From revolution to civil war in Libya

What the world feared would happen in Egypt is now unfolding in Libya. The peoples’ rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi is agonizingly turning into a bloody civil war. As hundreds of thousands protested in Cairo’s Tahrir Square a few weeks ago, Mubarak warned that chaos and war — what we are now witnessing in Libya — would be the case in Egypt in his absence. The choice he repeatedly argued was between stability and terror.
It is still too early to declare Egypt a politically stable, post-authoritarian state. Signs of conflict between fanatical Muslims and the Coptic Christian minority are certainly not encouraging. Yet, we can rest assured that the kind of chaos and mayhem Mubarak warned about — and probably wanted to foment in order to prove his point — remains elusive in Egypt.

Libya, on the other hand, is another story. The country clearly illustrates that the Arab world is not a monolith. Egypt, despite all its social and economic weaknesses, had centralized institutions. It may not be politically correct to argue this point in democratic circles, but having a strong and popular army matters greatly. It also helps if the army is not totally identified with the corrupt ancien régime. Such dynamics were in place in Egypt. Despite a long history of Egyptian military leaders assuming presidential political power, the army maintained a certain level of popular legitimacy. As a result, the Egyptian army played what most analysts consider a “constructive role” during the critical transition from autocracy to what we hope will emerge as a pluralistic and democratic order in Egypt.

The chaos in Libya proves that the country never developed a strong and legitimate centralized institution like the army in Egypt. In the absence of a strong army and other centralized institutions, Libyan society remained divided along tribal and sectarian loyalties. Now that Gaddafi’s tyrannical authority has been challenged, these tribal and sectarian loyalties are driving the political and military conflict in the country. As Anthony Shadid reports for The New York Times with characteristic insight from Libya:

“Everyone here seems to have a gun these days, in a lawlessness tempered only by revolutionary ebullience. Young men at the front parade with the swagger that a rocket-propelled grenade launcher grants but hint privately that they will try to emigrate if they fail. … No one seems to know what to call this conflict — a revolution, a civil war or, in a translation of what some call it in Arabic, ‘the events,’ a shorthand for confusing violence. It certainly looks like a war — the thud of shelling in the distance offers a cadence to occasional airstrikes, their targets smoking like oil fires that turn afternoon to dusk. The dead and dismembered are ferried in ambulances driven by medical students. But especially for the rebels, there is an amateurishness to the fighting that began as a protest and became an armed uprising.”

In the meantime, the international community is struggling to find the right way to react. Washington is torn between realpolitik asking for cost-benefit analysis and the idealism demanding clear support for the democratic aspirations of the Libyan people. The Arab League, knowing full well that it will not be the one to act, declared on Saturday its “endorsement” of a no-fly zone over Libya. It also recognized the fledgling rebel movement seeking to topple Gaddafi as the country’s legitimate government.

One may argue such moves by the Arab League are intended to put more pressure on Western powers to intervene. But the question is: What kind of intervention? Military analysts differ on whether a no-fly zone would be effective in terms of changing the balance of power in Libya. After all, much of the fighting is being done by ground forces and tank-fired artillery. Yet, Gaddafi has also used air power to bomb rebel positions and may be tempted to use chemical weapons if he begins losing.

There are also signs of typical discord in European circles. France is trying to compensate for its blunder about Tunisia by speaking far more boldly about military action in Libya than any other Western power. London, as usual, is likely to follow Washington. And Germany seems confused. Sadly, Turkey still appears to be hedging.

(www.todayszaman.com / 21.03.2011)

To the tyrants of the Arab world…

16 Jan 2011

The Tunisian uprising, which succeeded in toppling Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president, has brought down the walls of fear, erected by repression and marginalisation, thus restoring the Arab peoples’ faith in their ability to demand social justice and end tyranny.

It is a warning to all leaders, whether supported by international or regional powers, that they are no longer immune to popular outcries of fury.

It is true that Ben Ali’s flight from the country is just the beginning of an arduous path towards freedom. It is equally true that the achievements of the Tunisian people could still be contained or confiscated by the country’s ruling elite, which is desperately clinging to power.

