NATO’s allies killing each other and civilians in Libya


This video, recorded in Britain, says about itself:

Libyan human rights activist forced to flee Libya

25 April 2013

Magdulien Abaida is a Libyan human and women rights activist who was abducted, beaten and threatened by an Islamist militia in Benghazi. She was forced to flee to gain asylum in the UK and this is her exclusive story speaking out about her ordeal – which she was not able to do whilst in Libya. This was a BBC Newsnight film produced by Sharron Ward, reported by Tim Whewell. Director’s cut version.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Battle in Libya’s second city

Added: Wednesday 15 Oct 2014, 17:37

In the second city of Libya, Benghazi, a fierce battle has been raging all day between radical Islamic militia men and troops of former general Haftar.

Not only a former general. Also a (former?) CIA agent.

Who announced yesterday he would reconquer the city from the Islamists.

Benghazi since this summer has been in the hands of the radical militias, who are united in a coalition. Only small parts of the city and the airport of Benghazi are still in government hands.

Egypt

Residents of the city report to international news agencies that there was fighting in various districts. They also said warplanes were flying over the city. According to news agency AP these are Egyptian aircraft.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are said to actively support the militias; Turkey and Qatar are, on the contrary, on the side of the government.

NOS TV had that wrong, and deleted that last sentence in an update. Quite the contrary, Associated Press says:

Egypt‘s direct military involvement, however, reinforces the notion that Libya has become a proxy battleground for larger regional struggles, with Turkey and Qatar backing the Islamist militias while Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are supporting their opponents.

Whether the wrong earlier NOS version or the presumably correct later Associated Press version: supposed allies of the USA and other NATO countries in the war ‘against ISIS‘ (really against ISIS? The Turkish government against ISIS? Or about oil?) are killing each other and Libyan civilians in Libya.

Egypt says Erdogan’s UNGA speech ‘full of lies and fabrications’. The Turkish president accused Egypt’s President al-Sissi of coming to power in a coup in his speech at the annual UN meet: here.

Warriors of Ansar al-Sharia, one of the militias, are said to have attacked an army base this afternoon. Ansar al-Sharia is held responsible by the United States for the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi in 2012, where the ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

Parliament fled

The armed militias in Libya make a central administration of the country impossible since the fall of former dictator Gaddafi. Also in the capital, Tripoli, the government has no power at all. A militia from Misrata, a city east of Tripoli, is calling the shots there.

The Libyan government and parliament have fled to Tobruk, in the northeast of the country near the border with Egypt.

From Associated Press today:

Egyptian warplanes are bombing positions held by Islamist militias in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi as part of a large-scale operation to rid the city of militants who have held sway there for months, two Egyptian government officials said on Wednesday.

From Middle East Eye:

Pentagon officials have claimed that Egyptian airbases were used by United Arab Emirate pilots in a mysterious series of airstrikes that have hit the Mistratan [sic; Misratan] Led Alliance (MLA) in Tripoli last month. Ten Libyans, picked up in August, are thought to be in the custody of Abu Dhabi‘s State Security Agency (SSA) and are at risk of being tortured, according to Human Rights Watch who called for the UAE to reveal their whereabouts earlier this week.

Co-ordinated car bombs went off outside the Egyptian and United Arab Emirates embassies in Libya today, causing some damage but no casualties: here.

It seems clear that the ties between Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with the exception of Qatar, are evolving dramatically in economic and military matters, at a time when the unrest in Yemen and Egyptian concerns over the continued chaos in Libya are leading to a profound military cooperation between the two sides: here.

In a blow to anti-Islamist factions, Libya’s highest court has ruled that general elections held in June were unconstitutional and that the parliament and government which resulted from that vote should be dissolved: here.

The black flag of ISIS flies over government buildings. Police cars carry the group’s insignia. The local football stadium is used for public executions. A town in Syria or Iraq? No. A city on the coast of the Mediterranean, in Libya. Fighters loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are now in complete control of the city of Derna, population of about 100,000, not far from the Egyptian border and just about 200 miles from the southern shores of the European Union: here.

While the world’s attention is focused on disputes in coastal Libya, the tribal-controlled south is unstable, and a collapse of order would have consequences for the whole region: here.

