Friday, April 30, 2004


Thank you all very much for your interest by writing to me. While I try to answer each and everyone, sometimes it is humanely impossible. Therefore I WILL combine all the questions in one post soon, I hope, and answer more personal ones on an individual basis. I haven't posted for a while so to those who have asked about me, I was simply ill, spring does not agree with me in Libya as we had unpredictable weather: heat, sandstorms, rain hello to allergies , coughs, colds etc... ;)

A lot of interesting things have happened and I look forward to share them with you.

Monday, April 19, 2004


What a coincidence Alan K. and some other people where inquiring yesterday about any visible reforms in Libya after the scraping of weapons of mass destruction.

Well this is the latest breaking news from Tripoli: Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Sunday called for the abolition of Libya's three decade-old exceptional courts and other strict laws .During talks with judges and prosecutors, he urged delegates meeting across the country since Saturday in weeklong annual People's Congress forums to annul the laws, which were passed three years after the 1969 Revolution. He also called for an end to arrests without warrant and urged the congresses to endorse international anti-torture conventions. Please ignore obvious typos etc. and remmember that those guys are just learning English , also this link of Sunday 17th will remain alive only until Friday .


On another note regarding how the media may not be telling you all the truth - I kept coming across this piece of news : "Monday, 19 April, 2004:Libya's internet access seems to be getting back to normal after one of the strangest weeks in the history of the web: the whole country "disappeared" from view this month. Following a dispute about the ownership of the country-code top level domain .ly, the nameserver running the domains stopped answering requests for .ly on April 7, followed by the secondary nameserver on April 9, meaning that none of the estimated 12,500 Libyan domains could be accessed. In effect, the entire country had gone offline. The problem seems to be a dispute between two different organisations as to who governs the .ly domain: while has been running the .ly domain for several years from a base in the UK, another organisation,, is claiming ownership. [ITP]"
Look this is simply not true as you can see I have been able to blog , surf, write emails to many of you especially this past week please draw your own conclusions.


We also had a huge pro-Iraq and Palestine march today across Tripoli, the protesters went up to the UN headquarters .

Friday, April 16, 2004

Spring cleaning

Funny how when you are spring cleaning you come across a lot of stuff which was usually put on hold in your 'to review' box:

(1)This excerpt is from an email from a computer programmer friend of mine on 06/03/2002 : 6:57 AM

"Yesterday I was showing one of my trainees how to enter his password which was the number 100. When it was his turn to do it, he asked me should it be SMALL OR CAPITAL ;)
( the guy was a recent English learner ) tells you how hard my job as an instructor can be . "
(2) Another thingy is this interview with Nelson Mandela - a personal hero of mine.

(3) Libya is slightly larger than Alaska.

(4) For a very brief Libyan History check this site.

(5) This is the most comprehensive site about Libyan Cuisine & Recipes I could find .

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

My night of terror

Warning very long post !

April is forever linked in my memory to terror, and especially the 14th of April. As this date looms near I can’t help myself thinking back to that one special night where millions of Libyans and yours truly have experienced US state sponsored terrorism, being collectively punished for something many were not even aware of.

I remember vividly that night, we were invited at some friends’ house, and over tea and Libyan sweets the discussion regarding the possibility of an American invasion or air strike came up. Let me depict the situation that led to this conversation. Rumours and speculations were plenty in the week prior to that fateful night. We ‘heard’ that the Americans were seeking vengeance…. for the alleged bombing of a disco in Germany (what?? Anyway this post is not for the purpose to discuss the cause, but only my experience). The media were making a good business of that, and all those analyst were getting really hoarse on VOA and other broadcasting station, You see in those times, satellite reception was not the widespread affair it is now ( not even in the US). We therefore relied on radios and the broadcasts of the neighbouring countries (Egypt and Tunis) or those across the Mediterranean (mainly Italy) for our entertainment and news to supplement the domestic programs.

So to return to the subject, there was ample speculation among the populace and that night at T’s house , Mrs T was saying to my mum, “ no no Americans are civilised , modern people they wouldn’t do such a thing like bombing us … you’re mistaken ..” , and I was arguing, but auntie T, “ I heard on the news on Rai2 ( Italian channel) that someone had leaked the information there was going to be retaliation… so there is no smoke without fire, maybe the Americans are really coming ?” . The discussion went on like this for a while and her husband and children joined in…. I guess when you talk enough of the devil he effectively does show up, but I did not know how soon it would be. In retrospect I’m glad I didn’t!

