Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Libya

Two years ago, I vowed not to remember anyone's special celebrations unless they remembered mine. I was offended at how come I wished all my friends and acquaintances Christmas, Chanukah, Veterans Day, Independence Day, Nairuz etc... and those same people only remembered Christmas and New Year, no good wishes at all directed to the Muslim world.  I checked and checked on Facebook to see any reaction this year too and it was only from the usual suspects less than 3 people in total ( apart from the Arabs), who do remember every date. The others would remember silly birthdays but nothing more it was as if our festivities do not exist even my Asian friends who have a mix in their respective countries did not remember so I was not going to blame the other folks...

So for all the talk about multiculturalism and melting pots not sure it is working some people think they are superior. The only ones who turned to have the real spirit of multiculturalism were Arabs funnily enough.

And to prove it this is a first in Libya now that Ghaddafi is gone even the Tripoli Post is wishing readers Merry Christmas - go Libya GO ! well done !

So in the true spirit of Christ who originated from our part of world, I am taking my vow back and wishing everyone and not just the usual suspects publicly everything good  for whichever occasion is at hand. After all if someone is not a good person we do not need use the same style of treatment....and here is my first new year resolution...

Merry Christmas everyone !

PS have you wished Libyans a Happy Independence Day ? it was yesterday on Christmas Eve :P

Monday, December 12, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award : The Libyan Bloggers

First of all I want to thank Khadijateri who has awarded me and a number of other Libyan bloggers  this award.

To explain about it I'm going to use the same words she did - so much easier and I'm being lazy tonight !
and I agree with her 100% that internet connection has not been good lately bordering on the unreliable, but to be honest it is difficult to be mad after all the country has been through a war  an I'm grateful that a lot of things still work.. ok back to the award :)

What is it?

The award is a kind of pay-it-forward award. Those who receive it are  asked to thank and link to the giver and then elect 5 to 15 other  bloggers with the Versatile Blogger Award and let them know by leaving a  comment on their blog.

Khadijateri beat me to some of my favourite bloggers :) so....

Who gets the award now ?

It's difficult to choose from so much talent, Libyans had to be creative in the Gaddafi era and now there is so much we want to talk about . So I really want to award this to all the Libyan bloggers and bloggerettes and a large number of them are collected in this blog those who write in Arabic and those who write in  English and some write in a few other languages. Please click on them all pick your choice and then please come back and tell me who did you like and what did you find special about their writing ?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Highlights of a Libyan Meal Plan: Guest Column by Carolyn K

Carolyn from Blog Content Guild has recently come across my rant on the Islamist wave sweeping the region on the trails of the so called Arab Spring ( I hate that cliche), and she suggested to publish a piece here about what can be learned from the culture of Libya through its traditions and food.

Why not? I said and here we are.....I admit it feels strange to read about Libyan dishes presented thus but it certainly is a change for me from war and politics ! right ?

This post has actually reminded me of  wonderful  British-Libyan blogger Soad whose recipes and the end product are absolutely delicious so if you want to check what Libyan food looks like and try out how it tastes please make a stop at her blog as well.
Ok no more chit chat from me here is Carolyn talking :

"Food in Libya is some of the best in the world, and people should relish in the delicious recipes Libya has to offer, when they can. The people of Libya know how to cook lamb. In fact, it has been asserted by some that lamb is cooked more in Libya than in any other place else in the world. If this is true, it means that there is no shortage of opportunity to eat some delicious lamb in the country. Fortunately for people who find themselves in Libya, the delicious meal plan options aren’t limited to just lamb. There is an array of scrumptious meal offerings to be enjoyed. Here are a few dishes that Libya is famous for:

1. Bazin – This dish is essentially a ball of dough (from barley flour) in the middle of delicious stew. The stew includes lamb, potatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, and spices like turmeric. 
2. Shorba Libiya –Libya is famous for its delicious soups, and it is most famous for Shorba Libiya. This is a lamb and chickpea soup that is traditionally eaten during Ramadan or for other special occasions. It usually has minty and coriander undertones and a spicy kick to it. If you’re in the mood for this soup, you’re in luck. You can find it just about anywhere in Libya.

3. Sand Baked Bread – Some bread bakers in Libya will actually bake their bread in the hot sand. In general, bread in Libya is hearty in taste and in terms of thickness. If the idea of eating bread that is baked in sand isn’t your cup of tea, you can get pick up some delicious bread baked in a tagine (a clay or terra-cotta pot) instead.

4.  Magrood – If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth in Libya, you have to try magrood. It’s a pastry dipped in sugar syrup with a date filling. Be careful, though. It’s easy to eat a whole plate of magrood cookies and end up with a stomachache from all the sugar!

5. Usban – This Libyan sausage is the perfect snack to fill you up before your next hearty Libyan meal. Usban is typically stuffed with herbs, rice, lamb, and liver. So, it’s sure to please your palate and help fulfill your body’s daily protein quota.

So, warm your heart with some Shorba Libiya and spend some time savoring all of the wonderful food Libya has to offer!  "

So I would LOVE  for my readers Libyans and non Libyan  alike  (those  that still exist of course and I want to publicly thank you here and make a virtual curtsey for sticking with me :P !)  to share their reactions with me, please tell me what do you think these dishes say about the Libyan culture and are Libyans really lovers of lamb meat  - I would vote yes  for kharouf watani  :P !

Friday, December 02, 2011

Libya, Western policy & the so called Islamists: when you cannot beat them, join them!

After spending part of the 20th Century funding and forging alliances with anyone with an 'Islamist' agenda to counter Communism, the US and the Western world in general decided Islamists were the bad guys. So then they spent the next decade fighting them all over the globe even if they were democratically elected. Post 9/11 it was even worse and there was total breakdown in communication. This attitude from the West has helped fuel hatred towards not only Islamists but really anything and anyone Muslim (at least that's my impression) which fell right into the lap of the extremists and helped further their plans thereby resulting in  a vicious cycle of violence that targeted not only western interests but ordinary Muslims and non- Muslim alike.

