The not-so-glorious revolution in Libya

Guardian: Amnesty finds widespread use of torture by Libyan militias February 16. Hundreds of armed militias operating independently of central authorities, according to report by human rights group. A damning report by Amnesty International says that a year after the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s militias are “largely out of control”, with the use of torture ubiquitous and the country’s new rulers unable ”“ or unwilling ”“ to prevent abuses. (Image can3ro55o)

Edmonton Journal: One Year Later, Libya’s Future Still Very Much Up in the Air February 18. The rebels, who would not have come to power if it weren’t for NATO’s bombing, and who once complained about the brutality of Gadhafi’s regime, are now themselves brutalizing others.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Prisoners tortured by Libyan militia Ian Black, London, January 28. THREE months after the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, concerns are mounting about the mistreatment and torture of prisoners held by Libyan militiamen. The militia are operating beyond the control of the country’s transitional government and officially recognised security bodies.

West Point: Al-Qa’Ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq, The Sinjar Records The apparent surge in Libyan recruits traveling to Iraq may be linked the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s (LIFG) increasingly cooperative relationship with al”Qa’ida, which culminated in the LIFG officially joining al”Qa’ida on November 3, 2007.

The LGIF/al Qaeda fighters went back to Libya, were reformed in some crazy program by Gaddafi’s son Saif, and released. A couple of months later they helped lead the military effort against Gaddafi. Is it any surprise that torture prevails? The use of Humiliation and Death as a Tool of National Policy becomes a war crime. While our leaders put on a clown show over here, the wind they sowed in Libya has become a whirlwind of pain and suffering.

I wonder if any of those pious preachers at the churches they attend will mention this? Not on your life.

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Michael Collins

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  • Well, alrighty then, it’s a global movement. There is something very sick going on here. Belhadj, the LGIF/al Qaeda guy who is at the top of the rebel military command, was imprisoned by the US and UK then got released and began working with the national security state – US/UK. This showed up in the Spanish press:

    Military Commander in Tripoli, Belhadj, Has Men in Syria

    And how strange is this. Belhadj is also in the UK to sue the UK for torturing him.

    Libya commander Abdel Hakim Belhaj to sue UK government

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  • So this is the price US/NATO pays when they intervene and then don’t follow up with nation-building.

    And Afghanistan is the price you pay when you do stick around for nation-building.

    Syria and Rwanda show the price you pay when you don’t intervene at all.

    Damn, where’s the easy solution?

  • Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:06pm GMT
    By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

    MISRATA, Libya (Reuters) – On the bullet-scarred buildings of Libya’s third largest city, new posters have appeared in the last few weeks bearing messages its citizens have never seen before.

    “Just as you were present on the front line, be there for the election,” say some.

    Banners in the windows of shops below charred walls ask: “If you don’t vote, who will?”

    Misrata, scene of the biggest and bloodiest battle in the eight-month war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, is getting its first taste of democracy.

    Its citizens go to the ballot box on Monday to elect 28 members of the Misrata local council, who will have the tough job of rebuilding a city of around 300,000 people which was bombed beyond recognition.

    “These are the first elections in more than 40 years,” said 56-year-old businessman Mohammed Miftah al-Teer. “We will only choose the good people.”

    Nearby, along the main thoroughfare of Tripoli Street, stores, government offices and apartment blocks are blown to pieces.

    “It is necessary to have elections to make things clear for people as to what to do and not to do,” 32-year-old Mustafa Ali Shanab said. “Of course you can’t just choose anyone, he must have abilities and responsibility and of course care about Misrata. We are very excited.”

    The coastal city set up its own electoral committee last month to organise the polls. It wants to set a precedent for the rest of Libya, as the interim national government leads the oil-producing country to its first free polls in June to elect a national assembly which will have the job of writing a constitution.

    “We need to give a case study not only to our brothers in Libya but to the rest of the globe that we can govern ourselves and that democracy can excel if you allow people to choose,” said Mohammed Berween, head of the election committee set up to organise the Misrata polls. “We want to encourage people.”