The visit was over, it was a success by all standards, the food was great, the people wonderful and the conversation interesting and lively, we had fun.
That night, like every night I went to bed after watching my favourite Jordanian serial on TV (during the 80’s Jordanian series were all the rage, more about that another time).

Have you ever been in a disaster area, just before something terrible is about to take place? If you have then you would know what I’m talking about, this sense of total silence, impending doom, emptiness inside and all your body hair standing up. This eerie silence is what woke me up, and I was hearing in my head a distant thudding. The underlying fear gripping at my throat was: the last time I felt this way was in 1982, the day after I watched in horror on TV as the Israeli army rolled into Beirut. This is what I felt on the night of 14th of April 1986 (technically after midnight so we can say 15th ). Something was happening or going to happen. My first thought on opening my eyes “ the Americans are here!” and I jumped down from the bed , ran to the door of the balcony, I reasoned that since my room had a view of the distant port than I could figure out if there was any action on that front as more likely they would be coming from there and I would see ‘something’ , but I did not see anything, Tripoli was all illuminated like for a big party , or as we say here like a bride ready for her wedding night … we have many many garlands of light illuminating the city so from the sky you can see everything very clearly. Still I was not satisfied, there was something wrong I felt it, so I thought I’d go to the other side of the flat and watch from the window, if the Americans were coming they would most probably aim for the Aziziya Barracks which are less than 2 km away so I was bound to see some anti aircraft lights from there. … Negative again, yet the sense of foreboding would not leave me. When you are reading this account it feels like hours doesn’t it ? yet it only took minutes, I wanted to wake up my parents, as I thought I was hearing distant thuds, but was afraid to wake them up , do you know why , because somehow in my thinking it would make all this real. I got dressed in a hurry and went back to the window, scouring the sky for something, this time my fears had a real name the glass on the window was trembling and what do you think I saw hovering at such a low altitude: a beautiful aircraft. I could have counted it’s lights! At first glance I was mesmerised , thinking it was a UFO ( it looks pretty much like one see here), the aliens were landing ! it was aliens all right but of another sort, the nose was pointed towards the general area of the Barracks and I knew this time that I was right; the action was going to begin and I had tickets to the front seat. I did not know then that America was watching this live ) Sure enough , the speaker on the radio was hysterical “ oh Arabs, your brothers and sisters in Libya are under attack… American airplanes are roaming the skies of Tripoli and Benghazi etc….” So we found out that this is a coordinated attack , we hear that there are casualties… and the 4 of us are entrenched in the car like in a bubble wondering when will the daylight come and why are the hours passing so slowly. Meanwhile Tripolitanians are panicking, they have lived in safety from wars for decades. What do you think they did in their panic, thousands of families took to their cars and just drove in the streets trying to get to the countryside. That was a stupid desperate move, as it has added to the collateral damage, car accidents where innumerable… that is where inexperience leads you , no one told them in the event of an air strike residents are not supposed to roam the streets , but then no one really thought that the bastion of modern civilisation would be aiming at simple weapon less people ! The worst kabooum was in nearby Ben Ashour area , one street away, that’s when we believed that the city was a shooting gallery , I mean what was in Ben Ashur to shoot at ? Residential villas and some embassies ? With dawn came the muezzin’s call for prayer. Things had calmed down and an uneasy silence was blanketing the city , smoke was coming from many places . We went back up to our flat and prepared some more stuff to take to my grandparents house. My grandparents lived in a small villa so at least that would not be as dangerous , and we were going to be with the family , it would feel safer. That morning I burnt all my diaries, I don’t know what took me, I just felt it would be sacrilege for an unknown marines or even another Libyan citizen to be reading my hopes or fears if by any ill luck I was to die , maybe that was a bit dramatic , but hey this is how it was back then in the morning of 15th April 1986, I was definitely not a teenager anymore. I was not thinking in terms that the Americans whom I grew up with who professed liberty , freedom and human rights and love of people and all those slogans would never attack another country and unarmed civilians .. But then I did not know as much as I do now, Vietnam for me was just a heroic action movie , where we are all rooting for Rambo and crying when he is hurting, Afghanistan, was where brave men where fighting the ‘evil Russian communists’ .. That night my aunt lost her baby, a miscarriage ..another collateral damage of operation eldorado canyon , never mind the mission was accomplished !