The horrible wars fought by proxy in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia etc.... are a witness to this  yet it was and has always been a loosing war for the western powers; with resounding defeats in my opinion in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia and  Sudan. Troops are pulling out steadily but surely, which means that they will have to come to accept these 'people' and negotiate some kind of  honourable retreat a la Iraq for example. The Taliban are still powerful in Afghanistan, the Iranian mullahs have gotten hold of Iraq, Pakistan? no comment and Somalia is run by those Shababs, Sudan ? they had to be pushed into partition, Palestine, into a civil war, Algeria are still reeling from their post election war in the 90s that seem to have put them  out of the 'Arab Spring ' loop  for the moment ....etc.....etc...

There is a saying which I oft repeat "when you cannot beat them, join them" and that is a wise advice :) but the US and the Western world cannot do this without looking like losers  and like all this money and the  lives lost were for nothing. So to save face the iconic figure of Islamic fundamentalists had to be demolished. Nothing  more cathartic then murdering Bin Ladin to send the right message, to  back home, to your average  Arab  and Muslim but also to your so called Islamist. The message was that if we get this 'victory' we bury the hatchet and you guys get the opportunity to for the first time of your life get on the political stage legally.

So when Arab countries started to revolt  I was sure that whatever I brought up here would  be kicking in fast along with the political machinery that goes with it. The other dimension is the involvement of ambitious GCC countries not exactly beacons of democracy and who fear Iran's domination and whose human rights record is appalling .

To prove my  conspiracy theory let's glance at the newspaper headlines for 2011 post 'Arab Spring' developments:

Islamist leader named Morocco PM [source]
Tunisia Islamist Party wins vote [source]
Islamist strong ahead of Egypt poll [source]
Fatah Hamas prepare to bury the hatchet [source]

Saudi Arabia is the bedrock of Wahhabism and yet is America's best ally, Qatar is forging a name for itself and funnily has been linked from the beginning in the Libyan uprising and other pots. The Bahrain revolution has been violently stymied down, Syria is heading towards civil war unless a miracle happens, Yemen we are in season two of the revolution and not sure what the world is waiting for, Lebanon is in such a mess that nothing needs to be done to make it worse, Oman saw a very short lived movement and Saudi Arabia pumped money to its people, Jordan is trying a balancing act, Kuwait had the daring movement of the storming of its parliament and  so many other examples all over the region

Even in Libya it seems that the US would give it's blessings to an Islamic government as long as its own interests are safeguarded check this headline. We need to remember that this cleric mentioned here is believed to be an American /Qatari stooge by a large number or Libyans....and he has ambitions of( or for his party) to lead in Libya.

Who would have thought this possible a mere year ago? the key word seems to be 'moderate' Islamist. Nevertheless it is a U turn for the US and others  and now it seems that  it has been decreed that the old dictators were no longer useful, they are ushering a new breed disguised under something that they believe will be acceptable to the people.

The fishy stink is can be smelled from kms away... I want to be optimistic for the freedom, but I don't dare lest my hopes are dashed to the ground. May I be wrong and just a crying Cassandra but in light of what is happening and what has happened in 2011, my words on Feb 28 of this year now seem almost prophetic:

I am terrified that when all the ashes from the uprisings that are consuming us settle down we become blinded by the celebratory mood and find ourselves having exchanged one agenda for another whose nature would be like an octopus: soft but with many slippery tentacles."

I'm not angry or bitter but simply realistic and accept the truths, I hope that in Libya we do not fall into this trap as I have nothing against Islamists on the contrary a lot of their ideas sound very valid and strike a vein but I do not want them with the blessings of America, it just means they are the new puppets. Libyans are not dumb but I hope that for the sake of peace they do not let themselves be played with like pieces on a chess board.

And finally as I said, the west  could not beat them and so decided  to embrace them and the choices of its regional allies and influence the democratic process.... sigh

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Libyan Currency: where is the democracy ?

Tawasul news agency announced on Facebook the imminent issue/arrival of the newly minted Libyan currency of a which I'm publishing a photo below taken from their website.

In my humble opinion  and my knowledge of economics is limited to non-existent, a new currency is not the top priority in Libya.  If true the new money looks nice but we should not be wasting money on it we could have survived with the old Libyan notes, even the ones with Gaddafi's face on and thank God it was only the One Dinar currency and more recently the 50 Dinar currency which I actually rarely saw since it came to the market a year or so ago. 

Some people say that having these new banknotes will make the ones taken out of the country invalid and so help restore the economy and will hit those who have been hoarding money and starving the marked of cash. So re-introducing badly needed cash would hit two birds with one stone... maybe I really don't know how this works and if this is the solution to fight all the war profiteers. Yet again I think a new currency would have been the last step before the transitional period ended in 2013. Like this it feels to me as if someone has made a business deal somewhere but most importantly who decided this step ? have Libyans been asked about their opinion? has their been a national referendum ? What a waste of time and resources...

I hope I'm wrong... what do you think ?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bab Al Azizia: dark memories, unilateral decisions and dirty politics

The Bab Al Azizia barracks have been there for as long as I can remember, in recent years the outside walls were repainted and the surrounding streets restyled  but it still looked formidable and forbidding.

It has been so much a fact of life that we tried to tune it out.  However, whenever we passed nearby I could never help being nervous that my car would breakdown  and I would be shot and I believe most of us even avoided looking its way, or at other cars...

