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Surviving in Libya


Posts : 9319
Join date : 2011-03-19
Location : Around the bend

Surviving in Libya Empty Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun Apr 10 2011, 01:29

Found this on the net and had to do a double take - could've been me writing it! -except it wasn't. Memories! ... (even the same company that I worked for - Agip!)
Only difference is, this write-up makes mention of the airport in Tripoli. Well of course when I lived and worked in Tripoli (1993/94) Libya was a no-fly zone because of the sanctions imposed by the UN over the Lockerbie disaster, so I never even got to see the airport, instead getting in and out of the country entailed having to make a long overland journey through Tunisia and on into Libya through the border , a journey which could take anything from 14 hours to two days (army, security and all sorts of intermittent checks all along the way) often reaching the border to find it closed and having to make the long journey back (to Tripoli or Tunis - depending on whether your intention was to get out or in!) An alternative was The Maltese Run - fly to Malta and bunk up on the over-crowded rat-infested rusty tin can boat over to Tripoli, an overnight erratic hit-or-miss journey depending on whether the boat was passably sea-worthy at the time or even in the mood for the journey.

This writer's experience of working in Libya is obviously a lot more recent. Be that as it may, nothing much seems to have changed. Reading this has prompted me to write about my experiences there. When I have a bit more time, I am going to add my own adventures here.

Meanwhile ... here's a taste of:
(from here: )
The Single Girl's Guide to Surviving Tripoli
19 Jan 2008

Living and Working in Libya presents some Unusual Challenges:

Application to Libya

Getting into Libya is almost as tricky as getting out of Libya. Any successful job application is followed by a battery of blood tests, chest x-rays, urine analyses, eye tests, ear tests, nose tests, unexpected prodding and poking, etc, the results of which are all sent away to be examined by Embassy appointed 'Experts', and when they confirm what you already know you receive a certificate declaring you fit and healthy! (Which you knew already, but Hooray anyway). The next step is for passport and qualifications to be translated into arabic, approved by someone hired specially for the purpose, who writes a report which is distributed, added to pile, occasionally filed and then a tentative contract of employment is produced – that's only "tentative" mind you, never one to make a hasty decision, the Libyan employer will confirm your employment after your arrival in Tripoli and, guess what? Further health tests!

Undaunted, and full of misguided enthusiasm for a new job, its time to go shopping! The shopping list for life in Libya is exhaustive, and includes the need for an adequate supply of batteries, tampons, sellotape, dvds, sewing kit, corkscrews (you never know), soap, moisturizer, hand sanitizer, magazines, flashlight and an assorted range of electrical tape, fuses, pliers, screwdriver and other useful tools for fixing/assembling things like electric lamps, phones, dvds and so on, also envelopes, pens and post-its plus emergency food rations like chocolate digestive biscuits, Cadburys fruit and nut, and the sort of powdered meals that can be mixed with fruit juice are a good idea.

Clothing to Pack

Depending upon what time of year you arrive in Tripoli it will be either very cold or very hot, both indoors and outdoors. Bring clothes for both seasons as there is nothing to buy in Tripoli other than the local's fav which comprise full length Burqa's (housecoats for women) and Gallabiyas (long dresses for men). Burqa's worn by western girls, whilst undeniably handsome, are frowned on. Western girls are meant to dress in Western clothes, don't be like Michael Jackson in Bahrain and disgrace youself by wearing a black hijab if you are a man, a nonmuslim to boot. Far more sensible to stick to European dress, but remember you are not the heroic Kate Adie and this is not CNN, so no need for lots of journalistic pockets, you'll only lose your keys and/or be mistaken for an Eyetalian. However, like Kate Adie, all outfits should cover legs, arms, neck and should allow space for breathing but not sweating.


Flights to Tripoli depart London at around 6am, check in is at 3 so depending where you are traveling from there's not a lot of point in going to bed that night. It also means everyone arriving in Tripoli will be tired and cranky after the 4.5hr flight and the early check in, and if they're not then they soon will be. The new arrival to Libya finds him/herself in the long queue of foreigners waiting at Immigration, whilst gleeful LIbya scurry unhampered pass you through Immigration for first pick from the luggage carousel. Your fellow UK travelers are invariably made up sub-contractors and returning oil company workers with thick regional accents, beer bellys and whiskey breath and who are united by a complete and utter disdain for the Libyans. 'Fookin ell' and 'Jesoos wept' are frequent refrains from the expats as the sole Immigration officer tests each foreigner's excuse for being there, breaking off occasionally and disappearing for a few minutes as the rest of the new arrivals sweat and fumein the hot, unairconditioned hall.

'When The Leader's sun wus arrested in Lundun for coke recently they 'ad all the foreign workers out 'ere for 8hours – the fookin ambassador 'ad to get ont' phone to the foreign minister in Lundun and he ad to apologise personally so the bluudy Immigration would let the foreign workers back in' – the furious watery-eyed northerner tells the man to his left, who rolls his eyes sympathetically, says 'ay', and lights up another smoke. Nevertheless, everyone gets processed eventually, and then there is a nervous moment when you wonder if your luggage will still be there. Of course it is, its lying at the bottom of a dusty pile which you then drag onto a trolley and load onto a ridiculously high conveyer belt to pass through a dubious looking x-ray machine that doesn't look like its actually working, meanwhile a group of silent rather grimy looking men in oddly sized blue uniforms and police belts stand around smoking and watching you without moving.

Once you have split your blouse from the effort of hauling 32kilo suitcases onto the conveyer, broken the moisturizer you bought at Heathrow, torn 3 nails and watched your chocolate hobnobs roll across the arrivals terminal its time to make a debut into the arrivals lounge.

Lounge is a misnomer in any case, the very word suggesting comfort, in fact nothing could be further from the truth, there are no seats anywhere, nor cafes, shops, bureau de changes or any of the other outlets usually found at airports, it's just an extension of the luggage claim area with the difference being that here bedlam reigns as entire families have congregated and emotionally overwrought women clutch returning sons, brothers, uncles, cousins or sometimes complete strangers to their heaving bosom and wail noisily, all around families screech and chatter happily and the new European arrival reluctantly tears him/herself away from looking at some of the more interesting bedoin tattoos on the women's foreheads.

The First Port of Call in Tripoli

Is always a hotel. Which can be a bit of an eye opener to the uninitiated. According to the sign over the door the Etoile Splendido boasts 4 stars, which is immediately dispelled as you enter into a lobby without light, a greasy desk with an even greasier looking desk manager who utters one word, 'passport' which he photocopies and then returns with an oldfashioned key attached to a 5inch piece of wood and points towards a lift, this is just a tricky initiative test because its not working as there is no power in the afternoon.

So after scaling the stairs to a darkened corridor and locating your room, you enter into the scruffiest hotel room you've ever seen - in teh dark you make out one chair, one oldfashioned wardrobe and a single mattress on a frame on the floor. The idea of lying down with your head 6inches from the ground where you can clearly see the trail of wildlife that are marching in well disciplined lines across the soiled carpet and into the even dirtier bathroom, is not appealing. In the bathroom the ants disappear behind cracked tiles that must surely have been put up sometime in the 60s? The sole source of light is from one window that has a big crack and a piece missing, a grey curtain flaps energetically in front of it. This is a common experience, and its then that the newcomer to Tripoli can only sigh, look out the window at the shockingly stinky sea and console themselves that this is just the first night, there are bound to be better places, at least there is a coastline so there must be a nice beach somewhere. How innocent! You can't apply the word "nice" to Tripoli unless used in the past tense as in: "50 years ago the Italians made a nice promenade in Tripoli", or "there was a nice café behind that rubble and the garbage over there", or "when there were trees it was nice and shady" (one day all trees were removed after an assassination attempt was made on the Leader from a tree).

Of course there are those who arrive and are just plain ornery believing its not obligatory to stay in a hellhole. So having researched the city from the safety of the internet back home in London, seen my bed on the floor in Tripoli, and viewed the antique bathroom, it took me all of 5seconds to resolve to move to the recently completed Corinthia, which is the new 5 star (real 5 stars, not selp-appointed 'stars' like everywhere else in Tripoli). Reasonably calm having made that decision I recall going to the lobby to wait for my ride to take me to dinner and sat down at a vacant sofa to wait, this then posed a new problem, of what part of you touches what part of the sofa, for example, the arms of the sofa and chairs are so soiled they are a shiny black while the rest of the upholstery still sports what must have once been colourful flowers. Hooray for hand sanitizer!

I moved from the infected sofa to the bar and tried to buy a coke, but the unshaven man behind the counter fails to understand the most international of words and when I point to a glass of something that looks like coke he leans beneath the counter and hands me a warm carton of orange juice which I pay for with filthy notes exchanged for dollars from the reception Manager. By now the hand sanitizer has been used at least 9 times.

I hang around the lobby not touching anything waiting for my guide, as soon as she arrives I explain I need to move to the Corinthia. My guide, a Canadian graduate of Cairo University, smiles knowingly and in a mixture of Italian and Arabic retrieves my luggage, signs something (hopefully not a recommendation) and we are out on the street hailing a taxi and moving off towards relative sanctuary. The Corinthia looms out of the grimy confusion that is downtown Cairo, it is clean, full of shiny marble and sparkling aluminium. In the lobby a large painting of the Leader smiles out at elegantly attired diners who sip coke from ice cube laden glasses. A discounted room is made available and I gratefully move up to a new clean suite with a double glazed view over the glittering sea. The feeling of hope returns.

Over dinner, Caroline, my guide explains what will take place tomorrow, but nothing can prepare me, nor anyone, for the reality:

Arrival at the Office

The new arrival is responsible for getting themself to the office which is tricky as there are no street signs in English, and absolutely no company or other signs in any European language to help, plus taxi drivers do not speak English. There are however a lot of large bill boards with pictures of The Leader. So instructions go something like this: walk down to Martyrs Square, turn left at the picture of the Leader, go to the crossroads and turn right at the Leaders picture, then continue to the roundabout and take the 3 o'clock road with the Leader's face on the wall, you'll need about an hour..….

Somehow you get yourself to the office where you pass through a turnstile and announce your name to the guards behind the glass. Unusual for an oil company you think, a turnstile. The guards speak no English but point to the stairs and you go up to the 1st floor and find someone who understands English and directs you to room full of men (who are the Human Resources Division), where you hand over the 35 passport photos you were instructed to bring and told to sit down which is where you are then given the obligatory once over. The best thing to do is to smile at everyone. Someone handed me a Lion bar. They are not ungenerous the Libyans; they are incredibly scruffy and they all smoke like chimneys, oh and the men address each other as Habibi (darling).

Mr Shafiqi shuffles in, he is the chain smoking HR manager who you met in London. He explains who your chain of command is, and you sign the contract. He smilingly evades all questions about the job, and you smilingly don't press it. But you have been alerted to the nature of things in the office the night before, all too fantastical to really absorb, but anyway, this is a day for being processed. My Shafiqi calls out to a tall gangly youth called Taher who speaks not a word of English, but beckons me to follow. We run across the road to the main building, through yet another turnstile and then into a basement office that has what look like medical posters on the walls, but as the room is lit by 2 60watt bulbs and everything is in Arabic its hard to be sure. There are two white guys in filthy checked shirts, stained jeans and enormous metal toed work boots sitting against the wall on wobbly chairs. A hejabed woman beckons me over and points to a book where I am to sign in, I see the two guys before me have names that are made up entirely of consonants.

After a while they disappear and then a woman appears in the doorway and says 'henna, henna' to me which means come here. I follow her into a little room with metal floor, metal ceiling, metal walls. She takes out a hypodermic syringe and indicates I should roll up my sleeve. I refuse. She gabbles fast in Arabic and I have no idea what she is saying, but can guess. Then 2 more nurses arrive and one speaks English and says this is standard. I did a blood test in London I say, sure that there is a mistake, but the English speaking one smiles and continues to insist this is OK. I ask to see the hypo come out of a fresh pack and this is done. I give blood then and am ushered into see the Doctore, the nurse babbling something to him as I go in. He has sad red eyes and asks me to sit down then looks at my hands, turns them over, sighs, scribbles his signature on a form in arabic and says that's fine you can go. Its very bizarre. I later learn that when my guide Caroline had her skin check he insisted on seeing her breasts. We go back to the waiting room and then Taher arrives and I follow him to a small VW bus where the two consonant heavy guys are sitting, the nurse gets in with big red test tubes full of blood, and we all bounce over the bumpy potholed roads to the laboratory, where I try to follow the nurse but am bawled at in Arabic to stay in the bus. This is good as there is chaos outside the Lab with crowds of people, some looking very fragile, and a lot of pushing and shoving going on.

The two guys in the bus are Polish oil riggers, they explain this medical has to be undertaken every year for work permit renewal. They have just arrived from the desert that morning and are leaving that afternoon on 6 week rotational leave. Then one says 'arrgh you wait you see what next' he is grinning widely and clearly amused at what comes next. 30minutes later we pull up in front of a huge building with crowds of people in groups, there are groups of Philippinos, groups of Libyan men, or women, there are the fat, beer bellyed expat oil contractors having a smoke. I stand around in my blazer and Caribbean blonde hair feeling very incongruous, and one of them comes up to me. 'yer waitin' to go in?' he asks, I smile and nod, 'first time? Well yer in fer a rit treat' he grins. A bus drops off a new load of men who join the throng where people are waving money about their heads. I am looking for Taher amongst the heads. 'It'll take a minute is all' says my new friend 'who're yer with?' I tell him my oil company name. 'It's a complete farce, nor even an X-ray in the box, I dinnae even take me cigs an' lighter out' he says pointing at his top pocket which bulges with the telltale line of a packet of cigarettes.

We stand around idly chatting then Taher materializes and bawls henna henna to me so I follow where he pushes to the front of the women's queue, no men here, hands over some money and I am ushered into a room, shoved into a tiny metal box about the size of a coffin and the door slides shut, 10seconds later the door opens and I am ushered back out to join the throngs of people. Its all over. I have not removed my clothes or jewelry and the whole exercise seems a bit pointless to say the least.

Everyone is in a good humour on the bus back. The rain has stopped and the streets steam, the Poles are going back to the single mens quarters to shower and head for the airport and I am getting to see a bit of the city where everyone drives at lightning speed and hopefully there is a rainbow at the end of this road. Yeah right you're not in Kansas now Dorothy.

