Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Italian occupation 101

Today, 26 of October coincides with the anniversary of what the Libyans call the Black Day’, on this day in 1911 the Italian fascist invaders shipped thousands of Libyan men, women and children to some small and remote Italian islands. No one knows anything about their fate! Up to this very day, the Italian authorities have refused to furnish the full list of these Libyan victims to the Government and People of Libya. Libya holds an annual Day of Mourning.

So I think it is time for a little history lesson and a reply to another of your questions:

17. How would you describe Libya's relationship with Italy? From my point-of-view, it looks like it's quite sound. Can I assume that Italy's colonial past was less abhorrent than that of many other colonizing countries?

All occupation is abhorrent and the Italian one was not an exception: almost one million Libyans died during the Italian occupation from 1911 to 1944!
Like most of the peoples of the Third World, the Libyans have suffered, and are still suffering, great injustices from the Western powers. The history of the Libyan people is a history of blood, tears and broken bones. The people of Libya have been terrorised and victimised for many decades by the various European powers. With the tacit approval of the British and French governments, Italy declared war on Libya on September 12, 1911, under the excuse that the Ottoman Turks — who were then ruling Libya were subject to insults and maltreatment for which they were in danger! On September 17, 1911, the Italians invaded Tripoli and Benghazi. The Italians expected that their invasion of Libya would be easily accomplished. But, to their horror, their aggression was courageously and strongly resisted by the Libyan people. For 20 terrible years Arab Libyan resistance fighters and guerrillas fought against Italian fascists with sweat and blood. The courage of the Libyan martyrs was epitomised by a very old man Sheikh Omar al Mukhtar. A true hero.

Omar Mukhtar upon his capture in September 1931.

Omar Mukhtar, the 'fierce and frightening warrior on his way to the gallows'. notice the chains and the escort- what does it remind you of?

The Italian aggression and terrorism against Libya was extremely brutal. Thousands of innocent men, women and children were killed. Their homes were burnt down, their crops destroyed, their wells filled with cement, and copies of their Koran stepped upon. Many women were raped. Thousands of other Libyans were detained in concentration camps in the hot desert. Their properties were confiscated. Others perished under the most repressive conditions. Furthermore, the Italians, had laid about 170,000 landmines all over the country. These landmines have killed and are continuing to kill and maim many Libyans. Italy has refused to furnish maps showing where these landmines were laid. When Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist dictator, was carrying on his terrorism against the Libyan people, he was highly praised by British, French and American politicians, business leaders and the press.

*For instance, on a visit to Mussolini in 1927, Winston Churchill told journalists that Italian fascism “has rendered a service to the whole world.”
'Inarguably, throughout the whole of the 1920s, Mussolini was an enormously popular man in Italy and abroad, with all except perhaps the most inveterate leftists. An American writer puts it as follows:
Postwar [First World War] Italy ... was a sewer of corruption and degeneracy. In this quagmire Fascism appeared like a gust of fresh air, a tempest-like purgation of all that was defiled, leveled, fetid. Based on the invigorating instincts of nationalist idealism, Fascism "was the opposite of wild ideas, of lawlessness, of injustice, of cowardice, of treason, of crime, of class warfare, of special privilege; and it represented square-dealing, patriotism and common sense." As for Mussolini, "there has never been a word uttered against his absolute sincerity and honesty. Whatever the cause on which he embarked, he proved to be a natural-born leader and a gluttonous worker." Under Mussolini's dynamic leadership, the brave Blackshirts made short shrift of the radicals, restored the rights of property, and purged the country of self-seeking politicians who thrive on corruption endemic to mass democracy." [30]If the Italian Duce was so popular in the 1920s that he received the accolades of the Saturday Evening Post [31] and the American Legion [32], and the highest praises of British and American establishment figures such as Winston Churchill [33] and Ambassador Richard Washburn Child, [34]

