Libya: CIA on the ground

by Our Arab Affairs correspondent

FIGHTING continues across Libya as imperialist backed rebels battle with loyalist forces for control of Ajdabiya on the coastal road to the rebel held provincial capital of Benghazi.

The Libyan government has denied rebel claims that it used cluster bombs against rebels in Misrata and British and French imperialism moved to escalate the conflict by sending military advisers to train the rebel militia, despite calls from the UN Secretary General, Russia and China for an immediate ceasefire and a political solution to the Libyan civil war.

Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul Ati al Obeidi has warned that the presence of Nato military personnel would be a “step backwards”. He proposed that there should be a ceasefire followed by an interim period of maybe six months to prepare for an election, which would be supervised by the UN, as proposed by the African Union roadmap.

British, French and Italian military advisers are being sent to Libya to beef up rebel forces, who have still been unable to break the deadlock in the fighting with loyalist troops despite eight weeks of Nato bombing. This week Nato warplanes have launched air raids on telecommunication and broadcasting infrastructure in several Libyan cities this week and Tripoli, the Libyan capital, was again pounded by Nato aviation in renewed efforts to relieve pressure on Misrata, where the rebels are struggling to hold on to their only foothold in the west of the country.

Many suspect that the “military advisers” will pave the way for the landing of Anglo-French combat troops. French officials are openly calling for soldiers to be deployed on the ground to help guide Nato air strikes and to support the rebels. European officials said up to 1,000 troops are ready to go in when given the green-light by the United Nations.

Germany and Turkey are continuing to ignore calls from London and Paris to join the offensive against the Muammar Gaddafi government and the Americans were pointedly cool about the Anglo-French move to send military advisers to the rebel army.

White House spokesperson Mark Toner told the media on Tuesday that while Britain and France were, as he put it, “playing a very productive and constructive role” in Libya it “doesn’t mean necessarily that we’re going to follow suit or bring our capabilities to bear where they’re already bringing their capabilities to bear”.

The United States has not recognised the rebel “Transitional National Government of Libya” which, so far, has only been recognised by France, Italy, Spain, Qatar and the Maldives islands.

And while the Americans are continuing to insist that Gaddafi step down, they have scaled down their military support for what is increasingly becoming an Anglo-French military adventure.

But while the Obama administration insists that no American military ground troops are participating in the Libyan conflict, small groups of CIA agents have been working in Libya for weeks as part of the efforts to fight Gaddafi’s forces, according to a New York Times story on 30th March.

The report, quoting American officials, said the CIA has dropped clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military air-strikes and to contact and vet Libyan rebels.