This heavy omnipresence was stifling and only in early November did I actually venture inside the compound.  I saw people visiting from literally all over Libya, people who had made the  trip especially to shake away those bygone ghosts and see for themselves that the most despised place for them was no longer a threat. I still cannot believe that the place that symbolized more than anything else the Gaddafi regime no longer existed. The walls and every single building in that compound has been destroyed.

I do remember that many of us were talking what should be done with Bab Al Azizia and many spoke online that they wanted a park, but I don't remember any countrywide poll about this!

Somehow,  I'm not happy that it has been razed to the ground I think that was just done too soon and without checking with the Libyan people. It is unfair for the rest of Libyans to have prevented them for having access and seeing for themselves the layout of the place.

The sprawling compound is eerie and  I expect ghosts to come out anytime it's even dangerous now, all this rubble and the open tunnels. Is it even environmentally safe? is there asbestos exposed? Who took the decision to raze it so unprofessionally and to burn the living quarters there and what about the school ? why destroy the school for God's sake ? children from the neighbouring  buildings used to go there and now they have nowhere to go. What a waste of resources!

By all means I want to see a park there, but I also wanted to have some mementos kept to remind us of  how dictatorships can happen if we let our vigilance slip. Why have some rebel fighters taken the golden fist statue to Misrata?  In my opinion it should have remained here it's not about war trophies it's about history.
It would have been a great theme park but now it is a wasteland, full of rubbish , revolutionary tourist items, looters who have taken the wiring, the stuff in the houses, the things hidden in the underground tunnels and I was actually afraid that there might be some unexploded ordnance somewhere when  driving or walking  around to explore. It's a place of desolation for me. Not sure how you can have picnic there with all the piled up waste. I'm disappointed. I had imagined foreigners coming from all over the world to see Gaddafi's feared tunnels,  people exploring them and seeing in which part of the city they ended up, I imagined photo shoots next to the Fist golden statue, I imagined people taking turns to appear on his balcony and make a speech something like the Speaker's  Corner in Hyde Park. I wanted the buildings to be professionally removed with some of them converted to museums if possible.....but I did not want this mess. Reconstruction is very difficult while destruction takes so little time. The tunnels would have brought so much income to the park authorities and would have helped towards the cost of the maintenance.

A counter argument could be that destroying the compound prevents any militia from making it a fortress, but I don't believe the person(s) who made this decision  thought so analytically.

They say there is no use crying over spilled milk and I agree but I still wanted to voice my opinion and that this way of things suits all those war profiteers which are always present like vultures in every combat in any place in the world. This destruction makes it easier to loot the place unpunished like so much of the  public property (and private) during and after this war in Libya. All Libyans had a right to Bab Al Aziziya  and someone just took our right away.

Apparently a contest to redesign the place has been launched, nice idea but I still hope to see that Fist back in Tripoli in the park whenever it is finished ! It starts with little things and ends up with people holding a country hostage to have their way in the government  and those that don't get their way well the the big fish somehow slip away instead again to show the government who is really boss. 

March in support of the victims of rape in Libya: "You are not Alone … We are here for you"

(taken from Facebook - organized by the Phoenix group)

On the occasion of the "International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women", Organized, and in participation of civil society entities in several Libyan cities

We announce the beginning of the national initiative to support & help the brave Libyan rape victims on Saturday 26 -11-2011. The initiative will include an awareness raising campaign and related lectures given by legal, religious & psychological specialists on how to offer psychological support to he victims and their families and how to help them rise above the challenges they face in our society and how to reintegrate in the society .

There will be a silent protest in front of the prime ministry headquarters (previously the general people’s committee headquarters) Sekka road. Also there will be a similar silent protest taking place Misrata in order to draw the transitional national council and Mr . Elkeeb’s government - and all officials who are of concern within it – attention to this category of war victims who haven’t received the sufficient care and support yet.

To those who are interested in joining the protest (Tripoli) :

• The protest will be taking place on November 26th . 2011 . The initial gathering spot in Tripoli will be Ben Ashour street in front of zuwadah restaurant at 11 Am .
• The march will go along Ben Ashour street to Alqadisiya square and to Sekka street at the prime ministry Headquarters till 3 pm .
• The unified dressing code will be white and pink tops in solidarity with rape victims.
• Please put a duck tape across your mouth to symbolize the silence this case is being dealt with.
• Due to the sensitivities of this subject please abide with the banners , slogans shared by the organizers .


• Alhurria square with the same hours, banners, dressing code as Benghazi & Tripoli .

Our Demands:

• To adjust the penal code legislation & raise the bar of the rape crime penalty in accordance to shari’a .
• To provide logistic and financial support to the NGOs welling to undertake the set up of psychological support programs and provide needed assistance to raped women.
• To improve and strengthen the role played by “The Islamic Invitation Association “ to raise the religious awareness of the victims and their families to prevent “ honour crimes “ and similar forms of abuse to the victims .
• To urge the national media outlets to provide a more brave and open approach in the discussion of this case, and what has been done about it and to discuss the “ honour crimes “ affecting this category by their families and to help as a powerful tool to raise and spread awareness and support messages to encourage those who are affected to seek help by the specialized centres

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Qaddafistan Perversion

Today's post was going to be about a movie  I watched a few  weeks ago when I was travelling but something else happened instead which led me to change the topic so you will read about the movie next time.

This morning I decided to go for a walk downtown and check  the Libyan printed press. Since the liberation of Tripoli in August many new titles have sprung up and we are also getting the papers from Benghazi and other cities in Libya which is so refreshing and feels very strange....A glossy magazine called Loloat Almutawaset caught my eye among the many choices on display nowadays because I did not notice it before. I think it looked so professional that I assumed it was an Arab paper although I should have recognized the guy on the cover page but anyway  we have just finished a war I could be excused for not noticing many things :)!