Office Introductions

The new arrivals employer will be certain to make a first impression, the all important first introduction is designed to ensure that you are in no doubt as to his absolute power, which you will in any case soon come to realise is omnipotent in this male society where women are a submissive class, playing a very secondary role. The introduction may require you to wait an hour or so on an uncomfortable chair in a small room adjacent to his office, where a number of scruffy male engineers, clerks, passersby will sit around staring at you. The all invincible boss will be shouting at any number of people in the office next door. Occasionally the door will open and a harassed looking engineer or clerk will emerge looking pointedly at you sitting neatly against the wall. You are the new girl. You are currently being discussed in minute detail throughout the building.

Eventually the boss will emerge, invariably smaller, fatter, taller, thinner in stature than expected. Depending on his success with getting bankhanders from sub-contractors he may be wearing a clean smart suit, or be unshaven in a 2 day old gallabiya. Your role is simply to do his job, and to do it to a standard that makes him absolutely, unquestionably marvelous in the eyes of his superiors and the whole company – that is, unless something goes wrong in which case it is entirely your fault.

Not that a stirling job performance will make a damn bit of difference to his pay or your pay, and you can forget any concept of 'bonus' Libyans earn a paltry salary, even the Chairman of the company will be earning 5 times less than you, all salaries are decided on a scale by The Leader who's life out in Serte means he has no grasp of people';s needs in and no inkling as to the cost of living in Tripoli, which is why everyone is dependent, quite literally on baksheesh which is a sum automaticlaly calculated into contract prices by overseas contractors. The Libyans, generally cheerful and friendly, are open about it. And once they get to know you and trust you, you will hear the stories of the endless suffering they have endured that justify just about anything.

The Libyans with the best lifestyles have nice jobs in Contracting roles where they come into contact with foreign sub-contractors. They enjoy long summer holidays at Lake Como and educate their kids at the American School in Lausanne, the whole family drive smart new VWs or Toyotas. They are in no way shape or form ambitious, they used their ambition long ago and have arrived at where they are and that's where they will stay till retirement. In the meantime, going to the office means to have as social and as fun time as possible and business means meeting outside the office to exchange account details. If the boss is particularly well liked and successful, he may be assigned a European female as a sort of unspoken bonus, she will do his work and if she's attractive everyone will assume he is doing her.

Looks are Important:

As a new European female to the Tripoli office, If you are reasonably attractive you will be alright. All Libyan men want to flirt. Ideally resulting in sex, but if they can be seen talking to you they are happy with that to start, as it gives them something to boast and lie about. Unfortunately, if you are not particularly attractive you will probably be ignored, starve and die, or fired very early on, or possibly be called to HR and told that the work permits have not come through or been declined perhaps even cancelled by the ministry or some such nonsense.

New arrivals need to get used to being stared at.

There are Libyan women in the oil firm, who are invariably young and almost all wear the hejab and a full length housecoat – although one or two racier ones sport western dress, a ton of makeup and bad hairdye jobs and are the subject of endless rumor. Then there are the religious women who suddenly, just prior to marriage cover up their whole face with a thin black cloth, causing one generally good tempered western educated Libyan to snap who are you? when addressed by the virgin ninja in question. After the wedding the bride then returns to work, emerges chrysallis like and covered in slap. Hamdallilah...

Day 2

he day after processing you will be relocated to your permanent accommodation which the company has arranged in either Stalag I or Stalag II. Both are located more than 15km from your place of work, are surrounded by barbed wire and have strange signs outside the guardposts mysteriously proclaiming: 'if security is compromised there will be hanged'. Hanged if I know what it means. There are also curious tank traps, in the form of strategically placed road blocks, permanently ready to tackle the invading hordes although the brochure does not say the country is at war, perhaps The Leader is afraid of his own tank commanders. There are numerous changes of guards on the gate and some speak english depending on what you/they want that day.

The camp is your final resting place as it were, and will be a big let down after the Corinthia. The standard flat comprises a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, some have a small balcony or garden. Be very careful of the electrical appliances as nothing is earthed and there have been occasions when the newcomer has been thrown across the room several times before remembering those vital five words Do Not Touch the Plug! Accommodation is selected in an area where other single girls live so you can all keep an eye on each other, and if you miss something there are guards posted outside each apartment to watch, wait and report. Recordings of the noble Quran belt out all day from the speakers attached to the oncamp mosque, and, spaced evenly apart at 10metres distance, just in case you forget where you are, are flagpoles with the all green Libyan flag. At the far end is the sea.

Once you've made your bed and thrown the contents of your suitcases into the massive oldfashioned wardrobe, had a good cry and fiddled with the tv to find that its not working, you may wander down to the beach, under the ever present flapping green flags. This should cheer you up as the sun shines and the cobalt blue of the mediterranean lends a reassuring summer camp feel to the place.

Finding things to do:

On arrival the new recruit is so busy assimiliating into their new environment they have no time to realise that once the groceries have been hunted down and paid for, called 'foraging for food', there isn't actually much else to do. No cinemas, bowling alleys, bars, pubs, lounges, discos, billiard halls, arcades, square dancing, raves, pottery, painting, rambling, flower arranging, sex or book clubs are available in Tripoli. And unfortunately at least one oil company has failed to provide its female employees with membership to the one swimming pool on the camp. Hence, the need for a good dvd player.

Eventually the new girl will meet someone, probably one of the oil contractors, who will excl.. What you don't have a dvd player? And direct her down to the Tuesday market which is a wonderful world full of ripped off chinese merchandise that arrive on leaky old rusting tankers piloted by pirates. Buy the more expensive brand name player, one that you recognise as it will play the Malaysian rip off dvd's that also come in on the same tanker and are scratchy and sometimes a bit garbled, but at just £1 a throw at least provide an hour or so of stop-start entertainment.

A wine kit is also useful as it will ensure you are invited along to expat gatherings. Those strange social events where the mad, watery eyed old lags with jovially wobbling beer guts and that antique accessory, a Rothmans, hanging from a pair of wrinkled old lips, lean against a homemade bar in dated 25yr old fashions guzzling noxious 'Flash' which is the poisonous local moonshine, whilst jawing on about how fantastic the place is, and then, after a little while, how awful the locals are, and 'noon of the Bastads can fookin drive!' After a few hours of concentrated guzzling of this 150° pure alcohol they will pack you into their car and hit the roads so you can see for yourself.

The first week you could find yourself at a darts club where big blokes from Leeds and beyond chuck a few darts around in a smoky den and await the applause of young philippino girls. Any interference with the tiny philippino children results in a sharply directed kick to the shins and an impromptu coughing fit from the unhealthy old heathen with the darts and the foolish ambition.

When not working or foraging for food the new girl goes along to these expat bashes where for the first 3 months she'll find herself answering the same questions over and over, where you from? do you like it here? did you bring a wine kit? If not exactly hanging on her every word, the ancient sozzled expat perks up when he hears 'wine kit', sometimes causing him to salivate messily at the thought of potential mind-numbing alcoholic beverages that will be shared around and have them all yapping like hounds for a few hours, just before slipping into a catatonic stupor whilst nodding along to Rod Stewart. Of course if you are a good looking gal you don't need the wine kit, but roller blades for a fast getaway and a good set of elbows help.

If your employer does not provide a pass to the camp pool then the entire camp population will know you work for Agip and will feel very sorry for you. This is to be expected and nothing to be ashamed of. For some reason Agip are the only oil company who fail to provide their female foreign staff with a pass to use the pool. Never mind. Enough old lags will willingly lend you theirs and if you agree to spend endless hours listening to what a hard time they are having shortly before they go back out on rotation to see their wives, they will lend you their pass again, if you agree to bedroom exercise you may keep the pass indefinitely. Of course some cleverly present the pass and then, manipulate the gift attemptin to make you feel obliged to them. However, one can always take a tip out of the Irish girl's manual and confidently borrow their usual refrain of: why doncha fuck off back tya wife. It Seldom fails to have the desired effect.

There is of course not just the one camp pool. There are two others. One on Skanska camp, which is a 30ft shallow lap pool with a wrinkled liner, surrounded by rusting portacabins or trailers as they are better known and wrinkled old liars. For an annual fee of £200+ one can join in the fun of watching scantily clad middle aged english men and women scamper around in a drunken attempt to provoke sexual fury in the opposite sex and make something happen. What the bundled up Libyans who look down from the surrounding tower blocks think is anyone's guess. The camp is situated directly over some roman ruins dating back to 300ad where no doubt similar bachanalian romps took place. An ancient marble centurion, weathered and faceless after 20centuries of facing the elements and squadrons of clambering children, stands guard over the catacombs which have been partially excavated.

Posts : 9319
Join date : 2011-03-19
Location : Around the bend

Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun May 08 2011, 16:27

Same title ... but a different reason.

More than 400 migrants from Libya had to be rescued by Italian coast guards after their fishing boat hit rocks on the small island of Lampedusa.

TV images of the dramatic night-time rescue showed some migrants jumping or falling into the sea.

Others held on to ropes strung between the boat and the shoreline as Italian coast guards helped them to shore.

It came hours after Pope Benedict urged Roman Catholics to show more tolerance towards migrants from north Africa.

At a Sunday mass for 300,000 people in Venice, he told them not to fear or reject the new arrivals, but to build bridges between peoples and nations, the BBC's David Willey reports

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun May 29 2011, 11:15

I haven't yet got around to adding my story here, but discovered an Expat Blog Forum on the net which has a section for expats in Libya. Some of the most recent posts there are quite disconcerting to read. I am concerned for the friends I left behind there, my expat colleagues that I worked with (British and Italian) some of whom had lived there for many years and made Libya their home, and also worried for the fate of the many Libyan friends and co-workers there whose lives and families have been turned upside down.
Expats there also have been forced to evacuate, leaving behind all their belongings
(including their pets), allowed to bring only one suitcase with them.

These recent posts are from April and May ... (The Regatta compound is where I lived when I was there. It was also locally known as "Friendly Village".)

I heard that oil companies like Shell and Petro-Canada have started moving the belongings of their employees by road via Tunisia. But the Expats who were living in Regatta can not avail this facility as Regatta Security is not allowing any stuff to go outside. I also heard that army has surrounded the Regatta and also have entered in few houses.
I heard that my neighbour's house (French expa) in Regatta was opened.
Yes I also came to know that houses belong to French, Italian and Britian in regatta have been looted and occupied

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 08 2011, 19:10

Never believe all you read in the Press - or hear reported in the media.

6th June 2011
Libya: Curious incident of the child 'air raid victim'
By Wyre Davies BBC News, Tripoli

The official position in Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Libya is that the foreign Press is free to report on what we like.

The reality is very different, and when reporting from the government side we have to work under extremely restrictive conditions.

Even when we are taken out beyond the confines of our luxury hotel complex by government minders to see the aftermath of Nato bombing raids, what we are presented with is impossible to verify and, frankly, sometimes difficult to believe.

On Sunday night we were taken to a Tripoli hospital. There, lying on a bed, was the unconscious form of a little girl.

Hanin, we were told - not even a year old - was the victim of a Nato bombing raid.

As the world's media clamoured to take her picture and hear her story, a woman was ushered to her bedside and within seconds taken away again.

"That was the girl's mother," said one of several government minders in the treatment room.

Another minder was prompting a man introduced to us as the girl's uncle.

"This is what they call the protection of civilians," whispered the government man.
Man who said he was Hanin's uncle, Tripoli, Libya (6 June 2011) The girl's "uncle" later admitted he was a government employee

The same sentence was immediately repeated for the cameras by the uncle.

Ever since we had been at the site of the apparent bombing, two hours earlier, something did not feel quite right.

The bomb crater, near a smallholding on the outskirts of Tripoli, was very small and there was much less collateral damage than from other bombs I have seen in recent weeks.

Dead pigeons and a dead dog lay on the ground but there had been no mention at that point of any civilian casualties.

Our suspicions were confirmed at the end of our hospital visit when, off camera, a member of the hospital staff passed a scrap of paper to the Press.

It was a hand-written note, in English, saying the girl was in fact hurt in a car accident.

The hospital scene, it would appear, was a complete sham.

Ushered to another, unrelated, bomb site late last night, the story unravelled even further.

There, standing at the scene of what the Libyans said was the aftermath of a Nato attack, was the girl's uncle from the hospital.

What was he doing here?

Caught in the spotlight, he acknowledged being a government employee.

Today, at a government complex in Tripoli that has been hit many times in Nato air strikes, our minders were unable to explain the curious incident of the little girl in the hospital - repeatedly ignoring our questions about the contradictions and "mistruths" we had been told.

With almost 10,000 sorties by Nato planes, it is more than probable there have been civilian casualties and collateral damage.

Living next to a military base under attack or being woken in the middle of the night by the sound of bombing must be a terrifying experience.

But the problem for international journalists working under these restrictions, is that it is often difficult to know what is the truth and what is propaganda.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun Jun 12 2011, 20:55

the problem for international journalists working under these restrictions, is that it is often difficult to know what is the truth and what is propaganda.

Who really knows what the truth is and whether that "truth" is a selective one that we are meant to hear. Here is another report, apparently "a story CNN won't report". It comes from the Dissident Voice website - but then again, is there an agenda behind this report? From what I can see there are certain contradictions in this report itself.
In an article posted on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, the writer says:
tonight thousands were on First of September street in support of their revolutionary leader.
In all the time (5.5 years) we have come here we have never heard of oppression by Ghadafi, the people have great respect and love for him. They all wear green and wear photos of him around their necks, believe me the Western news is so far from the truth they are on another planet. We have never seen anybody beaten, harassed, in prison, in fact we have been days and never even seen a policeman unlike our trips to Cairo where armed guards are on every corner, with tanks around Mosques on Fridays. Believe us, before this mess, it was safer in Tripoli than in Houston.

Well, in the year that I was there I saw and experienced with my own eyes and ears many examples of long-term underlying oppression, imposed censorship in various forms, brain-washing by stealth. The same old propoganda being regularly pumped out on selectively censored national TV. Apart from that which I saw for myself, I have spoken with Libyans, young and old, who literally feared for their lives were they to go against the forced oppressions reigned down upon them - the father who took me into his confidence (but swore me to secrecy - even from my fellow expats) and showed me the pre-revolution literature with which he was secretly schooling his children at home - mass-destroyed in 1969 when Gadaffi came to power and banned from every household and place of education, possession alone a hanging offence - (and yes, public hangings were a regular occurrence); the young man too afraid to stay in the office as he wasn't feeling well - when the regular order came during the working day for every single Libyan worker there to drop everything and go to Green Square where their Leader was addressing the people (The Peoples Congress). When I asked him what would happen if he didn't go, all he would say is, I have to do my duty ... if I don't you maybe will not find me here tomorrow ...

