Saturday, January 28, 2012
Voices 4 Libya - The Book
Voices 4 Libya – The Book
Voices for Libya
This is a book about the Libyan Revolution of 17 February 2011. It is not a day-by-day account of the fighting, nor an analysis of military or diplomatic strategy. It is a collection of voices of ordinary people who became involved in that conflict in many different ways. These are the stories they chose to tell about how the Libyan conflict touched all their lives.
Gaddafi had a collection of gilded guns.
Gaddafi had huge stockpiles of Soviet armor and the elite British-trained Khamis Brigade. The other side were civilians with no military training and no weapons. But what they did possess was such ingenuity, passion and fearlessness that it captured the admiration and support of the entire world.
From the top of their impregnable barracks, Gaddafi’s ruthless murderers used anti-aircraft weapons to gun down unarmed kids. On the other side, it was an ordinary man, a supplies manager named Mahdi Zew, who spent three days burying kids’ bodies, then could stand it no longer. He brought down the wall of this fortress by driving a car packed with a couple of cylinders of cooking gas into a thunderstorm of Gaddafi machine-gun fire. He lost his life and his two daughters lost a father, but the Revolution was saved.
The “Freedom Fighters” the Libyan Revolutionaries, were a collection of civilians, clerks, lawyers, engineers, pharmacists, students and salespeople who learned to weld captured rocket launchers guns to wheelbarrows and beds of their Toyota pickups. Clad in flip-flops and t-shirts, they crafted weapons out of sewage pipes and, lacking an air force, hoisted artillery to rooftops with cranes. The fight for justice which they undertook is a history of endless sacrifice, constant improvisation and incredible bravery.
A pen is mightier than a sword, or so the oft-repeated quotation goes.
As well as his Libyan forces and an army of thousands of mercenary fighters, Gaddafi had a state-run propaganda machine with 42 years of experience and massive financial resources.
But the Freedom Fighter side had Mo Nabbous, a mathematician and founder of Libya Al Hurra TV in Benghazi to bring the world’s attention to the dire plight of Libya. The Freedom Fighter side had Bernard-Henri Lévy who persuaded French President Sarkozy to act, and this brought the United Nations and NATO into co-operation with those seeking to protect the innocent.
And they had a small army of supporters posting on Facebook, on Youtube and Twitter and on Internet blogs. These “Freedom Writers” did everything they could to publicize the plight of the Libyan Revolutionaries, helping with their pens (or keyboards) those unlikely freedom fighters who had followed Mahdi Zew in taking up the sword against Gaddafi.
The stories told here are penned by those who never before wielded anything more menacing than a fork or struck anything more intimidating than a computer key. These are the voices of those who could no longer remain silent and passive in the face of totalitarian injustice. Some are told by Freedom Fighters. Some are told by those who loved them, fed them, cared for them and wrote about them, making sure their flame burnt brightly enough to be seen all across the world. Intertwined with the stories of Libyan people are those of strangers from all over the globe. They came together to care and write about people they had never met and a country most had never visited.
The Libyan struggle for freedom resonated throughout the world. And the place we felt that resonance first and foremost was, of all places, on the internet live blog pages of Al Jazeera English! AJE is the lens through which we’ve all come to see and appreciate the depths of pain and the heights of triumph of these incredibly brave people in Libya.
How is it of all the media outlets, that Al Jazeera English became such a focus for foreign supporters of the Libyan Freedom Fighters?
It is because AJE reported from the very start of the Libyan Revolution, and, when the attention of other news gatherers drifted away, remained so faithful in its continued coverage of the Arab Spring that millions around the world supplemented their news diet with Al Jazeera English. That’s really where this story begins for all of us in this book: AJE and its interactive Libyan blogs.
AJE: veni, vidi, scripsi
The AJE blogs have attracted the most amazing, educated, diverse and caring audience mass media ever gathered. After all, who would read Al Jazeera in English? The English speakers who cannot get their Middle Eastern news from other sources are a pretty sophisticated bunch of primarily American, Canadian, British, Australian and New Zealander readers. There are even more refined groups from among the non-English native speakers: French, Swiss, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and yes, Arabic.
The list goes on to South America, Africa – pretty much everywhere else. The only continent not yet represented is Antarctica. But that’s only a matter of time.
