Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year 2005 & the Da Vinci Code

I really hope this won't be an empty phrase because 2004 has not been a very happy one, what with the atrocities in Iraq & Palestine which have become such an ordinary occurance in our daily life, sprinkled with the occasional bomb exploded here & there in the world, and the depressing reelection of GWB and Howard, the ethnic clashes in Holland, the racism in France and the silence in Darfur, the Ivory coast, Chechnya, the Iran earthquake , the Morocco earthquake and so much more that I can't remember but the end of the year is also very sad with the devastating Tsunami toll...I'm not going to ask you to contribute aid , because I'm sure many of you have already done so.

I'm back in Tripoli folks, but my epic travels have not ended yet ;)

On a lighter tone I'd like to say that I'm glad I got to read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown before 2004 is over . Absolutely fascinating, I hope to buy his whole lot. Preoccupation with world affairs sometimes makes one forget that there are other things in life, one of them is to enjoy reading a good book !

In Libya it is not part of the tradition to celebrate the New Year, so the city is quiet. However, it has recently become fashionable to send each other sms or emails in that context, the mobile has not stopped ringing with these text messages. It's -3 degrees Celcius here today ( about 26 Farhenheit), which is cold by any means. It has just started to rain so I hope it gets a little bit warmer because there are just so many clothes one can wear...

I'm not going to make any promises or resolutions anymore, life is so precarious that it gets more and more difficult to keep them, but I will TRY to answer your new/recent questions to the best of my ability in a reasonably short time ( does that sound too much like lawyers stuff? ;) ).

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey and hope you enjoyed the Christmas message from Syria.

Signing off for this year ...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Merry Christmas from Damascus

Many Syrians love to decorate their houses from the outside for Christmas and it's a magical sight at night as I thought I was taken to a fairytale land . Look at the two photos below aren't they glorious?

For those 'hottie' fans you will find the promised photo of the belly dancer whose performance I very much enjoyed in Egypt.

Then there is a photo of some school girls which I took at the Old Citadel in Cairo, you can see that Arab school girls look like any other school girls all over the world, despite wearing a scarf you can notice that they are having loads of fun actually. They thought I was a foreign tourist and approached me innocently to talk to me .. they were so sweet and polite.

There is also last but not least a photo of old Amman as you leave the city, taken from the taxi while we were driving past.

Christmas decoration- Syria

Another beautifully decorated house in Damascus

Belly dancer - Cairo- Nile cruise december 2004

Egyptian high school girls on an outing at the citadel of Mohamed Ali ( Cairo Dec 2004)

Old Amman- December 2004


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Stuck in the ME

Well that should teach me to travel in Christmas time, I can't get a flight back to homebase and I'm therefore missing all my other connections. Actually I don't know why I thought that Christmas flights would not be busy in Syria? all flight are full and I'm waitlisted ...and the weather is tooooooooo cold over here . Just got back from Amman ( a special message to those I have not had the time to send emails or text messages to , but hey you know my mobile so just drop a line ;) ) . I am simply too tired, and there is too much going on.

Friday, December 17, 2004

I'm 'almost' back ;)

I apologize to those who cared for this long disappearing act, sometimes things happen to us and we do not feel like doing anything ( and that includes blogging ) , and no I won't be able to share with you what happened, apart the being ill section perhaps ...
Anyway I'm having a sense of deja vu and you probably would as well when you read that for the last two weeks I've been moving through three continents, Europe, Africa and now Asia....UK, Libya, Egypt, Syria ( now) and next week Jordan. I just got in in from Cairo 3 days ago, would you be surprised that I'm actually tired of going to Egypt? though I loved the belly dancer at the dinner I went to ( have nice photos too - a hottie;)) . Was there during that OPEC meeting, and now I'm in Syria after the latest international Israeli terrorist attack has occurred. The mood here ? Life goes on ....the weather is extremely cold , and I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Christmas decorations on many balconies here. Syria has a percentage of Syrian orthodox Christians and the citizens love to decorate their terraces for the festive seasons..I'll try to take some photographs but I doubt my camera is that good for night shots. So I still have plenty to share, just hope I can get back on track ! Hang in there...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Yasser Arafat 1929-2004

The Israelis and Mr. Bush have no excuses left not to negotiate peace terms, their main 'obstacle' has been duly removed. So we get to watch how sincere they are now .

Update Sunday 14th November: 'Libya pays tribute to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat who passed away Thursday Morning. The Secretariat of the General Peoples Committee declared three-days of mourning, lowering the Green Flag to mid mast, and cancelling all programmes and celeberation manifestations across Libya including Eid al-Fiter celebrations. [JANA]'

Monday, November 01, 2004

Who will win the US election ? I DEMAND TO VOTE TOO !!!!

Well I've already posted my opinion about the whole subject, but I received an email from a dear friend of mind this morning with a new twist to the plot.
I would like to share it with you :)

Kerry is the favoured candidate by the Zionist lobby as he would be under their control just to become president. Bush does not need them anymore as he would not be seeking a new term regardless of whether he wins or not this time .
If you noticed Bush has actually abandoned his democratisation programme for the Middle-East as a means to dry up the sources of terror. This plan it is worth noting has caused terrible pain to Israel.

So here I am wishing I could vote in the US elections, I would VOTE BUSH, do you know why ? because it will twarth the Zionists a little and because of a proverb which says to the effect that : 'the enemy that you know is better than the one you still have to learn about .....'

Moral of the day , they are both bad , it's dumb and dumber out there, but at least we won't have Kerry trying any histrionics on us...we got used to Bush.

On another note: why ? how come Bin Ladin has conveniently emerged just on time for the elections?

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 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 ;)

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Libyan System of Governance

September 1st is the anniversary of the Libyan Revolution and therefore I think that since we are still in September, it would be appropriate to answer a question I got some time ago. Then I can go on telling you about my travel adventures . (sigh) I really must post all those articles ….

So question 16 was:

I'm curious about the Libyan system of government, the 'jamahiriya' concept and so on. The Green Book is on the Internet but it's thirty years old. Does it have anything to do with how the country works now?

Libya is situated in North Africa, stretching along the Mediterranean shoreline for nearly 2,000 kilometres. Its area is 1,775,500 square kilometres making it the fourth largest country in Africa. Egypt is on its eastern border; Sudan, Chad and Niger are to the south and Tunisia and Algeria lie to the west. The population is concentrated in the cities, villages and farming areas along the coastal strip. In the early 1950s Libya was officially rated by the United Nations as the poorest country in the world. Today, it is quite wealthy.

Definition: “Jamahiriya — a society for all where all human beings are free and equal in the exercise of power and in the possession of wealth and arms.”

