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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Donald Trump fusses with long time supporter ABC over Roseanne Barr

Early this morning @realDonaldTrump tweeted out this in response to the ABC cancelling of "Roseanne," after Roseanne Barr tweeted that Valerie Jarrett, an African American and former Obama adviser, was like the child of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes, although she didn't give "Muslim" its deserved capital "M." She was saying that Valerie Jarrett wasn't a human being, in racist Donald Trump parlance, she was calling her an "animal." So naturally, Trump had to tweet to her defense:

This Roseanne Barr fracas has nothing to do with Donald Trump, and still he has to try to put himself at the center of it, but he shows a lot of gall by complaining of bad treatment from ABC. Over 2 years ago, well before he had even won the Republican nomination, I wrote about how the capitalist media, and ABC News in particular, was not only weighting their coverage in favor of a Trump presidency; in the best Trump tradition, they were telling outright lies to help him win. That post had the title: Bourgeois media resorting to sleight-of-hand to put Trump in the White House, 21 December 2015. It is a reminder of how far we have come that he can even make his claims of unfair media treatment these days. I began by warning:
There have already been many media surveys that have shown that the most racist US presidential candidate of the 21st century, Donald Trump, has received an overwhelming coverage advantage from the bourgeois media. Now we are starting to see a willingness to play fast and loose with the facts and even use sleight-of-hand to favor Trump that goes beyond Fox News. In the Democratic debate on Saturday, Hillary Clinton made the statement that:
"We also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don't fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."
People knowledgeable about the subject matter will conclude this statement is true based on logical deduction: Are there videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims? Check! Could these videos be useful recruiting tools for ISIS? Check! Is ISIS a media savvy organization that uses videos from western media for recruitment? Check!
Then, after critiquing a misleading PolitiFact article, No evidence for Hillary Clinton's claim that ISIS is using videos of Donald Trump as recruiting tool, I torn into the ABC News coverage:
This is bad enough, but ABC News has taken it one step further by employing a bit of sleight-of-hand in their manipulation of this story. I first heard about this controversy on ABC's Good Morning America show this morning. Their coverage of this controversy led with Trump's demand for an apology, has a video clip of Clinton at the debate saying "They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists." [0:40 in this video] Then the ABC narrator says "Clinton's campaign unable to prove such a video exists." This is how and when the sleight-of-hand shift is made. Clinton made the claim that videos of Trump had been used by ISIS, she didn't say they had used them in one of their videos. This is an elaboration that ABC has added so they can demand that Clinton produce this video which she never claimed existed. You can see how they do the same thing in this posting on their website:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made up her claim that ISIS uses videos of him to recruit new members, said Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"Knowing the Clintons and knowing Hillary, she made it up," Trump said today on ABC's "This Week." During Saturday's Democratic debate, Clinton said ISIS is "going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”
Trump said many fact checkers have "vetted" the claim of Trump being used in ISIS videos and have proven it to be false.
ABC News has adopted Trump's distortion of Clinton's statement and you can't get more mainstream media than ABC News. Even if Trump's or ABC News' "fact checkers" have a complete inventory of the latest ISIS videos, which I doubt, not finding Donald Trump in them doesn't mean his anti-Muslim statements aren't being used by Daesh to argue their case. Every thinking person knows this already, but ABC News, in its rush to ride roughshod over the facts in support of Trump, has distorted a rather banal statement of fact by Hillary Clinton into a demand that she produce a video that she never claimed existed.

If this is an example of the presidential election year that is coming, we have a big problem. As ridiculous as it seems, it looks like a rather large section of the US bourgeois wants Donald Trump to be our next president.
On a related matter, I am so sick of hearing leftists that failed to fight Trump in 2016 say that "nobody thought he could win." Maybe, nobody on the white-Left thought that, just as they didn't think Donald Trump's overt racism didn't make him anymore evil that Hillary Clinton, while his "anti-intervention" opinions made him less evil.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

@DemocracyNow on the Libyan Model: Who killed Gaddafi?

Much of the Left has a great deal of unity with alt-right warmongers in their understanding of recent Libyan history. As you know, Donald Trump and other prominent members of his administration have been threatening North Korea with something they call the “Libyan model.” This is a view of Libyan history that leaves the Libyans out of it. It ignores their suffering under the 42 years of Gaddafi's dictatorship, including the hundred of thousands of Libyans, and other Africans, he murdered. It ignores their equally long fight against his brutal regime, and it especially ignores the heroic struggle by the Libyan thuwar [freedom fighters] that began in January 2011, and after the cost of thousands of Libyan lives by October 2011, finally put that regime out of their misery.

After a bit of hesitation, and a UN authorization that even Russia voted for, not to mention the need of certain French refineries for Libya's irreplaceable light-sweet crude on the heels of a European economic crisis, NATO intervened in the civil war. This “Libyan model” uses the fact that NATO protected the civilian population with a no-fly zone, and gave the revolution air support, to take the Libyan people out of the picture. This “Libyan model” is based on the idea that it was the omnipotent US imperialists that took out Muammar Gaddafi. The story is that they treacherously did this even though he had yielded to their demands, and he gave up his nuclear weapons eight years earlier.

While Trump and company use this “Libyan model” as a threat of what might happen to Kim Jong-un, 3rd Supreme Leader of North Korea, if he doesn't play ball (or even if he does!), the white-Left condemns this use of the “Libyan model,” but they don't dispute its core assumption, which is that the US imperialist made a decision to conduct a “regime change” operation in Libya, and then they just made it happen. The whole history of the uprising; its connection to the Arab Spring; the unarmed protesters that braved Gaddafi regime bullets; the patriotic soldiers that defected to the revolution rather than fire on their own people; Gaddafi's merciless siege Misrata; are all washed away in this unified American version of what went down in Libya in 2011.

“Anti-imperialist” support for this vision of US imperialist omnipotence, as embodied in Trump's definition of the “Libyan model,” was on full display on Democracy Now, Friday, 25 May 2018. Amy Goodman first touched upon it in the headlines:
AMY GOODMAN: Trump’s withdrawal came after North Korea blasted recent comments by Vice President Mike Pence, who suggested Kim Jong-un will end up like slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi if he doesn’t denuclearize North Korea.
She went into greater detail later in the show with investigative journalist Tim Shorrock:
AMY GOODMAN: NBC reports Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has privately blamed National Security Adviser John Bolton for torpedoing the talks. North Korea first threatened to pull out of the talks after Bolton said the U.S. should use the Libyan model for denuclearization. In 2003, Libya negotiated sanctions relief from the United States in exchange for renouncing its nuclear program and welcoming international inspectors to verify the dismantlement. Eight years later, the U.S. and other nations attacked Libya, toppling and killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Vice President Mike Pence and President Trump have also talked about the Libyan model in recent weeks.
That's the white supremacist short story on the revolutionary struggle to end a 42-year fascist dictatorship, and the 30,000 Libyan lives that were lost in that struggle. U.S. and other nations attacked Libya and killed Gaddafi. End of story. Finis. She continues:
AMY GOODMAN: Last week—last week, President Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could suffer the same fate as former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, if he refuses to give up his nuclear weapons:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him. Now, that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy.
It should be noted that Amy Goodman cut short the Trump quote before he made it clear that he was offering US imperial protection to yet another dictator [i.e. “leader” in DN parlance.] as long as he plays ball. The Guardian continued its coverage to include this clarification from Trump:
“This with Kim Jong-un would be something where he would be there. He would be running his country. His country would be very rich.”
“We’re willing to do a lot, and he’s willing … to do a lot also, and I think we’ll actually have a good relationship, assuming we have the meeting and assuming something comes of it. And he’ll get protections that will be very strong.”
Democracy Now would just as soon as not have to question this side of the deal. Trump is interested in control, not democracy, so he is willing to offer the Kim dynasty “protections” provided they “have a good relationship.” Gone is even the suggestion that the dictator step down and allow for free elections. No threat of “regime change” here, so long as he plays ball. DN should be pleased; they like some dictators    like Kim and Gaddafi. One thing they have in common with Trump, Putin, and Kim, is that they can't afford to actually admit that it was the Libyan people that took Gaddafi out, and it is the Korean people that pose the greatest threat to the Kim dynasty, the Russian people to Putin, and so on. Instead, she side-steps that issue and continues her objections to the use of the Libyan model as a threat. Then she introduces Tim Shorrock. Amy Goodman likes to bring subject matter experts onto the show:
AMY GOODMAN: So, Tim Shorrock, the issue of Mike Pence, the vice president, reiterating what John Bolton said about the Libyan model—again, if people remember, after the denuclearization deal, U.S. allies attacked Libya, and Muammar Gaddafi was not only overthrown, he was murdered in the streets of Libya by U.S.-backed rebels.
She wouldn't say “JFK was murdered in the streets of America.” What's up with this language?