At its peak, the AJE Libya blog was getting over 10,000 comments per day. If you follow Groundswell statistics, that easily represents hundreds of thousands of readers. That is a remarkable accomplishment for Al Jazeera, and one that has gone largely untrumpeted.
Radwan Ziadeh, a member of Syrian National Council, said the best source for accurate news on any Arab Spring revolution is Al Jazeera English and their live blogs. He remarked that this world wide connection and support for democracy is the greatest improvement in human rights the world has ever seen, and it is unstoppable. This connection has and will pull down any dictatorship that opposes it. Ziadeh pleaded with the audience to join it and to do for Syria what was done for Libya.
The Al Jazeera blogs, having established themselves as a forum for the dissemination of unbiased up-to-the-minute information about Libya, inevitably attracted Gaddafi’s propaganda machine. The vehemently anti-Muslim, the defiantly anti-NATO, the reflexively anti-West, it seemed at times as though they wore the Wizard of Oz’s green tinted spectacles as they sought to shout down the Freedom Fighters’ side of the argument and to dominate the information agenda in favour of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime. These entertaining folks still believe that the liberation of Tripoli was staged and filmed in Qatar and that Gaddafi forces captured Misurata in late August. For them Gaddafi never died, and the truth never lived.
But first and foremost, it is here, on the pages of the AJE that the caring world community gathered for over half a year to share the news, repost and make sense of often contradictory tweets, to discuss the future of Libya, to try to figure out various ways to help. It is some of these people that gathered and organized on the improbable koussa.info site who bring you this book. Why koussa.info? Well, that too is in the book. Read on!
Get the book • News • Previews • العربية (Arabic) • Credits
All earnings will be split between the families of the martyred heroes and the children / orphans of the war.
This is the place on the World Wide Web where the Voices 4 Libyaproject soon will publish over 60 short stories from people all over the world who have supported the epic struggle of that country as it overthrew its dictator.
Most of the stories come from all corners of Libya, from freedom fighters, wounded FF ["FF" == thuwar, that means freedom fighters; western media called them rebels instead of revolutionaries], martyrs’ loved ones, family members, doctors and nurses who healed the wounded FF, every day Libyans and their national heroes. We have the stories from Masoud, the epic Libyan guitar hero, who became famous for playing his songs on a guitar in battle. We have the story from Madhi Zew’s daughter and cousin; Madhi Zew gave his life to breach Benghazi Katiba on Feb 20th. We have the story about Mo Nabbous from someone in his family, and many more...
The latter as printed book, too, where all earnings will be split between the families of the martyred heroes and the children/orphans of the war. There will be no shortage of good causes in Libya.
Please stay tuned, and add this page to your bookmarks (CTRL+D).
Actually, we’re still working on the Voices 4 Libya book. It will take a few more weeks to finish editing, translating, proof reading and whatnot. Eventually, you can purchase it at Amazon, deal?
Meanwhile we’ll add story by story to this Web site. Please return often.
One day, very soon, we’ll link the book’s cover on the left to the bookstore. Promised. Stay tuned.
All earnings will be split between the families of the martyred heroes and the children / orphans of the war.
We’re aware that many people, not only in Arab countries, will not be able to purchase the printed book. That’s why we publish the stories here, both in English (some) and Arabic language (all). Our primary mission is to spread the word.
However, if you can, please get yourself a printed copy.
Thank you in advance!
The Voices 4 Libya project team
A Martyr: Mahdi Mohamed Zew
The daughter of martyr Mahdi Zew born in 1993,
My father was born in 1962 in Benghazi. He lived with his parents, brothers and sisters in the family house. They were a middle class family. He had three brothers, named Nasser, Salem and Abubaker, and four sisters, named Oureida, Suad, Zafeer and Hamida.
When he finished secondary school, he started work with the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, as a member of the supply department. In 1993 he married my mother, Samira Awad Nabous, and two daughters were born to them. I, Zuhur, was born in 1993 and my sister, Sajeeda, was born in 1996.
My father was a simple person who was honest, straight, and religious. He liked his work and was dedicated to it. He was very gentle towards his family. He liked his friends and his way of talking was quiet and polite. He was good at heart. He was known as a social person and he was loved by relatives and neighbors. He never had an enemy. He did not care about politics and he was not a religious extremist. He liked life and had great hope for a good life. He loved to travel and to read historical books about Libya and poetry, and he liked to draw.
