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Archive for August, 2011

NATO rebels

August 31st, 2011 Comments off
“”This is a bad time to be a black man in Libya,” reported Alex Thomson on Channel 4 News on Sunday. Elsewhere, Kim Sengupta reported for the Independent on the 30 bodies lying decomposing in Tripoli. The majority of them, allegedly mercenaries for Muammar Gaddafi, were black. They had been killed at a makeshift hospital, some on stretchers, some in an ambulance. “Libyan people don’t like people with dark skins,” a militiaman explained in reference to the arrests of black men.  The basis of this is rumours, disseminated early in the rebellion, of African mercenaries being unleashed on the opposition. Amnesty International’s Donatella Rivera was among researchers who examined this allegation and found no evidence for it. Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch similarly had not “identified one mercenary” among the scores of men being arrested and falsely labelled by journalists as such.  Lurking behind this is racism. Libya is an African nation – however, the term “Africans” is used in Libya to reference the country’s black minority. The Amnesty International researcher Diana Eltahawy says that the rebels taking control of Libya have tapped into “existing xenophobia”. The New York Times refers to “racist overtones”, but sometimes the racism is explicit. A rebel slogan painted in Misrata during the fighting salutes “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin”. A consequence of this racism has been mass arrests of black men, and gruesome killings – just some of the various atrocities that human rights organisations blame rebels for. The racialisation of this conflict does not end with hatred of “Africans”. Graffiti by rebels frequently depicted Gaddafi as a demonic Jew.” (thanks Laleh)

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The torturer is Lebanese, by the way: let An-Nahar brag about her

August 31st, 2011 Comments off
“The 30-year-old came to Libya from her native Ethiopia a year ago. At first, things seemed OK, but six months into her employment, she said, she was burned by Aline.  Three months later, the same thing happened again, this time much more seriously.  In soft tones, she said Aline lost her temper when her daughter wouldn’t stop crying and Mullah refused to beat the child.  “She took me to a bathroom. She tied my hands behind my back, and tied my feet. She taped my mouth, and she started pouring the boiling water on my head like this,” she said, imitating the vessel of scalding water being poured over her head.
She peeled back the garment draped carefully over her body. Her chest, torso and legs are all mottled with scars — some old, some still red, raw and weeping. As she spoke, clear liquid oozed from an open wound on her head.” (thanks Salim)

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Bahrain activists blame police in boy’s death (AP)

August 31st, 2011 Comments off

AP – Bahraini security forces clashed with anti-government protesters after Wednesday morning prayers, killing a 14-year-old boy who died after being hit by a police tear gas canister, human rights activists said.
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Value of Dubai residential property values expected to fall 20%

August 31st, 2011 Comments off

House prices in Dubai will fall up to 20 percent by the end of the year, readers in an Arabian Business magazine poll have said, a steeper decline than that pegged by property analysts in the emirate.
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Pak to play 3 Tests, 3 ODIs and one T20 against Sri Lanka in UAE

August 31st, 2011 Comments off

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced the itinerary for the autumn series against Sri Lanka to be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
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What the UN Can and Cannot do for Libya

August 31st, 2011 Comments off

China and some others have been pushing for a strong United Nations role in Libya, presumably in an attempt to forestall a continuation of the NATO mission in that country or the placing of European troops on the ground. Not just China, but everyone should be concerned that the NATO air intervention, which is likely now winding down, not turn into infantry on the ground.

The new Libyan government has consistently rejected the idea of NATO troops, showing great wisdom. Yesterday the Voice of Free Libya in Benghazi “said that ‘the rebels are capable of preserving the security of his country and don’t need any foreign, Arab or Islamic forces to help preserving security in Libya.’” [h/t Open Source Center]. I hope they are right about that, and note with encouragement that the broadcast put all kinds of foreign troops in the same category of undesirable, including those of Arab and Muslim nations, not just the Europeans. (That is not the way a Muslim fundamentalist would talk, and underlines how unimportant Muslim radicalism is in the Libyan revolution).