But the Tunisian intifada has placed the Arab world at a crossroads. If it fully succeeds in bringing real change to Tunis it will push the door wide open to freedom in Arab word. If it suffers a setback we shall witness unprecedented repression by rulers struggling to maintain their absolute grip on power.

Either way, a system that combined a starkly unequal distribution of wealth with the denial of freedoms has collapsed.

A model of tyranny

Tunis may have been an extreme example, but all Arab regimes are variations on the same model, which obediently follows Western-instructed economic ‘liberalisation’ while strangling human rights and civil liberties.

The West has long admired the Tunisian system, praising its “secularism” and “liberal economic policies”, and, in its quest to open world markets and maximise profit, has turned a blind eye to human rights violations and the gagging of the media – two functions at which the Ben Ali regime excelled.

But Tunis, under Ben Ali, was not a model of secularism but a shameless model of tyranny. It turned “secularism” into an ideology of terror – not merely in the name of countering Islamic extremism but in an attempt to crush the spirit of opposition – Islamic, secular, liberal and socialist alike.

As with previous examples of countries it deemed to have embraced ‘successful economic models’, like Chile under the late dictator Augusto Pinochet, the West, particularly the US and France, backed the Ben Ali regime – prioritising forced stability over democracy.

But even when such governments remain in power for decades, thanks to Western support and a security apparatus that suppresses the people with immunity, it is only a matter of time before they come to a humiliating end.

The West, and the US in particular, has always abandoned its allies – a memorable example is the way in which Washington dropped Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the late shah of Iran, when popular anger threatened the country’s stability.

The Arabs are listening

The people of Tunisia have spoken and, most significantly, the Arab people are listening.

The Tunisian protests have already triggered peaceful demonstrations in Jordan, where people have protested over inflation and government efforts to undermine political liberties and press freedoms and have demanded the departure of Samir al-Rifai, the prime minister.

The government, seemingly concerned by the unfolding developments, sought to appease popular discontent by reversing what had been the ninth increase in fuel prices since 1989. But it was too little, too late, particularly as food prices continue to rise, and Jordanians are expected to continue their demonstrations over the coming weeks.

The government would do well to learn from Tunis that repression by the security forces can no longer solve its problems and guarantee the consent of its citizens.

In Egypt, the opposition Movement for Change appears to have been reinvigorated by the events in Tunisia. And in Arab capitals, from Sana’a to Cairo, the people are sending a message to their own governments, as well as expressing their support for the Tunisian people, by organising sit-ins in front of Tunisian embassies.

Arabs of all generations are also expressing their sentiments online – not only congratulating Tunisians but also calling for similar movements in their own countries. And on Facebook, many have replaced their profile pictures with images of the Tunisian flag, as though draping themselves in the colours of an Arab revolution.

Fear and jubilation

The failure of one of the Arab world’s most repressive security forces to quell people power has been met with jubilation. Bloggers have compared the event to the fall of the Berlin wall, suggesting that it will usher in a new era in which the Arab people will have a greater say in determining their future.

Mohamed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian who set himself on fire in protest against unemployment and poverty, has become a symbol of Tunisian sacrifices for freedom.

Activists across the region have called for the “Tunisation” of the Arab street – taking Tunis as a model for the assertion of people power and aspirations for social justice, the eradication of corruption and democratisation.

But the celebratory atmosphere dominating the blogosphere and wide sectors of Arab society is tainted by a prevailing sense of caution and fear: Caution because the situation in Tunis remains unclear and fear that there may be a coup d’état, which would impose security but stifle popular aspirations.

Whether the Tunisian uprising will succeed in bringing about radical reforms or be partially aborted by the ruling elite remains to be seen. But it has already empowered people across the Arab world to expose the fallacy of regimes that believe adopting a pro-Western agenda will enable them to fool their people and guarantee their longevity.

History has shown that security forces can silence people but can never crush the simmering revolt that lies beneath the ashes. Or in the words of the beloved Tunisian poet Abul-Qasim al-Shabi in his poem To the Tyrants of the World:

Wait, don’t let the spring, the clearness of the sky and the shine of the morning light fool you …
Because the darkness, the thunder’s rumble and the blowing of the wind are coming toward you
from the horizon
Beware because there is a fire underneath the ash

(www.english.aljazeera.net /21.03.2011)

Israel admits to arrest and detention of Gaza engineer

Dirar Abu Sisi, an engineer at Gaza’s power plant went missing from the Ukraine nearly two weeks ago; his wife alleged that he was kidnapped by the Mossad.