Libya is defined as a jamahiriya, which is a word resembling the word for 'republic', 'jumhuriyya'. Jamahiriya involves a system of councils where all citizens are promised the right to express their opinions. The jamahiriya is organized into 186 basic people's administrative congresses. These address 46 municipal administrative units. The basic idea of the jamahiriya system is popular influence and responsibility, through a system of direct influence in a pyramidal system. Representatives to higher institutions are elected by the members of the basic congresses.

The concept of the administrative system in Libya is summed up in the word Jamahiriya, which literally means “the state of the masses.” The theory is that the country is run by complete popular authority with no place for the traditional structures. Authority, wealth and the arms are all in the hands of the people.

Everywhere there are Basic People’s Conferences — from every village, city and town up to the General People’s Congress. The Conferences decide all matters of policy and their decisions are carried out by People’s Committees with the assistance and guidance of the voluntary Revolutionary Committees.

It is a unique experiment in direct democracy that was launched in March 1977, with the declaration of the establishment of popular authority and the rise of the age of the Jamahiriya — the state of the masses.

After the September revolution the first political structure was set up within the framework of the Arab Socialist Union. This in itself was a big step forward for the people after almost 20 years of rule by a puppet monarchy accompanied by a parliamentary facade.

However the domestic and international tasks of the revolution soon outgrew that framework and the menacing bureaucracy it cultivated.

In 1973, Muammar Qadhafi, the leader of the revolution, called for a popular uprising to set up People’s Committees in all government departments, factories, communities, farms, schools and universities. His call for administrative revolution resulted in mass marches on all government establishments.

In December 1976, Qadhafi called on the People’s Committees to go further by initiating action to articulate the popular will instead of merely approving and supervising plans by the various ministries.

A major national debate was inaugurated to determine the best political and constitutional arrangements for the realisation of popular power.

In March 1977, the first General People’s Conference of over 1,000 delegates from the People’s Committees, professional associations, and unions, gathered to create a political system unlike any other in modern history.

In the declaration of March 1977, the Republic of Libya became known as the “Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”.

“Direct popular authority constitutes the basis of the political system,” in the Jamahiriya, the declaration stated. Authority is for the people, and none else. The people exercise their authority through the Basic People’s Conferences, People’s Committees, syndicates, unions, and professional associations, and the General People’s Congress.

“The most tyrannical dictatorships the world has ever known have existed under the shadow of parliaments,” Colonel Qadhafi points out.

His observation comes from direct experience. From 1951 to 1969 Libya was ruled by a parliamentary monarchy under King Idris that was nothing more than a cloak for dictatorship by the capitalist powers and the multi-national oil companies.

“The system of elected parliaments is based on propaganda to win votes. It is a demagogic system in the real sense of the word, and votes can be bought and falsified,” the Green Book states.

So to answer your question, yes the country still works using the method I explained above. I’m not trying to paint a perfect image of Libya because it is not so, but I would like to say that many good things have been achieved over the years such as free education for all, from 1st grade up to University, free healthcare, women’s liberation and equality in literarily all domains including the traditionally male dominated jobs ( women in Libya have exactly the same salary as men and scores of other projects. But I admit that it could have been much better and many mistakes were made; thus preventing Libya from reaching its full potential.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Libyan hottie, courtesy of BBC, Rola Ali is auditioning for another star search program called Star Academy....Good luck to her

Monday, September 20, 2004

A question of time! Off to Europe

It seems I'll never have time and get on to some serious blogging again.
I'll be travelling to Europe tomorrow ( yes again) . Keep hopping from continent to continent I guess. Well please bear with me I have a whole bunch of 'articles' lined's just that I never have time enough to actually sit down ...always packing ;)....
Please feel free to comment on whatever you like..I'll be back

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Libyan blogger(s)

Ok I'm back, I had a fabulous trip but I'm too tired and dazed to talk about it now. I lately missed out on a lot that's been happening on the news scene, haven' watched Aljazeera ;) or any other news channel for over a week now.

I have been blogging for one year now, and to all those who previously asked if there were Libyan bloggers, well I'm happy to say that now there is another female blogger ( yippee). Ladies & Gentlemen please welcome smokeyspice posting from California, she has a superb sense of humour and I think deep down she probably misses Libya. Good luck Smokey and wish you all the best. I hope many more of us come out of the woodwork!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Back and leaving again to the Libyan desert this time!

Sliema Strand (Malta)

I just returned from the Island of Malta, check the view from my window ( I'll post more later), thanks to all those who emailed to ask about me, I appreciate it very much. Also I would like to tell you that I'm travelling tomorrow morning to the Libyan South ( desert country), I'm very excited about this trip... I have a satellite connection, but I don't think I want to blog from there. I wish to enjoy the peace and quiet...See you soon

Monday, August 30, 2004

Off to Malta !

Yes, yours truely is travelling again, just in case someone looks for me !
This is turning out to be a nice summer after all !

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Libyan Pop Idol

Arab Pop Idol finale on 29th August
Ok now for some superfluous stuff. Superstar will come to an end next Sunday. The choice has narrowed between Amar from Palestine and Ayman from Libya. Both are excellent ! It's the first time I follow a star search programme but hey Ayman is an extremely talented singer in addition to being a student in his second year of dental medicine ... so I'll be rooting for him. He needs all the support we can muster. If anyone is reading this of whatever nationality please vote for him by calling 00239 4444484 or by internet (this is the form) you have to register by clicking the first time thingy in English , you will get a password sent to your email, then to vote you scroll down and choose the candidate ( see photos and description) , then you scroll down some more and type your email and the password sent to you in the boxes at the bottom then you click on the small orange icon near the 2 boxes .. sorry that the website is 99% Arabic , but hope my instruction were clear ! This programme has achieved what no one was able to do for a long time: uniting Arab countries for a cause ( 10 million viewers had tuned in for last Sunday's episode) - well art is a good cause I guess and we all need a hero so why not. Don't forget to vote !

One more thing, if you were wondering , voting from Libya by mobile or landline is not free ( don't listen to rumours), a whooping 0.75 LD is deducted from my cellphone credit everytime I vote and to vote from a landline it is 0.32 LD. so for ten votes it's 7.5 LD which is more than one employees salary per day.

Update 29/8/04


Result of the Arab vote 54% out of 3 million and 200,000 people have voted for Ayman as the Arab pop Idol or Superstar for the year 2004! I'm really happy for him as he believed in his talent and ambition and persevered. I think it was an excellent result because we in Libya were only able to vote by cellphone since end of June 2004 while for the contestants of the other Arab countries voting was possible since February 2004. As for use of landlines it was only possible in the last 2 episodes unlike for the othere countries since February as well. Moreover, I expected Amar the Palestinian contestant to win because mobiles, phones and internet services was disrupted about 3 days before the finale in Libya and I could not use the voting services for mobile 8888 nor the landline 1414, nor the internet link for futuresuperstar, this goes to show that it was not the less than 5 million Libyans whereby only about 100,00 have cell phones , but the votes from the Arab world fans which secured his win. So much for the rumour about using the voting service for free ;)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Plan of Midhat Pasha souk in Damascus -Syria it's like a fantastic labyrinth there , that cannot be fully explored in one day.

