Gaddafi’s Ghosts: Return of the Libyan Jamahiriya


Gaddafi’s Ghosts: Return of the Libyan Jamahiriya

by dan glazebrook

When NATO murdered Gaddafi and blitzed his country in 2011, they hoped the socialist “Jamahiriya” movement he led would be dead and buried. Now his son has been released from prison to a hero’s welcome with his movement increasingly in the ascendancy.

There were various moments during NATO’s destruction of Libya that were supposed to symbolically crown Western supremacy over Libya and its institutions (and, by implication, over all African and Arab peoples): the “fall of Tripoli” in August 2011; Cameron and Sarkozy’s victory speeches the following month; the lynch-mob execution of Muammar Gaddafi that came soon after. All of them were pyrrhic victories – but none more so than the death sentence handed down to Gaddafi’s son (and effective deputy leader) Saif al-Gaddafi in July 2015.

Saif had been captured by the Zintan militia shortly after his father and brother were killed by NATO’s death squads in late 2011. The International Criminal Court – a neocolonial farce which has only ever indicted Africans – demanded he be handed over to them, but the Zintan – fiercely patriotic despite having fought with NATO against Gaddafi – refused. Over the next two years the country descended into the chaos and societal collapse that Gaddafi had predicted, sliding inexorably towards civil war.

By 2014, the country’s militias had coalesced around two main groupings – the Libyan National Army, composed of those who supported the newly elected, and mainly secular, House of Representatives; and the Libya Dawn coalition, composed of the militias who supported the Islamist parties that had dominated the country’s previous parliament but refused to recognize their defeat at the polls in 2014. After fierce fighting, the Libya Dawn faction took control of Tripoli. It was there that Saif, along with dozens of other officials of the Jamahiriya – the Libyan “People’s State” which Gaddafi had led – were put on trial for their life. However, once again the Zintan militia – allied to the Libyan National Army – refused to hand him over.

After a trial condemned by human rights groups as “riddled with legal flaws,” in a court system dominated by the Libya Dawn militias, an absent Saif was sentenced to death, along with eight other former government officials. The trial was never recognized by the elected government, by then relocated to Tobruk. A gloating Western media made sure to inform the world of the death sentence, which they hoped would extinguish forever the Libyan people’s hopes for a restoration of the independence, peace and prosperity his family name had come to represent.

It was a hope that would soon be dashed. Less than a year later, the France 24 news agency arranged an interview with Saif Al Gaddafi’s lawyer Karim Khan in which he revealed to the world that Saif had in fact, “been given his liberty on April 12, 2016,” in accordance with the amnesty law passed by the Tobruk parliament the previous year. Given the crowing over Saif’s death sentence the previous year, and his indictment by the International Criminal Court, this was a major story. Yet, by and large, it was one the Western media chose to steadfastly ignore – indeed, the BBC did not breathe a single word about it.

What is so significant about his release, however, is what it represents: the recognition, by Libya’s elected authorities, that there is no future for Libya without the involvement of the Jamahiriya movement.

The truth is, this movement never went away. Rather, having been forced underground in 2011, it has been increasingly coming out into the open, building up its support amongst a population sick of the depravities and deprivations of the post-Gaddafi era.

Exactly five years ago, following the start of the NATO bombing campaign, Libyans came out onto the streets in massive demonstrations in support of their government in Tripoli, Sirte, Zlitan and elsewhere. Even the BBC admitted that “there is no discounting the genuine support that exists,” adding that, “‘Muammar is the love of millions’ was the message written on the hands of women in the square.

Following the US-UK-Qatari invasion of Tripoli the following month, however, the reign of terror by NATO’s death squad militias ensured that public displays of such sentiments could end up costing one’s life. Tens of thousands of “suspected Gaddafi supporters” were rounded up by the militias in makeshift “detention camps” were torture and abuse was rife; around 7,000 are estimated to be there still to this day, and hundreds have been summarily executed.

