Item One is the Capture of 8 British SAS Officers by Rebel Forces.
“Eight SAS men in undercover mission are seized in Libya – by the rebel forces they went to help
An eight-man SAS team was being held by Libyan rebel forces last night after being captured as they accompanied a junior British diplomat on an undercover mission which ended in embarrassment.
The elite troops had been escorting the diplomat through rebel-held territory in the east of Libya as he tried to make contact with opponents of Colonel Gaddafi.
The diplomat had intended to pave the way for a more senior British official to establish diplomatic relations with rebel forces.”
Knowing that the UK, along with most Western governments, has solidly sided with the Rebellion – Why would the Rebels take the SAS operatives prisoner?
A very valid question. From the perspective of the Rebels, they are the legitimate government of Libya, and their permission to put troops on the ground was neither sought nor granted. From the Rebel point of view;
- First, you formally recognize us as the only legitimate government of Libya. A head-of-state does this by writing a letter addressed to the Libyan head of state (Rebel leader Mustafa Abdul Jaleel, and not Gaddafi) appointing an Ambassador to Libya. This letter would also need to explicitly state that previously appointed Ambassadorships to Libya are void.
- Then, you ask our permission to put troops on the ground or enter our airspace.
- Finally, if we decide you may do so, then you may do so under the exact terms that we outline.
The Queen’s representative had done none of that, therefore the troops have no legal right to be on the ground. Had the British diplomat been in possession of the aforementioned letter, the troops likely would not have been detained.
But, people of the United Kingdom, worry not about your brave SAS operatives and be not ashamed of them. Their surrender to the rebels was symbolic, honorable, and gentlemanly. Their detainment is symbolic. The Rebels have stated that after the symbolic 24 hour detainment is completed, the operatives will be released. I’m also sure they aren’t in some dank and musky Gaddafi-era dungeon, and are probably being fed the best food the Rebels have to offer.
Item Two is an Examination of the Libyan Declaration of Independence, as published by the Rebels in Benghazi.
The Deceleration in it’s original Arabic can be found here.
This is the unofficial English translation that I found here (scroll down if you don’t feel like reading lawyer-ese):
The Libyan Republic
Declaration of the Establishment of the
National Transitional Temporary Council
In affirmation of the sovereignty of the Libyan people over the entirety of their territory, land, sea and air; and in response to the demands of the Libyan people, towards the realization of the free will with which they shaped the uprising of February 17th; and in preservation of the Libyan people’s national unity; we resolve to establish a national council named ‘the National Transitional Temporary Council’ to be the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people.
1. To ensure the safety and peace of citizens and the national territory
2. To coordinate national efforts to liberate the remaining quarters of the nation
3. To coordinate the efforts of local councils working towards the return of civic life
4. To supervise the military council so as to ensure the realization of a new doctrine for the national army towards the defense of the Libyan people and protection of its borders
5. To supervise the election of a founding assembly charged with developing a new constitution for the country to be submitted to public referendum, so that the legitimacy of the constitution is founded on: the will of the people, the triumphant uprising of February 17th, respect for human rights, guarantee of civil liberties, separation of powers, an independent judiciary and the establishment of national institutions that provide for broad and pluralistic participation, the peaceful transition of authority and the right of representation for every segment of Libyan society
6. To form a transitional government to pave the way for free elections
7. To conduct and to steer foreign policy, to organize relations with foreign nations and international and regional organizations, and to represent the Libyan people before them
The Council’s Organizational Structure
1. The Council is composed of 30 members, representing all of Libya’s regions and all segments of Libyan society, with youth membership representing no less than 5 members.
2. The Council will select from its members a president, an official spokesperson and coordinators for a variety of domestic and foreign functions.
Seat of the Council
The Council’s permanent seat is at the capital, Tripoli, taking Benghazi as its temporary seat until the capital is liberated.
It is the responsibility of the Council to set protocols for its regular and emergency meetings and to make decisions in accordance with the interests of the Libyan people, in a manner that does not contradict the people’s demands, the basis of which were declared by the uprising of February 17th: the fall of the Gaddafi regime and the establishment of a civil, constitutional and democratic state.
Based on agreement of municipal councils across various liberated areas, the Council selects Mr. Mustafa Abdul Jaleel as the President of the National Transitional Temporary Council and Mr. Abdul Hafid Abdul Qader Ghoga as his Deputy and the Official Spokesperson for the Council.
Long Live a Free and United Libya
Glory to the Martyrs of the February 17th Uprising
Liberated Libya March 2, 2011
February 17th Revolutionaries
(stamped by the Coalition of February 17th)
It isn’t an especially difficult document to understand, but perhaps it could be a bit easier. We will go through the Deceleration and clarify what is meant by the parts of it that either look complex, or may not have the most easy-to-read English translation. Below is my interpretation. Please keep in mind that I am no lawyer, nor a bona-fide expert on matters such as this.
Preamble: Rebels in Benghazi are claiming to be the central authority of the Rebellion, with all other governing bodies as subordinate to them, and claiming to be the sole legitimate national government of all of Libya.
Article 1, Section 3: The Rebels in Benghazi are stating that they recognize the various local governments that have sprung up in rebellious cities as legitimate and lawful. The unwritten subtext to this is that they are legitimate and lawful only if they respect the Rebels currently in Benghazi as the head honchos, and respect this declaration as lawful and legitimate.
Article 1, Section 4: The Rebels in Benghazi are stating that no military man is the head-of-state, and that civilians will run the country and not the other way around.
Article 1, Section 5:
- No Constitution of Libya will be set in place without a successful popular vote on the proposed constitution. It is worth noting that even the people of the fledgling United States in the late 1700s had no such vote on the matter.
- The Constitution of Libya will have an equivalent to the US “Bill of Rights” or the French “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” except that, unlike the US Bill of Rights, it will be built into the constitution from day one, and not added afterwards.
- Civil Liberties, assumed to include freedom of political expression, will be guaranteed.
- An Independent Judiciary will be established – this, essentially, means that once a Judge is appointed he generally will not be beholden to the will of the politicians or maintaining his popularity. This is important because Judges should only rule based on the law and not what a politician tells them to do and because Judges should not be ruling on what is popular opinion at the moment. An independent judiciary means that the Law is the final word on the legality of something, and not popularity or politicians.
Article 1, Section 7: Once again, the Rebels in Benghazi claim the sole right to manage foreign relations, sign international treaties, etc.
Article 2: The provisional “council” will be 25 or fewer elders, and 5 or more young people. From among that membership, it will select it’s various officers.
Article 3: The Rebels are again declaring their intent to capture Tripoli.
Article 5: Mustafa Abdul Jaleel is the temporary President, and Abdul Hafid Abdul Qader Ghoga is the temporary vice president and head of public relations.
Many westerners may consider it a “bad thing” that women’s rights are not enshrined in this document. A fair point. I would counter, however, by pointing out that political free expression is the fundamental freedom from whence all other freedoms derive. Political free expression is guaranteed by the above document. So long as that promise is kept, women’s rights in Libya will take care of themselves the same way they took care of themselves in various other Democracies of the 20th century.