Libya: Some Round Up.
[I have made the post sticky and will update things as events change in and around Libya. Newer posts will appear below this one for the time being.]
Was away at the weekend and didn’t follow the news at all, so events in Libya have caught me on the back foot.
Nevertheless, here’s a bit of a round up from those in the know, all very subjective and incomplete:
Nick Griffin and Colonel Gaddafi, weird, but then they did share the same pet hate at one time in life, if you think about it.
Terry Glavin on that Libyan Slave Revolt.
Salon has a primer on Libya, with this revealing photo of Mubarak and Moammar Gadhafi holding hands:
Comrade Dave looks at the Libya crackdown: the trajectory of Brother Gaddafi.
From December 2010, Hugo Chavez and the gift from Muammar Gaddafi.
From the Don’t vote BNP channel on YouTube, more on Nick Griffin and the Libyan connection:
Over at the Guardian, WikiLeaks cables: A guide to Gaddafi’s ‘famously fractious’ family. This is the bottom line:
“Like all the Gaddafi children and favourites is supposed to have income streams from the national oil company and oil services subsidiaries.”
This is superb, Mapping Violence Against Pro-Democracy Protests in Libya, a Google map of the on-going events in Libya.
Marko Attila Hoare reminds us of how money talks in academia, Saif al-Islam Muammar al-Gaddafi and the London School of Economics.
Kellie Strøm takes a wider perspective, Revolution Overload.
CNN has a breaking news feed from Libya.
Finally, thanks to Graham Lloyd, here’s “The Harder They Come” by Jimmy Cliff.
Update 1: At the Scotsman, Gaddafi orders air force to bomb his own people.
Update 2: Apparently, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received a gong from a Gadaffi front organisation in 2010 and he’s been asked to give it back, not that he will!
Update 3: In the Surreal, but True category, there is a prize which you won’t believe, the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights!
It is administered by a Swiss based NGO and front organisation, Nord-Sud 21 (coincidentally, their web site is down), recipients of the prize include: Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and the well-known Holocaust denier, Roger Garaudy.
Update 4: The BBC live feed is here.
Update 5: Colonel Gaddafi has been on TV.
Update 6: Tribal support for the dictatorship is failing, the Irish Times explains the issues:
“During his 42-year rule, Muammar Gadafy, born into a Bedouin family from the Sirt area, has relied on tribal bonds and cultivated tribal allegiances to keep him in power. Since these connections remain strong in the military and the police, the fate of his regime could depend on whether the tribes remain loyal or join the protesters.
The auguries are not propitious for Col Gadafy. On Sunday, the “Thunderbolt” army unit defected to the protesters in Benghazi, which was proclaimed “90 per cent liberated”, while nearby Bayda was said to be declared an “Islamic caliphate” by anti-regime fundamentalists influential in this region. An opposition spokesman claimed that “all [local] tribes” were supporting the revolt.
The leader of the al-Zuwayya tribe, Faraj al-Zuway, threatened to cut oil exports to the West unless the regime halts its “oppression of the protesters”. The tribe dwells south of Benghazi, the epicentre of the rebellion which began a week ago.
The Awlad Ali tribe, based on the Libyan-Egyptian border, is said to be facilitating the transit to Benghazi of medical supplies gathered by opposition activists living in Egypt.
To make matters worse for the regime, Akram al-Warfalli, a senior figure in the Warfallah tribe, one of the country’s largest, stated, “We tell the brother [Gadafy], well, he’s no longer a brother, we tell him leave the country.” This tribe is located south of Tripoli, the capital, which experienced its first large-scale anti-regime demonstrations only on Sunday.”
Update 7: Robert Fisk has harsh words for Muammar Gaddafi:
“So even the old, paranoid, crazed fox of Libya – the pallid, infantile, droop-cheeked dictator from Sirte, owner of his own female praetorian guard, author of the preposterous Green Book, who once announced he would ride to a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Belgrade on his white charger – is going to ground. Or gone. Last night, the man I first saw more than three decades ago, solemnly saluting a phalanx of black-uniformed frogmen as they flappered their way across the sulphur-hot tarmac of Green Square on a torrid night in Tripoli during a seven-hour military parade, appeared to be on the run at last, pursued – like the dictators of Tunis and Cairo – by his own furious people.”
