Video: Syrian Ambassador fleeing embassy in Libya

2/9/12

The Interim Government gave the Syrian Ambassador 72 hours to pack up earlier this week. Here are his last moments fleeing from the embassy on the way to the airport.

Summary

We’re going tо wrap uр thе live blog. Here’s a summary оf whеrе things stand:

• Basic details оf thе attack оn a US diplomatic outpost іn Benghazi, Libya, remain unknown. US officials said thеу don’t know hоw Ambassador Chris Stevens died. It іѕ unclear whо carried оut thе attack, аnd whеthеr іt wаѕ planned bеfоrеhаnd, аѕ thе White House suspects.

• President Obama paid tribute tо Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith аnd twо оthеr Americans killed іn Benghazi іn a meeting wіth State Department staff.

• Thе film said tо hаvе incited thе anti-US violence appears tо hаvе bееn mаdе wіthоut thе full cooperation оf іtѕ actors, оnе оf whоm told Gawker ѕhе wаѕ shocked tо learn ѕhе hаd performed іn a spoof оf Islam. Thе film wаѕ originally nоt аbоut thе Prophet Mohammed but аbоut ѕоmеоnе called Master George, ѕhе said. Thе identity оf thе filmmaker іѕ ѕtіll unknown.

• Thе outpost іn Benghazi wаѕ unguarded bу Marines, аѕ аll full US embassies аrе. Thе Benghazi post wаѕ аn interim facility wіth lesser security. Fifty members оf аn elite Marine guard wеrе deployed tо Benghazi Wednesday.

• Mitt Romney drew fіrе fоr attacking thе White House response tо thе crisis іn Cairo bеfоrе news hаd emerged оf Stevens’ death іn Libya. President Obama said Romney “seems tо hаvе a tendency tо shoot fіrѕt аnd aim later.”

• Libyans staged rallies іn Tripoli аnd Benghazi tо condemn thе attacks оn thе US outpost. Libya elected іtѕ fіrѕt post-Gaddafi prime minister, Mustafa Abushagur.

Libya Chooses New Prime Minister

By MARGARET COKER

The Libyan National Transitional Council has chosen a Tripoli businessman to head the interim governing authority and help shepherd the country’s political transition from its Gadhafi-era dictatorship to its first elections.

Abdul Rahmin El Keeb won a simple majority of the votes cast by the 54 members of the NTC, beating out several other candidates who had been culled from the running after they lost in earlier rounds of voting Monday evening.

Newly elected Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Rahmin El Keeb is congratulated by National Transitional Council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil (R) at the end of a public vote in Tripoli.

Mr. Elkeeb spent many years in exile outside Libya, but played a significant role in financing the revolt against Moammar Gadhafi and organizing the underground rebellion inside Tripoli this summer, when the capital was struggling to shake off the tight grip of the regime’s troops and intelligence agents.

He will take the place of Mahmoud Jibril, who has headed the rebel-led governing authority throughout the revolt and is credited with receiving foreign recognition for the NTC and building tight relationships between the NTC and North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries.

Mr. Elkeeb is expected to form a new cabinet in coming days, while the NTC legislative body discusses a formula to expand its ranks from its current number to at least 70 members, according to Libyan officials.

The NTC is now in a period of expansion, bringing in representatives from all parts of Libya, including areas of the country that won independence from the Gadhafi regime early in the struggle that began in February and areas that were the last to fall, such as the former ruler’s hometown of Sirte, which the NTC fighters gained control of only two weeks ago.

Mr. Jibril, the departing prime minister, has suggested increasing the size of the legislative body to 120 members to include both regional representatives as well as officials from key segments of society, such as women, young people and the military councils that control security in each Libyan municipality.

Source: WSJ

For Amal, life (re)begins at 75

By MICHEL COUSINS

Since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi, over 180 independent newspapers have sprung up in Libya, like flowers in the desert after a rare downpour. Like desert flowers, most will die.

Yet a few that aren’t simple opinion sheets, which instead contain news and features and are more professionally run, will survive. One such is Al-Kalima (The Word) and one of its regular contributors is Amal Omar Shennib.

Left to right: Wanis Gaddafi, Omar Shennib and Amal Omar Shennib.

Born in 1935, she is not only the oldest Libyan woman writer but also the first. At age 15, before the country gained independence, she wrote for a magazine simply called Libya. Today, she often writes about the lost Libya, the Libya that Qaddafi hated and in true Stalinist style erased all reference to in books and the media: The Libya between independence in 1951 and 1969 when he seized power and abolished the monarchy.

“We knew nothing about that period; we’re only finding out about it now,” said Abdel Halim, a young Libyan university student whom Arab News later met in downtown Tripoli.

He recounted what had happened when he had visited the former royal palace there (now a museum) earlier this year while Qaddafi was still in control of the city. (The building in fact had started out as the Italian governor’s palace during the colonial period.) “I asked why there was nothing about King Idris. The guides told us they were forbidden to mention him.”

It is a story heard time and again in Libya: Young people who rose up and overthrew Qaddafi, craving to find out about the hidden past and reconnect with it.

For young Libyans, Amal provides a bridge to that past. She was intimately associated with it. Her husband, Wanis Gaddafi (no relation), was the last prime minister under King Idris. Her father, Omar Faiek Shennib, helped negotiate Libya’s independence and was head of the Royal Court as well as minister of defense in the first post-independence government. His more lasting claim to fame is that he designed the tricolor star and crescent flag that served Libya during the period of the monarchy and is now the icon of the new Libya.