He did not like Gaddafi’s despotic regime as he could see from working in the oil company that the oil revenue from the oil fields was going to Muammar and his thugs. He was very affected by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. He was excited by them and followed the events from minute to minute. A few weeks before the Revolution of 17 February, he travelled with my mother to Lebanon and Syria for medical treatment for diabetes. They came back to Libya on Wednesday evening, 16 February.
On 17 February he joined protesters in front of the Court House and was very excited by this revolution, too. I saw the happiness in his eyes. He said, “I have never expected to see that our people could make a revolution”. He did not come back to our home except for lunch or he came very late at night, and then only to sleep. He used to phone us, telling us what was happening and how brave and determined the young men were. He prayed for the martyrs and went to the funerals.
As our house is next to the military camp (katiba) we could see what was happening outside. My father was such a sensitive person that he could not stand to see somebody crying in front of him. So, when he saw so many young men dying, he was very affected because he was a patriot who was dedicated to his beloved country, Libya. He made a final decision because of his love towards his country.
On the night of 19 February, he took us to my grandfather’s house because of the fierce shooting. On Sunday morning, 20 February, he came to us, drank coffee and talked about what had happened the night before. When he left, I had no idea what was in his mind. On the same day, at 2pm, we heard an explosion and saw black smoke far away, but it never crossed my mind that this explosion was made by my father.
He entered the katiba from which snipers were killing and wounding the young men. He put two cylinders of cooking gas and bottles filled with petrol in his car and lay down in the driver’s seat so as not to be killed by snipers. He entered at high speed through the first door of the katiba, they shot at him with anti-aircraft guns and the car exploded in front of the second door.
Nobody knew what he was going to do. That night we did not know that my father was martyred. We were looking for him everywhere, asking his friends and relatives about him. We did not find him at any place. We called him by mobile and his phone was off. On the second day, early in the morning, we went back to our house hoping to find him there. But we did not find him in the house.
My uncle came and we went with him to my grandfather’s house and then we knew that my father was martyred. My mother, me and my sister were shocked because he was very gentle and loved us very much. He could never leave us. He was always by our side, even supporting us in our study. At the beginning of the Revolution we had never imagined what our father could do because he was a very sensitive person who was gentle and caring with people.
Gradually we became aware of the value of his dead. He did not open only the door of the katiba, he also opened the hearts of Libyan people because they realized that the man left behind two daughters when he rushed his car to open the katiba’s door. Now, we know that he woke up the patriotic feelings of all Libyans and entered into history through the widest door with this brave act. We know that he is a hero and a real man because he did not want to watch young men dying and yet do nothing to stop it.
I am proud of his act but at the same time he left a big emptiness in our lives. I had never imagined that my father had valued anything more than he valued us, but he valued his motherland.
My father was to me friend, brother and mate. He went away and we stayed without him, but I see him on Libyan faces every day.
The departure of my father makes me cry but the present he gave to me removes the sadness from my heart. He gave to us two very big things. He taught us moral responsibility and love for our motherland.
God inspire me to pass over the separation from my father.
Benina Airport Project on the Outskirts of Benghazi, Libya, February 2011
On 28 December, 2010, I travelled from Tunisia back to Benghazi, after a brief holiday, to continue work on the new Benina Airport Terminal. We had been constructing this project since 2009 and were on target to finish the job by year’s end 2011. The uprising in Tunisia was just gaining momentum and the mood amongst the Tunisian workers was upbeat though I could sense an underlying concern for their families back home. On 14 January, Ben Ali fled Tunisia and the celebrating began amongst the Tunisians at Benina.
17 January: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi says he regrets the fall of Ben Ali, which has left the country in “chaos with no end in sight.” When protests began in Egypt the Libyan air force started flying daily reconnaissance missions from Benina Airport to the border area. Till this point nobody had discussed the possibility of protests spreading to Libya as we were certain Gaddafi would crack down very hard on any dissention amongst the population especially in Eastern Libya.
