Posts tagged ‘Africa’

2011/03/04

Gaddafi Jr.: Bombs Are ‘Just To Frighten’


In an interview with Sky News, Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi’s son, Saif, said that Libyan Air Force bombing runs conducted against civilians in Brega weren’t intended to cause any injuries.

“The bombs [are] just to frighten them to go away. Not to kill them,” he told Sky News.

The younger Gaddafi said western media reports and videos had created a “big misunderstanding.”

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2011/03/03

Analysis: Revolutions, Regime Change, and State Collapse in the Arab World

[Ed. Note: The commentary below, abridged from the original available at the Carnegie Middle East Center, provides an important overview of events unfolding throughout the Middle East and North Africa and should serve to temper those swept up in the emotional exuberance of the Arab Awakening and its potential to reorder the lives of millions. The link to the full article is available at the end.]

Of Revolutions, Regime Change, and State Collapse in the Arab World by Marina Ottaway and David Ottaway

With breathtaking speed, massive popular protests across the Arab world have swept away two Arab strongmen and shaken half a dozen monarchies and republics to their core. But the Arab world has yet to witness any fundamental change in ruling elites and even less in the nature of governance.

Libya now seems poised to be the first country to see a true change in governance, thanks to Muammar Qaddafi’s megalomania and his amorphous jamahiriya (state of the masses). But such change may not have a happy ending. The damage Gaddafi has inflicted on his country is likely to extend well past his demise because he leaves behind a weak state without functioning institutions.

The uprisings sweeping across the Middle East have similar causes and share certain conditions: authoritarian and ossified regimes, economic hardship, and a growing contrast between great wealth and dire poverty, all worsened by the extraordinarily large number of young people who demand a better future. But the consequences will not be the same everywhere.

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2011/03/03

Three Dutch Marines Captured In Libya

[Ed. Note: An update to this post has been added to the end and can be seen after the jump.]

Three Dutch marines are being held by authorities in Libya after they were captured by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi while trying to rescue Dutch workers, a Defense Ministry spokesman said today.

The three, crew members of a Dutch naval helicopter from the HMS Tromp, were “surrounded by armed Libyan forces late on Sunday afternoon” after landing near the Gaddafi hometown of Sirte. The Tromp has been anchored off Libya’s coast to assist with evacuations from the conflict torn country, spokesman Otto Beeksma told the Associated Press.

Asked if the Dutch government considered the marines hostages, Beeksma said, “they are being held by Libyan authorities.”

Government officials had kept word of the capture a secret until the Dutch daily De Telegraaf broke the story.

“These are situations that benefit from total secrecy because then you can carry out discussions in peace to ensure these people get home safely,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

The Netherlands is now engaged in “intensive negotiations” with Gaddafi’s government to secure the marines’ release, Beeksma said.

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2011/03/03

Rebels Repel Pro-Gaddafi Forces In Brega

On TV, Gaddafi Threatens “Bath of Blood”


Vodpod videos no longer available.

In the fierce day-long battle, Libyan rebels were able to repel an aggressive attack launched by Libyan Army forces backed by artillery and war planes against Brega, an oil-refining town approximately 500 miles east of Tripoli.

At least six were confirmed dead with that number expected to rise, according to witnesses cited by the New York Times.

During the day, Muammar Gaddafi made another appearance on state TV. The embattled dictator said that he would “fight until the last man and woman” and warned of “baths of blood” if Western forces intervened.

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2011/03/03

Libya’s Systematic Torture Revealed

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2011/03/02

Shared Bonds Boost Anti-Gaddafi Forces

The people of Libya are closer than ever to freedom from the 42-year-long rule of the world’s longest serving leader in the Arab world, Muammar Gaddafi. Though notorious for severely repressing opposition movements, Libyans no longer fear their government and are now closer than ever to changing it. The Libyan people’s direct confrontation with the Gaddafi dictatorship highlights the many factors that have brought them closer than ever to their long-awaited goal.

One of the main contributors to unrest in the country lies in Libya’s economic sector. Libya is one of the richest Arab nations in terms of its natural resources particularly oil. The country exports approximately 1.5 million barrels per day, yet approximately one-third of Libyans live at or below the poverty line.

Aside from facing economic challenges, Libya also enjoys the unique position of being “sandwiched” between the Arab world’s two successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. This provides not only inspiration but also logistical support to popular revolt in Libya. It is therefore no surprise that the Libyan revolution began and has been most robust in the easternmost part of the country where people enjoy close relationships with their Egyptian neighbors.