Israel admitted that they indeed arrested the Gazan engineer, Dirar Abu Sisi, who was reported to have gone missing from the Ukraine almost two weeks ago, the partial lifting of a gag order revealed.

Dirar Abu Sisi, 42, went missing in the early hours of February 19 after boarding a train in Kharkiv bound for Kiev. His wife alleged that Dirar had been kidnapped by the Mossad.

A gag order on the case was partially lifted on Thursday by Petah Tikva court judge Leah Lev-On and was only allowed to be published on Sunday. Abu Sisi was arrested as part of investigation and is currently being held by Israel, the lifting of the gag order revealed. Much of the rest of the details remain under gag order.

Lev-On wrote that publication of “details of the investigation and the circumstances surrounding the arrest” will remain under a gag order for the next 30 days.

Abu Sisi’s wife Veronika hired lawyer Smadar Ben Natan to represent Dirar. Ben Natan told Haaretz that she met with his client in prison and reported that Ben Sisi is doing fine physically although he suffers from previous medical conditions.

Ben Sisi was in the Ukraine applying for citizenship when he went missing. His wife, Veronika, is Ukrainian. Veronika alleged that Israel’s Mossad had abducted her husband in order to sabotage a key electric power plant in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip where he worked as a senior manager.

In Gaza, fellow engineers and neighbors described Abu Sisi as a Hamas supporter, pointing to his senior position. He served as the deputy head of the electric power station and posts are traditionally staffed by Hamas loyalists.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov recently visited Israel, where he said about the rumor that Sisi was arrested on Ukrainian soil “I don’t want to imagine that such things are carried out on the soil of a friendly state.”

(www.haaretz.com / 21.03.2011)

 

Hamas militants say truce if Israel halts Gaza attacks

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — After a leap in cross-border violence over the weekend brought Israeli air strikes, threats to kill Hamas leaders and calls for a fresh invasion of Gaza, Palestinian militants on Monday offered to halt attacks if Israel did the same.

The group’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, which lobbed about 50 mortar rounds into Israel on Saturday, made the offer in a statement released after Israeli aircraft raided the enclave again on Monday evening.

It said Saturday’s barrage had been in response to an Israeli strike last week which killed two of its members, but that it was ready to call an end to the tit-for-tat violence if Israel did the same.

“If the enemy stops the escalation and aggression against our people we will implement the Palestinian national agreement,” the statement said, referring to a truce reaffirmed by the main militant factions in January.

Israeli military and government officials declined to comment on the statement, but the Jewish state’s often-stated standing policy is to “respond forcefully” to every Palestinian attack.

(www.google.com / 21.03.2011)

Shortly before Hamas made its offer, Israeli warplanes raided the Gaza Strip, slightly wounding one man, local witnesses and medical officials said.

Witnesses said the target of the raid was a car repair workshop east of Gaza City, owned by the powerful Doghmush clan which has links to Islamic militants.

The Israeli military, however, said its aircraft hit what a spokeswoman described as “a terrorist tunnel” intended to launch attacks under the Gaza border fence into Israel.

Also on Monday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon issued a death threat against Hamas leaders.

“If Hamas decides to escalate, we will put an end to it… We have several actions before putting ground forces in Gaza, including direct threats against Hamas leaders,” Ayalon told public radio.

A rocket fired from Gaza overnight on Sunday exploded in southern Israel, causing neither casualties nor damage, several hours after another rocket exploded harmlessly in the town of Ashkelon.

After Saturday’s mortar fire Israel pounded Gaza, wounding at least five Palestinians and cutting power supplies.

The mortar attacks, the fiercest since Israel carried out a 22-day offensive codenamed “Operation Cast Lead” against Gaza rocket fire in December 2008 and January 2009, wounded two Israelis and caused minor damage.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman immediately ordered Israeli diplomats to lodge a complaint with the United Nations, where the Palestinians are lobbying for recognition of statehood and admittance as a full member.