On the screen she shows images of the slain Brother Leader. Of all the 30,000 Libyans, on both sides, that died in the civil war, the one most mourned by the white-Left, one might say, the only one mourned by them, is Muammar Gaddafi. Tim Shorrock joins in:
TIM SHORROCK: And, you know, clearly, Bolton understands, when he talks about the Libya solution, there’s two parts to it. You know, Libya gave up its nuclear weapons without making—you know, gave up its nuclear weapons before receiving any kind of economic aid or support. So that was one part of it. And then, of course, after he did give them up, his regime was overthrown by the U.S. and NATO.
Now their Libya myth has been stretched to the point where they are claiming Muammar Gaddafi even gave up nuclear weapons into the bargain. They've been spreading his propaganda for years. To hear them tell it, under Gaddafi, Libya had the best of everything! The best schools, a tremendous healthcare system, free housing and income for all, a great man-made river, even marvelous nuclear weapons! It was all a lie. As I reported just days ago, Gaddafi's “nuclear program” consisted of some unprocessed and unenriched uranium, a handful of centrifuges that they couldn't get to work, and purchased bomb plans they couldn't understand. The only enriching it ever did was accomplished by putting more Libyan oil money into the pockets of Gaddafi-connected contractors. It probably also added to the mercenary violence in Africa, as he sought to illegally import thousands of tons of uranium ore concentrate from neighboring Niger. Now, through the magic of time and corruption, this nothing has miraculously morphed into nuclear weapons! Who knew it could be so easy?

Given the terminal confusion this concept of the “Libyan model” embodies about who is responsible for the death of Libyan “Brother Leader” Muammar Gaddafi, I thought it might be useful to review some known facts surrounding his death. I like having those stubborn things on my side. Facts are a real problem for proponents of the “Libyan model” like John Bolton and Amy Goodman. But before we get to that, since the thesis of Bolton and Goodman is that it was just a US led regime change operation, it would be useful to review some lesser known facts about the Libyan revolt before NATO came in.

The Libyan Revolution before NATO

Neither the US imperialists or “Anti-imperialist” want to remember that there was a time when NATO supported Gaddafi, before it opposed him. That gets in the way of everybody's narrative that what happened to Gaddafi was the result of a US driven “regime change” plot. Allow me to refresh their memories. From my piece NATO's Game Plan in Libya,” 3 July 2011:
NATO countries had little more than words to show for their humanitarian concerns” after Qaddafi killed 700 protesters in Tripoli on February 21, some of them bombed with jet aircraft, and maybe 2000 in Benghazi days before. When President Obama spoke of this on February 23, he condemned the Libyan government, saying “suffering and bloodshed is outrageous, and it is unacceptable,” but he did not call for Qaddafi to step down nor did he announce any new sanctions the US would support to punish the leader that he said “violate international norms and every standard of common decency.”
Qaddafi started using military violence against protest rallies as early as Feb. 20, yet UN/NATO did not act militarily until March 19. They were willing to give Qaddafi almost a month to put down the rebellion with tanks, artillery and aircraft.

As Qaddafi's violent repression was taking thousands of lives in Libya, NATO was taking a wait and see attitude. On February 25, the NATO Secretary General made an official statement“I do not consider the situation in Libya a direct threat to NATO or NATO Allies ...I would like to stress that NATO as such has no plans to intervene. The next day he elaborated NATO's plan to deal with the Libyan crisis, priority must be given to evacuation and possibly, also, humanitarian assistance.”
Here is a little more detail on how those 700 protesters died. It has a new relevance today, now that we are all more aware of the nefarious side of social media: while both Putin and Trump have put it to evil intent, Gaddafi topped them both years ago. On 21 February 2011, a date that will forever be remembered as Tripoli's “Long Night,” Gaddafi first used tweets to convince people that he had fled to Venezuela; then he used fake-activist accounts to call for a “celebration rally” in Green Square. The real activists in Tripoli, like the Free Generation Movement, tried to get the word out that it was a trap. Still, hundreds showed up. Then Gaddafi brought out the machine guns and worst, and slaughtered them. He killed 700 that night, mostly young people.

In this 29 June 2011, Al Jazeera video we hear from an eyewitness to this massacre. He also tells us of some measures NATO took to minimize civilian casualties. After the first few air strikes, the people of Tripoli saw how precise they were, and learned to stop worrying and love the bombing. They knew only Gaddafi's compounds were being targeted, so all over Tripoli, people could be heard cheering from the rooftops as NATO hit those targets.

An orderly in the hospital that night was interviewed by the BBC’s Pascale Harter in Tunisia, 17 June 2011, about what happened:
Many young people went to protest in Green Square that day, and I believe almost no-one came back alive that night.

Between 600 and 700 people were killed. I know this because I carried the bodies into my hospital.

Each ambulance brought three or four dead people. And the ambulances just kept coming and going, like delivery vans dropping off goods.
I think Col Gaddafi’s forces were using anti-aircraft guns on people.

The people had gunshot wounds to their heads or chests. The bullets had exploded and some of the people had their heads blown open. I tried to pick up the pieces.
This history is conveniently forgotten by believers in the “Libyan model” on both sides because that white chauvinist position holds that it was the autonomous decision of the US imperialists to take Gaddafi out even though he gave up his imaginary nuclear weapons eight years earlier.

While NATO air support stopped Gaddafi from using his air force and heavy armor against both the people and their freedom fighters, mostly; it didn't stop him from using his artillery or superior firepower on the ground. The National Transitional Council [NTC] very wisely forbid NATO ground troops, something NATO always strove for, but never achieved; the fighting on the ground was done by Libyans. Some thuwar had come over from the army and had some military training, most were citizen-soldiers, activists that formed themselves into brigades and found weapons, after Gaddafi made it clear a peaceful transition was off the table. Unlike Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, there were never US boots on the ground in Libya. So while the NATO air cover prevented Gaddafi from doing to Libya what Assad has been allowed to do to Syria, it was still a hard slogging eight months of fighting by the revolutionary brigades before Gaddafi was finally run to ground in his last stronghold of Sirte.

