Who is in charge anyway?


Tracers from anti aircraft fire guns are seen above the hotel where foreign media and government officials are staying in Tripoli, Libya. (AP)

If Libya was confusing yesterday, today is mind-warping.  Libyan TV is saying that the attack on Gaddafi’s headquarters was a Danish plot to destroy Islam, a continuation of great cartoon controversy.   Australian media is saying American marines opened fire on civilians, injuring an possibly killing some, without provocation while rescuing the pilots of the downed plane.  The United Arab Emirates is not going to send planes after all, they are annoyed over the “west’s” stand on Bahrain.  Spain, Denmark and Italy have sent planes into action.

The no-fly zone attacks continued for another day, but Gaddafi’s forces have also continued to move against rebel forces – and while no one seems quite sure who is doing what to whom, all agree intense fighting continues, in fact has escalated, one road is being called “The Road of Death.”   I haven’t seen any direct comments from Gaddafi or his sons, but Asharq Al-Awsat interviewed Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Kaim.  Kaim discussed human shields – he said tens of thousands rushed to put themselves between the attackers and the forces of Gaddafi and he mentioned possible Libyan attacks on other Mediterranean countries; in a statement reminiscent of those of Obama leading up to the UN resolution, he said all options were on the table.

Dr. Kaim accused the UN-sponsored military forces of hitting civilian targets, including a hospital. He also told Asharq Al-Awsat that the human shields present in many areas under Gaddafi’s control were there of their own volition in order to protect Libya and the Gaddafi regime. Dr. Kaim did not rule out the Libyan military attacking targets in the Mediterranean, as Colonel Gaddafi previously threatened, and described Arab States as being treacherous and responsible for a conspiracy against Libya.

He also describes all of the civilian targets hit by “crusader” forces, put the civilian death toll at over 40 and says they shot down a French airplane. In the meantime, back in Europe; the United States wants someone else to run the show; the French want to run it with the British; the British want NATO to do it; but Turkey wants it to stop and promises to block any attempt to put NATO in charge.  So, who is running the show?

“Whose is running the show?”; may well be the question again today in Russia, also; Dmitry must have been reading my blog, because he told Vladimir he had gone too far with his crusader comments and should back off – Medvedev said Putin’s language  was highly inappropriate.  The Russian media jumped on that suggesting a divorce was in the making, which of course would make for a very public power struggle in Russia with elections due next year.  Vladimir came back immediately and said there was no pending divorce; Putin said he and Medvedev were “very close.” (there were no pictures of them kissing or holding hands available online)

“If you are interested in whether there is any difference in the way Mr Medvedev and I approach these events, let me assure you: we are very close, and we understand each other.” Putin told reporters in Ljubljana.

This is where we need a Russian expert, just what did Vladimir say?  Did he say things were good between them or did he say there was an understanding?  To me, close means  they talk about things and agree on basic positions and issues.  On the other hand, an understanding implies Vladimir calls the shots and Dmitry knows it and will do as he is told.  Almost like the old and dying days of Tsarist Russia, when it was said that Rasputin made all of the decisions; like Putin Rasputin was frequently seen in public in various stages of dress, undress and coherency.  While the very proper and shy Tsar stayed in the Palace pretending he was in charge.  Vladimir has all of flair of Grigori Efimovich, he may not control anyone’s wife, be able to stop bleeding, but I suspect he does hold court and grant official favors just as Rasputin did.

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