Door and handle of a Libyan house in the Old City. 29th May 2004. This is a test. Finally it's working after I fixed my PC.

Monday, August 09, 2004



Aleppo is one of the Great Middle Eastern cities, a city where one can still find the grandeur of Arabic life of a bygone era. Once the major commercial center of the Orient, it is still vibrant with traders coming from all over the world to buy, sell, barter and haggle in its traditional covered Souks, the newer shopping districts and center-city offices. There are no "tourist" shops in the Aleppo souks; these are still the center of everyday shopping for Aleppo and its suburbs where everything, from djellabas to gold, can be had for a price. Lofty vaulted roofs keep the souk cool in the summer heat, while the age-old ritual of Middle Eastern commerce takes place. Near the Khan al-Sabon is the gold souk, a place of tiny shops, brightly lit and shining with golden bangles, necklaces and earrings.

Settlements in the Aleppo area go back to the 8th millennium BC. The city's name Halab (an Aramaic word for milk) comes from the fable that Abraham is supposed to have milked his flocks on this site. Halab, was the name of the city when it became the capital of the Amorite Kingdom of Yamhad. This city/state was strong enough to control trade between the Eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia.

Hittites, Assyrians, Persians and Greeks dominated the city and, after the death of Alexander the Great, Aleppo (renamed Beroia) became an affluent center in the classic Greek style. It almost reached the prominence of Antioch under the Romans and retained its importance with but a few interruptions, until almost the end of the Ottoman Empire. It was considered the third most important city of the Empire, after Constantinople and Cairo, and was the seat of the Governor.

Liberated from Turkish rule in 1918, Aleppo lost its international commercial pre-eminence in 1939 when the French ceded Alexandretta (Aleppo’s historic seaport) to the Turkish Republic.

The Aleppo Citadel is an immense fortification in the very center of the Old City. A fortified site as far back as the first millennium BC, it became the palace of the Hamdanid and Ayyubid rulers. Rebuilt by the Mamelukes after it's destruction by the first Mongol invasion, it was again devastated by Tamerlane's hordes. Its imposing entrance was rebuilt in the 13th century after the first Mongol destruction and reinforced in the 16th century

My favourite is walking through the medieval parts in the old city which is still inhabited whereby I would almost hear the hooves of bygone horses and the conversation of the horsemen.


Hama (Hamath), situated between Homs and Aleppo on the banks of the Orontes rive and almost hallways between Damascus and Aleppo by motorway. It is an important agricultural and industrial center. Except for Damascus, Hama is considered the most picturesque city in Syria because of its attractive gardens along the river banks.

The chief attractions of Hama are the great norias (water-wheels). Originating in Byzantine times, the oldest surviving wheels date from the 13th century. The norias, which all have given names, were used to raise water from the river into aqueducts. As this function is now carried out by electric pumps, the purpose of the wheels today is purely decorative and of historical interest.


There are lots of places to visit in Syria, and I won’t go over them all and I have not been to all of them either. The sites that are a must in Damascus are Souq Hamidiye, the Citadel, Nur al-Din Hospital and Museum, Madrasat Zahiriye and Adiliye, the Tomb of Salah al-Din and the Omayyad Mosque which has an interesting feature to Christians namely the South-East minaret called Madhanat Issa, or the Tower of Jesus. According to Muslim tradition Jesus will descend to earth via this tower to fight the Antichrist before the Day of Judgment. Also the Azem Palace museum and Souq Assagha (the gold market). Do not miss a visit to the Hammam al-Malik al-Zaher (Turkish style steam room, massage room, and bath). Dating from the 11th or 12th century the baths have been completely restored and modernized.

Souk Midhat Pasha, is an important trading center situated inside the wall of old Damascus. No historian could trace its origins, which means it is very old. It extends along the western street between Bab al Jabiya and Souk al Bouzouriya paralleling Souk al Hamidiya in the west with many small bazaars branching from it on both sides. Each souk specializes in some items, fabrics, clothes, rugs, herbs, cleaning material, spices, perfumes, kitchen ware etc.. It was Hussein Nazem Pasha who covered the souk with a roof in 1911 with corrugated tin and iron boards to protect it from fire, you can still see the bullet and shell holes made by the French troops who shelled the Alhariqa area in 1925.

At the top of the Qassiun Mountain, towering over Damascus and the Rukn al Din area is the Shrine of the 40 Warriors built over a cave as old as humanity itself, called the Cave of Blood, with reference to it being the spot of the first crime: where Cain killed his brother Abel. Historians say that it also became the place of a temple which was transformed into a convent then to a mosque in 635 AC. It is not known exactly when the shrine was built in the cave but it was first mentioned by the historian Asaker ibn Dimasq in 1175 AC. Its most popular name is the 40 men, because of the bodies of the 40 holy warriors buried in the mosque. These 40 men are famous martyrs ( Shuhada’)who when they were buried legend has it that all raised their right legs out of the tomb in unison to show that the body of a martyr ( Shahid) never rots. My mother swears that when she visited the shrine as a child she actually saw the 40 legs and they looked full of life, and the smell coming out from the earth was beautiful centuries after these men had died. Nowadays you are not allowed to touch the bodies of these warriors and the legs have been covered not to be abused by crowds. So this place is important in 2 ways, Abel died there, and it is the last repose of some heroic men.


Syria or Bilad Alsham as it is also called used to encompass Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and some parts of Iraq, before being sliced into morsels by the colonialists. Syria can also boast being the cradle of civilization even before being a biblical land. Syria is also called Bilad Al’awliya or home of the Saints, because an incredible number of prophets and saints are buried there going back to Adam. To the eye of a Westerner, you may be a little bit disappointed at the greyish tinge of pollution and smoke covering Damascus’s buildings but to me it is all part of the package you cannot help but fall in love with the place. Meandering in the old city, the souks, the shopping areas, the residential areas, the food stalls or 5 star restaurants everything is a joy. The women are beautiful with a natural beauty, and the men are still chivalrous. I’m not painting an overly romantic picture of the place because I am aware that there is poverty, dirt and backwardness, I’ve seen that with my own eyes …but still I love it all and most of all the delicious food. The meat in Syria tastes differently than in Libya, because sheep and cattle graze organic pastures, unlike in Libya which has to rely on imported feedstock even for chicken. Only camel meat in Libya still tastes lovely because it is allowed to graze freely and fish taste wonderful and unadulterated still. The vegetables and fruits are a joy to the eye in the Syrian markets, especially for someone like me who comes from a parched country. Europeans are amazed at the diversity and choice of fruits and vegetables in the Syrian markets and stalls, and the prices are ridiculously low. Almost everyone can eat decently and healthily there. The Syrians love food and they share common dishes with Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Turkey. The people are extremely hospitable, though not overbearing or nosy about foreigners.

