Action to isolate the Qadhafi regime
Mr Speaker, let me turn to the pressure we are now putting on the Qadhafi regime. We should be clear. For the future of Libya and its people, Colonel Qadhafi’s regime must end and he must leave.
To that end we are taking every step possible to isolate the Qadhafi regime, deprive it of money, shrink its power and ensure that anyone responsible for abuses in Libya will be held to account.
With respect to all these actions, Britain is taking a lead. Over the weekend, we secured agreement for a UN Security Council Resolution which we had drafted and which is unusually strong, unanimous and includes all of our proposals. It condemns Qadhafi’s actions, and imposes a travel ban and assets freeze on those at the top of his murderous regime. It demands an immediate end to the violence and the killing of protesters, access for international human rights monitors, lifting of restrictions on the internet and media and an end to the intimidation and detention of journalists. And it refers Libya’s current leaders to the International Criminal Court to face the justice they deserve.
PM statement to the House on Libya
Just one more.
While the politicians prepose, the military dispose.
The fast patrol boat HMS Dasher slowly approached the dark coastline. The transit south from Malta had been uneventful apart from a Greek fishing boat checking them out with a searchlight. The boat carried extra fuel tanks, mounted on the aft deck, and carried only one passenger, who had got on board at Valetta. She was wearing dark clothes and a black hijab, a black bergen and a HK33 carbine. For most of the trip she slept in the mess, causing intense speculation as to who she was.
The coast was an undulating line on the radar and the captain ordered the forward Oerlikon 20 mm cannon and three GPMGs manned. The coxswain went down to the mess and gently shook their passenger awake.
“It’s time, we’re here. Would you like anything before you disembark?”
She swung her legs off the couch and yawned, “Yes please. Cold water, as much and as cold as you can get it. You never know when your next decent drink will come from.”
She started to get her kit together and the sailor gave her water in a glass. She gulped down the lot and smiled at him,
He looked at her garb wanting to ask a question. Instead, he told her: “We have to worry about the water under the keel, so we may have to hove-to a couple of hundred metres from the shore and take you in on the Gemini.”
She nodded while she listened and began to smear dark camouflage cream on her face, neck, forearms and back of her hands.
“If you’re ready we can go topside. Good luck, Ma’am.”
Up on the foredeck, the night air was cool and refreshing. They heard the bridge officer order all stop and the sound of the shallows scraping on the boat’s bows. On the rear deck, two crewmen slid a Gemini boat into the water, and she went aft, skirting the superstructure.
“We can’t hang around if thigs go wrong when you’re on the shore.”
She slid down onto the inflatable while a sailor held her weapon and passed it to her.
“Thanks for the lift,” she said and sat down in the boat. The silenced outboard was started, and the little boat headed for the shore, about seventy-five metres away. The Gemini slowed to a crawl and gently nudged the sand on the shore. She stepped off, getting her boots wet and at a half crouch, she headed for some clumps of vegetation, where she lay down and flicked off the carbine’s safety.
She heard the low burble of the outboard heading back to the Dasher and waited immobile for around twenty minutes. There was distant firing, very distant and the sounds of tracked vehicles on the road, about five miles away. The Navy boat was long gone, and she stood up and set off at a fast pace to the south-east. After a few miles, she picked up a metalled road and followed it east, until the first light of dawn was in the sky. Not wanting to be spotted, she moved off the road, into a clump of stunted French Tamarisk trees, took off the bergen, unclipped the camouflage netting from the bergen and covered herself with the net. With her head on the pack as a pillow, she went to sleep for the next day and woke up as the few cars passed her hidden position.
As dusk drew on, she ate a cold boil in the bag ration pack and drank some water from her camelback. She would have to make finding potable water a priority as soon as she sorted out cover. When it was properly dark, she shouldered her bergen and set off on the road once more, heading east. Only one vehicle passed, and she crouched down at the side of the road as it went past. Up ahead she saw the lights of Abugrein, a small town on the road coastal road to Misrata and Tripoli.
In the outskirts of the town, she proceeded carefully and headed for a block of flats, now deserted and uninhabited and had not been finished. The lower floors had been burned out and gutted, while the upper floors had been destroyed by artillery fire. She cautiously went inside the block and because of its concrete construction, the stairways were still in situ. She had scrutinised the arial photographs and decided the third or fourth floors were the most likely location for a bolt hole. She cautiously went up the stairs, Carbine ready and found the least filthy and destroyed flat. It was reasonably intact although the glass in the windows had never been fitted.