In January this year, Gaza’s main militant factions confirmed a year-old truce after weeks of increased rocket fire and spiralling tensions along the border prompted a warning from Arab leaders that Gaza risked a major new Israeli invasion.

On Saturday Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni called for just that in response to the mortar barrage.

“The right way to deal with it is with force, just like Israel did during and after Operation Cast Lead,” news website Ynet quoted her as telling local authority heads in the border region.

Questions remain about fate of dozens of missing Bahraini activists

MANAMA // Demonstrators in Bahrain again defied a ban on large gatherings yesterday to bury a man killed last week by security forces, amid questions about the fates of dozens of other protesters who are as yet unaccounted for.

Isa al Radhi, a man in his 40s who had been reported missing since Tuesday, was also confirmed dead yesterday, according to members of the opposition, bringing the death toll from the month-long period of unrest to at least 22, with hundreds injured.

“Unfortunately he passed away on March 15 when clashes took place in Sitra,” said Sayed Hadi al Mousawi, a member of al Wefaq, Bahrain’s main opposition movement. “He was missing, but there was no way of finding out about his situation.”

The government did not respond to requests for comment on al Radhi’s death.

Approximately 90 people are still missing, according to Mr al Mousawi. “Really we are worried about them,” he said.

Streets remained busy and commercial life appeared to be returning to normal yesterday in parts of the country. Shops were open and the troop presence in the streets was less than in recent days.

Perhaps to quell the growing unrest, King Hamad pledged on Friday to continue the reforms that he began when he came to power in 2002.

“I shall not allow a stop in the reform process which I began when I took the reins of power,” he said in a statement issued through the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA). “The door is open to all subjects that are in the interest of all the citizens.”

Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad, vested by an authorisation from his father King Hamad, had offered opposition an open dialogue after a deadly crackdown on protests last month instigated a sit-in protest at Pearl Roundabout in Manama.

But the opposition which demanded major reforms leading to electing the prime minister in a “real” constitutional monarchy, insisted on the resignation of the current premier – an uncle of the king in office since 1970 – before starting talks.

The atmoshere remained tense yesteerday in predominately Shiite villages such as Deih, where the funeral procession for Ahmed Abdullah Hassan, a local resident, was held. Hassan, a 22-year-old IT technician, was one of three protestors killed on Wednesday by security forces. Thousands turned out for his funeral yesterday, marching defiantly through the village’s main street and towards the local cemetery.

Just before the funeral procession began, a 21-year-old man wandered into Deih, wearing only a pair of jeans and no shoes. His bare back was covered in red lashes and his wrists bore the marks of tight handcuffs. He said he had been walking with two friends yesterday morning when they were stopped by police who stripped them of their phones, shirts and shoes, and beat them.

 

“We are feeling so scared and we can’t sleep, especially the women are afraid and our children are scared,” said one mother of four, who did not wish to be identified, as the funeral procession marched by.

Ayman, 26, who works with children with special needs, put it simply: “King Hamad has got his Lulu [Pearl Roundabout] back, but he lost his people.”

Yesterday afternoon, traffic was heavy on the bridge overlooking Pearl Roundabout, which lay in ruins as the demolition of the monument in the centre of the traffic circle continued.

Some people driving past waved and saluted to the masked soldiers guarding the entry points to the roundabout.

Meanwhile, BNA said government departments had been instructed to open as normal today.

The Bahrain Defence Force announced that the curfew in place in some parts of Manama from 4pm to 4am, would now begin from 8pm. The armed forces also announced a ban on “sea activity” in various areas from 5pm to 6am, warning that “any ship spotted moving during this time will be dealt with appropriately”, according to BNA.

Despite the curfews and restrictions, many opposition supporters have arranged to shout from their rooftops in protest every night for fifteen minutes at 8pm and again at 10pm. Cries of “Allah-uh-akhbar” could be heard from key villages throughout the night.

The US State Department has said it is “deeply troubled” by the arrest of several opposition figures and activists, urging authorities to ensure transparent judicial proceedings. A family member of Abdel Jalil al Singace, a leader from the al Haq movement who was among those arrested on Wednesday, said yesterday there was no information about his whereabouts.