[30] John P. Diggins, Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972), p. 17. Diggins' quotations in the cited paragraph come from the writings of an American Mussolini enthusiast of the 1920s, Kenneth L. Roberts.
[31] Ibid., p. 27.
[32] Ibid., p. 206. Mussolini was officially invited to attend the San Francisco Legion Convention of 1923 (he declined) and some years later was made an honorary member of the American Legion by a delegation of Legionnaires visiting Rome. The Duce received the delegation in his palace and was awarded a membership badge by the delighted American visitors.
[33] In an interview published in the London Times, January 21, 1927, immediately after a visit by Churchill to Mussolini, the future British Prime Minister said: "If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been wholeheartedly with you [Mussolini] from start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism." See Luigi Villari, Italian Foreign Policy Under Mussolini (New York: The Devin-Adair Company, 1956), p. 43.
[34] The United States Ambassador to Italy in the '20s, Child dubbed Mussolini "the Spartan genius," ghostwrote an "autobiography" of Mussolini for publication in America, and perpetually extolled the Italian leader in the most extravagant terms. Diggins, p. 27.

*In 1933 American President Franklin Roosevelt himself termed Mussolini “that admirable Italian gentleman.”

Libya’s relationship with Italy has been and is very cordial though. Libyans love to go to Italy. But the Italians have been smarter ex-colonialists than other countries and that is why they are less resented nowadays. In the 80s and 90s, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi repeatedly demanded reparations from Italy for the colonial period:

“ Italy perpetrated historical crimes against the peaceful Libyan Arab people, the people who did not know Italy, and who did not harbour any ill will against Italy. It was Italy that surprised the Libyans with its fleets and cannons, and attacked the Libyans in their homes, set up the gallows, killed thousands of martyrs, and acted unjustly and most aggressively.

“An invasion without justification, and sacrifices without reason... It is impossible that we forget 35 years of colonization, and it is impossible that we forget them, and we will never forget 700,000 martyrs... and those who were executed because they defended Libya.”

Italy replied that it had settled all obligations in a payment worth $6.7m in 1956. And in 1998, the Italian and Libyan governments signed an agreement ending the conflict [the Italy-Libya statement]. Italy apologised for deporting unknown thousands of Libyans to barren islands in southern Italy, where many died from disease, famine and bad weather.

It is worth mentioning that Italy imports oil and natural gas from Libya.

This was the list of Libyan demands:

a-Italy should acknowledge its historical crimes against the people of Libya
b-Furnish all details about the thousands of Libyans forcibly exiled onto some Italian islands
c-Furnish maps showing where thousands of Italian landmines were laid in Libya
d-Pay full compensation to the families of all victims of Italian terrorism
e-Return all historical treasures and artifacts stolen from Libya

Public hangings of Libyan resistance fighters.

"In September, 1930, security forces in the Birka district of Benghazi discovered that a citizen named Muhammed El-Haddad, a prominent Benghazi citizen and merchant, was cooperating with the rebels... Through him, supplies and weapons were reaching them. He offered the rebels hospitality and all the supplies they needed. On the day and time appointed, a special tribunal was convened and sentenced the father and son to death by hanging in the middle of his estates and right in front of the masses. These latter were made to attend the execution by the Italian authorities.." - Italian General Graziani
Aguila concentration camps in Libya

“We proclaim to the people of Libya that, owing to the acts committed by the white Abadila tribe, namely secretly helping five fighting men to reach the rebel areas after having furnished them with arms and supplies, and in order to punish this tribe of 80 tents, all its old people, adults and children are to be removed to the Uqayla [concentration] camp, and their property to be confiscated, so that the tribe can serve as an example to anyone who might contemplate a similar act, as his punishment will be more severe.” — Decree of the Special Italian Tribunal

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Tripoli Coast

If you enjoyed this photo of Tripoli ...there are more here please have a look I took them recently .

Monday, October 18, 2004

Food for thought

I'm going to intercept this blog from time to time with what I think are relevant/interesting quotes from authors I have read.
So here is the second one folks.

  • 'We cannot conclude from the good intentions of a statesman that his foreign policies will be either morally praiseworthy or politically successful'

  • 'How often have statesmen been motivated by the desire to improve the world, and ended making it worse? And how often have they sought one goal and ended by achieving something they neither expected nor desired?'

  • 'The demonological approach to foreign policy strenghtens another pathological tendency, which is the refusal to acknowledge and cope effectively with threatening reality'

Hans J. Morgenthau- Kenneth W. Thompson

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

My two pence about the US presidential elections and its effect on the ME (warning long post so for the faint of heart abstain from reading)

I must give credit to my friend W. in California who explained to me all these intricacies and what I have quoted from his emails is in ‘ ----- ‘ form.