Years later the sound of an airplane over the house still makes me freak out, and you can feel my pulse beating faster.. where do you think my heart and mind was ? Did the people in the white house stop and think about the consequence. But most of all I felt humiliated that a foreigner was trespassing in my country , killing my people and I only had a pocket knife .. That night I heard a school kid shouting “ give me a klashinkov I have to go and fight the Americans.”. How futile ! I realised that warfare was not going to win anything, because they always had the latest weaponry, and even if they sell you weapons you will never get the most recent models which they would use against us. Anyway the superior hardware cannot be defeated , but only in face to face or white arms combat can the courage of a man/woman show . The days of the knights and honourable code of war were over welcome to the 20th century were push button devices are the norm .

Shall I tell you about the futility of painting the windows in blue and the car headlights and taillights in blue ? it was supposedly to prevent being seen as targets ha ha ha , my people were so innocent and greenhorns in this as if the F111 or F18 pilot were going to bother ,they have much more sophisticated positioning systems ( yet they do make mistakes and aim at civilian areas ) .

Anyway a couple of days later and after nagging my dad took me to visit the Ben Ashur area where we had heard that horrible blast , I was utterly shocked that such a sight would be possible in my own country , it was my ground zero . One always think it happens to others .. but no sometimes it does happen to you as well, and you live to tell about it . One of the young girls who died that night used to go to school with me. The saddest part was her brother was calling from America when he was watching the news, and the phone was reverberating in a destroyed house full of dead people.

In order to survive, we put behind those sad memories and try to become pragmatic about this , maybe we even follow the proverb which says wisely “when you can’t beat them ..join them”.

This was just one or two nights, so imagine what it is like in Iraq with endless nights like these in sight. No one who has not experienced this first hand can even come near to comprehending. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families in Iraq.

The majority of the Libyan people do not hold a grudge against America, they are very philosophical that this is now America’s turn to build an empire, so let them enjoy the heady feeling of power, but we have to remember that empires are not eternal and everything has a cycle - a beginning and an end.

Sunday, April 11, 2004


I've set up a fotopage for those of you who would like to see some pictures of Libya...simply click on it .
Have fun , I'm trying to add some more pictures but the website will not accept them

Friday, April 09, 2004

Signing off for today

When you know people are reading you , you feel responsible if you don't blog for some time ... but that's it for today hope you enjoy and read all my rants I lost count how many they are today , but let's see it starts with a Libyan artist at 1:34 PM and ends now at almost 8:00 PM .. Have I really been 7 hrs online .. I must be a blog addict ha ha ha .... Good night , and HAPPY EASTER TO ALL ...
On a lighter note :

Hey have you heard this joke?

An American feeling proud: We went to the moon.

A Libyan: Are there good looking women over there?

The American: NO

The Libyan: If there were, we would have beaten you to it

My RANT to some people on the comment section of Healing Iraq :

Thank you Zeyad for the beautiful post of April 2 , Fallujah, a God forsaken town

At the risk of being bulldozed with hate -words by some of the crowd commenting there I would like to strongly object to them (more than 100 comments) calling Syria, or other Iraqi neighbouring countries hotbeds of Alqaeda ..why do you people say this? Why do you think anyone who takes up arms against America an insurgent , baathist or whatever other names . Why do you keep insult Arabs ( Muslim, Christian , Jew and atheists alike ?) on a blog about Iraq . Have you at least travelled to these places? Do you speak Arabic ? Do you know anything about Arab culture? Are you willing to learn about it not just do some googgling for appropriate material to know what you are talking ahout ? Sometimes I get the clear impression that the recruiting grounds for so called terrorism are in Europe from the disenchanted youths. Why are we all so quick to lay the blame at other people's doorsteps?
Next you'll be advocating carpet bombing neighbouring countries just so the US army feels safe in Iraq. I would like to remind you that whoever has gone to Iraq , has done so with full knowledge that this is a war-zone not a trip to Disneyland. Therefore mercenaries, servicemen ‘contractors’ or even humanitarian agencies are not there working for free , even those helping to rebuild Iraq! It pays well, but the price sometimes may be their life. I deplore the awful way these American contractors have died and feel sorry for their families who have witnessed this back home.But they DID know what they were in for. Most of you live comfortably in your homes and have no idea of what is it like in a conflict area, so I wish you could also refrain from calling every place where something happens to an American a festering hole. People want to move on I'm sure, but they must also chase their own demons.
For those happy with fencing off a city similarly to the occupied Palestinian land, did you just stop to think that it would be imprisoning people in their own country by a foreign troop? I wonder how far that would go towards winning the hearts and minds. Even the silent majority may cross overboard .

