Another day, another fiasco. Now, some might accuse detractors of excessive snark, but it’s hard not to when stuff like this happens. Even if you ignore that factoid about 4x the wasted ammunition as being unreliable, there’s plenty of stuff that makes one smack the face:
But in the characteristically fanciful version of events provided by the Shabaab, a spokesman claimed it was all part of a cunning regime plot. According to Mustafa Ali Omar: “Some of Gaddafi’s forces sneaked in among the rebels and fired anti-aircraft guns in the air. After that, Nato came and bombed them.”
Captain Rahim Mohammed Fatousi, an army officer who defected to the revolution, shrugged “It is very difficult with the Shabaab: they were told many times to leave because we knew the coalition was going to carry out air attacks. But these people have support from some of the political factions in Benghazi who want to use their influence through them. We shall continue to try and have some discipline into this operation.”
By yesterday, however, this had frayed. The Shabaab, as well as unarmed civilians, were allowed access to the front line and the result was seen in the retreat from the scene of the “friendly fire” when the Shabaab began to shoot in panic at their own side – rebel military moving along the desert – and even others fleeing behind them. Later, another retreat followed when a “volunteer”, a 17-year-old who had decided to observe the fighting while his school remains shut, mistook some local farmers for undercover Gaddafi troops.
At some point the Shabaab needs to ask themselves whether they’re tagging along for a photoshoot jaunt or they’re actually serious about overthrowing Gaddafi. All the impartial observer is seeing are disaffected youths letting off testosterone-fueled steam. Lives are at stake here, most of the time not theirs, as evident in the witch-hunt roadblocks they run in friendly cities and the lynchings of black migrant workers from the sub-Sahara.
Also, in other reports:
Despite reported ambiguity on Barack Obama’s part over the issue of arming and training the rebels, Gates made clear that the Pentagon firmly opposed it. Repeating that it was a “certainty” that no US ground troops would be authorised by Obama, he laid into the rebels’ capabilities, describing the opposition as a faction-ridden and disparate “misnomer” whose forces lacked “command and control and organisation”. If the opposition needed training and weapons, he said, “someone else” would have to provide it, a declaration that would seem to slam the door on the rebels’ hopes of being armed by the West.
The rebels better hope for a ceasefire, because that’s the best they can achieve out of this pointless stalemate as Gaddafi will be adverse to moving far out of Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad, knowing he can starve the east out of oil revenue if he holds those towns. All this hooha about the Benghazi Bravado(tm) also ignores the real problem of Misurata, where the civilian deaths (that pesky issue that Resolution 1973 was actually SUPPOSED to be about) continues with merciless shelling by Gaddafi forces. Now, with the US withdrawing their gunships, these people have been effectively left to their fate.