There is a real need to question anything that comes from Human Rights Watch. This is because that organization has an agenda that is definitely defined as left wing. As a group they seem to be all over the place… but then again they are associated with Jimmah Carter, the failed U.S. President.
In recent weeks the issue of “20,000” missing missiles has surfaced once again. By implication, it is alleged that these are weapons that have wound up in the hands of Al Qaeda. However, I suggest that the stories are in fact bullshit, and that there is in fact no basis for assuming that the weapons were missing in the first place. At the outset I thought that this was a story that was meant to smear the Libyan revolutionaries. Yes, I do think it is possible that a small group might attempt to smuggle weapons, but the anecdotal evidence within Libya gives me a whole different picture.
First of all, the NTC are cooperating with the UN in the attempt to round up all of the weapons. Second, there are Libyans who have been fighting who are very mindful about ensuring that no weapons fall into the wrong hands. One such commander actually has a log book with the serial numbers of the weapons that have been issued and the names of those who have received the weapons. Third, there is a possibility that the weapons never existed in those warehouses in the first place, or that they were placed in those warehouses prior to Gadhafi moving them on to those he sponsors in the African continent. Fourth, it is the borders stupid!!
I have written several posts on the propaganda that came from Gadhafi and his version of Baghdad Bob. Amongst those posts I mentioned that there was a reason that the revolutionaries were being portrayed as Al Qaeda. The propaganda has worked because there are many who call themselves conservative who actually believe that the revolutionaries were carting those weapons across those borders so that they would end up in the hands of Al Qaeda, at the expense of victory against Gadhafi in Libya. To me that is the real crux of this issue, that it was fuelled by Gadhafi propaganda and HRW has been the ones to promote this particular propaganda.
Even though I continue to be concerned by Bahadj, who is now in charge of the military council in Tripoli, I am less concerned about the possibility that this man would allow weapons to go across the border. There are in fact other scenarios that are not being explored by those who have taken a stance against an oppressed people who are now liberated from a tyrant.
Here is what I think: when the revolutionaries first breached the fort in Benghazi they did indeed help themselves to the weapons, to use against the loyalist forces. It is the location of Benghazi that is crucial here. It is not close to the border of Chad or of Niger, meaning that if weapons had crossed into those countries by April then it was not done by the people from Derna who are the most likely to sympathise with Al Qaeda. This means that one has to look elsewhere to see what might have happened. The answer came when Tripoli fell: Libyan soldiers were willing to sell their weapons, and they sold them to the revolutionaries!! If they were willing to sell their guns to the people of Tripoli so that they had weapons when the time came for the rising up, then what is to have stopped them selling a few missiles to shady characters?
The borders to Chad and Niger lie to the South of the country, much closer to Bani Walid, Sirte and Sabha. The people in control of those regions are Gadhafi loyalists. At Gandhames it is the loyalist Tourareg who have been mostly in control, and it is highly likely that the Tourareg have been shipping weapons across the border into Niger. Gadhafi opened those weapons storehouses to his followers, and many of those are people from Niger, Chad and Mali, as well as Algiers. There is a very real possibility that it was Gadhafi who allowed those alleged weapons to disappear – if they have in fact disappeared.
The reality is that the revolutionaries are using the weapons that they found against the Gadhafi loyalists. They have often attached these to the back of pick up trucks and they have been using them to counter the missiles that have been fired upon them. It would seem obvious that the loyalists are also using the weapons in their fight against the people who have risen up against them. On top of that there is an issue with the convoys that headed in Niger, and they took gold and weapons with them. It is more than likely that Gadhafi had been secretly moving those weapons across the border into Chad and Niger, and possible that some of them have been moved into Algiers. It is also highly likely that these weapons are being stored along the border between Libya and these countries.
On the other hand, the people in Misrata had no access to such weapons, the people in Benghazi took risks to bring them weapons by boat. Those weapons were not sent to Al Qaeda from Benghazi.
If it is HRW who is behind these stories of alleged missing weapons, then I am going to be among the first to state the obvious: that there is a credibility gap where HRW is concerned, and most of what they utter should be taken with a grain of salt. This particular outfit is not to be trusted at all. They are propagandists who are making Gadhafi proud of their efforts.