As the days passed and Egypt’s revolution remained mostly peaceful we hoped that Mubarak would do the right thing and step down which he did on 11 February, 2011. It wasn’t lost on us that Libya sat dead centre between these two revolutions but we just couldn’t conceive the possibility of a Libyan uprising against the Gaddafi regime. How wrong we were! Internet service was disrupted so we were unable to receive any news as to what was happening on the streets of Benghazi.
18 February: Our Filipino office clerk received a message from his wife who worked in a Benghazi school that a doctor had been shot dead at the next door medical clinic and the Filipino nurses were too afraid to continue working. There was also word of mercenaries roaming the streets killing unarmed protestors.
19 February: We were aware that Benghazi was in chaos and mid afternoon I witnessed a Russian Hind gunship flying low to the west of the airport firing on targets. Later that afternoon, I was told by an SNC Lavalin employee who had been at the airport arrivals gate that a plane load of African mercenaries had landed. We set up a survey instrument to get a closer look at what was happening around the airport terminal. I could see a large contingent of soldiers (+/- 200) in a defensive pattern around the west side of the runway. We didn’t know if these were mercenaries or Libyan government soldiers.
Three aircraft landed at Benina in the afternoon including Turkish, Afrikiyah, plus a large unmarked Russian transport plane and they flew scores of passengers out. The four Mig fighter jets based at Benina had taken off as usual that morning but never returned. Two Russian Hind gunships were active patrolling Benghazi and adjacent military installations. We decided it was time to retreat back to camp for safety reasons as there was much smoke rising to the west of the airport where the gunship had been concentrating its attack.
Just before dinner we witnessed a large aircraft with unlit running lights attempting to land. The soldiers at the airport opened fire with a massive barrage from machine guns and the plane veered away to the north and disappeared.
After dinner a co-worker and I went to the main SNC Lavalin office to see if we could connect to the internet. The state authorities had disconnected Libyan internet, phone, and cell coverage for the past week so our only contact with the outside world was via a direct internet connection through our Tunis office. I was able to logon the internet and sent out several messages and my co-worker was able to contact his son on Cyprus, who just happened to be a member of SAS, to give him our GPS coordinates. These would be our last messages sent via the office computers.
We could hear continuous machine gun fire at the airport at a distance of approximately 1km. I noticed a tank coming up the highway towards the end of the airport perimeter. As we left the office there was a convoy of trucks coming towards us and as they passed by we noticed the machine guns and AK47s. We hurried back to the compound where many of the Thai and Filipino employees had gathered.
Suddenly there was a flurry of gunfire and everybody scattered. We told everyone to get back to their cabins and keep out of sight. The invaders then proceeded to ransack our offices taking everything including hundreds of computers, furniture, and all our pickup trucks, heavy duty equipment and buses. Our main office in Ganfounda was overrun and burned to the ground so those employees travelled by bus to Benina for shelter. Our food and drinking water cache was also ransacked leaving us with only limited supplies for the 2500+ people now in camp. We spent the night hunkered down in our cabins listening to a continuous barrage of machine guns and AK47s. With no security it made for a very long sleepless night.
20 February: The shooting stopped at 4 a.m. and we were able to confirm that nobody had been injured. We surveyed what remained of the food and started distributing rice and whatever meat was left to the Thais & Filipinos. They began cooking on open fires around camp and generously offered us pancakes and meat dishes. Gaddafi sent fighter jets to bomb Benghazi on Sunday and our fear was he would bomb the runways.
We were surrounded by military installations to the southeast, to the northwest and probably other sites that we weren’t aware of. The ridge behind our camp was a massive network of bunkers and radar installation so we were in a very vulnerable situation with no cover other that our metal cabins. That afternoon a group of locals came to the camp and offered us protection. Many of the men had worked for Lavalin in the past, or knew somebody who had, and commented that they had been treated fairly and wanted to offer support. This development was a big relief for us as now the perimeter of the camp would be patrolled. It was another day of constant gunfire which kept us indoors and again the shooting continued throughout the night.
21 February: There was constant gun fire around the airport but we managed to get some rest. The Thais were very concerned about the situation and wanted assurance that SNC was working on an evacuation plan to get everybody out. All I could do was confirm that the Montreal office was working on a plan to have several planes flown from Europe that would evacuate everybody. The stumbling block to this plan was the airport runway being blocked by our heavy duty equipment to prevent more mercenaries from landing.
