sign the range of contracts during the visit of the Chinese president to Russia." 

Russia has in recent years sought to align itself more closely with China as it seeks to unlock new energy markets in Asia. Thus, on final reckoning, Libya is a blip in Beijing's ties with Moscow, compared to the prospect of 70 billion cubic metes of Russian natural gas sent to China annually. 

What counts, therefore, is not so much that China has lost heavily due to Russia's change of course on Libya as that Obama has gained significantly. Medvedev's call for Gaddafi to go has more than symbolic value for Obama. 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) operation has so far failed to remove Gaddafi from power and he seems determined to dig in. The protracted operation poses difficulties for the West financially and politically and if Moscow could persuade Gaddafi to throw in the towel, it will be wonderful denouement for Obama. On the other hand, if Russia fails in his "mediatory services", the enterprise won't look as Obama's folly, either. 

Second, Russia's hitherto angry reaction to the NATO intervention in Libya blocked any scope for the West to get a UN Security Council mandate for regime change in Tripoli. Obama can now expect smooth sailing for any move seeking UN Security Council legitimacy for a successor regime in Tripoli. A Russian veto can be ruled out. 

Also, Russia's volte-face over Libya has implications for Obama's strategy toward Syria, Russia's remaining Middle Eastern ally. The US is relentlessly seeking regime change in Syria and, once again, Russia stands in the way. But, for how long? 

Russian rhetoric continues to be strong on Syria. "Attempts to change the regime in Syria by using force should be curbed," Lavrov advised NATO on Thursday. But Damascus wouldn't be easily convinced. And that works to the US's advantage. 

On a broader plane, the message is going out that Obama's "reset" policy is slowly but steadily turning Russia from being an obstructionist power to a collaborator. Countries raging from Iran to Ukraine and Kazakhstan to Tajikistan - would take note. The Russian turnaround on Libya shows that the US-Russia discourse is becoming distinctly conciliatory. 

Obama's policy of "selective cooperation" toward Russia stands vindicated. Russia has given excellent cooperation over Iran and Afghanistan - and now on Libya. The "reset" seems a success story for the Obama administration's foreign policy - second only to the killing of Osama bin Laden. 

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey. 

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