The Ugarit civilization in ancient Syria dates to the second millennium BC , it has been discovered in 1929, it is considered a part of the long Arab history, its rites are still being practiced in our modern society, and its language is relevant to our modern Arabic in terms of Alphabet, vocabulary, syntax etc..Many documents dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries BC have been discovered these include literary texts, epics, mythologies, religious rites, pedagogic principles, and laws, political, economic and agricultural texts. The people of Ugarit, our ancestors, were the first to have developed the language from mere shapes to a systematic alphabet, and into letters rather than syllables; thus changing the course of history. It is worth noting that with the discovery of Ugarit and its language, 8 other languages have been discovered in Ras Shamra. It is true that there have been other pioneer alphabets in the world but up to this day and as several undoubted studies confirm, Ugarit’s alphabet is the oldest and the most perfect alphabet discovered yet. Historical evidence proves that inhabitants of the Syrian coast carried this knowledge to Greece and from there to other places in the world. The Greek historian Herodot referred to this when he said that the ‘Phoenicians who came from Qadmous (in Syria) , brought the Greeks a lot of their cultural achievements ,writing is one of them’.

Sunday, August 08, 2004


I am finally back in Tripoli! That was a long vacation eh :)

Those who have been following my blog know that after Egypt we went to Syria. I would like to tell you that immigration procedures in Syria have always been very courteous; all Arabs are immediately issued an entry visa at the checkpoint on sight. It is a popular destination for Gulf people, Saudis, Lebanese, Jordanians, Iranians, etc..because in addition to the natural beauty and milder weather, it caters for many tastes. Alcohol is not prohibited, and there are no restrictions on dress code. It is not my first time in Syria, but each trip I make I cannot but feel overwhelmed by the intensity of history in Damascus, after all it is one of the oldest cities in the world if not the oldest one. Damascus is mentioned in the earliest historic texts and the archives of Mari dating from the 25th century B.C. In the tablets discovered at Tell al-Amarna, in Egypt, Dimashqa is mentioned as being amongst the cities conquered in the 15th Century BC by Tuthmosis III. The Arameans, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Macedonians under Alexander, the Nabateans, Rome and Byzantium all stamped their influence on this great city. Christianity was established in Damascus from the beginning of the religion - Saul of Tarsus converted to the new faith on "the road to Damascus". The Omayyad dynasty made Damascus the political, religious and cultural center of early Islam. It was under the Caliph Al Walid, in 705 that the Great Omayyad Mosque was built, the 4th most important in Islam, and the most splendid and opulent building ever constructed in the Middle East. But he also included within the walls of Damascus a church which had itself been built on the site of the temple of the god Hadad of the Arameans. Salah al Din or the famous Saladin, the hero of Islam and my favourite, lies buried in this city which the Crusaders were never able to invest.

Like most Arab countries (apart from Saudi Arabia following the ‘liberation’ of Iraq) Syria is extremely safe. Where in the West can a woman go out wearing a lot of jewelry and not be bothered? I never felt and outsider, in fact that is the trademark of Arab countries, even in huge, sprawling Cairo or shaky Beirut I felt safe with my gold and diamonds and stuff. I really want to stress this safety part, because upon my arrival in late June, many of my friends warned me that I should drop the jewels and stop going out alone as women have been targeted and knifed lately, a group or one person it was rumoured was knifing them. I was devastated, if the legendary safety of women in one of my favourite part of the world was blown away then all was lost. There were many rumours and hearsay that first week: it was some thugs who had crossed the border from Iraq and they were forming gangs and targeting unveiled women, a fundamentalist group and many other stories. But the problem was that a woman with full hijab was also a victim, so what were we to believe? In fact the only common denominator between the victims was the fact that they were females, it did not matter weather they were blondes or brunettes, veiled or not, young or old. There was a serial killer on the loose and it was one person not a gang and he was using exactly the same method of attack. I did not really bother about the warning and one evening I went to visit some family friends at one of the Palestinian camps (I’ll talk about these in another post). I was telling them how I was disappointed about this safety situation, Damascus is one of the bastions of women safety for me I never felt this safe in Rome for example. My friends showed me that day’s newspaper, which I had failed to read, in which it was reported that the serial killer was apprehended and he was a young disturbed man who after being rejected by his fiancée had carried a grudge about women and was avenging his wounded ego in this way (such crimes are also common in the West right ? I read about them always in the popular dailies). Anyway the attacks stopped and my treasured safety was back, it was a false alarm, no rise of fundamentalism (that had been crushed 2 decades ago) and no Iraqi thugs (although I will talk about the Iraqi border another time also).

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Off to Jordan

Don't get jealous , I'm going to Amman tomorrow morning..if Raed opens his mail we may meet if not then hardluck maybe next time...So Raed ..hope you are reading this ..leave your thesis for a couple of hours please...How about a capuccino at one of the cafes in Swefiyeh or Mecca Mall :) you have my cell phone so call me...

Friday, July 30, 2004

Replies to your questions PART II 

I'm back from Lebanon and here is the second batch of answers to your collective questions:

11.     In terms of world politics, you can find plenty of international conflicts where the United States is accused of partisanship for or against one side; try Taiwan and China, or North Korea and South Korea.  Yet none of those locations have sent terrorists across the ocean to fly planes into American buildings.  You can find people anywhere who are angry or annoyed at American meddling into their affairs, but only in the Middle East do you find large groups that are actually up in arms about it.  There must be some reason, intellectuals say, why we cannot negotiate a position of mutual benefit with the Arab world, when we have been able to achieve our own aims elsewhere in the world without inciting hatred and anti-Americanism. 


You see that is exactly the point, you only want to establish your aims on and in our countries, but it never even occurs to you that the other party would like also to establish their aims in your country and you do not want to give them that privilege. That is not mutual benefit that is exploitation.The Taiwanese are not against you because you help them and also because they need all those investments, they have no oil remember. While China is serene that you will not really threaten it when push comes to shove because you need it as a future giant market and also because they have the nuclear deterrent. North Korea is a Nuclear country, see how the US has been placating it even though it is the country which really has those fabled WMD. South Korea is an American ally. Other peoples in whose countries you have meddled are getting even by sending drugs galore; that is a more painful, expensive slow and subtler death then those spectacular skyscrapers. I think killing is a crime in whatever way it was done, and that Bush should have grabbed the opportunity granted him by the Taliban to have OBL. He would have avenged the deaths by putting OBL in court and giving him the death sentence and he would have saved thousands of lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia without unleashing the ‘terrorism’ genie from the bottle and without going to war. I still think that the oil, a strategic position in the heart of the world, moving the historic fight from the American shores combined with a personal vendetta are the real goals. I hope to be proved wrong by history. 