Taking a closer look I found it  was issue no.1  from October so this was going to be a monthly magazine great. I looked at the lead titles and  the topic that jumped at me was "The orphanage victims" or the daughters of Quaddafi ( my comment)  I purchased it for 3 Libyan Dinars.

The article was an interview by  Abdelbasset Alsherif with a 30 year  old Libyan woman who grew up in an orphanage in Libya. I summarised it briefly from the Arabic for you.

Orphanages in Libya were a red line in the Quaddafi era. The author is calling this woman Krista so I will use the same name. Krista was born in the orphanage and was given to adoption to a Libyan family She only learned that she was an orphan at the age of 6 when her step father died ( probably because the rest of the family asked about inheritance). I believe she ends up in this interview because of her role as a Quaddafi human shield in Bab Alaziziya.

She tells stories about being forced by the orphanage management  as a child to attend events where Quaddafi is to show up and how she felt just like a movie extra, where he would be nice to her and the others for a couple of days and then her role will be over and the niceties with it once the event was over. Krista explains that most orphans were given for 'adoption' and  if you were lucky you got a decent family if not you ended up in a brothel.
After the death of her adoptive parents it seems she was left to fend for herself. Moreover, the orphanage although it called these girls Quaddafi's daughters did not spend any penny on them  but either left them to fend for themselves/thew them to the street or gave them up for prostitution  as only a limited number with certain specifications was kept. The majority of the  girls became prostitutes and the guys drug dealers.  ( personally I suspect that some of the guys became gay prostitutes too as some of my foreign friends  sadly reported they found many on the sea front ). Krista  did many jobs including washing cars  and  even mounted satellite dishes on rooftops to survive ! and no one would help her because of the label that she and her likes were Quaddafi's daughters so they were supposed to have everything. Even when the orphanage would do the occasional multiple marriage gig it was apparently a big lie as the girls would be thrown out after a couple of days of being abused.....or end up sex slaves in a hotel. The money that the orphanage management would receive from donations and the state all went into the deep pockets of the corrupt officials.

About her limited role in Bab Alaziziya she says that she went there for the food and to get some money but she stopped going there when  it became obvious that there was drugs, alcohols and fornication. She then volunteered as a guard in the former Green Square and after that was sent on a mission to Misrata.

How she ended up in Misrata? she and the others were asked to guard an aid caravan that was supposedly going to Misrata but instead  to her horror they took them to a camp to be trained to kill. She ran away with one of the male volunteers. She hid in the city of Gharian until the liberation of that city. Krista is feeling very guilty for supporting Quaddafi and being misled like this and is saying that she is one of hundreds of other lost girls  from the Libyan orphanages that need to be rescued from a life of prostitution in order to survive.She also asks that we should not to forget the guys as well. She is asking the revolutionary youth not to denigrate those lost young men and women as they are simply victims of Quaddafi.

After I read this article I was deeply troubled, so I thought I'd surf the twitting people to change my mood and there someone sent me the following link: Viagra munching  Gaddafi. This article is about Faisal,  Quaddafi's manservant, Chef ( and probably occasional bed companion).

"He was a law student at Tripoli University when Gaddafi came to speak. Afterwards the dictator asked his office to track down several of the students. Gaddafi’s lectures were notorious; he would speak about his Green Book and then take his pick of the women to a room near the lecture hall with a double bed.
The university dean told Faisal that Gaddafi wanted him to be his private servant. When he refused, his family was threatened; to continue to refuse would mean death."

Faisal of course ended in this article because on Quaddafi's fall he was taken as a prisoner by the freedom fighters for being close to the dictator.

After reading about Faisal's woes  and  the world of perversion he uncovered I was even more depressed because everything we suspected was going on in Libya turned out to be true and even worse than we ever imagined. So I closed Twitter and I tried to cheer myself up by checking on my friends on Facebook, and  what do I find there among the many shared articles this time in French: " A Kadhafi sex slave talks about her ordeal" !

22 year old Safia life is destroyed when Quaddafi's team kidnap her in Sirte at the age of 15  to take her to him. Quaddafi picked her up among the students who were chosen to hand him flowers when he visited  her school. She was taken to his tent in the desert and told she would have riches etc... and would live with him from now on. Which is exactly what happened, he put her in his harem in Bab Alaziziya, where he kept Libyan adolescent women and also brought in some foreigners occasionally and proceeds to rape her for the next five years until her escape in 2009  During those years he forces her to drink, smoke  and  get drugged  on top of everything else and her parents are threatened with death if they complain. Safia  lifts the veil even further on the debauchery going on in Quaddafi's life and that of his henchmen and foreign visitors (something like Berlusconi's Bunga Bunga parties ... maybe that's why they were such friends ? ). She also talks about his famous body guards ( but I will make a separate post about that). After her escape her mum wants to marry her to an elderly widowed cousin which she refuses. She finally gets married this year in April but is separated from her husband who is apparently hurt during the war ( we are not told  if he is from the rebels of from the Q team but I understand from the context that he is from the rebels). She does not feel safe to return home because of the possibility of being assassinated by some Quaddafi loyalist remnants but mostly due to the stigma attached to her past. She says  'the woman is always the culprit' [no matter what].

Reading all these dark pieces today printed all over the globe from Australia, Libya and France and which drag the honour of Libyan men and women in the gutters, I felt that I wanted to vomit and that I needed to write about it to exorcise these demons, but also to pass on the message that these young men and women are simply helpless victims. None of them should feel guilty either for supporting Quaddafi during the war like Krista or for being forced to  pimp men and women  for him like Faisal or for being a sex slave like Safia and all the other people he abused. These people had no other choice except suicide to escape his filth and even then they could not guarantee he would not abuse their whole families, which is exactly what he does, so sacrificing oneself is the only solution  in case you have a family. In Krista's case no one was going to help her even work as a maid as people would suspect her of wanting to seduce the man of the family or be a bad influence on the kids, or just for being a bastard, so either she kills herself or prostitutes herself, since suicide is forbidden in Islam and she did not want to be a prostitute she worked like a man and volunteered as a guard during the war.