Black people in particular were targeted, seen as symbolic of the pro-African policies pursued by Gaddafi but hated by the supremacist militias, with the black Libyan town of Tawergha turned into a ghost town overnight as Misratan militias made good on their promise to kill all those who refused to leave. Such activities were effectively legalised by the NATO-imposed “Transitional National Council” whose Laws 37 and 38 decreed that public support for Gaddafi could be punished by life imprisonment and activities taken “in defence of the revolution” would be exempt from prosecution.

Nevertheless, over the years that followed, as the militias turned on each other and the country rapidly fell apart, reports began to suggest that much of southern Libya was slowly coming under the control of Gaddafi’s supporters. On January 18th 2014, an air force base near the southern city of Sabha was taken by Gaddafi loyalists, frightening the new government enough to impose a state of emergency, ban Libya’s two pro-Gaddafi satellite stations, and embark on aerial bombing missions in the south of the country.

But it was, ironically, the passing of the death sentences themselves – intended to extinguish pro-Gaddafi sentiment for good – that triggered the most open and widespread demonstrations of support for the former government so far, with protests held in August 2015 across the country, and even in ISIS-held Sirte. Middle East Eye reported the following from the demonstration in Sabha (in which 7 were killed when militias opened fire on the protesters):
Previous modest pro-Gaddafi celebrations in the town had been overlooked by the Misratan-led Third Force, stationed in Sabha for over a year – originally to act as a peacekeeping force following local clashes.

‘This time, I think the Third Force saw the seriousness of the pro-Gaddafi movement because a demonstration this big has not been seen in the last four years,’ said Mohamed. ‘There were a lot of people, including women and children, and people were not afraid to show their faces … IS had threatened to shoot anyone who protested on Friday, so there were no green flags in towns they control, apart from Sirte, although there are some green flags flying in remote desert areas,’ he said. ‘But if these protests get stronger across the whole of Libya, people will become braver and we will see more green flags. I know many people who are just waiting for the right time to protest.’

In Sirte, demonstrators were fired at by ISIS fighters, who dispersed the group and took away seven people, including four women. The same Middle East Eye report made the following comment:
The protests have been a public representation of a badly kept secret in Libya, that the pro-Gaddafi movement which has existed since the 2011 revolution has grown in strength, born out of dissatisfaction with the way life has worked out for many ordinary citizens in the last four years…[Mohamed] added that some people who had originally supported the 2011 revolution had joined the protests. Most Libyans just want a quiet life. They don’t care who takes over or who controls Libya’s money, they just want a comfortable life. That’s why Gaddafi stayed in power for 42 years. Salaries were paid on time, we had good subsidies on all the essentials and living was cheap.
Mohammed Eljarh, writing in the conservative US journal Foreign Policy, added that:
These pro-Qaddafi protests have the potential to turn into a national movement against the 2011 revolution, not least because a growing number of Libyans are deeply disillusioned by its outcome…there is now a building consensus that the atrocities and abuses committed by post-Qaddafi groups since the revolution exceed by far those committed by the Qaddafi regime during its rule.
At the same time, the Green resistance is becoming an increasingly influential force within the Libyan National Army, representing the country’s elected House of Representatives. Earlier this year, the Tobruk parliament allowed Gaddafi’s widow back into the country, whilst the LNA entered into an alliance with pro-Gaddafi tribes in the country’s East, and began to recruit open supporters of Gaddafi into its military structures. Gaddafi’s Tuareg commander General Ali Kanna, for example, who fled Libya following Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, has now reportedly been welcomed into the LNA. The policy is already bearing fruit, with several territories near Sirte already seized from ISIS by the new allies.

The Jamahiriya, it seems, is back. But then, it never really went away.

Demonstrations in Benghazi demanding the release of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi


Demonstrations in Benghazi demanding the release of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

‘Feet or Buttocks?’ Shocking Video Shows Gaddafi’s Son Being Tortured in Libyan Prison


‘Feet or Buttocks?’ Shocking Video Shows Gaddafi’s Son Being Tortured in Libyan Prison

A video that shows Saadi Gaddafi, son of Libya’s late Muammar Qaddafi, being tortured in jail has been condemned by lawyers and rights groups.