You see Arabs may put up with a dictator of their own kind but a foreigner ?!? eventually they will rebel. If the Fallujah incident resulted in one good deed it is that it showed the world that sunni and shia are united Iraqis , by the way Kurds are sunnis as well if you were not aware of this. Today 9th of April , many of us are watching on TV the blood curdling butchering perpretrated by American troops against residents of Falluja ( maybe you have been spared this sight as your channels do not broadcast it ) . For me in Libya it is the same pain that I feel , and I find myself breaking into tears at my people dying in there. Some westerners wonder where are the Arabs and why are they not helping the Iraqis? My answer is that they are helping in many ways but perhaps the most obvious way is fighting the occupying forces/coalition troops.Moreover, any Arabs offerring help have been immediately branded as foreign devils or minions of Alqaeda . I know I’m not on the ground there you would say , but to the majority of Arabs it does look like an occupation .. sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings .


Tips For Earthquake Victims

This is probably a bit of old news by now but it’s a nice article about the Arab [defunct] summit :

Tips For Earthquake Victims
Ghassan Charbel Al-Hayat 2004/03/29

Dear Arab citizen,

I hope you did not feel any unusual frustration yesterday. I hope you would not fall in the trap of worry and grief. I think you have enough experiences in order to be immune against the illness of despair. I know that the news you woke up hearing yesterday were not nice and soft. Nevertheless, let me ask you; since when did the Arabs' mornings pump positivism in the veins of citizens? You are certainly wise enough not to fall under the weight of bad news. You are wise enough not to let your mood depend on newspaper commentators and satellite channels experts. There is no need for anger, and no excuse for worry.

Anyway, you do not need anyone to draw your attention to the amount of exaggeration found in trendy expressions. Nevertheless, I wish for you to be extra cautious and careful whenever you face expressions such as "dangerous turn," "new page," "unprecedented start," "thunder-like news," "a new Nakba," "dangerous events," "the end of a phase," "the collapse of an entire world," "the bankruptcy of the Arab common work," and "an earthquake."

You certainly know that Arab Summits are gloomy. As soon as a date is set for a summit, politicians and journalists start pouring out expressions, and raising the hopes of readers and citizens; expressions like "increase in the level of present dangers," "facing challenges," "coming out with a united strategy," "putting implementation strategies," "confirming pillars," and "reminding of red lines." Recently, new rootless terms emerged, such as "restructuring," "civil society," "keeping up with international challenges," not to mention transparency and institutions. You certainly know that Summits are frequently considered innocent of all these accusations; practically held to stop the blamers, irritate the resentful, and control the aliens. Their biggest worry is to show the capability of the Arab family to meet under a same roof, and fight back the aims of the enemies and the envious who talk about divorce, lack of affection, spreading tricks, and preparing daggers.

My dear Arab citizen,

I know that Iraqi scenes incite your worry. I know that Sharon's crimes trigger your emotions. You worry about the flourishing of chronic issues in our Arab worlds, and the potential of the rise of an issue within every country.

I know you wish for less bitter bread, a job for your unemployed son, newspapers that do not talk about the same thing; you are tired of your present and worried about your future. However, experiences taught you that if the Summit were held, it would not change the course of things, even if its holding would surely be better than its postponement. I know you are asking whether the Belgian Prime Minister could have postponed the European Summit at the last second. I am advising you. Put aside Belgium and put aside comparisons. Neither the holding is a new page, nor is the postponement a big loss. It will be held tomorrow or the day after it my dear. Hold on to your daily work program and cool down your nerves. Go to your work smiling. Go to the neighboring coffee shop, have a mint tea, and follow the world activities. Sit down in front of the television at night. Leave the Greater Middle East (GME) to his people, and zap channels between Star Academy and Super Star, then go to sleep, and go far in the unconsciousness of the GME.

The democracy virus

Frankly, after being infected with the democracy virus, because of my long stay in the West, I am satisfied if all women wear or do not wear the veil, as the essence is for this to be stemming from the choice of the woman, without any pressure or compulsion.
My heart spilleth over ...

