Countries of the World - Politics
Free Libya !

Welcome to my blog about the Libyan Revalution .

Freedom of speech does not exist in Libya, the population is living under the dictatorship of Gaddafi who brutally suppresses them. He would even imprison them for three years if they only discuss a national matter with foreigners. All this made the Libyans live in fear. And Despite Libya's oil revenues, a large number of the children suffer from anemia and malnutrition, corruption is all over the system and unemployment is 30%.

How did it start?

After all the revolutions that took place in the Arab world and the Middle East, the Libyans were inspired with the pro-democracy movements and hoped for such a change in their own country. Therefore, these dissidents planned that February 17 is a "day of rage", however, on February 15, the security forces started arresting them which motivated and pushed the protestors to fight against the Gaddafi system.
In the month of March, violence and oppression was becoming more and more inhumane and the number of deaths was rising steadily.

March 12: The Arab League has endorsed a no-fly zone over Libya and asked the United Nations Security Council to approve.

March 17: the UN Security Council voted 10-0 with 5 abstentions (China, Russia, Germany, Brazil and India).

To understand how the no-fly zone worked here is the video.

Time to support the Libyan revolution

There are those, such as Stephen Kinzer, who regard this as “a highly obscure conflict” — as though we really don’t know enough to judge what’s going on.

When journalists are getting arrested, beaten up and tortured, it does indeed get hard to know what’s going on, but it’s not hard to take sides.

And for those of us simple-minded observers who see what is happening in Libya as just one current in the rising tide of the Arab democratic revolution and who see this trend as historic and inspiring, in spite of the fact that we do not know what it will lead to, it’s not hard to support the Libyan revolution — even though Libya after Gaddafi seems likely to involve a measure of chaos.

The alternative — that Gaddafi might succeed in crushing this popular uprising — would not only be bad for Libya, but bad for countless people across the Arab world who currently dream of the possibility of liberating themselves from the suffocating grip of autocratic power.
Anti-interventionists argue that Libyans can and must win this fight on their own. Self-appointed saviors from the West would indeed be unwelcome. But is that really what’s on the horizon? Is President Obama or anyone else currently recruiting support for a coalition of the willing, eager to liberate Libya and cast out the tyrant?

To intervene is “to interfere, usually through force or threat of force, in the affairs of another nation.”

Libya’s revolutionaries have made it clear that they don’t want a direct military intervention on Libyan soil. But that’s not a rejection of all outside support. Indeed, the Interim Transitional National Council in its founding statement said: “we request from the international community to fulfil its obligations to protect the Libyan people from any further genocide and crimes against humanity…”

How can that request be fulfilled? Would a no-fly zone help? If that is what is explicitly requested, then it does not constitute a form of interference. Assistance in response to an appeal for help is not an imposition.

Instead of pro- and anti-interventionists indulging in an ideological debate, what is called for right now is dialogue — not between these two camps but between representatives of the Libyan revolutionary movement and those national and international bodies which are ready to offer assistance.

Still, there are those who want to draw a sharp divide between military and non-military aid. Food for the hungry but no guns for the fighters. And what about medical assistance for those injured on the battlefield? Or intelligence information? Or jamming communications?

There are all sorts of ways of supporting the fight without dropping bombs, but first you have to take sides. If you’re not willing to take sides, the question about intervention is moot, but if you support the revolution, the only question is: how can Gaddafi be defeated?

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.

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.

UPDATE 1, Monday, Feb. 21, 9:00 a.m. EST/4:00 p.m. Tripoli (Nick Baumann): SkyNews is reporting that witnesses claim the state television building and other public buildings in Tripoli are on fire.

UPDATE 2, Monday, Feb. 21, 11:45 a.m. EST/6:45 p.m. Tripoli (Nick Baumann): Al Jazeera (via Sultan al Qassemi) reports multiple accounts of airplanes attacking protesters in Tripoli. Shadi Hamid, an expert on the Arab world at the Brookings Institution, slams the Western response as "business as usual," and asks whether the West is even capable of "bold, creative policymaking." The Atlantic's Max Fisher, meanwhile, says that while the media blackout means the air-attack claims are impossible for press to verify, if they're true, the United Nations should "shut down Libyan airspace immediately."