Women’s rights activist murdered, then witness murdered in brave new Libya


Salwa Bugaighis, AFP photo

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Witness of murder of activist in Libya is dead

Saturday 28 May 2014, 15:04 (Update: 28-06-14, 15:29)

The only witness to the murder of the Libyan human rights activist Salwa Bughaighis was also murdered probably. His body, covered with torture marks, was left by unknown people at a hospital in the eastern city of Benghazi, local media say.

The witness was the bodyguard of Bughaighis. He saw how she was killed, Wednesday night at her home in Benghazi with a shot through the head. Her husband has since been missing. The guard was shot in the leg. After the murder, he was taken away by police for questioning.

The situation in Benghazi is very tense. Radical Islamist militias are fighting a power struggle with a [retired] general of the Libyan army.

Libyan artists in danger


This video says about itself:

Tadrart Acacus, UNESCO World Heritage Site

21 July 2009

Tadrart Acacus is a desert area in western Libya and is part of the Sahara. It is situated close to the Libyan city of Ghat. Tadrart means ‘mountain’ in the native language of the area (Tamahaq language). It has a particularly rich array of prehistoric rock art. The Acacus has a large variation of landscapes, from differently coloured sand dunes to arches, gorges, rocks and mountains. Major landmarks are the arches of Afzejare and Tin Khlega.

Although this area is one of the most arid of the Sahara, there is vegetation, such as the callotropis plant. The area is known for its rock-art and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of the importance of these paintings and carvings. The paintings date from 12,000 BC to 100 AD and reflect cultural and natural changes in the area. There are paintings and carvings of animals such as giraffes, elephants, ostriches and camels, but also of men and horses. Men are depicted in various daily life situations, for example while making music and dancing.

Now, four years after the making of this video, both this ancient Libyan art, and today’s Libyan art and its makers are in danger.

After George W Bush invaded Iraq, 90% of that country’s artists were killed or fled to other countries.

Something similar happens now as the consequence of another so-called ‘humanitarian’ war, the NATO war on Libya in 2011.

From Magharebia (Washington DC, USA):

Libya Chaos Impacts Artists

By Asmaa Elourfi, 17 April 2014

Interview

Benghazi — With Libya’s capital of culture facing daily bombings and assassinations, artists are left in a perilous position.

To get a handle on the situation, Magharebia met in Benghazi with Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi, a 42-year-old actor, playwright and songwriter. He began his theatre career in the ’90s, before later performing at events in Tunisia and Morocco.

As al-Obeidi explains, Benghazi’s “chaos and insecurity” is taking a toll on the city’s famed cultural and literary activities.

Magharebia: As an artist, how do you see the situation in Libya now?

Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi: Writers, poets and intellectuals fully realise the deteriorating security situation and have their own visions about it. They only wait for calm to prevail to present their ideas on how to deal with these issues.

This is because artists are the closest ones to the street; in my opinion, they are the real mirror of the street.

Magharebia: What’s keeping writers and actors from proceeding with their careers in Libya?

Al-Obeidi: There are many obstacles, but the fact that theatres are not fully prepared for theatrical troupes is the main obstacle.

Writers have their own very profound imaginations, but the entities concerned with writers are not playing their roles as they should. For example, Benghazi, which is the cultural capital, has its own literary experiences and elements, and is known for its art, creation and culture, but its literary production is very modest.

Magharebia: What are your latest works?

Al-Obeidi: I’m now writing another play titled “I’m without Address”, a monodrama depicting the condition of Arab citizens following the revolutions, the ambiguity they live in, the concepts that have changed and the schizophrenia they live. The play is being rehearsed now by al-Mashhad al-Masrahi theatrical troupe in Morocco. I’ve also released, at my own expense, my first collection of lyrics and popular poetry.

Magharebia: What do you see for your country’s future?

Al-Obeidi: Building Libya is not an impossible wish. We have to reach national reconciliation and put aside hatreds and clean our hearts before we can talk about building the state or institutions.

We as Libyans are Arabs, and we depend too much on traditions, habits and tribes, and this is a double-edged weapon.

If we can utilise all of these capabilities, we’ll reach the shore of safety and the country and future generations will rest. However, if we proceed with retaliations, hatred and double standard policies, we’ll continue in this dark tunnel.

