Monday, August 29, 2011

The Libyan Rebels and their amazing variety of small arms.

    I was watching the "news" networks last night and found myself throwing up in my mouth a little every time some talking head mentioned the triumph of democracy in Libya over tyrant dictators. Sure, that kind of bullshit probably sells peanut butter and dick hard pills during commercial breaks and probably gives the 50 million plebs on food stamps in the US something to feel good about. Who needs government subsidized food anyway when your government just air dropped a few hundred million in ordinance on yet another desert oil producer? 'We' just 'won' another war! Fuck yeah!? Makes poor people feel part of something cool as they scour the 99c store for a good deal.

    Watching footage of the rebels driving past strategically placed cameras in Tripoli's Green Square the other night, I suddenly had some kind of fucked up epiphany that made the whole NATO "Odyssey Dawn" mission make some retarded sense. I saw a bunch of Libyan freedom fighters hitting a live fire zone in a god damned Toyota Prius. I shit you not! A hybrid vehicle in a fucking war zone. Now there's a first. Toyota should run ads for that shit. It seems some Libyan rebels are pretty savvy when it comes to gas mileage.

    One thing the rebels don't seem too savvy about though is conserving ammo.

   I swear, every vid I see of one of those happy exuberant guys has them firing off mag after mag of 7.62mm at the sky and not giving a single fuck. For hours. Everyday. And that got me thinking. How cheap is ammo in North Africa these days anyway? I mean, in a proper war, isn't ammo gold? Last time I checked, I can't remember seeing other 'freedom fighters' in other conflicts blasting the sky after victory. I don't recall the VietCong shooting down clouds when they finally captured Saigon in '75. Chechnyan rebels sure weren't gunning down the sun after they held back the mighty Russians for a while in the mid '90s . Maybe it's just an Arab thing to piss away ammo. One thing it does say is that the Libyan rebels sure don't seem to have supply or money worries when it comes to procuring more lead. Either that or they're a bunch of idiots with nothing left to shoot once the news cameras get turned off. Of course, they're now begging the US and UN to release some of Gaddafi's impounded billions. Wanna bet that cash will only be going to the strongman who can prove he can get the oil flowing again?

   Watching those celebrating in Tripoli or in any Libyan city in this whole messy excuse for a proper war is something I like to do these days, beer in hand, popcorn in the microwave and getting a free front row seat (if it's possible to have a front row seat in front of your own TV) and witnessing yet another proxy resource war.  Anyway, all that sweet Libyan crude has a low sulphur content and it only costs a dollar a barrel to refine. A lot like the Brent North Sea crude that's running out. The Euros sure love that spice. 10% of their supply may be back online in the near future.

  The fun thing is, once the oil deals get renegotiated, every fucktard who fired an AK at the sky during this war is going to want a piece of that oil action. Revolutions always lead to a post high ugly period where old scores get settled. And usually not with a concerted letter writing campaign to a local politician. Forty two years of Gaddafi means there are a lot of tribal feuds to sort out. That's even if the rednecks in Benghazi don't decide all the oil in the eastern fields belongs to them. You know, historically. They're big on who owned what a bazillion years ago in the Middle East.

  Still, watching all that ammo getting fired needlessly into the air got me looking closely at the small arms that were actually firing it. And once my eyes got focused on that, I was met with one of those dizzying cornucopia's of choice that rivals eateries at a state fair. What an international cast! I mean, every guy with a beef against Gaddafi seems like he had a host of world gun suppliers on speed dial. The sheer variety of small arms available to the rebels might be sinister as far as foreign intervention is concerned but probably not. After all, Africa is a wash in weaponry the way it isn't in food. Or maybe a container load of sweet foreign pew pew just happened to wash up on a beach in Benghazi last February before this whole "revolution" got started. Who knows? Let's face it, foreign special forces have been operating on the ground in Libya since this mess got started. Would you trust a Libyan rebel to laser paint a Gaddafi tank with a sweet piece of $250k technology? Ahem, no. That shit's liable to be sold to Hezbollah for pennies on the dollar once the smoke clears and cause more problems on the global chessboard.
 In order of sightings (and this is by no means a scientific study), what kind of small arms where the rebels brandishing?