Sometime in August I started following the run up to the presidential elections.

Things did not look good for Mr. Bush then, and Mr. Kerry seemed to be ahead. So I thought that Mr. Bush’s only hope would be another major act against the USA ‘ or that cultural issues such as gay marriage etc.. work in his favour.’

Then I noticed that Kerry was courting the American/Arab Islamic vote and ‘he approached every constituency but unfortunately had nothing new or different to say especially regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’. I mean he cannot alienate Jewish voters either now can he? don’t know what new he could do or say about that matter. ‘So he will end up just sending a new USA envoy to the region to deal with that issue and that will amount to nothing. I say there isn’t much more he could do even if he wanted because what is the basis? There doesn’t seem to be any desire in Israel to move on a settlement-the wall seems very very popular with the Israeli public - and removing the wall would seem the most basic demand of the Palestinians at the moment – so I just don’t see where talks would start up again—Kerry or no Kerry. I mean Kerry might be more concerned than Bush about getting talks moving (Bush is almost totally unconcerned and never was very interested in getting talks going) but I don’t see where he would have anything to offer in talks except another envoy and what good does that do?’ In addition it isn’t even clear how much authority Mr. Arafat has now among his own people. Certainly in Gaza it looks like his authority is almost non existent.

‘On Iraq, again, hard to see where Kerry would do anything different. He isn’t really for pulling out. Of the presidential candidates only the third party candidate Ralph Nader (a Lebanese-American) an old radical lawyer from the 1960s is arguing for immediate withdrawal.’ Kerry and Bush pretty much agree [stay in Iraq for about another 5 years]. Kerry says he would bring in allies to help but doesn’t say how or who. All he can say is that the Europeans like him more.

Interesting however that Z. Brezsinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor back in the 1970s and the architect of the American support to Afghan resistance to the USSR in 1979 recently came out with a report strongly advising USA to normalize relations with Iran. ‘He said, that if USA is waiting for a radical liberal government to come to power before normalizing relations—then forget it: that isn’t going to happen and he has a point. So his point is normalize or don’t but don’t hinge it on a government you like coming to power in Tehran. He also points out that the war in Afghanistan and Iraq has had some unintended consequences chief among them is that the USA had erased the countervailing forces in the region against Iran: The Taliban and Saddam.’
Moreover, the likelihood of a Shiite control over Iraq is very high at some point which would also find some sympathy with Iran. Thus, on the whole the current situation benefits Iran. However, we have seen that Iran is also threatened because of its nuclear programme … ‘Only the USA counterbalances Iran now in the region and the USA can’t stay there forever—politically that just isn’t acceptable in USA and the Europeans aren’t rushing to help either. So his point was under those circumstances, better to come to terms. Now that is an innovative thing Mr.Kerry could do in the Middle East ie follow that sort of recommendation by Brezsinki’ (but I don’t count on it). The anger/distrust in USA toward Iran is still pretty strong and I don’t think he is a guy to take chances even though it would probably enhance USA security and probably stabilize the region a bit. But on the whole I don’t see a stable region for some time to come. Eventually the USA has to leave Iraq….and then the deluge.

One of the funniest or most pathetic things in the current election over the last couple of months is that the only war Mr.Kerry wanted to talk about is Vietnam! He was resting much of his case to be president on his war record in Vietnam. He mentioned it at every chance, rarely speaking of Iraq. It is surreal. There is an actual war underway and all he can do is talk about a war 30 years ago. I mean the way he goes on about it you would think the Vietnam War was still underway.

So far whoever is elected in the white house will never be able to alienate the Jewish .I think it all comes down to that in the end. I wish it were otherwise, but no that is a fact of life. What should the American public do not to be so dependant on the Jewish lobby , people or whatever ?To me it looks that everything is really going according to plan , and now they are all out to get Iran and Syria.

Kerry and Bush won’t differ at all on Israel. They never do, either because they really believe in it or for political purposes or both. In any case, just looked at objectively
I don’t see where there is any room for Kerry to do much more different in
Israel-Palestine without making some radical move and THAT WILL NOT happen.

