VICE Magazine: The New Libyans

New Libyans

Photo Courtesy of Trevor Snapp / VICE

Trevor Snapp writes in VICE Magazine:

The Friday after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak fled Cairo, I strolled through the postrevolution euphoria in Tahrir Square: men and women on their knees reciting thankful prayers, cheering teenagers, and giddy, hopeful children. It was a brand-new world, and the people’s revolution seemed unstoppable, which proved to be the case as insurrections and protests spread through Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Syria, and God knows where else by the time you’re reading this article.

A few days later, I left for the Libyan border. According to Twitter, it was open for the first time in decades. Even more than in Egypt, uncertainty counterbalanced jubilation as generations of repressed tensions were only beginning to uncoil. Would Colonel Muammar Gaddafi gracefully forfeit his country and leave peacefully, or would he ensure its destruction by stubbornly refusing to abandon his self-appointed post? All bets were on the latter, and soon the world knew his answer: “I will die as a martyr at the end,” Gaddafi said in a televised statement. “I have not yet ordered the use of force, not yet ordered one bullet to be fired… When I do, everything will burn.” When I arrived, however, the Libyan people were still celebrating the victories they had achieved — it was a joyful calm before a brutal storm with no end in sight.

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  • Anonymous

    Very good, excellent photos

  • JoiquimCouteau

    Very good, excellent photos

  • Liam_McGonagle

    This article left me a little disappointed.

    Seems to be mainly a “mood piece”–about events nearly two weeks old. Which seems next to useless in such a rapidly shifting situation and in a 24/7 news cycle.

    And the big gaping vacuum here was the total lack of any sense of coherent military or political strategy or principle here. The writer doesn’t give any sense at all that anyone has anything resembling a working vision for how to acheive military victory or reconstruct a society whose sole organizing principle seems to have been fear of a crazed dictator.

    Which may faithfully represent what actually is happening on the ground, I guess. But it’d be bad mojo for sure. Because even if it is the narrowest, most amorally self-centered sort of vision, you have to admit Qaddafi does have one.

    • GoodDoktorBad

      When it says Libya, Libya, Libya on the label, label, label…..

      My question is: by helping out in Libya are we really helping anything? Simplistic a question as it is -it has no simple answer. The US, now entering its third war in the middle east, dropping bombs -killing and pissing off more people and of course, the cycle of retaliation rolls on etc. UN support will not prevent repurcussions or the ecomomy taking another nosedive. Of course, money for war will always be available it seems, regardless of the economy at home.

      Qaddafi is a tyrant and its obvious that he’s no innocent, but frankly, the world is full of them. I’m sure Qaddafi would say he had his reasons and give lots of “ya had to be there” answers for his deeds. I’m sure alot of people are dead because of him, but then alot of people are dead because of US military campaigns and our leaders would have the same kind of “ya had to be there” reasons for our deeds.

      Obviously nothing is simple, but I can’t help but feeling that another war is not the answer….
      May I offer you a daisy mister? LOL

      • http://twitter.com/smojo3 MastaBuild▲

        Exactly, Libya is the world’s third largest oil producer. It’s really sad that so many people would fall for the excuse of the U.S. actually bombing people in order to spread democracy.

        • mrtastycakes

          Libya is not the third largest oil producer. That honor goes to Iran. Libya is 9th, (Russia is 8th, and produces almost twice as much).

      • Liam_McGonagle

        Yeah, this sucks. Every time I turn on the radio or surf the net all I hear is propaganda that makes it clear to anyone truly listening that the CIA is the only “organized” force fighting Qaddafi. Your heart wants to go out to the rebels fighting to get rid of the guy, but at the same time your utterly gobsmacked by a total lack of any coordination at all on their part.

        Which I guess is no surprise. Basically Libya is not so much a nation as a radom assortment of North African tribes with a more-or-less common history of internecine warfare and oppression by a series of foreign or sectarian caudillos. There’s not really a strong sense of shared identity or purpose or nationhood.

        And the U.S. are not the folks to give it to them. That’s something that has to be cultivated internally; it can’t be done for them.

        The only guaranteed outcome would be utter and complete f*’in’ failure for the U.S. if it tries to intervene. Like Iraq, like Afghanistan, it’s a g*ddamned black hole, ready to suck every last ounce of military and political commitment of any nation stupid enough to get involved. I would have hoped, at least, that we would have learned that much by now.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    This article left me a little disappointed.

    Seems to be mainly a “mood piece”–about events nearly two weeks old. Which seems next to useless in such a rapidly shifting situation and in a 24/7 news cycle.

    And the big gaping vacuum here was the total lack of any sense of coherent military or political strategy or principle here. The writer doesn’t give any sense at all that anyone has anything resembling a working vision for how to acheive military victory or reconstruct a society whose sole organizing principle seems to have been fear of a crazed dictator.

