Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Libya

Tidbits and notes posted on FB and Twitter. Part 172

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pa attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

Logic is binary: We are among the living or dead. Truth is mono: we die.

Turkey knows that it will Not have any say in the new political establishment in Syria: The Moslem Brotherhood in both in Turkey and Syria, represented by the terrorist Al Nusra faction, cannot participate in the future Syrian institutions.

Si les parents ne sont plus interresses a parler leur langue diatecte avec leur enfants, pas besoin d’insister que ce dialecte soit une seconde langue nationale

Libya is doomed to be partitioned into more than 3 vast concentration camps for African refugees and immigrants. Libya has become a de-facto camps for slaves, to be sold.

Egypt is ripe for another major upheaval: Another ruthless dictator for life is backed by the colonial powers, as usual.

The train line linking Viet Nam to China Yu Nan is 850 km long. It was built by the French colonial power at the cost of thousands of casualties among the local workers. As the Chinese built the train line linking East with West USA.

Je n’ai plus jamais été trompé par une femme depuis: je n’ai plus jamais attendu sous la pluie pour les surveiller ou les retrouver.

If we don’t acquire a reflective mind, an experimental mind, how can we comprehend what’s changing in us and around us? The education system must change to confront machine thinking in near future

Guilty people spend their life in the process of denying guilt. Particularly, people who participated in genocide, apartheid policies and practices, and traitors for money.

Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang says he personally interviews people applying for leadership jobs at the Chinese internet giant, and his favorite question is, “What’s the biggest mistake you made before?” Zhang believes you need to be able to make mistakes to be innovative: “If people say they never made mistakes, they might be wrong for Alibaba.”

“Democracy has to be more than two wolves and a lamb deciding what they want for dinner.”—Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal

Shat al zbeleh samayto Shat Sami 3ala assass oulouf ma zaaro shawate2 Loubnan, bass shaafo Sami 3am yetmasha wa yaakhod souwar. Jameel enno baladiyyat Beit Chabab ta7t al mijhar

Lazem raa3i al nass, bi doun estesnaa2? Wa ana, ma 7ada msharda2 ye raa3ini?

Sa7. Sami Gemmayel 3aamel shoghol mou3ared jayyed. Ken afdal ye koun fi competition 7ata al mou3aradat tkoun ajwad

Iza ta7aaloufaat kabel intikhabaat antajat ta7aaloufaat moughayirat ba3d al intikhabaat, menkoun fi tareek al taghyeer

Paula Ya3koubyan tarasha7at fi Beirut One, ma3 takkatol 7erak madani. Shi moushajje3.

Iza Hezbollah tarak Nabih yi sool wa ye jool, ra7 tet2aza daakhiliyyan

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Obama Expands the ISIS Bombing Campaign to a 4th Country,

And the Media decided to Barely Notice

What began two years ago as “limited” air strikes in Iraq now includes Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya—all with little public debate.

The Obama administration announced on Monday the beginning of US air strikes in Libya against ISIS targets, marking the fourth country the United States is currently bombing with the goal of “degrading and destroying” the terror group.

A campaign that began two years ago this Sunday has now, 50,000 bombs and 25,000 dead ISIS fighters later, expanded to a whole new continent.

(Algeria and even many legally recognized factions in Libya are against these interventions)

You’d hardly notice if you followed US media.

While the air strikes themselves were reported by most major outlets, they were done so in a matter-of-fact way, and only graced the front pages of major American newspapers for one day.

The New York Times didn’t even find the news important enough to give it a front-page headline, instead relegating it to a quick blurb at the far-bottom corner of the page, next to a teaser about the G train “having a moment.”

Even many center-left outlets barely touched on the massive mission creep.

To give some perspective, Slate, Mother Jones, and Buzzfeed News all ran more stories about Trump’s dust-up with an infant than they did on what was effectively the start of a new war.

ABC World News Tonight mentioned the Libyan air strikes for only 20 seconds, 13 minutes into the show, and NBC Nightly News didn’t mention the air strikes at all. The president’s announcement that the United States is bombing a new country has become entirely banal.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“Obama’s mission creep, without public debate or congressional sanction, goes on without examination of what it may entail for future presidents, let alone the present one. This is the new normal, and it’s a new normal the press codifies every time it treats Obama’s ever-expanding war as dull and barely newsworthy.”

This is by design.

Obama’s “frog in boiling water” approach to war removes a clear deadline, thus stripping his use of military force of the urgency of, say, Bush’s “48 hours to get out of BaghdadGary Cooper approach.

Meanwhile, an anti-ISIS bombing campaign that began as “limited,” “targeted” air strikes in Iraq two years ago expanded to Syria six weeks later, to Afghanistan in January of this year, and to Libya this week.

