Libya: The Blood Drenched Path of Revolution

What’s happening in Libya?
By Ashley Bates
Source: Mother Jones

The following is a basic primer on what’s happening in Libya. You can also jump straight to the latest updates.

Last week, Libyan dissident Najla Aburrahman begged western media to pay attention to the bloodbath unfolding in her country. “If the Libyan protesters are ignored,” she wrote, “the fear is that [Libyan dictator Muammar] Qaddafi— a man who appears to care little what the rest of the world thinks of him—will be able to seal the country off from foreign observers, and ruthlessly crush any uprising before it even has a chance to begin.”

Since then, Qaddafi’s troops have used machine guns and large-caliber weapons against protesters in Benghazi, the country’s second-biggest city, and more than 200 protesters, including children, have reportedly been killed.

Why are Libyans unhappy?

Libya has been ruled for 42 years by a cunning, repressive, eccentric dictator who has frequently described his own people as “backwards.” More than half of his 6.5 million subjects are under 18. Despite Libya’s Libya’s plentiful oil revenues, which represent most of the national budget, many children suffer from malnutrition and anemia. Corruption is rampant, dissidents are brutally suppressed, and many citizens are afraid to say Qaddafi’s name in public or in private for fear of attracting suspicion. Instead, Qaddafi is often referred to as “the leader” and to his son Seif (until now heir-apparent) as “the principal.” Discussing national policy with a foreigner is punishable with three years in prison. Reporters Without Borders describes press freedom in Libya as “virtually non-existent.”

Oil is the economy in Libya and oil profits have bankrolled massive investments in education and infrastructure—yet Libya lags far behind other oil-rich Arab states. Unemployment stands at 30 percent. Most people who have jobs often work only part-time. Basic foods—including rice, sugar, flour, gasoline—are heavily subsidized by the government and sold for a fraction of their true cost. A 2006 New Yorker article described Libya’s “prosperity without employment and large population of young people without a sense of purpose.”

Libya’s society is tribal and traditional—despite liberal laws on issues such as women’s rights—and many Libyans identify via clan allegiance first, nationality second.

Some in Libya hoped that Seif Qaddafi, who has been growing more prominent as an adviser to his father, would create openings for democratic reform. Seif earned a doctorate in political philosophy from the London School of Economics and keeps Bengal tigers as pets. He has founded the “Qaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation,” which supposedly seeks to promote human rights and fight the use of torture in Libya and across the Middle East.

Wasn’t Qaddafi that guy who set up a giant tent on Donald Trump’s spread?

Yup, he’s the guy. During his 2009 trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Qaddafi had hoped to sleep and entertain guests inside an elaborate Bedouin-style tent in Manhattan’s Central Park. That didn’t work out, so instead the dictator rented land on a suburban property owned by Donald Trump. The tent was erected and then dismantled after a public outcry, and both Trump and the Secret Service announced that Qaddafi wasn’t coming after all.

Why can’t anyone agree on how to spell Qaddafi’s name?

Since at least the 1980s, the name has been alternately spelled as “Moammar / Muammar Gadaffi /Gaddafi / Gathafi / Kadafi / Kaddafi /Khadafy / Qadhafi / Qathafi /etc.,” according to Chris Suellentrop at Slate. They’re all different attempts at transliterating Arabic pronunciation.  

[No wonder Twitter’s Trending Topics is constantly having a hard time!]

How did all this start?

Inspired by pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world, Libyan dissidents had planned a “day of rage” for Thursday, Feb. 17. On February 15, security forces arrested a prominent lawyer named Fathi Terbil, who had represented families of some of the 1,200 prisoners massacred by Libyan security forces at Abu Slim prison in 1996. Once released later that day, Terbil set up a webcam overlooking Benghazi’s main square, where some of the families had been protesting. With help from exiled Libyans in Canada and around the world, the video spread rapidly on the Internet.

Al Jazeera Arabic conducted a phone interview with Libyan novelist Idris al-Mesmari, who reported that police were shooting at protesters—and then the connection was lost. (Mesmari was reportedly arrested by Libyan authorities.) Shortly thereafter, thousands more began battling Qaddafi’s troops, and hundreds are reported to have been killed. “Both protesters and the security forces have reason to believe that backing down will likely mean their ultimate death or imprisonment,” says the New York Times.

What are the implications of Libyan instability?

After decades of being reviled as a state sponsor of terrorism, Libya recently reversed course and joined the ranks of America’s allies in the fight against Al Qaeda. In 2003, Qaddafi agreed to stop developing weapons of mass destruction and paid $2.7 billion to the families of the 270 victims of Pan Am 101—the plane bombed by Libyan agents over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. In return, the US and the United Nations lifted economic sanctions against Libya.

On the Arab street, however, Qaddafi is widely loathed. Most of his political victims have been members of banned Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which would likely gain stronger influence if he were overthrown. Qaddafi, once among the Palestinian movement’s most vocal international supporters, outraged many Arabs by saying that Palestinians have no special claim to the land of Israel and calling for the creation of a bi-national “Isratine.”