Update 8: Those words contrast with Fisk’s sketch of Gadaffi in 2000 which paints a sometimes whimsical and insubstantial picture:
“It was ever thus. This is the man, after all, who supervises his own military parades – which mark the anniversary of his coup d’etat against King Idris on September 1 1969 – by ordering, over his mobile phone, new squads of soldiers and missiles to appear in the streets. This is the man who told the Algerian regime that it had squandered the million and a half martyrs who died in the war against France because it didn’t continue across North Africa to “liberate” Jerusalem; who idolised Nicolae Ceausescu but warned Romanians against another “dictator” once Ceausescu had been shot.
Gaddafi’s Green Book, a distinctly odd collection of immensely boring essays, has been published in dozens of languages. The book urges the world to adopt his alternative to both capitalism and communism – a system of government run by people’s “committees” and people’s “bureaus” – which, so he claimed, inspired Gorbachev’s perestroika in the Soviet Union. Given Russia’s subsequent economic collapse, it’s not a boast that we’ve heard recently. But the stories – alas, all true – go on and on.”
Update 9: Rats, sinking ships? Elsewhere Libyan diplomats seem to have realised finally what the Gaddafi dictatorship was all about, staying in power and stealing the money.
Libyan Ambassador to India, Ali al-Essawi, is said to be quitting, also its representative to the Arab League Abdel Moneim al-Honi.
Over at the UN:
“The United Nations Security Council will meet today to discuss the situation in Libya, where a violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrators has left hundreds dead.
The consultations are scheduled to start at 9 a.m. in New York. Ibrahim Dabbashi, deputy ambassador and second in command at the Libyan mission, broke with Tripoli and called on the UN to establish a “no-fly zone” around the country to prevent mercenaries and arms from going to the government.
“This is something which the Security Council will have to decide,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Los Angeles yesterday, according to a transcript of the news conference. In a 40-minute phone conversation with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Ban “forcefully urged him to stop violence against demonstrators.”
Qaddafi, in comments broadcast on state television today, said he hasn’t fled the country amid an eruption of violence the International Federation for Human Rights says has killed more than 300 people. Planes and helicopters fired on protesters and witnesses reported massacres in two neighborhoods of Tripoli, Al Arabiya TV said.
Dabbashi yesterday called for Qaddafi’s resignation and, in appearances on international television networks, asked for an emergency meeting of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to investigate alleged human rights violations. He charged the regime with “genocide.”
‘Voice of the People’
“We find it impossible to stay silent,” Dabbashi said. “We have to transfer the voice of the Libyan people to the world. The Libyan mission will be in the service of the Libyan people rather than in the service of the regime.” “
Update 10: Reuters reports:
“TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi used tanks, helicopters and warplanes to fight a growing revolt, witnesses said on Tuesday, as the veteran leader scoffed at reports he was fleeing after four decades in power.
Warplanes bombed portions of the capital Tripoli on Tuesday in new attacks in the Mediterranean coastal city, and mercenaries fired on civilians, Al Jazeera reported.
In the eastern town of Al Bayda, resident Marai Al Mahry told Reuters by telephone that 26 people including his brother Ahmed had been shot dead overnight by Gaddafi loyalists.
“They shoot you just for walking on the street,” he said, sobbing uncontrollably as he appealed for help.
Protesters were being attacked with tanks and warplanes, he said.
“The only thing we can do now is not give up, no surrender, no going back. We will die anyways, whether we like it or not. It is clear that they don’t care whether we live or not. This is genocide,” said Mahry, 42.
Hundred of refugees streamed into Egypt on Tuesday, piled onto tractors and trucks, describing a wave of killing and banditry unleashed by the revolt. “
Update 11: AFP has a Libya live report, here’s a clip:
“TRIPOLI — 1313 GMT: “I can hear some planes overhead. The people are terrified. People from Benghazi tried to enter Tripoli but were stopped at Sirte, said the BBC correspondent, whose name was not given for security reasons.