Our society is very very unforgiving in matters of honour, and now post revolution we are also very suspicious of everyone involved with Quaddafi.. But people like Krista are small fish and they have no blood on their hands and people like Faisal and Safia need years of rehabilitation.....I don't even know if my compatriots amidst all the horrors that took place in Libya for 42 years and until the war ended will be able to absorb how much these poor creatures deserve our pity and need our help. In the Libyan article the author concludes by asking   if Krista really believed that the Quaddafi era was over from the people's minds? She acquiesces that it is over.

Each one of us is somehow suffering post traumatic stress to one degree or another so personally I think the Quaddafi era can only be erased  from our minds once we feel compassion for all victims alike, such as the protagonists above and the alleged 8000 rape victims ( men/women/children) being investigated by the ICC  and not just the obvious ones like the dead, imprisoned, injured, amputees, missing  and displaced - that's a lot of suffering people.

Somebody would probably comment why bring this topic up, this is what the Western media likes to talk about there are more pressing issues to deal with. Yes that's true, Western media love sex scandals, and what happened in Libya and in Quaddafi's lair happens daily not only in other Arab countries but everywhere where power and money are absolute.;one recent very simple example is  the DSK scandal.

However, Quaddafi ruined the life of about six million people in Libya and this was one of the many facets of his savagery to us so if we don't get all this rot out, deal with it and move on it will keep hitting us in the face and prevent the advancement of the Libyan Society and any national reconciliation.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Game Over Gaddafi

Congratulations to all my compatriots! Today the fighting ends officially in Libya.

A death is not  a happy occasion but  the death of Gaddafi  in particular gives a sense of closure to the battered hearts of Libyans all over the world. Libyans needed to see him die in Libya. His death in Libya provides a sense of satisfaction that a trial no matter how 'fair'  could not have done.
Such a clean cut is the best medicine for the wound that has been oozing in Libya for decades.

How he met his end is confusing that's what I'm trying to figure out and I do have some reservations about this, but it does not come as a shock. Some  say he was alive when captured and the videos  we saw on TV and online show that; others say he was badly injured, eyewitness seem to have conflicting accounts.

"Arab broadcasters showed graphic images of the balding, goateed Gadhafi -- wounded, with a bloodied face and shirt -- but alive.
Later video showed fighters rolling Gadhafi's lifeless body over on the pavement, stripped to the waist and a pool of blood under his head.Standing, he was shoved along a Sirte road by fighters who chanted "God is great." Gadhafi appears to struggle against them, stumbling and shouting as the fighters push him onto the hood of a pickup truck.He was driven around lying on the hood of a truck, according to the video. One fighter is seen holding him down, pressing on his thigh with a pair of shoes in a show of contempt." [ref]

However,  it  would come as no surprise that people would not hold themselves and would have finished him off  after capturing him as the overwhelming feeling in Libya was to cut him to shreds if one had the opportunity. It seems the same thing happened to his son Moatassim as well. Live capture and then death.

I was not waiting for his death to feel that Libya had been liberated,  the fall of Tripoli on August 20 was Independence day for me  and Gaddafi's killing has occurred exactly as I expected most of my adult life i.e. extremely violently

I've been grappling with bitter sweet feelings triggered by an acquaintance's  comment ( who is not Libyan) who told me last  night  that it was too fishy that just one day following Hillary  Clinton visits  to Libya Gaddafi gets killed :  "she probably ordered his assassination herself and was here to see it through- telling the NTC and any  NATO troops to finish with the Libya movie script". This friend told me now you will see Highlander, as soon as his death is confirmed NATO and the US will pull out of Libya as their mission has ended.
Why do some people insist on ruining the happiness of Libyans with these types of comments?  Just like most Arabs I love conspiracy theories  but not sure how to digest this one. I want to say that we are not dumb  we understand human nature and the self interest of  nations including the Western world ( who had helped and propped up the Arab dictators for decades  and then removed them when no longer useful)  but let us just have a small  time to savour the event - we have suffered incredibly for most of our life and especially these last 9 months, thousands of Libyans have lost lives, limbs and property for  freedom we deserve to grab some moments of celebration.

May the Libyan martyrs rest in peace not just those from 2011 but all those who died because of him and fighting him  throughout those 42 year.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Red flag of McCarthyism in the new Libya ?

McCarthyism : is the practice of publicizing accusations of political disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence.

Last month we were all happily incredulous to hear from the NTC that  the  'state security prosecution and courts, which sentenced opponents of the old [Gadaffi ]regime to prison' were to be abolished.  This meant that the principal  purpose of the old Internal Security Agency  (ISA) was gone. The ISA  was a cross of the worst attributes between the FBI and Homeland Security, it sawed fear in Libyans' hearts  and abused Libyans and non-Libyans  alike who had the misfortune to fall in its hands as any country with a despot  or powerful blind 'homeland security' knows and where the most dangerous accusation was for not being a patriot. A patriot in Libya included in its criteria the persona of the 'Leader of the Revolution' Moammar Gadaffi.

Ironically enough the fact that this government body by spying on all your online and offline activity  knew or sought to know everything about your private and public life was in a way comforting, as you could stop fearing it.   If they never approached you and if you never dabbled  in politics or showed an inclination to free thinking it meant you were considered harmless to them and you could go on leading the semblance of a normal  life: that is eat, sleep,  study , raise a family, work,  and have whatever type of entertainment you can afford even if non halal  (as long as you are discreet). If this was your cup of tea  and you were lucky that no one was jealous enough of you to make false accusation against you, you could survive in Gaddafi's Libya.  