12.      …Or, put another way, how to join the modern world of liberal democracy and scientific and economic achievement without losing the moral basis in Islam. As for the political grievances you have, what do you want to do if we happen to have political grievances of our own, which are in direct contradiction to yours?   

Paul, Islam does not prevent you from modernizing or achieving, on the contrary it always asks you to strive towards learning and improving and inventing and seeking knowledge. Re. political grievances, you win for the time being because you have the strongest weapons, but a time will come when the proverbial worm will turn, then we may come to a compromise and the scores would be settled.  

13.      Have you personally been assaulted by Americans or do you base your opinion on the experience of other abused Muslims? Are you just as outraged over the genocide occurring in the Sudan against black African Christians and animists in the southern part of the country? 

  • Yes I along with the residents of Benghazi and Tripoli have been assaulted by a whole fleet of Americans; remember the air raid in 1986? Who carried that? was it not US servicemen under the leadership of the late President  Ronald Reagan or were they hired contractors?
  • Thanks for bringing up the outrageous genocide in Darfur which is practiced by Arab Sudanese, let me inform you that Libya has been negotiating to stop this bloodshed for years, and that it has recently even pledged to send aid to that area and help the Americans with a passage from Libya. 

14.My question for you is how did Gadhafi become your leader and if you had a choice would you choose him or someone else to continue to lead? 

Brian, he became a leader, in 1969 when he carried out a bloodless revolutionary coup against the Western appointed King Idriss. I would still choose him  because I do not want my homeland to fall into anarchy and chaos. I prefer one of my own than a foreign power or a Chalabi style guy. Also Libya is too close to Europe and we are aware of what is going on in the world around us. Libyans have had an extensive chance to apply politics in person so they will know what to do at the right time. One more thing is that we are only 5 million composed of about 600 000 families and 600 names, we all can trace our ancestors to at least the pre-Islamic era, all of us, Blacks, Berbers, Arabs, we are all Libyans and proud of it and we all know each other.

 15 . also do you know of any other Libyan bloggers so far?
Well, mitchtemporarily , so far I’m still the only Libyan blogger, but many Libyans have webpages and websites which are quite interesting and informative. If you are interested I can send you the links.

  Please watch out this space for upcoming replies about your questions on Libyan system of government and  Italian occupation !

Monday, July 26, 2004

Off to Lebanon

I'm sorry if I have not replied to some friends' emails ..I'm going to Beirut for a couple days :)
Yippee I love Lebanon !

Friday, July 23, 2004

In Defense of the Arab WomanNasren
by Alissa,

 Westerners will never achieve human awareness of Arab women if they continue to peer through the frosted glass of a single image, a narrow definition of what every woman should be.
Westerners ignore and prejudge Arab women, making them victims in the process of stereotyping. Many people look at Arab women and think of them negatively or feel sorry for them. Some Westerners look at the Muslim women in Afghanistan and think that all Muslim women in other countries are treated the same way.
Erasing the essential individuality of individuals or groups and stereotyping them is not a new phenomenon. It is difficult to imagine a society or a period of history completely devoid of this particularly cruel method of robbing people of their humanity. It is also impossible to imagine an individual who could live an entire life without being a victim or villain in the process of stereotyping.
There is little understanding of either Arab women’s status or the total context of their lives. Like other maligned groups, Arabs do their best to understand these misperceptions and in their own way confront them. There is no Arab woman who underestimates the difficulty of changing Western assumptions.
The stereotype of the Arab woman, “imprisoned behind a veil of powerlessness,” will not be eradicated in our lifetime. Arabs are often shocked into numbness by the depth of that misunderstanding. They know that each epoch of awareness is a new beginning and a new opportunity for them and their families.
Like most stereotypes, this image is not merely wrong or insulting, it is ludicrous. Long before Western women even considered themselves as a group, let alone a group deprived of its rights, the Islamic woman had begun her emancipation. From the beginning of Islam, 1,400 years ago, every Muslim woman was born with an array of rights — cultural and spiritual — due to a human being.
When the Christian church was still debating the existence of a woman’s soul, women in the Islamic world knew they had one. They knew they were full entities and as free human beings, had choices. Islamic women were given the right to run their own businesses, to keep their financial autonomy after marriage and, more importantly, the right to learn, the key to emancipation.
Many Western women in the recent past have sought to keep their maiden names after marriage. Islamic women have enjoyed this tradition for centuries. After all, the wife is one of a pair, a term literally conveying equality. In fact, the Arabic word for wife, “alzawja,” literally means “one of a pair.”
Western women had few or no rights under Roman law. They were under perpetual tutelage from childhood on and deprived of the freedoms that the modern Western woman takes for granted. Prior to the year 1000, recognition of woman as a human being was still disputed.
The Arab world fared better. I can imagine the surprise among feminists when they learn that the Prophet’s first wife, Khadijah, was an able businesswoman. It is perhaps even more interesting that Sheikha Nafissa was a theologian from whom the Imam Shaffei, one of the four scholars of Islam, was proud to say he had learned.
How many Western women know that even in the early days of Islam, Arab women fought in battles alongside men in full equality or that the glamorous Queen Zubaidah built a canal to provide water for the pilgrims en route to Makkah? How many know that, since the 10th century, Arab women throughout the Islamic world have been doctors and nurses?
None of this is meant to demean the struggle of the Western woman. All women involved in this kind of difficult human endeavor understand the hardships only too well. All involved women know that the woman’s struggle — in day-to-day low profile or high media terms — continually confronts the limits of social pressures. We are cognizant of the finite nature of the political environment. Women’s changing status is not different from other political, cultural or social processes.
To understand what Islam has established for woman, there is no need to deplore her plight in the pre-Islamic era. Islam has given woman rights and privileges that she has never enjoyed under other religious or constitutional systems. This can be understood when the matter is studied holistically rather than partially. The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of man but they are not necessarily identical with them.
Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical — but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no problem. It is almost impossible to find even two identical men or women.
Arab and Muslim women have been a viable entity for a long time. They have struggled, realized and enjoyed emancipation in their daily lives for centuries. As for the Muslim woman, no one can take away from her the Word of God through his Messenger. Her evolution is her own and she knows she can accomplish her emancipation on her own.
The Arab woman appreciates the concern of her Western counterparts. She understands the excitement that Western women feel having so recently discovered their own terms within the reality of their own culture in this particular historic moment. But Arab women have the benefit of wisdom accumulated over nearly 14 centuries.
Most of all, the Arab woman has the advantage of making her own choices in creating and experiencing an entirely new epoch of emancipation. The Arab woman is experiencing the joy of new growth but she appreciates the concern of others. She is too utterly involved to stereotype the Western woman and she respects her struggle — without forcing her to fit our expectations. We simply expect the same consideration in return.
* * *
(Nasren Alissa is a Saudi writer. She is based in Riyadh.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Blogging from Aleppo
I went to my favourite internet cafe here and to my horror I find that it had closed . Luckily I  found a good one a mere 300  metres down the road . Still I can't stay long as we have a lot of places to visit and the program is full .. so this is just to say that when I return to Damascus I will write some more ( emails and posts).