This article purports to know "the truth" that is being withheld ... but is it the truth, the whole truth and nothing but ... ? Who knows ...

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 15 2011, 11:42

Libya has been allocated tickets to the London 2012 Olympic Games, organisers have confirmed.

The country's National Olympic Committee (NOC) has been given "a few hundred" passes to the event.

A London 2012 spokeswoman said: "The Libyan NOC, not an individual, has been allocated a few hundred tickets which they are responsible for distributing to sports organisations and athletes within their country."

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's son Muhammad al-Gaddafi is head of the country's Olympic committee which will hand out the tickets.

Britain is currently part of Nato military action against Libya.

Around one million of the total 8.8 million tickets available to the London Games were allocated to federations in foreign countries.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Zimbabwe and Burma have also received tickets.

It said that Colonel Gaddafi will not be allowed to travel to the Games because he is under an international travel ban and arrest warrant.

According to the newspaper, the International Olympic Committee said an NOC would only be excluded from ticket allocations if it were "not able to function any more because of government interference".

It quoted a senior government source as saying: "There is consternation about the fact that country teams are entitled to invite their heads of state, meaning that Gaddafi, whom we are desperately trying to bomb into oblivion, could try to disrupt the Games."

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sat Jun 18 2011, 22:16

Just heard 'breaking news' on TV that NATO has made a strike on what they say they thought was a convoy of pro-Gadaffi army vehicles, but it wasn't ... it was a convoy of rebel fighters making their way out of Brega. HOW can they possibly justify such a "mistake" and where is this all going to end... and what the hell is NATO doing there anyway. What's happening in Libya and elsewhere is all just so very horrible. My heart goes out to anyone caught up in these terrible and terrifying conflicts.

WAR - what is it good for? Absolutely NOTHING. (The Temptations)

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun Jun 19 2011, 22:33

and now this:

From Sky News: Nato Air Strike Kills Civilians In Tripoli
Two deaths have been confirmed following an air strike in the east of the capital, Tripoli, in the early hours of Sunday.

Libyan authorities say nine civilians were killed, including a family of five.

The military alliance said the errant strike may have been due to "a weapons s?ystem failure".

"Nato regrets the loss of innocent civilian lives and takes great care in conducting strikes against a regime determined to use violence against its own citizens," it said in a statement.

And who's paying for all this anguish and destruction?
The BBC said last week that it understood that the cost of military operations in Libya to the British taxpayer had reached £100m.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 14 2011, 08:45

The latest from Libya ...

In this video clip, just towards the end, is a caption of Tripoli - and the approach road into town, the route I used to take every morning into work. The road ran alongside the sea to the right of us; a really beautiful and exhilarating way to start the day. Aaah ... sweet memories ... I can almost feel I'm back there.

(PS: Did you spot the Che Gevara lookalike in the rebel camp?)

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Mon Jul 18 2011, 01:34

A father's lament: The true story of Libya under Gadaffi.
This is not journalism, this is not propaganda, this is the reality: (Written by someone who knows - someone who has lived through it)

Just like the father I once spoke with there - words spoken in secrecy, confidence and fear - fear literally for his life and his family; for the mere utterance of these words and possession of the pre-revolution (1969) literature I witnessed (in 1993) was a hanging offence.

A father of one of the members of The Free Generation Movement
put down his thoughts about 42 years of Gaddafi rule. 42 years that this
man has lived through. A victim of oppression, this father of Libyans
waits for a day he once couldnt even dream about....

Read what he has to say HERE

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sat Aug 20 2011, 12:40

Reading about the latest news from Libya and the rebels capture and hold of Gharyan - brings back memories of our adventurous trip up into the Nafusa mountains.

We never made it to the actual town of Gharyan itself which is a pity because I would love to have seen the underground cave houses ( pictured HERE ). There were seven of us in two cars, and we set off early one morning across the desert roads, heading for a place the expats called "The Petrified Forest" (so-called because of the abundance of fossils to be found there, evidence of life that would have been there at one time, perfectly preserved fossils of nature, trees, leaves - little animals, birds etc. It was as though everything had died suddenly in one fell swoop - spooky ... as though something so petrifying had happened which literally frightened them to death) high up in the barren, rocky sands of the Nafusa Mountains. These mountains were not the luscious green and fertile mountains of my childhood back in County Wicklow.
This planned trip of ours was all the more adventurous in that we (as foreigners) were travelling along a route we were not supposed to be. There were many restrictions in Libya at the time, even around the local areas of Tripoli where we lived. By rights, we should not have gone there without a guide (a local), but in truth were we to have asked for such it would have been forbidden anyway ... so off we went. Two of the guys (French) in our little party had been to the Petrified Forest before, so we knew what to expect.
For miles and miles there was nothing to see apart from vast expanse of sand either side of us and just every now and then we would come across some little signs of life. Then, all of a sudden - in the bleak nothingness ahead of us, I saw a horse, an all-white horse! As we drew nearer we could see it was tied with a long rope in a sort of enclosure by the side of the road surrounded by a roughly put-together wall of rocks, and a little further on we could see a hut of sorts. Drawing nearer still we saw that painted on the gable end of this hut, in the brightest of emerald green, was a huge shamrock! I so wanted to stop and take a photo of this unusual scene, but Jean-Pierre who was driving the car I was in didn't want to stop at that stage and didn't want to lose sight of our fellow travellers in the car in front. (No mobile phones at that time). He said I could take my photo on the way back, they would slow down for me at that point (so I could take the picture from the car). Taking photos in Libya was a risky business also at that time and invariably cameras and film would be confiscated or destroyed on leaving the country - at Customs on the border through to Tunisia or one of the many random check stops en route there. (Security/Police/Army - you never really knew which they were).
Anyway, just a few minutes after that scene - on the other side of the road but back a bit from the road, we came across across a huge walled enclosure, with gigantic rolls of barbed wire topping the walls. In the middle was a tower and on top of the tower a massive statue - of a perfectly carved rifle!! Whooooosssh past there ... (mental note to add to my discreet photo call on the way back).
Well, I never had a chance to take any photos on the way back, because high up the mountain in the Petrified Forest where we had been for about an hour, having finished our picnic and about to go searching for fossils to collect and bring back - Yves (the other French guy and driver of the first car) shot out the order - Sandstorm coming! OMG! From the height we could actually see this sand storm far off in the distance, heading our way (just like you would see a tornado), Yves reckoned it was about half an hour away and it was imperative that we get down from the mountain before it hit! We did manage to do so - and found the road just in time ... because within minutes of our setting off on the road back, suddenly the road and everything else became invisible. We were right slap-bang in the middle of this sandstorm. It was frightening! Everything went dark and the sand and all sorts was raining down around us and all the time there was this almighty roaring sound. The windscreen wipers going full swing on the car made no difference. We could see nothing in front, behind or anywhere else but this thick fog of sand which encircled us. Even with full headlights on it was a hard job focusing on the dim backlights of Yves' car on the road in front of us. That was our only comfort and that in itself was slim. I don't know how long this ordeal lasted - we must have been travelling about 10 miles an hour, if even that, but when it eventually died down and we were able to see the road we had obviously passed my anticipated photo-shoot spot.
Boy! Was I glad to get back home that day.

Some other places of interest that I got to visit (this time legitimately!) while I was there:

Leptis Magna


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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 22 2011, 13:23

Tripoli is taken!

What happens now?

Link to: Live update on the situation in Tripoli today

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Surviving in Libya Empty 'Tripoli Witness'

Post by Kitkat on Sun Aug 28 2011, 00:30

'Tripoli Witness' recounts life in hiding
The neighbour's wall has had a recent makeover, with the new flag - the pre-Gaddafi monarchy flag - painted on it, and a message stating that "Libya is Free".

Six nights ago, that would have been white-washed by the state and many a home would have been raided to track down "the rat" who did it.

I have been reporting for the BBC from Libya for seven long years, but have been "off air" for six, much slower, months.

As Facebook pages calling for a 17 February protest in Libya multiplied by the day, so too did the concern.

There were sleepless nights of fretting over how to report on a protest given the circumstances. Being one of just two foreign correspondents based here and being newly wed to a Libyan from Benghazi made for what seemed like a lethal combination - an arrest and "disappearance" waiting to happen. [Many families from the east and from Misrata were persecuted for regional affiliations.]

In the early hours of 15 February the mobile phone rang at about 02:40. "Private number" flashed on the screen and my heart seemed to jump to my throat. I knew it had started and London was calling.
Fear and isolation

Benghazi's residents phoned with minute-by-minute updates and by 07:00 I was broadcasting off-and-on, as and when the fear of the consequences of doing so consumed me and subsided. I was still the only one reporting the story from inside the country.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

"Life in hiding" is an uncomfortable term to use because I was not physically chased by anyone - just by the demons of paranoia at the simple knowledge of what might happen”

Two days on, it was nightfall again and the panic reached a pinnacle.

My husband reminded me we were not in Benghazi, and that in Tripoli someone would come calling. The exchange was riddled with a sense of fear, isolation and tears of helplessness and frustration on both sides.

"They have a death brigade that specialise in people like you, I can't help you, no one can!" he warned. "They will knock on our door and drag you out in front of me and execute you! You have no idea what they are capable of. What will I do?! Tell me!"

The next day my mobile number was blocked.

I stopped broadcasting, got a new number and waited. On 20 February our neighbour, a man from Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte who worked at the now wrecked Bab al-Aziziya compound, crossed paths with my husband in the building's stairway.

"So your people aren't going to keep quiet?" he asked, nonchalantly. We packed a small case of belongings and all my broadcasting equipment and left to stay at my in-laws' home.

That was the night Tripoli's unarmed residents staged their own massive, peaceful protests.

It was also the night that the sounds of heavy artillery and gunfire that met them ripped across the city.

Mental lifeline

I was broadcasting again for TV and radio as it happened - that is until Col Gaddafi's son appeared on state TV some two hours later as a re-invented character - a hardened, threatening figure who took everyone by surprise. Tripoli soon went quiet.
Green flags are lowered and rebel flags raised in Tripoli The pre-Gaddafi monarchy's flag has been hoisted across Libya

That was the last night I broadcast out of Tripoli - up until six days ago that is - due to a combined concern from senior editors in London and myself over safety.

When I was called to attend a news conference the day after the first of protests in Tripoli, I informed authorities here that I was taking a career break for personal reasons.

"Life in hiding" is an uncomfortable term to use because I was not physically chased by anyone; just by the demons of paranoia at the simple knowledge of what might happen.

It is perhaps an inevitable consequence of living in a dictatorship for many years.

There is no doubt in my mind that as a foreigner, I would have - at best - been thrown out of the country if I had continued reporting on that fateful night and the days and months that followed.

That, and the possibility that my husband and his family would have been held responsible for my actions and could have been dealt with in unimaginable ways.

That is how "Tripoli witness" was born. A man - to quell any suspicion of identity - who could not be named. For three months, these entries served as a mental and physical lifeline.

But they had to come to an end.

As the months went by, gathering information became increasingly difficult. Many friends and sources fled the country - some after fears of imprisonment and torture grew for a variety of reasons.

What was life like for Tripoli Witness, backed with incredible moral support from editors in London, over the last six months?


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Surviving in Libya Empty 'Exposure' - New series on ITV

Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 26 2011, 21:13

Exposure -
ITV1 at 10.30pm tonight.

Deposed Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi sent more than £1m in cash to
dissident republicans so they could buy weapons before he was forced into
hiding, it has been claimed.

Gaddafi had resumed his funding of republican terrorists shortly before he was
ousted from power, sparking alarm among the security forces, according to a
documentary to be screened tonight.

The programme claims that a Libyan government courier flew into London earlier
this year with $2m (£1.3m) for a businessman, believed to be a supporter of
a dissident republican cell.

Exposure, a new ITV documentary series, claims that Gaddafi wanted to exploit
the growing unrest in Northern Ireland in a bid to attack Britain for
supporting the overthrowing of his regime.

He did the same during the height of the Troubles, financially supporting the
IRA’s campaign.

The programme’s producers were allegedly told by an MI6 source that in June
the Libyan courier flew into London carrying a suitcase containing banknotes
wrapped in plastic.
It was around this time that Gaddafi’s forces were being targeted by regular
Nato bombing raids.

After arriving in London, the courier allegedly hid out in a property owned by
the Gaddafi family in the upmarket Knightsbridge area.
An MI6 official told the programme: “Security forces fear that the dissidents
are growing and gaining support and that new cash from Gaddafi would help
them restock with more weapons.”
The security situation in Northern Ireland remains “severe” as dissident
republicans continue their terror campaign. It is no secret that the groups
have been upping their fundraising efforts across Europe and the Atlantic.
Tonight’s documentary examines Gaddafi's support for republican terrorists and
investigates the danger of his legacy.

Gaddafi sent shiploads of weapons to the IRA in the 1970s. The first shipments
were delivered around 1972 following visits by former IRA chief, the late
Joe Cahill.

Semtex explosive provided by Gaddafi enabled the IRA to construct small but
deadly bombs which ripped through vehicles and shredded intended targets, or
were used to trigger large quantities of fertiliser-based explosives.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 27 2011, 19:07

Did anyone watch the programme last night?
Most of it I knew about ... have seen with my own eyes an IRA training camp in the Libyan desert ... and once my friend and work colleague during our lunch-hour had to plough a path through and climb over crates of arms (hundreds of 'em) stacked up at the entrance to one of our favourite lunch-time haunts in Tripoli, a hotel down in the port where the air-conditioning was cool and inviting in the hot summer days.

Bit of a surprise to hear (on the programme) though that deals are still going on even as recent as this year (since the taking of Tripoli and the disappearance of Gaddafi) and that there are talks of fresh trouble stirring in Northern Ireland (with help from those quarters). Surviving in Libya 3016724194

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 27 2011, 23:11

This is what I'm talking about:

Published on Tuesday 27 September 2011
Last night ITV documentary series Exposure claimed that a Libyan government courier flew into London earlier this year with £1.3m while on route to the Irish Republic.

The cash was said to be on its way to a businessman and supporter of one dissident republican group. Gaddafi sent ship loads of weapons to the IRA in the 1970s and last night’s programme claimed he resumed his contact with Irish dissident republicans in revenge for Britain’s role in overthrowing his regime this summer.

An MI6 source told ITV that when Gaddafi’s forces were being bombed by Nato in June and half of his country was overrun by rebels, a Libyan courier flew into London with the £1.3m in US dollars. He allegedly stayed in a property owned by Gaddafi situated behind Harrods.