She risked a quick sweep of the rooms with a torch and saw that she wasn’t the first person who had used these rooms. Rubbish was strewn on the floor and as she examined them, she got a shock. There were used wrappers of Russian ration packs, proving the Russians were implicated in involved in the civil war. She found a booby trap in the form of a Russian RGD 5 grenade in the entrance to one of the rooms, so she cut the wire and folded it back, then applied tape over the striker lever. From then on, she checked everything very carefully and found a second grenade under an old ration box. If the box was removed, the grenade would go off, so she approached it through the heaps of rubble and rubbish and taped the lever.
She sat on a step outside what she had decided would be her living area. As it got lighter, she looked around the rooms and went up to the partially demolished roof. It provided a good signal on the sat phone and she set up the solar charger for the second battery. Back down in her rooms it was incredibly depressing, the floors strewn with ammo boxes and empty cases. She decided a broom was needed and would make an effort to find one. She sanitised her hands from alcohol wipes in the ration packs. She had a breakfast of freeze-dried muesli and some fruit puree and leaned against a wall with her knees drawn up while she ate it. The old knife wound in her side was aching and in a frenzy of paranoia she checked it. It was pink and puckered, cool to the touch but she took her temperature to be sure.
But why is it aching?
Because someone pushed a knife into your guts. It has healed but the nerves inside you were damaged. You’re still here.
She put her head down on her knees and cried a few lonely, self-pitying tears, then heated some water on the Coleman stove and washed herself. She felt better and the self-pity had gone, but she still asked herself questions of self-doubt.
Why do I put myself through this? Who would care if I died here? A quick memorial service at Hereford, but no inscription on the memorial clock for people like me. A government that would say I was a mercenary and got everything I deserved, just an abused, burned and blackened corpse dumped in the desert.
But what about Jean-Claude? When will you stop doubting and accept that he loves you? Look how he looked after you, trying to get you to eat, instead you shouted and swore at him. But he stayed with you through thick and thin.
You must learn to trust.
The toxic thoughts made her feel angry, but she had a job to do and find water. She went up to the roof and scanned the largely deserted town with a pair of field glasses.
Follow the women. It was their job. Note, never the bloody men.
She saw two women talking in the forecourt of a disused car dealership and one of them had a clear plastic jerrycan. Another woman with a child walked up to them, greeted them and went to a tap on the wall. It had probably been used to clean the cars. But now it was a free supply of water. She had a deep drink from the now tepid water in her camelback and hiding the H&K carbine, she headed out into the late morning sun.
The women had gone by the time she got to the tap and she inspected the water in her hand. It was clear, but that meant nothing. She filled her camelback and saw a brush with a broken handle in the rubbish of the car forecourt. It would do nicely. She filled the water carrier and with her brush, headed back to the flat.
Sweeping and cleaning up was rather therapeutic, but when she was finished, she had a room clean enough to sleep and eat in. She smoked a cigarette slowly then hid the bergen and camelback after putting two puritabs in it. The water would taste of diluted bleach, but at least it wouldn’t poison her. Now she still had her Glock in a thigh holster and her knife in its calf sheath.
Outside on the main drag she saw the signs for a bus stop and saw a woman waiting.
“Excuse me, when is the bus due?”
The woman in a brightly coloured hijab stared at this stranger, who had suddenly appeared, “No bus, private taxi. You can share if you want and help with the cost. Where you go?”
“Sirte,” she told her, “I am from Benghazi, but my transport left, because he said I had to… You know? I wouldn’t.”
“Yes, I know,” the Libyan woman said, “They are all bastards. You can share with me if you help me with the fare. It’s forty Dinar.”
She did a quick calculation in her head, less than seven pounds Sterling, “I will help with the fare and thank you.”
The woman uncovered her face and smiled, “It’s good to have someone else in case the driver… Well, you know better than me.”
As they waited the woman chatted to her, “Misrata is a virtual no-go area. The Government forces are massing for a counter attack. The worst are the southern tribes who support Ghedaffi. I’ve heard they have given them Viagra, so they can rape women and girls. Then they kill them, because a raped woman or child can’t get to paradise. They are using rape as a weapon of war, and it got worse after the rebels took the Airport. I just wish they would all go away and leave us in peace.”
After fifteen minutes the taxi arrived. The driver wore the typical attire of a Libyan man, jalabiya, sirwal and sadriya and he was smoking foul smelling cigarettes.