Moreover, the Transitional National Council, has come out against deploying even blue helmets in Libya. It is in any case a matter of confusion to me as to what the UN troop role would be, aside from offering training to police and military personnel (something that can in any case be done by bringing them to Europe).

UN troops mostly fulfill a symbolic mission, of quieting a border area where two enemies are eyeballing one another, but who do not want hostilities and would be embarrassed to harm UN troops. Thus, UNIFIL is keeping the Lebanese and the Israelis apart in south Lebanon. It was suggested that UN troops could usefully interpose themselves between the Arab Iraqi army and the Kurdish peshmerga in Kirkuk and elsewhere in northern Iraq.

The conflict in Libya does have such neat borders, and in any case it is likely that the new government will assert its monopoly over the use of force throughout the country before too long.

Moreover, UN forces are not war-fighters, and peace-keeping is mainly done with the concurrence of the local forces. That is, in most ways “peacekeeping troops” as a phrase is a misnomer, since they don’t usually enforce peace by arms. If the latter is what people are envisioning in Libya, they are unlikely to get it via the UN.

As for helping Libya come back together socially and economically, the UN can play a role there and its mission in Cambodia might be a model. The countries are similar in population size, though Cambodia had suffered far more intensely (a sixth of the population genocided) and for decades rather than months.

Obviously, the new government needs to induct the best fighters into the Libyan army and promote the ablest right into the officer corps, putting them and their men in a line of command and giving them a state salary to reinforce their loyalty. If more than such practical integration of the armed forces is needed, that will become apparent to the Libyans quickly enough.

So I support China’s initiative in regard to reconstruction activities. It is not clear that Libya will need any outside troops or police. One doesn’t remember outsiders supplying such personnel in the US in 1783 or France in 1789.

But it is likely that the real help Libya needs is aid and the return to it of its own money. The UNSC has just authorized Britain to transfer $1.5 bn. to the new Libyan state from Qaddafi assets earlier frozen. Russia is for reasons known best to itself holding up similar transfers from France and Germany.

Things are tough in Libya now, as they always are in post-revolutionary situations, and factions need to be integrated into national politics. But Libya has the potential at least to be a wealthy state, and under such circumstances national integration can sometimes be easier– assuming the government is, unlike Qaddafi’s, willing to share the largesse around. The TNC in moving toward parliamentary elections is already promising such sharing and political pluralism.

Another thing the UN could potentially help with is national reconciliation. Former pro-Qaddafi forces need to be rehabilitated, and there needs to be an amnesty for those who did not commit war crimes. Some in Libya are asking for a general amnesty, but most Libyan opinion-leaders are rejecting such a blanket decree, insisting there be punishment for those with blood on their hands. They don’t seem to mind an amnesty for non-violent former regime supporters (which after all would be a large number of Libyans, including some now on the Transitional Governmental Council). This position seems reasonable enough.

The USG Open Source Center gives a flavor of these debates by translating yesterday’s radio broadcast on the Voice of Free Libya from Benghazi:

” Voice of Free Libya
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 …
Document Type: OSC Summary…

The rebel radios Voice of Free Libya (VOFL) broadcasting from Misratah and Libya FM carried their usual programs on 30 August, and talked about hopes that Id-al-Fitr [the Feast of Breaking the Fast at the end of Ramadan], which will start in Libya on 31 August, “will witness the arrest of Al-Qadhafi”.

VOFL said that “Id-al-Fitr is good opportunity for reconciliation and tolerance among Libyans”, but stressed that “any general pardon for those who fought beside Al-Qadhafi’s brigades should not include those who have blood on their hands”.

Libya FM’s “From the Capital” phone-in program received several emails and phone calls from people expressing the hope that “Id-al-Fitr will witness the arrest of Al-Qadhafi, his sons and aides”.