SNC had somebody negotiating with the General who had defected to the rebels’ side and was now directing the defence of the airport. We soon realized that the runway would not be opened any time soon and therefore flying out of Benina would not be an option.
22 February: The military set up anti aircraft guns at the airport and started firing over us towards the bunkers on the ridge above. As we were sitting in the kitchen we heard aircraft overhead and then bombs being dropped at a distance. We found out later the pilots had dropped the runway bombs to the north and south of the runway but had refused to follow orders to destroy the runways. We knew the importance of controlling the airport which added to our stress level. By now most of the food was gone and we were eating meals with the Thais & Filipinos who spent their days collecting firewood and cooking over open fires.
23 February: Security was busy with intruders and in the middle of the night somebody tried to enter our cabin. This night the first seven buses left Benina to attempt the 700km journey to the Egyptian border. Amongst the passengers were a Canadian and a Brit. Three of the buses broke down before even getting through Benghazi. The majority of us refused to travel by bus as it was a long, dangerous journey in poorly maintained vehicles. It must have been a horrific journey of two plus days with constant breakdowns and road blocks. I was told later that the buses had no glass in the windows and it was very cold throughout the night. They were stopped at roadblocks and armed men would board and intimidate the travellers. Eventually all the foreign workers would escape Libya via this long journey to the Egyptian border where they were met by buses to be driven to Alexandria and then to Cairo for flights home.
24 February: Early in the day we received word that the British frigate HMS Cumberland would be arriving in Benghazi harbour and evacuating us to Malta. By this point the food was consisting of rice and whatever else could be scrapped together so we were eager to vacate. The bus ride to the port took us past the army barracks now occupied by the Freedom Fighters and what an amazing sight that was. The gates were open and dozens of people milled around the guard post. We noticed much graffiti on concrete walls and the tri-coloured flag had replaced the green Gaddafi flag. We encountered several road blocks but were waved through politely by the soldiers. The best sight in days was seeing HMS Cumberland docked at the port with the Union Jack fluttering in the breeze. We were quickly processed onto the ship and within the hour were on the 34 hour journey on rough seas to Malta. Many thanks to the crew of the Cumberland for such a warm welcome aboard.
It was such a relief to be out of Benghazi and in the coming days I would travel to Malta, Italy, France and eventually North America.
In early May I received a message from a friend in Jalu, Libya, saying they were being attacked by hundreds of Gaddafi soldiers. I had been following the Libya blog on Al Jazeera and out of desperation contacted a popular blogger to seek help for my friends in the desert. The guys would forward the GPS coordinates of the location of the Gaddafi soldiers and a description of the surrounding area, for example, “They are in Waha oil field in a grove of palm trees”. I would confirm the coordinates on Google Earth then forward them to my contact. This worked very well and continued well into July when the final attacks were repelled and peace was restored to the desert oasis.
I wish I could have written this more as a story than words from my diary but this is okay. It is hard to put into words the fear we were feeling at this time in February; and it is just as hard to describe my resentment about the Gaddafi family for damaging so many lives and forcing us to leave, my reaction to the many threats I received and my sleeplessness on many nights as I thought of my friends being attacked. There is so much to say. I tell some people, “It was like watching a movie...except we were in the movie”.
We are all hoping for a peaceful transition to democracy for Libya and soon I hope to return to Benina to finish construction of the new airport that is so desperately needed. It would also be very nice to welcome to Benghazi some of the many bloggers who have offered so much support to Libya.
How I became Moussa Koussa
Ilya posting as Moussa Koussa
Minnesota, United States of America
Moussa – dresser very snazzy!
To prepare for Benghazi!
Moussa go atelier!
To spruce up his derriere!
Moussa jump at hand of tailor!
Is hand more like horny sailor!
Moussa pinched by nasty pinch
Moussa buttock painful clinch!
Very awkward situation!
In the midst of alteration!
No Moussa fancy suit!
Because pervert man pursuit!
Moussa got Benghazi blues!
These are Mousa Koussa news!
I wrote that. I posted it on AJE Libyan blog as Moussa Koussa in April, 2011.
Who the heck is Moussa Koussa?
He sounds quite like a nuisance.