(www.thenational.ae / 21.03.2011)

 

Oppositie Bahrein vraagt VN en VS om hulp

MANAMAH, 20 maart ¿ De oppositie in Bahrein heeft zondag tijdens een kortstondige demonstratie in de hoofdstad Manamah de Verenigde Naties en de Verenigde Staten om hulp gevraagd. De demonstranten gingen uiteen voordat de veiligheidstroepen konden ingrijpen.

  • © reuters
  • © reuters

De achttien parlementsleden die de oppositie vertegenwoordigen demonstreerden voor het gebouw van de VN in Manamah. De parlementsleden zijn vorige maand afgetreden uit protest tegen het geweld dat de koning van Bahrein heeft ingezet tegen de demonstranten in zijn land. De koning kondigde vorig week de staat van beleg af, en een troepenmacht van Golfstaten onder leiding van Saudi-Arabië is week het land binnengetrokken om het soennitische koningshuis te ondersteunen.

Bemiddelen

Tijdens de demonstratie, die slechts vijf minuten duurde, riepen de parlementariërs de VN op om het geweld tegen demonstranten te stoppen en te bemiddelen in gesprekken tussen de oppositie en de monarchie. Ze vroegen de VS druk uit te oefenen op de troepenmacht om hen te bewegen te vertrekken. ‘Ze moeten naar huis gaan. Ze zijn hier niet nodig. Dit is een politiek probleem, geen militair probleem’, aldus een van de parlementariërs.

De troepenmacht van de Golfstaten onderschrijft de zorgen die er in de andere Golfstaten leven over de demonstraties in Bahrein. De andere soennitische regimes in de regio zijn bang dat de onrust overslaat naar hun land, en zijn bang dat dit kan leiden tot een toenemende invloed van het sjiitische regime in Iran.

Gelijke rechtten

De oppositie eist gelijke rechten voor de sjiitische meerderheid in het land, die in haar ogen systematisch gediscrimineerd wordt door de soennitische minderheid die het land regeert.

De VS hebben het geweld in Bahrein veroordeeld. Algemeen stafchef admiraal Mike Mullen waarschuwt echter voor een eventueel Amerikaans ingrijpen. ‘Ik denk dat we heel voorzichtig moeten zijn, en elk land in het Midden-Oosten apart beoordelen’, aldus Mullen. ‘De situaties in Libië en Bahrein zijn totaal verschillend. Bahrein is bijvoorbeeld al decennia een bondgenoot van de VS. We zijn hard aan het werk om een vreedzame resolutie van het conflict in Bahrein te bewerkstelligen.’

Druk

De autoriteiten in Bahrein voeren de druk op politieke activisten en andere tegenstanders van het regime op. Mensenrechtenactivisten worden verhoord, en artsen die tijdens de protesten demonstranten hebben geholpen zijn opgepakt.

Tot nu toe zijn er ten minste dertien mensen om het leven gekomen bij de protesten in Bahrein.

(www.volkskrant.nl / 20.03.2011)

Drie Nederlanders willen, maar kunnen niet weg uit Libië

Drie Nederlanders in Libië hebben opnieuw aangegeven het land te willen verlaten, zeker nu de luchtaanvallen door westersemogendheden zijn begonnen. Het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken zegt dat ze veilig zijn, maar dat het ministerie niets voor de drie kan doen. Een internationale coalitie van westerse landen is dit weekend begonnen met een militair ingrijpen in Libië.

Het gaat om Nederlanders die een paar honderd kilometer van Benghazi wonen. Volgens een woordvoerder van Buitenlandse Zaken is er regelmatig contact met de drie en zijn ze veilig.

De overige zeventien Nederlanders verblijven in de omgeving van de Tripoli. Het zijn bijna allemaal mensen met zowel de Nederlandse als Libische nationaliteit. Zij hebben aangegeven in het land te willen blijven.

Kritriek Rusland en Arabische Liga
Ondertussen hebben de Libische strijdkrachten opnieuw een staakt-het-vuren afgekondigd. Het bestand geldt voor alle legereenheden. Eind vorige week kondigde Libië ook al een bestand af, maar het regime van Muammar Kadhafi leefde dat niet na. Het staakt het vuren komt aan het eind van een weekeinde waarin de Libische troepen volop zijn bestookt door de internationale coalitie.