An MI6 official told ITV: “Security forces fear that the dissidents are growing and gaining support – and that new cash from Gaddafi would help them restock with more weapons.”

I'm trying to find a playback of the programme to see if I can post it up here.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 27 2011, 23:18

Found it!

Exposure (ITV)
Monday, September 26, 2011

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Surviving in Libya Empty Latest from Regatta

Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 01 2011, 09:59

Regatta was my home for the year that I worked in Tripoli.
It has now been turned into a military compound for the rebels (freedom fighters) of Libya.
Some recent posts from the EXPAT BLOG forum :

30 September 2011

I arranged through one of our employees to gain entry to Regatta. We were escorted inside by a military jeep.

The entire compound has been converted into a sort of Garrison town with fighters from Zintan and Misrata living there. Some families are also residing inside.

We asked to be allowed to see the inside of some of our company apartments, they were all occupied with 4-5 fighters per apartment, just kids really 15-20 year olds mostly.

Some apartments still had the original furniture but most of the TV's, DVD's etc were all gone.

We were not allowed to stay too long and visit apartments / houses at leisure but it was quite obvious that most of them were occupied.

There was no sign of any foreign plated vehicles.

There are rumours that the displaced people from Misrata will be accomodated in Regatta permanently.
30 September 2011

Farewell to our personal belongings there! Until the very last moment i hoped that our apartment is intact.
Thanks for the info. Keep us updated.
30 September 2011

Argh!!! So it's true a libyan co-worker had told me that Regata will be a military compound for the freedom fighters. Well, I guess we will not be seeing any of our company guesthouses there.
30 September 2011

FFs are currently garrisoned there but they will leave as soon as the fronts are won. I have been there, the security is strict but they dont intimidate you. They are friendly and sensible unlike the "kataibs"

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun Oct 02 2011, 17:14

Streams of civilians are fleeing the besieged Libyan city of Sirte, ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi's birthplace.

Hundreds of residents, in vehicles packed with belongings, are queuing at checkpoints leading out of the city.

Transitional authority forces say they are observing a truce to encourage the remaining civilians to get out, before launching a final assault.

Meanwhile, an International Red Cross team has been into Sirte and says there is an urgent need for medical aid.

Sirte is one of two major cities still holding out against the National Transitional Council (NTC) forces.

The whereabouts of Col Gaddafi remain unknown.

Scores of cars, buses and trucks piled high with household goods were lined up at NTC checkpoints on the outskirts of Sirte on Sunday.

The fleeing residents said the situation in the city had deteriorated to such an extent that there was little food and no water or electricity.

The transitional authority forces have moved two fuel tankers to a rest stop outside the town.

Long lines of cars are queuing there for a ration of petrol that will get them as far as the city of Misrata.

They appeared stressed and very nervous. As residents of Muammar Gaddafi's home town they are treated with some suspicion and their cars are searched thoroughly at checkpoints.

The few who would talk spoke of the misery that forced them to leave Sirte, of frequent bombardments and increasingly unsanitary living conditions.

"We couldn't leave our homes because of the shelling; we had to leave the city," Ahmed Hussein, travelling with his wife, mother-in-law and two children, told Associated Press news agency.

Another man, Ali, said he and his family were leaving because "we are caught between Nato bombings and shelling by rebels".

"Nato, in particular, is bombing at random and is often hitting civilian buildings," he told the AFP news agency.

The Geneva-based ICRC says nearly 10,000 people have now left Sirte, with at least a third setting up camp in desert areas just a few kilometres from the city not wishing to travel too far from their homes.

It says that in Sirte itself, people are dying in the main hospital because of a shortage of oxygen and fuel.

An ICRC team was given security clearance from both sides to cross checkpoints and visit the city's Ibn Sima hospital on Saturday.

"The hospital is facing a huge influx of patients, medical supplies are running out and there is a desperate need for oxygen. On top of that, the water reservoir has been damaged," the ICRC said in a statement.

The team was able to pass through the front lines and deliver medical equipment.

"What we have delivered is war wounded kits, I mean, basically this is medical equipment in order to be able to carry out operations for war wounded, about 200 war wounded patients," spokeswoman Soaade Messoudi told the BBC.

However, the team could not visit wounded people on the wards as the hospital came under fire.

"Several rockets landed within the hospital buildings while we were there," the leader of the ICRC team, Hichem Khadhraoui, told AFP.

"We saw a lot of indiscriminate fire. I don't know where it was coming from," Mr Khadhraoui said.

Gaddafi loyalists have been putting up stiff resistance in Sirte since NTC troops began their assault several weeks ago.

On Friday, the NTC troops captured the airport. Forces from the east and west of the country are moving against the city and are trying to launch co-ordinated attacks against the Gaddafi loyalists in the city centre.

Only when they have taken it will they consider Libya to be fully under their control, says the BBC's Jonathan Head on the outskirts of the city.

And then what ?? ..... the big question.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun Oct 09 2011, 11:27

(My bold)

"This country has been built around one man. If he is over, Libya will be over," said a resident who gave his name as al-Fatouri, standing outside his home on the outskirts of Sirte.

"Gaddafi is like a picture frame. When part of the frame is hit, the whole picture will be destroyed, Libya will be destroyed," he said.

Sirte is the sternest test yet of the ability of the interim government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), to win over Gaddafi's tribe and prevent it from mounting an Iraq-style insurgency that would destabilise Libya and the region.

While most cities captured by NTC forces have rejoiced, or at least given that impression, Sirte is different because it is home to members of Gaddafi's tribe who genuinely back him.

"Let them look for Muammar, but do not kill 50,000 people to change the regime," said Fatouri. "It is not worth it that thousands die in Sirte for Muammar. This is what saddens us."

"NATO has brought destruction, and the revolution has brought destruction," he said.

As he spoke, bystanders began shouting at him that such talk would just spread "chaos and havoc". Ali retorted that they were not telling the truth and walked away in dismay.

Another angry resident shared Ali's view.

"What did America and NATO bring to us? Did they bring apricots?" he demanded. "No, they brought us the shelling and the strikes. They terrorised our kids."

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Surviving in Libya Empty BREAKING NEWS!

Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 20 2011, 13:28

BREAKING NEWS! .... Gaddafi captured! Shot in both legs? Someone says he's dead ... someone else says captured and held in Misratha ... Reports still coming in ...
Umberto Cocopop
Umberto Cocopop

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Umberto Cocopop on Thu Oct 20 2011, 14:27

Reports are coming in that he's dead but they're still unconfirmed.

I wonder if it's one of his doubles? Surviving in Libya Huh

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 20 2011, 14:54

There's a photo taken on a mobile phone ... bit bloody and blurry, but you can't double on that mouth ... it's him for sure, but his eyes are open.
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Post by Umberto Cocopop on Thu Oct 20 2011, 15:10

I've seen the photo but you can't tell whether he's dead or alive in it.

It will probably be better for the country if he's dead.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 20 2011, 22:47

Umberto Cocopop wrote:It will probably be better for the country if he's dead.

It is probably better for a lot of people that he's dead Neutral (now confirmed). A trial would have revealed much inter-governmental dealing and scheming ...

From The Palestinian Chronicle

By Jeremy Salt – Ankara

A legend is being created that is going to haunt the people who have been propelled into power in Tripoli. In Sirte a handful of men have set an example of bravery in the face of impossible odds that will eventually find its place in Arab history. Weeks of missile and bomb attacks have reduced the centre of the city to ruins and killed an unknown number of civilians. The photos coming out of the city show Beirut-style devastation. The fighters defending the city would seem to be doomed. They have their backs to the sea and are surrounded on three sides. We don't know who they are or how many of them there are. Some might be the remnants of the Libyan army and others civilians who have taken up arms to defend their city. We don't know why they are fighting. We are told that they are just fighting for their lives. We are told that they are mercenaries, but mercenaries put down their arms when the money runs out. We are told that they are 'Gaddafi loyalists'. That discredits them immediately. Noone really knows what they are fighting for, but their country has to be a possibility for at least some of them.

Why was this war launched? The Gaddafi who has now been dislodged is the same old Gaddafi who arrived in Rome a couple of years ago with photos of Umar al Mukhtar pinned to his tunic as he stepped off the plane. He is the same Gaddafi who was embraced in Paris by Sarkozy and, according to Saif al Islam, gave generously to Sarkozy's election campaign. He is the same Gaddafi who was embraced by the ever-smiling Tony Blair in Tripoli. He was the same Gaddafi with whom Shell was very happy to do business. Between those occasions and now he didn't change. Years ago it was the 'stray dogs' – Libyan dissidents – he wanted to hunt down. This year it was the 'greasy rats' he vowed to pursue street to street – zenga zenga – and house to house. This was what gave the US, Britain and France their justification for taking military action. This was not supposed to be about regime change, but that is how it ended and if it was not planned from the start it was inevitable once these three powers intervened.

Whatever Libyans thought of Muammar Gaddafi, there were no signs that anything like the majority supported the uprising against him. As Gaddafi himself asked on October 6: 'The NTC, who gave them legitimacy? How did they obtain legitimacy? Did the Libyan people elect them? Did the Libyan people appoint them? And if only the power of NATO bombs and fleets grants legitimacy, then let all rulers in the Third World beware, for the same fate awaits you. To those who recognize this council as legitimate, beware. There will be transitional councils created everywhere and imposed upon you and one by one you shall fall'.

This was not a popular revolution or a war of liberation. This was not Egypt or Tunisia, where it was the people who overthrew the government. This was a war of conquest by Britain, France and the US, coordinating their efforts with armed groups on the ground. These three powers turned an uprising into a civil war, and then ensured victory for one side through the massive use of aerial fire power. The soldiers on the ground – the 'Gaddafi loyalists' – were as defenseless from the missiles being rained down on them as civilians in plain clothes. By themselves the 'rebels' would have been quickly scattered.

With the attack building up and the outcome all but certain, senior Libyan government ministers began to defect. The common metaphor is rats jumping from a sinking ship. Musa Kusa flew to London and told British intelligence everything he knew, which must have been quite a bit, because whatever crimes Gaddafi committed over the past four decades, Musa Kusa was in them up to his neck. Mustafa Abd ul Jalil was the Minister for Justice in the old regime. He also got out just in time. Deserting Gaddai, he then agreed to head an interim governing council set up in collaboration with the attacking foreign powers. People who do this kind of thing are usually called traitors. In the Second World War Marshal Petain collaborated with the Nazis and would have been executed afterwards but for his advanced age and his distinguished war record in 1914-18. William Joyce ('Lord Haw Haw') was executed just for broadcasting Nazi propaganda against his own country, Britain. Vidkun Quisling acted as the regent for the Nazis in occupied Norway and was executed after the war for treason. The foreign powers with whom Mustafa Abdul Jalil has collaborated have attacked his country and killed thousands of his fellow countrymen, women and children. Unless the word has lost its meaning, that makes him a traitor, too.

With NATO planes clearing the path ahead all the way to Tripoli and then to Sirte, the end result was inevitable. Without air cover and without ground defence against aerial attack the Libyan army – the 'Gaddafi loyalists' – had no chance. There are numerous parallels in the long history of western attacks on Muslim countries. In 1882 a British fleet bombarded Alexandria and then blamed arsonists and brigands for the massive destruction they had caused. Troops were landed to restore the order which had just been destroyed. Egyptians tried to defend their country but against the firepower, training and and organization of a modern European army, they had no chance. In 1898 about 60,000 followers of the Sudanese khalifa, the successor to the mahdi, stormed across a plain outside Omdurman towards the British battle lines. It was their country and they fought for it with enormous bravery but against Maxim guns, lined up in a row on the battlefield, they also had no chance. There were exceptions to the rule. In the early 1880s the Sudanese destroyed the Hicks expeditionary army, but that was before the invention of the Maxim gun. In 1896 an Ethiopian army all but wiped out an Italian army in the battle of Adowa. Nearly four decades an Italian army invaded Ethiopia again, suffering severe battlefield defeats before superior weaponry and the use of mustard gas gave them victory. Driven into exile, the emperor Haile Selassie told the League of Nations 'It was us today. It will be you tomorrow'. Indeed it was.

In 1911 the Italians invaded Libya but failed to penetrate the interior because of the resistance of the Sanusi tribes and the small Ottoman force sent to do what it could, Libya then being part of the Ottoman Empire. In the 1920s Italy embarked on a full-scale program to tame the Libyans. Thousands were moved from Jabal al Akhdar in Cyrenaica and penned up in concentration camps. The resistance was led by a Quran teacher, Umar al Mukhtar, who was captured in 1931 and hanged in the Suluq concentration camp. Now, getting on for a century later, Libyans themselves have opened the door to another foreign attack on their country.

Without the 'humanitarian' intervention of the US, Britain and France, Gaddafi would be still be in Tripoli but thousands people now dead would be alive. The buildings and the infrastructure that has been destroyed would still be standing. Libya would still be the most advanced country in Africa, instead of a country that has been battered by war and will now need repairing in accordance with the prescriptions of 'disaster capitalism'.

As an investment this war was not even a risky one. Libya is a large country with a relatively small population and almost no capacity to defend itself against outside attack by powerful states. It is rich in oil, foreign reserves and gold bullion. Would the attack even have been considered if it were poor? Its financial situation was far healthier than that of the countries attacking it. The notion that this was done for altruistic reasons has to be scotched immediately. Whatever the humanitarian packaging, ulterior motives lie behind every war launched by the western powers in the Middle East and North Africa over the last two centuries. The war on Libya is no exception. At a time of extreme financial crisis, the attacking countries are not sinking billions of dollars into the war without expecting a generous strategic and commercial return on their investment.

In all the weeks Sirte was being devastated from the air, where was the UN Security Council, which opened the door to the attack on Libya with its 'no fly' zone resolution but has taken no responsibility for the consequences? Where was the EU, where was the OIC, where was the Arab League, where was the outrage in the media, where were all the governments upholding a 'responsibility to protect' which had turned into a license to kill? They were all mute. Not a word of concern or even of condemnation passed their lips. They only wanted to talk about Syria. The pictures of destruction now coming out of Sirte give some indication of what Britain, France and the US have done. How many civilians have been killed we don't know, but the estimates being made for the country as a whole suggest a death toll running into the tens of thousands. Such is the cost of 'humanitarian intervention'. Such is the price the Libyans have had to pay for their own 'liberation'. They did not want this war. It was the governments of the US, Britain and France who wanted this war, for reasons of their own, and used the rising in Benghazi as their leverage.