Hers is a remarkable story of courage and endurance, not least because of what she and her family suffered under Qaddafi: Her husband in jail for two years, his health broken; her oldest son Majid forced to flee for his life to the US in 1977 and unable to return until 1994; her younger son Mohsen, Qaddafi’s youngest political prisoner, arrested in 1981 aged 13 and held for seven years; her brother, Abdul-Aziz Shennib, a commander in the pre-1969 Libyan army arrested in the first days after Qaddafi seizing power and imprisoned for four and a half years. He was later released and sent as ambassador to Jordan, but it was no gesture of reconciliation with the old regime. Abdul-Aziz had been at Sandhurst with King Hussein and he had orders from Qaddafi to assassinate him. Once in Amman, he told the king of the plot. He joined the opposition and later, at a press conference in Cairo, revealed that Qaddafi had murdered Lebanese cleric Musa Sadr.

Standing outside her modest house in Benghazi, no one could imagine the wealth of history within Libya. On the grand piano in the sitting room, there are silver-framed photos of her father, in dark suit and fez, like Egyptian ministers of the period, accompanying foreign dignitaries. On the table beside the sofa is a silver cigarette case with her husband’s initials “WG” on it. Other objects in the room carry the same initials.

The Libyan flag designed by Amal’s father Omar Shennib.*

Offering tea and cakes, Amal tells her story. She was born in Damascus where her family was in exile because of her father’s support for the freedom movement against the Italians. Back in Libya, following the defeat of the Mussolini’s forces and the country now under British military administration, she went to school where she did so well that in 1955 she was offered a place at university in Egypt. She hoped to be a doctor. At the time, she was already working as a schoolteacher, a job she continued for the next 17 years. Marriage to Wanis Gaddafi in 1956, however, put paid to her medical ambitions. She went to university in 1960 to study history and Arabic and graduated in 1964, when she became headmistress of a girls’ school.

Born in 1922 in Benghazi, Wanis was a bright star in the new independent Libya. During the Italian period, he had come to the attention of an Italian lawyer who trained him for the law. The British took over in 1942 and the young Gaddafi who became involved in the Benghazi city administration soon came to their attention. After the war, he was the offered a scholarship to Oxford but never took it up because he was recruited by the British to help in Cyrenaica’s political administration — the first Libyan they recruited. After independence in 1951, Wanis served as a provincial minister in Cyrenaica, successively of health, justice and transportation. Later, he became chairman of Cyrenaica’s executive council. In 1962, he was appointed Libyan foreign minister. Thereafter, he served in almost all Libya governments in a variety of posts apart from a brief stint as Libyan ambassador to Germany in 1964/1965. In 1967, he became foreign minister for the second time, and then, in September that year, he was appointed prime minister, a post he held until his namesake seized power a year later, on Sept. 1, 1969.

Her son, Majid, produces the formal letter from King Idris, formally appointing his father prime minister. He also produces a letter of potentially greater import. It was found among his father’s effects after Qaddafi had arrested him. It is a letter, in Arabic, from what was then the six-member European Economic Community purportedly inviting Libya to become an associate member. This was at a time that France was vetoing Britain’s attempts to join.

Two days after the coup — “it was not a revolution, it was a seizure of power,” Amal says forcibly — a soldier came to their small flat and arrested her husband. “We did not have palaces like he (Qaddafi) did.” Another forceful point.

Four months later, he was released. “He was told to stay at home,” Amal says. It was house arrest. “He said he would not go out but could not prevent anyone coming to visit us. So, they put soldiers on the door to stop anyone coming.”

In 1970, he was re-arrested and accused of letting the king leave Libya just before the coup. “How could he stop him? Idris was the king,” Amal says. The logic was wasted on the new regime. They were determined to imprison him.

The king’s departure before the coup remains the source of great speculation and conspiracy theories. Idris, a devout ascetic who lived a simple life, was not interested in day-to-day politics and had previously tried to abdicate. However, great pressure had been put on him to stay. By summer 1969, he had made up his mind. He left the country in July for Greece, ostensibly for a holiday, and in August, he issued an instrument of abdication from Athens to come into effect on Sept. 2 in favor of his nephew, Crown Prince Hassan. He then went to Turkey for medical treatment.

However, the man who was effectively chief of staff, Col. Abdelaziz Shelhi, who with brother Omar had been treated by the king as the sons he never had, had other plans. He planned a coup for Sept. 5. However, it was preempted by Qaddafi’s coup on Sept. 1. The problem was that Shelhi’s coup was widely known — so well known that when the crown prince was arrested, he reportedly asked if those arresting him were Shelhi’s men.

Those conspiracy theories, however, center around a more dramatic suggestion that the British, who had major military bases in Libya and who were very close to the Libyan army high command, backed Shelhi. They supposedly felt that a Libya led by the crown prince would soon fall into the hands of Nasserites and become a client of Egypt, and through it, the Soviet Union. They saw Shelhi as able to lead a pro-Western Libya.

The second part of this conspiracy is that the captains’ coup which preempted that of the senior officers’ was backed by the CIA. There is no evidence — although, interestingly, Armand Hammer of Occidental Petroleum became a close friend to the new regime. But then Hammer had some strange friends.

Amal still retains great affection for the late king. “He was a father to me.” She recalls a particular debate in 1962 when Libya amended its constitution to become a unitary state and the issue of women being allowed to vote was being hotly debated. Two politicians went to the king to put opposing cases: that women should be allowed to vote in elections to parliament, and that they should not. “The king listened,” Amal recounts, “and then said: ‘You are both wrong. They should not only be allowed to vote, they should be allowed to stand for parliament.’”

