Little by little, the city is starting to appear like a Libyan version of Sarajevo in the eyes of the “free” world. The rebels from Benghazi hope that a humanitarian crisis in Misrata will convince the Western coalition to deploy ground troops in order to save the population.
. . . During the course of April, the NGO Human Rights Watch published casualty figures concerning Misrata that reveal that, contrary to the claims made in the international media, Qaddafi loyalist forces have not massacred the residents of the town. During two months of hostilities, only 257 persons — including combatants — were killed. Among the 949 wounded, only 22 — or fewer than 3 percent — were women. If regime forces had deliberately targeted civilians, women would have represented around half of the victims.
It is thus now obvious that Western leaders — first and foremost, President Obama — have grossly exaggerated the humanitarian risk in order to justify their military action in Libya.
The real interest of Misrata lies elsewhere. . . . The control of this port, at only 220 kilometers from Tripoli, would make it an ideal base for launching a land offensive against Qaddafi.
On Benghazi and the Cyrenaica Region:
Benghazi is well-known as a hot-bed of religious extremism. The Cyrenaica region has a long Islamist tradition going back to the Senussi brotherhood. Religious fundamentalism is much more evident here than in the western part of the country. Women are completely veiled from head to foot. They cannot drive and their social life is reduced to a minimum. Bearded men predominate. They often have the black mark of piety on their foreheads [the “zebibah,” which is formed by repeated prostration during Muslim prayers].
It is a little-known fact that Benghazi has become over the last 15 years the epicenter of African migration to Europe. This traffic in human beings has been transformed into a veritable industry, generating billions of dollars. Parallel mafia structures have developed in the city, where the traffic is firmly implanted and employs thousands of people, while corrupting police and civil servants. It was only a year ago that the Libyan government, with the help of Italy, managed to bring this cancer under control.
Following the disappearance of its main source of revenue and the arrest of a number of its bosses, the local mafia took the lead in financing and supporting the Libyan rebellion. Numerous gangs and members of the city’s criminal underworld are known to have conducted punitive expeditions against African migrant workers in Benghazi and the surrounding area. Since the start of the rebellion, several hundred migrant workers — Sudanese, Somalis, Ethiopians, and Eritreans — have been robbed and murdered by rebel militias. This fact is carefully hidden by the international media.
On African “Mercenaries” and Tuaregs:
One of the greatest successes [of Qaddafi’s African policy] is his “alliance” with the Tuaregs [a traditionally nomadic population spread over the region of the Sahara], whom he actively financed and supported when their movement was repressed in Mali in the 1990s.
. . . In 2005, Qaddafi accorded an unlimited residency permit to all Nigerian and Malian Tuaregs on Libyan territory. Then, in 2006, he called on all the tribes of the Sahara region, including Tuareg tribes, to form a common entity to oppose terrorism and drug trafficking . . .
This is why hundreds of combatants came from Niger and Mali to help Qaddafi [after the outbreak of the rebellion]. In their view, they were indebted to Gaddafi and had an obligation to do so. . . .
Many things have been written about the “mercenaries” serving in the Libyan security forces, but few of them are accurate. . . .
In recent years, foreigners have . . . been recruited [into the Libyan army]. The phenomenon is entirely comparable to the phenomenon that one observes on all levels of Libyan economic life. There is a very large population of foreign workers in search of employment in the country. The majority of the recruits originally come from Mali, Chad, Niger, Congo, and Sudan. . . .
The information from rebel sources on supposed foreign intrusions [i.e. mercenaries] is vague and should be treated with caution. . . .
On the other hand, it is a proven fact — and the mission was able to confirm this itself — that Tuaregs from Niger came to Tripoli to offer their support to Qaddafi. They did so spontaneously and out of a sense of debt.
. . . It seems that Libyans of foreign origin and genuine volunteers coming from foreign countries are being deliberately confused [in the reports on “mercenaries”]. Whatever the actual number [of foreign fighters], they form only a small part of the Libyan forces.