Google+ Studio 25: September 2012


Reuters: Libyan Islamist militia swept out of Benghazi bases | Reuters

It takes courage to stand up for something. It takes even more courage to do it when when you stand up against a group known for its violence, with a fundamentalist understanding of religion and politics, that has the tools, financing and support to enforce its views by way of murder, terror and intimidation. It is one of the first signs of real freedom we actually see. We know that the revolution against Gaddafi was confiscated by fundamentalists, for they had the weapons; no ordinary citizen (without a political agenda) would carry a weapon as they have no use for it. We know that control is exercised through militias (no need to inform you about their allegiance), and those groups influence politics (even if it is not the voice of majority) in a game of veiled blackmail for "security".

It is a sign for the government that they need to rush expansion of its own security services, to minimize its reliance on these (at best) militias, if they want a stable, functioning state as soon as possible. And a stable functioning state exists when law and order is enforced by the general rule of law, not of divided, subject to interpretations, corruption and ones interes, ad-hoc decree.

Full article:

An Islamist militia was driven out of the city of Benghazi early on Saturday in a surge of anger against the armed groups that control large parts of Libya more than a year after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

"A spokesman for Ansar al-Sharia, which some U.S. and Libya officials blame for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last week in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed, said it had evacuated its bases "to preserve security in the city".
In a dramatic sign of Libya's fragility, after sweeping through Ansar's bases the crowd went on to attack a pro-government militia, believing them to be Islamists, triggering an armed response in which at least 11 people were killed and more than 60 wounded. The invasion of Ansar al-Sharia's compounds, which met little resistance, appeared to be part of a sweep of militia bases by police, troops and activists following a large demonstration against militia units in Benghazi on Friday. Demonstrators pulled down militia flags and set a vehicle on fire inside what was once the base of Gaddafi's security forces. Hundreds of men waving swords and even a meat cleaver chanted "Libya, Libya", "No more al Qaeda!" and "The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!"

"After what happened at the American consulate, the people of Benghazi had enough of the extremists," demonstrator Hassan Ahmed said. "They did not give allegiance to the army. So the people broke in and they fled.
"This place is like the Bastille. This is where Gaddafi controlled Libya from, and then Ansar al-Sharia took it over. This is a turning point for the people of Benghazi."
Adusalam al-Tarhouni, a government worker who arrived with the first wave of protesters, said several pickup trucks with Ansar fighters had initially confronted the protesters and opened fire. Two protesters were shot in the leg, he said. "After that they got into their trucks and drove away," he said. Protesters had freed four prisoners found inside.

Libya's government had promised Washington it would find the perpetrators of what appeared to be a well planned attack on the U.S. consulate, which coincided with protests against an anti-Islam video and the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The attack and the outrage directed at the United States over the video across the Muslim world raised questions about President Barack Obama's handling of the so-called Arab Spring. Although Ansar al-Sharia denies any role in the consulate attack, the latest events in the cradle of Libya's revolution appeared at least in part to vindicate Obama's faith in Libya's nascent democracy.

"The killing of the ambassador, and a preceding set of serious security incidents, are a wake-up call to the new government to actually start to improve security," said Oliver Miles, former British ambassador to Libya. "And now they've got backing from the street in Benghazi to do just that."
Libyan political scientist Ahmad al-Atrash told Reuters: "People in Benghazi and all over Libya want to get these militias under control ... The overwhelming feeling is against any element that keeps the situation unstable." The second half of Friday night's protest proved his point.
Continuing to chant anti-Ansar slogans, the crowd, swelling into the thousands, moved on to attack a separate compound where the powerful pro-government Rafallah al-Sahati militia, safeguarding a big weapons store, opened fire on the assailants. As looters later tried to leave the scene, vigilantes wielding clubs and machetes tried to prevent them driving off with heavy weapons. Officials at three hospitals told a Reuters correspondent they had a total of five dead and more than 60 wounded from the night's violence. Police found six more dead bodies near the compound on Saturday morning, police officer Ahmed Ali Agouri said. "We came as peaceful protesters. When we got there they started shooting at us," student Sanad al-Barani said. "Five people were wounded beside me. They used 14.5 mm machineguns." Nasser Abdelhaaq, a Rafallah al-Sahati commander, said the brigade had returned to their compound on Saturday morning. He suggested that the crowd had been deliberately manipulated to turn on Rafallah al-Sahati, an officially approved militia that also has Islamist leanings. "Twenty-five percent of those who came were there as saboteurs," he said. "Some of them, we know who they are, they were working with Gaddafi's security brigades." While the compound was being looted, the government texted Benghazi mobile phones asking citizens to go home and "not allow saboteurs to destroy your noble and successful demonstration".