A country which was stable is now in turmoil. The news agencies refer to the government in Tripoli but there is no government in Tripoli. The 'National Transitional Council' has still not got its act together. Uncertainty, turbulence and possibly a spreading war of resistance lie ahead, as the implications of what has been done sink in. History is written by the victors, so we are told, but if this western triumph over yet another Middle Eastern madman cannot be consolidated, the day may yet come when Libyans will be building statues to commemorate the bravery of the small band of men who fought to the last for Sirte.
- Jeremy Salt teaches the history of the modern Middle East in the Department of Political science, Bilkent University, Ankara. He previously taught at Bogazici (Bosporus) University in Istanbul and the University of Melbourne. His publications include The Unmaking of the Middle East: A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press, 2008). He contributed this article to

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Wed Oct 26 2011, 19:25

Britain, Gaddafi and the Torture Trail
After four decades as one of the world's most notorious
dictators, Colonel Gaddafi is now dead - just weeks after being forced
from power. Panorama has uncovered shocking pictures and testimony,
never seen before, that reveal the truth about the regime and its ties
with the British government. Reporter Paul Kenyon tracks down the man
responsible for much of the brutality, who fled to Britain during the
recent civil war. Kenyon finds him at a luxury hideout in the Gulf, and
challenges him to come clean about his role in torture.

First broadcast on BBC One - Monday, 24th Oct 2011

Click link to watch on BBCi Player: Surviving in Libya Anj_right LINK

(Duration 30 minutes )

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Surviving in Libya Empty British spies thwarted plot by former Libyan allies

Post by Kitkat on Thu Nov 17 2011, 01:19

British spies thwarted plot by former Libyan allies

it is in Britain’s national interests to do business with people we don’t like.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Tripoli - 1994

Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 30 2011, 02:30

Libya, 1994. This is the Tripoli that I remember.
One of the first things I noticed on my arrival there (1993) - on [eventually] passing through the border point from Tunisia, my entry point into Libya, with still a good few hours drive before reaching Tripoli - everywhere you looked along the road were these giant billboards with huge pictures of Gadaffi, in every village that we passed, at every turn, on buildings ... everywhere. What I found intriguing was that also everywhere I looked I would see the number 24, it cropped up everywhere ... huge giant billboards along the roads ... over the entrance to the compound where I was to stay ... and my first day at work I noticed a giant 24 painted on our building. When I asked what this 24 was all about, I was told that it commemorates the number of years since the revolution (1969) when Gadaffi first came to power - and every year the number changed. Sure enough, in the September of 1994 the numbers everywhere had changed to 25.
That was my time there.


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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Mon Jan 23 2012, 20:34

ITV programme on IRA was misleading, says Ofcom

Ofcom has ruled that ITV misled viewers by airing footage claimed to have
been shot by the IRA, which was actually material taken from a video
A total of 26 people alerted the regulator, raising concerns
over the footage broadcast in Exposure: Gaddafi and the IRA, in

ITV apologised after the issue came to light, saying it was "an unfortunate case of human error".

Ofcom said it was a "significant breach of audience trust".

The current affairs programme was investigating the financial
and military links between the former Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi,
and the IRA.

During the documentary, footage labelled "IRA Film 1988" was
shown, described as film shot by the IRA of its members attempting to
shoot down a British Army helicopter in June 1988.

However, the pictures were actually taken from a game called ArmA 2.


ITV said the programme had intended to use footage of "a
genuine incident" which had been included in an episode of The Cook

While trying to source "a better version" of the footage, the
programme director viewed footage from the internet which "he
mistakenly believed... to be a fuller version".

ITV said that "regrettably" the internet footage was not
cross-checked and verified by the production staff as being The Cook
Report footage.

In another instance, footage of police clashing with rioters
in Northern Ireland was described as having taken place in July 2011.
But viewers complained to Ofcom that due to the type of police riot
vehicles shown, the footage must have been of an earlier riot.

ITV said although the incident referred to did happen, it admitted the footage was not from July 2011.

It said the programme's director had requested the film from a
local historian who had supplied footage to broadcasters in the past
and was considered a trustworthy source, however due to a
"miscommunication" between the two parties, "the discrepancy... was not

ITV said the documentary had included footage intended to
portray two real events and apologised that in each case "the wrong
footage" was used, adding "mistakes were the result of human error and
not an intention to mislead viewers".

'Not sufficient'

Finding ITV in breach of the broadcasting code, Ofcom said it
was "greatly concerned" the broadcaster failed to authenticate the two
pieces of footage.

It said there were "significant and easily identifiable
differences" between The Cook Report footage and the footage taken from
the video game and was therefore "very surprised that the programme
makers believed the footage of the helicopter attack was authentic".

The regulator added it was also "not sufficient for a
broadcaster or programme maker to rely on footage provided by a third
party source, on the basis that that source had previously supplied
other broadcasters with archive footage".

"We take into account that ITV: apologised; removed the
programme from its catch-up video-on-demand service; and has now put in
place various changes to its compliance procedures to ensure such
incidents do not happen in future," Ofcom said.

"However, the viewers of this serious current affairs
programme were misled as to the nature of the material they were


Here is the programme in question, as posted above
Exposure (ITV)
Monday, September 26, 2011

ETA - Doesn't seem to be available to watch anymore.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun Mar 04 2012, 16:32

04 March 2012 |

British graves desecrated in Libya

The Libyan government has been "extremely apologetic" about the desecration of British war graves in the eastern city of Benghazi, a Foreign Office Minister said.

Speaking on the Sky News Murnaghan programme, Jeremy Browne said people would be understandably upset by images of damaged graves in Sunday's papers, including the Mail on Sunday.
But he said the attacks were not aimed particularly at Britain or Christians, and did not represent a Libyan response to last year's military action when British aircraft took part in a campaign which toppled Colonel Gadaffi from his role as dictator in the North African country.

Mr Browne told the programme: "There is an appalling story and people will be shocked by the photos. My grandfather's generation were truly heroic in that part of Africa in the Second World War and I think people will be shocked by what they see.

"It is worth saying the Libyan authorities themselves are shocked too. We have had direct dealings with them. They have been extremely apologetic and made a very strong commitment they will get to the bottom of this happening. They will try and do everything they can to resolve it.

"My understanding it is not just British graves or just Christian graves that have been desecrated, there is wider desecration taking place. The Libyan authorities are keen to work with us on this. I would not want people to think this is somehow an ingratitude by the government of Libya. That's not the case."

More than 1,200 Commonwealth soldiers and airmen are buried in the eastern city of Benghazi. Of the 1,051 identified graves, 851 are British. Many were members of the 7th Armoured Division, known as the Desert Rats, which played a key role in fighting for control of Libya and Egypt between 1941 and 1943.

Reports in the Mail on Sunday said the attacks on graves took place over two days last week. A video was recorded by one of the men involved and posted online, the paper said.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of state in Libya's caretaker government, told the paper the attacks were "unethical, irresponsible and criminal", adding: "(The Libyan government) severely denounces such shameful acts and vows to find and prosecute the perpetrators."

A Commonwealth War Graves Commission spokesman told the Mail on Sunday that the graves would be restored "to a standard befitting the sacrifice of those commemorated at Benghazi". He added: "This could take some time because we will need to source replacement stones."

A sign of the times, I would say.

During Gadaffi's time, the "British Cemetery" in Benghazi was always heavily guarded and security was very strict regarding visitors, locals included. It was just one of the [many] areas where expats were warned you do not go.

My neighbour (Yvonne) in the compound where I lived in Tripoli, was also employed by the same company where I worked (Agip Oil) and started there on the same day. We had actually travelled together for the most part of the journey on our first arrival in Libya. Although initially I was told I would be travelling on my own - from London to Tunisia, small plane from there to the desert island of Djerba, where I would be met by a company-owned vehicle to continue the overland journey through Tunisia and across the border into Libya. A few days before I was set to travel, I was told there would be two others starting on the same day. One was travelling from Manchester, via Geneva, and the other would be coming from London, same as me - all three of us would meet up at Djerba where the driver would meet us for the long journey to Tripoli. (No-fly zone at the time, just like there was during the recent uprising). lol - I was given the phone number of the one who would be travelling from London and we spoke on the phone the day before travelling, giving each other descriptions of ourselves so as to recognise each other. She told me she had blond hair and would be wearing jeans and a black top. Easy ... you would think. Not as easy as it sounded. Surviving in Libya 481982875 You'd be surprised just how many blond-haired people wearing jeans and a black top strolling around in the boarding area waiting to catch a plane. Surviving in Libya 1747242660 As it turned out, the pair of us were actually seated together on the plane. She had had exactly the same trouble trying to spot me out of the crowd (long dark hair, jeans and a black top).

A neighbour of Yvonne's (the Manchester one), on hearing she was going to work in Libya, had a close relative who was buried in the British Cemetery in Benghazi and had requested Yvonne if she gets the chance to take a photograph of the grave which they could have as a keepsake. Other expats who had lived and worked there for long time told her it would be an impossible task to go there - and as for taking photographs there, that would be an absolute no-no. Certain areas all over would mean instant confiscation of your camera, let alone whatever else it might involve. For instance, the whole of the port area in Tripoli was basically a military zone ... tanks and all sorts shown off on parade, a show of force, especially on the days when they would be commemorating something historical (like perhaps the day the Italians allegedly massacred thousands of Libyans hundreds of years previous). Expats were warned to stay inside on that day. Everyone wore black armbands and the cars and buildings all sported black flags flying .... (just one example) ...

Anyway, I'm digressing ... got to rush this now cos film just starting on telly about Harry Houdini ...

In short, Yvonne did get to Benghazi and was determined to keep her promise to her neighbour back home in Manchester. She managed to locate the grave and took her photograph just before a small but very scary looking man came running at her with a big stick, shouting and screaming at her in Arabic. She scarpered fast. Her neighbour got his much treasured photo though.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Mon Mar 05 2012, 00:45

How the west wrecked Libya
by Patrick Hayes (Spiked)

‘People in Libya today have an even greater chance after this news of building themselves a strong and democratic future. I am proud of the role that Britain has played in helping them to bring that about.’

So declared UK prime minister David Cameron last year following the announcement that former tyrant Muammar Gaddafi had met his end at the hands of Libyan rebels just outside Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte. Cameron’s response typified the self-congratulatory backslapping of Western leaders. Western intervention, in their eyes, had saved the Libyan people in their hour of need and dislodged the great ogre Gaddafi and his rotten regime. Now the Libyan people could begin to build a ‘strong, democratic future’.

Blinkered by a Manichean mindset, which characterised their kneejerk meddling in Libya’s affairs from the start, Western politicians and their media cheerleaders genuinely seemed to believe that saving Libya would be that simple. To help the liberated Libyans on their way, the ‘international community’ thoughtfully cherry-picked a National Transitional Council (NTC) - headed by former Gaddafi cronies and an eclectic mix of other individuals - who spent much of their time during the rebellion last year reassuring the West that they would be suitable caretakers of a post-Gaddafi Libya. Many then flew into Libya to take the reins once Gaddafi fled Tripoli. What could go wrong?

It can surely bring no pleasure to anyone, except perhaps to the ghost of ‘Mad Dog’ Gaddafi, to report that post-Gaddafi Libya is currently a fragmented mess. And the outlook is bleak. One of the principal reasons for this – as reflected by ongoing protests in the country – is the impotence of the NTC, which has failed to gain the mandate of the Libyan people. Indeed, this unelected body often seems more concerned with the upcoming showtrial of Gaddafi’s son Saif, being conducted in Libya under the strict guidance of the International Criminal Court (ICC), rather than with bringing about democracy in Libya.

Over the past couple of months, there have been ongoing protests in Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya, which indicate there is little public satisfaction with the transitional government. Protesters are complaining about issues ranging from a lack of transparency regarding who is on the Council and its operations, to support for the thousands of rebels who participated in the uprising. After over a month of nightly protests, in January several thousand protesters stormed a government building where the NTC was meeting, some throwing grenades and Molotov cocktails. This led to the resignation of the NTC’s deputy head, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, who - according to the BBC - was singled out by protesters as being ‘an opportunist, who switched allegiances from the regime of Colonel Gaddafi as the uprising gained strength’.

Criticising the protesters’ actions, NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil claimed, ‘there is something behind these protests that is not for the good of the country’. The main argument he could come up with to try to placate protesters, however, was that if they didn’t support the NTC, they might ‘take the country to a bottomless pit’.

With no centralised army backing the NTC, much of the military power lies instead in disparate groups of militias – formed during the struggle to oust Gaddafi - which have become laws unto themselves. As Tessa Mayes reported on spiked plus last month: ‘Following the overthrow of Gaddafi, everyone seems to have guns. Even the Libyans who told me they never expected to use a gun now have one. You can hear celebratory gunfire in Tripoli most afternoons. And how and why did they get the guns? One man told me, “boats full of guns arrived last year and we took them to our neighbourhoods to protect ourselves”.’

Protests have been taking place in Tripoli to restrict the carrying of firearms by militias, but these rebels without a cause have so far been unwilling to hand over their weapons, demanding that first they are properly rewarded by the interim government for their service in the uprising. Abdul Naker, commander of one of the largest militias in Tripoli with 20,000 men, told Reuters that the rebels would not ‘join the government initiative until they clearly know what are the benefits they will receive… The people need higher salaries, economic stability, medical insurance, houses and cars, young single men want to get married. We want Islamic, interest-free loans so that we can live in prosperity. Why doesn’t the government give us loans of 100,000 Libyan dinars ($60,000) to realise our dreams?’

Militia from Libya’s third-largest city Misrata currently control Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown, in a way that some describe as being like an occupation. Much of the city – once one of the most developed in the whole region – has been reduced to rubble and there seems little desire to invest in rebuilding it. Even the rebuilding of Libya’s oil-extraction infrastructure, crucial for the regeneration of the country’s economy, is proving to be a slow process, with analysts estimating that a return to the pre-conflict level of 1.6million barrels extracted per day is unlikely to happen for a few years.

On top of this, tens of thousands of people with connections to the former Gaddafi regime are incarcerated and reports abound about prisoners sporadically suffering brutal treatment. There are also reports of forced displacement. For example, Tawergha, a town close to Misrata, has become a ‘ghost town’, with an estimated 30,000 residents being forced to leave their homes, ‘in what looked like an act of revenge and collective punishment carried out by anti-Gaddafi fighters’.

Amid the chaos, however, the people of Libya have far from given up. For example, frustrated with the NTC’s hesitancy to call elections, the citizens of Misrata have taken it upon themselves to hold independent elections for the city council, ousting the self-appointed councillors that came to power during the uprisings last year. This election, according to Associated Press, was ‘the first experiment in real democracy anywhere in Libya’ since Gaddafi came into power. While this is undoubtedly a positive step, it may also represent an increasing dissolution of Libya into disparate city states that have nothing to unify them.

