7 March 2011

What were the SAS doing in Libya?

I'm not pushing for the arms dump bombing theory too hard, it's just an idea and an example of what the SAS could have been up to. Even the Times seems scepital of the government's version of events (although the BBC is as submissive as ever simply parroting official government statements as fact) it has this in its report today:

"The team could have come in with HMS Cumberland, a British frigate that was openly docked in Benghazi port on Sunday, and caught a taxi a couple of miles to the court building where the revolutionary council's representatives meet the press and conduct their daily business.

That way, they might have avoided being captured.

The rebel council, which declared itself this weekend the sole legitimate authority in the country, expressed surprise and annoyance at the British delegation's "James Bond" antics.

"If this is an official delegation why did they come with a helicopter? Why didn't they [inform the revolutionary council] that 'we are coming, we'd like to land at Benina airport', or come through Egypt like all the journalists have done," Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the revolutionary leadership, asked.

"There are rules to these things. Now they landed on Libyan soil and they got captured. We did not know whether they were for or against us."

The council, led by the former justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, is receiving delegations sent by the Arab world. The EU was sending its own fact-finding mission on Sunday. Britain, however, chose to land its men on Friday at Soluch, several kilometres from Benghazi and the site of a World War II US bomber base."

Which is suspicious enough, and then we have this:

"However the SAS "chanced across" a group of rebels who did not like the look of them and put them under "house arrest". Their movement was controlled and all forms of communication were confiscated, the source said.

The BBC reported that the Britons had been approaching an agricultural compound when the mission went wrong. They were confronted by Libyan guards who searched the soldiers' bags and found weapons, ammunition, explosives, maps and passports for at least four different nationalities.

Adding to the humiliation, Libyan state television broadcast an intercepted recording of Richard Northern, Britain's Ambassador to Tripoli, talking to one opposition member. Mr Northern, who is in Britain because of the unrest, stutteringly explains that the team was merely trying to find a hotel and there had been a misunderstanding.

The rebel leader tells the ambassador that the SAS unit had made a "big mistake" by swooping in by helicopter. "Oh, did they?" Mr Northern is heard saying. "I didn't know how they were coming."

So the British Ambassador to Libya didn't even know about this "diplomatic" mission? And yeah they were just trying to find a hotel, such idiocy.

The only example I can recall of SAS being captured was in Iraq when they were caught blowing up communication lines during the Gulf War. That's what the SAS are for primarily. I doubt they were friendly to the Libyan revolutionaries, it would fit their motives to try to sabotage their operations. The biggest weakness of the anti-regime forces is that they do not have access to much heavy weaponry most of it is still in the hands of Qathafi's forces and there is now an arms embargo on Libya (which only benefits Qathafi since he already has plenty of arms) and the US and its allies are trying to find some pretext to interfere in Libya and try to co-opt the opposition forces to control whatever new government emerges there and make sure it's not an anti-Western (read: democratic) one. A sensible tactic would be to bomb the revolutionaries' arms dumps but making it seem like Qathafi was doing it (he has been trying to do it with planes but they miss a lot) to leave them with few arms and try to convince them that they need Western intervention to save them.

Anyway it would be unlikely for the SAS to not be interfering in the Libyan war (this is a war now). We never know at the time but we know from now declassified documents that the SAS was covertly involved in most internal Arab conflicts from the Second World War to the 1970s. For example the protecting the Oman Sultanate from a popular uprising from 1962-75, or supporting the monarchists in the Yemen Civil War. This is what the SAS does.

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