We know for sure Bush has no interest in it and to extent if he does he is pro-Sharon and we know what that means. And anyway, looked at objectively I don’t see the basis on the ground for much change anyway. The Israelis aren’t in a mood for restarting talks and the Palestinians; they are increasingly involved in a de facto civil war. So who knows who really represents them now? Arafat? Hammas? The Israelis will probably just continue to impose a de facto settlement via the wall.

Of the presidential candidates only the Green Party candidate Ralph Nader has been willing to criticize USA relations with Israel and in fact he called USA a "puppet" of Israel but he won’t be on many ballots and in any case few people will even hear of him I guess. ‘But while the USA Jewish -Israel lobby excerpts a lot of power one can't lose sight of two things:
A. USA public is generally very sympathetic to Israel. Like it or not most Americans like Israel. Sure its attraction has diminished over the years but on the whole people tend to like Israel.
B. Americans on the whole don't like or trust Palestinians. They see them as unreasonable, terror inclined, etc.. Obviously that is just the opposite of general European views. And that is another element: just as in Cold War when Israelis and Palestinians were superpower footballs so they are now with USA vs. Europe.’

Maybe Kerry will initiate a rapprochement with Iran, but he did not strike me as very bright or charismatic. To get elected you have to be pretty dull in order to appeal to a lot of people. That is an irony of USA election. Right now, the sides are so close- about 45 to 45 percent decided that both Kerry and Bush have to appeal to a very small percentage of the voters who would swing the election…say about 5%. But these are the LEAST informed people who RARELY vote. That is why they are undecided! So both candidates have to appeal to people who are among the dumbest in the USA!

It’s time to realize that the big winner in the Iraq war and the overthrow of Saddam is Iran. Iran will basically exercise a huge degree of influence in Iraq and the USA can either go to war with Iran to stop that, which I hope isn’t going to happen (although you never know with Bush) and that only leaves the realistic course of normalizing with
Iran and trying to work out some kind of agreement for Iraq’s future and the future of the region since Iran will emerge as the regional superpower given that Bush has knocked of the Taliban and Saddam—two of Iran’s natural opponents—and given that Iran will almost certainly be a nuclear weapons power soon. ‘But making that kind of argument to USA public is tough.’ The US public (unlike those like you reading blogs etc..) does not go in for complicated and subtle foreign policy agreements. Everything has to be black or white and that is one of the big reasons Americans have never understood the Middle East since as we all know it is very muddles—nothing is black or white. Kerry’s view on Iran would be a big difference with Bush since Bush’s position as you know is regime change for Iran, isolate Iran, no normalization without regime change, whereas the emerging Kerry position although he hasn’t directly said anything about it, his position is regime change isn’t going to happen so be realistic and accept Teheran as it is. Oddly that seems to be the view of most Iranians: regime change just isn’t going to happen. But even if Kerry is elected he would still have to have a political base for a new Iran policy and I doubt he would find one. ‘Actually it would take some one like Bush to pull off normalization with Iran within the USA context of how things are done.’ I assume that the USA will just get frustrated and tired in Iraq in a few more months and the costs will begin to sink in to Americans as in the hundred billion area and USA will just leave let the country sink into another Lebanon of 10 or 20 year civil war and/or a break up of the country and/or let Iran assert de facto authority as a puppet state.

To sum it up Iraq looks bleak; Israel-Palestine looks really bleak; things are only looking good for Iran (and that’s debatable) I would say and maybe Pakistan. Pakistan is now America’s favorite Islamic country because it has had some success in rolling up OBL cells—although not OBL obviously—and is generally very cooperative with USA.

But let me tell you something, it does not matter really who wins, foreign policy will remain the same towards the Middle-East – Blind support for Israel and to hell with everybody else.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Food for thought

'The greatest barrier to the expansion of the zone of peace from the core is the perception within the periphery that this constitutes little more than the domination of one culture by another. These suspicions are well founded given that the peripheral states have consistently been the victims of 'Western intervention'.'

'Many wars were fought by states to achieve their mercantilist goals'

Scott Burchill (2001)

Friday, October 08, 2004

Another massacred wedding party ..

Boy does the US military love to disrupt wedding parties...it has become their trademark in Iraq and Aghanistan , I'm just speculating here but are they simply jealous that someone could be having a little fun in these warzones to forget the harsh reality so they keep 'reminding' them that 'hey people' don't get married it' aint over yet' or do they want the inhabitants to believe that the US discourages the marriage institution ;)