No-one is more culpable in this state of affairs than the Western powers who – without any coherent strategy - decided to interfere in the affairs of this sovereign country. In doing so, they ripped the democratic initiative out of the hands of the rebelling Libyan people themselves – thus bringing an abrupt halt to the struggle for leadership, the battle of ideas, the necessary resolution of internal conflicts and differences that could have led to the Libyan people attaining a more unified vision of what a post-Gaddafi Libya could look like. Having been handed ‘liberation’ from the old regime by well-meaning Westerners, this necessary – albeit difficult - struggle to develop a collective sense of purpose failed to take place. The upshot is that Libya is run by an unelected clique with seemingly scant legitimacy in the eyes of the people; all the NTC has to offer as a rallying call is ‘support us or a bottomless pit awaits’.

Despite all this, some are still heralding the West’s intervention in Libya as a success – and considering it as a potential model for use in Syria. A Syrian National Council (SNC) has been formed, headed by an ex-patriot Syrian working as a sociology professor at the Sorbonne, Paris. An increasing number of countries and international bodies – including the EU – have now recognised the SNC as the ‘official opposition’ to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. And, despite Russia and China’s veto of a UN Security Council motion condemning Assad, intervention has already begun in the form of crippling sanctions – with no-fly zones, secure training areas and the supply of weapons to the Free Syrian Army being mooted by many countries. Further intervention seems to be imminent. As French president Nicolas Sarkozy declared last week, following the deaths of a French photographer and a British journalist in the besieged Syrian city of Homs: ‘That’s enough now, the regime must go.’

The question of whether the Libyan ‘model’ for intervention is one that could be repeated in Syria, or if another option is preferable, is currently being hotly debated by Western elites. Instead they should take a cold, hard look at the vacuum created in post-Gaddafi Libya and realise the best option is to let the Syrian people determine their own futures.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun Mar 25 2012, 19:11

At last ...

Scottish Sunday Herald:

Lockerbie exclusive: we publish the report that could have cleared Megrahi

Exclusive by Lucy Adams and John Ashton


The explosive report on the man convicted of the Lockerbie atrocity ...why we are publishing it after five years of secrecy

The Sunday Herald today publishes the full 800-page report detailing why the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing could have walked free.

The controversial report from the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has remained secret for five years because, until now, no-one had permission to publish it.

The Sunday Herald and its sister paper, The Herald, are the only newspapers in the world to have seen the report. We choose to publish it because we have the permission of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the bombing, and because we believe it is in the public interest to disseminate the whole document.

The Sunday Herald has chosen to publish the full report online today to allow the public to see for themselves the analysis of the evidence which could have resulted in the acquittal of Megrahi. Under Section 32 of the Data Protection Act, journalists can publish in the public interest. We have made very few redactions to protect the names of confidential sources and private information.

Click here to read the report in full

The publication of the report adds weight to calls for a full public inquiry into the atrocity – something for which many of the relatives have been campaigning for more than two decades.

Read more

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Surviving in Libya Empty Modern Spies - BBC 2

Post by Kitkat on Mon Apr 09 2012, 10:03

Rendition of Abdul Hakim Belhaj

By Peter Taylor
BBC News
Surviving in Libya _59554567_belhaj2_getty

Mr Belhaj was intercepted as he tried to fly from Malaysia to claim asylum in the UK

M16's alleged involvement in the 2004 rendition to Libya of Abdel Hakim Belhaj was approved by the government, the BBC can reveal.

Mr Belhaj is suing the British government, saying it was complicit in his illegal rendition and
subsequent imprisonment and torture under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's former regime.

BBC correspondent Peter Taylor explains.

It seemed to be one of Prime Minister Tony Blair's defining moments: a photo opportunity on 25 March 2004 with Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in the Brother Leader's desert tent. The setting had
been specifically requested by Number 10 "as the journalists would love it". The media circus, with an audience of 60 British reporters, was designed to mark Gaddafi's rejection of his terrorist past and
renunciation of his chemical arsenal and weapons of mass destruction. Gaddafi was now hailed as Britain and America's ally in the so-called war on terror.

This remarkable turnaround was primarily orchestrated by MI6's senior counter terrorist officer, Sir Mark Allen, an Arabist who was personally close to Gaddafi and his court - including his head of
intelligence, Musa Kusa. It marked the climax of a long career in MI6 that also culminated in Gaddafi providing full details of the 286 tons of heavy weapons, in four shipments, he had donated to the IRA during the previous decade. But he cannot have anticipated the political storm that was later to erupt after the discovery of a message he had sent to Musa Kusa only a week before Blair met Gaddafi.

'Cargo's' safe arrival

Gaddafi and Musa Kusa had already proved they were serious in helping the West against al-Qaeda and its supporters. Sir Mark's message was dated 18 March 2004. The body of it outlined Downing Street's vision of the forthcoming meeting, but the explosive content that was to come to haunt MI6 and the British government came right at the end when he congratulated Musa Kusa on the "safe arrival" of the "air cargo". The "air cargo" was Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the leader of the Libyan Islamic
Fighting Group (LIFG) that was opposed to the Libyan dictator.

Surviving in Libya _59552937_photo-%282%29

The letter was found in the bombed intelligence headquarters of Musa Kusa

Britain regarded Belhaj as a terrorist who had met Osama Bin Laden during the Afghan jihad against the Russians in the late 1980s, and whose group MI5 believed was involved in recruiting young British
Muslims to fight jihad in Iraq. British intelligence had further reason to be concerned about the LIFG following French and Moroccan intelligence reports that the group had taken part in a secret meeting
in Istanbul in 2002 where a decision had been made to attack targets in North Africa and Europe. Casablanca was bombed the following year, followed by the Madrid train bombings on 11 March 2004 in which almost 200 people were killed. That was only a week before Sir Mark wrote his message.

Such was the climate of the time, just over two years after 9/11 when there were real fears of a secondary attack. The terrorist cell in the UK that was planning to bomb a shopping centre and nightclub in London was already under surveillance by the MI5 and the police in an operation code named Crevice. Britain's intelligence services and the CIA would therefore be very interested in the intelligence that any interrogation of Belhaj might produce. In his message, Sir Mark says that Belhaj's "information on the situation in this country is of urgent importance to us".

Sir Mark's message was never intended to see the light of day. But it did in the most remarkable and unfortunate way for MI6 and the British government. It was finally unearthed last year in the rubble
of Musa Kusa's intelligence headquarters, flattened by Nato bombs. The repercussions of its discovery are potentially seismic, given that successive British governments have always insisted that they were opposed to illegal rendition and torture and were never complicit in it.

CIA flight interception

At the beginning of March 2004, whilst preparations were being made for the historic rapprochement in Gaddafi's tent, Abdul Hakim Belhaj was in Malaysia. He was planning to fly to the UK and apply for
political asylum, thinking that Britain was as opposed to Gaddafi as the LIFG. He had no idea that all was about to change.

"When I entered the flight, I knew that things had been organised for my handover”
Abdel Hakim Belhaj

I met Belhaj in Tripoli recently, and asked him how he came to be rendered to Libya. He said that whilst in Kuala Lumpur, a friend had called the British Embassy and asked about possible political asylum.

"Perhaps this gave an indication of my presence and this was delivered to the intelligence service which subsequently acted in an attempt to hand me over," he said.

The British Embassy may then have alerted London, and MI6 would probably have tipped off its intelligence partners, including the CIA, that Belhaj was in Malaysia and heading for the UK.

The CIA then planned Belhaj's rendition and intercepted him when his flight stopped off in Bangkok.

"When I entered the flight, I knew that things had been organised for my handover," he told me.

"The last seats in the plane were reserved and the last section was empty of passengers."

He was then flown to Libya on an American aircraft that made a stop for refuelling at an island that he was later told "belonged to the United Kingdom" - probably Diego Garcia, the British overseas
territory in the Indian Ocean.

When he finally arrived in Tripoli, he says he was locked up for over four years in the notorious Abu Saleem prison where he was interrogated and allegedly tortured.

'Intelligence was British'

Belhaj's rendition is so sensitive for MI6 and the British government because Sir Mark concludes his message to Musa Kusa by saying that he has no intention of receiving the results of Belhaj's
interrogation via the Americans - as the Americans were requesting - as "the intelligence was British". There would therefore appear to be a prima facie case that Britain was complicit in his rendition, despite repeated government assurances that it had never been involved in such operations.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4 last year Labour's foreign secretary at the time, Jack Straw, appeared to be unequivocal. "We were opposed to unlawful rendition. We were opposed to any use of torture or
similar methods. Not only did we not agree with it, we were not complicit in it and nor did we turn a blind eye to it." He went on to add, "No foreign secretary can know all the details of what its intelligence agencies are doing at any one time." I spoke to Mr Straw's office and was told he had nothing further to add.

It appears that Sir Mark and MI6 did not act unilaterally. Despite the myths, that is not the way that Britain's intelligence services work. Everything has to be signed off and authorised. As the current Foreign Secretary, William Hague, told me, he signs off - or questions and rejects - MI6's operations "almost every day". In the case of Belhaj's rendition my understanding is that what Sir Mark and MI6
did was authorised by the government at some level.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj is now a senior military figure in the new Libya that Britain helped create and is suing Sir Mark Allen and the government for alleged complicity in his rendition and torture. The ins
and outs of what really happened back in Whitehall are currently being investigated by the Metropolitan Police. As a result, the Gibson inquiry into alleged British complicity in illegal rendition and torture has been placed on the back burner. The story of Belhaj's rendition and Britain's alleged complicity in it is far from over.

Watch Modern Spies on BBC 2 at 21:00 BST on Monday 9 April for more on this story.

Typical! I've lost BBC2 on my TV. All the best documentaries and films are on that channel.

I suppose there'll be a chance to get it on BBCiplayer, but it's not the same.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Britons urged to leave Libyan city of Benghazi over 'threat'

Post by Kitkat on Thu Jan 24 2013, 14:04

24 January 2013

British nationals should leave the Libyan city of Benghazi immediately "in response to a specific threat to Westerners", the Foreign Office says.

It said the British Embassy in Tripoli had been in contact with British nationals whose details it had.

It said it could not comment further on the nature of the threat, but said there was new travel advice for Libya.

The Foreign Office has been advising against travel to Benghazi and most parts of Libya since September.

BBC world affairs correspondent Caroline Hawley said that after the recent French military intervention in Mali there was the possibility of retaliatory attacks against Western interests.

On 11 September, US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died during an attack on the consulate in Benghazi.

The ambassador died of smoke inhalation when he was trapped in the burning building, after armed men had stormed the compound.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Lockerbie bombing: Scottish police to visit Libya

Post by Kitkat on Fri Feb 01 2013, 07:44

Police officers investigating the 1988 Lockerbie bombing are to visit Libya, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced.

The new Libyan government indicated in December it was prepared to open all files relating to the bombing.

A pointless and futile exercise. Do they honestly believe at this juncture that they are going to get anywhere nearer to discovering the truth?

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Surviving in Libya Empty Four foreigners arrested in Libya on suspicion of proselytising

Post by Kitkat on Sun Feb 17 2013, 09:52

Four foreign nationals have been arrested in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on suspicion of being Christian missionaries, officials say.

A spokesman for Preventative Security said they were under investigation for printing and distributing tens of thousands of books about Christianity.

Proselytising was forbidden in the predominantly Muslim country, he added.

Those arrested were an Egyptian, a South African, a South Korean and a Swede with joint US citizenship.

The Preventative Security spokesman said diplomats had been allowed to visit them in detention, but would not say where they were being held.

"We are still holding interrogations and will hand them over to the Libyan intelligence authorities in a couple of days," Hussein bin Hamid told the Reuters news agency.

Agents reportedly found the suspects in possession of 45,000 books about Christianity when they were arrested at a publishing house on Tuesday. Another 25,000 were thought to have been distributed.

Last year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had to suspend its activities in eastern and central Libya after its offices in Benghazi and Misrata were attacked.

The aid group was accused by some people of proselytising activities and distributing Bibles to internally displaced Tawargha people in Benghazi - accusations it strenuously denied.

Preventative Security was set up by rebel commanders during the conflict which ousted the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Libya after Gaddafi

Post by Kitkat on Sun Feb 17 2013, 10:00

Libya's Col Muammar Gaddafi is dead, but his shadow and the decades of his iron rule have not quite departed to the other side.

He has left behind a tumultuous political transition that has little in terms of institutions to build on and that is still trying to lay the foundations of what it is hoped will be democratic and stable rule.

One year on, Libya has held its first ever elections for a congress that saw people vote with peaceful dignity, which appeared to be a pointed message against decades of tyranny and an appreciation for what the present has to offer.

Oil production is back up to pre-war levels and some foreign companies have resumed operations - though mostly in the oil sector.

But scores are still being settled, like the deadly stalemate between the cities of Misrata and Bani Walid that has escalated in recent weeks and appears to be on the brink of becoming a bloody battle which few Libyans have any appetite for.

Militias around the country are also still proving to be a persistent headache with no simple drug that will relieve people from them.

People are desperate for a sense of tangible political progress - even some of those who supported the late colonel, like the man I arranged to meet in a parking lot and who asked to remain anonymous.

"Nothing has changed, and maybe things are worse now", he said.

"Murder and violence was limited before… limited to certain people, certain families… and people understood that. Now you don't have wrong or right, the problem now is chaos. People have no direction and don't know who is leading them."

Much of life in most of the country is normal and functioning, but there remains a sense of "we don't know who's in charge" as many a Libyan will point out, and that is frustrating people.

'Green Book in the rubbish'

Tuning in to the radio is no longer a mind-numbing experience - robotic presenters on state-owned channels informing the audience of the latest news about the colonel.

Libyans are now allowed to own private media.

Tripoli's shops are no longer full of Gaddafi memorabilia

This has brought voices to the airwaves that were completely absent before. English and Arabic music and news channels, a Salafist radio channel and Libya's first all-English radio station, which would have been illegal a year ago.

The late leader and commemoration of his 1969 coup used to be a seemingly permanent feature of the Libyan landscape.

Martyrs' Square in central Tripoli was called Green Square to reflect Col Gaddafi's choice of national colour.

Even the metal shutters of shop fronts were required to be green. Most shop owners have repainted them now with their colour or design of choice.

1st of September street has been re-branded as the 24th of December street - its original name under the old kingdom, marking Libya's independence from Italian colonialism.