The AK-47: Okay, no particular surprise here. I mean, let's face it, it's the most ubiquitous weapon ever produced on the planet. Hardy, distinctive, this gun is everywhere and all over Africa. We often get footage of starving people in Africa and that sure sucks but you can be sure every journalist with a camera on his way to a starvation zone to post photos of skinny kids in the New York Times first passed a bunch of guys wielding AK-47s at the airstrip. Seems like food is getting expensive these days and that's bad for Africa where people tend to fuck for entertainment and that just results in more mouths to feed. Sure, condoms and contraceptives would be nice but distributing those never works out does it? Bono sure missed the boat on that one.

   And, let's face it, the result of all that rampant sport fucking usually gets resolved by an AK-47. It's like the AK is Africa's post birth abortion kit. From heroin addicted child soldiers in Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the Republic of Congo to the current famine in Somalia and Darfur, the AK-47 is the number one means of African population control that is both cheap and effective. The market in Africa is flooded with this Russian banger. Hell, in Yemen, you can buy a third hand AK-47 from your uncle's cousin's brother-in-law for the price of a Big Mac. That is of course, if you can find a quality eatery like McDonalds in a desert shithole with no significant oil. No surprise then that Libya would be full of Kalashnikov's babies. And 7.62mm ammo is probably more common than ham sandwiches in Africa. So yeah, I suppose that explains a lot of rebel sky shooting. Still doesn't make me feel like quitting alcohol anytime soon though.

The AK-74:  Yeah, it might seem like superfluous not to bunch the '74 in with the '47 but we're talking a totally different animal here. The '74 was developed in the 1970s when the Soviets wanted to improve on Kalashnikov's original design and ditched the heavy, penetrating, barrel shaking long range inaccuracy of the 7.62 round. It fires the smaller 5.45x39mm round and was a response to the American M-16 in Vietnam. The Russians had caught on to the effectiveness of the smaller 5.56 NATO ammo after they'd seen it tumbling through Gook flesh in 'Nam. The smaller round with an air pocket in the nose makes it dance around in the body when it hits bone and makes a kill extra messy. Aren't we humans awesome when it comes to killing each other? Porn is obscene yet action movies with a fifty+ body count are PG entertainment you go see with the kids. Fuck yeah! Anyway, the 5.45mm ammo can't be that cheap over there. Somewhat pocket hurting when you're firing rounds at the sky and warbling like an ape every time someone says Gaddafi is dead again.

The G3 (and variants): Probably the next most ubiquitous gun I've seen in Libya outside of the AK family. Designed by good old German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch after World War II when every iron foundry in Germany was wondering where the next contract was going to come from after the Wehrmacht went belly up. The G3 comes in a dizzying variety of variants and it's no surprise that it should show up in Libya.  Heavy and stable and firing the same 7.62x51mm NATO round (see FN below), the G3 uses a "delayed action blowback" mechanism, which is gun speak for "I can put a heavy round on target at 400 meters and fuck you". If I weren't such an armchair pussy and somehow got teleported into a war zone and could chose a fat gun, I'd go with a G3. Accuracy and stopping power trumps the bitch ass hassle of having to lug that heavy 7.62 ammo around. But I'm a stickler for an assault rifle than can be used for long range sniping. Of course, the only long range sniping I've done lately is screaming for a cab from a bar stool on Santa Monica Boulevard.

The FN-FAL: Probably the only good thing ever to come out of Belgium apart from chocolate is the FN. These fuckers are all over Africa having made their debut in Rhodesia in the 1960s. In Rwanda in the 90s, they were widely available but those savages found it cheaper to chalk up a decent kill streak with machetes. No firing in the sky for those animals. These Belgian shooters are in the arsenal of just about every sleazy African war lord especially those from the former Belgian colony of Congo. So yeah, these fucks are everywhere. Probably the leading cause of death of the mountain gorilla too, this gatt fires the NATO 7.62x51mm round. That round was agreed upon by NATO in the '50s during the good old post WWII period when Western countries needed a decent bullet after the Reds decided to hold on to all that Eastern Euro real estate they'd chalked up on the backside of Barbarossa.