Niet alle landen staan achter de actie. Rusland en de Arabische Liga vinden dat de westerse landen te ver gaan met hun aanvallen op Libië. Er worden niet-militaire doelen vernield terwijl alleen maatregelen genomen zouden worden om de burgerbevolking te beschermen.

Rusland wijst erop dat bij de luchtaanvallen onder meer wegen, bruggen en een cardiologisch centrum zijn verwoest. Volgens Moskou wordt in resolutie 1973, die door de Veiligheidsraad van de Verenigde Naties is aangenomen, alleen gesproken van maatregelen om burgers te beschermen. Niet-militaire doelen moeten worden ontzien, vinden de Russen.

De secretaris-generaal van de Arabische Liga, de Egyptenaar Amr Moussa, is het eens met de Russen. Hij reageerde als volgt: ‘Doel was het afdwingen van een vliegverbod om burgers te beschermen, niet om andere burgers te doden.’ Volgens Moussa gaat de Liga voor een spoedoverleg bijeen komt.

Libische strijdkrachten
De Libische strijdkrachten zijn met tanks in actie gekomen in het centrum van de stad Misurata, bijna 200 kilometer ten oosten van Tripoli. Dat hebben de rebellen in het Noord-Afrikaanse land gemeld.

De opstandelingen spreken van talrijke doden in de stad door sluipschutters, artilleriebeschietingen en door tanks die er rondrijden. Misurata gold als bolwerk van de rebellen die het regime van kolonel Muammar Kadhafi omver willen werpen.

Volgens inwoners blokkeren Kadhafigetrouwe schutters en militairen de haven om verkeer over het water te dwarsbomen. De stad is in grootte de derde van het land.

Internationale coalitie
De internationale coalitie meldt belangrijke vooruitgang tijdens de actie ‘Odyssey Dawn’. De Amerikaanse legerleider, admiraal Michael Mullen, zegt dat het beoogde vliegverbod wordt afgedwongen. Volgens hem zijn de troepen van de Libische regeringsleider bij de oostelijke stad Benghazi tot staan gebracht en is de Libische luchtafweer vrijwel uitgeschakeld.

Ook marineschepen hebben Libië bestookt. Vanaf Amerikaanse oorlogsbodems en een Britse onderzeeër in de Middellandse Zee zijn meer dan honderd kruisraketten op de installaties van de Libische luchtafweer afgevuurd. Mullen benadrukte dat het om een eerste fase gaat.

Mullen benadrukte dat de doelstellingen van de acties beperkt zijn en niet uit zijn op het afzetten van Kadhafi. De legerleider, die in 1969 de macht greep ‘moet wel beslissingen nemen over zijn eigen toekomst’, aldus de Amerikaanse stafchef.

Odyssey Dawn
De aanvallen van dit weekeinde, onder de naam Odyssey Dawn, begonnen zaterdag. Het was de meest ingrijpende interventie in een Arabisch land sinds Amerikaanse aanval van 2003 op Irak.

De internationale coalitie tegen Kadhafi wordt snel uitgebreid. Landen als Spanje, België, Canada, Noorwegen en Denemarken hebben hun steun toegezegd. Het is nog niet bekend hoe Nederland wordt betrokken bij de aanval.

Voor het Westen is steun uit de Arabische wereld cruciaal. Qatar en de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten lijken zich te hebben aangesloten bij de coalitie. Jordanië en Marokko, die ook bij het overleg over de aanvallen waren, hebben hun steun nog niet bevestigd.

Opstandelingen
Opstandelingen hebben de internationale acties tegen de Libische leider aangegrepen om vanuit hun hoofdkwartier Benghazi terug te keren naar het zuidelijker gelegen Ajdabiyah. De rebellen zijn enkele dagen geleden door regeringstroepen uit de stad verdreven.

Langs de weg staan talrijke wrakken van uitgebrande en verwoeste militaire voertuigen, waarschijnlijk van het regime van Kadhafi. Ooggetuigen meldden ook veertien lijken te hebben gezien en een uitgebrande ambulance.