Many other streets and the university which were named to reflect dates or titles to promote Gaddafi's revolution have reverted to their previous names.

The death of Gaddafi also brought about the death of his political ideology, encompassed in the infamously confusing Green Book. Book shops, previously limited in what they could import, used to stock the Green Book. Not any more.

Stroll in to one of the oldest bookstores and publishing house in Tripoli - al-Forjani - and the changes are immediately apparent.

The spot where Gaddafi's poster once hung is now covered with the national flag, and on the other side hangs a massive portrait of the founding father of al-Forjani.

This is where you'll run in to one of many reminders of those who suffered at the hands of the previous government.

The Green Book, according to bookseller Moussa Youssef Shaagoush "is in the rubbish", he says as he points to the neatly stacked new titles lining his desk.

They include a voluminous whistle-blowing book by former Foreign Minister Abdulrahman Shalgham, called People around Gaddafi, and others like it.

"I was imprisoned for eight years… because I tried to set up a political party," Mr Shaagoush tells me with an infectious grin that seems rather inappropriate for the topic at hand.

He quickly fetches the 1980s documents to prove it and shows an officially stamped paper, and another one with his name on an execution list.

The bookseller, who was once limited to selling titles approved by the previous regime, is relishing the new era.

'Libya is free'

There are changes in the winding alleyways of the old city, with its dirt roads, peeling paint, and cracks in the walls.

The traditional Libyan dress, trinkets and the shiny copper plates with a map of Libya are still there.

Libyan bookshops now stock whatever they think will sell - rather than Gaddafi's Green Book
Unsurprisingly, the plates that used to have Gaddafi's image with a ball of sun behind him are nowhere to be found. Nor will you find the T-shirts with a similar image, or the stamps with his face on it.

Imad, one of the shop owners, says he sold the last of his Gaddafi memorabilia two days before the revolution.

"We don't do too much before… if the government want this we make 10 pieces… but we don't make too much of the picture of the ex-dictator," he says with a chuckle.

He says there is more national unity now.

"I think the whole world thinks wrong about Libya… you have a little trouble now in Libya, but this is normal.

After the revolution we need maybe six years… another country like France maybe needed 18 years - we are now just one year after the revolution, I think after two years everything will be OK."

Strolling out of one of the alleyways, I spotted an elderly man with a heavily etched face selling traditional carpets. He softly whispered: "Wait", as I took pictures of him in his chair.

He slowly got up, edging to the back of his small store room to retrieve a fan made from straw with two small national flags glued to the bottom of it.

Red, green and black markers had been used to scribble: "Long-live the 17th of February [revolution], Libya is free."

He sunk back in his chair, held up the fan and signalled that he was ready to be photographed now. This was the image he wanted the world to see.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Libyans' new love affair with ice-cream

Post by Kitkat on Tue Apr 23 2013, 13:36

Libyans' new love affair with ice-cream

Since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, Libyans have begun a love affair with ice cream.

It is often said that to taste real gelato, one needs to go
to Italy; but now its former colony Libya may well be en route to
becoming another ice cream haven.

Never before has the decadent Italian influence on Libya been more visible.
Read more:

Before the revolution, there were only a handful of ice cream shops, known as gelaterias, in the capital, Tripoli.
Surviving in Libya 651597037 I wish I had known about this when I lived there.

Never heard about or came across any ice cream-shop! Surviving in Libya 1197659321
That definitely would have made surviving in Libya a lot easier.

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Surviving in Libya Empty French Embassy in Libya hit by car bomb

Post by Kitkat on Tue Apr 23 2013, 13:41

A car bomb has exploded outside the French embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli, wounding two French guards and several residents.

The blast in Tripoli destroyed the embassy's ground-floor reception area and perimeter wall, as well as damaging neighbouring homes and shops.

French President Francois Hollande called on Libya to act swiftly over this "unacceptable" attack.

It is the first major attack on a foreign embassy in the Libyan capital.

Tuesday's explosion happened shortly after 07:00 (05:00 GMT) in a smart residential area of Tripoli.

One of the embassy's guards was severely injured while the other suffered lighter injuries. Several residents were also slightly hurt.

One young girl suffered a spinal cord injury and was being transferred to neighbouring Tunisia for treatment, her father told the BBC.

The blast took place in a small side street and left a scene of devastation, the BBC's Rana Jawad in

As well as extensive damage to the embassy building and perimeter wall, two nearby homes were badly damaged and others affected, while the windows of a shop were blown out and two parked cars were burnt out.

Many neighbours who gathered in the street to survey the damage were shaken and upset by what had happened, our correspondent says.

They told her that there was a lack of proper policing for such a potentially high-profile target.

"It was a big mistake to site the French embassy in our neighbourhood," a local resident said.

President Hollande said the attack had targeted "all countries in the international community engaged in the fight against terrorism".

"France expects the Libyan authorities to shed the fullest light on this unacceptable act, so that the perpetrators are identified and brought to justice," he said.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius - who is on his way to Libya - said French officials would work closely with the Libyan authorities to find out who was responsible for what he called an "odious act".

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz condemned the bombing as a "terrorist act", but did not speculate on who might be behind it.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

French embassies across northern Africa have been on high alert since France sent in troops to help fight an Islamist insurgency in Mali in January.

France, under Nicolas Sarkozy, was at the forefront of Nato-led air strikes in 2011 that helped rebel forces topple long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi was attacked by armed men in September 2012, leading to the killing of ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American officials.

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Surviving in Libya Empty 12 days in hell

Post by Kitkat on Thu Feb 06 2014, 15:22

Alex Owumi: 'I played basketball for Gaddafi - and almost lost my life'

When US basketball player Alex Owumi signed a contract to play for a team in Benghazi, Libya, he had no idea that his employer was the the most feared man in the country. Nor did he guess the country was about to descend into war. Here he tells his story, parts of which some readers may find distressing.

Link to full story:


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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun Mar 09 2014, 20:14

Niger extradites Gaddafi's son Saadi to Libya

By Ulf Laessing and Feras Bosalum

TRIPOLI Thu Mar 6, 2014

Muammar Gaddafi's son Saadi, his special forces commander who fled abroad during Libya's 2011 revolution, was imprisoned in Tripoli on Thursday after Niger agreed to send him back from house arrest there.

Saadi, who had a brief career as soccer player in Italy and often lived the playboy life during his father's rule, is the first of Gaddafi's sons the central government has managed to arrest since the former dictator was overthrown.

Gaddafi's more prominent son Saif al-Islam, long viewed as his heir, has been held captive by fighters in western Libya who refuse to hand him over to a government they deem too weak to secure and try him.

Eager to close another chapter from the four-decade Gaddafi rule, Tripoli had long been seeking the extradition of Saadi, who had fled to the southern neighbor by slipping over the porous sub-Saharan border after the uprising.

"The Libyan government received today Saadi Gaddafi and he arrived in Tripoli," Prime Minister Ali Zeidan's cabinet said in a statement that thanked Niger's government for its help.

The extradition is a success for Zeidan, but also a test whether his weak government is able to hold such a high-profile prisoner and organize a fair trial in the political chaos that has followed the uprising.

The government said Saadi, 40, would be treated according to international law.

Since escaping Libya in 2011, he had been held under house arrest in the Niger capital Niamey. Libyan authorities believe he was active from there in fomenting unrest in southern Libyan.

Within an hour of the news of his arrival, a militia on the Libyan state payroll published photographs of an uncomfortable looking Saadi in a blue prison jumpsuit, kneeling while a guard shaved his beard and head with an electric razor.

"The first pictures of the criminal," the Libyan Revolutionary Operations Room militia said on its website, showing pictures of Saadi before and after the shave.

State prosecutors are investigating Saadi for crimes in suppressing the eight-month uprising against his father, state news agency LANA said.

Tripoli also wants to try him for allegedly misappropriating property by force and for alleged armed intimidation when he headed the Libyan Football Federation.


There was no immediate official comment from Niger, which Libyan analysts said had agreed to cooperate because both must worth together to try to secure their long border against weapons smugglers, militant Islamists and human traffickers.

Niger sources said Saadi was spirited into Libya on board a Libyan plane overnight, accompanied by Libyan security agents.

Political analyst Khalid al-Tarjaman said Libya had convinced Niger that Saadi's presence was giving a boost to Gaddafi loyalists in Libya's volatile south whom Tripoli has accused of provoking clashes in the main city Sabha in January.

"The government in Niger realized that Saadi's presence was the main source for tensions in Libya's south, which is also affecting Niger's sovereignty," he said.

Saadi, who also had a business career before 2011 thanks to the quasi-monopoly his family enjoyed in many sectors of the economy, is not wanted by the International Criminal Court.

The ICC has indicted Saif al-Islam for crimes against humanity. He is being held by militia fighters in Zintan and tried there for various charges, although a local court keeps adjourning proceedings after brief sessions.

Zintan fighters have allies themselves to tribes that once formed Gaddafi's power base, which analysts say partly explains their benevolent attitude towards Saif al-Islam.

Tarjaman said Saadi's expulsion from Niger might help Libya persuade other countries such as Egypt or Tunisia to extradite Gaddafi relatives and former top officials.

Several family members such as Gaddafi's daughter Aisha and her brother Hannibal had fled to Algeria during the uprising. They moved to Oman after Aisha had irritated Algerian authorities by discussing politics in public.


Other current news from Libya:

Libyan rebels say navy attack on tanker would be 'declaration of war'

BENGHAZI, Libya - An armed movement which has seized oil ports in eastern Libya said on Sunday any attempt by government forces to attack a North Korea-flagged tanker loading crude at a terminal under its control would be "like a declaration of war".

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun Mar 09 2014, 21:12

This documentary was aired on BBC Four on 3rd February 2014 - and is available to watch here on iPlayer for a further 4 weeks:

Mad Dog:  Gaddafi's Secret World

Duration: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Quite horrific in parts, I must admit to being quite shocked at the enormity of some of the detail revealed in this documentary.  I had heard snippets, bits and pieces of some of these stories whilst I was living in Tripoli, but so absurd were some of these tales, that I had thought that really is all they are - tales, rumour and gossip.  After having watched this, I realise now that there was truth in all of those rumours.

(Example:  Once, on remarking to a local about the emptiness and quiet of the skies over Tripoli and the surrounding areas - caused not solely because there were no aeroplanes to be seen in the sky (due to the No-Fly Zone at the time), but also very few birds to be seen - the only birds I ever saw in the whole time I was there would be falcons, eagles and other birds of prey.    I understsood this to be partly because there was no greenery around anywhere, no grass, no trees - specifically no trees (though I was lucky enough to have a jasmine bush right outside my front door (growing out of the sand!) - save for one sorry dead tree, slap-bang in the middle of a small 'field (of sand!) immediately outside the heavily-guarded entrance to our compound.  Sometimes, one lonely, skinny and bedraggled horse would be seen tied by a rope to that tree.  I felt so very sorry for this poor creature, the leafless and lifeless tree offered it no shade or succour from the searing, unbearable heat.  There was a bucket also under the tree, which I presume (at least - hope) contained some drinking water for him.  There was nothing else growing there - no hedge to surround the "field".  
Coming from the Emerald Isle, the 'greenery' is one thing that I missed terribly while I was there.
The story that I heard then in that discussion was that Gaddafi had ordered all the trees to be chopped down because there had been a failed attempt on his life, made by someone hiding in a tree.  I took this explanation with the proverbial pinch of salt, as of course it sounded just too absurd to be true - but the documentary confirms this and mentions his hatred and fear of being anywhere near trees after that incident.
That's nothing, however, compared to some of the shocking details revealed in this documentary.

Colonel Gaddafi was called Mad Dog by Ronald Reagan. His income from oil was a billion dollars a week. He washed his hands in deer's blood. No other dictator had such sex appeal and no other so cannily combined oil and the implied threat of terror to turn Western powers into cowed appeasers.

When he went abroad - bedecked in fake medals from unfought wars - a bulletproof tent was flown ahead, along with camels that would be tethered outside. His sons lived a Dolce & Gabbana lifestyle - one kept white tigers, while another commissioned a $500 million cruise liner with a shark pool.

Like other tyrants, Gaddafi used torture and murder to silence opposition, but what made his rule especially terrifying was that death came so casually. A man who complained that Gaddafi had an affair with his wife was allegedly tied between two cars and torn in half. On visits to schools and orphanages Gaddafi would tap underage girls on the head to show his henchmen which ones he wanted. They would be taken to his palace and abused. Young boys were held in tunnels under the palace.

Yet because of his vast oil lake there seemed no limit to Western generosity. British intelligence trapped one of his enemies overseas and sent him to Libya as a gift. The same week, Tony Blair arrived in Libya and a huge energy deal was announced.

Filmed in Cuba, the Pacific, Brazil, the US, South Africa, Libya and Australia, the cast of this documentary consists of palace insiders and those who gave shape to Gaddafi's dark dreams. They include a fugitive from the FBI who helped kill his enemies worldwide; the widow of the Libyan foreign minister whose body Gaddafi kept in a freezer; and a female bodyguard who adored him until she saw teenagers executed.

Gaddafi was a dictator like no other; their stories are stranger than fiction.

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Surviving in Libya Empty LIBYA AFTER GADDAFI

Post by Kitkat on Sat Jul 26 2014, 17:32

US evacuates embassy staff from Libya due to militia clashes

26 July 2014

The US says it has temporarily evacuated its staff from the Libyan capital Tripoli over security concerns.

Staff, including marine guards providing security to the embassy, have been transferred to Tunisia "due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias," it adds.

Secretary of State John Kerry said there was a "real risk" to staff.

It comes amid fierce clashes between rival militias in the capital, with intense fighting at Tripoli airport.

Libya has been gripped by instability since the 2011 uprising, with swathes of the country controlled by militias.

With no army, Libya's central government has increasingly lost control over the country to rogue and powerful militias in the last two years, says the BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli.

Military assistance

The US embassy in Tripoli was already operating on limited staffing. All remaining personnel were driven overland to Tunisia in the early hours of Saturday.

The US military said it had "assisted in the relocation" of embassy staff, using F-16 and MV-22 Osprey aircraft.

It said the five-hour operation was "conducted without incident".

State department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the withdrawal "underscored the Obama administration's concern about the heightened risk to American diplomats abroad".

She said that fighting between rival armed groups was taking place "in very close proximity" to the US embassy in the capital.

The state department has also urged US nationals not to go to Libya.

It is the second time in more than three years that the US has closed its embassy in Libya.