Combat troops and special forces have also crept into play, with US military personnel first appearing in Iraq and Syria in 2014, 2015, or 2016, depending on how one defines “boots” and “ground.”

All of this has unfolded with US media that almost never put these developments in a broader context. Instead, news outlets report each expansion as if it were obvious and inevitable.

The war just is, and because it’s done piecemeal, there doesn’t seem much to get outraged over.

The question pundits should be asking themselves is this: Had Obama announced on August 7, 2014, that he planned on bombing four countries and deploying troops to two of them to fight a war with “no end point,” would the American public have gone along with it? Probably not.

To authorize his perma-campaign, Obama’s administration has dubiously invoked the 15-year-old, one-page Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed three days after 9/11.

The president has to do this, the White House and friendly media claim, because Congress “refuses” to act  to authorize the war (notice that’s a rubber-stamp question of when, not if).

But such apologism largely rests on a tautology: Congress doesn’t have a sense of urgency to authorize the war because the public doesn’t, and the public doesn’t because the media have yawned with each new iteration.

What’s lacking is what screenwriters call “an inciting incident.”

There’s no clear-cut moment the war is launched, it just gradually expands, and because media are driven by Hollywood narratives, they are victims to the absence of a clear first act.

This was, to a lesser extent, the problem with the last bombing of Libya, in 2011. What was pitched to the American public then was a limited, UN-mandated no-fly zone to protect civilians (that even the likes of Noam Chomsky backed), which quickly morphed, unceremoniously, into all-out, NATO-led regime change three weeks later.

Then, as now, there was no public debate, no media coming-to-Jesus moment.

Obama just asserted the escalation as the obvious next step, and almost everyone just sort of went along—an ethos summed up in Eric Posner’s hot take at Slate the day after Obama expanded the ISIS war to Syria:Obama Can Bomb Pretty Much Anything He Wants To.

Some, such as The Week’s Ryan Cooper and The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf, have argued that the specter of a Donald Trump presidency could provide this inciting incident, that the fear of an apparently mentally unstable reality-show host taking over this sprawling, limitless war could compel us to examine the wisdom of this unilateral executive approach. But, thus far, this fear has done no such thing.

Obama’s mission creep, without public debate or congressional sanction, goes on without examination of what it may entail for future presidents, let alone the present one.

This is the new normal, and it’s a new normal the press codifies every time it treats Obama’s ever-expanding war as dull and barely newsworthy.

Note: Obama was against opening routes of escapes to besieged opposition civilians in Aleppo. He wants everyone in Syria to bleed.

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘guardian angel’ guiding migrants after perilous crossing

CATANIA, Sicily

Nawal Soufi has stopped eating fish. The very idea of consuming seafood from the Mediterranean repulses her.

“I am always afraid that when I eat a fish it might have a piece of human flesh — a migrant who disappeared in the sea, never to be found — one of the many lost souls that the sea has taken,” she says.

Since the Arab Spring uprisings the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean has spiralled upwards with the exodus peaking in 2014 when 180,000 migrants reached the shores of Italy, according to International Office of Migration.

The ‘guardian angel’ guiding migrants after perilous Mediterranean crossing

Nawal Soufi, a humanitarian activist, at the central Catania train station as she makes an evening round to check for fresh migrant arrivals in need of assistance. Iason Athanasiadis for The National

Ms Soufi, however, has been helping those arrive in Italy for much longer, since she was a teenager.

In her home city of Catania, in Sicily, the 27-year-old is known as a guardian angel among locals and the tens of thousands whom she has aided. Catania has earned a nickname of its own — “the Gateway to Europe” for migrants who continue to arrive on boats.

Last week, 300 migrants disappeared in the Mediterranean, just the latest addition to the lost souls that preoccupy Ms Soufi. While aboard four dinghies they were either swallowed by colossal waves or succumbed to frigid temperatures.

Just days before this incident, another 29 migrants died of hypothermia while waiting to be brought to safety by the Italian Coastguard.

“Before it was Moroccans, Algerians and Eritreans, now it is mostly Syrians,” Ms Soufi says. “This [Sicily] is a land of migrants and always will be. It is a gateway, not so much between the east and west, but between human beings.”

From the inception of their treacherous journey crossing the Mediterranean Sea to their onward travel to Italy and further into the heart of Europe, she guides them. Amid the chaos, she is often their only confidante.

“When they contact me before they start, I tell them that I cannot condone that they take to the sea — whether from the humanitarian, legal or ethical perspective,” Ms Soufi says. But knowing that they will continue to come hundreds at a time, vulnerable to deception and trafficking, she has been unable to stop helping them.

