The Gaddafi Warrant

And… I’m back! Married, honeymooned, de-jet-lagged, etc. And just in time, because Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant today for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. It was accompanied by warrants for Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and brother-in-law, Abdullah al-Senussi. All three are charged with crimes against humanity for the murder and persecution of Libyan nationals between February 15th and 28th, 2011.

The issuance of these warrants reflects the judges’ belief that there are reasonable grounds for concluding that (1) violations rising to the level of crimes against humanity occurred during the crackdown against Libyan civilians, and (2) the three men are criminally responsible for these violations.

A couple of interesting things here:

First, Gaddafi’s responsibility is alleged on the grounds that he has “absolute control over the Libyan State apparatus” and Sennusi’s based on his status as the head of Military Intelligence. Gaddafi’s son, however, is not a member of the Libyan government. The judges note that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, “although not having an official position, is Muammar Gaddafi’s unspoken successor and the most influential person within his inner circle.” They therefore conclude that he “exercised control over crucial parts of the State apparatus, including finances and logistics and had the powers of a de facto Prime Minister.” This makes good sense, given what we know of Saif’s role in the crackdown. But if the case ever goes to trial, we should expect an exciting battle over the facts necessary to establish his de facto control.

Second, no mention is made in these warrants of the alleged Viagra-fueled mass rapes raised by Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo last month. The absence of charges in the warrants doesn’t mean mass rape didn’t occur. It may, as the Prosecutor indicated, simply mean that further investigation is needed. However, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Amnesty International researchers attempting to find support for this claim “have found no evidence to back it whatsoever.” Pfizer must be so relieved…

WTF Friday, Detained Journalists Edition

We’ve been anxiously following the story of Clare Morgana Gillis, James Foley, and Manu Brabo, three journalists who were detained in Libya on April 5th, in the hope that they will be released soon.

Our thoughts are with all of them, but it’s Clare who we can’t get out of our heads.

Maybe it’s just that she seems to have an unusual number of friends amongst the people we follow on Twitter. Or that her background is in some ways so familiar – she did her PhD in history before becoming a journalist. Sounds like a lot of people we know. Or maybe like a combination of bits and pieces of a lot of people we know. (And can we just say that we’re a little bit in awe of the sheer academic-ness of her thesis? “Illicit sex, unfaithful translations: Latin, Old High German and the birth of a new sexual morality in the early middle ages.” Wowzers.)

Mostly though, it’s the knowledge that a few months ago, in the wake of Lara Logan’s assault, when we were railing from the safety of our blog against the haters who say that women shouldn’t be foreign correspondents because it’s “just too dangerous,” Clare was not only reporting from Egypt, but packing her bags for Libya. That’s brave, and impressive, and people who do things like that deserve our support.

She appears to be safe for now. (Or at least as safe as one can be in a Libyan prison). We were pleased to hear that she was able to call her family a second time, but that’s obviously not enough. The Libyan government should release her and her fellow journalists immediately.

Here is a Facebook page calling for Clare’s release, and a petition you can sign. And here’s her personal blog.

Today in Things That Aren’t True

An article in today’s New York Times suggests that efforts to find an exit for Colonel Gaddafi are “complicated by the likelihood that he would be indicted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988, and atrocities inside Libya.”

This is pretty epically incorrect.

Gaddafi may well face charges at the ICC for his regime’s violent response to the protests that sparked the current civil war, but he will most certainly not be charged for the bombing of Pan Am 103.  The ICC has jurisdiction only over events that occurred after the entry into force of the treaty establishing the court (the Rome Statute), which took place on July 1, 2002.  The 1988 Lockerbie bombing is decidedly not subject to the court’s jurisdiction.

Any atrocities committed by Gaddafi in Libya between July 1, 2002 and the current crisis are also unlikely to be the subject of an ICC warrant.  Libya is not a signatory of the Rome Statute and has therefore not accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory.  Consequently, the only way for regime crimes to be tried at the ICC is if the Security Council refers them to the court. Security Council resolution 1970 did just that, but it explicitly limited the scope of the referral to “the situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya since 15 February 2011.”

So, five demerits for you, New York Times.

It’s Ten O’Clock. Do You Know Where Liberia Is?