The Death of Muammar Gaddafi

A National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter points a gun at Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi in Sirte in this still image taken from video shot on October 20, 2011 and released on October 22, 2011. REUTERS/Reuters TV/Files
Muammar Gaddafi, was captured and killed on 20 October 2011. He was found hiding in a culvert west of Sirte and captured by NTC forces. He was dead shortly afterwards. This is how it happened.

Gaddafi and his mob had been hunkered down in a makeshift bunker for ten days as the seige of Sirte closed in on them. On that day, they made a desperate break for it in a 100 vehicle convoy that included Gaddafi and his closest cohorts in five cars at its heart. As the convoy left Sirte, it split up, but a large contingent stayed with Gaddafi.

In a Trump-like move, Gaddafi ignored the advice of his security people, and used his satellite phone. He did this knowing that when they had earlier fled from Tripoli to Sirte, his son, Mo’tassim, had traveled separately because he was still using his satellite phone to command what was left of their collapsing military effort. He suspected it could be tracked, and didn't want to endanger his father.

Once Gaddafi's voice was recognized by a NATO electronic warfare aircraft, most likely a French C160 Gabriel, it was “Game On!” The focus shifted to that contingent, and a pair of RAF Tornado GR4s aerial surveillance jets started tracking him. NATO command notified the NTC, which already had forces on the ground looking for Gaddafi, and hit the convoy with either $800,000 AASM smart munitions or 500lb Paveway smart bombs from a French Rafales jet, and Hellfire missiles from a US drone piloted from Las Vegas.

NATO used smart ordinances overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, in Libya. This kept civilian loses, and infrastructure damage lower than your average war. This limitation was used by the “anti-imperialists” for a propaganda advantage. There were times went NATO would announce a pause in airstrikes, citing a shortage of smart munitions as the reason. Without ever mentioning the smart bomb limitation, the “anti-imperialists” would say that showed NATO was dropping so many bombs on Libya that they were running out of bombs!

It's very likely that even with that limitation, this excuse for these pauses was a lie. Close observers noticed how they always seemed to coincide with NATO attempts to wrangle concessions from the NTC on one question or another. The “anti-imperialist” protests actually supported NATO's public relations efforts to look like they were trying as hard as they could, when they were actually holding back.

Anyway, remember those airstrikes on Gaddafi's column? Those airstrikes left 15 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns burnt out, smashed and smouldering next to an electricity substation 20 yards from the main road, about two miles west of Sirte. See below:

The picture above is from the Daily Mail on the day after Gaddafi was killed. It clearly shows how Gaddafi's escape convoy was devastated by NATO air strikes. It is easy to see the violence of NATO's assault on Libya in this picture, but it also shows something else, it shows the extremely unusual delicacy and precision with which NATO carried out its war against Gaddafi, not Libya. While that is also clearly shown in this picture, it is easy to miss, if it's not pointed out.

Notice the high voltage towers and electrical transmission facility in the background? What's unusual about that picture? This is near the very end of the war, in fact one of NATO's last strike missions. This is also an electrical substation outside of Sirte, which the NTC, with NATO air support, has had under siege for months. Clearly that power substation would be an easy target, easier than a moving convoy, and yet there it stands, apparently unscathed. That is because in its air campaign over Libya, unlike the way the US made war in Iraq, Afghanistan and just about everywhere else, NATO took serious pains to avoid damaging the infrastructure. The NTC had other ways to turn the lights out in Sirte during the siege. As a result, while Libya had many problems after the war ended, replacing a bomb-damaged electrical grid wasn't one of them. Bashar al-Assad didn't even take such care in bombing his own cities. That is why where some see in this picture the results of a vicious NATO air attack on “Brother Leader,” I see airwar done right.

This may be because it was the European allies that carried out the overwhelming majority of the strike missions, and they used a care and precision that is foreign to the US Air Force. The US carried out less than 17% of the NATO strike sorties over Libya, less than half as many as France, and the US actual “dropped ordinances” in less than 17% of those “strike sorties.” ; no doubt Libya is better off for that. I guess they didn't like only using expensive bombs, but that doesn't stop the joint US imperialist/anti-imperialist project from complaining that the US is responsible for these bad things that happened to Libya.
After the airstrike, which destroyed the vehicle in front of Muammar Gaddafi's car, he and his son Mo’tassim, and defense minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, took shelter in a nearby house, which was then shelled by NTC forces.

Mo’tassim then took 20 fighters and went to look for undamaged cars, having persuaded his father to come too. “The group belly-crawled to a sand berm,” a UN report, released in March 2012 said, and then through two drainage pipes and set up a defensive position. One of Gaddafi's guards threw a grenade at advancing thuwar on the road above, but it bounced off the concrete wall above the pipes and fell in front of Gaddafi. The guard tried to pick it up, but it exploded, killing both the guard and Yunis Jabr.

Did this bounced grenade cause most of the bloody injuries we see in the pictures of the dead Gaddafi, or was it just beatings by a mob, as we are led to believe? The 2012 UN report says he was wounded by grenade fragmentation, which shredded his flak jacket, and left him on the floor, dazed and in shock, bleeding from a wound in the left temple. Gaddafi next took refuge in a large drainage pipe with several bodyguards. A nearby group of NTC fighters opened fire, wounding Gaddafi with gunshots to his leg and back. According to one unnamed NTC fighter, one of Gaddafi's bodyguards also shot him, apparently to spare him from being captured.

A senior NTC official said that no order was given to execute Gaddafi. According to another NTC source, “they captured him alive and while he was being taken away, they beat him and, then they killed him.” Mahmoud Jibril, leader of the NTC, gave an alternative account, stating that “when the car was moving it was caught in crossfire between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi forces in which he was hit by a bullet in the head.” The UN commission was unable to determine exactly how Gaddafi died, or whether it was an unlawful killing.

If the NATO air strikes had taken out Gaddafi directly, this joint imperialist/anti-imperialist claim that NATO killed Gaddafi would be much easier to make, but they didn't. By all accounts, he was taken out by the thuwar, if he wasn't killed by his own people. This is a real problem for this most basic claim of the “Libyan model. Nowadays this is being dealt with by not even mentioning the role of the thuwar, or when forced to recognize their role they are the “US-backed rebels.” In their thesaurus “backed” is a synonym for “controlled,” meaning the thuwar were agents of US imperialism, so their role can be zeroed out anyway.

Could the NTC have taken out Gaddafi without NATO support? There is no doubt that NATO played an indispensable role in locating and stopping Gaddafi so soon after he abandoned his human shield in Sirte and got out in the open, just as it was indispensable in bringing the whole conflict to this point so quickly. However, it's not clear how long Gaddafi could have evaded capture in any case. It's not even clear where they thought they were going. They were fleeing their last stronghold. They were like the Jefferson Davis train fleeing South at the end of the US Civil War, hoping some foreign country might take them in.

The claim that the US overthrew and killed Gaddafi is really twice chauvinist vanity. It is the Libyan revolutionaries, under the leadership of the NTC, not NATO, that deserves the main credit, or blame, if you are a Gaddafi fan, for these accomplishments. It started and ended with them. NATO just reduced the cost in lives, and accelerated the same outcome that would probably have been reached anyway; unless Gaddafi was able to obtain the type of massive foreign support, including armies, that allowed Assad to turn the tide, kill hundreds of thousands, and hang on for another round.

