Sep 30, 2011


The decorum was striking. Where Iraqis stripped the villas of Saddam’s family bare of their last teaspoons, Libyans respectfully filed past the dining room table laid with crockery for twelve, as if visiting a preserved historic manor on a Sunday afternoon. A packet of corn flakes stood open and untouched on the kitchen counter. Twenty minutes before the Ramadan breakfast, local volunteers declared it was closing time, and ushered the public out one room at a time. A grandmother furtively scooped a pair of pink baby booties from the nursery into the folds of her dress when she spied the wardens turning their backs.

The victorious militiamen lording over ‘Aisha’s father’s lair in Bab al-‘Aziziyya, by contrast, presided over mayhem and rampant looting. Its walls have been gutted, torched and covered with jubilant graffiti. Cars drove home laden with medical equipment pillaged from the compound’s hospital. Gunners pumped their anti-aircraft and machine guns, the latter held with one hand over their heads. A militia’s ambulance wailed rebel paeans.


For now, the tide seems to be with Tripoli’s people. In an effort to dislodge the militiamen, they have backed efforts to stand up the interim government slowly transferring its seat of power to Tripoli. They have welcomed its message of national reconciliation and preservation of all but the thin upper crust of the Qaddafi regime as the fastest route to resume normality and civilian rule, and forestall the militarization and protection rackets that filled Benghazi’s vacuum when the Qaddafi regime vanished there. The continued leadership of ‘Abd al-Jalil, who until the February uprising was Qaddafi’s justice minister, and Jibril, who headed Qaddafi’s state-run economic think tank in Tripoli, has calmed fears among the city’s bureaucrats and merchants of a root-and-branch upheaval that would sweep them aside. At the NTC’s invitation, they thronged to celebrations and morning prayers on the first day of ‘Id al-Fitr to replace the militiamen in Martyrs Square. Souq al-Jum‘a’s elders, who had allowed 4,000 Misrata militiamen to pitch camp in such sites as the new branch of LTT, the internet company owned by the eldest of Qaddafi’s sons, Muhammad, signaled that their hospitality had its limits and asked them to leave.


There is much to be hopeful about. Tripolitania lacks an entrenched martial tradition. The cult of ‘Umar al-Mukhtar, the warrior-priest who led the rebellion against Italian imperialism, flourishes across eastern Libya, but never really seeped west. Nor did the colonel’s caprice entirely smother the capital’s cosmopolitan spirit. For all his brutality, his propagandists celebrated his “civilian” accomplishments -- the Green Book and the Great Manmade River -- not his few military intrigues, which largely failed. His disastrous 1980s invasion of Chad was erased from the official narrative, and the army sidelined as a potential, and sometimes actual, fifth column.

Moreover, as the social space least contaminated by the colonel, the capital’s mosques have played a key role in rapid restoration of order. From the first nights of victory, preachers broadcast calls for militiamen to stop firing in the air and register looted weapons with the local NTC office. In many districts, the local mosque has become the local seat of government, as well as the source of water and, thanks to plentiful alms collection, welfare.


And the risk remains that Libya’s militarization will rub off on civilian life, leading Libyans to pursue their various goals by force of arms. Post-Qaddafi, weapons are everywhere. Berber peasants stash tanks in their farmyards. Beneath an overpass in al-Zawiya, high-school children rotate the turrets of the tanks they have commandeered. No sooner had the colonel fled than Tripoli’s population scavenged the arms depots for self-defense. More hardware and missiles lie for the taking across the coastal plains. On the grounds of Bab al-‘Aziziyya, Tripolitanian fathers excitedly photograph their young daughters carrying rebel guns. Six months ago, the Misratan fighters terrorizing Tripolitanians were themselves mere civilians -- engineers, tradesmen, students and jobless youths -- until conflict turned them into battle-hardened fighters. The danger is that, having resorted to violence, the revolution might continue as it started.


Already Misrata’s command has refused to submit to Belhadj’s writ. And after five months of de facto independence, Berbers in the Nafusa Mountains are standing up their own force and cultural symbols. Unlike the Misratans, most of the Berber irregulars who swept into Tripoli quickly went home, but only after replenishing their arsenals with loot from the arms depots. “If we don’t keep some men and guns for ourselves, we wouldn’t be able to fend off a counterattack,” explained Nadir Muqadama, the town’s military spokesman.]

Sep 7, 2011


It was reported that the trigger found by the US teams several weeks/months after the explosion was of the type favoured in Libyan- not Palestinian-made bombs, thereby ruling out the Abu Nidal/Iranian scenario.

But apparently an honest Swiss arms factory worker, plagued by his conscience, a couple of years back finally lodged a sworn statement that just after the accident he had been approached by the CIA who requested a sample timer (of the Libyan type) to help with their investigations, which he duly supplied. It was this very timer, recognisable to him in the court photos, that was then 'discovered' on the accident scene.

Had the Scottish judiciary re-opened the case, this testimony was the 'smoking gun' that would have reversed the conviction - and into the bargain humiliated the Scottish justice system for their ineptitude and possible complicity in the original trial. Hence the essential pre-condition for letting fall-guy Megrahi out was that he dropped his appeal - an act misconstrued by the media as further proof of his 'guilt'. Allegedly.

Sep 1, 2011


The person invariably referred to as the Lockerbie bomber in all reports of the tightly controlled US media is certainly entirely innocent of that particular attack.

What happened is as follows:

An American warship, the USS Vincennes, brought down an Iranian civil airliner killing all of the hundreds of passengers aboard. Far from any criticism, the crew were awarded US Congressional medals of honor for their efforts.

The Persians have never been noted for their forgiving nature, and usually take the view that a bloody nose for an attacker discourages repetition, and put out a contract for a tit for tat. The contract was taken up by Abu Nidal, one of many shadowy Palestinian groups, and successfully carried out.

When the US airliner came down over Lockerbie in Scotland, US teams flew in immediately and isolated the entire area. They came up with a small electronic part, said to be the trigger of the explosion that brought down the plane, but the shady past of leaders of the effort forces some skepticism.

In the court case that followed the only witness against Megrahi, a Maltese shopkeeper, was unable to identify Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi, who was sitting in the court, as the man who bought stuff from him in his shop in Malta.

The Maltese shopkeeper, the only evidence against Megrahi, was paid many millions of US dollars for his testimony.

If the proposed re-examination of the case against Megrahi had gone ahead, there seems no doubt that the case against him would have fallen apart.

Megrahi’s exact physical state, whether he is at death’s door or in good health, is irrelevant.