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Libya

زمن عربي جديد [A New Arab Era]

[ِElias Khoury. Image from wordpress.com]

لم يتمركز السوريون في احدى ساحات دمشق كي يبدأوا منها انتفاضتهم. كانت البداية في مدينة درعا عاصمة منطقة حوران، ثم اتخذت شكل تحركات متنقلة من اللاذقية الى حمص الى القامشلي الى بانياس الى دمشق الى دوما... المشهد السوري يختلف عن المشهد في تونس او مصر او البحرين او اليمن او ليبيا. كل بلد يكتشف بنفسه وعبر تجربته الخاصة الشكل الملائم للثورة على الحكم الاستبدادي. لسنا امام ثورة عربية واحدة تستعيد الخطاب القومي الناصري، لكننا في الوقت نفسه امام ظاهرة موحدة الهدف تجتاح العالم العربي برمته.  مرة جديدة يكتشف العرب وحدتهم واختلافاتهم في آن معاً. فكما توحد العرب في الماضي في المعركة ضد الكولونيالية، يتوحدون اليوم في المعركة من اجل الديموقراطية. وبقدر ما كانت معركة الخمسينات ...

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Kosova, Libya, and the Question of Intervention

[Public Art in Pristina. Image by Michael Kennedy]

Kosova and Libya are juxtaposed nowadays in suggesting what humanitarian intervention can do. Hashim Thaci, Kosova’s prime minister and former resistance fighter, celebrates what NATO did to defend Kosovars in 1999 when they bombed Serbia and its forces for 78 days to prevent genocide. Few if any Kosovars would decry that intervention, leading some in the newly independent state to find sympathy for airstrikes in Libya. Perhaps that is why Kosova is again in the news, for many across NATO’s capitals wish for a replication of that kind of appreciation in Libya and the Arab world. But it’s not just a question of the strike, it’s the follow through that should be of concern ...

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Is the 2011 Libyan Revolution an Exception?

[Image from unknown archive.]

After the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the strong man of the Middle East on February 11, 2011, the Arab Spring appeared to be an unrelenting force. In the week following his downfall, three theaters of major rebellion—Libya, Yemen, Bahrain—quickly emerged, with Iran’s suppressed Green revolution resurfacing for a while as well. In the weeks that followed mass demonstrations demanding significant political reforms continued or sprang up in countries such as Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Djibouti, Palestine, and Oman. As of late, these tremors have even reached Saudi Arabia and Syria. The Supposed Libyan “Exception” & The End of the Old Arab Order Should the ...

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Missing: Agency and Alternative in the Anti-Intervention Critique

[Image from screen shot of english.aljazeera.net]

The Libyan people’s revolution against Muammar al-Gaddafi has been called the February 17th revolution. It has been named – like Egypt’s January 25th revolution – after the day on which protests were called for demanding freedom and an end to a brutal and long-standing regime. In Libya, however, the protests erupted before schedule. They began two days ahead of time in response to the arrest and imprisonment of Fathi Terbil – the lawyer representing the families of the victims of the Abu Salim prison massacre. For years, Terbil and these families have demanded the release of the location of the corpses of those 1,200 individuals killed. They have filed suits and ...

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NYT Reporter Anthony Shadid Missing in Libya

Shadid at Brown University, April 2010 [photo credit: AP]

[UPDATED March 21: The NYT announced that the Libyan government has released all four reporters, who are reportedly on their way home. Reports indicate the Turkish government played a key role in negotiating their freedom.] [UPDATED March 18: In an interview with Christiane Amanpour for ABC, Saif Qadaffi said that the NYT reporters had been detained and were in Tripoli. The NYT announced that they believed the reporters would be released on Friday. We still await official word of their release.] “Weeks before the war started, I had promised myself that I would stay in Baghdad through the conflict, whatever the circumstances,” wrote NYT reporter Anthony Shadid in July ...

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More Than a "Personal Error of Judgment": Seif Gaddafi and the London School of Economics

[Seif Gaddafi. Image by Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters]

“Seif is committed to resolving contentious international and domestic issues through dialogue, debate, and peaceful negotiations.” These were the words with which Professor David Held introduced a public lecture by Seif al-Islam al-Gaddafi at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2009. Last week, British media revelled in replaying Held’s words, before cutting to Seif Gaddafi’s February 21, 2011, speech on Libyan state TV in which he predicted "rivers of blood" and vowed: "We'll fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet.” Another Youtube video shows Gaddafi wielding an assault rifle and rallying his supporters with promises to arm them. ...