NATO's role was a secondary one, but no matter how you view NATO's role, it is a big mistake to give the US all the credit (or blame) for it. The US flew a lot of missions because it provided the bulk of the air reconnaissance and refueling, but when it came to strike missions, not so much. The US had “dropped ordinances only 132 times in the first 92 days of flight operations! The US was a laggard in Libya. As compared to most NATO operations, this was a European led show. That is why I say that this united white-Left/alt-Right shorthand for the Libyan revolution, “the U.S. and other nations attacked Libya, toppling and killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is doubly chauvinistic.

I mean, honestly, since it was French warplanes that hit Gaddafi first, as his tanks approached Benghazi on 19 March 2011; a French plane that hit him last, as he was fleeing Sirte on 20 October 2011; French aircraft that air-dropped arms to thuwar stuck in a tight spot, and French planes that flew 33% of the strike sorties, twice as many as US planes, shouldn't Amy Goodman be saying “France and other nations attacked Libya, toppling and killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi,” even if she insists on leaving the Libyans out of it? No! That won't do either. The Libyan Model requires the mythology of US dominance.

There were also a few other features from the Friday Headlines on Democracy Now that relate to these matters, such as this report on Syria:
Government Seizes ISIS-Held Refugee Camp Outside Damascus

In Syria, government forces have recaptured the Yarmouk Camp for Palestinian refugees outside Damascus, after a brutal month-long campaign drove ISIS from the area. The assault reportedly killed scores of civilians and left most of the camp in ruins. With its capture, Syria’s military now controls all the areas around Damascus for the first time in seven years.
ISIS hasn't held the camp for seven years; it hasn't been around that long, so what history are we missing? The Free Syrian Army, and its Palestinian ally Liwa al-Asifa, freed much of it from Assad regime control in 2012. ISIS didn't overrun the camp until April 2015. Here are some screenshots from the DN video report:

As you can see, they recaptured it with indiscriminate artillery and barrel-bomb attacks. Yarmouk was once of the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. The silence of the white-Left, as the Assad regime treated it worse than Israel treats Gaza, did much to reveal the capricious nature of their support for the Palestinian people.

That was the last anti-Assad stronghold in Damascus. After seven years of unrestricted air assault by the Assad regime and its allies, bomb ravaged cityscapes like this are all too common in Syria. These pictures could have just as easily come from Aleppo, East Ghouta, Homs, Idlib, or Hama. This damage represents the triumph of the policy positions championed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. There was no UN sanctioned no-fly zone in Syria, and no countries, not even France, stepped forward to offer a shield to the civilians under the bombs. Code Pink would protest the thought!

That was followed by a report from Libya:
Car Bomb Explodes in Benghazi, Killing Seven and Injuring 20

In Benghazi, Libya, a car bomb exploded outside a hotel on a busy road in the city’s center late Thursday, killing at least seven people and injuring 20 others. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a series of bombings in Libya that followed the 2011 NATO bombing campaign that helped U.S.-backed rebels overthrow and kill Muammar Gaddafi.
Notice how they have adopted the Trump policy of repeating lies so often they start being taken as the truth? Its like they can't even mention Libya without reminding us of “the 2011 NATO bombing campaign that helped U.S.-backed rebels overthrow and kill Muammar Gaddafi.”

Below are a series of screenshots from that report. We can see from the damaged cars and destruction in the street that it was a terrible blast. In addition to seven people killed, 20 were injured. Sadly, it is a sign of these times. This could have happened in any major city in Africa, or in London or Paris, for that matter, and if it had happened in any other city in Africa, its chances of being covered by Democracy Now would have been a lot slimmer, but Democracy Now has a point to make about Libya, about how Libya was destroyed by NATO intervention, and even today is still dealing with the consequence.

Again, if you look at the background, rather than what is given to you in the foreground, these pictures tell a different story. If you look beyond the carnage in the street, you will see that the city of Benghazi is still standing proudly. While it's a little hard to be make out, because it is a night scene, none of the visible buildings appear to be bombed-out or war-damaged. Fortunately these night pictures do show us quite a bit because Benghazi appears to be a city of lights. This indicates that the NATO assault didn't take out the electrical infrastructure, and Gaddafi's air force wasn't allowed to do that either. It also indicates that the electrical grid has somehow “miraculously” been maintained these past seven years amidst all the Libyan chaos we keep hearing about.

There are a lot of people on the street. Does that mean things aren't so bad in Benghazi that people can't get on with their lives, meaning its not still the war zone many would have us believe? It also looks like they have a functioning emergency response system amidst all the anarchy and chaos.

People are not afraid to come out at night, in large numbers, even after there has been a terrorist attack. There is another thing about these terror attacks in Libya that gets little notice. Remnants of the Gaddafi regime are behind many of them. This isn't just random violence that has sprung up as a result of a poorly-conceived “regime-change” operation, as the Right/Left fusion would have you believe. That is another part of the myth. Although Gaddafi was killed, other leading members of his cabal went into hiding. They have been funding counter-revolutionary chaos as part of what they fancy is the “Green Resistance,” and they still have a lot of stolen Libyan money to do it with. It's no coincidence that Sirte, Gaddafi's home and last stronghold, became the center of ISIS in Libya before it was thrown out.

Even when they are reporting on the terrorist murder of seven Libyans just the day before, they can't help but mourn Gaddafi, and call him out by name. That's all Libya is to them; it's a place US/NATO bombed and killed Gaddafi. This report is not because they are in the habit of giving much coverage to recent happenings in Libya. This report is meant as an object lesson.

Back to Yarmouk:

Does anybody at Democracy Now really think these bombed out Syrian cities will look as good as Benghazi in a few years? This is what Benghazi would have looked like if Democracy Now had prevailed against the French jets that stopped Gaddafi from doing to Benghazi what he had just done to the much smaller Ajdabiya.

My current favorite “what if fantasy” begins with: What if the Left had given both material and ideological support to the Libyan thuwar from the very beginning? I know that there were significant elements within their revolutionary struggle that were open to that. Could that have helped in any way to move their struggle in a more cohesive and progressive direction? In my opinion, the main problem with the Libyan revolution has been the lack of a strong internal Left leadership, not the lack of revolutionary energy from the masses. That leadership can be simulated externally [Consider the French influence on Ho Chi Minh.], but that is most unlikely in an environment in which what is passing itself off as the international “Left” is so hostile to their revolution.

If things had went a little better in Libya, might the outcome in Syria have been different? There are many cascading effects to consider. Revolutionary Libya was already one of the strongest material and moral supports the Syrian people had. The new Libyan General National Congress voted hundreds of millions of dollars to support the uprising. Many Libyan thuwar, in the spirit of Che Guevara, joined the struggle in Syria as the one in Libya wound down. Many of Gaddafi weapons joined the fight on the other side. If Obama's CIA hadn't stopped them from getting his best anti-aircraft weapons [SA-7 MANPADS], much of Syria could have been spared being barrel-bombed into rumble.

A Left in the US and Europe that came to understand and support the Libyan revolution, probably would have supported the one in Syria too. What difference could that had made? If organizations like Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, and Democracy Now had come into this struggle on the side of the Syrian people, rather than seeing in their struggle an opportunity to score points against “neoliberalism,” could that had helped move things in the right direction? If they had spent the years protesting Assad's daily barrel-bombing of civilians, rather than hitting the streets only to defend his occasional use of chemical weapons, would that have changed things? Would ISIS still have been able to take Mosul if Obama had not reneged on his “red-line” promise? Would ISIS, and other reactionary Islamists, even have the mass appeal they now enjoy, if the “Left” alternative hadn't been shown to be so bankrupt? And finally, if these things had been handled differently by the Left, would Trump even be president now?