Ms Soufi, who was born in Sicily to Moroccan parents, says she helps the migrants purely based on humanity. She works as a translator at the local court but her commitment to the migrants is relentless.

She has perfected numerous Arabic dialects over her years helping the refugees.

Almost every morning she wakes up with the next phone call, whether from a mother travelling with several children or a boatful of migrants in distress at sea with satellite phones in hand.

Once they safely arrive and are released by immigration authorities, she meets them at the local train station.

By default it has become the transit point for many Syrians, Eritreans, Egyptians, Malians, Nigerians and Afghans, a majority of whom intend to travel to northern European countries that they believe will afford them better asylum conditions and the means to restart their lives.

By the time they meet Ms Soufi, many have already been in contact with her, some for several months before starting their journeys.

Fatima and her 14-year-old daughter Ghinwa travelled from Damascus with the hope of reaching relatives in Germany. They are thankful for Ms Soufi’s help.

“For a while things were OK in Damascus but, aside from the conflict, they started running out of resources and the environment was just not good for my daughter,” says Fatima.

Many arriving say that even in the communities that are not experiencing daily battles, the fabric of society has unravelled after years of civil war. From severed families to a lack of basic supplies such as medicine and textbooks, the physical and mental infrastructures of cities and towns are in shambles.

Page 2 of 3

Despite having warned them against taking the boats, Ms Soufi awaits their arrival, knowing well that in the absence of state support and language skills, they are vulnerable to fraud, trafficking and crime, all the while, invisible to mainstream society.

“I also tell myself sometimes when going to bed that it is the last time. But, how can I refuse practicing life? This is a lifestyle for me,” she says.

Winter winds and continuing influx

Every winter, the Sirocco, a desert wind forming in the Sahara gathers to hurricane speed as it heads towards southern Europe, creating huge waves in the Mediterranean.

This year, the Sirocco rapidly gathered force over the past weeks bringing with it not just intense storms but also thousands of migrants in dilapidated vessels that Sicilian locals call “boats of death

Death that is sold at $1,000 per head if coming from Libya or as high as $6,000 if coming from Turkey,” says Ms Soufi, about the fees paid to the trafficking gangs.

Pointing to the vessels moored in the Catania harbour, she describes seeing these boats arrive, often filled beyond capacity with men, women and children clinging on for their lives, sometimes empty and at other times with dead bodies.

One of the world’s deadliest migrant crossings, the old Sicilian adage of the Mediterranean Sea as a “graveyard” is quickly returning to reality.

Mare Nostrum — the search and rescue operation launched by the Italian government in response to a series of boat tragedies in October 2013 off the island of Lampedusa — ended in October.

It was replaced by an operation called Triton led by Frontex, the European Union’s border control agency, which has reduced not just the funds and resources but also its mandate.

The limitations of Triton have become more apparent with the rising death toll, even over the harsh winter months when migration flows significantly subside.

In addition to last week’s death toll, 115 deaths were reported in January, according to International Office of Migration. There were only 27 deaths in the same period in 2014, when Mare Nostrum was still in effect.

UNHCR figures show that the end of the search and rescue operation has not deterred the flow of boats. The agency registered at least 22 boats arriving in Italy from Libya carrying 3,528 refugees in January, compared to 2,100 during the same period in 2014.

The increase in deaths, humanitarian organisations say, comes as no surprise.

“The two missions have an entirely different focus. Triton’s objective is border control whereas Mare Nostrum was primarily a rescue at sea operation,” explains Federico Fossi at UNHCR in Rome.

Given the latest fatalities, they have called for an operation on at least the same scale and resources as Mare Nostrum with “rescue” as a core objective.

Most recently, on Sunday, the Italian Coastguard set out to rescue another 1,000 migrants stranded 150 kilometres from Lampedusa. The unceasing arrivals reflect high levels of desperation among those fleeing conflict and with little to no options in neighbouring countries.

Twenty-one year old Ali had envisioned a different future after the Tunisian uprising started in 2011. Having played for the national rugby team, he proudly shares YouTube videos of himself scoring for his country.

“I was simply marching in one of the protests on the main square when I was picked up by intelligence. It was sheer bad luck,” he explains with a wry smile on his face.

Disqualification from his team and accusations of incendiary involvement in protests meant that he and his family were constantly harassed and threatened. So Ali fled his home. Arriving in Libya he found an even worse situation for those like him without the right documents and absence of a functioning asylum system.

Ms Soufi says most who went to Libya had hoped to find work there, especially before the situation worsened, with a collapsed state and criminal clans dictating the laws.

