Posts tagged ‘Libya’

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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2011/03/04

US To Begin Airlifting Libya’s Refugees


US President Barack Obama today ordered military airlifts to transport refugees, mostly from Egypt, who have massed across the Libyan border in Tunisia. The president also ordered the US Agency for International Development to charter civilian planes to transport refugees from several countries.

“There is a danger of a stalemate that over time could be bloody,” Obama said today. “And that is something that we’re obviously considering. So what I want to make sure of is, is that the United States has full capacity to act – potentially rapidly – if the situation deteriorates in such a way that you had a humanitarian crisis.”

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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”


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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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2011/03/01

Proof: Why Gaddafi Is Blaming Al-Qaeda

2011/02/28

Muammar Gaddafi – Zenga-Zenga Remix

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2011/02/26

Gaddafi’s Grip On Tripoli Slipping Away


Poor neighborhoods in the Libyan capital of Tripoli openly defied Muammar Gaddafi on Saturday as his grip on power after 41 years of rule looked increasingly tenuous in the face of nationwide revolt.

Security forces had abandoned the working-class Tajoura district after five days of anti-government demonstrations, residents told foreign correspondents who visited the area.

Foreign journalists allowed into Tripoli for the first time since protests engulfed Libya saw the scars of rebellion during a closely-monitored guided press tour arranged by government officials: a burned police station with piles of ashes outside, walls covered with anti-Gaddafi graffiti and shattered glass and rocks in the streets.

The New York Times called the day’s events as “a bold play by Qaddafi to prove that he was firmly in control of Libya [that] appeared to backfire Saturday as foreign journalists he invited to the capital discovered blocks of the city in open revolt.”

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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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2011/02/24

Rebels Take Misurata, Tripoli Reinforces

Zawiya Massacre: 100+ Gunned Down


[Ed. Note: The most recent update is here.

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

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


Massacre in Zawiyah
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Libya – Map – Control of Key Cities Feb. 23-24


UPDATE 22:58 GMT: Situation in Zawiya updated to “fighting on the outskirts”

UPDATE 22:18 GMT: Reports coming in that Zawiya is “under attack” right now. Not sure how they’re defining that yet.

UPDATE 21:55 GMT: The US State Department has issued a statement warning Americans “against travel to Libya.” [Ed. Note: Holy crap! They’re just getting to this now?]


Fatima, one of the innocents.
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Video of the “underground prison” discovered in Benghazi has been posted.
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UPDATE 21:20 GMT: Al Jazeera’s lead story tonight will be that former Libyan Justice Minister [Ed. Note: is that an oxymoron or what?] Mustafa Abdel Galil is saying that Gaddafi has biological and chemical weapons and will not hesitate to use them. [Ed. Note: That could be a red-line for the western powers. The US and its allies are well-aware of Gaddafi’s stockpile. See previous updates for that.]

UPDATE 21:03 GMT: Osama’s Tweet is making the rounds:


UPDATE 20:53 GMT: Via Twitter, Libyan bloggers are reporting that text messages sent to residents of Tripoli in the past 30 minutes by Libyana, the country’s leading cellphone provider, advised them that a local cleric issued a fatwa against watching television channels “like Al Jazeera,” that incite bloodshed.

UPDATE 19:50 GMT: AFP is quoting a Tunisian official saying that nearly 20,000 people have fled Libya into Tunisia over the past four days.

UPDATE 19:42 GMT: People in Benghazi are now tidying up.



UPDATE 18:42 GMT: The Swiss government has announced its intention to locate and freeze any Gaddafi assets that may be held by its banks.

UPDATE 18:36 GMT: The switch to the rebel side by Major General Suleiman Mahmoud is seen as pivotal by Tim Niblock, a professor of Middle East politics at Exeter University who has known Mahmoud for years since supervising his daughter’s Ph.D work. “Mahmoud is a key person because he’s been the military commander of eastern Libya more or less since Gaddafi came to power,” Niblock told The Wall Street Journal. “I think his ambitions at the moment would be to work to bring together some kind of coalition which enables a transitional government to work until there are elections. I doubt he’d want political power, but he would probably have to be a key person in any development.” Niblock said he believed there were already contacts taking place between the eastern rebel leaders and army commanders in the west of the country. “They all know each other very well and the intention would be to effect a more rapid and less bloody end to the regime. The Libyan army on the whole resents the way it’s been under-resourced and displaced by the security battalions.”

UPDATE 18:31 GMT: Reuters is reporting that Libya’s Quryna newspaper says 23 people have been killed and 44 wounded in Zawiya.

UPDATE 17:15 GMT: CNN’s Ben Wedeman tweeted: “Libyan Air Force pilot tells me that a colleague in base near #Tripoli says pilots executed for refusing regime orders.”

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

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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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2011/02/23

WikiLeaks: The Gaddafi Family Lifestyle

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.

As for the 68-year-old Colonel Gaddafi, the cables describe him as a hypochondriac who fears flying over water and has an intense dislike or fear of staying on upper floors. The cables said he was an avid fan of horse racing and flamenco dancing who once added “King of Culture” to the long list of titles he had awarded himself. The memos also said he was accompanied everywhere by a “voluptuous blonde,” the senior member of his posse of Ukrainian nurses.

His second wife, Safiya, was raised in Banghazi and travels by chartered jet in Libya, with a motorcade of Mercedes vehicles waiting to pick her up at the airport to take her to her destination.

The second-eldest son and heir-apparent, Saif, is a trained engineer who received his PhD from the London School of Economics.

Western media reported that Saif paid Mariah Carey $1 million to sing just four songs at a New Year’s Day bash in 2009 on the Caribbean island of St. Barts.

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