The nine-minute video shows Saadi, 42, in a green tracksuit, being hooked up to an improvised rack, apparently while in custody at Tripoli’s maximum security al-Hadba prison. His bare feet are then caned.

Segments show him sitting blindfolded and forced to listen to screams of other detainees being beaten in an adjacent room.

WARNING: Some may find elements of video disturbing

linked to Hillary!

“It raises serious concerns about the methods used to interrogate al-Saadi Gaddafi and other detainees at al-Hadba prison,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East Director of Human Rights Watch.

“The Tripoli authorities need to urgently establish exactly what did occur.”

The video’s release, by Arabic network Clear News, has alarmed lawyers worried about the treatment of other detainees at al-Hadba, where former Gaddafi-era officials are held.

“This is a shocking video that raises questions about conditions inside the prison,” said Karim Khan QC, London-based lawyer for Libya’s former prime minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, also at al-Hadba. “The international community needs to demand a full investigation.”

Gaddafi is blindfolded by his captors, perhaps to prevent him from identifying those who are about to torture him. Photo: YouTube/Clear News

Saadi is facing trial on charges including killing a football player while head of Libya’s football federation. During his father’s time in power, he established a reputation as a playboy and had a brief unsuccessful career playing for several Italian football clubs.

The undated video, consisting of several segments, was apparently made by Saadi’s captors, some of whom are seen in the footage in military uniform. At one stage, a captor asks Saadi if he wants to be beaten on the “feet or buttocks”. He answers: “What kind of question is this? My feet.”

Al-Hadba is held by Libya Dawn, a militia alliance that controls Tripoli and is battling forces of the internationally recognised government based in the east of the country.

Gaddafi pleads with his captors as a metal rack with restraining straps is dragged into the room. Photo: YouTube/Clear News

Gaddafi is bound and helpless, his feet strapped to the rack. Photo: YouTube/Clear News

The release of the video comes a week after Tripoli authorities pronounced death sentences for Saadi’s older brother, Saif al-Islam , and eight other former Gaddafi-era officials, including Mahmoudi, after a trial condemned by rights groups and the United Nations as lacking due process. Saif al-Islam was tried in absentia, since he has been held since 2011 by a former rebel group in Zintan, a region beyond Tripoli’s control. Right groups say the verdict was riddled with flaws.

Despite the manner of his downfall, still enjoys pockets of goodwill.

In a rare demonstration, supporters in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday shouted “Muammar, Muammar”, but dispersed after opponents opened fire with guns and hurled rocks.

No-one appeared to have been hurt among dozens of supporters of Gaddafi.

The Gaddafi supporters waved pictures of the man who had ruled for 42 years, and demanded the release of Saif al-Islam.

“Only God, Muammar and Libya!” the crowd chanted and waved the green flags of the old regime.

They dispersed after other residents, some of them carrying the Libyan national flag, opened fire.

Residents said this was the first protest of Gaddafi loyalists in Libya’s second-largest city, the cradle of the revolution, since 2011.

Frustration has been building among Libyans with the country’s chaos as two governments fight for power with the help of former rebels who have fallen out along political, tribal and regional lines.

Benghazi has been especially hard hit as fighting between forces allied to the official government based in the east and Islamist groups has closed the port, choking off wheat, food and petrol imports.

The latest Libya news 2015


The latest Libya news 2015

Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of the Clintons, claimed David Cameron backed a French plot to create a break away zone eastern Libya


Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of the Clintons, claimed David Cameron backed a French plot to create a break away zone eastern Libya

Britain hid secret MI6 plan to break up Libya from US, Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton received several warnings from a friend that Britain was acting deceitfully in Libya Photo: Reuters

By Raf Sanchez, Washington

Britain acted deceitfully in Libya and David Cameron authorised an MI6 plan to “break up” the country, a close confidante of Hillary Clinton claimed in a series of secret reports sent to the then-secretary of state.

Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of the Clintons, emailed Mrs Clinton on her personal account to warn her that Britain was “game playing” in Libya.