We realize that New York Magazine isn’t really known for their foreign policy coverage, but this is still a spectacular fail:

“fighting continues to rage in Libya, thousands of Libyans have crossed the border into neighboring Liberia, a country fraught with its own troubles as it continues to recover from a decades-long civil war. Around 100,000 Libyan refugees have fled to the poor Western African nation. “It’s a serious threat to the stability of Liberia and, I might say, to the stability of all neighboring countries,” said Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in an interview. “There’s been a lot of investment for peace in this sub-region; we’re beginning to see the result of that investment,” she added. “If nothing is done to resolve the crisis, all of these efforts will be undermined.”

Adding to the troubles is the flow of Liberian mercenaries into the Ivory Coast. The mercenaries are fighting on behalf of the Ivory Coast’s entrenched leader Laurent Gbagbo— not recognized by the United Nations—as rebels in the north of the country battle for control. “According to what we hear, both sides are recruiting Liberian mercenaries,” said Harrison S. Karnwea Sr., Liberia’s interior minister. “When people have been used to living on violence, they have got no profession to earn their living on.” On Thursday, fighting had escalated in the Ivory Coast capital city of Abidjan where forces loyal to Gbagbo clashed with U.N. recognized president Alassane Quattara.”

We figure the article will have been pulled by the time you guys read this tomorrow morning, but here’s a screenshot:

Yeah, that border between Libya and Liberia has been an endless source of trouble…

(Oh, and just between us? It’s “Ouattara.” Not “Quattara.”)

Update, 4/1/11 9:30am: A corrected (sort of) version was posted late last night. Oddly, rather than just replacing the erroneous Libya references with Côte d’Ivoire, they’ve reorganized the article, which means it now begins with a confusing reference to “Liberia’s already mounting problems.”  Oh, and apparently no one got the memo that Abidjan is not the capital of Côte d’Ivoire and Ouattara is not named Quattara.

WTF Friday, 3/25/11

Not cute. Ok kinda cute but wtf? Dad really does appear to be trying to nestle that thing under the kid’s arm. Or at least I hope that’s his dad. Well, part of me does and part of me doesn’t. Paradox.

At first I thought this said “dessert news.” Would have been appropriate. Jokes aside, let’s keep Utah in our hearts and prayers.

Another misunderstanding on my part, I thought for sure this was referring to a political party. Wrong again, it’s an actual party.

WTF Friday, 3/18/11

From Al Jazeera’s Marwan Bishara: “The most effective and constructive way to use the newly mandated use of force by the UN Security Council is to use as little of it, as accurately, as selectively as possible, and ideally not use it at all.” Cut to: “The United Nations-approved mission will begin violently and with the United States military playing a central role.”
Fun Fact: There is a no-fly zone over Walt Disney World. Very strategic.

Pun of the Week: Former campaign head claims Muammar and Nicholas were not getting ‘kozy (via FP Passport).

WTF Friday, 3/4/11

Zimbabwean man arrested for making harmless comment on Facebook. I’m thinking Facebook arrests should be based on quantity, not content, of posts. These randos from middle school blowin up my news feed know who they are…

Camping trip ’04? You guys have to to upload this album to FB already. It’s been like 7 years, bros…

Charlie Sheen and Sean Penn on their way to Haiti. Mr. Sheen, per usual, with a bizarre choice of words: “And I’m excited as hell because, you know, if I can bring the attention of the world down there, then clearly this tsunami keeps cresting.” Riiight…

WTF Friday (Should I Just Change it to Saturday?), 2/26/2011

This one had to sting a little bit. Just when you think you know who your friends are…

Has Gaddafi ever heard of the 60s? Of course the protesters are on hallucinogenic drugs!

FP this week had a lifestyle slide show for Equatorial Guinea’s first son, Teodorin Obiang. He dated Eve?!? Damn, I guess “Love is Blind” to nepotism, human rights abuses, and questionable spending. Well, she’s not the only one

Who’s Revolting?

After a chorus of “Egypt isn’t Tunisia” and “___ isn’t Egypt” it has become apparent that popular revolution is kind of contagious. In case you’re having trouble keeping track, here is a list of places where news happened today:

Algeria – Pro-democracy protesters plan to demonstrate against the regime tomorrow (Saturday) in spite of a promise from the government to repeal the 1992 emergency law.  Police flooded the capital city Algiers to prevent demonstrations last weekend.  According to the New York Times, the protest movement does not have widespread support, but “[c]onditions are ripe for revolt.” Stay tuned…

Bahrain – Security forces opened fire on protesters tonight, killing at least four people and wounding many more in the capital, Manama.  Police have already shot and killed at least five protesters this week in an attempt to crack down on demonstrations calling for political and economic reform.  A large crew of foreign journalists are on the ground there, reporting that the city’s main hospital is overwhelmed with casualties.  For our American readers:  Please note that the Fifth Fleet, which oversees all U.S. naval operations in the Middle East, is headquartered in Bahrain.  This may explain the deafening silence from the U.S. over the last few days. After tonight’s incident, however, President Obama gave King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa a call to let him know that gunning down unarmed protesters is not the kind of behavior we like to see from our allies.