   Let's face it, it's a very nice gun. It's got a nice gas operated design (for recoil) and can be adjusted according to environmental conditions (code speak for you're dead when I pull the trigger in the desert or the Arctic tundra). The recoil is low in single shot but once you go full auto we're talking painting Banksy modern art all over the target zone. Still, as with most assault rifles, three shot bursts are your friend. Except, of course, if you're a Libyan rebel. Then it's full auto at the sky bitches!

The AK-103 (100 series): Okay, you think I'm cheating here by introducing another AK variant into the mix. But I'm not. The 100 series AK was designed by the Russians in 1994 after they caught on to fact that Kalashnikov and his fancy assault rifle had become an international celebrity. Good old capitalism after the fall of the Soviet Union meant there was money to be made on the international 'free' market so the Russians compromised their principles for cash money and made a gun that could chamber the standard 5.56x45 NATO round. Pricey, and made with composite materials and plastics that the US introduced into the mix in the 60s with the M-16, this gun capitalizes on the Kalashnikov name and was made for the export market. Again, the NATO round is yet another type of ammo fired at the sun by Libyan rebels. That ammo is not exactly hard to come by on the world stage, but still, you'd think beyond the pay grade of the average Benghazi shop keeper with a beef against Gaddafi.

The RPG-7: In my opinion, not exactly a "small arm". But I suppose it must be included since everyone and their mother in the Middle East and Africa seems to have access to one. Again, we can thank the Russians for this limb separator. Used against armored vehicles (some pretty good foils have been developed by the US to stop that shaped warhead frying everyone inside a Hummer) but equally effective against infantry bunched behind a wall, this cheap mass produced fucker is like some modern day equalizer versus professional armies. 60% of British and American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan are due to this gatt with IEDs claiming the rest of the human toll. Yeah, calling in an A-10 strike and laying down a spread of depleted uranium hurts more, but let's face it, it's the default gun of every 'terrorist' who has a problem with foreigners stomping around his bit of desert.

  So yeah, that's pretty much it for me as far as Libya is concerned. I've mind dumped all I've got on this shitty war, unless of course Gaddafi shows up heading a Market Garden type XXX Corps tank rush on Tripoli. I won't be holding my breath. Fortunately for this blog, that in no way means there's a shortage of resource wars in the near future or any kind of shortage of stuff to write about.

   On the proxy resource war front, the 21st Century is just getting started.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Libya: Epic rebel party in Tripoli

   I'm sitting beer in hand on a Sunday afternoon watching footage of the celebrations in Tripoli.

   NATO can finally take a sigh of relief. Odyssey Dawn just ended. Sure it took longer than expected but this outcome was always coming. In the end, the rebels basically just drove into Tripoli in their Toyota Tundra pick up trucks, parked in Green Square and declared victory. Seems Gaddafi's army had had enough. The fun thing about being in the Libyan Army is that you can just toss your uniform, grab your AK and run out on the street and celebrate the end of Gaddafi along with all the other idiots.

   The BBC are reporting that Gaddafi has bailed to Algeria, a country like the US that hasn't yet ratified the International Criminal Court treaty. So that beachfront condo still might be in Gaddafi's future but probably not. They'll probably keep him in quarantine there (if that's where he is) until things settle in Libya. You never know, he might still be needed if Libya goes belly up and the rebels start massacring each other for a cut of the oil money that's going to start rolling in over the next few weeks.

    Foreign power players in all this will be watching closely to see how this pans out. There are a bunch of old scores  that need to be settled and the rebels aren't exactly a unified force with a unified ideology. The murder of rebel leader Younis  two weeks ago hinted at the fact that there is a lot of simmering tension under the surface.

   As I watch the crowds celebrate, there's a lot of 'democracy' talk on TV right now which is pretty funny.