Wanis was jailed for two years for “permitting” the king to leave, and it broke his health. In 1974, at age 52, he suffered a heart attack, but was refused permission to leave the country for treatment. Amal had already quit her job as headmistress of the high school that she had helped found in 1961 in order to look after him.

Resigning had not been easy despite the new regime’s purge of all schoolteachers connected to the old one, which offered five years’ extra pension rights if they would go. Yet, when she submitted her resignation, triggered by the new regime’s decision that high school girls must wear army uniforms (something that continued in Tripoli until just weeks ago), it was refused. She was forced to stay on for another year until a replacement could be found, but without pay. Nor did she ever receive the five years’ extra pension rights.

In 1977, Amal’s eldest son, Majid, left for the US. He had been involved in the anti-Qaddafi demonstrations the previous year at Benghazi’s Gar Younis university. They had been crushed mercilessly with students killed or jailed. “The system was so much stronger than we were,” he said. “We had to leave.” He went to Portland where he studied engineering. He is grateful to the Americans. “The US was very kind to me. They helped me a lot.”

Her younger son, Mohsen, had a more horrific experience. In 1981, at age 13, he became involved in a plot against Qaddafi. The plot was discovered and its leaders executed. Others were sentenced to life imprisonment. Mohsen was jailed. He spent his 14th birthday and the next seven years in jail, as Qaddafi’s youngest political prisoner.

In 1986, Wanis Gaddafi died. For Amal, it was a terrible time. Her eldest son was far away with no prospect of ever returning, and her youngest son was in jail. He was released in 1988 but was watched continuously; it was clear that the regime had him in its sights. The family decided he had to get out of the country. He was smuggled into Tunisia, just in time. After he left, the police arrived at the house intent on arresting him. From Tunis, he headed to Egypt to resume his education but when Qaddafi normalized relations with Egypt in 1989, the Libyan opposition there felt threatened. Mohsen went to the US to join his brother.

Slowly, the system relaxed somewhat. In 1994, Majid returned to test the waters. Mohsen followed soon afterward. The family was reunited, but for Amal, there were still restrictions. She lived out of the public eye. She was not allowed to write or be published.

Then, in February, freedom came and the gentle Amal became an unlikely revolutionary. On the “Day of Rage,” called by the opposition for Feb. 17, she was there outside the Court House, the focus of the revolution. “I cried when I saw the flag, which my father designed.” It was a cold day, says her son Majid. “I was afraid she would catch cold.”

But she would not leave. “I started working immediately,” she says, writing a column for Kalima every week.

So, what are her hopes for the future? Where does she see Libya going? “I hope for the best. Anyway, we got rid of that man. At least we have our identity back,” she says.

She has no illusions that everything will be plain sailing from now on. “It’s a difficult time now,” she says, “but the difficulties will pass. We must be patient. It will take time. We cannot go back to the past, but we can now go forward.”

A woman of great dignity and deeply inspiring, she does not intend to stop writing. “I’m now an old woman, but still very active,” she says with a sparkle in her eyes.

An old woman, perhaps, but one with a very young heart.

The different spelling of the names Qaddafi/Gaddafi are deliberate. They differentiate the two characters and, in the case of Wanis, that was how he spelled it.

*The colors of the flag have a double meaning: To the black flag (with crescent and star) of Cyenaica, of which Idris was emir before the creation of Libya in 1951, was added the green to represent Tripolitania and red for Fezzan. But it also represents the black flag “Al-Uqaab” of the Prophet (pbuh) and the crescent and star representing Islam, red for the blood of those who died fighting the Italians and green for the verdant lands along the coast and in the oases

Myths of the Gaddafi regime Explained

While there are no excuses for the way Gaddafi was treated in the videos posted publicly, we want to stress that those who have done this were not acting on behalf of the NTC nor the interim government. They were fighters who were swept in a moment of intense fighting, and after 8 long months of defending themselves, having lost friends and family. A full investigation of the circumstances of what happened has been officially launched and we hope its findings will be made public as soon as possible. Those acts don’t represent the majority of Libyans and don’t represent Islamic or Libyan traditional values.

There are a lot of people defending Muammer Gaddafi and his regime by stating living conditions and infrastructure in Libya was world class, and all the people in the country enjoyed unimaginable wealth. This is not true. The Gaddafi regime was rife with corruption and deception. Who you know was more important than who you were as a person,  with many basic services being only available to the highest bidders.

Below, Nizar Mhani of the Free Generation Movement responds to common misconceptions relating to the Gaddafi regime  – the bolded inaccurate statements are being circulated via email forward

There are no electricity bills in Libya; electricity is free for all its citizens.

Categorically untrue. Despite poor electricity infrastructure and poor coverage of electricity lines, even in the Capital, Libyan home owners pay monthly/quarterly (area dependant) electricity bills based on meter readings. Electricity is cut off in instances of unpaid bills. Reconnection upon payment is not instant. The electric infrastructure is weak and some areas of Libya do not have electricity available at all.

There is no interest on loans, banks in Libya are state-owned and loans given to all its citizens at 0% interest by law.

Categorically untrue. Banks all over Libya have been giving out loans for years and years. There is a percentage rate charge on all loans, which is comparable to an interest rate, but in the spirit of ‘islamic ethics’ it is not called interest, it is called an ‘Administrative Expense’ – Masareef Edareeya.

A House is considered a human right in Libya ¬ Gaddafi vowed that his parents would not get a house until everyone in Libya had a home. Gaddafi¹s father has died while he, his wife and his mother are still living in a tent.