Turkey has also withdrawn some 700 members of staff from Libya, Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Earlier this week, the UN also announced it was withdrawing all its staff from Libya.

US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in September 2012.

The US move comes one day after Libyan government officials warned of the possibility of a break up of the country if clashes over Tripoli airport continue.
Libyans condemn and urge for an end of war during a protest at the Algeria Square on 26 July 2014 in Tripoli, Libya. Libyans rallied on Saturday in Tripoli to call for an end to the violence

Rival Libyan militias have been locked in battle at Libya's main airport in the south of Tripoli since last week, forcing the airport to shut.

Members of the Islamist Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR) are trying to seize control of the airport, which has been in the hands of the Zintan militia since the toppling of Col Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Our correspondent in the capital says both militia groups are believed to be on the official payroll.

The government has been unable to disarm the numerous armed groups that took part in the 2011 uprising and which have divided the country.

The eastern city of Benghazi has also been wracked by fighting between a rogue general, Khalifa Haftar, and Islamist groups, while many oil fields remain in the hands of separatist groups.

Dozens of government officials and high-profile military figures have been the target of assassination attempts in the city over the last two years.

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Surviving in Libya Empty LIBYA AFTER GADDAFI

Post by Kitkat on Sun Jul 27 2014, 17:55

Leave Libya now, Foreign Office tells Britons
27 July 2014

Surviving in Libya _76555118_76555117
The warning has been issued after fierce fighting near Tripoli airport

Britons should leave Libya immediately because of growing instability in the country, the Foreign Office has said.

It is advising against all travel to Libya because of the "greater intensity of fighting" and the likelihood of attacks on foreigners.

There are believed to be between 100 and 300 Britons in Libya at present.

The warning follows reports at least 36 people have been killed in clashes in the city of Benghazi - and an attempted car-jack on a British embassy convoy.

In that incident, British embassy officials said, shots were fired by unidentified gunmen at the embassy convoy in west Tripoli, but the attempted car-jacking was unsuccessful. No-one was hurt.

'Real risk'

Since late 2013, the Foreign Office said, a number of foreign nationals have been shot dead in Libya.

"Further attacks against foreigners are likely and could be opportunistic."

It said the British embassy remained open, but was operating with reduced staff, and its ability to provide consular assistance was "very limited".

It said there were several options for Britons wanting to leave Libya by commercial means.
A damaged building of stores is pictured after a shelling in Qaser Bin Ghashir, near the Tripoli International Airport on 26 July. Amid ongoing clashes to control Tripoli's international airport, Libya's central government has warned the country risks splitting apart

It comes as intense fighting between pro-government forces and rival militias has also been reported near the airport in the capital city of Tripoli, killing another 23 people.

Rival militias have been fighting at Libya's main airport since last week, forcing the airport to shut.

The Egyptian news agency Mena also reported that 23 Egyptian workers were killed Saturday when a rocket hit their residence in Tripoli.

On Saturday, the US evacuated its embassy in the capital, Tripoli, citing a "real risk" because of the fighting. Turkey has also withdrawn some 700 members of staff from Libya.

The US government also warned against all travel to Libya and recommended US citizens leave the country "immediately".
Smoke billowing from a plane at Tripoli airport Video footage showed smoke billowing from an airplane on the tarmac of the airport after fighting between rival militias

Earlier this week, the UN also announced it was withdrawing all its staff from Libya.

BBC correspondent Rana Jawad, in Tripol, said Libya's central government has increasingly lost control over the country to rogue and powerful militias in the last two years.

A multitude of armed groups emerged in the aftermath of the Libyan civil war, which ended Col Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule in October 2011.

There are now an estimated 1,700 different armed groups including state-affiliated forces and individual militias - among them Islamist groups - operating in the country.

The government - which has no effective army - has been unable to disarm the numerous armed groups that took part in the 2011 uprising.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Tue Jul 29 2014, 14:26

Fire rages after rocket hits Tripoli fuel depot

A huge blaze engulfing Libya's biggest fuel storage facility in the capital, Tripoli, has spread to a second tank.

This is the Brega oil depot.  The company I worked for in Tripoli had some staff stationed there and we had daily dealings with Brega.  Heart-wrenching to see what is happening in the capital, Tripoli, and to the rest of the country.  I worked alongside and socialised with many Libyans during my time there - generous, warm, friendly, humble people who welcomed me wholeheartedly into their homes and family life.  Most of the children of those families will be grown up now and have families of their own (it was 20 years ago).  I dread to think what life must be like for those families now.  Sad 

Libya's National Oil Company (NOC) has described the fire as "out of control".

It comes hours after the authorities appealed for international assistance to try to contain the blaze.

The government blames clashes between rival militias for starting the fire, which it says may cause a humanitarian and environmental disaster.

At least 97 people have been killed in fighting between rival militia groups battling for control of Tripoli's main airport in the past week.


Firefighters almost managed to put out the blaze when it took hold of a first tank but had to withdraw after fighting resumed in the area, Libyan oil company spokesman Mohamed Al-Harrai told the BBC.

He said shrapnel hit the second fuel tank, igniting it, and the fuel compound was still being hit.
Plumes of smoke rise in the sky after a rocket hit a fuel storage tank near the airport road in Tripoli, during clashes between rival militias on 28 July 2014.

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Libyan officials have called on local residents to leave the area within a perimeter of 5km

Residents within 3-5km (2-3 miles) of the area have been urged to evacuate, amid fears of a massive explosion.

But evacuations could be difficult, warns the BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli, due to the precarious security situation.

The fuel storage site, which belongs to the Brega oil and gas company, is the main hub for distribution of petrol in the city.

It is located on the main airport road, where much of the fighting of the past two weeks between rival militias has been taking place.

Officials have called on the militias to cease fire in order to allow firefighters to do their job.

The government has been unable to disarm the numerous armed groups controlling large parts of the country, which are behind Libya's worst violence since the 2011 uprising that toppled Col Muammar Gaddafi.

It has led some Western governments to urge their nationals to leave and withdraw foreign staff from their embassies in Tripoli.

Libyan government officials have warned of the possibility of a break-up of the country if clashes over Tripoli airport continue.

Members of the Islamist Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR) are trying to seize control of the airport, which has been in the hands of the Zintan militia since the overthrow of Col Gaddafi.

In Benghazi, at least 38 people were killed in clashes between between troops loyal to the Libyan government and Islamist fighters on Sunday.

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Surviving in Libya Empty Newly elected Libyan lawmakers meet amid chaos

Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 04 2014, 08:44

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Photo: AP  In this handout photo provided by the Hellenic Navy, a navy special operations team inspects waters as a plume of smoke is seen over Libya's capital Tripoli on Thursday, July 31, 2014. A Greek frigate was was used to evacuate Greek embassy staff and others from Tripoli. The navy said 186 people, including the Embassy staff, other Greek nationals and citizens from China, Britain, Belgium, Russia and Albania were being transported to a port near Athens. With the violence in Libya escalating to its worst level since the 2011 ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, governments from around the world are scrambling to evacuate their citizens from the country, many seeking help from nearby Greece.

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Photo: AP  Plumes of smoke and debris rise from a base of Islamic militias after a MiG fighter jet's strike in Benghazi, Libya. MiG fighter jets, reportedly under the control of renegade general, Khalifa Hifter, struck in retaliation the bases of Islamic militias in Benghazi on Friday, as a coalition of Islamic militias over the past week captured a number of army bases in Benghazi, driving out troops and police and seizing large weapon stores.

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — More than three-quarters of Libya's newly elected parliament met for the first time Saturday in a city chosen by a prominent anti-Islamist politician, likely signaling a swing against Islamists and extremist militias amid violence unseen since the 2011 civil war that toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The lawmakers met in Tobrouk as rival militias battled for control over the international airport in the capital, Tripoli, with their fire setting more oil depots ablaze. Meanwhile in Libya's second-largest city of Benghazi, forces loyal to a renegade general were dealt heavy blow after the Islamist militias overran several army bases and took control of the city.

The violence, which has killed more than 200 people and wounded almost 900 in weeks of fighting, has sent diplomats, thousands of foreign workers and Libyans fleeing for their lives and presents the greatest challenge for a country still largely at war with itself.
Read more:

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Surviving in Libya Empty Survival tips

Post by Kitkat on Thu Aug 07 2014, 11:57

How to stay alive in Libya as civil unrest increases

Civilians caught up in the ongoing struggle for control of Libya have started sharing survival tips on Twitter.

Since the 2011 revolution, violence in Libya's two biggest cities Tripoli and Benghazi has become a daily occurrence. There is no effective army to control almost 2,000 armed groups that have sprung up since Colonel Gaddafi was deposed.

Twitter users are now sharing helpful, often poignant, safety tips as there is very little official advice.

Survival tips:

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Thu Aug 07 2014, 12:19

and found this on the Libyan section of the Expat Forum:  (I wish there was something like this forum around when I was there.  Didn't even have mobile phones then! - 1993/4)  We did have similar travel problems though as some are experiencing now, as the whole of Libya was a No-Fly Zone at that time.  The Tunisia/Djerba route and the Malta route of travel being discussed here were the only routes available to us - and even then you could travel the whole way to the border (from either side) only to find the border closed and have to go back to where you came from - and take a chance on trying again another day.

Manila orders total evacuation after Filipino worker decapitated in Benghazi

By Callum Paton.

Tripoli, 21 July 2014:

A Filipino construction worker has been found decapitated in Benghazi six days after he was kidnapped in the citys Gwarsha district.

The Filipino Embassy has now ordered a nationwide, mandatory evacuation of its citizens over the deteriorating security situation, Filipino community leader Dora Bathai told the Libya Herald. She said Fillipino nationals in Benghazi had been left stunned by the gruesome attack which she described as inhuman.

She identified the dead man as Antonio Espares, an employee at Kibra construction company, who she said had been kidnapped by masked gunmen while driving to work. She explained that Espares had been targeted because his assailants believed him to be Christian. His mutilated body was found yesterday.

Bathai said Espares killing was the most recent in a string of aggressive and intimidating acts perpetrated against Fillipino workers who, she said, were threatened on a daily basis. She explained that the foreign workers, most of whom work in the citys hospitals, were followed and often robbed when they left their homes. Everyday there is crime and harassment. Everyday there is a hold-up, she said.

Bathai described one recent incident where armed men had forced entry into nurses accommodation, stealing their belongings. She said she herself was regularly hassled at her own place of work at Benghazi Medical Centre.

Bathai said the treatment was appalling when it was considered that the Filipino workers made up the majority of Benghazis medical staff and most have not been paid for as much as five months. We have sacrificed so much, she said, even before the revolution.

They should condemn theses people who target the foreigners, she said. We are not rich, many of us make less than the Libyans. We are tired, we are exhausted and then we are targeted by criminals, she added.

The Phillipines news agency EFE reported that the Manila government has raised its alert level in response to the extremely unstable political and security situations.

The countrys Department of Foreign Affairs has told all 13,000 Filipinos in the Libya to contact its embassy in Tripoli for assistance and instructions for evacuation.

I do remember feeling a little worried/scared when at one time while I was there - for about a 2-week period around about the same time every evening (10 o'clock) you could hear the noise of fighter jets flying over.  It was an eerie sound, considering no aircraft sound at all in the air was ever to be heard usually in the skies.

I also remember too one day our minibus didn't turn up at our compound (Regatta) to take us to work - a half-hour's drive along the coast into Tripoli.  (The minibus would come every morning and stop outside the little shop in the compound, not far from my villa.  It would pick up 6 of us UK expats - and there would also be 3 or 4 Italians already in the bus as they would be picked up first from the Italian compound which was a few minutes down the road from ours).  The Italians always sat up the front and we occupied the back of the bus.  (There wasn't much communication between the two).  For the half-hour or so's drive into work the drive would have Arabic music playing in the background on the radio - but often (especially during the periods that the People's Congress would be taking place - when Gaddafi would speak to the people every day - ALL day ... (we had these speakers dotted around the compound (one was literally just outside my window!) which firstly would wake you up in the early hours of the morning with a very loud and moany call to prayer, but also at impromptu times during the day would blast out music or 'the Leader' ranting (in Arabic) about something or other.  We had a fair idea what all this ranting was about, as repeated often in these speeches would be the words sounding like Britannia!, Faransa!, Amereeeca! (the 3 countries who had imposed the sanctions in Libya over the Lockerbie plane bombing).  You could actually hear and feel the hate when these words were spat out in the middle of the long rants - now and then you would also hear 'Reagan' or 'Thatcher' mentioned.
These rants would sometimes come on the bus radio in the morning going to work, and on those occasions the driver would turn up the volume very loud.  It was very intimidating to experience.)

Anyway, started to say ... one day the bus didn't turn up.  The official reason later given to us was that our bus had a flat tyre.  However, we discovered the real reason was that our minibus had been 'hijacked' at gunpoint, the driver forced to drive to a certain point out in the desert, and then they drove the vehicle off, after chucking out the driver, beating him up and leaving him there in the middle of nowhere.   scared

No two days were ever the same in Libya.   rock

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Surviving in Libya Empty Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Fri Aug 29 2014, 20:31

As usual, I'm in agreement with Brendan O'Neill from Spiked.

His comment from this week's Spiked magazine:

Who said the following this week: ‘We believe outside interference in Libya exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition’? An anti-war campaigner, perhaps? Actually it was NATO, in a memo issued in the wake of suspected UAE airstrikes against Islamist militants in fragile, divided Libya. Yep, showing that they lack any smidgen of self-awareness, the governments of France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US had the audacity to chastise regional powers for getting stuck into Libya on the basis that they might cause further instability. If they had issued such a warning to themselves in 2011, much of the current mayhem in Libya might have been avoided. The rising trend of regional intervention in the Middle East and north Africa – from Libya to Iraq to Syria – is itself a byproduct of Western intervention’s transformation of these parts of the world into stateless vacuums where everything’s up for grabs.

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Surviving in Libya Empty LIBYA VOICES

Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 01 2014, 13:52

LIBYA VOICES:  This blog is a collection of the experiences of individuals who experienced the Libyan Civil War first hand.

Kevin Dawes, from San Diego, California travelled to Libya in June 2011 as a photojournalist, and almost immediately became involved with assisting rebel medics on the Dafniyah-Misrata frontline, and eventually ended up fighting alongside the rebels in Sirte, where his time in Libya came to a sudden and violent end.  He filmed much of what he experienced in Libya, and has uploaded around 300 of those videos onto his Youtube Channel .

Read more here:  Kevin Dawes Part One - Arrival

    Current date/time is Wed Jan 20 2021, 04:39