BOTh stations carried religious and patriotic songs most of the day, as well as prayers asking God to “grant the rebels final victory over the enemy”.

Reconciliation

During VOFL’s religious program called “Haza Dinuna” (This is Our Religion), Shaykh Ahmad al-Saf talked about forgiveness and reconciliation among Libyans as a must to “allow the country to overcome the current period”.

“However, no one is entitled to issue a general pardon for all those who fought beside Al-Qadhafi, as those who have blood on their hands must be brought to justice,” he said, adding that “those who killed people and violated their honour can’t be pardoned,”.

“Even Mustafa Abd-al-Jalil, the head of National Transitional Council (NTC), should not, and does not have the right to, grant those people a general pardon”, he said.

Security

Libya FM devoted some segments to discussing the “issue of security in Libya”, saying that “the rebels have decided not to surrender their weapons until security and safety are restored in Libya”.

“It’s the rebels’ responsibility and duty to help restore security and safety everywhere in Libya”.

On the latest developments on the ground, the radio reported that “Mustafa Abd-al-Jalil gave people in non-liberated areas an ultimatum to surrender before 3 September or face military force”.

It also highlighted Abd-al-Jalil’s “calls on Libyan doctors in foreign countries to return to Libya to help filling the shortage in doctors in Libyan hospitals”.

The radio reported “violent clashes in Sabha between rebels and pro-Qadhafi forces”, adding that “three rebels were killed and another 10 were injured”.

VOFL said that “the rebels are capable of preserving the security of his country and don’t need any foreign, Arab or Islamic forces to help preserving security in Libya”.

“No regrets”

VOFL broadcast its regular program “Awqat Asibah” (Hard Times), during which it interviewed Ahmad Miftah Shtiwi, a 25-year-old man “who joined the revolution on day one”.

Shtiwi said he “joined the peaceful demonstrations at the very start of the revolution, but when the Libyan regime’s killing of civilians started, I decided to join the revolution and fight for freedom”.

Asked if he has any regrets, he said: “No regrets. We defended our homeland and our people, and we knew the price of freedom is always high”.

The radio devoted different phone-in shows to discussing Id-al-Fitr’s significance and rituals. It also carried prayers and religious songs throughout the day.

“Unforgivable crime”

Libya FM’s “From the Capital” expressed hope that “Id al-Fitr would bring news on the arrest of Al-Qadhafi and his sons”.

The programme quoted “an eyewitness” as saying that “Al-Qadhafi and his sons are planning to escape to Algeria”, noting that “helping those criminals to flee the country is an unforgivable crime”.

Libya FM devoted large segments to songs, celebrating Id-al-Fitr, and it carried religious and patriotic songs most of the day.

(Description of Source: Benghazi Voice of Free Libya in Arabic — Opposition-run radio, began broadcasting on 21 February 2011. )”

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US sanctions: Muallem, Shaaban & Ali

August 31st, 2011 Comments off
“…the United States took the unusual step Tuesday of issuing sanctions against Syria’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem.
The announcement came as the brother of a prominent Washington, D.C.-based Syrian opposition activist and scholar, Radwan Ziadeh, was arrested by the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and a day after a video appeared on YouTube showing Robert Ford, the American ambassador to Syria, being manhandled …
The Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it is sanctioning the Damascus regime’s foreign minister, as well as Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, and Assad’s presidential and media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban. …”



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Hariri Bombing Indictment Based on Flawed Premise

August 31st, 2011 Comments off
Categories: Arab Blogs Tags: bombing, Flawed, indictment, premise

Big Brother Hizbullah

August 31st, 2011 Comments off
An article in Al-Akhbar about the repressive puritanical behavior of Hizbullah.

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Lawmaker links U.N. funding to Palestinian issue (Reuters)

August 31st, 2011 Comments off

Reuters – A senior Republican lawmaker announced on Tuesday she was seeking to cut off U.S. funds to any United Nations organization that embraces an upgrade to the Palestinians’ diplomatic status this autumn.
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