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2011/03/02

Pentagon Shoots Down No-Fly Zone Talk


US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates played down the possibility of American military intervention in Libya yesterday, saying now was not the time for the United States to be entering into another war in the Middle East and that there was no agreement within NATO about the use of force in the north African country.

Both Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen distanced themselves from comments made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday and Tuesday that imposing a no-fly zone over Libya was under “active consideration.”

Gates told reporters that the United States needs to think “frankly” about “the use of the US military in another country in the Middle East.”

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2011/03/01

Removing Gaddafi From Libyan Capital ‘Could Go On A Long Time’

While the regime of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi may be greatly weakened, he retains enough support among critical tribes and institutions, including parts of the Libyan military, to retain power in the capital, Tripoli, for some time to come, according to experts cited by the New York Times.

They caution that while the situation on the ground is still fluid, tribal loyalties remain an important indicator, and that there is no clear geographical dividing line between the opponents to Gaddafi and his supporters.

They suggest that eastern Libya, now under rebel control, was always the most rebellious part of the country and had been starved of funds and equipment by the regime. The region, known as Cyrenaica, was an Italian colony and the heartland of the Senussi tribe that produced the monarch, King Idris I, who was overthrown by Colonel Gaddafi and his army colleagues in 1969.

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2011/02/25

Libya, Feb. 25: The Noose Tightens

[Ed. Note: Previous updates, from earliest to most recent, are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

For still more news, commentaries, analyses, maps, photographs and videos, click here.]


BBC’s Map of Military Bases (click to enlarge)


UPDATE 23:28 GMT: CNN’s Ben Wedeman via Twitter: “Libyan State TV running what looks like a Qaddafi fashion show set to bad music. #Libya”

UPDATE 22:51 GMT: Which A-listers have been partying with the Gaddafi family over the years? If you guessed Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and Usher, you’re less then half-right because you left out Jon Bon Jovi, Lindsay Lohan, supermodels Miranda Kerr and Victoria Silvestedt and BET Founder Robert Johnson. The full story is in this post here.

UPDATE 22:45 GMT: AFP is now reporting that the Libyan ambassador to the UN, Mohammed Shalgham, has defected.

UPDATE 22:27 GMT: The Guardian is reporting that UK officials have told Gaddafi loyalists to defect or face war crimes.

UPDATE 22:18 GMT: Associated Press has a witness providing a first-hand account of today’s violence in Tripoli: “In the first wave of fire, seven people within 10 meters of me were killed. Many people were shot in the head…it was really like we are dogs.”

UPDATE 21:28 GMT: Reuters just reported Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, as saying he’s been holding the army back; hopes for peaceful settlement “by tomorrow”

UPDATE 21:22 GMT: Rebel groups are reporting that Gaddafi forces in Tripoli are firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters [Ed. Note: By recent standards, rubber bullets and tear gas is a humanitarian improvement.]

UPDATE 21:18 GMT: Libya’s ambassador to the UN, Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham just addressed the UN Security Council. He called for sanctions against the Gaddafi family and their supporters, saying that effective action must be taken to stop Gaddafi, his sons and their supporters.

Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, Libyan UN Ambassador


UPDATE 20:06 GMT: Reuters lists highlights from statement released by White House:
*US has decided to move forward with unilateral sanctions against Libya.
*US banks were advised to take steps to monitor financial transactions related to Libya.
*US has suspended limited military cooperation with Libya
*US sales of military parts to Libya have been frozen
*Obama to meet on Monday with U.N. Secretary General Ban about Libya
*U.S. uses full extent of intelligence to monitor Gaddafi regime
*US prepared to take more action against Libya if necessary

UPDATE 19:35 GMT: AFP reporting the US closing its embassy in Tripoli.

UPDATE 19:16 GMT: Important new article, A Guide To Libya’s Tribes, has just been posted here.

UPDATE 19:14 GMT: Libya’s satellite channel al-Libiyah reports Saif al-Islam will hold a news conference “in a few moments.”

UPDATE 19:11 GMT: State TV reports the regime is in talks with “the misguided youth,” who “have been handing over their weapons and joining the mass marches alongside the brother and leader of the revolution.”