Gaddafi abused this human right as much as he did other basic rights. It is well known in Libya that political opponents and successful business men/women had their homes confiscated and handed over to regime members, usually rewards for Free Officers – Dubat A7rar. Many farms and homes and businesses were confiscated during three infamous phases of Libyas dictatorial history:

  • 1969 – The dreaded Green Revolution. Free Officers were rewarded land, homes, and farms that sometimes belonged to other people and the original owners were not compensated or asked if this was ok.
  • Late 70’s – The introduction of the law Albayt le Sakinehee – The Home Belongs to its Dwellers. As this law was passed overnight, thousands of homeowners instantly lost their homes, as tenants (those renting the homes) claimed ownership on account of being the ‘dwellers’. The law applied to homes, farms, shops, etc.
  • 90’s – The introduction of Purification Committees (Lejnat al Tatheer). This committee ran by the widely know slogan, ‘Min ayna laka hada?’ – “From where did you obtain this?”, a form of ultra-socialism where people’s possessions, including homes and businesses, were confiscated if seen to be ‘surplus to requirement’ or contributing to a ‘monopoly’.

Regarding Gaddafis ‘vow’: While Gaddafi waited for ‘everyone in Libya’ to be housed, he himself lived in a sprawling 6km square compound in the centre of the capital which was home to state of the art security and an underground network of rooms and ultramodern bunkers. He also had a vast and well known farm on Airport Road in Tripoli. This, just in the capital.

All newlyweds in Libya receive $60,000 Dinar (US$ 50,000 ) by the government to buy their first apartment so to help start up the family.

This is a well known rumour and a common joke in Libya. Whilst it may have been passed as official legislation, I know of not a single family who has been given this grant. The backbreaking bureaucracy associated with such grants and loans make them more or less impossible to obtain.

Education and medical treatments are free in Libya. Before Gaddafi only 25% of Libyans are literate. Today the figure is 83%.

Education and Health Care – Free does not mean adequate. It is well known that Libya’s standard of health care is nothing short of appalling. It is widely known that the majority of Libyans seeking medical care leave for neighbouring countries for treatment. Our Education system is no better. It is outdated, teachers are underpaid and under-trained and libraries are largely non-existent. The syllabus was constantly being revised and reviewed under direct instruction from the former regime e.g. banning English, changing Quranic verses, etc.

It is commonly said that Libyans would be happy to forfeit their ‘free health care’ and pay for a National Health Service if it was up to the required standard.

Should Libyans want to take up farming career, they would receive farming land, a farming house, equipments, seeds and Livestock to kick- start their farms all for free.

This has never happened, in addition to this many farms and homes have been confiscated by the government to build railroads, The Great Man Made River and civil roads.

The owners of the land were only compensated if there was a covered structure on the land as the Gaddafi regime legally owned any land and the people were only allowed to build on it. When there was compensation offered it was nowhere near the actual value of the property and many waited years to receive anything if at all. This system was also rife with corruption many residents told they had to pay a bribe to receive what little they were given.

If Libyans cannot find the education or medical facilities they need in Libya, the government funds them to go abroad for it not only free but they get $2, 300/month accommodation and car allowance.

Categorically untrue. If this was the case, the former regime would have been in receipt of 6 million application forms – one for every man, women and child who ‘cannot find education or medical facilities they need’. This grant does not exist for the mainstream public. There is anectdotal evidence of some medical grants being given but again, the system was corrupt and opaque.

In Libyan, if a Libyan buys a car, the government pays 50% of the price. ‎The price of petrol in Libya is $0.14 per liter.

There is no truth to the former Gaddafi regime paying 50% of the value of a new car.

Whilst the price of fuel is indeed cheap, the quality of roads, the accuracy and availability of road signs, the presence of road traffic police, and all other transport infrastructure is of abysmal standard.

The absence of an integrated and functional public transport system means that people are reliant on their cars for all movement and might end up paying more on fuel than our neighbours around the Mediterranean basin.

Libya has no external debt and its reserves amount to $150 billion now frozen globally.

Whilst our sovereign wealth is undeniable, none of it was spent on the people of Libya nor the infrastructure of the country. Basic amenities, services, and state infrastructure are either absent or of appalling standard.

The availability of money is not tantamount to wealth or prosperity. The Arabs have a saying about Libya – “A rich nation of poor inhabitants.”

If a Libyan is unable to get employment after graduation the state would pay the average salary of the profession as if he or she is employed until employment is found.

Categorically untrue. Even basic wages are sometimes unpaid for months, for those lucky enough to be employed. Welfare for the unemployed is non-existent.

A portion of Libyan oil sale is credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens.

No basis to this claim as no such case can be found.

A mother who gave birth to a child receive US $5 ,000

Categorically untrue. There is a Child Benefit welfare payment in Libya – it is roughly 15-20 Libyan Dinars a month per child. No Libyan citizen was given foreign currency as compensation.

40 loaves of bread in Libya costs $ 0.15

Bread was subsidized by the state. Whilst the price varies (marginally) from shop to shop, bread usually costs ¼ dinars for 10 baguettes (small) or roughly 500grams per dinar.

25% of Libyans have a university degree

The absence of a comprehensive selection process and a corrupt entry protocol means that universities in Libya are grossly over populated and over subscribed, despite limited facilities. This results in an over inflated number of graduates, but not necessarily an adequate level of employability. There are thousands of students studying foundation year medicine in Tripoli alone.

Gaddafi carried out the world¹s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Man-Made River project, to make water readily available.