That is all water under the bridge. The question of the day is: Shall we have a Left that has humanity's best interest at heart and can learn from its mistakes, or one that is an appendage to white fascism? There is another Libyan model that is being quite purposely obscured by this revised definition; it is the example of a people who took their destiny into their own hands and threw off a fascist dictatorship that had ruled most of them all their lives. In that, I see hope for all of us.

Libyan government fighters celebrated after routing the last remaining forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from the coastal town of Surt on Thursday. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times. [Please allow me one last observation on background. We are told that the rebels who fought Gaddafi were all Islamic extremists, yet few of the men in this picture are sporting the type of beard that many consider mandatory for a devout Muslim man.]

These are the people who killed Gaddafi, and no amount of white-Left/alt-Right unity, around a so-called “Libyan model” that leaves them out of the picture, will change this truth.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for our posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Libya

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Will @DrJillStein stand with @realDonaldTrump against the 1st Amendment?

Readers of this blog during our most recent presidential election know I expressed a strong opinion about Jill Stein and her Green Party run for the White House, and while I was never abusive, I wasn't necessarily kind. The Linux Beach introduction to her was Meet Green Party's Jill Stein, Putin sock-puppet & Assad apologistI argued Why Green Party's Jill Stein should drop her presidential bid, and as the vote drew close I warned prophetically, Donald Trump can only win if Jill Stein stays in. She did, and he did. When he won, I published @DrJillStein now officially 'the Ralph Nader of 2016'.

In the middle of this election season, Dr. Jill Stein tired of my critique, and so in lieu of a rebuttal, she just blocked me on Twitter. At the time I thought that was so wrong! She wasn't just another private citizen with a personal account on Twitter. She was a national presidential candidate. She had even received millions of federal dollars, my tax dollars, to fund her campaign. It didn't seem right that she could block me, given her public stature, but I didn't have the resources to defend my 1st amendment rights in court. It was just another Jill Stein tactic that mirrored those of Putin and Trump, and I'd heard I wasn't the only one she had blocked.

You are blocked from following @DrJillStein and viewing @DrJillStein's Tweets.
Like @DrJillStein, @realDonaldTrump thinks he can just block people he doesn't want to hear from. Yesterday the Federal Courts found this practice unconstitutional. The Verge is reporting:
Trump blocking Twitter critics is unconstitutional, court decides

23 May, 2018
By Colin Lecher
It is unconstitutional for public officials, including the president, to block Twitter followers who criticize them, a court ruled today in a legal dispute over President Trump’s account.

“This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, ‘block’ a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States,” the decision begins. “The answer to both questions is no.” The lawsuit, brought by Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, argued that Twitter users blocked by @realdonaldtrump had their First Amendment rights violated. In a decision released today, a federal judge hearing the case ruled that Twitter’s “interactive space,” where users can interact with Trump’s tweets, qualifies as a public forum, and that blocking users unconstitutionally restricts their speech. The decision rejected arguments from the president’s team that President Trump’s own First Amendment rights would be violated if he could not block users. More...
While Dr. Jill Stein may never be a public official, she has never stopped aspiring to be one. I would argue that the same criteria should apply to public candidates for official positions.

It remains to be seen if Dr. Jill Stein will respect the court's ruling or whether the people she has banned will have to ourselves ban together and sue Jill Stein, citing this ruling against the president as precedent.

Clay Claiborne

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for our posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Libya

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Libya Myth used by Trump, Bolton and Amy Goodman to blow up peace talks with North Korea

Originally titled "Trump, Bolton and Amy Goodman on North Korea and the Libya Myth" Updated 24 May 2018

Two days ago I published this under the title above. Since then the promotion of this American fantasy about who really overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and why, has moved the world closer to thermonuclear war as the fracas around these comments leads to the cancellation of the scheduled 12 June denuclearization talks. Yesterday The New York Times reported:
The North Korean official who issued the warning singled out Vice President Mike Pence for remarks that she called “ignorant and stupid.” In an interview broadcast on Monday on Fox News, Mr. Pence warned that North Korea’s government could end up like that of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the former Libyan leader.
In a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Thursday, the North Korean official, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, referred to “unlawful and outrageous acts” by top American officials and said that Mr. Pence had made “unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya.”
“As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice president,” Ms. Choe said. “In case the U.S. offends against our good will and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts, I will put forward a suggestion to our supreme leadership for reconsidering the D.P.R.K.-U.S. summit.”
Trump respond to this in a letter this morning:
Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.
So now this Libya Myth, popularized by pundits on both the Right and the Left, has brought the world closer to nuclear war. Fantasies have consequences!

As Arabs started rising up all over the Middle East and North Africa in the early months of 2011, a Libyan majority joined together in a successful effort to overthrow the brutal 42 year dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi. When he started using his air force to attack unarmed civilians, the UN sanctioned a no-fly zone, and NATO, for reasons that weren't entirely humanitarian, stepped up to enforce it. While NATO itself never put forces on the ground, it's clear Gaddafi never would have been defeated in less than a year without its air support. In the end, Muammar Gaddafi, the "Brother Leader" that had murdered hundreds of thousands in the Libya desert, was killed by his own people after he was caught fleeing from Sirte.

In the years since then, a kind of mythology has developed around what exactly happen in Libya and the role of US imperialism in causing it. In the US, this mythology has both Right and Left variants, although they share a great deal of unity. Both variants give little or no credit to the Libyan people for the toppling of Gaddafi. If they are mentioned at all, it is as agents of others. All the credit, or blame for this "regime change" operation is given to the US imperialists. Both see it as an example of US military might in the service of regime change. While the Right takes credit for ousting Gaddafi in all his badness; the Left blames the US for the sorry state of affairs in Libya today.

In the past few weeks this Libya Myth has been mashalled by both the Right and the Left in the North Korean discussions. So it has been on full display. This began on Sunday, 29 April 2018, when Trump's new hawk, John Bolton, told Chris Wallace on Fox News what North Korean denuclearization means to him:
"We have very much in mind the Libya model from 2003, 2004." 
And just to be clear, he repeated himself on "Face the Nation," CBS News:
"I think that's right. I think we're looking at the Libya model of 2003, 2004."
North Korea responded to Bolton's bluster by putting disarmament talks in doubt. Addressing Bolton's comments, Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea’s first deputy minister of foreign affairs, said:
“This is not an expression of intention to address the issue through dialogue. It is essentially a manifestation of awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers.”
The North Korean government has a natural unity with Americans of both the imperialist and "anti-imperialist" ilk persuasion. None can entertain the idea that the Libyan government was toppled by the Libyan people, so the next day, Trump used this Libya Myth to give the United States dubious credit for having "decimated" Libya and then threatened North Korea with the same if they don't yield, all while appearing to "correct" Bolton:
"The Libya model isn't the model that we have at all when we're thinking of North Korea," Trump said. "In Libya, we decimated that country. That country was decimated."
“The best thing he could do is to make a deal,” Trump said of Kim. The Libya model “is what will take place if we don’t make a deal.”
Then Poodle Pence backed Trump with his own version. CNN reported:
US Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea that it could end up like Libya if it fails to make a nuclear deal with Washington.