Page 3 of 3

“Complete lack of security meant they were forced to take to the sea with the smuggling gangs,” she says, after meeting Ali at the train station and helping find a bus for the next stage of his journey.

Unable to go further than Libya by land, they inevitably face the sea that lies between them and the hope of refuge in conflict-free Europe. Most of those arriving echoed her explanation. The push away from war and death is much greater than the pull of Europe.

Repeating cycle

Ms Soufi’s hours with these newest arrivals are packed.

She has explained logistics of travel, arranged their tickets, found them shelter for the night, helped purchase sim cards and basics, collected food and clothing and even provided a sort of crash course in what they should expect over coming months.

Beyond Italy, most of them will go their separate ways with different destinations in mind — Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Brussels and more — based on family ties, what they have heard from others and above all a quest for lives of dignity.

Asmaa, 45, from Deraa, home to the protests that sparked the Syrian uprisings, is hoping to reach her older son in Denmark. He fled more than year ago to escape the mandatory military draft.

Accompanied by her husband and 14-year-old son, Asmaa’s journey that spanned at least four countries, from Yarmouk camp in Syria to the shores of Italy, was fraught with danger and threats to their lives.

When we were in the desert, it was dark like a sea. Frightening. We kept getting passed on from smuggler to smuggler and then got kidnapped by a last one. I am not even sure if it was theatre or real,’

Despite having endured the toughest journey among this group, she is energised upon finally reaching safety and hopes to start a new peaceful chapter with her family intact.

As Asmaa boards the bus to Milan, she knows that she will never forget the ‘Angel of Catania’.

“I just wanted to be treated as a human being and for someone to simply acknowledge me, my existence” she says.

It is an emotional farewell as Ms Soufi walks away from the departure, bracing herself for the next distress call and repeating the session the next day and the one after.

During this brief lull, she will sit by the sea, reminiscing those she has helped over the years and others whom she lost before they ever arrived.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Preethi Nallu and Iason Athanasiadis are working on a multimedia project called “Parallel Journeys: Seasons of Migration” that explores the Mediterranean crossings through individual narratives.

Note: Libya is becoming the main gate for all the refugees in the Middle-east and Africa, fleeing the horrors and economic shortages in order to reach Europe by sea.  Qaddafi must be missed by the European Union

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Death that is sold at $1,000 per head if coming from Libya or as high as $6,000 if coming from Turkey,” says Ms Soufi, about the fees paid to the trafficking gangs.

Pointing to the vessels moored in the Catania harbour, she describes seeing these boats arrive, often filled beyond capacity with men, women and children clinging on for their lives, sometimes empty and at other times with dead bodies.

One of the world’s deadliest migrant crossings, the old Sicilian adage of the Mediterranean Sea as a “graveyard” is quickly returning to reality.

Mare Nostrum — the search and rescue operation launched by the Italian government in response to a series of boat tragedies in October 2013 off the island of Lampedusa — ended in October.

It was replaced by an operation called Triton led by Frontex, the European Union’s border control agency, which has reduced not just the funds and resources but also its mandate.

The limitations of Triton have become more apparent with the rising death toll, even over the harsh winter months when migration flows significantly subside.

In addition to last week’s death toll, 115 deaths were reported in January, according to International Office of Migration. There were only 27 deaths in the same period in 2014, when Mare Nostrum was still in effect.

UNHCR figures show that the end of the search and rescue operation has not deterred the flow of boats. The agency registered at least 22 boats arriving in Italy from Libya carrying 3,528 refugees in January, compared to 2,100 during the same period in 2014.

The increase in deaths, humanitarian organisations say, comes as no surprise.

“The two missions have an entirely different focus. Triton’s objective is border control whereas Mare Nostrum was primarily a rescue at sea operation,” explains Federico Fossi at UNHCR in Rome.

Given the latest fatalities, they have called for an operation on at least the same scale and resources as Mare Nostrum with “rescue” as a core objective.

Most recently, on Sunday, the Italian Coastguard set out to rescue another 1,000 migrants stranded 150 kilometres from Lampedusa. The unceasing arrivals reflect high levels of desperation among those fleeing conflict and with little to no options in neighbouring countries.

Twenty-one year old Ali had envisioned a different future after the Tunisian uprising started in 2011. Having played for the national rugby team, he proudly shares YouTube videos of himself scoring for his country.

“I was simply marching in one of the protests on the main square when I was picked up by intelligence. It was sheer bad luck,” he explains with a wry smile on his face.

Disqualification from his team and accusations of incendiary involvement in protests meant that he and his family were constantly harassed and threatened. So Ali fled his home. Arriving in Libya he found an even worse situation for those like him without the right documents and absence of a functioning asylum system.