Sounds of gunfire rattle residents of Tripoli
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UPDATE 17:44 GMT: The Washington Post’s description of the post-prayer attack on worshipers in Tripoli today: “Security forces opened fire on anti-government demonstrators streaming out of mosques after Friday prayers, resulting in multiple casualties, news agencies reported. Details were sketchy, but Arabic-language television networks said that between two and seven people had been killed.”

UPDATE 17:41 GMT: More on yesterday’s defection of the Gaddafi “cousin,” Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, from the Wall Street Journal: The departure…could constitute a particularly stinging blow. “Al-Dam is in many respects closer to Gaddafi than his sons are,” said Tim Niblock, professor of Middle East politics at Exeter University. “He is actually Gaddafi’s cousin, but is more like his brother because Gaddafi lived with them for a significant part of his youth. If he has now made a statement against Gaddafi, then it is very close to the end.”

UPDATE 17:32 GMT: Reuters is citing a witness saying the road from Tripoli’s military airport to the city center is lined with police and soldiers as cars are being searched.


Gaddafi Addressing Tripoli Crowd (via Al Jazeera English)
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UPDATE 17:09 GMT: Gaddafi: “I am amidst the masses, I am in Tripoli, in Green Square. Here are the youth, the sons and grandchildren of the jihad battles, whose fathers destroyed the Italian empire.”

UPDATE 17:07 GMT: Gaddafi: “This is the people that brought Italy to its knees… Sing, dance, and prepare. I am amid the masses, and we shall fight, and we shall defeat them.”

UPDATE 16:57 GMT: Gaddafi: “We will fight if they want.”

UPDATE 16:55 GMT: Libyan state television is showing Muammar Gaddafi addressing a pro-Gaddafi crowd in central Tripoli.

——-THE REST OF THIS POST, INCLUDING MORE VIDEOS AND PHOTOS, ARE ON THE JUMP PAGE

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2011/02/25

A Guide To Libya’s Tribes

Hanspeter Mattes, deputy director of the Institute of Middle East Studies at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) is an international expert on Libya predicts a return to an era of traditional strongmen. Excerpts from a recent interview conducted by Spiegel As an introduction to this overview of the tribes of Libya.

Spiegel: The military played a key role in the overthrow of the government in Egypt. Why is it different in Libya?
Mattes: The different role of the Libyan military reflects its different social structures. Libya, together with Yemen and Jordan, is among the nations in which tribes have played a central social and political role for centuries. In Libya, which is largely covered by deserts, the importance of tribes is largely due to the Bedouin way of life, which is based on livestock farming and the caravan trade and was dominant into the 20th century. Their survival hinged on tribal solidarity.

Spiegel: How does this tribal structure affect Libyan politics?
Mattes: Muammar Gaddafi’s assumption of power in 1969 resulted in members of Gaddafi’s Qadhadhifa tribe and the allied Maqarha and Warfalla tribes taking over all key positions in the security arena, that is, in the armed forces, police and intelligence service, thereby guaranteeing their control. For this reason, it was never to be expected, in the event of open political opposition questioning the dominance of the three tribes, that the members of the tribes would renounce their own tribes and defect to the opposition. This sort of situation has only materialized now, because the Warfalla tribe was opposed to the Gaddafi’s tribe’s harsh treatment of the opposition and therefore distanced itself from the Gaddafi tribe. The Warfalla tribe can afford to change course, because it’s a powerful tribe. Smaller tribes are less likely to have this choice.

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2011/02/25

What Happens When Gaddafi Is Gone?

The Gaddafi regime is seemingly on its last legs in Libya; questions are inevitably being raised about what comes next for a country where the trappings of a normal state simply do not apply.

Muammar Gaddafi created such a personalized system of governing that he left no space for anything beyond himself, his family and the narrow ruling elite, many of whom were drawn from his own tribe, the Qadhadhfa.

Unlike in Tunisia or Egypt, forces that could help smooth a transition process such as political parties, trades unions, opposition groups or civil organizations simply do not exist in Libya.

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2011/02/23

Libya: Rebels Begin To Squeeze Tripoli

[Ed. Note: This post has been continued and updated, from earliest to most recent, here and here.

Previous updates, from earliest to most recent, are here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

For still more news, commentaries, analyses, maps, photographs and videos, click here.]


February 23, 2011: Areas of Conflict (click to enlarge)


Wikipedia entries for Libya’s historic periods. The total absence of any experience in self government is notable.