Friday, July 16, 2004

Libya to open Darfur aid corridor
Libya has agreed to open a new aid corridor across the Sahara Desert to speed up the delivery of supplies to refugees from Sudan's Darfur region.
A new template
Please make sure to scroll down the sidebar to access once again the links I lost a while ago.
You will find, the photopages, the Libyan recipes and news and other stuff.. I'll test the image upload ( thanks Blogger) but hope not to loose all my settings again ;)


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Replies to your questions PART I

Below are the rest of your questions from emails and the comment section which have remained unanswered I will post them over several parts:

1. Libyan version of perestroika?

Alan, sometime ago you sent me a link for an article which suggests that the current activities in Libya where some kind of a perestroika a la Libyan. My opinion is that Libya cannot remain isolated for much longer we are too near Europe and other countries and it needs to catch up with the rest of the world .What is the use for all the heartache of taking a beating for causes which are not our cause and for which the legitimate people concerned already deal with America behind the scenes while paying lip service for their cause. So I think that in the end what has happened in the last months should have been undertaken years ago. If paying and declaring the WMD will get my country out of a fix it partially and maybe naively got itself into then by all means let’s close this chapter the way America wants. Then we can start a new page, improve ourselves, increase the education of our people, join the industrialized world, and stop worrying about being the champions of the underdog. I believe that when you can achieve realistic goals one at a time the farther away dreams will get nearer once you get used to being winner.

2. What do Libyans know and think of the fact that your government practiced terrorism and bombed civilian planes in the past?

Marco, Libyan alleged practice of terrorism is only that: alleged, there is no proof beyond reasonable doubt that those civilian planes have been bombed as a result of Libyan meddling. If you read the transcript of the two court cases you will find that some statements leave a lot to be desired. Also remember that only one Libyan got convicted (and he wants to appeal) while at the beginning everyone was adamant that it was both Libyans. History will show the truth sooner or later. At the moment clearing our name one way or another is the best strategy to go forward. If later on it turns out that it was a deliberate Libyan act then I’m sure Libyans will totally refuse it. But if it turns out that we have been wronged then I would demand suitable reparation for the years of hardship the Libyan people suffered from the West and especially America and France regarding this question. I would like to point out that any act of terrorism by whoever is totally condemned by the Libyan people. We also have suffered from terrorism.

3. arabs - can't live with 'em, can't nuke 'em

Paul, I noticed you on many Iraqi blogs, and your comments always seemed to be prejudiced against Arabs and so much anti – Arab and anti- Muslim (you put the two in the same bag interchangeably) . Of course that is your privilege and you are entitled to your opinion even though at times you did write comments which I found logical. I just wanted to tell you not to base your views about us from people who have renounced Islam, and others who keep denigrating their fellow Arabs. Why don’t you try to reach out, meet or interact with Arabs and Middle-Easterners who are at the same time good examples of Muslims (it is possible you know). Don’t make the same mistakes that you accuse Arabs of that they are namely being prejudiced against Americans.

4. Afghanistan is effectively imprisoned by foreign troop (Pakistani, Iranian, Chinese, Uzbek, Tajik, Turkmenistan).Somehow they manage to live in those conditions. Perhaps Afghans are more mature and intelligent and peaceful than Arabs?

Again, If you remember Zeyad’s posts about the history of the Arab tribes? You will understand why Arabs are unable to manage to live under foreign troops even though they may be more benign than the local dictator. This is derived from the make up of the Arab personality. I personally believe that ‘when you can’t fight them, join them’ to survive and have peace. Look at Germans they gratefully took the Marshall plan and proceeded to become a success and the Japanese also grabbed the American offer after being carpet bombed in WWII. The Arab’s pride will yet be their doom , they are not less intelligent than the Afghan but collectively they have more money, they are not literally all starving en masse, they do not all have to live on handouts or from the proceeds of the drug trade (I know some Arab countries are enjoying a lot of American aid, I know some others have famines and grinding wars, but perhaps I’m being overly romantic but I think that collectively they are not as needy as the Afghans). I would have saved myself the heartache and bowed to the superpower now, because if I do so I will live to become in time a strong superpower or my kids would; but if I stand in the face of the storm I may be decimated. Unfortunately we still think according to the Arabic rhyme which says [biladi wan in jarat 3aliya 3aziza, wa ahli wa in dhanu bi kiramu] – ‘my country will remain dear to me even if hurt me , and my people will remain generous despite having failed me’. Roughly speaking it is my nation and I will love it against all odds. This might be a wrong attitude in the western eyes but that is how many Arabs think still and that is what prevents them from accepting foreign occupation even when it is covertly done and even if accepting the status quo may be better in the long run.
Personally I wish that the Iraqis would stop the insurgency and stop giving the Americans the reason to remain one day more on Iraqi soil. This way Americans will eventually have to go. My idea is that we will see some more bloodshed.
Occupation does not have to be military also, the worst type of occupation is the economic one and that is obvious in many countries and that makes me very mad, but until we allow them to take advantage of us and don’t work on improving ourselves so that we may compete, then we deserve what befalls us.

5. These are not hate words – in case you think that somebody disagreeing with you hates you.

Somebody sent me the above words. Once and for all, I do not consider anyone disagreeing with me as someone who hates me. He/she does not know me to hate or love me in the first place. In fact those who disagree with me open my eyes to many matters heretofore unknown which may help me in my personal growth. Whilst those who sent me real hate filled words, where I would like to say that the fact that they took the time to read my posts and actually write to me to utter those hate words (not disagreements) means that they don’t really hate me or my words, but that my words have somehow reached their subconscious/hearts and perhaps affected/touched them and they are reaching out in their blindness looking for someone to lead them to the truth.

6. “Can you honestly say that everything bad you hear about the Americans is true and that the Iraqi insurgents are all innocent people just fighting for their freedom? It’s about the power struggle and who really doesn’t believe that insurgents are using mosques to fight from?”

No, there are bad and good people everywhere. Some of the Iraqi insurgents may not be lily white, but in their fight against an occupying army small details do not count anymore and they become freedom fighters and anything they do to get rid of their presumed enemy becomes legitimate. I don’t think they should have used the mosques though. Personally they should have just let the Americans walk through( as I said above), but I think that there has been also much provocation from the American side. As I said Arabs are very proud people when loosing face before a stranger especially and this characteristic is not to their advantage at the moment. The time of chivalry and knights is long gone.

