Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Libya Delivered?



One hundred years ago, the Italo-Turkish War created the modern territorial entity of Libya, when the expansionist colonial aims of the Kingdom of Italy clashed with the Ottoman Empire on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. One hundred years later, an alliance of Western nations, backed by a few Arab countries, each with their own motivation, overthrew the regime of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi who had ruled Libya (or the Jamahiriya, as he had named her) since 1969. The alliance included Italy, notwithstanding the fact that she was bound to Libya by an alliance and co-operation treaty and that she was one of Libya's most important trading partners. The power passed to the hands of the National Transitional Council, which most of the world rushed to recognize as the legitimate governing body of Libya; but today, two years after the revolution (which was even backed by a U.N. Resolution) it is not clear what kind of transition, and to what, the Council had in mind.




Freedom and Democracy in Libya. 
By Gianandrea Gaiani. (Translated and edited by L. Pavese)


Two years after the beginning of the “revolution” against Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi’s regime,  we should really feel very proud of the progress made in Libya in the realms of freedom, security, human rights and civilization. Thanks to the political and military intervention of the Western world, a brutal regime was overthrown and we Westerners were very good at not letting ourselves be fooled by the lies of the Colonel, who wanted to convince us that among the rebels there were fundamentalist Islamic and Al-Qaeda militias. We didn’t pay attention to the warnings of the African Union, which believed that the fall of al-Gaddafi would turn Libya into a sort of Somalia on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Even when the National Transitional Council (the political arm of the Libyan rebels) assured us that Sharia will be imposed in Libya we were not willing to stop and reflect on what we were doing.










 

Today, in fact,  Cyrenaica is in the hands of the jihadists and of the militias that report to al-Qaeda. If that weren't enough, these forces are also present in the rest of the territory, where the Tripoli government doesn’t seem to be in control of much, in view of the fact that there are at least 70 armed militias who have, by now, turned Libya into a feudal country.  It is also true that the weapons that were stolen from the al-Gaddafi’s arsenals and the Tuareg fighters (who at one time used to be at the service of the Colonel) have made it possible to unleash chaos in the Republic of Mali, where the French intervention has probably only marked the start of yet another insurrectional war which could affect anew the southern region of Libya.
But this is nothing, compared to the social and political progress that Libya has achieved since the tyrannical and megalomaniac Colonel was tortured and lynched. Our (Italian) Foreign Minister, Mr. Giulio Terzi, really cheered us up when he stated that the issue of security in Libya is of “the highest priority” to Italy  because “it inevitably affects the economic and social development of the country.”  He added that, nevertheless, the security conditions (in Libya) are not such “to impede the continuation of the Italian entrepreneurial presence, which proceeds and is very positive, even though there’s still a lot to be done.” 
Those statements were released by Mr. Terzi during a seminary held at the Farnesina regarding the promotion of religious freedom, an issue which, ironically, is of great topical interest in the democratic and pluralistic Libya that we Italians helped to build, even going as far as trampling on the alliance treaty that was stipulated with al-Gaddafi. In fact, on February 12, four foreigners were arrested in Benghazi, suspected of being Christian missionaries printing books about Christianity. The arrest was reported by Libyan “security” sources, who specified that the four consisted of an Egyptian, a South-African, a Korean, and a Swede with an American passport. “They were arrested in the headquarter of a publishing house where they were printing thousands of books about conversion to Christianity,” reported Hussein Bin Hmeid, a security official who represents perfectly the libertarian spirit that pervades the new Libya. “Proselytism is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100% Muslim country, and this sort of undertakings interferes with our national security,” added Bin Hmeid, saying that “the interrogations are proceeding” and that “the four people will be delivered to Libyan intelligence services”.
In Tripoli the atmosphere is not better. “Not a day goes by that graves are not vandalized,” denounced Mr. Bruno Dalmasso, the keeper of the Italian Cemetery in the Libyan capital, where Christians fear an increase of Islamic extremism. “Human bones were dug up from the graves and spread over the grounds of the cemetery. The Libyan authorities came and took photographs. They promised they would take action, but nothing really has been done.”




























Since the fall of the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, the fear of the small Libyan Christian community has been growing, especially since last December when a church was bombed in Dafniya causing two deaths. Father Dominique Rezeau points out that, before the revolution, there were about 100,000 Christians in Libya, and now they’re down to a few thousand. That is really a fantastic outcome along the lines of progress and human rights, even though the best the new Libya has to offer was demonstrated the past February 9 when the constitutional branch of the Libyan Supreme Court reinstated polygamy, thereby overturning part of the family law of the regime of al-Gaddafi that had forbidden a man to have more than one wife. The law was modified by the Supreme Court because it was contrary to Sharia, the Islamic law that now rules Libya thanks to the bombs of Nato and the about-face of Italy towards “the friend and ally” al-Gaddafi. 
So, from now on, a man will be allowed to marry a second woman without even the consent of the first wife or the courts. A great step towards civilization, don’t you think?

Gianandrea Gaiani is a historian, a war correspondent and the editor of the Italian on-line magazine Analisi Difesa. I have already published two translations of his articles: one about the Italian participation in the F-35 fighter program, the other dealing with the killing of an Italian soldier by Taliban fighters who infiltrated the Afghan armed forces. Mr. Gaiani is the author of the book: "Iraq-Afghanistan. Guerre di pace italiane" (Iraq-Afghanistan. The Italian Wars for Peace). 

I'd like to thank J.J.P for reviewing the English text.
Your comments, as usual, will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
L. Pavese   

                   

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