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Gaddafi forces capture 17 UK, French and Qatari ‘advisers’ 19, September 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in North Africa, Qatar.
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Reuters is reporting that Gaddafi loyalists have captured 17 mercenaries, as they describe them. Most are French but there are also some from the UK, Qatar and an unspecified Asian country, the initial report notes.

These ‘mercenaries’ are in fact ‘technical experts and consultative officers’ aiding the rebels in their advance on the last pockets of Gaddafi’s troops.

If it is subsequently confirmed, this will mark a potentially significant boost for pro-Gaddafi forces and a commensurate setback for Libya’s new government and its allies, not to mention causing consternation for the UK, France and Qatar.

It could prove to be rather embarrassing and difficult for Qatar, should the reports prove to be correct. It would confirm what has been long suspected and reported on – that Qatar has boots on the ground. And a Qatari getting directly caught up in these troubles many thousands of miles away may contribute to concerns in Qatar as to the significant level of Qatari involvement in Libya.

If some accommodation can be reached, Gaddafi would surely demand a high price given his deranged mental state and his recent toppling from power. This or a rescue operation by UK or French special forces is surely the most likely (positive) outcome.

On assumptions of truth 9, June 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran, North Africa, Opinion.
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Earlier this evening I read an article in which Libya’s comical Ali-esque spokesperson refuted the claims that Gaddafi had given the order to use rape as a weapon of war and instead claimed that the rebels, as he refers to them, had even engaged in cannibalism.

Immediately I assumed that, as you can clearly see, the official spokesperson was lying about the rebels engaging in cannibalism. While I certainly have some skepticism about the notion of Gaddafi ordering some kind of systematic policy of rape to be used, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. And, from what little news I’ve seen about it and with their snippets of ‘proof’ (i.e. boxes of viagra apparently strewn around areas recently deserted by pro-Gaddafi forces) I would suppose that this story is mostly true.

Though, as I note, I have, essentially, bugger all proof of this. Essentially, I believe that Gaddafi (probably) used rape as a weapon of war even though it is based on no reasonable evidence. Why is this? Is it because I manifestly dislike Gaddafi and think that he’s either crazy or evil enough to concieve such a plan or because I read about it in a trusted news source? A bit of both I’d suppose.

Yet this thought perturbed me, somewhat, as I thought about it earlier. Particuarly in the light of the saga of the abduction of the ‘Gay Girl in Damascus’. As you’ve probably read, a ‘prominent’ blogger – the eponymous gay girl – posted (or had someone post for her) that she had been abducted by Syrian security forces. Only later, a few days after the story broke and she became something of a cause celebre against the awful Assad regime, it transpires that it’s all something of a hoax. She was never abducted and it is not wholly clear if she is real, gay, a girl, a blogger, in Damascus, or what.

Here again, I suppose, I automatically assumed that this story was (probably) true, or at least a good representation of the facts. After all, it sounded just like what Assad’s security services would do, didn’t it? And this fundamental assumption was expertly played on by the author of the ‘gay girl’ saga.

So too to I think that the notion of Gaddafi promoting the use of rape as a weapon of war fits really rather perfectly into my characature of ‘exactly something’ that that evil despot would do. Too perfectly, perhaps? Certainly the reply of Gaddafi’s spokesperson went the only way it could: it ramped up the act to cannibalism, perhaps one of the few taboos worse (though I really don’t want to start that argument) than rape. Presumebly the logical conclusion to this game of one-upmanship’s is for Gaddafi to accuse the rebels of engaging in nechrophilia.

But this un-subtle, rather stupid response from Gaddafi’s people doesn’t concern me; it’s blatant and obvious.

To take another example: the Iranian elections of 2009. They were, I believe, stolen by Ahmadinejad with an absurd amount of votes in certain districts mysteriously not counting for who they were expected to. I have alluded to this opinion as ‘fact’ in a number of things that I have written recently. Yet I have also been reading various quotes, comments and articles from people that I trust plainly declaring that there is no hard evidence of the election being stolen. Were someone to ask me to provide my evidence then I’d root around google news, find a NYT article or two and provide that. However, I suspect that were I to delve deeper into their sources, I imagine that there would (perhaps) not be all that much solid, bonafide ‘proof’ that the election were stolen. Such proof is, I’d have thought, near impossible to obtain. Yet I still believe that the election was stolen. So am I right to say so?