7. “If a Muslim killed an American child playing dolls in their yard just because the child was American, another Muslim can’t turn him in because the child is an infidel and you can’t turn on a Muslim to give justice to an infidel. Isn’t that what some Muslims teach? There might be a lot of things wrong in the US but believing that everyone who is your religion is better than everyone who isn’t your religion is not one of them.

No JstMeZ, a Muslim is not going to kill that child just because she is American: that is a crime. If some deranged people teach that, then they are going against all the principles of Islam ans should be locked up. But we have to listen to Mr. Bush himself who said there are rotten apples everywhere so these maybe our rotten apples. Threfore no, Islam does not condone hiding a criminal just because he is a Muslim, rather justice should be brought upon him. That is regarding the particular example you raised. What we Muslims believe is that the better amongst us is the person who has the strongest faith in God. Sometimes the most outwardly devout one may not be the best one. The Koran says “lakum dinakum wa li dini”, that is you have your religion and I have mine! Since you have been informed about Islam then the choice is up to you, take it or leave it. Once we clearly make our choices then we are held accountable for them. Not all Muslims are good, but also not all non-muslims of whatever ethnicity are good either. The only people who believe that everyone who is from their religion is better than the rest are guess who? : the Jews. Please go check their scripture. Please remember that only in Islamic countries, different races and religions managed to live harmoniously and equally.

8. No, the root of terrorist violence lies in the "traditional arab" value system.

I admit Dan that some Arabs have resorted to terrorism but that is not an exclusive trait to us. Please remember IRA , the shining path, the Ku Klux Klan, the US government , the Khmer Rouge, the Spanish ETA, the Corsicans, Abu Sayaf, the Mafia, the Crusaders, the Israeli Army, JFK’s assassin, Ronald Reagan’s would be assassin, those Japanese groups which used sarin gas and many more. I don’t think these people share an Arab ancestry or the traditional Arab value system do they? So maybe you should learn a little about the traditional Arab values before, professing an opinion.

9. How many bases do we have in Libya?


How many in Syria?

How many did we have in Iraq?

NONE, but now you will have many as of now which makes up for all the ones not present in Libya or Syria.

10. Who 'controlled' Iraqi oil before liberation?

Bob, before ‘liberation’ oil was controlled by Saddam who was an American puppet. When he stopped wanting to be a puppet he was not in control at all anymore and America controlled the oil via the UN arm. I mean if he was really was in control of the oil he would not have sold only the quotas allowed by the UN oil- for- food program.
You can say that the only side benefit for the Iraqi people from this latest war on Iraq is the accidental removal of Saddam. If you really cared for their freedom then you would have removed him and allowed them to choose how to carry on with their lives..but that is for another post.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Scarves, hijab, veil, modesty and the right to choose: PART II

Sometime in February I wrote about the veil promising a sequel about Libya I hope it will be helpful.

Decades ago Libyan women donned the traditional Libyan clothes, these had nothing to do with Islam even though they may cover the head and body. This is just folklore. With the revolution and modernisation, free and compulsory education for all from kindergarten to university and many women entering the working force more and more since the late 50’s our parent’s generation (ie people in their sixties now) have started to wear western clothing be it conservative or modern. In fact my elders tell me that back in the 70s wearing a skirt below the knee was considered backward and oh so passé. Then something happened in the mid 80’s and I started noticing many young women wearing a hijab , veil or scarf whichever version they preferred, by the late 90’s the traditional Libyan women’s dress was worn at ceremonies and by senior citizens only. In this century the majority wear a scarf, but we have it all, the potential Britney Spears look-alikes and the black abaya with everything in between. 100% of Libyan women are wearing a scarf voluntarily, but not ALL Libyan women are wearing a scarf spot the nuance here.

What happened in the 80’s to promote this voluntary action by Libyan women? The war in Afghanistan, and the perceived renaissance of Islam, and the great pride in the Muslim fighters and how they dealt a blow to Russia (let us not forget with the help and funding from the USA). Many Islamist parties flourished with the patronage and blessing of America in the cold war, they were then called gallant freedom fighters etc…In brief, many of these parties had the necessary funding to produce tapes and videos of their various preaching and fatwas and because the majority came from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ordinary people took these words as law since Saudi is the keeper of the holy shrines. And since Islam does advocate modesty of dress, just like other monotheistic religions, many girls were influenced and started wearing the Saudi- like extreme form of dress code voluntarily (in KSA it is the law). This has nothing to do with the State in Libya it was a people’s thing a mass movement and choice. Wearing a hijab then gained momentum and became a fashion statement; after all you are really freer and more anonymous when you are modestly clad. In the early 90’s the majority of girls in universities were still casual, by mid 90’s we started seeing more and more of them with a scarf. This was a major step in a girl’s life and as I said before we congratulate her heartily. It is obvious that Libyan men nowadays prefer their wives, sisters or mothers or any female relative to be modest and that is why I believe that this phenomenon which started as an Islamic revival has grown into a social/fashion status. Nowadays the modest clothes can be latest catwalk styles but properly adapted ie long sleeves and long skirts + a scarf and you will find a multitude of colours, in fact it’s an art to combine the matching scarf with the shoes bag and jewellery. I went to my class reunion this year at university and I stood out like a sore thumb with my ‘westernised’ look even though I had the impression that my black business suit was sometimes more ‘modest’ than what some girls were wearing.
Bareheaded girls were a minority now.
I want to stress once again that this is their choice which does not hinder in any way their ordinary life as students, workers, producers, managers, teachers, lovers or whatever. Women enjoy great freedom in Libya and they really are grateful for the revolution which took up their cause. We have women in the army, police, customs, law, medicine, social sciences and workers, education, politics, services and all aspects of a society, not forgetting engineers and oil engineers who work in the oil fields for weeks on a par with their Libyan men colleagues and expatriate colleagues and as I said many wear a scarf so it is not a backward phenomenon but more of a freedom of choice thing. I think my American readers would appreciate that it is not a sign of great religiosity or extremism or fundamentalism. Not at all! Many Libyan women are devout Muslims yes but full of optimism and openness to the west, after all we are across the Mediterranean and not too far from Europe. They love fashion, and make up like all females across the globe but some like to add their own personality to it and I believe that is called individuality, a much lauded characteristic right?

Despite all that I will be realistic and say that another dimension has been added to this phenomenon in the last couple of years; some peer pressure. For example, a prospective suitor would much prefer to marry a girl with a scarf even though her dress may be more revealing then a bareheaded woman. I know it is hypocritical but somehow this small triangular piece of cloth changes everything. This is a typically chauvinistic macho Arabic thing and nothing to do with Islam, unfortunately many young girls have also chosen the scarf for the sake of a man and not for the love of God and those are the ones that I despise as they are the ones who usually dare to criticise other girls. In Islam you have a choice; you make that choice knowingly and live with it. Islam is not a rigid doctrine it is adaptable and very easy to follow.