I just switched off the TV , watching continuous 24hr coverage from Iraq is breaking my heart ! :(
Bush and Blair have lit a fire which could consume them

The Iraqi uprising will drive home the forgotten lessons of empire

Seumas Milne
Thursday April 8, 2004
The Guardian

Where are they now, the cheerleaders for war on Iraq? Where are the US Republican hawks who predicted the Anglo-American invasion would be a "cakewalk", greeted by cheering Iraqis? Or the liberal apologists, who hailed a "new dawn" for freedom and democracy in the Arab world as US marines swathed Baghdad in the stars and stripes a year ago? Some, like the Sun newspaper - which yesterday claimed Iraqis recognise that occupation is in their "own long-term good" and are not in "bloody revolt" at all - appear to be in an advanced state of denial.
Others, to judge by the performance of the neocon writer William Shawcross and Blairite MP Ann Clwyd, have been reduced to a state of stuttering incoherence by the scale of bloodshed and suffering they have helped unleash. Clwyd, who regularly visits Iraq as the prime minister's "human rights envoy", struggled to acknowledge in an interview on Monday that bombing raids by US F16s and Apache helicopter gunships on Iraqi cities risked causing civilian deaths, not merely injuries. The following day, 16 children were reportedly killed in Falluja when US warplanes rocketed their homes. And yesterday, in what may well be the most inflammatory act of slaughter yet, a US helicopter killed dozens of Iraqis in a missile assault on a Falluja mosque.

The attack on a mosque during afternoon prayers will, without doubt, swell the ranks of what has become a nationwide uprising against the US-led occupation. By launching a crackdown against the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr - and, in an eloquent display of what it means by freedom in occupied Iraq, closing his newspaper - the US has finally triggered the long-predicted revolt across the Shia south and ended the isolation of the resistance in the so-called Sunni triangle. Bush, Blair and Bremer have lit a fire in Iraq which may yet consume them all. The evidence of the past few days is that the uprising has spread far beyond the ranks of Sadr's militia. And far from unleashing the civil war US and British pundits and politicians have warned about, Sunni and Shia guerrillas have been fighting side by side in Baghdad against the occupation forces.

This revolt shows every sign of turning into Iraq's own intifada, and towns like Falluja and Ramadi - centres of resistance from the first days of occupation - are now getting the treatment Israel has meted out to Palestinians in Jenin, Nablus and Rafah over the past couple of years. As resistance groups have moved from simply attacking US and other occupation troops to attempts to hold territory, US efforts to destroy them - as an American general vowed to do yesterday - have become increasingly brutal. Across Iraq, US soldiers and their European allies are now killing Iraqis in their hundreds on the streets of their own cities in an explosive revival of the Middle East's imperial legacy.

For Britain, Iraq has turned into its first full-scale colonial war since it was forced out of Aden in the late 1960s. And the pledge by US commanders to "pacify" the mushrooming centres of Iraqi insurrection echoes not only the doomed US efforts to break the Vietnamese in the 60s and 70s, but also the delusionary euphemisms of Britain's own blood-soaked campaigns in Kenya and Malaya a decade earlier. The same kind of terminology is used to damn those fighting foreign rule in Iraq. Thus President Bush's spokesman described Shia guerrillas as "thugs and terrorists", while his Iraqi proconsul Paul Bremer - head of a 130,000-strong occupation force which has already killed more than 10,000 Iraqi civilians - issued a priceless denunciation of groups who "think power in Iraq should come out of the barrel of a gun ... that is intolerable".

The bulk of the media and political class in Britain has followed this lead in an apparent attempt to normalise the occupation of Iraq in the eyes of the public. The fact that British squaddies shot dead 15 Iraqis in Amara on Tuesday has had little more coverage than the shameful beating to death of Iraqi prisoners in British custody. Both the BBC and ITN routinely refer to British troops as "peacekeepers"; private mercenaries are called "civilian contractors"; the rebranding of the occupation planned for June is described as the "handover of power to the Iraqis"; the Sadr group always represents a "small minority" of Shia opinion; and a patently unscientific and contradictory poll carried out in Iraq last month - in which most people said they were opposed to the presence of coalition forces in Iraq - is absurdly used to claim majority support for the occupation.

The growing panic in Washington over what Senator Edward Kennedy calls "Bush's Vietnam" is now focused on the date for the formal - and entirely cosmetic - transfer of sovereignty to a hand-picked Iraqi puppet administration, currently timetabled for June 30. The original idea of an early date was to give the appearance of progress in Iraq before the US presidential elections. But there was also an anxiety that pressure for an elected transitional government would become unstoppable if the transfer took place any later - and like all occupying powers, the US fears genuinely free elections in Iraq. In any case, according to existing plans, the US will maintain full effective control - of security, oil, economic policy, major contracts - under a rigged interim constitution whenever the formal "transfer" takes place.