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عصافير العقيد [The Colonel's (Gaber) Asfours]

[Sketch of al-Qadhdhafi. Image from Unknown Archive]

في لحظات احتضار نظامه، وسط الجنون والخراب، لا يبقى من العقيد الليبي سوى صورة المهرّج. مهرّج مغطى بالدم والريش والدولارات، يعيش الوحدة محاطاً ببعض ابنائه، عاجزاً عن التصديق بأن الزمن انقلب به، والهاوية في انتظاره.الاحتضار الدموي الطويل لنظام 'الكتاب الأخضر'، يأتي في سياق ثورة شعبية تجتاح العالم العربي، وتؤسس لشرعية سياسية جديدة، تقطع مع الانقلاب العسكري، ومع نظام الجمهوريات الوراثية، القائم على القمع والنهب والخوف. يستدعي هذا التحول نقداً جذرياً للخيانات الثقافية، التي اتخذت اشكالا مختلفة، في الزمن الانقلابي. الصدمة بدأت بقبول جابر عصفور منصب وزير الثقافة في الحكومة الأخيرة التي شكلها الديكتاتور المصري المخلوع. وانتهت الى اعلان عصفور استقالته 'لأسباب صحية'، بعد ...

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Intervention, Libya, Jadaliyya: A Documentary Remix

[Image from VJ Um Amel.]

The following is an audio-visual documentary remix by VJ Um Amel of "On International Intervention and the Dire Situation in Libya," an article by Asli Bali and Ziad Abu-Rish originally published on Jadaliyya on February 23, 2011. See video below. 

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The Arabs in Africa

[

As Libyans rise up against the 41-year-old dictatorship of Muammar al-Qaddafi, one of the most striking claims of state violence has been the hiring of “African mercenaries” to crush the revolt. Like Hosni Mubarak’s “thugs” (or baltagiya in Arabic, terms that gained widespread currency almost instantly), the mercenaries represent the anti-populist face of violence, those who are willing to take to the streets not for reasons of personal conviction or national duty, but for compensation from the embattled regime. The mercenaries and the thugs provide a contrast to the nonviolent, impassioned politics of the protesters. One point further distinguishes Qaddafi’s ...

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Exclusive Update from Benghazi: Inside Information on the Opposition Movement

[Image from unknown archive]

This morning, I spoke to Mohammed Fannoush, an active dissident in Benghazi, who informed me that the liberated cities, in both the East and West, have come together and organized a committee which will serve as a collective organ from which they will continue to unwaveringly fight for the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Fannoush has been put in charge of communication and urged me and other Arab-Americans to be active in clarifying the situation of the anti-Gaddafi movement in Libya as being nationalist, as opposed to Gaddafi’s manipulative accusations of a radical Islamist, specifically Al-Qaeda, led opposition. This movement is one based in a struggle for freedom, ...

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Map of Libya According to Qaddafi Imagi-Nation

[Image by Ibtisam Barakat]

[This cartoon was prepared after Qaddafi's third speech on February 25, in which he equated Libya with himself . . . ]

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Jadaliyya Interview with Ali Ahmida

[Image from unknown archive]

[Our first Interview is conducted by Jadaliyya Co-Editor, Noura Erakat] In this interview, Ali Ahmida (bio here) discusses how the recent civilian revolt began as a reformist movement and quickly transformed into a revolutionary one demanding regime change. Ahmida also places the opposition forces in their geo-political context in light of Libya's legacy of post-colonial state building. Ahmida concludes by exploring the three possible scenarios in the next phase of Libya's revolt. Please excuse the low quality audio at the outset of Ali Ahmida's comments. The interview is in three 8-minute parts below:    

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Indictment

The following poem is by Muhammad Farhat al-Shaltami (1945-2010), one of the leading figures of Libyan dissident literature. Born in Benghazi in the wake of Italy’s bloody colonial rule, al-Shaltami was a teacher by occupation. He was first imprisoned in the 1960s under the monarchy – for his poetry as much as for his politics. He was imprisoned again more than once during the 1970s by the Qaddafi regime. Shaltami was the author of numerous diwans, with many poems originally composed in and about prison. ...

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Video Interview (#2) with Ali Ahmida on Libya and Intervention

[This interview was conducted by Jadaliyya Co-Editor, Noura Erakat, on March 24, 2011] In this second interview, Ali Ahmida (bio here) discusses the balance of power on the ground in Libya. On March 18th, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 and effectively imposed a no-fly zone over Libya's airspace in response to what many anticipated would be a bloodbath in Benghazi. The next day, French and British air forces began aerial bombardment of Libya with broad international support including ...

