Via the Huffington Post:
The mantra that we need to train the forces of friendly governments and, for that matter, rebel groups, may have become a staple of every 21st century Western intervention in the Middle East, but sometimes things just go wrong. Really wrong.
A new generation of the Libyan army was supposed to be trained in the West as part of international efforts to rebuild the country after the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi. Hand-picked recruits were invited to rural England for basic infantry and junior command training.
On Tuesday, however, the British Ministry of Defense announced that all 300 trainees would be sent home early after a string of sexual assaults were perpetrated against the residents of Cambridgeshire, culminating in the alleged gang rape of a young man.
Britain had pledged to train 2,000 Libyan recruits in total, but that commitment is now under review.
Libyan Army cadets stationed at Bassingbourn barracks are alleged to have left the military camp on raids into the nearby university town of Cambridge, where a spate of sexual attacks were reported on the cobbled streets around the ancient college buildings.
Two of the recruits have admitted to two sexual assaults and a bicycle theft in Market Square right at the center of the old town. They also pleaded guilty to threatening a police office. Another cadet, aged 18, has been charged with three sexual assaults.
In total, police have investigated reports of 11 sexual assaults in central Cambridge within nine days. The most serious of those took place on Christ’s Piece, which is between Jesus and Emmanuel colleges, on Sunday October 26. A man in his early 20s allegedly was approached by two Libyan soldiers who subjected him to a serious sexual assault. Moktar Ali Saad Mahmoud, 33, and Ibrahim Abogutila, 22, were charged with rape on Monday.
In a sad way, this is a metaphor what what Obama has tried to accomplish in Arab world. The overriding theory of the hen party that makes national security decisions for the United States was that a judicious use of us airpower in conjunctions with an indigenous military force, ideally some kind of home grown resistance, could topple the doddering, meany-pants dictators that remained in the Arab world. They could do so cheaply and thus, in one fell swoop, burnish Obama’s tough-guy cred and showing the nasty neo-cons how things should be done.
The unfortunate thing, as it turned out, was that the only viable resistance in Libya, and as it has turned out also in Syria, was al Qaeda affiliated.
The decision the bring Libyan army cadets to Britain for decidedly non specialist training means that there is no place in Libya where the cadets can be trained that is a) safe enough for foreign trainers and b) sufficiently free of al Qaeda propaganda to allow a class to be produced that is loyal to the government. The side effect, of course, is that the people sent to Britain for training haven’t been thoroughly vetted, through both investigation and observation, but rather are the product of a selection process that is outside the control of either the US or UK and with a very opaque agenda.