An extraordinary day of revolution in Libya yesterday


9:23 am - September 22nd 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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While thousands of people marched against the USA in Pakistan yesterday, more extraordinary events were unfolding away from the media’s gaze in Libya.

Some 30,000 Libyans marched in the city of Benghazi to protest against the extremist militias that are starting to terrorise ordinary people.

The march was a backlash to the attack on the US Embassy ten days ago, and Libyans carried signs saying: “The ambassador was Libya’s friend” and “Libya lost a friend.”

As the day wore on – hundreds of protesters stormed the compound of one of Libya’s strongest armed Islamic extremist groups Friday – Ansar al-Shariah – and evicted the militiamen and set fire to their building.

That takes a lot of courage.

One university student told AP: “I don’t want to see armed men wearing Afghani-style clothes stopping me in the street to give me orders, I only want to see people in [police and army] uniform.”

Ansar al-Shariah are suspected to have led the Sept. 11 attack on the US Benghazi Embassy.

Armed men from the militia first fired in the air to disperse the crowd but eventually withdrew.

Protestors chanted: “You terrorists, you cowards. Go back to Afghanistan.”

Others shouted: “No more al Qaeda!” and “The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!”

No doubt the attack on the US consulate sparked this backlash. The fall of Gaddafi, and the US role within that, is popular in Benghazi.

From Twitter I got the impression many Libyans think their Arab Spring is unfinished, and want a proper functioning state and democracy over the rule of militias.

Yesterday’s extraordinary march wasn’t primarily in support of the US – it was primarily in support of democracy and proper rule of law.

It was also likely the first time in the last decade a large group of Muslims have physically invaded and destroyed a militia camp of religious extremists.

More
Reuters: Libyan Islamist militia swept out of Benghazi bases
Tripoli Post: Four Protesters Killed, 20 Wounded in Benghazi in Demonstrations Against Armed Groups
BBC: Libya: Islamist militia bases stormed in Benghazi

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. So Much For Subtlety

From Twitter I got the impression many Libyans think their Arab Spring is unfinished, and want a proper functioning state and democracy over the rule of militias.

Not just a functioning state. But not an Islamic state. That seems obvious. It looks like the Bush doctrine at work – the Libyan people may be Muslims and Arabs, but they still want democracy and human rights, just like everyone else.

Yesterday’s extraordinary march wasn’t primarily in support of the US – it was primarily in support of democracy and proper rule of law.

Sunny says these people want the Western concepts of democracy and the rule of law. He also says:

The march was a backlash to the attack on the US Embassy ten days ago, and Libyans carried signs saying: “The ambassador was Libya’s friend” and “Libya lost a friend.”

And yet he claims this was not primarily in support of the US? Interesting.

No doubt the Guardian will be weeping.

Excellent. The routing of the Islamist cells and militias from Benghazi is a model for the whole Arab Spring. Clearly the lessons of Iran have not be completely lost. But the Islamist counter-revolution will be back if the Arab Spring isn’t as extreme in the cause of democracy as the Islamists and Arab tyrants are in pursuit of their causes. That means the complete smashing of the semi-colonial states that through self-serving, brutal, tyrants, whetever the rhetoric they spout, allow various imperialisms to rape the lands and people of the Arab world.

Today the Islamists and the tyrants, tomorrow Zionism and finally imperialism itself. Long live the Arab Spring.

This is wonderful news, the risk of a religious conservative counter-revolution has hopefully been reduced.

I agree with Sunny’s analysis.

What most people in Libya want is to be a normal state with functioning law enforcement. The continuation of militias long after the end of the war is something that needs to end.

I think it’s entirely possible that by the end of the cdacade libyans will have build a functioning, free, and good society. Let’s hope so.

If you are now cheering on the “ordinary people” against the Islamists in Benghazi, then note that you are now cheering on Gaddafi loyalists.

Or, as they might otherwise be termed, Blair loyalists, since that Brother Leader was so close to the other Brother Leader that he arranged the rendition to Libya’s torture chambers of the people whom we have since installed as the Libyan Government.

We should have stayed the hell out of Libya. Just as we should stay the hell out of Syria.

So Much For Subtlety: Not just a functioning state. But not an Islamic state. That seems obvious.

Once a troll always a troll. They drove out religious militias, and your conclusion is its “obvious” they want them to rule? Can’t remember the last time you added anything intelligent as a comment.

@ David Lindsay

“If you are now cheering on the “ordinary people” against the Islamists in Benghazi, then note that you are now cheering on Gaddafi loyalists.”

Where do they make idiots like David Lindsay/ Answer me this, Socialist Nationalist Boy:

1. Why do you presume that there are only two sides in Libya – Gadaffi loyalists and Islamists.

2. Why on earth do you presume that in Benghazi, of all places, there would be many Gadaffi loyalists, let alone thousands of them willing to go out and protest unarmed?

Benghazi is the city which Gadaffi’s forces shelled and which he pledged to reduce to ruins. It was the centre of the anti-Gadaffi insurrection.

These are ordinary people who are anti-Gadaffi AND anti-Islamist. And your ‘thinking’ is so limited and so entrenched, that you can’t understand that such people could possibly exist, and you hate the fact that they do. You detest democracy of any kind and are little more than a creepy authoritarian. As a result you have to tell plainly ludicrous falsehoods about the reasons given by the people themselves:

Here:

Others shouted: “No more al Qaeda!” and “The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!”

i.e. these are people people who fought Gadaffi AND are opposed to the Islamists. Other people can get that, but it’s too complex for you to follow, isn’t it? You are so wilfully deaf that you assume you know their minds better than they do.