Magharebia: What part does an artist play in this?

Al-Obeidi: Their role is important and vital. They have to work day and night to get their ideas across using all peaceful means. They have to embody their visions through their works of art because the street is now looking for an alternative to solve the crisis, and here comes the role of the pioneering artist who can reach all categories of society with his/her distinguished style.

This is because the artist is loved by all, and stands at the same distance from all; therefore, the artist shouldn’t deal lightly with his assigned role in society, as he is responsible before history.

Libya remains in the grip of rivalrous rebel factions. Three years after ousting dictator Moammar Kadafi, the militias have turned to smuggling and extortion, and left Libya without a real government: here.

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Libya, violence and disease


This video is called Libya: fatal Benghazi clashes between protesters and militia.

The latest violence erupted in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday in Benghazi’s al-Lithi district, not far from the city centre. Libyan Special Forces fought it out with rogue gunmen, leaving at least six soldiers dead and several injured: here.

From IRIN News:

Libya’s “Growing” Drugs/HIV Problem

17 June 2013

Tripoli — Doctors in Libya say they are seeing a “growing” number of patients with drug problems and a corresponding risk of HIV infection, in a post-Gaddafi era marked by limited law enforcement and government capacity.

“Every month more people come to us needing help,” said Abdullah Fannir, deputy director of Gargaresh psychiatric hospital in Tripoli.

“It’s part of the fallout from the revolution. Border control is weak, making it easy for drug-traffickers, and there’s more demand as well. Hundreds of thousands of Libyans were displaced, wounded or bereaved during the uprising.”

Doctors at Benghazi’s Al Irada drug addiction clinic, the only treatment centre of its kind in the country, say some of the most common addictions they have to treat are for Tramadol, a painkiller that stimulates the release of serotonin and can cause seizures, and heroin.

With heroin has come HIV/AIDS. A report by the Liverpool School of Popular Medicine published in April based on data collected in Tripoli before the uprising concluded that 87 percent of the city’s injecting drug users have HIV. That is the highest rate recorded anywhere in the world and compares to 2.6 percent in Tunis and 7.7 percent in Cairo.

Joseph Valadez was study director on the project and says the epidemic among the drug-using community must be tackled now to stave off a wider health crisis.

“Our results show quite clearly that there is a concentrated epidemic among Libya’s injecting drug users. They also show progress towards a concentrated epidemic among men who have sex with men and, although we weren’t able to do an in-depth survey, our results also point to high levels of HIV infection among sex workers. When you take all this together it is very worrying…

“Often the men who have sex with men are also married, as are those who use prostitutes and drugs. These groups are vehicles for the general population to be infected and Libya needs to address this issue now or it will face a huge problem in the future.”

Health services are limited. At the Al Irada clinic Libyans with addiction problems are helped to kick their habit with the help of psychologists and tailor-made drug courses. But this clinic has room for just 40 patients.

“It provides a good service but it’s far too small to serve the whole country,” said Alia Shaiboub, the National AIDS Programme’s (NAP) head of HIV awareness. “We deal with a lot of addicts who need this kind of treatment but it’s very hard to get them a place. At the moment there’s no way we can get treatment for them all.”

Data paucity

A lack of data is causing huge problems for those trying to fight Libya’s drug problem.

Reliable HIV data is hard to come by. According to official figures, around 12,000 people have been recorded as living with HIV, but Laila Aghil, head of Strategic Planning at NAP, says this number is a gross underestimate.

“Many people who have HIV don’t seek medical treatment and don’t ever come into contact with officials or doctors. This means official figures are just the tip of a very large iceberg.”

Part of the reason for the lack of data is lack of funds. Valadez says more money needs to be channelled into Libya’s addiction and HIV programmes.

“Both the Libyan government and international donors should provide much more money for harm reduction programmes and education as well as research. We need to look at the impact of the war and the overall prevalence of HIV in the country.”

“During the revolution it’s likely that HIV infection spread. People scatter when the war comes, and they scatter their infections as well. During war very often there is an increase in prostitution and sex work. There’s also sexual violence against women and young people and it is normal to see an increase in uncontrolled sexually transmitted diseases.”