Ms Soufi says most who went to Libya had hoped to find work there, especially before the situation worsened, with a collapsed state and criminal clans dictating the laws.

“Complete lack of security meant they were forced to take to the sea with the smuggling gangs,” she says, after meeting Ali at the train station and helping find a bus for the next stage of his journey.

Unable to go further than Libya by land, they inevitably face the sea that lies between them and the hope of refuge in conflict-free Europe. Most of those arriving echoed her explanation. The push away from war and death is much greater than the pull of Europe.

Repeating cycle

Ms Soufi’s hours with these newest arrivals are packed. She has explained logistics of travel, arranged their tickets, found them shelter for the night, helped purchase sim cards and basics, collected food and clothing and even provided a sort of crash course in what they should expect over coming months. Beyond Italy, most of them will go their separate ways with different destinations in mind — Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Brussels and more — based on family ties, what they have heard from others and above all a quest for lives of dignity.

Asmaa, 45, from Deraa, home to the protests that sparked the Syrian uprisings, is hoping to reach her older son in Denmark. He fled more than year ago to escape the mandatory military draft.

Accompanied by her husband and 14-year-old son, Asmaa’s journey that spanned at least four countries, from Yarmouk camp in Syria to the shores of Italy, was fraught with danger and threats to their lives.

“When we were in the desert, it was dark like a sea. Frightening. We kept getting passed on from smuggler to smuggler and then got kidnapped by a last one. I am not even sure if it was theatre or real,’

Despite having endured the toughest journey among this group, she is energised upon finally reaching safety and hopes to start a new peaceful chapter with her family intact.

As Asmaa boards the bus to Milan, she knows that she will never forget the ‘Angel of Catania’.

“I just wanted to be treated as a human being and for someone to simply acknowledge me, my existence” she says.

It is an emotional farewell as Ms Soufi walks away from the departure, bracing herself for the next distress call and repeating the session the next day and the one after. During this brief lull, she will sit by the sea, reminiscing those she has helped over the years and others whom she lost before they ever arrived.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Preethi Nallu and Iason Athanasiadis are working on a multimedia project called “Parallel Journeys: Seasons of Migration” that explores the Mediterranean crossings through individual narratives.

 

Why I am Not Charlie Hebdo? Je ne suis pas Charlie

The weekly French cartoon magazine Charlie Hebdo mostly dealt with local French politics and policies.

1. It was against US invasion of Iraq in 2003. How’s your current position on this invasion?

2. It was against French military involvement against Gadhafi of Libya. How’s your current position on this Libyan morass and constant civil war? Many European politicians and security officers believe that it is Libya that will constitute the real menace to Europe’s security.

3. It was mostly pro Zionism/Israel and fired cartoonists who stood fast against retracting their opinions on wrong doing against human rights in Palestine.

‎الحرية والديمقراطية !!!‎

4. People may believe that Charlie Hebdo got carried away by these waves of Islamo-phobia and indulged caricaturing the Prophet Mohammad as a villain just to prove that it is not afraid of the threats and assassinations carried out against these publishers.

Actually, Charlie Hebdo habits were reminiscing of Hollywood movies of depicting “Arabs” as backward villains. Confusion over 350 millions Arabic speaking people with a few thousand Bedouins in a desert setting.

It is a huge stupidity of caricaturing religious icons that are mostly not well known, not based on good documentations and facts. Stick to what is known, factual and current you stupid cartoonists and steer away from disseminating dangerous discriminating opinions.

Aicha, the youngest and most learned wife of the Prophet, spent her life confronting and refuting the misrepresentations and out of context stories describing the behaviour and daily habits of Muhammad. These stories are called the hadith and the Moslems mostly love stories and behave as these stories says and recommend.

There is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it.

Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity.

There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

a paper bird posted this Jan. 9, 2014

To abhor what was done to the victims is not the same as to become them.

This is true on the simplest level: I cannot occupy someone else’s selfhood, share someone else’s death.

This is also true on a moral level: I cannot appropriate the dangers they faced or the suffering they underwent, I cannot colonize their experience, and it is arrogant to make out that I can. It wouldn’t be necessary to say this, except the flood of hashtags and avatars and social-media posturing proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie overwhelms distinctions and elides the point.

“We must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day,” the New Yorker pontificates.

What the hell does that mean?

In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you.

Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary fff8 identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same.

If people who are feeling concrete loss or abstract shock or indignation take comfort in proclaiming a oneness that seems to fill the void, then it serves an emotional end. But these Cartesian credos on Facebook and Twitter — I am Charlie, therefore I am — shouldn’t be mistaken for political acts.