Mr Blumenthal had no formal role in the US State Department and his memos to Mrs Clinton were sourced to his own personal contacts in the Middle East and Europe.

Nevertheless, Mrs Clinton seems to have taken some of his reports seriously and forwarded them on to senior diplomats working at the highest levels of American foreign policy.

The first of Mr Blumenthal’s Libya memos – which were leaked to the New York Times – was sent on April 8, 2011, as rebel forces struggled to make gains against Gaddafi’s troops, and had “UK game playing” in the subject line.

The memo warned that British diplomats and MI6 officers were maintaining secret back channels with the Gaddafi regime “in an effort to protect the British position in the event that the rebellion settles into a stalemate”.

Muammar Gaddafi / Photo: REUTERS

 

 

Mr Blumenthal claimed that MI6 spies were in discussions with Saif Gaddafi, the dictator’s son, “regarding future relations between the two countries if he takes over power from his father and implements reforms”.

The memo also claims that the Libyan rebels were deeply suspicious of Britain and suspected that the UK would be “satisfied with a stalemate” in which Gaddafi or his family stayed in power in part of the country.

Their suspicions were stoked when Gaddafi’s foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, defected to Britain in March 2011, Mr Blumenthal claimed. The rebels apparently saw the defection as evidence that Britain had secret lines of communication with the highest ranks of the Gaddafi regime.

Extract from the email:

Eight minutes after receiving Mr Blumenthal’s email, Mrs Clinton forwarded it on to one of her most senior aides. She did not comment on the allegations about Britain. A week later, she met with William Hague, the then-foreign secretary at a Nato summit in Berlin.

Perhaps unbeknownst to Mr Blumenthal, who was working for Bill Clinton’s global charity at the time and not privy to classified information, the CIA was maintaining its own back channels to Gaddafi.

Michael Morell, the CIA’s deputy director, spoke regularly to Abdullah Senussi, the head of Gaddafi’s internal intelligence service, even as US aircraft were bombing regime forces on the battlefield.

Mr Blumenthal emailed Mrs Clinton about Britain again on March 8, 2012 with the subject: “France & UK behind Libya breakup”.

By this time Gaddafi was dead and his regime had collapsed and a provisional government, the Libyan National Transitional Council, was trying to assert its authority across the country.

Mr Blumenthal told Mrs Clinton that MI6 and its French counterpart, the DGSE, were secretly encouraging rebels in eastern Libya to establish “a semi-autonomous zone” outside the control of the new government.

The plot was allegedly instigated by advisors to the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who believed that the new Libyan government was not “rewarding” French businesses for France’s role in overthrowing Gaddafi.

He alleged that MI6 joined in the plan “at the instruction of the office of Prime Minister David Cameron“.

“The French and British intelligence officials believe that the semi-autonomous regime in the eastern city of Benghazi will be able to organise business opportunities in that region,” he wrote.

Extract from the email:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs Clinton seems to have been sceptical about the report and forwarded it on to her aide Jake Sullivan with the comment: “This one strains credulity. What do you think?”

Mrs Clinton’s aides appear unimpressed with the stream of emails coming from Mr Blumenthal and Mr Sullivan replied that the MI6 allegations sounded like “like a thin conspiracy theory”.

Mrs Clinton was asked about the emails during a campaign appearance in Iowa and said Mr Blumenthal had been “a friend of mine for a very long time”.

“He sent unsolicited emails which I passed on in some instances. That’s just part of the give and take,” she said.

The Foreign Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Blumenthal memos have aroused interest in the US because they appear to show a blurring of the lines between Mrs Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation set up by her husband.

Although he had no role in the State Department, he was working for the Clinton Foundation and various political groups allied with Mrs Clinton, according to the New York Times.

Mr Blumenthal worked in Bill Clinton’s White House and was known for fierce loyalty to both the Clintons and for aggressively confronting their critics.

Aides to Barack Obama prevented Mrs Clinton from bringing him into the State Department in 2009, believing that he would only stir up trouble after the bitterly-fought election battle between Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton.