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21 February 2011


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Clifford Kiracofe

Reports are so sketchy but:

1. it appears Warfela, Tuareg and now (possibly) Migraha reportedly with opposition. I saw one other mentioned as well from the south I believe.

2. two AF jet fighter pilots defected and landed at Malta (plus two helicopters); two more said to have just defected and landed at Benghazi.

3. Black African mercs from reports I have seen indicate some French speakers (Chadian?) and some English speakers. We can imagine the relish these mercs have slaughtering unarmed Arab men, women, and children. Perhaps they get to save choice body parts for barbecue.

Why is there so little reporting on these black African mercs? Who is providing them? Any details as I am quite interested in this aspect.

4. Regular army said to be refusing to fire on civilians. The Dear Libyan Leader reportedly ordered some barracks burned with dissident army inside to be roasted.

5. A number of Libyan diplomats have now defected and some security service officials reported to have defected to opposition and removed to Benghazi.

6. Egyptian border crossing at Salloum open. Egyptian military establishing shelters, field hopsitals, etc. at border. Egyptian ForMin hired busses for evacuation of Egyptians coming across border. Concern as Baby Leader threatened Egyptians in his incoherent ramble.

7. Euros preparing for mass evacuation basing out of Malta.

What are these Orwellian statements coming out of the Administration? Examining Baby Leader's speech for reform ideas? This is rather detached from present circumstances and the apparent dynamics of the situation.


I read, but cannot quite recall where, that Salih of Yemen (hunch: Middle East Perspectives?) added to his intelligence service a good number of as of 2003 suddenly unemployed Iraqi intelligence officers, which is said to have helped him tackle Al Qaeda associates in Yemen.

If one adds in that his intelligence service apparently already was pretty formidable before that already, it appears plausible that he may get a handle on the situation. If he doesn't ... I also read that Yemen has the second most heavily armed population after the US, with some folks even having the odd tank or so. I recall hearing that AK47 are part of local couture in Yemen. Must be quite the place.

Patrick Lang


I was so fortunate a generation ago as to be Defatt in Sanaa when there were virtually no English speakers there. Great for my Arabic. Have been back many times. I was a hunting companion for Salih along with the MI-6 station commander. There was more than a whiff of Waugh in the air. The MI-6 man was something of a cross between Marty Feldman (?) and Noel Coward. Nice guns, though, hand made in London. I thought the Sikh valet was a bit much, but... The Brit's wife was a lovely French/White Russian creature, but that is another story. In Yemen an adult male who does not own an AK and a Jambiyah (dagger) is not a man. People were routinely killed in the street outside our domestic walls in minor disputes over slights that not even I would have bothered with. Yemen is mostly tribes. AQAP is a minor factor there. Many of the tribes have armor and artillery. Salih made a fool of GW Bush and Franny Townsend. pl


No one should be sorry to see Qaddhafi go.

I would like to see him leave with all the dignity of Benito Mussolini and Nicolae Ceau┼čescu. I mean, North Korea aside, if there is any dictatorship on earth whose "leader" deserves to be lynched by his people more than him? No one seems to be questioning the reports that he's employed airpower against his own people, not to mention the black mercenaries. How bizarre, how grotesque, how totally in keeping with this freak's murderous antics over four decades.


Col., I think your overview is spot on. Khadafy is not a cut-and-runner, and he certainly wants to hold on to what he has, and be ready when the Arab world anoints him their Caliph. You just know they're going to do that at any moment. Whatever else, he's a man of vision(s).

Tellingly, it seems that the public has overrun and stripped military bases (at least around Bengazhi) of all armament. Some folks seem ready to continue the fight at great cost.

What I will miss, if Khadafy is deposed, is his magnificent turns of propaganda: as bizarre as the North Korean, but with far greater poetry and literary imagination. I wish I knew where my Little Green Book has gone.

ConfusedPonderer, every Yemeni male carries a curved/bent bladed knife which would fit in nicely at an ox butchery. I wouldn't expect them to go small with firepower.

William R. Cumming

PL! I am lazy and cannot research issues arising in N. Africa as well as I would like or even at all. So I have a suggestion for you and persons commenting! Would it make sense to cover events in a single country one day each week and those likely or possible to occur in that country during the next week? Thus readers could get a sense of changes in momentum of events. For example say Egypt tomorrow. Then the blog die down in discussion of Egypt be analyzed for any significance. And of course exceptions could always be made. But for example, even Morrocco has some interesting items going on while the main fury of the protest seems at the moment to be Libya. Personally I believe Egypt is the heavy weight to follow closely but perhaps wrong and all of these N. African countries are justifiably the subject of running blogging and commenting on SST all the time. And now I have forgotten the exact date of the self-immolation of the food vender in Tunisia. Is that the event truly the event sparking off these protests or is it too individualized by country to have that consider the precipitating event for the entirety of this huge event in N. African history?



Where will Qaddafi go, particularly as he is despised by other Arab rulers/regimes, unless some African nation takes pity on Qaddafi?


The Brit's wife was a lovely French/White Russian creature, but that is another story. PL

Well Colonel,

Her story sounds a hell of a lot more interesting, than all this revolutionary conjecture. How about it?