The Jury is still out on this. The project has indeed supplied water to many towns and cities around Libya, but the cost is thought to be as stratastrophic as the time it took to complete this. Further, decades of an absence of appropriate licensing, monitoring and control has meant that wells were dug for every home, putting immense pressure on Libya’s natural and naturally replenishable water sources. This resulted in the increase of salinity in local water reserves, which lead to the need for an expansive project such as the Man Made River.

Thanks for Niz and Libya Outreach for putting this together.

Saadi Gaddafi locked up his best pal for rejecting his gay advances

Tyrant’s son Al-Saadi Gaddafi threw his best friend in jail for turning down his gay advances.

Reda Thawargi said he was locked up for two and-a-half years before he was released and Saadi begged him for his support to quell the uprising.

Rebels who raided married Saadi’s opulent mansion this week found gay porn DVDs in his office. The sprawling property near Tripoli has its own football pitch and outside disco, as well as an outhouse with three cell-like rooms and a caged ­building where Saadi is said to have set dogs on people who displeased him.

Reda said: “Saadi is gay. He tried to have sex with me but I refused. I only like girls. So he threw me in military jail.”

Reda was a close friend of the dictator’s son for 13 years.

They both played football for Tripoli’s Al Ahli football club and spent two years together in Italy drinking and ­partying.

However, Saadi became ­infuriated by Reda’s refusal to sleep with him and put him on trial in a Libyan court – but without a specific charge. Reda said: “The judge told me, ‘if Saadi says you have done wrong, then you must go to prison’.”

He was eventually freed in February.

Reda added: “When the ­uprising began Saadi called me to ask me to go on state TV to support him because of my fame as a ­footballer. I refused and hid away.

“I want to be the first to punch him now. If you find him, tell me.”

Source: Mirror

Feb17.info – The End

Dear readers,

We would like to thank you all for your tremendous support throughout an unbelievable year in Libya and in our lives. When we first started feb17.info we set out with the goal to make the Libyan people’s voices heard during their fight for freedom, to gain worldwide support, to expose the ruthlessness of the Gaddafi regime, and to show the world the truth about the Libyan revolution.

We did not know if anyone would listen or care about our cause. It was difficult to predict whether it would reach one person or one thousand people. We also did not know how long the fight would last, but that all did not matter. As long as one person was hearing the truth and was able to help make a difference, it would be worth it.

A year later we are blessed to look back on it and to have been a part of history. After millions of visits to the site and support and money raised to aid Libya, we believe that we have accomplished our goal.

It comes with a heavy heart that we announce that this is the end of the road for feb17.info. We are sad to see it end, but Libya is turning a page in its history, and so are we. It is time to move beyond the computer screen and start building our country in other ways. The site will remain a historical archive of the revolution. It is a piece of history that belongs to Libya and the world.

Many of you had asked us to reveal who we are, and we considered your request with great thought. We never hid our identities for safety purposes, as we all had nothing to fear while our brothers and sisters in Libya courageously risked and lost their lives. We did so because this was bigger than just a few people. It was about all the brave people that were behind the revolution that made their story worth telling – the shopkeepers and students who defended their cities, the mothers who supported them and endured the pain of losing their children, the journalists and aid workers who came to our assistance. It was our obligation and honor to do what we could for Libya and mankind. That requires no recognition.

You all made our experience on Feb17.info worthwhile and without all of your help and support it wouldn’t have had the effect that it did. We shared in the tears and the pain throughout the difficult road, and in the laughter and celebrations of a joyous, new beginning. Thank you for allowing us to show you who Libyans truly are. We hope you continue your support as Libya rebuilds and you all one day get the chance to see the beautiful land and its people.

God bless and long live Free Libya
– The team at Feb17.info

Video: Secret Footage of Eman Al-Obeidi from Libyan TV (Translated)

This video was shown on Libyan TV. It doesn’t show Eman Al-Obeidi, just a photo of her and you can hear Eman (what we think is Eman’s voice) speaking. In the middle of the ‘secret footage’, they show a woman lying on the floor. This woman is supposedly Eman.

Translation:


Eman:
I shouldn’t be arrested, I am the victim here, I am the one who is reporting an incident and they don’t want me to leave here! (Eman seems overwhelmed and begins to cry or is trying not to)


* Female voice talking to Eman but hard to hear*


Eman:
Why can’t you just do what expected to be done in such litigation, bring a lawyer, call any legal authorities to investigate my claim… Show the leader (Gaddafi) … Call the leader at Bab El Azizia … find me a solution!


Female voice:
We don’t have someone available from Bab El Azizia to speak with you


A female now talking on the phone (claiming she is Eman’s sister):
Hello, huh? huh? no no, aha, no no no, on the Libya TV … what? … I don’t know, maybe she go out with me (meaning out of this office where the taping took place) … she went to the reporters at the hotel, today. Listen, she went straight to the hotel where the reporters are staying. She seemed in shock… We want to do a formal incident reporting, the man – attacker – should be stoned (killed) She said she was attacked/raped.


*Male voice in the room now asking about a key. Her sister is having a  phone conversion in the background. The mic/ sound is not good enough to hear the words clearly. Female voice explaining some legal process, then asking Eman to speak to a reporter*


Eman shouts:
I don’t want to talk to them!


* Male voice trying to convince Eman to go through some process, including medical exam and assuring her that there will not hold her in the hospital*


Eman:
I am not a prisoner! I want to leave.


Male voice:
Calm down, calm down


Female voice:
We need you to meet an official doctor and take the medical exam required.


Male voice:
Hey Eman, Eman, an incident report is necessary, that is what we are doing, that is all.


* Eman is refusing the whole treatment and feels that she should be free to go home*


Eman:
I want to leave, I told you just let me take a taxi and leave and you refused. I gave you my story, why can’t I leave?!


