Sirte Massacre

The Massacre of Sirte.



The city of Sirte Libya has experienced repeated war crimes.

Sirte was a town of about 75,000. It was Mouammar Gaddafi’s home town, and as such did receive massive investment. It was a beautiful modern city. With the headquarters of the African Union.

NATO bombed hospitals and apartment buildings during their intervention in Libya in 2011. Both China Television and Telesur of Venezuela had reporters in the city at the time.

The city was surrounded by “rebels”, their political opponents, one can be sure many Misratans.

If people stayed in the city they were denied access to the Red Cross, food, medicine or water.

If they fled the city they were stopped at checkpoints where they could be kidnapped beaten or killed.

It all depended on who you were, whether you were recognized, and who stopped you.

After the encirclement of Sirte and its bombardment by NATO and attack by ground forces, the city looked like a lunar landscape. It was utterly defaced beyond recognition.

The prime minister of Tunisia and Le Monde both state that approximately 2 million of Libyas six million residents have fled. 1/3 of the population of the country has fled. Interestingly this was about what I estimated the level of adamant opposition to regime change, about 1/3 for, 1/3 against and 1/3 apolitical. This 1/3 apolitical had a majority who opposed the NATO bombing, once it was clear that Libya was changing irrevocably.

The majority of schools have been extensively damaged, contradicting the absurd claims by NATO that there precision bombing led to “remarkably little destruction”. The damage done to Libya through NATO bombing has been extensive and is in the tens of billions of dollars of damage.

So we can assume that many of the people of Sirte who did not embrace NATO sponsored total destruction of their previous imperfect way of life have fled.

Nonetheless people did occasionally rise up, and were treated very harshly.

Many in Libya did not believe Islamic extremism could take hold in their society, because in general the concept that one person was more Muslim than another was a foreign concept to Libyans.

However the core of the religious extremists were a combination of forces who had fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, exiled from Libya by Gaddafi who suppressed religious extremism, and fought a long struggle against it. The core of this movement was the LIFG, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

Once Libyas borders were breached and rule of law ceased, foreign fighters streamed in. Takfiri fighters streamed in from all over the Muslim world. Which countries are they from? We know a major IS figure from Bahrain visited Sirte area. Turki al-Binali. Who are the foreign fighters in Libya? Who are the Al Qaeda and Islamic State groups in Libya? We know the LIFG went to Iraq and Afghanistan, that they might have fielded 3,000 men or so. We know that many went to Syria, hooked up with the Islamic State there and then returned to Libya. We know that Erdogan colluded with these players in unseating Gaddafi with Turkey a major broker between funneling fighters and arms from Qatar and Saudi Arabia into Libya, and then from Libya into Syria, and then from Syria back to Libya. As these countries abilities to control their borders disintegrate the movement gets progressively easier and easier.

Why is the US playing with fire? Why are we bringing more firepower and military actions into these three countries? Why are we cooperating with a Turkey that is bombing its own peoples brothers the Kurds in Iraq and Syria? Iraq Syria Libya and Yemen. Why have we sold 100 billion dollars worth of weapons to the Gulf monarchies? Countries whose leaders have brothers and cousins in Al Qaeda and the Islamic State? Why do we not take strong action when Saudi Arabia further destabilizes Yemen? Yemen will be the next Islamic State Al Qaeda country.

What do all these places have in common? The American and NATO brass are still settling scores from the cold war. The countries they seek to overthrow are all originally arab socialist allies of Russia. North Yemen, Libya, Syria and Iraq were all closely affiliated with the USSR in the 70s. And of course we are refighting the cold war now, destabilizing the Ukraine, then acting shocked as the former Soviet Republic falls apart under the pressure of the West, and its own internal tensions, unwilling to see the flaws in its allies, including their ultra rightist factions and tendencies.

The common denominator is the West is allying with ultra rightists with sympathies to religious extremists in the Muslim World and sympathies with Nazis in the Ukraine. Each proxy war we fight tears these countries further away from their historical friendships with the USSR.

