Libya’s Prime Minister declared yesterday that Sirte, the hometown of Moammar Gadhafi, was liberated by rebel forces. The Libyan rebel government’s National Transitional Council (NTC) is also claiming its soldiers have shot and killed the defamed Libyan leader who was in a convoy as his stronghold city fell. After weeks of hard fighting, the NTC now maintains that all of Libya is under rebel control. President Obama called the news part of a “momentous day.” Many Western officials are perhaps breathing a sigh of relief now that a necessarily ‘awkward trial’ for the former Libyan leader has been avoided.
Gadhafi became the most wanted man in the world following the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death in May. Interestingly, Gadhafi was a member of (and in good standing with) the UN Human Rights Council until a few weeks before NATO’s March declaration of a no-fly zone over Libya.
While the tide of war is ebbing in North Africa, tensions are piquing around the Middle East.
Six soldiers died in Afghanistan this past week, bringing total U.S. casualties to 13 for the month and 366 so far this year. More than $2.35 billion of taxpayer money has been spent on Operation Enduring Freedom in the last seven days. Since last Friday, an additional $915 million has been expended on the war in Iraq.
In Pakistan, three high profile U.S. officials traveled to Islamabad Thursday to push leaders on possible Pakistani government ties to the Haqqani Network. The U.S. is accusing Pakistan of using the Haqqanis to carry out covert operations against U.S. targets in Afghanistan.
It is being reported that the U.S. is commencing huge military maneuvers aimed at Iran following last week’s dubious assassination plot of a Saudi diplomat.
In Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Wednesday denounced demands by opposition leadership for him to leave power. “They don’t have a culture of their own,” Saleh said of his political opponents in a televised address. Saleh says that opposition forces gained authority by imitating populist revolts in the region.
Turkish state-run television is reporting that 600 Turkish commandos, assisted by warplanes and helicopter gunships, have attacked Kurdish rebel strongholds in Iraq. The cross-border incursion represents a retaliatory strike by Turks who are demanding justice for the slaying of at least 24 Turkish soldiers killed in attacks on military and police targets along the border Wednesday. Of note are cryptic remarks by Turkish Prime minister Recep Erdogan regarding the work of the P.K.K separatists, who’ve been demanding Kurdish autonomy from Turkish rule since 1984:
“Terror is a tool in the hands of certain powers. The PKK are subcontractors used by other forces and other powers, trying to provoke Turkish society.”
In another cross-border military operation, Kenyan soldiers have joined forces with Somali government troops to secure Somalia’s frontier. The joint strike comes in response to a wave a kidnappings that threaten Kenya’s tourism industry. A Kenyan military spokesman told Reuters that 73 al Shabaab rebels were killed during artillery bombardment and that Kenyan and Somali forces have secured three towns. According to a senior Somali commander, the operation’s main goal is to rid Kismayu, a port city that is a known al Shabaab stronghold, of its militants.