1312 GMT: A BBC correspondent in Libya says a big demonstration is planned in Tripoli for the early hours of the evening.
1306 GMT: Here’s a reminder that the Paris-based the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) says Benghazi, Libya’s second city and an opposition stronghold in the east, has fallen to anti-regime demonstrators.
It has also said protesters control Sirte, Tobruk in the east, as well as Misrata, Khoms, Tarhounah, Zenten, Al-Zawiya and Zouara, closer to the capital.
1301 GMT: Souhayr Belhassen, head of the International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR), quotes witnesses as saying militias and security forces loyal to Kadhafi are “breaking down doors and pillaging” to quell the revolt.
“It is impossible to remove the corpses from the road, we are shot at from above,” one witness has been quoted as telling a Libyan rights group.
1253 GMT: The clip of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s appearance on state television early today has been timed at 22 seconds. Just enough time for him to give the excuse which will surely become a classic: “Were it not for the rain, I would have addressed the young people at Green Square and spent the night with them to prove I am still in Tripoli.”
1249 GMT: Hundreds of foreigners, mostly from Tunisia but also Egypt, are scrambling for flights out of Tripoli, people at the airport say.
“The airport is bursting at the seams. People spent last night there … It’s a mess,” says a Tunisian engineer contacted by telephone.
1246 GMT: Britain’s prestigious London School of Economics has cut ties with the Libyan leader’s son, Seif al-Islam Kadhafi, after a violent crackdown on protests in Libya, a spokeswoman tells AFP.
Professor David Held, an academic at the university who knew Moamer Khadafi’s son when he studied there says he was “deeply disturbed” by the former student’s condemnation of anti-regime protests.
“Rather than seeing the opportunity for reform based on liberal democratic values and human rights, Seif al-Islam Khadafi stressed the threat of civil war and foreign intervention,” Held says.
1244 GMT: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit says Cairo is facing difficulties repatriating up to 1.5 million Egyptians trapped amid the violent uprising in Libya. “
Update 12: The Torygraph’s live feed.
Update 13: NPR has a good page on the revolts in the Middle East.
Update 14: More on Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Alex Salmond and Muammar Qaddafi Vanity Fair has an investigation into the Lockerbie Deal:
“By the late 1990s, an array of stringent international sanctions had left Libya’s oil- and gas-rich economy reeling. In the end, Qaddafi had been forced to make the concessions that would remove the stigma of Libya’s pariah status: first, in 1999, by giving up Megrahi and another man for trial by a special Scottish court convened in the Netherlands; and then, in 2003, by abandoning his nuclear- and chemical-weapons programs. After it completed payment of $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the Lockerbie victims, Libya became one of the few countries to be expunged from the U.S. State Department’s list of sponsors of terrorism, although, in contrast to Iraq, it did not first expunge its leader.
By 2007, however, the fulcrum of the Anglo-Libyan relationship had shifted, and Blair approached Qaddafi as a supplicant. His journey was far from convenient: first a flight from London to Libya’s capital, Tripoli; then the transfer to a Libyan plane, which brought him close to Sirte, Colonel Qaddafi’s birthplace and tribal home; and finally a hot and bumpy drive across the Sahara desert to Qaddafi’s Bedouin tent, which is guarded around the clock by a phalanx of female bodyguards. Blair spoke to reporters on the trip’s first leg. Describing how he felt about Qaddafi, he said, “It is a very good relationship.… He’s very easy to deal with. There is nothing I have ever agreed with him should be done that hasn’t happened.” Blair said they spoke by telephone several times a year, and used one another’s first names.
Like a medieval prince, Blair was accompanied on his journey by a retinue not just of government officials but of merchants—the top executives of several major U.K.-based companies. The companies included General Dynamics U.K., the military-hardware and communications specialists; the missile manufacturer MBDA, which was hoping to sell Qaddafi its Jernas air-defense system; and the petroleum giant BP. All three firms had been assured by the Libyans that their executives would accompany Blair into Qaddafi’s tent, where the colonel would approve the deals they had been negotiating. “
Update 15: Not before time, according to the BBC, the LSE reconsidering its links to Libya.