It appears our generals and leaders are fighting long over wars and causing all sorts of destruction all over the world. A country once all of its security is stripped, with foreign powers funding armies and terrorist and guerilla groups in it, is basically destroyed. Delicate webs of ancient and sometimes uneasy relationships boil over. Minority groups who might have been suppressed by the former dictators of Syria and Libya and Iraq are now in danger of extermination.

These are some of the geopolitical elements at work in the massacre of Sirte.

Islamic extremists came to bully and dictate to the people of Sirte from the minute Gaddafi’s Libya began to crack under the pressure of internal dissent, Islamic extremists, arms and special forces coming in from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and the NATO air force and special forces streaming over it, essentially military forces 100 to 200 times greater than Libya’s own army.

Police had to remain silent as military warlords called the shots in all these cities, considering themselves heroes of the revolution. How many of them were uneasy in their hearts, having been delivered victory on a silver platter with the heavy lifting of airpower arms and special forces of the United States, Canada, Norway, Netherlands. France. The United Kingdom, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Has ever such a small army confronted such a formidable array of adversaries.

Clinton in Egypt boasted “The Libyan Army was not with the people. Now Libya has no army”. This was a warning to Mubarak. But which people were the soldiers of the Libyan army not aligned with? With this array of foreign powers it only took a small resistance. And in fact initially that’s what we saw, there were more journalists on the road from Brega to Benghazi than there were revolutionaries.

What is truly dumbfounding is that those of who have wandered any of these lands, seen the ancient cultures and sites, or with even an ounce of common sense knew immediately at each of these catastrophic moments, that we were being lied to about how evil our enemies were, and we knew that these countries would never fully recover. A violent armed revolution where at a certain point there are no rules except the rule of the gun is an unimaginable event to a Brit or an American. Though those who recall the second world war on Europe have some sense of what this is like. But in general in Europe under the Nazis a rule of law immediately took over. If you were Jewish Slavic Gypsy Communist or Gay, you would disappear. Unless you were in a Ukrainian SS unit.

Returning now to Sirte, the second phase of their existence after the fall of Gaddafis 69 revolution based Libya, was to be lorded over by the warlords of Misrata. They were tought to forget all they had learned under Gaddafi, and begin chanting new slogans to new leaders.

Finally the gates of Hell truly opened.

In Libya there are hundreds of rival warlords. But there are four main constellations of political power. First there is the Libyan Government that is internationally recognized in the East in Tobruk. This government consists of people voted into office in an election with one of the lowest voter turnouts in human history around 15%, plus 1/3 of the population had fled. What sort of democracy is this ? A country that even after 1/3 of the population has fled is so dispirited that they do not even bother to vote. Many candidates were removed from the lists as having been associated with the Gaddafi government. The Government in Tobruk is allied with a former Gaddafi era general who acted as a protective umbrella to the people in the armed forces which were left over from prior to the NATO intervention/revolution who had not yet been assassinated (at least one officer a day was assassinated from 2011 to 2015). Kalifa Hefter lived 10 minutes from the CIA headquarters in Virginia for 25 years and was airdropped back in, by the CIA ostensibly. He is the lesser of many evils. Perhaps he is a good man. Perhaps he is a CIA puppet. I do not know. He runs the tattered remains of the Libyan Armed Forces after NATO got done running them through a meatgrinder of 8,000 aerial attacks against 30,000 soldiers. One plane load of weapons for each 3 soldiers, as the air buzzed with the US drones beaming targeting information back to the special forces of the various countries, the NATO air forces, and their Islamist allies on the ground.

Second there is a second Government in the West in Tripoli that is more oriented towards Sharia law. This is the group we brought to power by the gun. The GNC.

Third there restive groups in the South who think life was a damn sight better before, and would gladly reinstall a Gaddafi to run Libya and undo what has been done.