So to recapitulate: Libyan women wear a scarf by choice, for some it is for God, for others it is a fashionable Islamic identity, others yet believe it preserves their privacy and modesty and another group use it to be attractive to men. Now be honest and tell me which woman does not want her lover, boyfriend, husband, partner, flirt or simply man not to get attracted to her? People achieve this attraction in different ways, for some of us it may be a nice sexy little top with a lovely low cut V-neck and for others it may be a turquoise scarf with the matching skirt, shoes and bag. Looking at it this way it ain’t that bad right? We are all fashionistas in a sense!

Personally I think that making the choice requires guts because going back on it is embarrassing in our culture. Some have taken off their hijab also so that’s fine.

I have an update on the girl I used as an example for my rant in PART I, and I am happy to inform you that this struggling bright medical student got a scholarship and will pursue her studies in the US, she also is happily married to an engineer and best of all she has won her case for the right to wear a hijab at work against her foreign boss. I am very happy and proud for her.

Many of you wrote to me about this issue, someone said ( and please forgive me for forgetting your name) that perhaps her management saw fit that it would be more pleasant if she and other female workers wore no hijab in a tourism industry. I would like to thank him and tell him that he may be right but with all due respect to his opinion, that would be sexual discrimination. Being professional at her work she can still wear her uniform with the scarf in her own country, after all the Sikh men get to keep their turbans ( I know I mentioned that in an earlier post). Her scarf will also never prevent her from performing her duties in the ward or operating room would it?

My next post about the subject of women will deal in more details on equality of the sexes.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Libyan American Friendship Association

Building A Bridge of Communication
The Libyan American Friendship Association (LAFA) was founded in 1995 with a vision that the American People and Libyan people need to reach out to one another and start an era of communication to pave the road for better relations between our two nations....

There is a lot of information on that site if you are interested.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Saturday, July 03, 2004

DAMASCUS 4:00 am

Following my post about Egypt I have uploaded some of the pictures I took while there and which would not compromise my identity ..hope you will all like them. Egyptian journey!

Also upcoming posts not necessarly in the following order:

Arab Civilization
Effect of US sanctions
The Palestinians
Trip to Syria
Trip to Jordan
Trip to Lebanon
Collection of replies
Scarves part 2
Libyan wedding ceremonies
The war on Iraq, Saddam & suggestions.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Opposite Goals
by Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2004/07/2

I read this article online and could not help posting it as it is just too perfect !!!!

I have always known that every goal our Umma (nation) aims at, is contrarily accomplished, to the extent where I started asking myself why don't we ask for poverty, slavery, and ignorance, in the hope that we might achieve wealth, freedom, and knowledge.

Perhaps things got mixed up in my head because of my many plane trips and lack of oxygen, but I am writing today from the ground, and I still believe that we are failing each time, to the extent that I started asking for failure in order to achieve success.

When I was a young boy, the topics in Arab politics were restricted to the liberation of Palestine, and the achievement of unity. Then came Jamal Abdel Nasser, and we had a leader whom we wished would liberate and unite us.

Unity between Egypt and Syria was established in 1958, was supposed to last forever, and to include the countries and the people of the Umma; but it collapsed in 1961, and made every unity seeker reevaluate his stance. The 1958 Iraqi revolution was a logical ally to the Egyptian revolution, and a future ally of the sought unity; but the revolution ate-up its people, and withdrew from the concept of unity.

When Moammar Gadhafi came to power, as a spitting image of Nasser, he revived the demands for unity in a way that convinced every Arab country of the virtues of separation.

This with regards to unity; as for Palestine, we all know what is going on, and we all refuse the division of 1947, because Palestine is entirely Arab. We have lost the 1948 war, and were left with 22% of the land of Palestine, when we could have kept more than its populated half.

The 1967 war lost the rest, and we now ask for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which were originally ours, but not ours.

In the meantime, most of us followed the illusion of communism; the concerned Arab governments acted here with rare intelligence; they realized that they will not allow the poor to reach the level of the rich, so they made the rich reach the level of the poor, with the exception of the ruling military elites and their entourages.

Does the reader remember the slogan unity, freedom, and communism? It is a nice slogan that was preached by the Arab Communist Baath Party, as it was the "trend" back then. But the party of unity itself was divided in two: a Syrian and an Iraqi; it was the biggest political enmity between the members of one party, and the result was that we did not achieve the unity that the party presented in its political rhetoric.

What did I cover so far? The liberation of Palestine that made us lose the rest, the unity that strengthened division, and communism that made everyone poorer on the basis of making everyone live the same misery in order to achieve equality.

I move now to the Gulf, as in the days of poverty, and before the high demand on oil and the increase in its price, nobody asked about the Gulf or its people. However, when these became rich, we heard about 'Arab oil,' not Saudi or Kuwaiti for example. But fortune did not corrupt all Gulf people, as Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan sponsored the establishment of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a constant unity, which may be the only exception to the rule.

But the Gulf was the ground for achieving the total opposite of what was required, in a tragedy the consequences of which we still suffer.

I remember that there was an American base in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which the Americans used to pay the price for, before the oil era; this money used to constitute an important portion of the Saudi budget back then. There was also a maritime American presence in Bahrain, and some British military ships, from Amman to Kuwait.

The American base in Dhahran was closed, and the others' presence in the Gulf remained unnoticeable. Then the Iranian Islamic Revolution took place, and demanded the expulsion of foreign forces from the Gulf. The region suddenly became a large port for the ships of major Western countries. Saddam Hussein refused to see the Iranian revolution making more mistakes than he was, so he attacked Iran, and the foreign ships doubled in the Gulf; then he invaded Kuwait, and the Gulf was filled with 800,000 soldiers, and a massive war machinery that no one ever imagined would be found in this region. Saddam Hussein, with his political and military genius, and what was known of his forecasting perceptions, found a way for the occupation forces to enter Iraq itself, after he gave up his head on a silver platter, to the enemies of the Umma.

All that I have mentioned so far does not come close to the terrorism that we are currently suffering from, and how the contrary, or the opposite, took place.

In the West, they call it Islamic terrorism, which leaves the impression that Muslims are terrorists.

The terrorists want to help Islam, and all they are achieving is harm to Muslims everywhere. They have launched a war in order to expel the infidels, which they are not, from the countries of Islam. Moreover, these foreigners, who manufactured the weapons that these terrorists use, made all that is in our countries, from the asphalt on the streets to the computers we use.

If the terrorists are the soldiers of Islam, then Islam does not need enemies. And if they succeed, they would take us back to caves and grottos; but they will not succeed, because they are the enemies of God and his people, the enemies of nature, the enemies of humanity. In their counter-defense of Islam, they achieved what Ariel Sharon and the enemies of Islam have failed to achieve, and the world currently talks about the beheading of an American or a Korean, and forgets the beheading of an entire population.

I think that if these terrorists fight Islam, then this latter would win, and the age of the first conquests will be revived.