Peculiar, but you might assume that the academics at the LSE knew Libya was a dictatorship when they took the money, or at least they should have.
Update 16: The BBC’s Gaddafi family tree.
Update 17: Human Rights Watch’s Tripoli Spring from May 2009.
Update 18: Gaddafi not for turning, or so the BBC says:
“A defiant and angry Col Gaddafi said that he had brought glory to Libya. As he had no official position in Libya from which to resign, he would remain the head of the revolution, he said.
He blamed the unrest on “cowards and traitors” who were seeking to portray Libya as a place of chaos and to “humiliate” Libyans.
The protesters had been given drink and drugs, he said, frequently shouting and banging his fist on the table as the address continued.
He called on “those who love Muammar Gaddafi” to come on to the streets in support of him, telling them not to be afraid of the “gangs”.
“Come out of your homes, attack them in their dens. Withdraw your children from the streets. They are drugging your children, they are making your children drunk and sending them to hell,” he said.
“If matters require, we will use force, according to international law and the Libyan constitution,” and warned that the country could descend into civil war or be occupied by the US if protests continued.
The BBC’s Frank Gardner said it was an extraordinary speech even by Col Gaddafi’s usual standards, full of theatrical defiance against almost everyone.
He appears completely divorced from reality, says our correspondent, saying that he had not authorised the army to use force, despite opposition statements that more than 500 people have been killed and more than 1,000 are missing. “
Update 19: Over at Russia Today they are talking about “global dominance groups” and blaming the Bilderberg group !
An Argentinian conspiracy freak, Andrian Salbuchi, is pushing this view and not unsurprisingly if you look up Sr. Salbuchi then you’ll see that he has, er, certain hang ups with a certain ethnic group.
Update 20: Here’s part of Gaddafi’s latest rant (saying “I don’t have money!”):
Update 21: Lisa Goldman posts Letter from Tripoli: An eyewitness account:
“Q: What is the situation with the army? Are Libyan soldiers attacking demonstrators, helping or staying neutral? Do you know if soldiers are defecting to the opposition? If yes, are they doing so in significant numbers?
A: The Libyan army is one of the poorest and most neglected security sectors in the government. They are poorly fed , equipped, trained and paid. They are mostly ceremonial and Qaddafi does not trust them. So what we have here are private battalions with each of his sons owning the one named for him. So for example his son Khamees has a battalion belonging to him calling it “Kateebit Khamees.” Each is placed in private super huge barracks situated strategically around Tripoli for situations like these. These battalions are well-equipped, trained and paid and are extremely loyal not to the country but to the leader of their battalion.
So to answer your question the regular army is non-compliant and has mostly sided with the people. Remember they are poorly-equipped and so can be of only limited help. However, the battalions belonging to the regime itself are very much in the fight and are killing people wholesale. Still their numbers are not so great to cover this huge country so it seems they are complemented by mercenaries.”
Update 22: Over at Canada’s National Post, Terry Glavin: The human rights community wakens to Libya:
“Not long before Bernstein wrote that, Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s North Africa director, spent just enough time admiring that dashing young Saif Gaddafi to write this Human Rights Watch report about conditions in Libya: Springtime for Hitler! And that’s just Human Rights Watch. Don’t get me started about Amnesty International.
The White House is no better. In Bahrain, we are supposed to be shocked that the people are so upset, what with that lovely King Hamad and everything: “The problem has been that we have been doing everything we can to cuddle up to the Khalifas and have been consciously ignoring at best the situation of Bahraini Shiites,” said Gwenyth Todd, a former political adviser to the Navy in Bahrain from 2004 to 2007 who was also an adviser on Middle Eastern and North African affairs at the Pentagon and the White House. “We could find ourselves in a very bad situation if the regime has to make major concessions to the Shia, unless we change our tone.”