Male voice:
It is a process, Eman, you need to do a medical exam.


Eman:
I don’t have mental illness, why you want me to go to the hospital. So they can keep me locked there?!


* Female voice assuring her she wouldn’t be locked in the hospital and it is just a procedure required. Eman is silent and doesn’t want to talk to anyone*

Female voice: Eman, what you want to do … Eman, talk to me
Male voice:
Your sister needs to go back home (meaning, talk with us so finish this and all leave)

Female voice trying to engage Eman into talking: Don’t you want to leave with your sister, Eman?


Eman:
Well, if you want me to really leave, just let me go to the car – taxi – and I’ll leave!


Female voice:
Without going to the hospital?!!


Eman:
Same talk.. you keep repeating the same things


Female voice:
Don’t you want your right? (meaning justice)


Eman shouts back:
I don’t want my right


Male voice:
In order for us to find those who did this we need to do the process, so we can track/identify them and catch them.


* Eman is silent again and doesn’t seem to trust anything her sister or other people in the room saying*


Male voice:
If you cooperate you could leave soon (he is trying to convince her to talk the government TV station taping this video)Why won’t you cooperate?


Eman:
I do not want to cooperate, I do not want to talk to Al-Libya TV station (a government TV station). I just want to leave. What cooperation you are asking me about!!  If you want litigation, we did the litigation earlier in the day. That is all the cooperation your going to get from me. Anything else, you do not have the right to ask for.

* A male voice mentioning something reported by Al Arabia station (different station) about the story, and he is asking Eman to elaborate*


Male voice:
you said something and now it is different, you know the rope of a lie is short, right? 
* Eman ignores him*
Male voice kept trying to engage her to talk:
You need to talk to us (meaning the station) to explain your story. People watch it, and you watch it too.
Eman:
I don’t watch Al Libya station, to begin with.
Female voice:
How come, isn’t it your country, Eman?
Male voice:
How come, why don’t you watch it!
Eman:
I don’t
Male voice:
Why not?
Eman:
I don’t watch it.
Male voice:
Why not!? it is your country TV station, why not allow them to interview you, Eman?
Eman:
I don’t want to! I don’t watch any TV … I don’t have time to watch TV, any TV, period.

Male voice: Oh, you want to talk to Al Jazeera then, is that it!?
Eman:
I don’t care about Al Jazeera TV, if I did, I would have gone to them and not to ALL the reports at the hotel.
Male voice:
We want to make this TV interview with you
Eman:
I do not want to do this interview
Female voice:
This interview will benefit you, to help you.
Eman:
I am free, and I refuse too
Female and Male pressing her to talk:
So who is going to do you justice?!
Female voice:
Are you expecting Al Jazeera TV to bring you justice!
Eman:
I want the how world to know about the scandals that taking place in Libya and the shame brought to us.
Female voice:
What shame are you talking about (the female voice sounded distrust and not of someone investigating or interested to hear Eman opinion) … If from the beginning you had gone to the justice/legal system it would have been better than going to Al Jazeera.
Male voice:
Your sister was so worried about you when you are gone with no news for 2 days, you seem used to been gone away from home for days without letting anyone know (an accusation to discredit Eman’s behavior).
Female voice:
You made big fuss and that brought many you unnecessary worries. Eman. Do you want to go to the medical examiner for a test? (rape kit) … Talk to me, yes or no? Eman talk to me
Female voice:
Are you afraid of the medical examiner? (Rape kit)
Female voice:
Eman, Eman, talk to me, Eman
Male voice:
Are you afraid that the result may return negative?
Female voice:
Do you want to go and do the medical test or not, Eman, Eman, Eman talk to me
** Eman ignores the woman and kept silentThe final part of Eman’s recording, a lady in uniform by the door is shouting at Eman**
Female voice:
People like you are damaging this country, you should be ashamed, don’t you care about all the patriots who lost their lives for the country (meaning for the Government).
Eman shouting back:
No, people like you who are the ones who damaged the country and don’t even respect human rights. What does my ordeal have to do with anything else?!!
Female voice:
Rights? … What about the Libyan citizens rights, did you respect that? … the people who died in the airstrikes?
Eman:
What do I have to do with the airstrikes!!
** The images now back to the news studio …

A female TV report quoting Eman’s last statement in mockery: “What do I have to do with the airstrikes” … and that is Eman for you!
*The report continues*
I would like to focus on some important points here.
Yesterday I said with all due respect to whores, even a whore may have some
sense of patriotism when she is well aware and know that whatever is coming next is not going to be merciful/better like the past (meaning any future change/governs is not going to be better than our today’s government)Even the whore she may have better understanding that these airstrikes are the beginning for invasion, lose of freedom, homelessness and total lost. Even the whore will have sense of patriotism when it comes to her homeland Libya (basically, she shaming Eman’s actions)…. And that doesn’t mean I am trying to backstab/defame Mrs. Eman, and by the why she is not Miss but a Mrs. according to what she herself stated before, that she have been married and divorced, and God knows, we don’t want to claim something still unknown. But, sister Eman has political hate (agenda)… she is extreme radical, she is even … (the clip ended).

Libya Lobbyists Come Clean

By Siddhartha Mahanta

Yep, we messed up. That’s the word out of the Cambridge-based consulting firm Monitor Group. Between 2006 and 2008, the company maintained a highly questionable business relationship with the regime of Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator. Monitor helped Muammar Qaddafi’s son Saif write his PhD dissertation at the London School of Economics. It also hired some of the US and UK’s foremost international relations experts to write glowing editorials and essays about the Qaddafi regime’s efforts to clean up its act and enact democratic reforms. And the firm never revealed that it was all was part of a coordinated—and well-funded—effort to end Libya’s status as a pariah state.