Confronting the problem

Responding to the report by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the Libyan government said it would treat the HIV epidemic among drug users as a matter of national priority. But, according to Fannir, so far nothing has been done.

“There is still no needle exchange programme and our doctors don’t have the right experience or the right drugs. In fact, not a single one of the report’s recommendations has been implemented. I believe because of this inaction the rate of HIV infection is rising among injecting drug users, even as the number of drug users increases.”

According to Fannir the worsening crisis has severe implications for the wider community.

“It is getting to the point that it threatens national stability. Drug dealing is fuelling militia violence. All this is undermining faith in Libya’s politicians and the effect of this should not be underestimated.”

Mustafa Gebreil is an independent member of Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) and member of the GNC Health Committee. He rejects the idea that battling addiction should be an immediate focus for the government.

“The Health Ministry is concentrating on crisis fighting. There are many issues that need attention in Libya, and because of this treating drug addicts is not a priority.”

The social stigma that surrounds HIV and drug taking is a big part of the problem, according to Alessandra Martino, an HIV specialist who has worked in Libya since 2005.

“HIV is very closely associated with vices like casual sex, homosexuality and drug taking: things that are unacceptable in mainstream Libyan culture. This means for Libyans HIV and drug abuse are not very fashionable areas to be campaigning about or working in.”

Revolution and rehabilitation

Accounts from drug users and outreach workers back up the reports by doctors that Libya’s drug problems are worsening. Salah is a recovering heroin addict at Benghazi’s Al Irada clinic and says heroin became increasingly easy to get hold of after the uprising.

“It was everywhere after the revolution. I originally gave up heroin in 2008 but I started to take it again after the liberation. I fought on the front lines and like other fighters I received a significant pay-out. A lot of my friends started to take it, and because I had the extra money it was difficult to stay away.”

“We know there is more distribution now,” said Belkis Abudher, a public health specialist working for NAP. “When we go into primary and elementary schools it is very clear that many of the children have already been exposed to drugs like Tramadol and hashish. This was not the case before the revolution.”

A lack of drug education is one of the factors behind the explosion in drug use in Libya, according to Fannir.

“During the Gaddafi era the general public knew very little about the dangers of drugs, and the situation isn’t improving. The chaos of revolution meant many of the existing outreach and education programmes collapsed, and few have been reinstated.”

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. ]

Christian tortured to death in NATO’s ‘new’ Libya


The coffin of Ezzat Hakim Attallah (portrait), who died in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, days after being arrested on charge for allegedly seeking to convert Muslims in Libya, is seen during his funeral service at a church in Assiut city (AFP Photo)

From the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (Cairo):

Egypt: EOHR Calls Upon Egyptian Government to Take Action Against Death of Tortured Egyptian Citizen in Detention in Libya

12 March 2013

Press release

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) expresses worry about the death of the Egyptian citizen Ezzat Hakin Atallah under torture in detention in Libya. The Egyptian citizen was accused of entering Libya illegally and Christian preaching.

In February 2013, the Libyan police arrested about 100 Egyptian Christians in Benghazi City and charged them with illegal entrance to the Libyan territories. All the detainees were released except for 5 people including Ezzat.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR, stated that what happened to the Egyptian citizen is a serious violation of human rights, namely the right to life, liberty and personal security, which are guaranteed by international covenants on human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which in Article III provides that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and personal security ” as well as the International Covenant on civil and political rights, which in the sixth article states that “the right to life of every human being is a basic right, and the law should protect this right and no one shall be deprived of his life arbitrarily.” As pointed out by the Committee on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations in its general comment on the text of the previous article that the right to life is the supreme right that cannot be denied; it is permitted even in times of public emergency. The same provisions exist in both the Egyptian and Libyan laws.

In this regard, EOHR calls upon the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to urge the Libyan government to take the suitable legal actions for investigating the Ezzat death incident and taking the perpetrators to accountability. At least one representative of the Egyptian Prosecutor General should attend the investigations on the incident to guarantee a fair trial of the murderers according to the international standards of human rights.

A Libyan newspaper editor detained since 19 December for publishing a list of judges allegedly involved in corruption in the country must be released immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International said today: here.

Libya: Benghazi Coptic Church Torched: here.

Canadian government had plan to ensure commercial return on military ‘investment’ in Libya: here.