As for the way the free world talks to the Gaddafis, the time has indeed come to change our tone. “
Update 23: The Guardian is reporting:
“After the air raids, Gaddafi’s death squads keep blood on Tripoli’s streets
On the eerily quiet streets of Tripoli, as the rain of Monday night gave way to sunshine on Tuesday morning, the macabre aftermath of Gaddafi’s forces’ air and ground attacks lay strewn on squares and curbsides for all to see.
Residents described bullet-ridden corpses slumped in streets of residential areas and the roads around Green Square. This was the remains of the “bloodbath”, one said. Relatives of the missing wanted to retrieve the dead for burial but locals said they were afraid to venture out to pick up the bodies.
Death squads of foreign mercenaries were patrolling streets and shooting at groups of people who ventured out, according to several witnesses.
“Men in brand new Mitsubishi cars without licence plates are shooting at groups of people, three or four, wherever they see them gathering outside,” said a resident of the Tripoli neighbourhood of Fashloum, a working class area where protesters had gathered in recent nights. “These are Gaddafi’s death squads.”
Another resident described traces of gunfire that had left pockmarks on the walls of buildings in Fashloum. There were makeshift barricades set up by locals to stop 4×4 vehicles carrying mercenaries and Gaddafi’s elite guard from entering residential streets and firing indiscriminately.
A relative of one Tripoli resident told the Guardian: “He went out to get water and bread and saw bodies in the street. There are corpses in the street and Gaddafi’s forces are not letting people pick them up. They are shooting people who gather outside, they are shooting the people who try to gather up the corpses.” “
Update 24: Elsewhere:
“Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega offered support for Gadhafi, saying he had telephoned to express solidarity.”
Update 25: There are many reports of foreign mercenaries in Libya, ABC reports:
“Moammar Gadhafi is using foreign mercenaries from Africa who don’t speak Arabic, as a private army to protect his regime and they have shown no hesitancy to fire on civilian protesters, witnesses have said.
A doctor in Benghazi told ABC News several foreign mercenaries were captured by Libyan police who have sided with the protesters. The captives, the doctors said, can’t speak English or Arabic and when confronted by locals they had a hard time communicating.
The mercenaries have quickly earned a reputation for brutality.
“They know one thing: to kill whose in front of them. Nothing else,” said the doctor who was reached by phone, but asked to not be publicly identified. “They’re killing people in cold blood.”
The doctor said he didn’t know which country the mercenaries were from, but said they were black, spoke French and were identified by wearing yellow hats.
“They have special forces bringing in from outside Libya,” he said. “They bring from Africa some military forces, I don’t know, some special army, put them in Benghazi and in Tripoli now.” “
Update 26: Two criminals chatting, Yahoo news is reporting that the Italian PM Berlusconi spoke to the Libyan dictator:
“ROME – Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has spoken by telephone with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi amid a bloody crackdown by Libyan forces on anti-government protesters.
A one-sentence statement from Berlusconi’s office late Tuesday said the phone call took place in the afternoon. It gave no details.
Berlusconi has called Gadhafi his “friend” and has entertained the Libyan leader several times in Rome.
The two countries share close political and business ties and in 2008 signed a “friendship treaty” that among other things, called for Italy to pay Libya $5 billion in compensation for its 30-year colonial occupation. In exchange, Libya agreed to control its borders to stem the tide of illegal immigrants headed for Italy. “
Update 27: On Gaddafis’ hidden billions:
“The Gaddafi family could have billions of dollars of funds hidden away in secret bank accounts in Dubai, south-east Asia and the Persian Gulf, much of it likely to have come from Libya’s vast oil revenues, according to analysis by leading Middle East experts.
Professor Tim Niblock, a specialist in Middle Eastern politics at the University of Exeter, has identified a “gap” of several billion dollars a year between the amount Libya makes from its oil reserves and government spending – a shortfall he expects has contributed greatly to the wealth of Muammar Gaddafi and his nine children.
“It is very, very difficult to work out with any degree of certainty just how much they have because the ruling elite hides it in all sorts of places,” said Niblock, who is also vice president of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES). “But at the very least it would be several billion dollars, in whatever form and it could potentially be a lot higher although I wouldn’t want to predict just how much it might be.”