So having this apparatus  basically dismantled  by abolishing the courts above and  by the de facto disappearance of its most hated components due to the war was a breath of fresh air and some Libyans dreamed that there will no longer be a Damocles sword hanging over their heads ready at any time to cut it off. But it would  be naive to believe that any government can survive without internal security and so it came with no  surprise to read  today that  although the  old ISA was being effectively dissolved by the NTC they were instead 
"setting up a security agency whose main task would be to root out those who remain loyal to deposed autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in towns and cities it now controls."

Reading the words of the internal affairs' minister raises  a huge red flag for those who still had an atom of hope that things could be different in Libya in terms of how security. Now this hope  has the potential to be dashed  at all the prospective  abuses that the Libyans could  be experiencing at the hands of an organisation whose force would be giddy with the newly achieved feeling of power as Power is irresistible! 

As long as the  NTC have not clarified how exactly this organisation was going to hunt loyalists and what is the definition of a loyalist and how exactly justice will be meted out  it is feared  a new McCarthyism type of witch hunt  could be unleashed which  would open the gates of vengeance  and private retribution. This is  apparently already taking place in Libya at some level with the currently fashionable expression 'fifth column' being brandished left and right  but because of the nature of the Libyan terrain and the vastness of its land only mild echoes reach the international news agencies with most reporting saying that this or that place is being crushed because there are still pockets of Gaddafi's army while in truth it is  allegedly a personal pogrom led by a city against another, a family against another and a region against another or a neighbour against another. This is human nature! But having an organisation with one specific mandate is really really scarier than the old ISA.

Since internal security in all its factions is an essential component of the state Libyans  are expecting that we will have the opportunity to rebuild it along proper guidelines  identifying exactly what would the role of this force be and what threats was it going to protect Libyans against. 

However with this projected anti-loyalist hunters with no clear mandate it means that we will have people spying on Libyans in all the cities as before, and a number of shadow organisations who answer only to God knows who minus the comfort of knowing that at least they knew everything about you and so will leave you alone as these people are going to start from scratch to protect their hard acquired power. Any one who read about the Stanford prison experiment would understand.

Could this be the direct result of the cyanide we all drank and which I discussed in the previous post  of am I  just being pessimistic today ?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reflections on fourty years of leaking cyanide in Libya

This post is about answering a number of questions that you have posed to me in your emails. I tried to combine them all in one place. I  probably did something similar about five years ago  …. I hope it helps assuage the readers curiousity.

For the record, I am a native Libyan who has lived the majority of her  life in Tripoli with my family. Yes obviously the war has affected our daily life in Tripoli. The majority had a similar experience to what Khadijater wrote in her diary  of the past few months.

Not going to work meant  that I had a lot of time on my hand. At the end of February  beginning of March I passed through a phase of stupor where I would be sleeping a lot of the time during the day. I think it was a 10 day  period. Then I got myself together and realised there was no point in having a nervous breakdown because it was just not my style. I looked at myself in the mirror on that fateful morning and saw how my once black hair had turned white. It was not like having your first warning of white hairs no it was whole patches of white hair,  pepper and salt .  Now people tell me it's not really that much but I notice it is , the black does not look the jet black of old times because the white is tempering in. It was a shock for me. Not the shock of getting old, I know my age lol, but the shock of it happening overnight.

Life was never the same not only for us in Tripoli but for any of us in Libya. Before the uprising  most Libyans had stopped watching Libyan state TV ( there was not any other kind of  Libyan TV anyway) except for Ramadan when we liked to watch the Libyan programmes. But once the war started we would be checking the Libyan TV along with all the other satellite channels. The Libyan media was taken aback at the beginning but they quickly recovered and deployed all their arsenal. To be honest we have to give them credit for putting up that fa├žade for so long. Six months is a long time to stand in the face of the international deluge and  giant media machine. 

Regardless of whether you were pro or anti Gaddafi,  those people manning the broadcasting station had the hardest job of all.  To be vilified by millions and yet keep having to do this job because it was a matter of not your own survival but probably that of your family members. Just check what  Ruwida has to say:

"i was afraid because not only me even every part of my family will be harmed , non of my relatives can live there normal lives simply and this anti Qaddafi stigma can be inherited too , and you cant get paper that you dont have any anti Qaddafi relatives"

She is talking about blogging but this applies to anything in Libya. This is someone who lives thousands of kilometers away from Tripoli  in Benghazi and can still feel the heavy arm of the Gaddafi regime so what do you think is the fate of those living in Tripoli where he has all his 'machine' with him ?

Having an anti – Gaddafi stigma is non erasable even  if you have been informed it was forgotten and you were forgiven, they can still  throw it at your face whenever they want. Being neutral  was slightly safer until someone decided to  'out' you to the authorities  and then only God could help you. This poisoned atmosphere is how we lived for 40 years and it has increased a hundred fold by the first week of  February 2011. Is it any wonder why so many Libyans had heart disease, diabetes,  hypertension and even cancer or why are we on the top list of dangerous driving countries ?

Just some food for thought, there will probably be a sequel for this post  so much pent up stuff that needs to be released.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Message from Tripoli - Libya

Thank you to all who have prayed for us these last months!

Totally bewildered  and happy  that the nightmare is ending but sad at the loss of life in Libya and among family members.

 My immediate family is safe, cat is still alive, house thank God standing even internet is now back alhamdullilah.

So much has happened but now is not the time for stories I need to finally take a proper rest..

I promise to come back if internet holds in the upcoming days.


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Crowded mind & those famous assets (updated)

Now that the mechanism of sanction has actually began, I've lost the last shred of optimism for a  prompt resolution...