Fourth there is the Islamic State. A monstrous abortion of hate based on former wrongs, as Churchill said of Hitler. The Islamic State is essentially an alliance between jihaadists and opportunists attaching themselves to the name of Jihaad, and Sadaam Husseins remaining officers who joined forces with them to overthrow the Iraqi Shiite power structures, and the Shiite Alawi forces that form the core of Basher Al Assads Syria. They rolled into Syria built themselves up, and then attacked into Iraq. They now control parts of many countries. Without the expertise of the Baathist officers they likely would not have achieved anywhere near the results they have.

The Islamic state and Al Qaeda were first strongest in Derna, the home to native born Libyan extremism, but the Libyan army and the Tobruk government have put some effort into uprooting them from Derna. So while they have great influence there. Derna is not fully controlled. Sirte became their target.

They completely took over Sirte in May 2015.

They demanded the Sirte mosque be handed over to them when they were rejected IS killed the Imam. When the people rose up against them with AK 47s they opened up on them with heavy weapons. Caretakers of the sick were executed. Their patients were executed.

Those who resisted were beheaded and or crucified. The population has been ordered to swear allegiance to the Islamic State.

Food and water are rare, medicine is non existant, and those who can flee are fleeing, many will make their way to Bani Walid, the capital of Libya’s largest tribe, the Warfalla. Bani Walid is known as one of the cities more charitably inclined to loyalists, people who feel more in common with the old Libya than the new.

Sirte has been the site of other massacres by the Islamic State. 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians were behead there, the Copts still use in their liturgies elements descended from Pharaonic Egypt 2,000 years or more before Christ, they are a small minority and they are endangered. God only knows what would happen if IS took hold in Egypt.

20 Ethiopian Christians were beheaded by IS in Sirte.

Have we not now reached a point where we can say Enough is Enough?

Syria needs a political dialogue and an end to fighting. That is for another day for me. Today we speak of Libya. Yemen too. Iraq as well. We need to difuse the grievances and conditions that have created groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. I can tell you these groups are extremely profitable for the large arms companies, and the intelligence contractors, and can be used by organizations such as the CIA to bring down powers that the CIA wishes to bring down.

And we must not be angry with the people who were fed up with Gaddafi and naively thought that inviting NATO and the gulf states to assist in overthrowing him would lead them to live like other people in so called normal countries. Imagining a parliamentary government and a market economy without the iron discipline of Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya.

We need to the flow of weapons and fighters into Libya. We need to impose UN sanctions against countries engaged in this nefarious trade, such as Qatar and Turkey.

We need to expel the foreign fighters from Libya.

And we need to do this through international structures that have not been fatally compromised.

We need to have a commission of truth and reconciliation at the United Nations. Prison sentences should be considered for the NATO and Gulf State leadership who violated UN 1973 the resolution to protect Benghazi that was twisted in front of the worlds eyes to plunge Libya into a hellish disaster for at least two thirds of its residents, half of whom have already fled.

We need to consider Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn principle “that what you break you own” and take responsibility for the consequences of allowing our leadership to live out their ego trips on the backs and fronts of the Libyan Nation.

Libya is an ancient place with connections to the Eastern Mediterranean Europe and Africa that go back to the dawn of time.

I have created a petition to the White House to protect the civilians of Sirte from further abuse from the Islamic State. Please click on the link below and sign it.


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Protect Libyans of Sirte from massacre by Islamic State. halt Turkey Qatar fighters. Take responsibility for NATO action

The people of Sirte Libya have suffered repeated war crimes. They were told to hand over their mosque to the Islamic State. When they refused the mosques Imam was murdered. They rose up with AK 47s. But they were confronted with Islamic State fighters with heavy weapons. These men and their weapons come into Libya via Misrata and the territory controlled by Fajr Dawn. Caretakers and sick people have been murdered. The young men brave enough to resist have been crucified and beheaded. All this time the world has lain silent. This is possible because of the flow of arms and foreign fighters from Qatar and Turkey. There needs to be concerted UN Arab league and US European truth and reconciliation action to halt these flows of arms, and compensation for the damage caused by armed intervention.

Published Date: Aug 18, 2015

Issues: Defense, Foreign Policy, Human Rights

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