Alistair Newton, senior political analyst at Nomura, the Japanese bank and president of BRISMES, agreed that it was difficult to establish the extent of the Gaddafis’ wealth but said he “would be surprised if it didn’t run into billions”.
Where the Gaddafis have hidden their vast funds is anybody’s guess, although Niblock expects that most of it is “in bank accounts and liquid assets in Dubai, the Gulf and south east Asia” rather than in relatively transparent countries such as the UK, where the Libyan state has invested in London properties and in companies such as Pearson Group, owner of the Financial Times. “
Update 28: Gaddafi family values via some Wikileaks:
” As Libya spiraled further out of control today, WikiLeaks posted two new cables from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli detailing the family squabbles of strongman Muammar al-Gaddafi’s family. Both are from March 2009, and both are signed by U.S. Ambassador Gene Cretz, the United States’ first ambassador in Libya since 1972, who lost his job last month following the release of the infamous “voluptuous blonde” cable (and/or other more serious dispatches) he had signed.
The cables date from an eventful period in the life of the Gaddafi family. The previous July, Hannibal al-Gaddafi, the Gaddafi son best known for getting in trouble in Europe on a semi-regular basis, had been arrested in Switzerland for beating his servants at a Geneva hotel. Meanwhile, Saif al-Islam, Muammar’s heir-apparent and the best-regarded Gaddafi outside of Libya, was fuming over the growing closeness between his father and his brother Muatassim (above, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in April 2009), the elder Gaddafi’s national security adviser and Saif al-Islam’s only real competition for the family business. According to the cable, “Saif reportedly bridled at the fact that Muatassim accompanied Muammar al-Qadhafi on the latter’s visit to Moscow, Minsk and Kiev last year…, and played a key role in negotiating potential weapons contracts.” “
Update 29: Libya’s Interior Minister has defected too:
“RABAT Feb 22 (Reuters) – Libya’s Interior Minister Abdel Fattah Younes al Abidi has announced his defection and support for the “February 17 revolution”, news channel Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday.
The channel aired amateur video footage that showed Abidi sitting at his desk and reading a statement that also urged the Libyan army to join the people and their “legitimate demands”. “
Update 30: Ben S. Cohen on Gadhafi and the LSE: A Cautionary Tale:
“In the end, the LSE’s response was to equivocate with a statement notably absent from the home page of its website. The news from Libya was deemed “distressing,” a word suggesting that it is of little consequence whether the cause of suffering is a regime with no limits or a natural disaster. As for the money, well, that’s “under review.”
Meanwhile, Professor David Held, the LSE academic who supervised the doctoral studies of Gadhafi fils — and who gushed over the “generous donation” of the Gadhafi Foundation in January 2010 — felt obliged to issue his own personal statement. Referring to Seif’s speech on Libyan TV, in which he issued a bloodcurdling pledge to fight Libya’s populace “to the last bullet,” Held mourned that his former student had “been overwhelmed by the crisis he finds himself in. He tragically, but fatefully, made the wrong judgment.” All of which makes Seif sound more like the victim of Shakespearean intrigue and much less like the overzealous regime thug he’s revealed himself to be.
The LSE can still make amends. Most immediately, that involves transferring the funds provided by Gadhafi Junior to assist the victims of crimes mandated by Gadhafi Senior. “
Update 31: The NYT says:
“TOBRUK, Libya — Vowing to track down and kill protesters “house by house,” Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya tightened his grip on the capital, Tripoli, on Tuesday, but the eastern half of the country was slipping beyond his control.
A bloody crackdown drove protesters from the streets of Tripoli, where residents described a state of terror. After a televised speech by Colonel Qaddafi, thousands of his supporters converged in the city’s central Green Square, wearing green bandannas and brandishing large machetes.
Many loaded into trucks headed for the outlying areas of the city, where they occupied traffic intersections and appeared to be massing for neighborhood-to-neighborhood searches.
“It looks like they have been given a green light to kill these people,” one witness said. “