Leave it to the Brits to haul a White Russian consort and a Sikh manservant/body guard out into some god forsaken hell hole like Yemen.

Maybe they should still rule the world.

Patrick Lang


Yup! Actually, she was a Levantine raised in Syria of French and White Russian parents. Hard to beat, eh? This Brit invited me over one day and we sat out in his back garden with a writer named David Cornwall who was writing something called "The Little Drummer Girl." The Sikh kept the pink gins coming while we discussed the plot. pl

The Twisted Genius


Wow! Your experiences are spellbinding. How I would love to read your autobiography (or biography) some day.

Patrick Lang


The Brit spook and I were in the marine barracks house bar drinking one friday evening when she walked in there for the first time. A profound silence fell over the place. pl


The Twisted Genius--

"Wow! Your experiences are spellbinding. How I would love to read your autobiography (or biography) some day."

Agreed! This post makes me want to take another look at the reading list for the British Empire Lit. course of my long ago college days.

Also makes me jonesing for a gin and tonic and hot weather.


Once these sorts go past a certain point, they really are willing to kill anything that is left standing.

At some point, you just have to kill people like these, and they know it.

That is why they are willing to provoke such bloodshed while they are on the way out.

James ben Goy

PL - Assume your wife reads this stuff . . . yet, you live!

William R. Cumming

Too old to look then too old!


To be able to sit down and pick your brain Colonel. Good grief the stories you must have.


'The jacobin neocons are crowing in delight at the prospect of revolution. We will see how long that lasts. '

If the neocons think that revolution will tend to strengthen Israel, then naturally they would crow with joy.

If the bloody revolutions make the Islamic world much more openly hostile to Israel, then perhaps Israel will commit fewer war crimes - and then the rest of the world will be able to crow with joy.


it appears as if slavic women are all the rage with men from the HM's FCO at the moment. i've noticed several being married to eastern european/russian women where i am.
the black mercs could be chadians or nigeriens or burkinabes. mummar has acted as a facilitator of destabilisation in the sahel region for decades, along with blaise and has used mercs from these countries as force projection before. he even got his grubby hands involved with chuck taylor down in liberia (helped by blaise campaore) and those expert arm cutters in sierra leone. all for some 'dirty stones' as naomi campbell said at the hague.


A "guest" on his show just said that Mubarak, like the Qaddhafi regime, ordered Egyptian Air Force aircraft to fire on the Cairo crowds.

May I speculate? It was a threatening gesture, no doubt. But I would assume that Tantawi, didn't need any orders, or no explicit orders. The triarchy probably basically agreed that these people were a real pest, a nuisance. Tantawi acted on this basic consent. He didn't need instructions. Maybe instructions for surveillance? Some close up shots and films? Does the air force have this kind of equipment?

The above sounds a bit hysterical. But that may well have been the feeling down there for some when they appeared. I watched Al-Jazeera non-stop for hours, including reports from the ground. And as I remember it, felt is was initially threatening, unexpected and surely loud, noisy, threateningly deep, the fighters, and than the helicopters. Annoying yes, but it soon was clear it wouldn't be anything but that.

Patrick Lang


A fewairplanes overflew Tahrir Square, nothing more than that, but still you speculate that Mubarak and his "crew" wanted to have the aircraft attack the crowd...

Have you no respect for facts, for the truth? pl


A remarkable revelation, Col.! I read the Little Drummer Girl this past summer, having seen the movie when it was first released. The book is far superior to the movie, particularly in providing insights into the multiple, conflicted and confused loyalties and motivations of the participants. A rich, thoughtful and trenchant novel.

I imagine that Cornwall is a fascinating person to talk with. But from the looks of things, he seems to have have benefited greatly from the afternoon's exchange. Perhaps it's memory, but there seemed to be a richness and specificity of detail to people and situations in the novel, that I hadn't noticed in his other work.

Patrick Lang

James ben Goy

Hey! "De Oppresso Liber" This couple were people we saw all the time in Sanaa. It was a small place. My wife has always known that I know where I belong. pl

Patrick Lang


Speaking of... In that same bar I was standing at the bar with a US Arrmy major of infantry one day. we were chatting with the marine bar tender. The major was with our small training group. In walked the USIS civilian man from the embassy, a wispy little guy with a big mouth. After a few minuts he said you know a few years ago you fellows were fighting in VN and I was carrying the VC flag in demonstrations in Berkely and now here we are - friends. The major hit him so hard his heels actually cam u[ off the floor. He lay there for a bit and then two of the marines carried him outside the house and left him on the ground. I made them go bring him back in. i was afraid the pariah dogs would eat him. Nothing was ever said about this. Good thing. There were no witnesses. pl


"Slavic women are all the rage."

Being married to a Russian myself, I can testify that they are a breed apart. Ten years after we started considering ourselves a couple, I can say that marrying the lady was the smartest move I ever made.

Patrick Lang


Yup. We were standing on the beach at Bora Bora... I can make some of this stuff sound even more like Conrad if you like. pl

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