    Which may faithfully represent what actually is happening on the ground, I guess. But it’d be bad mojo for sure. Because even if it is the narrowest, most amorally self-centered sort of vision, you have to admit Qaddafi does have one.

  • Anonymous

    When it says Libya, Libya, Libya on the label, label, label…..

    My question is: by helping out in Libya are we really helping anything? Simplistic a question as it is -it has no simple answer. The US, now entering its third war in the middle east, dropping bombs -killing and pissing off more people and of course, the cycle of retaliation rolls on etc. UN support will not prevent repurcussions or the ecomomy taking another nosedive. Of course, money for war will always be available it seems, regardless of the economy at home.

    Qaddafi is a tyrant and its obvious that he’s no innocent, but frankly, the world is full of them. I’m sure Qaddafi would say he had his reasons and give lots of “ya had to be there” answers for his deeds. I’m sure alot of people are dead because of him, but then alot of people are dead because of US military campaigns and our leaders would have the same kind of “ya had to be there” reasons for our deeds.

    Obviously nothing is simple, but I can’t help but feeling that another war is not the answer….
    May I offer you a daisy mister? LOL

  • http://twitter.com/smojo3 Jojo

    Exactly, Libya is the world’s third largest oil producer. It’s really sad that so many people would fall for the excuse of the U.S. actually bombing people in order to spread democracy.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Yeah, this sucks. Every time I turn on the radio or surf the net all I hear is propaganda that makes it clear to anyone truly listening that the CIA is the only “organized” force fighting Qaddafi. Your heart wants to go out to the rebels fighting to get rid of the guy, but at the same time your utterly gobsmacked by a total lack of any coordination at all on their part.

    Which I guess is no surprise. Basically Libya is not so much a nation as a radom assortment of North African tribes with a more-or-less common history of internecine warfare and oppression by a series of foreign or sectarian caudillos. There’s not really a strong sense of shared identity or purpose or nationhood.

    And the U.S. are not the folks to give it to them. That’s something that has to be cultivated internally; it can’t be done for them.

    The only guaranteed outcome would be utter and complete f*’in’ failure for the U.S. if it tries to intervene. Like Iraq, like Afghanistan, it’s a g*ddamned black hole, ready to suck every last ounce of military and political commitment of any nation stupid enough to get involved. I would have hoped, at least, that we would have learned that much by now.

  • Rheokhu

    Thanks to Reuters and the Independant, we at least know the name of the warlord who will try to govern Libya for us after Gadhafi is gone: Khalifa Haftar, who founded the Libyan National Army in the late 80’s and has been operating out of a CIA-sponsored training camp somewhere in rural Virginia since at least the early 90’s. (source: http://wsws.org/articles/2011/apr2011/liby-a04.shtml, “Mounting Evidence of CIA Ties to Libyan Rebels,” Patrick Martin writing for the World Socialist Web Site, 4 April 2011.)

    I haven’t been able to find much background on this guy, but I take it as a given that if a criminal syndicate like the CIA trusts him to govern Libya the way they want it governed, he must be a scumbag of the first order. It’s the same reason why you can’t become a made man in the Mafia until you’ve committed a murder under orders; criminal syndicates don’t trust a new recruit until they have dirt on him, because the new recruit will have enough dirt on his bosses to put them away for life soon enough.

    So the question is: what was Khalifa Haftar and his gang doing to earn the CIA’s assistance throughout the 90’s and 00’s while Uncle Sam waited for Gadhafi’s hold on power to weaken? My money is on either drug smuggling, terrorizing South American labor movements with the occasional bloody massacre, or a little of both.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks to Reuters and the Independant, we at least know the name of the warlord who will try to govern Libya for us after Gadhafi is gone: Khalifa Haftar, who founded the Libyan National Army in the late 80’s and has been operating out of a CIA-sponsored training camp somewhere in rural Virginia since at least the early 90’s. (source: http://wsws.org/articles/2011/apr2011/liby-a04.shtml, “Mounting Evidence of CIA Ties to Libyan Rebels,” Patrick Martin writing for the World Socialist Web Site, 4 April 2011.)

    I haven’t been able to find much background on this guy, but I take it as a given that if a criminal syndicate like the CIA trusts him to govern Libya the way they want it governed, he must be a scumbag of the first order. It’s the same reason why you can’t become a made man in the Mafia until you’ve committed a murder under orders; criminal syndicates don’t trust a new recruit until they have dirt on him, because the new recruit will have enough dirt on his bosses to put them away for life soon enough.

    So the question is: what was Khalifa Haftar and his gang doing to earn the CIA’s assistance throughout the 90’s and 00’s while Uncle Sam waited for Gadhafi’s hold on power to weaken? My money is on either drug smuggling, terrorizing South American labor movements with the occasional bloody massacre, or a little of both.

  • mrtastycakes

    Libya is not the third largest oil producer. That honor goes to Iran. Libya is 9th, (Russia is 8th, and produces almost twice as much).

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