"The UK has also stopped the export of about £900m worth of new Libyan dinars ordered by state authorities"

If you thought that the past two weeks were painful, the future does not look less tragic, because with this mass freezing of  Libyan assets, I'm afraid that the Central Bank will not be able to cover any withdrawing of funds from Libyan citizens, which would result in an economic crisis in the power of purchase. Salaries may not be accessible if there is no liquidity and that would create mass fear.

As I said before, sanctions are inefficient and no one wants foreign intervention.

What is worrying is that Fitch have downgraded us as well. What does that mean? I really don't know, I now wish I'd studied economy or business management or banking, just to understand all this information.
My mind is crowded  with frantic thoughts. If someone knows please explain to me the possible economic scenarios that could await us. I understand we have no external debt so why is Fitch downgrading even if our oil production has been halved. Does this mean that we are expected to become another indebted state or any of the countries that receive aid from the IMF?  That is more frightening and painful than potential death. 

Why? you ask because we cannot run away from death but everything else is possible.

If there is anyone listening please unfreeze those assets!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A morning drive into town

This morning (Monday) I woke up refreshed from a good night sleep (amazing how the body adapts to outside irritants). Having been scooped up for some time now at home I decided it was time to venture in town and forage for medical supplies for the elderly, stuff for the children and of course cat food. We must not forget our four legged friends who are also suffering in this crisis.

Each member of the family has a specific task, I did not really have to go, but I needed to get out of the house and it seemed like a nice, warmish, sunny and quiet day, I might not have the opportunity again...

It felt strange to dress for the street and not for work, I'd forgotten about jeans and sport shoes. My car was brown coloured from the recent sandstorm. I left our garage cautiously, the street looked normal enough, the only anomaly was me probably.

I drove slowly downtown taking in the sights, lots of activity, lots of cars, women walking, people talking on their cellphones. Some shops open though not all mostly groceries and bakeries. Still eerie though.

It felt like being in another dimension, in a parallel world almost, that is the best I could describe it. Banks were definitely open, in a way that was reassuring, many people were looking busy with a purpose, only I seemed idle, after all I only had some shopping to do. I had to think of practical things from the pharmacy not just medicine, things like shampoo, toothpaste, sanitary items etc.. I even managed to find cat food, and in way felt a sense of achievement.

It is sad that my happiness is now reduced to succeeding in obtaining items. Something that I imagined belonged to the communist era...

Despite all this frenzy of activity in the city, there is a deafening silence. The type of silence that precedes a hurricane. The moment just before the animals in the jungle start running.

There is no running away from destiny. Seen from this vantage point it does not look bright.

I'm a bit depressed today, maybe tomorrow I'll have another story to tell?

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Presage

I'm tired and stressed out as a result of the current situation that has gripped my country for the last 12 days and of discussing it with friends and strangers all over the globe. I'm tired of the news on TV in which I only see Armageddon, I'm tired of having to update my status when we have a connection so that friends and family know that I am still alive. What happens if I am no longer alive to update it?

I need to switch off and take another approach, perhaps talk about something that has been bothering me for a while now. It may turn out to be relevant to our topic du jour but it would provide some relief from having to think about an unknown future, one where I don't know if would be alive to see it.

Let me take you back to January 2010. On the 21st of that month, I listened online to Hillary Clinton's "Remarks on Internet Freedom" . I remember very well telling myself as noble as this all sounded it was not good. In fact I still have the note to myself that I needed to blog about this because it smacked too much of what I like to call 'modern imperialism' for want of a better world. But the days went by and I did not get out of my blogging hiatus.

However, I also clearly remember telling a friend of mine to mark my words that this date will be the last one in terms of local internet freedoms and will spark something big. She rolled her eyes and laughed at me dismissively.

The very next day You Tube was blocked. Though the disappearance of that website and a couple of others did not really bother me, the significance was immense, it meant that someone now was taking an interest in the Web and that felt uncomfortable in a way, just like having someone watch you undress through a keyhole.

I think it was on that particular day that I felt a foreboding on a number of aspects and my friend had to admit that my hunch was right.

What was it in Mrs Clinton's speech apart from the usual arrogant approach that made my body hair stand? I've picked up the most relevant passages and highlighted words I felt were key. See below:

"[...] The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly, only in cyberspace. It allows individuals to get online, come together, and hopefully cooperate. Once you’re on the internet, you don’t need to be a tycoon or a rock star to have a huge impact on society.[...]
On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. Now, this challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic. [...]

The United States is committed to devoting the diplomatic, economic, and technological resources necessary to advance these freedoms. We are a nation made up of immigrants from every country and every interest that spans the globe. Our foreign policy is premised on the idea that no country more than America stands to benefit when there is cooperation among peoples and states. And no country shoulders a heavier burden when conflict and misunderstanding drive nations apart. So we are well placed to seize the opportunities that come with interconnectivity. And as the birthplace for so many of these technologies, including the internet itself, we have a responsibility to see them used for good. To do that, we need to develop our capacity for what we call, at the State Department, 21st century statecraft. [...]

We are also supporting the development of new tools that enable citizens to exercise their rights of free expression by circumventing politically motivated censorship. We are providing funds to groups around the world to make sure that those tools get to the people who need them in local languages, and with the training they need to access the internet safely. The United States has been assisting in these efforts for some time, with a focus on implementing these programs as efficiently and effectively as possible. Both the American people and nations that censor the internet should understand that our government is committed to helping promote internet freedom. [...]

We want to put these tools in the hands of people who will use them to advance democracy and human rights, to fight climate change and epidemics, to build global support for President Obama’s goal of a world without nuclear weapons, to encourage sustainable economic development that lifts the people at the bottom up. [...]