Not long after Mother Jones reported on Monitor’s Libya project, questions arose about whether the firm had taken the proper steps to register as a lobbyist for Libya with the Justice Department. Offering advice on economic or governing reform without registering isn’t illegal. But the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) stipulates that groups like Monitor must register if they’re planning on conducting “acts in a public relations capacity for a foreign principal”—which, as we reported, is primarily what Monitor’s Libya project was all about. As we wrote back in March, Monitor decided to conduct an internal investigation into whether it had violated FARA, initially led by Eamonn Kelly, a senior partner at the firm. Later, the company brought in outside lawyers from the firm of Covington & Burling to finish the job.

The lawyers’ conclusion: yes, Monitor most certainly did break FARA law. Today, the company announced that it is retroactively registering some of its past work in Libya, as well as its more recent work with Jordan. And on Tuesday, Monitor CEO Mark Fuller, who played a key role in the Libya project, resigned. Monitor also issued a press release on the findings of its internal investigation:

These decisions reflect a thorough fact-finding and legal investigation initiated by Monitor after issues concerning its work in Libya were raised earlier this year. The investigation, conducted by the law firm of Covington & Burling, included a review of Monitor engagements with foreign governments. That review concluded that some elements of Monitor’s work in Libya from 2006 through 2008 should have been registered under FARA. It also became apparent that a more recent item of work on behalf of the Kingdom of Jordan should have been registered. Monitor will now take all appropriate measures to remediate these errors.

The Boston Globe reports that Monitor is also likely to release details on how much it paid its academics, including British academic Sir Anthony Giddens. How did Monitor mess this up so bad? From the Globe:

[Eamonn] Kelly said the failure to register was due to a misunderstanding about legal requirements. But others said it reflects a deeper problem: The company was not transparent about the fact that it was engaged in a calculated effort to burnish Khadafy’s reputation, even to professors recruited in the effort.

“If I had known that a primary purpose of the visit to Libya was to influence public opinion in the United States, I would not have gone,” Robert Putnam, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, said in a telephone interview yesterday. Other professors said they did not feel misled.

Whether the DOJ actually brings charges against Fuller, et. al, remains to be seen. But given the intellectual firepower and general worldliness of the people involved in its project, Monitor’s excuse—”We didn’t know, sorry”—is less than satisfying. Hopefully, the DOJ feels the same way.

How rebels held Misrata

Misrata, Libya

Tripoli Street is a bullet-scarred wasteland — littered with charred cars and tanks, its cafes and offices shattered. Yet for Misrata’s civilians-turned-fighters, the boulevard is a prized trophy, paid for in blood, won with grit and guile.

In this April 23, 2011 file photo, Libyan rebel fighters run across a street in the besieged city of Misrata, Libya

It took five weeks of fierce street battles — on rooftops, in alleyways — for Misrata’s inexperienced rebels to wrest control of their city’s commercial heart from forces loyal to Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi. Up against armored units and professional sniper squads, they turned bottles, tires and trailer trucks into tools of war.

When they finally succeeded in pushing government forces out of Libya’s third-largest city in late April, it was the greatest head-to-head military victory yet in the uprising that threatens Gadhafi’s 42-year hold on power. The opposition controls much of eastern Libya, but Misrata is the only city in the west rebels have managed to hold.

 

“Our fighters weren’t fighting from experience,” said the local military spokesman, Ibrahim Beatelmal, noting that most had never touched a gun before joining the fight. “They had to make it all up as they went along.”

In this April 23, 2011 file photo, bullet casings litter a street in the besieged city of Misrata, Libya.

The city remains surrounded, accessible only through its port and subjected to daily bombardments. After two months of siege, cemeteries accommodate rows of new graves and hospitals have transformed into battlefield clinics; doctors estimate that the siege’s death toll has passed 1,000.

Yet amid the carnage, residents have organized to stave off hunger, allocate fuel and protect the city. They’ve erected sand berms along streets to absorb blasts, hacked down palm trees to delineate ambulance fast lanes, formed an array of administrative committees — all with a community spirit that revealed itself in many ways during an Associated Press reporter’s weeklong stay.

Misrata is a merchant city, with a large professional class whose expertise has paid off in distinctive ways. Dermatologists treat blast victims. University students master street-fighting tactics.

“All of a sudden I became responsible for macaroni and onions,” said Majdi Shibani, a telecommunications professor put in charge of food distribution — a daunting task in a sprawling city where all phone lines have been cut. His team oversees distribution of 400 tons of food per week from a room in the back of a hookah lounge, where customers smoke water pipes.

Donations of food have streamed in on boats from the Libyan diaspora, foreign countries and international organizations. There’s little coordination, resulting in huge surpluses of, say, canned corn — which Shibani said Libyans hate.

The stalemate in Misrata mirrors the situation nationwide. Soon after the uprising against Gadhafi broke out on Feb. 15, the opposition took over Benghazi and other eastern towns, but its patchwork forces proved unable to make further gains even after U.S. and NATO airstrikes on Gadhafi’s troops began in late March.

Meanwhile, government forces surrounded Misrata, 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of the capital Tripoli, cutting it off and attacking from three sides. Unlike fighters in eastern Libya, who retreat across stretches of desert when attacked, Misrata’s rebels can’t run; their backs are to the Mediterranean Sea.