UPDATE 22:38 GMT: Al Jazeera has reported that tribes in the Azzintan and Nalut areas in west Libya have come out against Gaddafi with oil facilities in the area now “under their protection.”

UPDATE 22:20 GMT: In fairness to Obama, the EU states and everyone else, this is not our fight or the fight of anyone else. This is for the Libyans to sort out amongst themselves. Especially when it is so unclear – or unknown, as mentioned earlier – what each of the factions want, the sad but essential reality is that the governments of the world have an obligation to 1. evacuate their own citizens and 2. provide refugee and humanitarian assistance where it is safe to do so.

UPDATE 22:11 GMT: Obama on TV: “Doing everything we can to protect our American citizens.” “Condemn violence…violence must stop.” “Support universal rights of Libyan people.” “Libya has a responsibility to allow humanitarian assistance to reach its people.” Blah, blah, blah…ordered diplomats to talk some more and then hold a press conference to talk about what they talked about…blah, blah, blah. His instincts clearly pull him to be as insistent on human rights as Jimmy Carter was but US history, unfortunately, waves a big caution flag for modern presidents who want to follow their heart.

UPDATE 22:06 GMT: Associated Press: “The scope of Muammar Gaddafi’s control in Libya was whittled away Wednesday as major cities and towns closer to the capital fell to the rebellion against his rule. In Libya’s east, now all but broken away, the opposition vowed to ‘liberate’ Tripoli, where the Libyan leader is holed up with a force of militiamen roaming the streets.”

——-THE REST OF THIS POST, INCLUDING MORE VIDEOS AND PHOTOS, ARE ON THE JUMP PAGE

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2011/02/22

Gaddafi Speaks: “I Will Not Leave Libya – I Will Be A Martyr”


[Ed. Note: More recent updates, from earliest to most recent, are here, here and here.

Previous updates, from earliest to most recent, are here, here, here, here, here and here.

For still more news, commentaries, analyses, maps, photographs and videos, click here.]

New video of an undated street battle in Benghazi.
Vodpod videos no longer available.


UPDATE 22:56 GMT: Just added a portion from today’s New York Times that draws on numerous previously published reports to piece together some of the connections between Gaddafi’s money and Italy – and the close ties between Gaddafi and Berlusconi. You can find the post and link to the full article here.

UPDATE 22:43 GMT: BBC just re-quoted an unidentified person’s quote that “reports on Libyan TV – pro-Gaddafi supporters entered hospitals, rounded the wounded and killed them in an unspecified location. Where is their help?! Who is out there defending these people??”[Ed. Note: Without discounting the possible veracity – and not that anyone covering this hasn’t jumped the gun (uh…battleships bombing Benghazi – guilty here), that’s as unconfirmed as unconfirmed can be for the BBC.]

UPDATE 22:37 GMT: A lot of tweets questioning the validity of the confirmed report (it came from Reuters) of loyalists being sent to Sabratha.

UPDATE 22:15 GMT: Fighting in Tripoli’s Sarman district was confirmed earlier.

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2011/02/21

Gaddafi Launches Airstrikes On Protesters

Gaddafi Says He’s In Tripoli, Little Else


[Ed. Note: This post has been continued and updated, from earliest to most recent, here, here and here.

Previous updates, from earliest to most recent, are here, here, here, here and here.

For still more news, commentaries, analyses, maps, photographs and videos, click here.]


UPDATE 01:03 GMT: Here’s a screen image pulled from Libyan state TV:


UPDATE 00:53 GMT: It’s been mentioned by a few people that Gaddafi could be on his way to do an actual interview. If so, perhaps there will be cameras for the arrival, à la “Red Carpet” style.

UPDATE 00:49 GMT: Some Twitter responses to Gaddafi’s “speech:”

SO I HAVE A 40 MINUTE SPEECH AND YOU SAY TOO LONG, MY DAD HAS A 15 SECOND SPEECH AND YOU SAY TOO SHORT – YOU GUYS JUST LIKE TO COMPLAIN – from @SeifIslamGaddfi

At least he kept his statement short enough to tweet. – from @acarvin

By the way, now that this has put Libya firmly on the map, I hope this is the last time someone says – “oooo your from Liberia??” – from @libyansrevolt

UPDATE 00:31 GMT: Full text of Gaddafi’s “address to the nation,” via BBC Monitoring: “I am satisfied, because I was speaking in front of the youth in the Green Square tonight, but the rain came praise to God it bears well. I want to clarify for them that I am in Tripoli not in Venezuela. Do not believe these channels they are dogs. Goodbye.”