“There was only supposed to be one of you,” he grumbled.
“Well at least you should get a good tip,” she told him. He got out of the taxi and piddled against a wall.
“Charming,” she said.
“It’s a sign of the ruin of our society,” the woman said, “Men would never do that in front of women in the past.”
The taxi drove towards the sea, on the road she had followed the night before. The sea looked lovely, glinting in the afternoon sun, as the taxi followed the coastal road towards Sirte. In the city they saw rebels in their new camouflage fatigues supplied by Qatar. There were a few tanks but the vehicles were mainly technicals mounting Russian heavy machine guns.
The taxi pulled up at a petrol station and the driver said: “That’s eight Dinar.”
“We agreed seven Dinar.”
“Well, there’s a war on and there was two of you.”
She badly wanted to kill this man with her knife, but said, “Don’t worry sister. I can afford four Dinar.”
They got out of the taxi and watched it drive away.
“Fat pig!” the woman spat, then looked at the stranger.
“We’ll you can do your shopping or whyever you came. Be careful sister. You’re not from Libya and I am no fool.”
She looked at the woman and smiled, “Thank you for letting me share your taxi. Mae alsalamat ya sadiqi.”
She set off for the industrial part of town. Her shopping needs were relatively simple, but necessitated in her walking past the rebel militia, where she was subjected to lewd comments of a nasty, sexual nature. What is it about Arab men? Why did they feel the need to denigrate and humiliate women who were total strangers?
There were a large number of workshops in this area. But even children subjected her to abuse as she walked past.
“Hal tudajie alsayida?”
This society has completely broken down. The checks and balances have gone.
It was relatively easy to add to Libya’s lawlessness. In a car park behind a workshop, pick-up trucks were waiting for conversion to technicals and she saw what she was looking for. It was an Isuzu pick-up truck, and she knew if it needed, she could hotwire it. It was open and no hotwiring was necessary. She felt above the sun visor and sure enough, the owner had left the keys. She adjusted the seat and started the engine and drove out swiftly.
She decided to head south through Qasr Abu Hadi, before picking up the main highway again and heading back to Abugrein. The tank was half full, so she refuelled at a roadside garage and parked behind her flats so the Pick-up couldn’t be spotted from the road. For good measure she jammed the manual shutoff lever from the fuel pump to the engine with a piece of wood that won’t look like it on average car thieves. Then she drew her Glock and went up to where she had left her bergen and carbine. All was well, then she went down to the bottom of the stairs and activated the motion sensor warning device.
In an inner room she laid out her sleeping bag and bergen and looked at her watch. 18:50 and she had to make the call on the sat phone at 19:00. Up on the roof the second batteries had charged, so she waited until the agreed time and keyed in the number of the Inmersat satellite and once she had a tone, followed it with his number. He answered quickly.
“What time are you arriving?” she asked.
“Not tonight. No air assets available. Tomorrow night. Are you OK?”
“Yes. I got us transport and did some dicking down in Sirte. Lots of rebels, technical and tanks. Misrata is a no-go area. Extensive fighting round the airport.”
“Take care and when I see you again, I’m going to rip you a second one!”
“I’d like to see you try. Goodnight.”
It was dark when she went down to her little room and got into the sleeping bag. She didn’t use a torch but she took off her holster and slid the Glock under her “pillow.” She would have to stay in here all of the next day and suddenly realising she was hungry; she finished a packet of biscuits white. She felt so lonely and frightened, she asked herself the question as she had many times before.
Why do I do this?
Because your good at it and you know you are.
Why can’t I be good at something else?
It’s your cross. Bear it.
Please, I don’t want to die out here.
There was no answer in her head, so she fell asleep.
The next day she spent a leisurely day sharpening her knife and cleaning her weapons, including the magazine and rounds. Then in her little notebook she made tiny drawings, annotated them with small, neat script. She was designing a garden she knew would never be finished, but it was nice to dream. Lunch was a bag of hot Mexican style tuna and noodles and a sticky toffee pudding for a real sugar rush, heated on the Coleman stove with water to make tea. The utensils were a plastic spork with plenty of tissues for the obvious reason. She was dreading the dinner of steak and vegetables because it was bland, and the meat was quite fatty. Fortunately, she had a little bag of spices.
She only went out once for a call of nature and to check their accommodation, which was an abandoned van and pick-up accessories store, where they could watch the main road, but remain unobtrusive. It was fairly clean, just the floors strewn with old invoices, but there were two rooms to sleep and a larger space for a communal area.