What’s the latest?

On Sunday, February 20, protesters succeeded in overtaking all parts of Benghazi except for a government security compound. Qaddafi’s son gave a long, rambling televised speech in which he blamed Islamic radicals and Libyan exiles for the uprising. He claimed civil war over the country’s oil resources would set off starvation, cause public services including education to collapse, and could spark a Western invasion. He said, “We will fight until the last man, until the last woman, until the last bullet.”

Protests have now spread to the capital, Tripoli, with thousands of demonstrators converging onto the city’s main square and reportedly taking over state television headquarters. They faced well-armed pro-Qaddafi militias who fired into the crowds. The Libyan government has sought to impose an information blackout, blocking the internet and satellite television and forbidding foreign journalists from entering. Al-Jazeera remains the most comprehensive source of coverage; you can follow its live blog here

* * * * *

Fresh Violence Rages in Libya
Protesters say security forces using warplanes and live ammunition “massacre” them, raising death toll to almost 300

Date: 22nd February 2011
Source: Al Jazeera English

Libyan forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi are waging a bloody operation to keep him in power, with residents reporting gunfire in parts of the capital Tripoli and other cities, while other citizens, including the country’s former ambassador to India, are saying that warplanes were used to “bomb” protesters.

Nearly 300 people are reported to have been killed in continuing violence in the capital and across the north African country as demonstrations enter their second week.

Witnesses in Tripoli told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that fighter jets had bombed portions of the city in fresh attacks. They said that “mercenaries” were firing on civilians in the city.

Residents of the Tajura neighbourhood, east of Tripoli, said that dead bodies are still lying on the streets from earlier violence. At least 61 people were killed in the capital on Monday, witnesses told Al Jazeeera.

Protests in the oil-rich African country, which Gaddafi has ruled for 41 years, began on February 14, but picked up momentum after a brutal government crackdown following a “Day of Rage” on February 17. Demonstrators say they have now taken control of several important towns, including the city of Benghazi, which saw days of bloody clashes between protesters and government forces.

There has been a heavy government crackdown on protests, however, and demonstrators at a huge anti-government march in the capital on Monday afternoon said they came under attack from fighter jets and security forces using live ammunition.

“What we are witnessing today is unimaginable. Warplanes and helicopters are indiscriminately bombing one area after another. There are many, many dead,” Adel Mohamed Saleh said in a live broadcast.

“Anyone who moves, even if they are in their car, they will hit you.”

Ali al-Essawi, who resigned as Libyan ambassador to India, also told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that fighter jets had been used by the government to bomb civilians.

He said live fire was being used against protesters, and that foreigners had been hired to fight on behalf of the government. The former ambassador called the violence “a massacre”, and called on the UN to block Libyan airspace in order to “protect the people”.

‘Genocide’

The country’s state broadcaster quoted Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader, and widely seen as his political heir, as saying that armed forces had “bombarded arms depots situated far from populated areas”. He denied that air strikes had taken place in Tripoli and Benghazi.

The government says that it is battling “dens of terrorists”.

Earlier, Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said Gaddafi had started a “genocide against the Libyan people”.

During Monday’s protests, gunfire was heard across the capital, with protesters seen attacking police stations and government buildings, including the offices of the state broadcaster.

Witnesses told the AFP news agency that there had been a “massacre” in Tajura district, with gunmen seen firing “indiscriminately”.

In Fashlum district, helicopters were seen landing with what witnesses described as “mercenaries” disembarking and attacking those on the street.

Mohammed Abdul-Malek, a London-based opposition activist who has been in touch with residents, said that snipers have taken positions on roofs in an apparent bid to stop people joining the protests.

Several witnesses who spoke to the Associated Press news agency said that pro-Gaddafi gunmen were firing from moving cars at both people and buildings.

State television on Tuesday dismissed allegations that security forces were killing protesters as “lies and rumours”.

Rising death toll

Benghazi, Libya’s second city, which had been the focal point of violence in recent days, has now been taken over by anti-government protesters, after military units deserted their posts and joined the demonstrators.

The runway at the city’s airport, however, has been destroyed, according to the Egyptian foreign minister, and so planes cannot land there, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

According to the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR), protesters are also in control of Sirte, Tobruk in the east, as well as Misrata, Khoms, Tarhounah, Zenten, Al-Zawiya and Zouara.

On Sunday, the US-based rights group Human Rights Watch said that at least 233 people were killed in the violence. Added to that are at least 61 people who died on Monday, which brings the toll since violence began on February 17 to at least 294.

Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell, a major oil company, said on Tuesday that all of its expatriate employees and their depenedents living in Libya have now been relocated.

* * * * *

For those who are protesting on the streets face extreme brutality from the very people who are meant to serve the country; beatings, shooting, military tanks and military air strikes. It’s hard to believe that a Government would wage a war of this standard against its own people. For those in uniform whom still have humanity within them and have chosen to drop their guns are faced with the most excruciating form of death, burning.