UPDATE 3, Monday, Feb. 21, 12:15 p.m. EST/7:15 p.m. Tripoli (Nick Baumann): Mobile and television networks are down across Libya. Al Hurra (a satellite television competitor of Al Jazeera's that is sponsored by the US government) is reporting that the Libyan ambassador in London has resigned and joined protests outside the embassy. The network is also reporting that helicopters carrying senior Libyan officials have left Tripoli "in the direction of Malta," according to Sultan Al Qassemi. (If you're not following him on Twitter, you should be.) William Hague, the British foreign minister, has said that Qaddafi fled to Venezuala, but the Venezualans are denying that. And the head of the Libyan Army is reportedly under house arrest. In short: it's chaos, and no one knows for sure what is happening. There are also reports just now that the Libyan ambassador to Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, has also resigned.

UPDATE 4, Monday, Feb. 21, 12:50 p.m. EST/7:50 p.m. Tripoli (Nick Baumann): NBC News reports that the State Department has ordered all non-emergency personnel to leave Libya immediately. The resigned Libyan ambassador to India told Al Jazeera "it is only a matter of days until the regime is finished." And The Guardian confirms earlier reports that several Libyan airplanes and helicopters have landed in Malta. They were reportedly piloted by Libyan colonels seeking asylum. The earlier reports of military planes attacking protesters also seem to be close to confirmation—Reuters has published a story citing more eyewitnesses to the attack.

UPDATE 5, Monday, Feb. 21, 2:41 p.m. EST/9:41 p.m. Tripoli (Siddhartha Mahanta): Witnesses saw armed militiamen speeding into Tripoli’s Green Square in Toyota trucks, firing on protestors fighting with riot police. Many of the gunmen are believed to be from other African countries. Meanwhile, Colonel Qaddafi’s security forces have retreated into buildings around Tripoli, which remains under the control of rebel forces. And in a sign of deepening internal fissures, some of Qaddafi's top officials have broken ranks with the government. Meanwhile, protestors in Benghazi—where the uprising began—have released a list of demands for a secular interim government led by the army in cooperation with a council of Libyan tribes. And on Democracy Now, Libyan poet Khaled Mattawa says his country is "forever changed" by the uprising.

UPDATE 6, Monday. Feb. 21, 3:11 p.m. EST/10:11 p.m. Tripoli (Ashley Bates): UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has spoken with Qaddafi and told him the violence "must stop immediately," a UN spokesperson said. The BBC reports that Qaddafi was still in Libya during this Monday phone call.

In an apparent defection, two Libyan fighter jets have landed in Malta, the Times of Malta reports. The pilots had presumably refused orders to bomb protesters in Benghazi.

Al-Jazeera Arabic reports that it's received videos of murdered protesters that are too graphic to air. The video below, which was released by Al-Jazeera English, gives (non-graphic) on-the-ground footage and a concise synopsis of events on Saturday and Sunday.

UPDATE 7, Monday. Feb. 21, 4:05 p.m. EST/11:11 p.m. Tripoli (Ashley Bates): Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has very belatedly condemned the violence against civilians in Libya, calling it "unacceptable." Over the weekend, Berlusconi said he hadn't phoned Qaddafi because he didn't want to "disturb" him amidst the uprisings.

As chronicled by Mother Jones senior correspondent James Ridgeway, Berlusconi and Qaddafi have worked together to catch Italy-bound migrants and asylum seekers. Berlusconi, who is on trial for allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute, has courted Libyan petrodollars, and rolled out the red carpet during Qaddafi's multiple visits to Italy. In June of 2009, Qaddafi flew one thousand Italian women to Libya for a "cultural tour." Just last week, Berlusconi reportedly sent a Danish IC4 train to Qaddafi as a gift.