UPDATE 00:31 GMT: So we went from “an address to the nation” to “a speech” to “an interview” to, ultimately, a soundbite as the long-time Libyan strongman gets in his car. Nice to know he holds his own umbrella, though. That was a nice “man-of-the-people” touch.

UPDATE 00:26 GMT: From Associated Press: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has appeared for less than a minute on state television and made brief remarks to say he was in the capital Tripoli and deny rumors he had to fled to Venezuela amid the unrest sweeping his country. Gaddafi was seated in the passenger seat of a car holding an umbrella up through the open door. It has been raining in the capital for two days. His remarks were aired about 2 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

UPDATE 00:19 GMT: Gaddafi appeared briefly on state TV – says he is in Tripoli, not Venezuela. Will update.

——-THE REST OF THIS POST, INCLUDING ADDITIONAL VIDEOS AND PHOTOS, ARE ON THE JUMP PAGE

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2011/02/21

Is Gaddafi’s Rule Facing Collapse?


The demonstrations in Libya that began in the city of Benghazi seem, to general amazement, to have given the protesters effective control of the east of the country.

Until Sunday, the only demonstrations in Tripoli had been in support of the regime and its leader, no doubt as an official riposte to those in the east who have been calling for its demise.

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2011/02/21

Libya: Update From Western Media

Highlights from reports filed by major media outlets since the speech by Saif al-Gaddafi …

The New York Times:
A five-day-old uprising in Libya took control of its second-largest city of Benghazi and spread for the first time to the capital of Tripoli late on Sunday as the heir-apparent son of its strongman, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, warned Libyans in a televised speech that their oil-rich country would fall into civil war and even renewed Western “colonization” if they threw off his father’s 40-year-long rule.

In a rambling, disjointed address delivered at about 1 a.m. on Monday, the son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, played down the uprising sweeping the country, which witnesses and rights activists say has left more than 200 people dead and hundreds wounded from gunfire by security forces. He repeated several times that “Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt” — the neighbors to the east and west that both overthrew their veteran autocrats in the space of the last six weeks.

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2011/02/21

Time For West To See The Distinctions

There has been a tendency among western commentators during the past few weeks of popular uprising in the Middle East and north Africa to interpret the events as occurring along starkly defined fault lines.

There are the people versus the regime; Islamists versus the secular; and autocratic, corrupt rulers pitted against a popular desire for democracy, human rights and economic inclusion. All of which contains some truths, but it remains a partial picture.

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2011/02/20

Gaddafi Jr: Criminals, Druggies, Drunks Bringing Civil War, Poverty, Colonialism

Benghazi Falls, Heavy Gunfire In Tripoli

220 Dead, Could Top 500


[Ed. Note: This post has been continued and updated, from earliest to most recent, here, here, here, here and here.

Previous updates, from earliest to most recent, are here, here, here and here.

For still more news, commentaries, analyses, maps, photographs and videos, click here.]


UPDATE 00:02 GMT: Still trying to figure out which speech was stranger – Saif Gaddafi’s or Hosni Mubarak’s.

UPDATE 23:57 GMT: Fresh reports of gunfire coming from Tripoli.



UPDATE 23:51 GMT: Al Arabiya is reporting that “the Egyptian news service MENA is reporting” Muammar al-Gaddafi has left Libya and is on his way to Venezuela. Don’t know what it’s worth. The son, Saif, never said the Gaddafi family was staying.

UPDATE 23:41 GMT: Gathering reaction now. Would love to read your comments.

UPDATE 23:39 GMT: A rambling speech.

UPDATE 23:31 GMT: An opposition leader just tweeted: “Mubarak tried this, and he left the next day, you are bringing a day of rage tomorrow”

UPDATE 23:28 GMT: “Europeans and Americans will come back forcefully” – they won’t accept an Islamic emirate. “They will come and occupy you by force.”

UPDATE 23:26 GMT: “If we agree on this step tomorrow, we can spare the blood…or prepare to go to civil war.”

——-THE REST OF THIS POST, INCLUDING ALL VIDEOS AND PHOTOS, ARE ON THE JUMP PAGE

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