Libya, revolution and counter-revolutionary bloody war

This video says about itself:

Bad time to be a black man in Libya

1 September 2011

Ethnic cleansing of black Libyans.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Libya’s Arab spring: the revolution that ate its children

The bloody conflict in Libya in 2011 (and ever since) is only to a very limited extent comparable to the Arab spring, mostly non-violent, people’s movements in Libya’s neighbours, Tunisia and Egypt, which succeeded in driving away dictators; and in countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which tried, and still try, to end dictatorships.

On 31 March 2011, this blog pointed out some differences between the situation in Libya and Arab spring elsewhere.

Some of those differences:

1. In order to have a revolution in a true, progressive sense against a status quo, participants should have ideas about changes to that status quo which would not make things even worse, but would be improvements. Some Libyans in 2011 did have such ideas; but quite some Gaddafi adversaries did not. Quite the contrary. Quote from March 2011:

… yesterday, in Dutch TV program Nieuwsuur, their Benghazi correspondent had an interview with anti Gaddafi lawyers. What is wrong with laws under Gaddafi? the correspondent asked. The lawyers said that now laws are not based on Islamic religious shariah law. For instance, if someone is convicted of theft, under Gaddafi his hand is not cut off. That is wrong and should change, the lawyers said (for Islamophobic readers: there are many views of what shariah law exactly is, and very many Muslims do not favour such a cruel interpretation. What if someone’s hand is cut off, and later it turns out that the theft was by someone else? Not even a very good surgeon will be able to restore the hand to the innocent ex-convict).

2. Even if opponents of a status quo have intentions to improve a situation, there is no guarantee that their good intentions will become reality. As there will be other forces at work. In the case of Libya, these were the NATO countries’ governments, which hijacked the anti-Gaddafi movement, turning it into bloody war, officially ‘for human rights‘ and really for multinational oil corporations. And there were allies of NATO, princely families of absolute monarchies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, still angry that their Libyan royal colleagues had been deposed in 1969; and whipping up religious fanaticism to serve their interests. Differently, in Egypt and in Tunisia, NATO, Saudi Arabia etc. kept supporting dictators Ben Ali and Mubarak until the bitter end, instead of violent regime change.

3. In countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain the Arab spring movements were largely working class. While, differently, blue-collar workers in Libya were mainly immigrants from Egypt, Tunisia, sub-Sahara Africa, Bangladesh, etc. Racist, xenophobic violence by anti-Gaddafi militias caused most of these workers to flee for their lives from Libya.

The Guardian article continues:

Four years after Muammar Gaddafi was killed, the high hopes of Libya’s activists have crumbled as Isis fills the vacuum left by scrapping militias

Chris Stephen in Tunis

Monday 16 February 2015 17.02 GMT

“It was better under Gaddafi,” says the young Libyan student, studying the froth bubbling over the top of his cappuccino in a cafe in Tunis as he contemplates the revolution that swept Muammar Gaddafi from power four years ago. “I never thought to say this before, I hated him, but things were better then. At least we had security.”

Tuesday marks the fourth anniversary of that revolution but nobody is celebrating. Egyptian air strikes now hammering Islamic State positions in the east of the country, in response to the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians, is a further twist in an already grim civil war. Four years ago the student picked up a gun and joined rebel militias. Now he wishes he had stayed home.

“If I had that time again, I would not join [the rebels],” he says. Like many of his former comrades, he has left the country, but won’t give his name, fearing retribution against his family back home.

“In the past, we would have a party for the anniversary of the revolution, but not this time,” says Ashraf Abdul-Wahab, a journalist. “A lot of people tell you it was better under Gaddafi, that the revolution was a mistake. What they mean is, things are worse now than they were then.”

Full-scale civil war came last summer, when Islamist parties saw sharp defeats in elections the United Nations had supervised, in the hope of bringing peace to the country. Islamists and their allies rebelled against the elected parliament and formed the Libya Dawn coalition, which seized Tripoli. The new government fled to the eastern city of Tobruk and fighting has since raged across the country.

With thousands dead, towns smashed and 400,000 homeless, the big winner is Isis, which has expanded fast amid the chaos. Egypt, already the chief backer of government forces, has now joined a three-way war between government, Libya Dawn and Isis.

It is all a long way from the hopes of the original revolutionaries. With Africa’s largest oil reserves and just six million people to share the bounty, Libya in 2011 appeared set for a bright future. “We thought we would be the new Dubai, we had everything,” says a young activist who, like the student, prefers not to give her name. “Now we are more realistic.” …

“So many of the revolutionaries of four years ago have gone to ground, they have fled, ” says Michel Cousins, editor of the English-language Libya Herald newspaper. “They say a revolution eats its children.”

This quote makes it sound like all revolutions ‘eat their children’. However, one should not equate all revolutions with the Libyan case: a revolution turned into a counter-revolution by being hijacked by bloody NATO war, oil corporations, Arab peninsula monarchs, xenophobia and religious fanaticism.

Journalists flocked to Libya four years ago. Now Tripoli, after a series of Isis attacks, is too dangerous for all but the most intrepid, while Tobruk, in lockdown after a series of car bombings, has told the media to stay away.

The new government, hunkered down in a hotel in Tobruk, is riven by disputes, with many fearing it will fragment. In Tripoli, Libya Dawn has struggled to impose firm rule on a city now giving way to anarchy. Dawn commanders have reconvened the former government, the general national congress, but true power lies with the militias.

Zealots are making themselves felt in the capital, which was once Libya’s most liberal city. Women can no longer leave the city, on the few flights still operating, unless they have a male chaperone. Gunmen have attacked statues, Sufi mosques, a library and the art college, warning against displays of idolatry. Beauty salons are closed and schools segregated by sex. This week one unit announced the arrest of a woman for witchcraft, posting photographs of her and a mutilated black cat. …

Meanwhile, Benghazi, Libya’s second city, where the revolution first began with protests outside the courthouse, is being transformed into an Arab Stalingrad by fighting between government troops and Islamist militias. Four years ago, Courthouse Square was festooned with flags, revolutionary banners and youngsters singing songs in brightly painted tents. Now it is a pulverized wilderness.

Nato was midwife to Libya’s revolution, its bombing the key to victory, but alliance leaders now look on aghast at the result, not least the growth of Isis. Unknown in Libya before last summer, Isis has taken advantage of the chaos to expand rapidly. Its execution of the Egyptian Christians, captured in December and January, has triggered an Egyptian response that promises to turn the war into an international conflict. London, Paris and Washington, prime movers behind Nato’s intervention, worry that Isis could launch strikes on Europe across the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, Italy is dealing with the arrival of tens of thousands of migrants funnelled through Libya, many drowning on their hazardous journey. …

For ordinary people, life is now a battle for survival, and amid the power, water and petrol cuts, the most acute shortage is optimism, a quality flowing so abundantly four years ago. Where it exists at all, it is cautious and circumspect. “Martin Luther King said ‘I have a dream’, and I still have the dream,” says Shuhaib. “It’s not the same dream as four years ago, people now are disappointed and frustrated, but the dream is there.”

Egypt bombs Derna and pledges Libyan intervention: here.

ISIS in Libya: here.

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