Moussa Koussa was Gaddafi’s Foreign Minister whose notorious defection hours before April Fools’ Day made his the most tweeted name for the next 48 hours. He is a scumbag of the highest order, a man implicated not only with the Lockerbie bombing but also with the deaths of tens of thousands of Libyans in the decades since the ’60s. MK is probably the most identified and hated name in the Libyan world outside of a Gaddafi.
So why would anyone chose that moniker?
‘Cause it’s funnier than “2nd Harmonica” (who is also a member of our group.)
But there’s more to it than that. His name sounds downright Seussean. It begs to be rhymed and alliterated. Maybe his name trended so long on Twitter for the same reason. There are deeper reasons, sure. But first and foremost, the handle Moussa Koussa held comedic literary value. I chose to “become” MK as a joke, to ridicule the man.
And who are you?
A Russian Jew!
I’m a Russian Jew, one of a million my former motherland traded for sacks of wheat back in the ’70s. I came to America as a 13-year old, went to high school, college and graduate school here. I’m a scientist and a bleeding heart liberal. You might think involvement in social justice causes like supporting a struggle for human rights in Libya a natural fit. But if you think about it, being liberal could’ve just as easily made me anti-war, period. So, how did a Russian Jew become so involved in Libya? Well, that’s what this story is about.
OK, but what’s this blog on Al Jazeera?
Read! And answer will be clear!
That’s the easy part. Where does one get his news fix? American mass media blonds down its news. Fox started it, and CNN all too eagerly grabbed the baton. BBC coverage of the Arab Spring was great, up until the natural tragedy in Japan went nuclear. Then, the only place I could get my news fix became Al Jazeera.
So, since late February I’ve been reading AJE and, being a Russian Jew, I very hesitantly at first posted innocuous comments there under an innocent penname. That changed when the notorious scumbag Moussa Koussa defected. On the threshold of April Fools’ Day at that! As soon as I grabbed that moniker and started posting my Seussean “News O’Moussa Koussa”, for reasons still unclear AJE dramatically curtailed its coverage of Libya. Live interactive blogs stopped being updated on a daily basis, the news became sparse, my virtual friends started feeling uneasy.
In mid-April I launched our koussa.info site almost on a whim. Late one night, one my friends from across the globe jokingly pitched the idea of reserving an MK site. Again, for the shear humor value, I did a quick search to find out that all the good moussa’s were taken, all the good moussakoussa’s were gone, but inexplicably koussa.info was still up for grabs. For under two bucks a year! That was a no-brainer.
Reader know what she in for
When she visit koussa.info
With an initial half a dozen virtual friends we set up an authentication procedure and began dropping hints for AJE posters we liked to join. We turned away as many as we authenticated, and in a matter of 4 months, we had grown to 100 “certified” members and nearly 100,000 visits.
So, how and why did a Russian Jew get so involved?
Russian Jews tend to get involved in the most unexpected undertakings.
In short, I got involved to keep the friends I made on AJE, but more importantly, because others wanted to as well. The long answer is complicated, and involves spending my formative years as refugee, which resonates within my heart with the similar, yet more difficult, universal struggle of the Libyan people.
35 years ago my family was traded for a sack of wheat.
We may never find out how big a sack, but the exchange rate doesn’t really matter. Back then, how much grain per Jew the Soviets got fluctuated with the annual magnitude of the collective farming fiasco.
Fast forward three dozen years.
Hop over the Iron Curtain and into the Sahara. Look at Tunisia, Libya, Egypt. Hug the Mediterranean Coast NE, and take a right into Syria.
Until this year, human life still had no value at your local dictatorship.
This is why I feel so connected with the Arab Spring.
Their struggle for basic dignity and universal freedoms resonates in me. It simmers in all our hearts. When that simmer comes to boil, look out dictators! In the end, our shared passions and fears connect us simply and personally in this increasingly sophisticated and impersonal world.
Libya Feb17, 2011 Revolution – Links and Resources
The Web resources below provide you with background information about the Libyan #Feb17 revolution. Now, in 2012, one could even say that these sites define the historical context of the year 2011 with regard to Libya’s struggle for freedom. We’ve included news aggregators here, but all listed resources were and are run by Libyan revolutionaries (except of Al Jazeera, of course).
Although many news outlets, like Al Jazeera, New York Times, Guardian and countless others, produced literally tons and tons of coverage, most of these media weren’t able to deliver the news without following a quite distanced view on Libya and its brave revolutionaries, despite their reporters on the ground.