Terugtrekking troepen Kadhafi
Volgens Wereldomroep verslaggever Hans Jaap Melissen zijn de troepen van Kadhafi weg bij Benghazi: ‘Ik hoor berichten dat ze zich hebben teruggetrokken richting Ajdabiyah. Dat is de eerstvolgende grote plaats, 150 kilometer van Benghazi. Tot voor kort stonden ze tegenover de relatief lichte wapens van de opstandelingen, maar nu hebben ze veel te vrezen vanuit de lucht.’

Volgens het regime van Kadhafi zijn door de luchtaanvallen van onder meer Fransen, Britten en Amerikanen zeker 64 Libiërs om het leven gekomen. In een reactie heeft Kadhafi gezegd dat ‘alle Libiërs bewapend en strijdvaardig zijn’. Het Libische staatspersbureau Jana laat weten dat het regime is begonnen met het uitdelen van wapens aan circa één miljoen mensen.

(www.rnw.nl / 20.03.2011)

A Call from the Colonel: Gaddafi and His Bunker

The voice on the phone call emerged presumably from the highly-fortified bunker in the center of Tripoli. Recorded and then broadcast on Libyan state television, it railed about Hitler and Mussolini and against invaders and devils. For Muammar Gaddafi, it was not a long tirade but it was intense, a compressed version of his fury against colonialism and the great powers that dared to oppose him. It aired about 10 hours after allied aircraft caused an enormous explosion in the vicinity of Gaddafi’s headquarters Bab al-Aziziyah, an attack that was met with a 10-minute-long barrage of anti-aircraft fire from Soviet era weaponry. All in vain. The counter-attack was unable to touch the high-altitude intruders, part of an undetectable armada that had deprived Gaddafi of Libya’s sky.

But if his defenses appeared impotent against the allied might, Gaddafi gave no evidence that he was cowed by the many nations arrayed against him, a coalition that had first sent French planes against his forces besieging the rebel city of Benghazi, then more than 100 U.S. and British Tomahawk missiles against his military installations and more and more into the night and day. In fact, he belittled them. “We defeated Italy when it was a superpower like you,” he said comparing Washington to Rome, Libya’s former colonizer. “You will be defeated like Hitler and Mussolini… You are the new Hitler.” He brought up America’s defeats in Vietnam and its self-debilitating invasion of Iraq. He raised the image of Osama bin Laden “that weak man” who he said defeated the U.S. “We will be victorious. You will die.” (See photos of the global coalition fighting against Libya.)

He claimed to have right on his side, despite the month-long rebellion that had very quickly deprived him of half his country until loyalist forces marched back against the militarily undisciplined people power of eastern Libya. “We have been wronged,” he declared. “Those who have been wronged will always win. There is no justification for this attack. It’s a colonial crusade. Islam will win. Libyans will win.” “We will not let these Christian nations take our oil… We are now giving Libyans weapons, machine guns. Every citizen will be armed…You will not be able to land here… We will destroy those who support you in Benghazi…. We will defend our own country, inch by inch… We will be victorious. The coalition of the devil will be defeated.” And then the call ended.

The regime claims that, so far, 48 civilians have been killed in the allied air strikes. That appears to have elicited the sympathy of one significant backer of the no-fly zone, Amr Mousa, the Egyptian who heads the Arab League, which expressed support for such a zone on March 12, paving the way for the U.N. resolution this week and the formation of the coalition on Saturday. Mousa, who is expected to run for the Egyptian presidency, told reporters on Sunday that the allied attack on Libya “differs from the no-fly zone objectives… What we want is civilians’ protection not shelling more civilians.” The coalition insists it has struck only military installations. Russia, which abstained during the U.N. Security Council no-fly zone vote, has also asked that the air strikes cease.

The official Libyan media has reported that Gaddafi’s supporters have formed a human shield around Bab al-Aziziyah. They appear to be fervently devoted to the Colonel in his bunker. TIME photographer Christopher Morris, who is in Tripoli, tells of a young man at Bab al-Aziziyah grabbing him by the arm, pleading with Morris to take a picture of the little boy on his shoulder.”Don’t you see, Don’t you see that we love Gaddafi. I’m bringing my only son, my two-year old son to die here with me for him.” Another man that Morris met demonstrated his fealty to Gaddafi by slapping one hand on the opposite forearm, almost the way an addict prepares his veins, screaming, “Muammar is in my blood.” But one Western report had the human shield dispersing the moment the allies started dropping bombs in Tripoli. (Watch “The Cult of Gaddafi.”)