Djibouti – Thousands of people (in a country of under a million) hit the streets today to call for the resignation of president Ismail Omar Guelleh.  Things got ugly tonight when stone-throwing protesters were tear-gassed by the police.  Opposition leaders allege that police also fired on the crowd.

Iran – The government cracked down forcefully on rallies in support of Egypt’s revolution earlier this week.  Following calls in Parliament for the arrest and/or execution of opposition leaders Hussein Moussavi and Mahdi Karroubi, Moussavi’s daughters report that they have not heard from their parents since Tuesday and fear they have been detained.  The regime has called on its supporters to demonstrate against the protest movement today.  In turn, the opposition has asked its followers to rally on February 20.

Iraq – The New York Times reports protests “calling for better government services, including more electricity, and in some cases, for local government officials to resign” in several cities throughout the country. While things have generally remained peaceful, as many as five people lost their lives yesterday when private security guards fired on the protesters in Sulaimaniya. For an eyewitness account, head on over to The Moving Silent.

Jordan – The ongoing protests turned violent today as pro-government forces clashed with demonstrators calling for constitutional reforms. Al-Jazeera reports that police stood by as government supporters attacked and beat peaceful protesters.

Libya – Following the arrest of human rights attorney Fathi Terbi on Tuesday (he was subsequently released) Libyans have taken to the streets to protest the Qaddafi regime. Initial reports in the international media suggested that the protests were directed against Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, but it’s pretty clear from the statements of local activists that they are in fact demonstrating against Qaddafi, who has been in power for a staggering forty-two years. As Najla Abdurrahman explains, the inaccurate reporting is “indicative of a much larger problem that Libyans have struggled with for decades.” She argues that the “virtual vacuum of information” created by Qaddafi’s “strict censorship policies, highly restrictive press laws, and uncompromising repression of even the slightest expression of dissent” poses “considerable obstacles for Libyans both inside and outside the country attempting to communicate their struggles to the world.”  Despite the difficulties confirming information, it is clear from the most recent reports that the regime is violent repressing the protests.  The death toll figures being mentioned are growing every few minutes (Amnesty International confirmed 46 deaths earlier today, Human Rights Watch now says 84), and the current word is that the government has turned off the internet.  It’s not looking good.

Yemen – Despite concessions from President Ali Abdullah Saleh following opposition-organized protests in late January and early February, popular protests have continued, and have become increasingly violent.  The official opposition has held back on affiliating itself with the movement, but has denounced the excessive force of the Saleh regime’s response.

Note:  If you don’t have time to sit in front of Al Jazeera English all day or continually refresh Twitter, you can follow event using Blogs of War’s nifty crisis monitoring service.  I like the general “revolution” feed, but you can specialize by country if you prefer.

Recent Highlights from My Google News Alerts

So, I’m pretty busy re-acclimating to the wonderful world of academia, but here are a few recent news items I just couldn’t let pass without comment:

  1. Following the international prosecutor’s recommendation that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal issue 5 more indictments, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that all this justice is only going to end in tears (or, more specifically, in civil war). He explains: “[I]f you prosecute (more leaders) without thinking beforehand about national reconciliation and peace, and if war breaks out again and kills 20,000 or 30,000 people, who will be responsible?” Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but Cambodia’s technically been at peace for 30 years now, right? I realize that everyone there is armed to the teeth, but I still don’t think a handful of indictments is likely to result in civil war.
  2. According to The Washington Times, Congolese troops are undergoing sensitization training which consists of being “told not to shun raped women.” Man, if only someone had thought to tell them not to rape in the first place…
  3. And finally, Libya would like the United Nations to put an end to… Switzerland. Apparently Switzerland was mean to Muammar Gaddafi’s son Hannibal, and now they’d like it to be split up and parceled out among France, Germany, and Italy as punishment. Unsurprisingly, the UN doesn’t seem to be going for it. (Something about the request violating the Charter prohibition on threatening the territorial integrity of fellow UN members or whatever.)