A boy with a Kingdom of Libya flag painted on his face attends a demonstration against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi April 13, 2011. International powers meeting on Libyaâ€™s future called for the first time on Wednesday for Gaddafi to step aside, but NATO countries squabbled publicly over stepping up air strikes to help topple him.
REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
What youâ€™re probably going to read someday: U.N. Resolution 1973 authorized action to create a no-fly zone in Libya. It did not authorize the use of foreign troops on the ground. President Barack Obama seemed to accept that limitation when he made his famous â€œno U.S. boots on the groundâ€ declarationâ€”a statement that has been repeated by every U.S. spokesman since. Since Obamaâ€™s declaration however, it has been learned that, in fact, for several weeks CIA operatives have been active in Libya. They are there supposedly to find targets for the missile and rocket attacks of the U.S. and its allies, as well as to get some idea of who the opposition is that Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy et al. have chosen to support.
The joke was those CIA types are not wearing boots, but sneakers.
Recently we learned, via Al-Jazeera English, that there is a secret training site in eastern Libya where U.S. and Egyptian special forces are giving basic weapons training to selected rebels. Those rebels are also now receiving more sophisticated weapons. You can be sure those U.S. advisers are wearing boots.
That report was long expected. For when the secret history of this current struggle is written (there are already several books in the works), we will almost certainly learn that, despite Obamaâ€™s public protestations, he was advised before launching his Libyan adventure that U.S. â€œadvisersâ€ would more than likely also be needed.
Revelations will probably also make it clear that President Obama was told that those U.S. advisers could not just be limited to instructing the rebels how to fire their weapons, but would also have to train them and give them basic military skills. And it probably wonâ€™t stop there.
Those advisers are probably alsoâ€”behind the scenesâ€”already filling key command roles: advising the rebels when and how to advance, either directly or in liaison with special forces from other countries with boots on the ground in Libya, everyone doing his best to maintain the fiction that those â€œadvisersâ€ arenâ€™t there. And that the rebels are calling their own shots.
For those American spooks and troops are not alone.
According to other reports, special â€œSmash Squadsâ€ from Britainâ€™s famed SAS have also been on the ground in Libya for several weeks now pursuing similar missions.
Perhaps theyâ€™re the same SAS teams that Britain supposedly dispatched to train Moammar Gadhafiâ€™s special forces a year or so backâ€”part of the warming of relations between the two countries.
And considering the determination of Sarkozy to push for the original attacks, reports that elite French troops are also on the ground in Libya are almost certainly true as well.
The above would mesh with an unconfirmed report from a Pakistani newspaper claiming: â€œAccording to an exclusive report confirmed by a Libyan diplomat in the region, the three Western states have landed their special forces troops in Cyrinacia and are now setting up their bases and training centres to reinforce the rebel forces who are resisting pro-Gadhafi forces in several adjoining areas.
â€œA Libyan official who requested not to be identified said that the U.S. and British military gurus were sent on Feb. 23 and 24 through American and French warships and small naval boats off Libyan ports of Benghazi and Tobruk.â€
Which brings us to the declaration of an American military official briefing the press. When he was asked whether the coalition forces communicate with the rebels in Libya, he said no. â€œRegarding coordination with rebel forces, nothing. Our mission is to protect civilians,â€ said the official. â€œItâ€™s not about the rebels, this is about protection of civilians,â€ he added.