The PJ Tatler

Libya headlines: Russians slam the operation again, allies in confusion, female photog assaulted

It’s often hard to know where to start on Libya news. We’ll begin with how the Libyans under Gaddafi’s control treated an American photographer they had captured:

Lynsey Addario was one of four Times journalists have now been released after being held captive by pro-Gaddafi forces.

During their six-day detainment, the Americans were beaten and threatened with being decapitated and shot. …

One man grabbed her breasts – the start of a pattern of sexual harassment she endured over the ensuing 48 hours.

‘There was a lot of groping,’ she said. ‘Every man who came in contact with us basically felt every inch of my body short of what was under my clothes.’

As she was being driven away from Ajdabiya, she said another of her captors stroked her head and told her repeatedly that she was going to be killed.

‘He was caressing my head in this sick way, this tender way, saying, “You’re going to die tonight. You’re going to die tonight”,‘ she added.

The Russians tried the humiliation game themselves, via their defense minister against ours:

In a rebuke of U.S. policy in Libya, the Russian defense minister condemned civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes and called for immediate cease-fire on Tuesday as Defense Secretary Robert Gates sat stonily beside him.Speaking to reporters following an hourlong meeting with Gates, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Russia continued to support the United Nations resolution authorizing the creation of a no-fly zone over Libya but made clear that Moscow was increasingly uneasy about the escalating campaign.

“Unfortunately, recent developments in the country demonstrate that it is experiencing real hostilities, destroying civilian facilities, and the killing of civilians,” Serdyukov said. “This shouldn’t have been let to happen and we informed our U.S. counterparts of our opposition.”

No one should have been surprised that setting up a no-fly zone involves destroying quite a few targets on the ground, and no one should have been surprised that enforcing the UN’s R2P doctrine would entail striking ground targets including Libyan armor and other military units. And no one should have been surprised that however clinical the operation actually is, that Gaddafi would howl about civilian casualties. The Russians, with their KGB leadership, are probably the least surprised of anyone in the entire world. They’re playing a duplicitous game of head fakes against us, a game for which our current leadership seems quite unprepared.

What’s the Russians’ real policy on Libya? Turmoil in the Middle East means oil costs more, and Russia has a lot of oil to sell. They have already stepped up oil supplies to reeling Japan, their long-time enemy. Other than the oil benefit to Moscow’s bottom line, I suspect they don’t much care one way or the other, but they and the Iranians and the Syrians and the North Koreans etc etc are learning a good bit from all this, with a central theme: Don’t commit your internal massacres on television.

They’re also learning that the allies are easily divided when the mission isn’t clear from the beginning.

A US F-15 crashed in Libya today, apparently due to mechanical failure. Thankfully the crew ejected safely over rebel territory and are safe.