    Berween, a politics professor at a Texas university, flew back to Misrata two months ago after more than 33 years abroad.

    One of his first tasks was to get those eligible to vote to register. In 10 days, about 100,000 have done so, he said. Now his team of eight, plus volunteers, work late into the night preparing an election guide and ballot papers and trying to find cars with loud hailers to publicise the polls.

    “It is overwhelming because we started from scratch,” he said. “I hope the turnover on election day will be great.”

    A list of around 245 candidates has been finalised. Voters will pick candidates to represent their area.

    During the conflict, many Libyan cities hastily set up local councils without much process. Misrata officials say now it is time for the people to choose.

    “The February 17 revolution came to establish democracy and of course the first step of democracy is to elect officials through ballot boxes,” said the current head of the 20-strong Misrata local council, Khalifa Abdallah al-Zwawi.

    “As Misrata set an example during the war … we wanted to make sure that the first election experience of international standards would be in this city.”

    The small town of Zwara last year held local elections but the Misrata polls are the first in a major city, its residents say.


    Misrata was besieged by elite Gaddafi forces for months and bombarded with mortars, shells and rockets. Against all odds, the city held on and its forces went on to help take Tripoli.

    Despite the huge scale of destruction Misrata has become a rare bastion of order in Libya. The local government is relatively efficient, rules are enforced and there is a sense of people working together.

    That is in stark contrast to the capital Tripoli, where different militias and interest groups collide in a chaotic and sometimes violent free-for-all while a weak national government looks on powerless to intervene.

    Preparations for the national election in June are not running smoothly. Dozens of parties have sprung up. But the electoral picture has been clouded by a lack of security and wrangling over how the vote will be run.


  • There may be order in Misrata but the Misrata fighter groups are raising holy Hell in the rest of the country. They decided that the Taureg people were responsible for Misrata’s misery so their forces ethnically cleansed the city (Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata), Misrata fighters were the ones who caught Gaddafi and murdered him. That was after they led the fors hat totally destroyed Sirte.

    Reuters is just doing its job like the rest of the Western media – propping up NATO war crimes with uncritical analysis.

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  • I was looking for. I read one earlier yesterday talking about how Misrata was not waiting around for the country ‘leaders’ to get their shit together and were just going to go it alone.

  • The fall of Tripoli, opined the former US State Department official (Steward Patrick), was “the first unambiguous military enforcement of the Responsibility to Protect norm, Gaddafi’s utter defeat seemingly putting new wind in the sails of humanitarian intervention”. Guardian

    That about sums it up. The author is uncritical in accepting that there might have been a humanitarian motive. Maybe the author didn’t know, but thhe policy folks surely knew about the West Point analysis of LGIF/al Qaeda. They knew that the three rebel regional military groups were run by LGIF/al Qaeda personnel. They knew, as BushCo knew before Iraq, that civil strife would be rampant.

    It’s hard to know whether to laugh or throw up when you read a quote like the one above, which appeared at the start of the article. How about the tenet of international law that you don’t invade a nation that poses no imminent threat to your nation. I do want to find out about those who “persuaded” Obama to go into Libya. What a fiction that is. So many lies, so little time to run them down.
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  • Thats the deal with this coverage. It’s really hard to find MSM coverage on Tawergha. McClatchy did a big piece a while ago but nothing since.

    Misrata was the site of major battles. Now, their militias are saying it’s time to get even, very straight forward. They act like they’re tough guys but, of course, their victories were helped by lots of weapons from NATO, Qatari troops on the ground, and NATO air strikes against their enemies. They behave like thugs, yet the press presents them as having it together.

    This is one of the more interesting news stories I’ve ever witnessed. Naked aggression by the “democracies,” atrocities by the so called victims, and apologies and coverups by the press, i.e., saying the worst of the human rights violators are the model for the country. AND leaving out US/NATO support for the rebel al Qaeda commanded military (Belhadj, etc.). Delusions piled on propaganda mixed with the basic century of war over oil.
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  • that there is no mention of Amnesty Intl’s reports or the Doctors without borders pulling out of the prisons over the torture and treatment.

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