At 18:45 it was dark outside, and she went up on the roof to wait. The other sat phone battery was recharged and she smoked a discreet cigarette, shielding the burning embers. It was a beautiful evening and the world smelled fresh. To the north was the pounding of artillery shells, probably from the airport at Misrata.
At 01:55 she heard a helicopter out to the east, a high wine of the engine and it was definitely a small cab, probably a Lynx. That meant they should be getting in at 03:00 to 04:00. She washed herself again and just wearing an olive t-shirt, slithered into the sleeping bag, making sure her carbine was to hand, and the Glock was under the bergen. She waited.
There was a faint noise outside and then the lights of the motion tracker went on, audio disabled. She heard him coming slowly up the stairs and flicked off the Glock’s slide lock. He stopped and looked at her in the semi-darkness.
“Is that a Glock 17 or are you pleased to see me?”
“You bloody fool!” he said angrily, “You were safe at home. Why the hell have you come here? I am so bloody cross with you!”
“Jean-Claude, I’d like to remind you that I am an SRR asset, not MI6’s bit of fluff.”
He crouched down and looked at her crossly, “So how the bloody hell did you end up here?”
“Process of elimination. I knew who the other watchers were and who they were going with. The last group had to be you. For God’s sake stop crouching there in high dudgeon, get your kit off and get into this sleeping bag.” She pulled her t-shirt over her head and snuggled down, watching him.
“Come on all of it off. We can’t make love like American actors, still fully clothed.”
“You can’t be serious!”
“Why not? The danger increases the desire.”
“Yours perhaps, but you always were a contrary nuisance.”
He slithered in and her body was warm and appealing, “Oh Jean-Claude, I respect you because your always ready for action. I was so very frightened and lonely.”
It had to be the strangest place he had ever made love and he cuddled her while she cried.
When she stopped, he said: “Well, I suppose I’d better get back to the others, but I’m still cross with you. Julian is team leader and I’m here to run you. The two SF guys from E Squadron are here to protect both of us.”
“What are they like?” she asked.
“Well, the junior of the two, a staff sergeant is quiet and calculating and there’s an aura of sadness surrounding him. It’s like he’s carrying around lots of pent-up violence. He has an odd name… Edge.”
“I know him. I met him in Iraq. He was one of the team that stormed the building where they were holding the loadmaster. He does have an aura of sadness, because one of you lot went rogue in Colombia and was responsible for killing a CIA officer. Edge was in love with her and she died in his arms.”
Would the SIS guy be a Charles Medwin?” he asked.
“He’s dead now. We or rather your SAS boys did a wet job on him in Chile. He was feathering his nest with drug money. Edge had the opportunity to kill him, but didn’t, so his colleagues did it for him.”
“Good. Who’s the other one?”
“Quite different, a bit jokey but still quiet. He’s senior to Edge but seems to defer to him.”
“What’s his name?” she asked.
She went up on one elbow and stared at him, “Guy Jarvis?”
“I take it you know him as well.”
“Please don’t be cross or jealous, but I loved him. It would complicate matters if he knew I was here.”
“And what are we going to do when you’re travelling with us?”
“I have a suggestion,” she told him, “I’ll wear a Farrashia, traditional attire that Libyan women used to wear outside the house. It is a one-piece costume mostly made of silk and comes in different colours most popular is the white colour which is for casual wear.”
“Have you got one in that Mary Poppins bergen of yours?”
“No. I’ll need to go shopping later today. You’ll have to come and bring one of the Blades with you. I suggest Edge. I can also show you round Sirte and you’ll see the rebel troops.”
He kissed her, got out of the sleeping bag and started to get dressed. She watched him with a smile.
“I love you so much. Why have you given me such kindness and be bothered with a moody, obnoxious waste of space like me?”
“Because from the moment I met you in Oxford, I knew you were the one for me. Yes, I love you as well, even though you’re an infuriating, little… Take care and I’ll come and see you tomorrow, I mean today. Julian loves this by-the-way.”
“Running around with guns and being with the SAS, like he is one of them. How the hell do they carry so much kit?”
“Training and constant practice. It’s a state of mind.”
“Where’s the water?”
“There’s a tap on the wall of that disused car dealership. You’ll reed to purify it to make sure.”
“Got any eggs you want me to suck? Goodnight, Afarin.”
“Hal tudajie alsayida?” Do you want a fu*k Mrs?
“Tabaa!” Fu*k off.
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