"There was some talk about the Libyan model last week, and you know, as the President made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn't make a deal," Pence said Monday.
Trump is willing to forgo any pretense of supporting the struggle for human rights in North Korea, so on Tuesday he used the Libya Myth, not only to imply that Kim Jong Un could only be overthrown with US support, but that the US was willing to guarantee the future of his dictatorship. He said:
"We will guarantee his safety, and we've talked about that from the beginning. He will be safe. He will be happy. His country will be rich."
He's inviting Kim to join the US sponsored corrupt dictators club. Trump has no problem with corrupt dictators.

Yesterday, Democracy Now chimed in with the Left version of this racist Libya Myth as part of its Headline news when Amy Goodman reported:
North Korea is threatening to cancel the meeting, after President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said the U.S. should use the so-called Libyan model for denuclearization in North Korea. In 2011, the U.S. and other nations attacked Libya, toppling and killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, eight years after Libya negotiated sanctions relief from the United States in exchange for renouncing its nuclear program.
Even in this popular US Left variant of the Libya Myth, the Libyan people are invisible. They have no role. They aren't worth a mention, except there are significant problems with this Libya Myth as it applies to North Korea:

Gaddafi never had a significant nuclear weapons program to give up in the first place. Bolton, and everyone else who draws these parallels, between what North Korea has created and what Libya claimed, is still drinking the kool-aid that Gaddafi constantly served up about how great everything was in his Libya. He was very much like his buddy Donald Trump in that regard, but comparing the North Korean nuclear weapons program to what Gaddafi had is like comparing me to Francis Ford Coppola because I once directed Martin Sheen. The Libyan effort was largely limited to buying materials and plans. Although they had acquired enough raw uranium for a bomb, they never had more than a dozen working centrifuges, and they were all imported. They never managed to build a single working centrifuge in Libya, never enriched anything, and didn't even have engineers that could understand the plans they bought. It was easy for Gaddafi to give up this "program" in return for all the much more useful conventional arms the NATO countries were then willing to sell him. In 2015 the Nuclear Threat Initiative [NTI] said this about the nuclear weapons program Gaddafi gave up:
Following the December 2003 announcement, a Libyan delegation informed the IAEA Director General that "Libya had been engaged for more than a decade in the development of a uranium enrichment capability." Libya admitted to importing natural uranium, centrifuge and conversion equipment, and nuclear weapons design documents. However, Libyan officials said that the enrichment program was at an early stage of development, that no industrial scale facilities had been built, and that Libya lacked the technical know-how to interpret the weapons design documents.
On the other hand, the North Koreans have not only a proven atomic bomb capability; they have a proven thermonuclear capability, and the heavy lift missiles that can carry a nuclear warhead to the continental United States. Many knowledgeable observers think they have already crossed the threshold of the nuclear power club, and Trump and company are in denial thinking they can roll it back. One thing is certain, any comparison between the North Korean nuclear program and what Gaddafi gave up in 2003 is based on a mythology being promoted because of its usefulness.

The other part of this excursion into FantasyLand involves seeing a direct connection between Gaddafi's decision to give up the embryonic nuclear program he had in 2003, and his loss of power and life eight years later. Believing this magic means leaving the Libyan people and their heroic struggle completely out of the picture, and giving the US military credit or blame it doesn't deserve. President Trump said, "In Libya, we decimated that country. That country was decimated." By "we," he means the armed forces he now commands, and by "decimated," he means largely destroyed. This is how Trump sums up the Libya Myth and this view is widely echoed on both the Right and the Left.

Beyond the fundamentally racist notion that whatever role the Libyans may have played in the destruction of the regime that ruled over them for 42 years is not worth mentioning, crediting or blaming the US for "regime change" in Libya, and implying that this was connected to what he did or didn't do with his so-called nuclear program eight years earlier, is ridiculous. There are at least two other major problems with this Libya Myth:

The first is the idea that the 2011 NATO air strikes "decimated" Libya. The more than 9,000 NATO strike sorties used smart weapons exclusively for very carefully planned missions than didn't include random secondary targets. The result was a massive air campaign that did little damage to infrastructure and killed less than a hundred un-intended civilians; 60 by the UN's count, 72 according to HRW, 55 according to Amnesty International, and 40-70 according the the New York Times. It was not the type of air campaign carried out by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, and again in Iraq and Syria, that caused tremendous infrastructure damage with massive civilian casualties as exampled by the re-taking of Raqqa last October in which more than 1,800 civilians were killed. In contradiction to the popular image of it in the West as no different from these others, the NATO air campaign over Libya should be seen as the standard by which all others are judged. It should be held up as an example, and we should demand that if air power is to be used at all, that it be used with no less care and precision than NATO has already shown possible over Libya.

The second part of the myth is that what NATO did over Libya was largely an American show. It was not! The US was a straggler that had to be dragged into the fight against Gaddafi by its NATO partners. Between 31 March 2011 and an AFRICOM report on 29 June 2011, the US had only flown 801, or 16.1% of the 4,963 strike sorties to that point, but it gets even more pathetic than that; the US had "dropped ordinances" in only 132 of those strike sorties, most were "dry" runs! To give you a sense of scale, know that France was carrying out strike sorties at more than twice the rate of the US. Britain, Canada, Belgium and Italy were also players, and even little Denmark had "dropped ordinances" 705 times by 11 August 2011.

Do you see now why I say the Libya Myth is doubly chauvinist?

First, it is chauvinist in crediting NATO with the overthrow of Gaddafi, when it was the Libyan people that did the heavy lifting, and the dying.

Second, it fully credits the US for NATO's impact when that was hardly the case. I have no doubt that the low number of civilian casualties is directly related to the low number of bombs dropped by the American forces, but that factual reality if far from fantasies on both the US Left and Right that thinks we were the only monkey in that show. 132 bombs dropped in 3 months buys the US all the credit!

In a related story, today CNN won the Online Media Award for Breaking News Story of the Year for their discover of Libyan slave auctions. Don't they know it was much worse with Extreme racism & slave auctions 3 times a week in Gaddafi's Libya?

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for our posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Libya

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Extreme racism & slave auctions 3 times a week in Gaddafi's Libya

The CNN report last November about slave auctions in present day Libya shocked the world. Many thought it emblematic of what is wrong with Libya today and exhibit #1 of why the regime change operation that overthrew the Arab Jamahiriya of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was a mistake. It was viewed as another ugly aspect of the unbridled immigrant flow that has seen thousands drown in the Mediterranean in the wake of the fall of that government. As Fatma Naib put it in "Slavery in Libya: Life inside a container," on Al Jazeera, 26 January 2018:
In recent months, it has been revealed that African migrants and refugees have been sold in open markets as slaves in Libya, and are held against their will in inhumane conditions in exchange for ransom money.
Human trafficking networks have prospered amid lawlessness, created by the warring militias that have been fighting for control of territories since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
It's unlikely that human trafficking networks have prospered without the support they enjoyed from the Gaddafi regime; however, since his demise, much-needed light has finally been shined on them.

What those unfamiliar with recent Libyan history don't see is that the type of slave trade CNN reported on is not something new, or the product of the chaos and criminality that followed the overthrow of Gaddafi. Rather it is one of the surviving remnants of a system that exploited the flow of refugees and migrants for profit for decades under Gaddafi.

