Belmont Club

Who's Laughing Now?

Translators monitoring Arabic websites report that al-Qaeda’s number two has weighed in on Libya. He called upon Muslims to rise up against both NATO and Moamer Kadhafi’s forces in a newly released video apparently taped before the Western intervention in Libya. Ayman al-Zawahiri backed the ousted Tunisian and Egyptian presidents and accused the Egyptian government of “separation from Islam” and “subservience to the West”. He said:

I want to direct the attention of our Muslim brothers in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and the rest of the Muslim countries, that if the Americans and the NATO forces enter Libya then their neighbors in Egypt and Tunisia and Algeria and the rest of the Muslim countries should rise up and fight both the mercenaries of Kadhafi and the rest of NATO.

Al-Zawahiri’s video suggests that al-Qaeda intends to play in the reconstruction and stabilization phases of the Libyan Operation. But first NATO must remove Khadaffy and the first order of business is ousting him from power. The NATO Secretary-General is calling for more assets.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said more precision strike assets were needed over Libya. “They’re hiding their heavy arms in populated areas, to avoid civilian casualties, we need a few more high-precision fighter aircraft for air-to-ground attack missions.” Rasmussen started a pledge campaign to bring another bomber here, another bomber there. Thursday’s talks in Berlin made him “confident that nations will step up to the plate.”

But who is he asking them from? When NATO asks NATO who is talking to whom?  A Reuters sourced report says that “the United States and European NATO allies rebuffed French and British calls to contribute more actively to ground strikes in the air war in Libya despite fears of a military stalemate” in another round of the weird dialogue the alliance seems to be having with itself.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said after talks with Clinton in Berlin that the United States was not going to review its military position on Libya despite a request from Paris.

“I told her we need them and that we would like them to come back,” Juppe told journalists. “I think they will stick to the same line.”

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States was receptive to the concerns of its allies but believed NATO was doing a good job in Libya and the U.S. military would continue to play a supporting role.

A senior U.S. official said NATO had made no direct request to the United States to provide more aircraft.

So one interpretation, and perhaps the only interpretation that makes sense is that the European NATO partners want the North American NATO partner to provide airplanes to do what they both agreed on, assuming they agreed on it.  The weird dialogue recalls the scene from the movie Evil Dead in which Bruce Campbell, playing Ash, is trying to regain control of his possessed arm. “Who’s laughing now?” Probably the Duck of Death, who recently staged a victory parade through Tripoli. Maybe it’s premature. Or maybe he’s made the deal.

The Duck On Parade In Tripoli


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