The best example showcasing the failure of all the mainstream media is the term “stalemate”, which was dominating the headlines and reports on Libya constantly. Reporting mostly from behind (Benghazi, Tripoli, even Cairo, Tunis, London or wherever far away), western journalists depended on maps of Libya to track the progress of the revolution. What they didn’t see, despite their personnel on the ground, were the changes from within.
Whilst the trackable front lines didn’t move much for months in most areas, the revolutionaries strengthened their positions, and gained reach, continuously. On the other hand, Gaddafi’s forces were thinned out just as well so continuously, and the whole regime lost its grip on power day-by-day, what eventually became visible in August 2011 (at the latest), when it finally imploded in a big bang.
So the Libyan revolution told the mainstream press a lesson. It’s not possible to cover a popular uprising, where the majority of the people struggles to topple a ruthless regime over many months, applying criteria that were invented to judge loss and gain in a conventional war. Front lines are rather meaningless. It’s way more important to measure the support for the revolution on one side, and the actual standing of the tyrannic regime on the other side. The mainstream media still has to develop this approach. That’s a huge challenge, with regard to the ongoing Arab Awakening.
As a side note, the above said goes for the post-revolution coverage, too. Just because the Libyan revolutionaries won the bloody war which a cruel dictator launched on his very own people, that doesn’t mean that a country without democratic –or even working!– structures can switch over to a full-blown democracy, western standards applied, a day after the last thug fighting for the former regime died or got captured.
So all the wannabe saints, who condemned the well deserved death of the deceased dictator, as well as other events during the fighting or directly after the victory of the Libyan people, that didn’t exactly follow a human rights watchers view on political correctness, should better shove the truth about their very own government’s actions –which were dealing with Gaddafi over decades for the sole sake of their GDP, strategic interests, or whatever– down their hypocritical throats, and shut the fuck up.
Better follow Libya how it creates itself as a free country out of the ashes of the war that ended four decades of tyranny, and praise the Libyan people for their achievements. Despite very few incidents, there’s peace in Libya, and the reconciliation process has been started.
I (Sebastian) wrote that from an outsider’s point of view. I may be totally wrong. Of course I followed the western media, especially journalists who reported from inside Libya, and Al Jazeera’s live stream was opened in a pinned tab during the conflict, but I also read tens of thousands of tweets, posts, blog comments and so on from Libyans who actually participated in the revolution, as well as I followed many expats who even in the diaspora had better sources than the western press.
Every serious reporter could have done that, too. Unfortunately, it seems as if the big media companies don’t allow their staff to invest much time in research. It’s way easier to rewrite a Reuters feed. As for Reuters –reiterating mostly lies from the mouth of Moussa Ibrahim al-Gaddafi annoying and verbally torturing journos jailed in the Rixos hotel in Tripoli–, in my humble opinion that was the best source of disinformation about Libya, ever. Of course, there were occasional exceptions, thanks to very few brave and honest Reuters journalists on the ground.
Anyway, surf the links below, follow their navigation that takes you back to 2011, to create your own picture. Thanks for your time listening to my rant!
There’s no particular order, just pick a link and jump into the very recent history of a now free country, Libya.
Shabab Libya, operated by the Libyan Youth Movement, not only was, and is, the most comprehensive news aggregator compiling nearly every bit and byte published on the Libyan revolution across the planet, it comes with tons of insider information, too, including a forum, fundraising campaigns, and whatnot.
Feb 17th Libya News acted as a news aggregator, re-publishing many articles from newspapers all over the world, but also maintained, and still maintains, sections like a huge archive of videos and images covering the Libyan revolution, documents, and more.
Alive in Libya is a blog that not only published background stories during the revolution, it also reports regional events and provides lots of video coverage.
Al Jazeera English clearly was the most timely as well as (usually) accurate source of information during the Libyan revolution. Their Libya Live Blogs, in depth articles, news items and live stream deeply covered the revolution from the very beginning on February 15th, 2011, over the victory, until today. Their blog posts attracted over 10,000 comments per day, another great resource if you can manage to navigate through the Disqus system which clearly got overwhelmed by that much user interaction.
If you read Arabic, please proceed to the corresponding links page in the Arabic section. Thank you.