   Democracy is always liable to end up with unpredictable results. Especially in the Middle East.

   When you give the average fucktard on the street a say in how countries get run, bad shit happens for rich people. That's pretty much why there are no real democracies left on the planet anymore. The only time true democracy showed up it was Athens in 461 BC and good old Pericles was initiating a golden age. US style democracy is all about providing the plebs with the illusion that their vote matters whilst the corporate oligarchy feeds them the information on who to vote for whilst also controlling the candidate list. Pretty fucking genius really.

   Once an idea like that takes hold and becomes viral it's hard to suppress. That's why you've got protests still going on right now in Syria and Bahrain, places where protests are 'illegal'. Still, you've gotta love the idea that protesting is illegal. It's like saying the storming of the Bastille in 1789 was illegal. Of course it was. When you're at the top of the food chain everything is illegal for those lower down on the pyramid when they start rocking the boat. I wonder if Louis XVI tried to funnel the French revolution into designated 'free speech zones' a few miles from the epicenter of the Estates-General.

   All hail the 'Arab Spring' right? Problem is, Egypt, despite all the hype and democracy talk is under defacto military lockdown... not exactly what all those wide eyed protesters imagined when they dumped Mubarak. So what happens next for Libya? Nothing good. Sure they get a bunch of global corporations moving in and the benefits of a McDonalds in Tripoli, but even if the country doesn't devolve into messy internecine war for resource control (NATO will back whoever has the muscle to keep the oil flowing), one wonders, say ten years out, how many Libyans will be better off than they were under Gaddafi. Sure that guy was an asshole but free healthcare, free education and the highest living standards in Africa were something a lot of Libyans had gotten used to despite the bad guy in charge.

   Rebel leaders of the 'National Transition Council' boasted yesterday just before they parked in Green Square that they will have 1.6 million barrels of Libyan oil back on the market next week. Seems way exaggerated but I'm sure it makes the Euros breathe a sigh of relief. 10% of their supply is back online so it's mission accomplished for NATO even if they emerge from this thing looking not exactly convincing as a fighting force. War by commitee is always bad and taking six months to dislodge a third rate army without a modern air defense system is worse. In the end, NATO comes out of this looking weak which sure makes the Chinese and Russians take note.

   One wonders now what 'democracy' will bring.

   Every rebel who picked up an AK in this uprising is going to believe he deserves a piece of the oil pie. There are some real faultlines there. The Eastern rebels, those centered in Benghazi and currently sitting on all the oil refineries in Brega and Ras Lanuf are not going to let go of those without a big slice of the profits. Those eastern rebels which include all kinds of NATO undesireables like the Islamists and wild desert tribes who fought the US in Iraq and Afghanistan won't be moving anytime soon.

   The Western rebels are the ones who actually drove into Tripoli and shed blood in the real battle of this war, the Stalingrad style battle of Misrata; all while the Eastern guys sat polishing the nozzles on the captured oil pipelines in Brega. They won't be so happy if the Benghazi rednecks try to hold on to those terminals for themselves. Each oil tanker that leaves port is ~$150 million in raw cash and every rebel who ever shot an AK in the air is going to want a taste of that action. It's the kind of shit people kill each other for. No real surprise there. So foreign corporate fucks and their economic hitmen will have to wait until the smoke clears in Tripoli to see if things get ugly in the post Gaddafi clusterfuck. With much of Libya's infrastructure destroyed, everyone is going to wake up in the morning with a massive hangover and hungry for a proper breakfast. With food shortages in Tripoli, NATO better hope the situation doesn't devolve into some kind of humanitarian crisis. That'd be pretty ironic wouldn't it? Bombing people to prevent death by starvation is always a little confusing so right now NATO officials must be wondering how much food can be distributed once the revenge killings get started. Or everything could go better than expected and I could just be a miserable cynical fuck. Who knows what this ugly mess will deliver? Not me.

   Still, looking at brown people celebrating victory in some foreign desert seems to be popular in 2011 so I'll smile and have another beer.

   One hopes there's something still worth celebrating a few years from now.