It is written that 8 British men were picked up at Suluq on Friday after a helicopter was spotted there. A story was floated that one had a diplomatic passport and was trying to contact the new regime…
If you believe that story, I have a bridge I would like to sell to you. I don’t know much about Suluq except that there are no stories about action there and I don’t see any oily facilies. So, what is so important about Suluq that a detour through it on the way to Benghazi was necessary?
We may never know but there must have been some asset or target at Suluq worth risking a lot. Neither side seems to want to destroy the oily infrastructure so it must have something to do with command, control or communication. Perhaps there is an unattended radar site they wanted to study or mine. Perhaps there was a contact who could transport them where they really wanted to go.
I would bet that with talk of a no-fly zone this action had something to do with Gaddafi’s radar system. If the UK could study or disable it someway by visiting Suluq, this migh make sense. Other than a rescue mission of some kind, I don’t see anything else that makes much sense. They could get all the information they need otherwise by satellite including observing the parties to the dispute with respect to men, material and tactics.
I think this mission means that within a few days there will be a no-fly zone in Libya and the UK will be involved. I expect that many such missions are active seeking to disable Gaddafi’s ability to shoot down aircraft supporting the revolutionaries. The sighting of a drone may also be connected. I have not heard that Gaddafi has any drones. Drones are used to gather much more detailed information than satellites can. Although Liby is of fair size, outsiders using the appropriate technology can draw up a target list in a few days. Infrared imaging can locate every body and power source within metres in a few days.
As long as the interception of these blokes did not kill some operation, I expect to see a no-fly zone implemented in whole or part this week. It has been requested and the cost of extending the disruption of oil production and delaying establishment of relations with the new regime will be greater than the cost of the operation. The folks do not even need much training after having done the deed several times before.
UPDATE There is a follow-up article on Al Jazeera… It seems they took a wrong turn in Egypt or something.