UPDATE 8, Monday. Feb. 21, 4:20 p.m. EST/11:20 p.m. Tripoli (Nick Baumann): Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a prominent Muslim theologian, was just on Al Jazeera. He issued a fatwa during the interview calling for the death of Qaddafi. Sultan Al Qassemi's translation: "To any army soldier, to any man who can pull the trigger & kill this man, do so. Save your countrymen from this brutal tyrant. It is wrong of you to stand by while he kills innocent people." Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports that the Egyptian army's Facebook page has been updated with news that Libyan border guards have withdrawn from Egypt's boundary with Libya. And Al Jazeera English just reported that the Libyan ambassador to the US has resigned and come out against Qaddafi. (UPDATE: Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell clarifies that the ambassador may not have technically resigned, but calls it a "moot point" given the ambassador's explicit criticism of the regime.) Meanwhile, Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch is calling for US and international intervention: "NATO enfoced no-fly zone, hold [Qaddafi] + regime individually responsible for deaths, call urgent [security council] meeting, targeted sanctions."

UPDATE 9, Monday. Feb. 21, 5:45 p.m. EST/12:45 a.m. Tuesday Tripoli (Nick Baumann): CNN has a truly awful video of what it says are the bodies of Libyan soldiers who refused to shoot at protesters. And here's Marc Lynch's writeup of his call for international intervention I mentioned in Update 8.

UPDATE 10, Monday. Feb. 21, 6:10 p.m. EST/1:10 a.m. Tuesday Tripoli (Nick Baumann): The State Department has released a transcript of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent comments on Libya:

The world is watching the situation in Libya with alarm. We join the international community in strongly condemning the violence in Libya. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been lost, and with their loved ones. The government of Libya has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of the people, including the right to free expression and assembly. Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed. We are working urgently with friends and partners around the world to convey this message to the Libyan government.

UPDATE 11, Monday. Feb. 21, 6:45 p.m. EST/1:45 a.m. Tripoli (Ashley Bates): Egypt and Libya have both set up field hospitals on their borders and are trying to send help. A group of Libyan military officers have released a statement calling on all members of the Libyan army to join the protesters. Al-Jazeera Arabic reports that advertisements in Guinea and Nigeria are offering up to $2,000 per day to fight as mercenaries for the Libyan army. And Libyan State TV has just announced that Qaddafi will speak shortly.

UPDATE 12, Monday. Feb. 21, 7:20 p.m. EST/2:20 a.m. Tuesday Tripoli (Nick Baumann): In what almost seemed like a piece of bizarre, horrible performance art (with awful consequences), Qaddafi just spoke on Libyan state television. The whole appearance lasted about 15 seconds and consisted of him saying that he is in Tripoli, not Venezuela (as British foreign secretary William Hague had claimed), and warning citizens not to believe "the dog tv channels" saying otherwise. He was holding an umbrella, too. The whole thing was a stark reminder of the fact that an entire country is ruled by a man who is at best a very odd tyrant who is totally willing to kill his people and at worst a total madman—or, as The Atlantic's Max Fisher writes, a "f***king loon."

What’s going to happen now?

It’s difficult to tell what will happen now. The UN Security Council resolution did not call for regime change; it’s about protecting civilians. The future of the Gaddafi regime is uncertain. The key question is whether we will see the resumption of the uprising in western Libya, including Tripoli, leading to a disintegration of the regime’s armed forces. If that occurs, then Gaddafi may be ousted soon. But if the regime manages to remain firmly in control in the west, then there will be a de facto division of the country — even though the resolution affirms the territorial integrity and national unity of Libya. This may be what the regime has chosen, as it has just announced its compliance with the UN resolution and proclaimed a ceasefire. What we might then have is a prolonged stalemate, with Gaddafi controlling the west and the opposition the east. It will obviously take time before the opposition can incorporate the weapons it is receiving from and through Egypt to the point of becoming able to inflict military defeat on Gaddafi’s forces. Given the nature of the Libyan territory, this can only be a regular war rather than a popular one, a war of movement over vast stretches of territory. That’s why the outcome is hard to predict. The bottom line here again is that we should support the victory of the Libyan democratic uprising. Its defeat at the hands of Gaddafi would be a severe backlash negatively affecting the revolutionary wave that is currently shaking the Middle East and North Africa.

Free Libya ! (Countries of the World - Politics)    -    Author : Nourhan - Libya

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Last update : 2011-05-23 >> Countries of the World >> Blog #18053

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