This was a system that used the desperation of Sub-Saharan Africans that, in some cases, were fleeing violence and repression in their own countries that Gaddafi's Libya had helped stoke. The Arab Jamahiriya of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was an extremely racist system in which migrant traffickers worked closely with the state security agencies to extort every penny from dirt-poor migrants, and their families back home, with threats of indefinite detention or death. Those that could not pay might be left to die in the desert or sold as unpaid forced laborers in what many would call "slave auctions," that were regularly conducted by Gaddafi's government.
“The desert is much harder than the sea."
                       - H.M.D., Darfurian asylum-seeker in Italy

Donald Trump has been wailing about how "weak" US immigration laws are because they provide some minimal protection to migrants and allow those fleeing from violence and political repression to at least apply for political asylum. He would have loved the immigration policies of Gaddafi's Libya, which recognized no refugee status at all and fired on migrants with fatal effect for trying to enter, and even to leave Libya without state permission. Also, no doubt, he would have cheered the extremely racist policies of Muammar Gaddafi and his government towards, not only African migrants, but also Libyans of sub-Saharan African descent, policies that included striping black populations of Libyan citizenship, bull dozing their homes, bringing in the helicopter gunships and tanks when they protested, and busing hundreds of thousands out to the desert to die.

In more recent years, the tragic flow of refugees and immigrants embarking from Libya in shaky boats trying to get to Europe has captured the world's attention. There are many reasons for this, and there is an important one that is often overlooked, because it mostly went unreported. That was Gaddafi's suppression of the migrants; with him gone, migrants from the south have had a little easier time getting to the shores of the Mediterranean. The existing flow of economic migrants and refugees from sub-Saharan Africa has been supplemented in recent years by new waves of refugees fleeing war in Afghanistan, Syria and other places that now find easier routes to Europe, the final destination for many, through Libya. This has been the context of the European refugee crisis we've come to know, and the thousands of bodies that have washed up on Mediterranean beaches; possibly its most potent symbol. This has caused some Europeans to yearn for the days of Gaddafi.

What is out of sight is often out of mind, so there were few complaints about the thousand of migrants who never made it to the Mediterranean because Colonel Gaddafi's regime stranded them out in the desert where they died horrible, slow deaths. We know about the "slave auctions" CNN reported on, and many other things both good and bad in Libya today because now the press enjoys freedoms it never had while Gaddafi ruled.

Sara Hamood did a report in 2006 for the American University in Cairo titled "African Transit Migration Through Libya to Europe: The Human Cost" that I will cite extensively. It noted the difficulties in getting information about Gaddafi's Libya:
Existing research on Libya remains limited, in part due to the closed nature of the country restricting the ability to conduct field work, and in part to marginal international interest.

In addition, the political system of the Jamahiriya has left little, if any, space for an independent civil society to grow outside the officially sanctioned structures...
Human Rights Watch had similar problems operating in a police state. When HRW visited Libya in 2005, they noted:
[T]he first migrant our researchers interviewed on the street was arrested one hour later.
Today, while Libya, like much of the Middle East and North Africa, remains a challenging environment for reporters, they no longer face Gaddafi's absolute ban on independent media.

This is the CNN report that broke the news of slave auctions in post Gaddafi Libya. As devastating as it was for the image of the new Libya, it was itself one of the fruits of that victory. It revealed a practice that had gone on in Libya long before the press was able to report on it:
Exclusive Report: People for sale
Where lives are auctioned for $400

14 November 2017
By Nima Elbagir, Raja Razek, Alex Platt and Bryony Jones
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- "Eight hundred," says the auctioneer. "900 ... 1,000 ... 1,100 ..." Sold. For 1,200 Libyan dinars -- the equivalent of $800.

Not a used car, a piece of land, or an item of furniture. Not "merchandise" at all, but two human beings.

One of the unidentified men being sold in the grainy cell phone video obtained by CNN is Nigerian. He appears to be in his twenties and is wearing a pale shirt and sweatpants.

He has been offered up for sale as one of a group of "big strong boys for farm work," according to the auctioneer, who remains off camera. Only his hand -- resting proprietorially on the man's shoulder -- is visible in the brief clip.

After seeing footage of this slave auction, CNN worked to verify its authenticity and traveled to Libya to investigate further.

Carrying concealed cameras into a property outside the capital of Tripoli last month, we witness a dozen people go "under the hammer" in the space of six or seven minutes. More...

While this was widely treated as a new development and a result of the chaos that resulted from NATO supported "regime change" in Libya, the truth is that what CNN discovered is but a surviving remnant of a state organized and controlled regime for the systematic exploitation of migrants and refugees, that included the regularized sale of sub-Saharan African migrates for indeterminate periods of unpaid forced involuntary servitude in Libya while Muammar Gaddafi was in power.

Gaddafi's Libya was a police state

This is the context for everything to be examined later. The Libya Gaddafi ruled was a poorly run police state. In 2004 Amnesty International did its first country report on Libya in 15 years. They had some problems with government policy:
It includes the policy of “physical liquidation” of political opponents of the 1980s; numerous deaths in custody without adequate explanation; the “disappearance” of political prisoners, especially since 1996; and the “disappearance” of Libyan nationals abroad and foreign nationals visiting Libya. Hundreds of families still do not know whether their relatives are alive or dead, or how they died. Many are too scared to ask about their relatives for fear of retaliation.
The report documented a number of such cases in detail, and also noted:
In 1980 the Libyan authorities introduced a policy of extrajudicial executions of political opponents, termed “stray dogs”. The policy, known as “physical liquidation”, seemed to have been endorsed at the highest levels.
It added:
In recent years, the Libyan authorities have used the international context and the language of the “war on terror” to further justify the continuation of a repressive policy at home which severely curtails the right of Libyan citizens to freedom of expression and association. The “counter-terrorism” argument is clearly used as a new justification for an old practice, enshrined in Libyan law, of repression of all political dissent.
AI also had some specific criticisms of Libyan law under Gaddafi, and highlighted these:
  • Law 71 of 1972 bans any form of group activity based on a political ideology opposed to the principles of al-Fateh Revolution of 1 September 1969.
  • Article 3 of Law 71 provides for the death penalty for forming, joining or supporting groups prohibited by law..
  • Article 206 of the Penal Code (Law 48 of 1956) provides for the death penalty for those who call “for the establishment of any grouping, organization or association proscribed by law”, and even for those who belong to or support such an organization.
  • Article 208, which bans forming or joining an international association, states that “The punishment is imprisonment for whoever sets up, establishes, organizes or directs international non-political organizations, associations or bodies, or a branch thereof, without government authorization, or where such authorization is based on false or insufficient information.”
  • Article 178 prescribes life imprisonment for the dissemination of information considered to “tarnish [the country’s] reputation or undermine confidence in it abroad.”
  • Article 207 states that “The punishment is execution for whoever spreads within the country, by whatever means, theories or principles aiming to change the basic principles of the Constitution or the fundamental structures of the social system or to overthrow the state’s political, social or economic structures or destroy any of the fundamental structures of the social system using violence, terrorism or any other unlawful means.”
The New York Times reported on conditions in Libya two years before the uprising:
A Leader Beyond Reproach Limits the Possibilities for Political Change

By Michael Slackman
March 2009
TRIPOLI, Libya — Step one block off almost any main road and the streets here are badly damaged or completely unpaved. There are problems with the schools, the health care system and the government bureaucracy, which is plagued by corruption and inefficiency. Untreated sewage is dumped right into the Mediterranean.