Among the dead at Charlie Hebdo:  Deputy chief editor Bernard Maris and cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (aka Cabu), Stephane Charbonnier, who was also editor-in-chief, and Bernard Verlhac (aka Tignous)

Erasing differences that actually exist seems to be the purpose here: and it’s perhaps appropriate to the Charlie cartoons, which drew their force from a considered contempt for people with the temerity to be different. For the last 36 hours, everybody’s been quoting Voltaire. The same line is all over my several timelines:

From the twitter feed of @thereaIbanksy, January 7

“Those 21 words circling the globe speak louder than gunfire and represent every pen being wielded by an outstretched arm,” an Australian news site says. (Never mind that Voltaire never wrote them; one of his biographers did.)

But most people who mouth them don’t mean them. Instead, they’re subtly altering the Voltairean clarion cry: the message today is, I have to agree with what you say, in order to defend it. 

Why else the insistence that condemning the killings isn’t enough? No: we all have to endorse the cartoons, and not just that, but republish them ourselves. Thus Index on Censorship, a journal that used to oppose censorship but now is in the business of telling people what they can and cannot say, called for all newspapers to reprint the drawings: 

“We believe that only through solidarity – in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely – can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech.” But is repeating you the same as defending you? And is it really “solidarity” when, instead of engaging across our differences, I just mindlessly parrot what you say?

But no, if you don’t copy the cartoons, you’re colluding with the killers, you’re a coward. Thus the right-wing Daily Caller posted a list of craven media minions of jihad who oppose free speech by not doing as they’re ordered. Punish these censors, till they say what we tell them to!

Rape victims during Gadhafi to be compensated? And rapes after this chaotic “Revolution”

Rape is a taboo subject in most countries, particularly in conservative North African States such as Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco…

Women raped during Libya’s 2011 uprising that toppled long-time ruler (40 years) Muammar Gaddafi should be recognized as war victims, Libya cabinet has said.

The same treatment as the wounded ex-fighters, the raped women would be entitled to compensation.

Why for only those during the uprising?

Rape was also and consistently used as a weapon during the reign of Gadhafi.

And what of the raped victims after the demise of Mu3ammar?

And why the selected “to be compensated” 60 raped victims will be equally distributed from the main 3 regions in Libya?

The BBC posted this February 20, 2014

Libya Gaddafi rape victims to be compensated

Libyan women with taped mouths take part in a silent march in support of the women who were raped during the conflict in Libya, in Tripoli -26 November 2011
Rape is a taboo subject in the the conservative North African country

Its decree, which needs congressional approval, would put the women on the same level as wounded ex-fighters and entitle them to compensation.

Pro-Gaddafi forces are alleged to have used rape as a weapon.

As Libya marks three years since the uprising began, voters are electing a body to write a new constitution.

“Start Quote

Unidentified woman at the Libyan-Tunisian border

Some victims can’t go to school… they are suffering in silence and reconciliation efforts are suffering”

Libyan Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani told the BBC that the decree offers 12 measures, including financial assistance and physical and psychological health care.

Money would also be available for things “like sending the parents of victims to Hajj – this is to elevate the status of victims, so they are not looked at as a burden”, he said.

The justice ministry says it will not wait for the national congress to pass the decree in order to avoid further delays.

It will be made up of 60 people – 20 from each of Libya’s three regions.

No burden‘ to the family or the community?

During the revolution, the International Criminal Court said it had collected evidence that Col. Gaddafi had ordered the rape of women as a weapon against rebel forces.

The BBC’s Rana Jawad in the capital, Tripoli, says recognizing rape victims is an unprecedented move in the conservative North African state, where it is a taboo subject.

Our reporter says it is not clear how many will come forward, but it is believed hundreds of women were raped.

Voters spoke to the BBC’s Rana Jawad at a polling station in Tripoli

Officials hope it will allow the country’s national reconciliation efforts to move forward as it is seen as a significant step towards transitional justice, our correspondent says.

“Some victims can’t go to school… they are suffering in silence and reconciliation efforts are suffering from all these outstanding issues,” Mr Marghani told the BBC.

Libya has been facing increasing challenges across the country, with worsening security conditions and political divisions that have stalled progress since the conflict ended, our reporter says.

According to the AFP news agency, only 1.1 million of 3.4 million eligible voters have registered for Thursday’s vote, compared to 2.7 million for the election of the interim parliament 19 months ago.

People look for their names at a polling station in Benghazi, Libya - 20 February 2014
Many Libyans have not bothered to register to vote

Wrong Questions asked? Have the ARAB REVOLUTIONS Failed?

Challenging the falsehoods and simplifications that surrounded the so-called Arab Spring from the very start doesn’t necessarily mean that one is in doubt of the very notion that genuine revolutions have indeed gripped various Arab countries for nearly three years.
 