The current uprising increasingly resembles the last great revolt against British rule in Iraq in 1920, which also cost more than 10,000 lives and helped bring forward the country's formal independence. But Britain maintained behind-the-scenes control, though military bases and ministerial "advisers", until the client monarchy was finally overthrown in 1958. If Iraq is now to regain its independence, the lessons of history are that the Iraqi resistance will have to sharply raise the costs of occupation, and that those in the occupying countries who grasp the dangers, unworkability and injustice of imperial rule must increase the political pressure for withdrawal.

Unlike in, say, Spain or Australia, we are hamstrung in Britain by the fact that all three main political parties are committed to maintaining the occupation, including the Liberal Democrats - whose former leader and Bosnian governor Lord Ashdown yesterday argued for at least another decade in Iraq. But opposition to such latter-day imperial bravura is strong among the British public and across all parties, and must now find its voice. There is a multiplicity of different possible mechanisms to bring about a negotiated, orderly withdrawal and free elections. Tony Blair calls that "running away" and admitting "we have got it all wrong". But he and Bush did get it wrong: there were no weapons of mass destruction, Iraq wasn't a threat, there was no UN authorisation, and the invasion was manifestly illegal. Foreign troops in Iraq are not peacekeepers, but aggressors. The lessons of empire are having to be learned all over again.

The value of life !

Last week the whole world was deploring the death and mutilation of 4 ex- army American ‘contractors’ in Fallujah . Their death made the news, everyone was sympathetic and angry about it offering solace to their family and some blogs even said these were heroes. But how come when Arabs of all creeds are killed by an occupying army no one cares about it ? and they just count as collateral damage.. “hard luck but let’s move on attitude” .. what about this whole family for example ? who will be outraged for it and it is not even Muslim ...
Not freedom: a free-for-all

On the same note I would like to bring this to your attention . It’s a bit longish but worth reading

In Iraq, the US did not read the small print on the Arabic social contract and now it is reaping the whirlwind, argues William Beeman

Thursday April 8, 2004

Suddenly Iraq has exploded in our face, and the White House has no plan to contain the violence. The Bush administration can speak all it wants to about al-Qaida, the world terrorist threat and the holy mission of democratising Iraq, but the plain truth is that America has failed in Iraq because our officials have failed at grass roots politics.
The US has established no social contract with the Iraqi people and thus it has no authority to lead. It is no surprise, therefore, that our troops are fair game on all fronts.
The Bush administration continues to maintain a myth: that those people attacking American troops are a monolithic enemy spurred on by "external forces". "We're not going to be intimidated by thugs and assassins," President Bush announced in a speech on April 6.
These are brave words, but merely labelling all the attackers with a single set of adjectives does not establish them as a unified group. In fact, it hinders creating an effective defence, by blurring the lines that separate the attackers. These attackers belong to disparate, unconnected groups whose concerns are local. Moreover, they are unmotivated and unaffected by the likes of Osama bin Laden.
So now Iraq is a free-for-all. Different groups are attacking the US for completely different reasons. They are even attacking it as a vehicle for weakening each other in a prelude to what appears to be a potential civil war. Though their motives differ, the groups are unified in one sense: each individual group views its attacks on the US as justified, if not admirable.
The attacks in the Sunni Arab towns of Ramadi and Falluja bear all the cultural marks of revenge killings that have escalated out of control. The horrific mutilation of the bodies of the American workers on March 31 shows a desire not just to inhibit the US, but to humiliate it, and to exact payment for past deaths as well. One message even claimed that the killings were payback for the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement. As US forces crack down on the citizenry of the two towns, they kill more people, perpetuating the revenge cycle.
The case of Muqtada al-Sadr is more complex. Mr Sadr is a young cleric full of rage for the murder of his father and other male relatives in the past. Because he is not in a position of international authority, he is much more free to operate in a radical manner than older colleagues, such as Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, who is the moral leader of hundreds of thousands of adherents. Moreover, Mr Sadr is impatient with the older clerics and hungry for leadership. The US has attacked him repeatedly, closing his newspaper, attacking his deputies, and finally engineering an accusation of responsibility for the death of another moderate cleric, Abd al-Majid al-Kho'i, who was murdered last year by a mob after returning from London.
The US has clearly done Mr Sadr no favours, and has threatened to arrest him. In his view he has the high moral ground, and thousands of devoted supporters. In attacking the US he has nothing to lose, and he may unseat the more moderate clerics by implicating them with complicity with the US.
Other Shia forces in the south are rebelling as the time for transfer of power to Iraqis approaches, and they see that the US is doing everything possible to prevent them from assuming power in the nation where they are a majority.
Still other violent groups, such as those fomenting attacks in Kirkuk, are fighting proto-ethnic wars that have yet to reach their full explosive power. That conflagration will come later, and here again, the US will have no moral authority or political suasion to contain it.
In order to lead in the Arab world, a social contract is necessary. The US never tried to establish one. The naive assumption of Bush officials such as Donald Rumsfeld was that the people would magically bow to American leadership out of gratitude for freeing the country of Saddam Hussein. This fell far short of what was necessary to secure the respect and loyalty of the Iraqi citizenry.
In the Arab world, the conqueror, in order to secure loyalty must actively care for the conquered - something the US was unwilling or unable to do. American forces could not even talk to the Iraqis - they had barely any translators, and no Arabic language training. Those months of reconstruction misery took their toll in breaking whatever fragile social bond might have given the US the social capital it needed in order to govern.
Having never established ties of loyalty in Iraq, the US has now lost all hope of maintaining authority. It has tried to rule indirectly through a council of émigré Iraqis, such as Ahmad Chelabi, who have no standing among Iraqi citizens. The council itself knows that it is a sham, and rarely even meets. Mr Bremer himself has become a person of absolutely no consequence, commanding no respect among Iraqis.
The Bush administration has been flooding the US airwaves with tens of millions of dollars worth of voter-pleasing bromides about American leadership in promulgating Iraqi democracy. It is the ultimate irony that, at the same time, it has been pursuing policies that guarantee that the Iraqis will never respect or follow them.
Copyright (c) 2004, Agence Global