Please note that C+P ing one of your own posts from your tumbleweed personal blog doesn’t amount to a counter-argument.

1. Why do you presume that there are only two sides in Libya – Gadaffi loyalists and Islamists.

Because there are. If you are looking for members of Progress, then you will look in vain, and you have obviously learned nothing from the mass-homicidal naïveté of the last 10 years.

Although, as I said, their hero and yours was always a big mate of Gadaffi’s. As was his understudy, the Heir to Blair, until weeks before he decided to install instead the people who provided the single largest bloc of jihadi fighters in Iraq.

That answers your second question as well: manifestly, there are. Whisper it gently, but the likes of you never understood the first thing about any of the countries that you devastated, and you still understand nothing about either about them or about the next ones on your hit list.

As for my blog, that’s not what they say to me in their emails from, among other places, the Middle East…

You are sheering the use of force to drive away those u suppose Islamist militia. I wonder how long that will last and next day to label them terrorist. if we are alive we will see bias comment as in Mideast there are many specialists after one trip in that zone.

10. So Much For Subtlety

6. Sunny Hundal

So Much For Subtlety: Not just a functioning state. But not an Islamic state. That seems obvious.

Once a troll always a troll. They drove out religious militias, and your conclusion is its “obvious” they want them to rule? Can’t remember the last time you added anything intelligent as a comment.

How did you reach that conclusion? There is a “not” before “an Islamic state”. They do not want an Islamic state. That is obvious. So it is not just that they want a functioning state, they also want that functioning state to be on the Western model and not Islamic.

This is positive news.

Way to go Libians. That took a lot of courage. God bless you and keep up the good fight for what is right. 🙂

“‘1. Why do you presume that there are only two sides in Libya – Gadaffi loyalists and Islamists.’

Because there are.”

A brilliantly persuasive and convincing riposte.

Or rather, a pathetic effort.

I’m inclined to think the jihadists took this clip from The Life of Brian rather too seriously:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS-0Az7dgRY

Life follows art.

Generally best to engage comprehension skills before knee jerk responses to comments, Sunny.

We should have stayed the hell out of Libya. Just as we should stay the hell out of Syria.

Amen.

Interesting editorial in the Guardian:

‘On Saturday tens of thousands of Libyans demonstrated in a rally in Benghazi against the Islamist militias which they blamed for the attack on the US consulate last week. Eleven people died in the fighting that ensued and for a while it was assumed by some that a corner had been turned, as several groups abandoned their bases. Ansar al-Shariah and the Abu Salim brigade disbanded and left their bases in Derna, east of Benghazi. Libya’s prime minister-elect Mustafa Abushagur said that eight Libyans had been arrested in connection with the death of US ambassador Chris Stevens. The president of the new parliament and de facto head of state, Muhammad Magariaf, issued a deadline by which all unauthorised militia would be shut down: midnight on Monday.

‘It did not take long before reality dawned. On Monday other Islamist militias, notably the Rafallah al-Sahati, claiming to operate under Tripoli’s authority, began a round up of the Benghazi protesters whom they accused of instigating violence. Among those detained were 30 military officers. Many of these militias played a key role in the uprising which destroyed Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. The glue that held them together, the common cause of liberating Libya from a family-run tyranny, is now gone and it is left to thousands of volunteer mediators – also armed – to keep the peace between them.

‘The death of Stevens has revealed the fault lines of this process. For while Libya has successfully navigated elections in July and the selection of a compromise candidate as prime minster, it is still far from approaching a functioning state. Security is a local franchise held by firmly established militias. The national army and police force are weak in comparison – as we are witnessing in Benghazi. Which leaves the government in Tripoli struggling to control the state both politically and geographically.

‘Eastern Libya, which accounts for 80% of the oil production, is not just home to long-established Islamist groups, among them militant Salafis and Takfiris, which sent fighters off to Iraq and Afghanistan. It has long been an advocate of federalism and local autonomy. The selection of Magariaf as head of parliament, a man who hails from Ajdabiya in the east, was intended as a signal of provincial inclusion. All these pressures could bubble to the surface again if civil unrest continues in Benghazi.

‘The US is still trying to recover from the blow of the sacking of its consulate, which had many more US nationals than it claimed on its books, or was necessary for its operation. A whole CIA operation was based in the lightly guarded embassy annex which came under attack. It is another reminder that giving military backing to an uprising provides no insurance policy for what follows.’


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Huma

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  2. Catherine Fieschi

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  3. sunny hundal

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  4. ????????? Jana Mills

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  8. Daniel Murphy

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  15. S-D

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  33. Islamophobic film and Christian fundamentalists | Dear Kitty. Some blog

    […] Sunny Hundal: Some 30,000 Libyans marched in the city of Benghazi to protest against the extremist militias that […]

  34. Alastair Bennett

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  35. Alastair Bennett

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  38. Viridis Lumen

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  39. Viridis Lumen

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  47. Eng Atef hilmy

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  48. sunny hundal

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  49. Welsh Agenda

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  50. Welsh Agenda

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  51. Jon Sparks

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  52. Patrick Denny

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  54. Libya « mintcemetery

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  57. Demos, and the battle for Democracy. « The FuturityTimes

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  61. San Diego CoR

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