In fact, the revolutionary influx is still underway, and it will take many years before the achievements of these popular mobilizations are truly felt.
 
One can understand the frustration and deep sense of disappointment resulting from the state of chaos in Libya, the political wrangling in Yemen and Tunisia, the brutal civil war in Syria, and of course, the collective heartbreak felt throughout the Arab world following the bloody events in Egypt.
 

ASKING THE WRONG QUESTIONS: DID ARAB REVOLUTIONS FAIL?

But to assign the term “failure” to Arab revolutions is also a mistake equal to the many miscalculations that accompanied the nascent revolutions and uprisings from the start.

Many lapses of judgment were made early on, starting with the lumping together of all Arab countries into one category—discussed as singular news or academic topics.

It was most convenient for a newspaper to ask such a question as, “who’s next?” when Libya’s Muammar Al-Gaddafi was so pitilessly murdered by NATO-supported rebels.

It is equally convenient for academics to keep contending with why the Egyptian army initially took the side of the January 25 Revolution, the Syrian army sided with the ruling party, and why the Yemeni army descended into deep divisions.

In the rush to emphasize one’s intellectual authority, if not ownership over the narrative and for political reasons as well, the Arabs were dissected in every possible way, stretched in every possible direction, and reduced in ways so useful, yet so flawed, so that quick answers could be obtained.

While answers were readily available of why the Arabs revolted, time has proven much of the early discourses inane and misleading. The direction of these revolutions has headed in sharply different ways.

This is a testament to the uniqueness of circumstances, historical and otherwise, which surround each country–as opposed to the wholesale representation offered by the media.

It is an argument I made soon after Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country.

My argument was a response to the euphoria of expectations made by media “experts” and journalists who clearly had little understanding, or dare I say, respect of history or knowledge about the complex realities in which each Arab country is situated.

Many went on to write books, while others inspired audiences around the world with fiery speeches about collective Arab Islamic awakenings even before we conjured up basic ideas of what was truly manifesting before our own eyes. These manifestations were at times very violent and involved many players, from Qatar to China, and groups so varied in roots, ideology and sources of funds.

But as the plot thickened, much of the distorted accounts of “twitter revolutions” and such, grew less relevant and eventually faded away. Take the case of Libya as an example.

Those with simple answers, reflecting truly modest understanding of Arab societies, could hardly understand the complex nature of Libya’s tribal society, the socioeconomics governing relations between East and West, urban areas with desert towns and Libya’s African context and relationships.

When NATO used the Libyan uprising, mostly in the eastern parts of the country, to achieve its own political objectives, it converted a regional uprising into an all-out war that left the country in a status comparable to that of a failed state.

Almost immediately after NATO declared the Libyan revolution victorious, the excitement over the Libyan component of the “Arab Spring” became less visible, and eventually completely dissipated. Since then Libya has hardly followed a path of democracy and reforms.

In fact, the harms that resulted from the Libyan crisis, such as the massive influx of weapons and refugees to other African countries, destabilized the entire country of Mali.

As a result, Mali too went through its own upheaval, military coup, civil war and finally a French-led war in the course of two years. Unfortunately, these issues are hardly discussed within the Libyan context since Mali is not Arab, thus such inconvenient stories do no service to the simplified “Arab Spring” discourse.

The consequences of the Libyan fiasco will continue to reverberate for many years to come. But since simple arguments cannot cope with intricate narratives, media “experts” and other intellectual peddlers have moved elsewhere, selling the same tired arguments about other Arab countries by insisting on the same failed, expedient logic.

While some parties continue to ascribe the same language they used in the early months of 2011 to these revolutions, the shortcomings of these revolutions eventually gave credence to those who insist that the “Arab Spring” was entirely a farce-incepted, controlled and manipulated by U.S. hands, and funds of rich Arab countries.

These critics either have no faith in Arab masses as a possible factor of change in their own countries or have been so accustomed to judging the world and all of its happenings as a colossal conspiracy where the U.S. and its friends are the only wheelers and dealers.

As vigilant as one must remain to the many drivels promoted as news in mass media, one must not fall into the trap of seeing the world through the prism of an American plot in which we are co-conspirators, hapless fools or unwilling participants.

Arab revolutions have not failed, at least not yet. It will take us years, or maybe even an entire generation to assess their failures or successes. They have “failed” according to our hyped expectations and erroneous understanding of history.

What popular revolutions do is that they introduce new factors that challenge the way countries are ruled. In post-colonial Middle East, Arab countries were ruled through dictators—and their local associates—and foreign powers.