Reforming arabs
Whoever examines thoroughly the horrible crime of Fallujah would think that we are in the middle of the Boer War a century ago. Back then, the indigenous people had not become a "national liberation movement," neither were the Europeans "colonialists." The former were just "primitive locals," and the latter were "foreign invaders."

Has it occurred to the Americans and other westerners that perhaps their way is not our way and perhaps we WANT to have a say in how we become democratic?

One aspect of human nature that I find strange is the mistaking of strength for morality. It's the same with the Americans now and the way they operate in Iraq. They speak in the name of freedom, justice and liberty, but in fact they serve their own interests at the expense of the Iraqi people.
In the Israeli example, there are different cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and geographical backgrounds involved. Religion is the common denominator for Israelis, but what does this suggest in terms of political interests?

Arabs And American Democracy
Faisal Abu Khadra Al-Hayat 2004/02/23

* Mr. Abu Khadra is a Palestinian writer.

It might be our right and duty to discuss American President George W. Bush's concepts of democracy, freedom, human rights, terrorism, independence, …Islam, especially that these concepts have unprecedented repercussions on the whole world.
We do not disagree with American democracy but we refuse the way it is tailored to suit president Bush alone. It is noteworthy that John Kerry accuses Bush of violating the essential rules of democracy and obliged the American citizen to pay the price of a war at the expense of his daily life.
Hence, Bush's democracy is a doubtful one, for he considers the U.S. as the master of the world and classifies the countries and religions according his concepts that are the same of Ariel Sharon's.
The Islamic danger is only formed of Arabs and Muslims who refuse Israeli hegemony on the Arab world, American hegemony on the Arab choices and fortunes and the occupation of the other's territories.
Democracy is a peaceful way to live together and progress and not a war way to impose one's opinion by force.

First: according to the dictionary, democracy means the rule of the people, i.e., the majority ruling the country through free voting. Hence, one can say, President Bush held the reins of power through the court and not voting.

Second: we should always remind that the U.S. was constituted of black slaves and free people until the slaves were declared free under Abraham Lincoln.

Third: President Abraham Lincoln said once that the cause the American nation defends is that all people are equal and free.

Fourth: American President James Monroe declared once a principle known as the Monroe Doctrine, in which he called for implementing the total independence principle and not intervening in the other's affairs.

Fifth: according to the principles set by good American people, one can doubt about the new trends the American policy is taking toward freedom, democracy and human rights.

Sixth: the Arab world and Muslims' problem is that the international community have wrong ideas about Islam and Arabs.

The truth is that president Bush always mixes between freedom, religion and democracy and he thinks that Islam denies Muslims freedom and democracy and pushes them to the only remaining choice of terror.
Sure, we cannot cancel Bush's wrong conviction because we do not have the military potential to do so.
President Bush considers that Arabs are terrorists because they live in a non-democratic nation according to the Western concept; instead of stating the real causes that hide behind terrorism, which did not exist before the establishment of Israel.