I suppose the ‘opposite’ example is currently underway, so to speak, on the other side of the Gulf where it is an assumption that has become hardened fact for many (and I’d be tempted to say most) Arabs that Iran is significantly at fault for, for example, the recent troubles in Bahrain. There is – to my knowledge; and I do live and breath this topic – no evidence of significant Iranian involvement, so I dismiss it, just as an Iranian may be tempted to dismiss my assumptions about their 2009 election.

How much ought one rely on one’s assumptions and on previous analysis in lieu of evidence for understanding a given event?

The notion that one must ‘always’ have absolute proof before one makes up one’s mind is absurd: I’ve no evidence whatsoever that the moon landings took place (on the moon…) but believe that they did. Clearly we need to rely on other people’s trusted judgments a lot of the time.

I’ve got no conclusion to this wavy and meandering stream of consciousness. All I would say is that this rant makes me believe that while blogging is good and all, it doen’t come remotely close to the rigour of a good newspaper (this blog being the grand exception, of course). While you may think that that is something of an obvious statement, I’m not so sure it is.

The hype that the ##sigh## Twitter revolutions have garnered, the ‘cool’ twenty-first centuryness of the blog and the commensurate if not necessarily wholly correlated demise of the profitability of newspapers suggest to me that the worth of newspapers is, for any or none of the afore mentioned reasons, going down.

So…I dunno…go buy a newspaper or something, I guess.

Gaddafi insults Qatari Emir 27, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in North Africa, Qatar.
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Libya’s national embarrassment Leader has taken a decidedly underhand jibe at Qatar’s Emir Hamad Al Thani. Gaddafi opened the Arab summit which he is hosting in his home town of Sirte in Libya proclaiming that Arab citizens are “waiting for action, not words and speeches”. The irony that he said this in a speech clearly being lost on him.

Later on when Qatar’s Emir stated correctly that Arab leaders have achieved too little, Gaddafi replied that his guests – including 13 heads of State – would not do much better. He then said of the tall and heavy Emir that he is “better than me at filling a void” before laughing uproariously at his own joke. As soon as he finished laughing there was a barely audible sound of every Libyan cringing with (yet more) shame as their glorious leader humiliated their country for the n’th time.

State Department spokesman in Libya gaffe 10, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in North Africa.
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I feel exceedingly sorry for State Department spokesman PJ Crowley. On Tuesday he was commenting on Libya’s absurd call for an absurd Jihad against Switzerland. He replied that it reminded him of Gadaffi’s absurd speech to the UN:

I can recall lots of words and lots of papers flying all over the place, not necessarily a lot of sense.

To this mildest of quips, Libya is threatening to take some kind of action against US business interests in Libya. I’ve no doubt that the basket-case Gadaffi will use this incident to embark on another absurd rant about some absurd topic. The man is just such an idiot.

If one had only to contend with his rants that would be one thing, but his anti-Swiss crusade began after his son brutally attacked hotel staff at a Hotel in Switzerland. Hannibal’s history as a monumentally unpleasant person is well documented x x x . The sooner that Gadaffi the elder lays down his costumes and retires to the OAPs home where most senile people of his age go, the better. And the sooner Hannibal seeks help or is imprisoned for his actions, the better.

Hat tip: Abstract JK

Gaddafi’s UN Speech 23, September 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in North Africa.
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What an embarrassing joke of a leader. If he hates the UN that much he should withdraw Libya. I’m sure they’ll be missed. Gaddafi perfectly highlights exactly what happens when a dictator takes charge of a country for four decades: no one is willing to stand up to the ‘dear leader’ and explain just how cringe-worthy his adolescent behavior is for fear that they and their family will be ‘disappeared’ the next day.