The harmony and clashes between the dictator and the foreigner determined the course of events in most Arab countries–in fact in most post-colonial experiences around the world.

This is where the real significance of the mass mobilizations in Arab countries becomes very important, for the “people”—a factor that is still far from being fully defined—challenged the rules of the game and mixed up the cards.

True, they sent the entire region into disarray, but it is the price one would expect when long-disempowered, disorganized, and oppressed people challenge powerful regimes and foreign powers.

Arab revolutions have not failed, but they have not succeeded either.

They have simply challenged the status quo like never before. The outcome of the new conflicts will define the politics of the region, its future, and the relationships between governments and the upcoming generations of Arabs.

Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

Disobedience is man’s original virtue…”

In “The soul of man under socialism”, Oscar Wild wrote:

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, and through rebellion…”

In “On the concept of history”, Walter Benjamin wrote:

“There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism…”

James Fenton in “Blood and Lead”

“Listen to what they did.

Don’t listen to what they said.

What was written in blood

Has been set up in lead”

In “The recollection of Alexis de Tocqueville 1896

In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the End

W.H Auden in “Epitaph on a Tyrant

“Perfection, of a kind, is what he was after,

And the poetry he invented was easy to understand

He knew human folly like the back of his hand,

And was greatly interested in armies and fleets.

When he laughed, respected senators burst with laughter,

And when he cried, the little children died in the streets.”

In “Sonnets from China II”, Auden wrote: “They wept and quarreled: Freedom was so wild”

Mustafa Abdel Jalil (Libya interim president) said in September 2011:

“I hope the revolution will not stumble by retribution, taking matters into your hands and oppression…”

Late Vaclav Havel (President of Austria) said:

“Decent people cannot sit back and watch systematic, state-directed massacres. Decent people cannot fail to come to the rescue when within their power…”

Joseph Joubert wrote: “Love and Fear. Everything the father of a family says must inspire one or the other”

Joseph Stalin (Absolute dictator of the Soviet Union) said:

Death is the solution to all problems. No man, no problem

Omar Mukhtar (Libya resistance fighter leader to Italian occupation during Mussolini) said:

“We win or we die.” Finally, he surrendered and was taken to Rome in chains

Muammar Qadhafi wrote in his “Green Book”:

“There are inevitable cycles of social history:

1. The Yellow Race’s dominion of the world in Asia

2. The White Race’s attempt at colonizing extensive areas in all continents

3. Now it is the turn of the Black race to prevail in the world…”

One of the first steps to disobedience is to wean yourself out of rituals and ceremonies. Start to question the rationale and historical meaning and purposes of the rituals you are submitting to.

Civil disobedience is not an easy resolution to get engaged in: Law and Order institutions have to be revisited and reflected upon their validity in the pursuit of happiness, freedom of expression, human rights, and availability of opportunities to all regardless of race, genders, religious belief, and financial status.

Gandhi has developed the guidelines for non-cooperative movements against governments that broke their oaths and pledges to serving the people and are exercising cruelty, exploitation and oppression.

The program of non-cooperation is of 4 steps, each step is meant to reach a higher level of disobedience to the authority.

The first responsibility is to exposing, precisely, the project to the population at large through meetings and focused communication.

The next step is to convince the public servants to voluntarily abandon their titled positions and charges with the government and encouraging the lawyers and judges to stop serving the government.  No pressures should be exercised on the functionaries, especially if the movement is unable to provide for the bread winners. The private employees are excluded from the requirements of abandoning their services.

The third step would ask the army and security officers and soldiers to retreat from their duties.

The last step would amount to refusing paying taxes to the government.

In order to shorten the period of resistance with a successful outcome, the organization of the non-cooperative movement should cater to the weakest members in social status or economic needs.  The members of the movement should:

1.  stop taking loans from government funds;

2. conflicts among the members must be resolved through private arbitrage because lawyers should suspend the exercise of their official profession toward the government.

3. The members should start boycotting public schools; (in this request, I would include boycotting private schools so that no discrimination in economic status should be established).

4. The members should not attend any government reunions and meetings and ceremonies; they should refuse accepting any civil or military post.

5. In case of being under occupation, the members should rely solely on local and national products and manufactures “swadeshi” and thus,boycotting imported consumer’s products from the colonial powers.

For more details on non-violent-resistance-guidelines:  https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/gandhis-non-violent-resistance-guidelines/

Note 1: Quotes taken from “Sandstorm (El Ghibli): Libya in the time of revolution” by Lindsey Hitsum

Note 2: Listen to Matt Damon on “Civil obedience is the problem” Howard Zinn

You Think You Know Someone, and Then He Gets on a Stage and Blows Your Mind
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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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