We still have Arab democracy called Shoura (counsel), which is a democratic way that suits our society and is far better than the American democracy. In fact, in the U.S. 51% of the votes can beat the remaining 49%. As for the Shoura, it is a consensus or a refusal, which explains why the Arab world does not witness real popular revolutions. We can assure President Bush and all those who have the same ideas that Islam is strong enough to resist. Arab history is full of telling examples. Sure, those who are now violating our territory will go out one day. Only fools think that Islam might be defeated because it is not only a religion but also a way of living, thinking, eating, drinking, educating and wearing.

This would not become a reality unless we, Arabs, work on clearing the way we want to follow. The days taught us that the U.S. has no friend and that it deals with the other countries in terms of buying and selling. This is what happened with Iran and Iraq.

Hence, we should work on carrying out some of our national, religious and social duties through the following measures:
1- Protect our tribal and familial system for the Shoura principle is far better than the model of Western democracy.
2- Open specialized institutes and provide them with the best teachers and experts in order to stop the migration of Arab minds.
3- Establish handicraft institutes in order to provide the Arab people with job opportunities.
4- Draft strict laws that forbid the Sheikhs from pretending they can do miracles and explain the Holy Koran.
5- Protect our borders with the neighbors.
6- Work hard and believe that we are a good nation that seeks only justice, love and peace. Hence, we would force the world to respect us.

For the last week the BBC has been publishing emails between an Israeli and an Egyptian "Omneya and Orly" ... Some of the comments on that correspondence hailed this step as rapprochement between the 2 sides . I wanted to tell these people that whilst this is a positive step, I am not really surprised because that particular Israeli woman is Iranian so she will be nearer to us Middle-Easterners in her way of thinking/feeling. I would have liked to see how the letters would have been between Omneya and a western Israeli ?
The motives for western warming relations towards Libya:

[..] The motives, however, are rather more cynical. An energy crisis is looming for Britain and the US. Libya produces high-quality, low-sulfur crude oil at very low cost (as low as $US1 a barrel in some fields), and holds 3 per cent of world oil reserves. It has vast proven natural gas reserves of 46 trillion cubic feet, but actual gas reserves are largely unexplored and estimated to total up to 70 trillion cubic feet. [The Guardian]

So ok let’s be diplomatic and seize the moment , make the most of it , go forward , try to modernize our infrastructure ( that is if we are not bled for every penny ) and why not be friends and amicable ( nothing to loose and everything to gain), but never forget that all these rapprochement and entente cordiale are not that altruistic in nature.
The Tripoli International Fair

The Tripoli International Fair which is held for the 33rd year and in which numerous countries took part was opened on the 2nd of April . It has attracted about 3,000 foreign firms, twice last year's number, signalling greater investor interest following an improvement in relations between Libya and the US and Britain.
Libyan is so "in" now , soon it will become the plat du jour

Since Libya has opened up the news have been carrying other articles than those related to alleged terrorism threats from my country, please enjoy this little story about a Libyan artist

Oh and I must go an do some domestic sightseeing before those hordes of tourist start trampling all over the place.

Saturday, 3 April, 2004: Warming relations between Washington and Tripoli are giving U.S. travelers a chance to see some of the world's most stunning Roman ruins, which had been off-limits to Americans for more than two decades. From the sands of the Sahara to the rose-tinged remains of Sabratha's amphitheater, U.S. travel agencies have added Libya to their menu, serving up a glimpse of a country that was long a pariah state. "There's wonderful world history that's been off-limits to Americans for the past 23 years," noted Tom Stanley, president of Newport Beach, California-based Travcoa, which is offering its first trip to Libya May 7-16. [AFP]

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Tony Blair's visit

As many of you know , British Prime Minister Tony Blair was recently in Libya ( a week ago). I wanted to share with you some of the local photos from the "al shames" daily ( The Sun ) Sorry it is all in Arabic and there is a French version at the bottom right corner of the page , the Blair folder has expired already but there are 3 photos that can still be accessed one , two , and three .

Did you notice the Libyan female officers guard of honour ? Over here we truely have equal opportunity for both sexes , in pay, jobs and everything. More later . Hurry to see the photos as I'm not sure for how long more they will be available.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Thanks to Zeyad I have even more mail to deal with now ;). Zeyad check your email if you've read this !

A little comment on the emails I received. Thank you all for writing to me , I promise to reply to the letters on a FIFO basis and as soon as possible ( as I also have a life to lead and job to do). I will ignore the hate-mail by the way . It is heartening though to see the extent of levelheaded people in this world and that many of you are interested in Libya. I will try to blog whenever my schedule allows me, I'm sure you are aware that many exciting and wonderful things are happening here.