That’s why today I’m announcing that over the next year, we will work with partners in industry, academia, and nongovernmental organizations to establish a standing effort that will harness the power of connection technologies and apply them to our diplomatic goals. By relying on mobile phones, mapping applications, and other new tools, we can empower citizens and leverage our traditional diplomacy. "

By mid January 2011, Ben Ali was ousted, on February 7, Southern Sudan seceded and by February 11, Mubarak had resigned. I was very happy to see the yoke finally falling from the neck of the neighbouring countries. Then events started developing at such a rapid pace it became very difficult to keep up, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Mauritania etc... it was an epidemic!

Media and thinkers, (but whose media and thinkers?) were quick to label this 'internet revolution' taking from the credit of the people who suffered and died.

My ears were very hot because Mrs Clinton did specifically say 'over the next year' i.e. 2011.

This could be a clue that regardless of the right and wrong of what is happening across the Middle East and North Africa, the legitimate feelings of the people in this swathe of land have been taken advantage of and perhaps manipulated at some point, and I fear they have been/are harnessed for the benefit of Western/US foreign policy.

I am terrified that when all the ashes from the uprisings that are consuming us settle down we become blinded by the celebratory mood and find ourselves having exchanged one agenda for another whose nature would be like an octopus: soft but with many slippery tentacles.
This is not me being a conspiracy theorist, but those familiar with my writing know that I am a big fan of the Realism school in international relations where national interest and security reign king probably with large dollops of personal interest ( that's my addition to the theory :P ).

I don't want to dampen anyone's euphoria but I'm afraid that we will rush in where angels fear to thread. Everybody is feverishly planning and we should not be caught unaware. So to all those involved in state building or re-building; can you please watch out for the wolves in lamb clothes.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The final showdown?

Apparently today after Friday prayers will be a decisive day! Well we will find out soon enough it's just round the corner in a couple of hours....May God protect Libya.

I don't know what the 'international community' is doing seeing how there does not seem to be any coherent response; and to be honest I'm not expecting much as they should not have to worry about another country anyway.

I've read that the UK and the US where considering a military rescue action for some of their people who may still be stranded. Not sure I'm happy about that, yes they have a right to worry about their own but not to put our life in more jeopardy because of that. I have not heard that the Chinese or the Egyptians or other countries want to storm Libya to rescue their nationals....Not sure what to think these are just ideas I'm stringing here....

I don't look forward to more sanctions on Libya, the last time around it was ordinary people like us who suffered the most. Please UN, US, EU or whoever is considering sanctions can you weigh them carefully so that you don't add to the casualties here. We really don't look forward to be counted among collateral damage....

And one final thing for those who keep saying leave, I'm saying no, this is my country, I refuse to be a refugee! A real Libyan will never run when things get unsavory.

I have this hope that in less than a week we should be OK, just need to weather this storm and all will be well inshallah!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Week one over, what next ?

First of all I want to thank Dhafer for baby sitting my blog for the past week just in case someone was still reading it; also a heartfelt thank you to those who asked about me.

Secondly seems that internet is more stable today. Not sure what that means and too tired to analyze it or really care anymore...sigh

In a way I believe that living the events is sometimes better than watching them from afar, and while utterly devastated at the loss of life on the ground I have absolutely no means to confirm the numbers. However, I can confirm that all sort of jets have been over the Tripoli airspace, but what they are I cannot identify. Also as I am no expert on ordnance I won't venture any speculation. I have heard explosions and live ammunition but because we do not have many high rise buildings sounds carry far here and so locations are difficult to judge precisely unless you were right there when it happened. All areas of Tripoli have some form of dist
urbance, the gravity is relative to which strategic hot point is in your neighborhood. One of the more recent posts from PH can perhaps explain it better. Many streets have self made barricades, burning tar barrels etc.. young men are trying to guard their areas with sticks, this is were I wish I had bought a bat when I had the opportunity to. The uncertainty of what form of danger can one be faced with is big factor in keeping the adrenaline running high this is where mistakes can be made when we need to keep a clear head. I thought of rounding up the young men and asking them to help with cleaning some of the mess around but I am sure that in these strange times it will be seen as asking for trouble.

Currently we live one day at a time, you worry about who is shooting at whom, about thugs and criminals ( there are too many after the recent prison releases), you worry about people who will use this situation to their advantage, about war profiteers in basic commodities ( and I have experienced them), about securing medical supplies to children and elderly people, about the possibility of rape and if someone would rescue you or not, about electricity and about being cut off from your family, friends and the world. Dying alone is not fun, dying alone and in a 'dark' loophole without anyone learning about it is worse.

Personally, we are more than 13 souls in this house and that's not counting the pets and it's a challenge at times to ensure everyone does not get on everybody else nerves. I have no news about my aunts, uncle, cousins etc.... because they live in different areas and I can't get them on the phones and none are internet addicts like me. But I am confident that whoever can contact the other first will do so as soon as possible. I may try and drive to where they live today and check on them but not sure it is a safe idea.

Every family in Libya is affected because we are a tight community and because we are a small population. The psychological toll will leave scars and I have not heard anyone in the media offer to help once our trials and tribulations are over, but I'm sure that the non-Arab foreigners who have already left or who are still stuck here will get plenty of psychological support on reaching their homes and I admit that this is somehow irksome to me.

However, Libyans have proven they are a hard nut to crack so inshallah all will be well!

Libya has always been in some way or another a front page news topic and once again we find ourselves in this situation. The world is holding their breath but I'm still not sure if it is caring about the Libyans or simply the cursed oil and the effect that such as crisis is/will be having on the world and honestly just watching all the economic reports makes me lean towards the latter.

Is there danger you ask ? yes but I believe we have reached the point of no return.

What will happen next? I have no idea but and I am praying that the outcome of this situation is to the advantage of our country and its noble people.

Please continue reading the links in my sidebar, they have more updates.

May God help us all.