Libya is a chaos covered with bloodbaths, and will continue to soak the earth with more blood as the deluded Gafaddi cannot comprehend the fact that this is a lost war from the very beginning. The more that are killed, the stronger the ripples of screams will reach the rest of the world. Libya has reached a point in which it cannot go back.

NB: Protests started from 17th February and up to this very day 23rd February, President Obama, Nobel Peace Prize recipient hasn’t said a single word.

* * * * *

Why do you Libyans want Gaddafi gone? Here are some reasons…
Date: 21st February 2011
Source: LibyaFeb17.com

 Salaries in Libya are governed by law number 15 which sets the average salary of Libyans at 200 dollars per month. To make things worst it is customary to have this low wage paid intermittently.
 Law number 4 caters for the confiscation of private and commercial property, practically passing such stolen properties to the members of his family and of its so called revolutionary committee members who are in charge of security.
 The burning down of the land registry building in Tripoli to destroy any reference of legal ownership of property.
 The continuous discharge of untreated sewage in the sea in close proximity to the cities Tripoli and Benghazi
 The sudden unnotified change of Libyan currency practically confiscating all personal assets of Libyans
 Civil infrastructure, healthcare and the education system have failed beyond disbelief in the last 40 years.
 Private Libyan citizens yearly spend on average 5billion dollars in Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt out of their pockets for medical treatment, because they have completely lost trust in the Libyan health care system.
 Gaddafi committed some of the most brutal human right excesses in the late 70′s and early 80′s. Libyan students were hanged in universities, sport auditoriums and public squares simply for not adhering to the green book ideology.
 Gaddafi has squandered unimaginable wealth on his propaganda machine; mainly managed by such figures like Mr. Ali Alkilani and Mr. Abdullah Mansour
 For many years Gaddafi squandered hundreds of millions of dollars on terrorist organizations such as the IRA and the red brigades, and on separatist movements in Africa, the Far East and central and Latin America.
 Gaddafi’s agents killed WPC Ivon Fletcher outside the Libyan Embassy in London in 1984 and many other Libyan political dissidents through a campaign that he calls “Eliminating Stray Dogs”
 Gaddafi has also shot down a civilian Libyan airliner over Libya killing about 150 passengers. Bizarrely he had given the doomed flight a similar flight number to the Lockerbie airliner. This atrocity was also committed on the anniversary of the Lockerbie airliner.
 Abu Sleem prison massacre where he ordered the killing of over 1200 political prisoners
 The HIV infection breakout in Benghazi. Over 500 children where effected because the sterilization equipment were malfunctioning.
 Gaddafi waged pointless wars in Chad and Uganda where over 20,000 Libyans died. In addition, Gaddafi supplied chemical weapons to the late Somalian dictator Ziad Berri which caused thousands of deaths.
 The destruction of the mausoleum (in Benghazi) of Omar Mukhtar and the removal of his remains to be buried in a remote Oasis which was an act of desecration to the national pride.
 The act of entertaining and handing out euro’s to hundreds of selected young Italian women in Rome so he could preach to them the green book ideology and convert them to his version of Islam. To add insult to injury, upon his return to Libya Gaddafi publicly insulted and attacked a couple of Libyan women that he caught begging outside Tripoli central mosque (Moulia Mohamed) after the Friday prayer.
 The declaration of war on Switzerland for arresting one of his sons and his wife for beating up the domestic staff.
 The demolition of several historically listed buildings in downtown Tripoli such as the parliament and our foreign ministry.
 The use of Libyan women as so called revolutionary nuns as personal bodyguards.
 The total disregard of the teachings (Sunna) of the prophet Muhammad and his failed attempts at altering the Quranic text.
 The forced military training of very young male and female students.
 The peculiar unwritten law of forbidding the mention of the names of any Libyan official by the national media accept those of himself and immediate members of his family. In football no names of players were allowed to be mentioned except that of his son because Gaddafi regarded stardom as a political crime.
 His continuous efforts to rewrite Libyan history according to his twisted personal ideology and personal grandiose.
 The abolishment of the Libyan constitution (compiled by a team of leading international jurists) which symbolized the smooth birth of Libyan independence and its national sovereignty as voted for by the general assembly of the UN. Gaddafi continued to rule Libya without a constitution until the present day.
 According to the UN development surveys and other international organizations publications Libya’s development indicators perform dismally.
 Gaddafi’s extensive liaison with colourful African witchcraft doctors and voodoo priests, arguably leading to his ultimate act of eccentricity proclaiming himself Africa’s King of Kings. Commentators and political analysts continue to struggle to accommodate this with his brand of revolutionary socialism.

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One Response to Libya: The Blood Drenched Path of Revolution

  1. Pingback: Hooray!… Obama Finally Sees That Gaddafi Is a Brutal Tyrant | The Gateway Pundit

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