Morris visited Bab al-Aziziyah twice on Saturday, on an official tour conducted by the regime. He describes the layers of fortifications that have been created to protect Gaddafi and his family. “It’s something straight out of a bad James Bond movie,” Morris wrote via email. “After you make it through the first wall you enter into a very large inner security circle that is probably 50 meters deep.” The area is filled with troops, said Morris, and “as you walk along this inner area up against the next wall… large concrete trailers like bunkers line the complete length of the next wall.” The next layer, he says, is mostly made up of concrete single story housing and offices, “all tightly packed together like a suburban military village. All the way in there is a mix of well-equipped soldiers with bayonet-fixed weapons at the ready.” Hanging above them at one point was a medieval-looking contraption made of “metal spikes and razor wire” perhaps meant to drop on “any advancing army or coup plotters” to hinder their attack. (Comment on this story.)

Deep in Bab al-Aziziyah, Gaddafi himself is believed to be bunkered down. Since the allied intervention began, only his voice has emanated from his fortress, perhaps out of caution that a live television appearance may give clues to his real-time presence and allow some all-detecting allied technology to zero in on him. The invisibility has only led to rumors, including one that the Libyan strongman had tried to kill himself but had failed at suicide. The phone call to state television may have been an attempt to scotch the allegations of suicide. That would be too much like the fate of another dictator in his bunker.

(Citations from Gaddafi’s speech based on translations provided by political commentator Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi on his Twitter account @sultanalqassemi.)

(news.yahoo.com / 20.03.2011)

Dibi: PVV levert idealen in voor de macht

Tofik Dibi van GroenLinks vindt dat de Partij voor de Vrijheid zich schuldig maakt aan alles waarom ze de elite heeft verfoeid, zei hij tegen het ANP. “De partij heeft een extreme make-over doorgemaakt: van een buitenstaander die dingen anders wil doen naar een partij die zijn idealen inlevert voor een plek in het centrum van de macht.”
“Kamerleden hebben dubbelfuncties in Provinciale Staten en gemeenteraden. Debatten over hun speerpunten veiligheid, zorg en integratie gaan ze uit de weg”, aldus het GroenLinks-Kamerlid.

Dibi vervolgt: “Sietse Fritsma had vroeger het hoogste woord over de massa-immigratie, nu hoor je hem niet meer. Extra agenten kwamen er ook met de PVV niet. Tijdens een overleg over de jeugdzorg in Limburg, waar de partij de grootste werd, kwam ze niet eens opdagen. En aan het debat over religie zei Hero Brinkman afgelopen week zelfs geen behoefte te hebben, terwijl de discussie over de islam hun bestaansrecht is. Ze zitten door de gedoogconstructie met een halve bil op het pluche, zit dat dan zó comfortabel?” Niet eerder zijn kiezers zo misleid, vindt Dibi.Hij vindt dat de PVV maar eens moet uitleggen waarom er geen drieduizend agenten meer zijn gekomen en geen 12.000 mensen extra in de zorg. “Je vraagt je dan toch af waarom ze de stekker er niet uittrekken? Ik denk dat ze nu pas zien hoe moeilijk zaken soms zijn te verwezenlijken, ze zijn tegen een enorme hoeveelheid realiteit opgelopen, na al dat gemakkelijke roepen vanaf de zijlijn. Maar laten ze dat dan eens verklaren.”

Dibi vraagt zich af hoelang de anderhalf miljoen kiezers van de PVV dit pikken. “Henk is gekke Henkie niet”, zegt hij, verwijzend naar de prototypes van de PVV-kiezer, Henk en Ingrid. “Ik heb het er moeilijk mee dat PVV-kiezers worden afgeschilderd als een soort Tokkies. Maar om te denken dat je met zo’n show wegkomt, moet de PVV de eigen kiezers wel heel laag inschatten.”

(www.trouw.nl / 20.03.2011)