After several failed attacks on Misrata, government commanders sent a column of tanks blasting its way down Tripoli Street on March 16. Residents fled, and regime sniper teams moved in, building nests on a dozen of the city’s tallest buildings, notably a nine-story insurance building. Gunfire from the rooftops killed and wounded scores of civilians.

The city’s youth organized resistance. Led by a handful of retired army officers, they formed brigades of dozens of fighters, each assigned to a side street, said Samir al-Hadi, a grocer who led a group at Tripoli Street’s southern end.

Local youths used their intimate knowledge of the area to dodge sniper fire, serving as scouts, gunmen, messengers and supply runners. Over walkie-talkies, group leaders let others know when tanks or supply trucks arrived so they could attack them with Molotov cocktails or rocket-propelled grenades.

They first fought with only light arms. With each ambush, they captured more — mostly anti-aircraft and heavy artillery guns — which they welded to the backs of pickup trucks.

The Gadhafi regime imported the pickups — cheap Chinese imitations of name-brand trucks — in 2007, but they sat unwanted in a lot until the war. Now, the rebels have registered about 2,000, even issuing photo IDs to their drivers to prevent theft.

The fleet is essential to the rebel cause, ferrying fighters to battle, aid to families, and casualties to hospitals. Although the trucks often break down, the rebels call them a blessing.

“The bad cars Gadhafi brought us we now use to fight him,” said Hisham Bansasi, who helps coordinate the fleet. “You can call it a joke of destiny.”

Bigger trucks were used when the rebels — unable to blast the snipers from their positions — decided instead to cut their supply lines. While rooftop gunmen provided cover, rebels drove trucks full of sand onto Tripoli Street, dumped their trailers and shot out their tires, forming heavy roadblocks.

“When we blocked the road, there was no way to get supplies to the snipers,” al-Hadi said.

The rebels then circled in, closing off back routes with destroyed cars and concrete sewage pipes.

Street battles raged while they besieged the snipers. Government forces peppered the area with mortars, killing many rebels. Al-Hadi guesses that about 400 died in the fighting on Tripoli Street alone, although no one has exact figures.

Among the victims were two Western photojournalists who had accompanied rebels to the street — Chris Hondros, a New York-based photographer for Getty Images, and British-born Tim Hetherington, co-director of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Restrepo” about U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

As the snipers gradually weakened, rebel fighters went building by building, clearing them any way they could.

Near the battle’s end, a team of snipers held out in a multistory furniture store called “Make Yourself at Home,” al-Hadi said. Rebels fired on the building with anti-aircraft guns, forcing the snipers into the basement.

Gunmen then stormed the building and rolled burning tires down the stairs. Days later, its stairwell was charred black, and the smell of burnt rubber and dead bodies fouled the air.

The battle turned in late April, al-Hadi said, as government troops ran low on supplies and fled from the high-rises to nearby homes. The rebels raised their flag on the insurance building on April 21.

In this April 22, 2011 file photo, a Libyan rebel fighter uses a scope to peek through a hole in a wall during a battle with pro-Gadhafi troops in the besieged city of Misrata, the main rebel holdout in Gadhafi’s territory.

Rebel fighter Mustafa Zredi, 18, said he watched one of the last sniper groups seize a house on April 26 and punch holes for their rifles in the stairway walls.

“We knew we could easily put gas in a bottle and throw it over the wall to burn them out,” Zredi said.

Before doing so, the fighters asked permission from the owner, 66-year-old Mohammed Labbiz. With regret, he said OK.

“That was the only way to get those dogs out,” Labbiz recalled, standing in the charred shell of his home of 30 years. “I hope that God will reimburse me.”

Two days later, curious families walked down Tripoli Street, snapping photos of their children next to burned-out tanks.

The fighting has caused massive displacement throughout Misrata. Thousands of residents now squat in schools or crowd in with family members.

The Refayda family, from a semi-rural area to the east, evacuated into the city in mid-April after a surge of sniper fire and bombardments.

Some 70 clan members now stay in an unfinished, four-room house near the ocean. They’ve divided the rooms by age and gender — women in the bedrooms, girls in the living room, boys in the garage. The oldest is 77, the youngest 4 months. About 30 of the clan’s grown men are on the battlefield but visit regularly.

Demand is high for the home’s three bathrooms; three children shower at a time.

Ali Hameida built the house in 2003 for his wife and five children, never imagining so many guests.

“If I had known, I’d have dug a basement,” he said.

Libyans carry coffins during a funeral of four Libyan rebel fighters in the besieged city of Misrata, Libya

It’s been impossible to keep a precise count of Misrata’s death toll; doctors’ estimates range between 1,000 and 2,000. The central hospital, Hikma, has registered more than 550 dead since mid-February, but others were brought to outlying clinics or buried straightaway.

The Libyan government has provided no information on how many soldiers it has lost, further blurring the picture.

Hikma, originally a private clinic, has been transformed by the war. A tent in the parking lot houses the triage unit. Another serves as a mosque. Wards are crowded around the clock, and doctors bed down in alcoves hidden behind sheets. Outside, families cluster to await news, erupting in tears and chants when a new death is confirmed.

Dr. Ali Mustafa Ali, like many of his colleagues, often sleeps at Hikma but returns home to his wife and children during lulls, snipping a few roses from his garden to bring back to work.

“The severity of the situation has made everyone pull together in a way I’ve never seen before,” Ali said.

A group of men emerged from the hospital carrying a wooden coffin covered in a blanket — the first of 11 “martyrs” who would reach the hospital before nightfall.

“God is great,” Ali said as the men passed. Then he entered the hospital to put the flowers on his desk.

“They’re for the people inside,” he said, “to keep their spirits up.”

Source: Associated Press