Libya's new rulers know that, while militias pose the biggest threat to their authority, the state's weak security forces rely on former rebel units, armed with heavy weapons, that fought in the uprising. Like the rest of Libya, Benghazi is still prowled by dozens of armed groups operating openly, usually with the official permission of a government that is powerless to stop them.
Ansar al-Sharia's overt Benghazi presence was never huge. But it was one of the few groups operating openly without official licence. Its leaders proclaim democratic government to be incompatible with Islam, and the presence on the streets of pickup trucks bearing their Kalashnikov logo was an affront to the government's authority. Ansar al-Sharia and other Islamist militias have bases elsewhere in eastern Libya, notably around the coastal city of Derna, known across the region as a major recruitment centre for fighters who joined the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

The attack on the U.S. consulate seems to have provided a strong impetus for local authorities to rally support behind the weak national government. Thousands of Libyans marched in Friday's "Rescue Benghazi Day" in support of democracy and against Islamist militias. "It's obvious that this protest is against the militias. All of them should join the army or security forces as individuals, not as groups," student Ahmed Sanallah said. "Without that, there will be no prosperity and no success for the new Libya."
U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was well liked, and many Libyans condemned the attack on the consulate despite being angered by the anti-Islamic U.S.-made film that triggered it. Some protesters' placards read: "We demand justice for Stevens" and "Libya lost a friend". Others had mixed views. "I am out today to defend Benghazi. Killing the ambassador is a completely separate thing," said 26-year-old Amjad Mohammed Hassan, a network engineer. "I don't give a damn about the killing of the ambassador because the Americans offended the Prophet. I am just here for Benghazi."

(Additional reporting by Omar al-Mosmary, Mohammed Al-Tommy; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Kevin Liffey)"


To Kill or Not to Kill?... (the Video)

Or, learning how to bow before fundamentalism Islam.

    "Sam Bacile" is famous over night. His clip on YouTube is a big hit. I saw it, and it is plain rubbish, artistically speaking. But that doesn't matter, when it is about Islam and its Prophet it is like dropping salt on a wound and the muslim world goes crazy. we should have gotten used with this by now, nothing offends them more then a bit of a mockery. Not the hideous crimes produced in the name of islam, not the injustice it spreads, but a cartoon, a movie or a declaration. Is there a word to express this out of scale hypocrisy? If not, we can call it islamic.

    Some say, it is a calculated attempt to inflame, by an Israeli agency, some say it is the product of a deluded mind, while I say it doesn't even matter who and why made the movie. It's a bad movie, no one would ever see it outside this particular inflamed situation, or give it any particular attention. It's so bad that it feels like kids trying their hand at theater for the first time, at the first rehearsal, in kindergarten. But nobody has the right to call for murder over this, NOBODY!  And one person thought to be involved is investigated, for issues unrelated to the content of the clip (investigating him for bad taste?!... or, maybe a little intimidation?). And this is done not by Syrian authorities, but by American. We claim to be living in a free world, we claim to have free speech, we claim to be the very tip of civilization, and this should not happen, it is an right that defines (or should define) our society. Moreover, freedom of speech gives fundamentalist the freedom to call for murder (a criminal act itself), the very right they want to suppress.We cannot evolve with a fist deep in our mouths.

It gets even more ridiculous.
    Not long ago, one title in the news drew my attention about a possible "help" to Egypt worth around 700 millions euros could come from European Union. Even with the situations developing in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy, Europe has money to spare. Aren't we in a deep crisis? Let's even assume that we can call it a strategic move and Egypt needs the help. But don't we know enough already about the Muslim Brotherhood? Is Europe ready to trust such entity?
How about the United States, Egypt and Libya? Egypt is a lost cause, and America knows it... in Libya, just recently, support was given to groups that now will probably become a new enemy. One ambassador is already down, victim of the first open engagement. Chris Stevens is only the first open, high ranking victim, but he is not the first, nor the last.. Will that chain of victims of fundamentalism ever end?

    Will we ever have reasonable people on that side of the religious wall? Will they be able to stir extremism within the boundaries of reason, universal morality and real desire for peace and understanding? Will we be able to make really bad movies and not get killed? I am laughing while tears fall down my cheeks...


In the Name of Charity

We all heard about refugee camps, we all know they exist, we all know how people live there, or how people die there. We all have been approached by  charitable organisations at some point in our life, trying to impress us with what they want to do for our human fellow. In fact, on brief visit to a European city (name is not important), I was approached too, but I declined. Not because I am bad person or that I don't care, it is just because i don't trust those organisations nor their means. The cause of this mistrust? The Holiest of them all in the past century: mother Teresa! Asking for big bucks to build a house of dying, not just dying, but dying an absurd way that brings salvation.

I do not believe in just feeding and treating. Call me narrow minded, but I believe it is just a waste of resources, it is just a "problem not solved" continuously growing burden on everyone's shoulders. It is just an extension of the suffering of those in need. One case of smiling, fed and vaccinated child is just not enough; a week later he may become a victim of the system, war or religious quarrels he was trying to escape. It looks god on the camera when he receives a loaf of bread, and the kid smiles thinking he has enough for three days, its fantastic when he gets medical treatment, but almost nothing is made to fix things that brought him in that situation, and here is where I think a different attitude is necessary. That leaves out natural disasters, in those cases the best humanity can do is to offer temporary relief and support.

Now, you will call me a war-monger (some might say a "republican"), but democracy can be enforced (even to the middle east), it just takes patience and commitment, and a proper "World Police Organization". You might say we have one: UN. OK, but I don't see them in Syria, they were not very effective in former Yugoslavia, not very effective in Palestine, not very effective in Darfur... and all three of them huge humanitarian disasters. I even dare to ask a question: how would Syria look like today if it was governed by the before mentioned "World Police Organization"?  Disarmed rebels, disarmed army... the only way forward would have been for them to find common ground and move forward, once the armed struggle is eliminated. And all this while cities would still be habitable, and the victims numbers much lower. But we are afraid we will not get the vote next round of elections; we know that many times decisive action is the best answer, but we chose to stay put and pay the charity bill.