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All Sorts of Interventions

The focal point of the “Arab Spring” has shifted from the successful uprisings of Tunisia and Egypt to the bleak developments in Bahrain and Libya. As the military forces of Britain, France, and the United States are taking “all necessary measures” to topple the Qaddafi regime, troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Peninsula Shield Force continue to “stabilize” the al-Khalifa regime in the face of a peaceful democratic uprising in Bahrain. The discrepancies between intervention for regime ...

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Of Principle and Peril

Reasonable, principled people can disagree about whether, in an ideal world, Western military intervention in Libya’s internal war would be a moral imperative. With Saddam Hussein dead and gone, there is arguably no more capricious and overbearing dictator in the Arab world than Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. The uprising of the Libyan people against him, beginning on February 17, was courageous beyond measure. It seems certain that, absent outside help, the subsequent armed insurrection would have been doomed ...

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Solidarity and Intervention in Libya

The Libyan uprising is entering its fourth week. The courage and persistence of the Libyan people’s efforts to overthrow al-Qaddafi have been met with ongoing regime brutality ranging from shoot-to-kill policies to the indiscriminate use of artillery against unarmed civilians. When we last wrote on this subject, we already recognized that the situation in Libya was dire. Since that time the violence of the regime’s unhinged bid to subdue the armed insurgency has only escalated. The mounting civilian ...

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Shades of Solidarity: Notes On Race-talk, Intervention, and Revolution

In this season of revolution, the early and stunning toppling of dictators – if not necessarily entire regimes – in Tunisia and Egypt has been followed by what appear for the moment to be stalemates in Bahrain and Libya. And in these latter two countries, despite wildly different circumstances, a curious phenomenon has emerged: a concern over foreign, and often racially marked, “mercenaries.” In Tunisia and Egypt, armies have acted as relatively cohesive national institutions, able to define their ...

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Killing in the Name of: Libya, Sovereignty, Humanity

Libyans are begging to be saved, we have been told. We are also told that the international community has the responsibility to protect Libyans. It is now March 11, 2011. Yesterday, the Republic of France recognized the sovereignty of the Interim Transitional National Council of the Libyan Republic, presumably as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. France is scheduled to send an ambassador to Benghazi soon, but she may arrive too late, or too early. Everything depends on how transitional ...

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The Fabric of Democracy

When disturbed, they usually escape by running and rarely take to flight. (The Common Peacock) In Rogues, his 2003 volume on rogue states,[1] Jacques Derrida looked to Plato's Republic in order to assess the Grecian syntagma of democracy as ‘democracy to come.’ Passages from the Republic referring to ‘democratic man and his freedoms’ hold special relevance; Derrida used it to examine the rise of Islamism in Algeria but I would like to focus on the relationship between clothing, democracy ...

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"The Responsibility to Protect": Notes on Libya, Sovereignty, and the UN Security Council

I am writing on 27 February 2011, when there are calls for the international community to intervene, if necessary with violence, into Libyan affairs. Most recently, and “in a distinct echo of the tactics they pursued to encourage US intervention in the Balkans and Iraq, a familiar clutch of neo-conservatives appealed Friday for the United States and NATO to "immediately" prepare military action to help bring down the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.” Falling short of some expectations, ...

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Libya's Significance

With the 42-year reign of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi coming to a seemingly inevitable end, it is worth reflecting on the significance and regional implications of his ouster. Perhaps most importantly, Qaddafi’s removal cannot but result in genuine regime change. Unlike Egypt or Tunisia, Libya does not possess autonomous state institutions or state-sponsored elites with the capacity to force out the leader in order to perpetuate their custodianship of the state. If Qaddafi falls – and absent foreign ...

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What Really Bothered Qaddafi (Speech Excerpt with Translation)

On February 22nd, Qaddafi delivered a televised speech in which he appeared troubled and angry. Most observers assumed he was such because of his imminent dethroning. But that was not what was bothering him. Taking a break from superficial analysis at Jadaliyya, we put our minds to the task and excavated the phonetic meaning of his angry speech, captured by its finale.

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On International Intervention and the Dire Situation in Libya

Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council held a formal meeting in which they condemned the violence in Libya and threatened to hold violators of international law accountable. At the same time, the Arab League held an extraordinary session in which it suspended Libya’s membership. These measures, and others, come eight days into the Libyan people’s courage and persistence in the face of shoot-to-kill policies by police, military, and mercenary forces as well as the use of helicopter gunships, ...

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