Libya is a police state, but the trains still do not run on time.
“We don’t need money,” said Nadia Ali, 35, at one of the forums in Tripoli [called to discuss Colonel Gaddafi's proposal to abolish the government and just divide the oil money among the people] “We need roads, we need health care, we need education, we need an economy.”
The minister of economics, trade and investment sits in a building at the end of a rutted dirt field. Where are the roads?
The police here do not tolerate public criticism, and people still disappear in the night.
The death penalty for illegal immigration was a brutal Libyan reality for many. One unsubstantiated, but frantic claim came from Thomas Adejo, Kaduna who reported on 6 August 2009:
Libya to execute 220 illegal aliens

Over 220 illegal immigrants in Libya mostly Nigerians may be executed before tomorrow morning, New Nigerian has learnt. A source said that out of this number, 30 were allegedly executed in the early hours of yesterday in the prison yard in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. [his emphasis] According to the source, among the Nigerian illegal immigrants awaiting execution in Libya is a 37-year-old Benedict Ukoma Jude from Imo State who was arrested along with other Nigerians for entering the country without valid documents. More...
This report was followed by a call to the Nigerian Embassy in Tripoli by Azuoma Anugom and an online discussion among Nigerians attempting to determine what was really going on amongst contradictory reports. One party to this discussion, Remi Ajibewa PhD, told what he had learned about the fate of a group of immigrants on death row in June from a couple of Nigerian embassy employees he had lunch with while in Tripoli for an African Union meeting, 27 June 2009. He said, "I learnt from them that if not for the AU meeting, some illegal immigrants including Nigerians would have been executed late and early July, 2009." Ola Kassim, who sounded like a representative of the Nigerian government, begged off when asked to intervene on behalf of the condemned immigrants. He said it would be one thing if Libya were executing them merely for being in the country illegally, because no country does that, but:
It is a far much complicated matter if the Nigerians who are currently on death rows in Libyan prisons had been convicted of criminal offences that are punishable by death under Libyan laws.
The problem is that in Gaddafi's Libya merely exercising free speech or supporting a prohibited organization could earn one the death penalty.

Gaddafi's Libya was also a white supremacist state

Gaddafi's Libya was an Arab/white supremacist state, as "Ethnic Conflict in Libya: Toubou," from the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, noted:
For decades, Qaddafi‟s regime pursued national policies of “Arabization” and sought to expel the Toubou, along with other minorities, from Arab Libya. The 1969 Constitutional Declaration defined the state of Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, as an “Arab nation and declared Arabic as the only official language.” Subsequent policies deliberately denied basic human and political rights to non-Arab minorities in Libya, including the 2007 withdrawal of citizenship rights.
Gaddafi's minority policies were nothing short of genocidal, and his racism and oil money played a leading role in some of the greatest tragedies in Africa, including the Darfur butchery. As the Ethiopian author, poet and journalist Hama Tuma wrote, 3 September 2010:
Gaddafi the racist has for long been also Gaddafi the dictator, killing off his opponents both inside and outside his country, financing the likes of Fode Sankoh in Sierra Leone and meddling in the domestic affairs of other countries like Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Liberia, etc.
Migrant sales under Gaddafi

Although the CNN reporters have been able to document a few clandestine "slave auctions" in post-Gaddafi Libya, while he still ruled, nighttime "slave auctions" were conducted 2 or 3 times a week by the manager of a Kufra camp in which of 25 to 30 migrants were sold. Daniel, a 26-year-old Eritrean whose interviews were published by Human Rights Watch in a 2009 report on "Libya's Mistreatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers" told us about this:
Every two or three days, the manager of Kufra camp took 25 or 30 persons at night and sold them to Libyan transporters so he could get money from us. Other people were just thrown in the desert. Sometimes they would take people in the desert and run over their legs with a car and just leave them. He sold me with a group of 25 or 30 people to a Libyan man who put us in a big house in Kufra and told us we needed to have our families send $200 to pay for our release from Kufra and to take us to Benghazi.
Even children were used as slaves. One unaccompanied child, Kofi, an orphan from Ghana, was 16 years old while in Libya for one year in 2007. Kofi spoke of being pressed into forced labor after being detained by the Libyan authorities:
The guard took me out to work on his house. I worked all the time every day for four months, but he never paid me. Then he gave me to an Egyptian woman. I worked on her farm for seven months. She also didn’t pay me, but she at least gave me food and clothes.
Gaddafi's Libya also regularly brought slaves back from its "adventures" in other African countries. Speaking of the Gaddafi supported Arab supremacist terror campaigns in Sudan and Mauritania, Jeff Jacoby wrote in the Boston Globe, 2 April 1996:
Tens -- maybe hundreds -- of thousands of black Africans have been captured by government troops and free-lance slavers and carried off into bondage. Often they are sold openly in "cattle markets," sometimes to domestic owners, sometimes to buyers from Chad, Libya and the Persian Gulf states.
In 1993, a Washington Post piece noted:
In 1990, Africa Watch concluded that there was evidence of kidnapping, hostage-taking and other monetary transactions involving human beings "on a sufficiently serious scale as to represent a resurgence of slavery." And a declassified report from the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum released last May by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) documents how Sudan government troops and armed Arab militias are involved in massacres, kidnapping and the transporting of African Sudanese to Libya.
As, we shall see, there can be no doubt that this required the support of the Libyan government.

In March 1996, a US Congressional joint subcommittees hearing on "Slavery in Mauritania and Sudan" was held, and while those two countries were the headliners, the subject of Libya kept popping up. For example, Augustine Lado, President of Pax Sudani, told the hearing:
There has been very critical evidence that the people, our people, some of them were actually sold into slavery in Libya, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Arab world.
Charles Jacobs, Ed.D., Research Director, American Anti-Slavery Group told the hearing:
As a result of the war, Arab militias, armed by the government of Khartoum raid African villages, shoot the men and enslave the women and children. These are either kept as individual booty by the militias, sold north, or, as a recently declassified U.S. State Department document contends, trucked into Khadaffy's Libya.
He also said to them:
Equally incomprehensible is the failure of Western human rights organizations to have marshalled public support for these black slaves. Today you are hearing directly from people who have seen slavery and who have interviewed slaves and escaped slaves in Mauritania and Sudan. But in fact evidence of slavery in Sudan, Mauritania and Libya, compiled by the most prestigious and reliable sources has been available for years. If the existence of chattel slavery in the last decade of the 20th Century is tragic; so is the failure of the human rights community to have developed an adequate activist constituency that could come to their aid.
He said that in a congressional hearing more than 20 years ago, and it is all still true today, only now we can add the rank hypocrisy of journalists, politicians, and members of the white Left that are suddenly "shocked, shocked" to discover slavery in Libya.

As you become familiar with the history, it becomes clear that the cause of human rights for refugees and immigrants in Libya, let alone the struggles against racism, human trafficking, and slavery in Libya, could make little headway so long as the Gaddafi dictatorship ruled. Nevertheless, the white Left discovered slavery and racist in Libya only after their darling dictator was overthrown, which they see as a US "regime change" operation, not a successful Libyan revolt. Phyllis Bennis examples both these points in her Fortune article, 8 December 2017, titled "How America Bears Responsibility for Libya’s Slave Auctions." After acknowledging that slavery in many parts of the world "go back centuries," she says about what she calls "a new system of slavery":
But the emergence of slave auctions in Libya has a more immediate basis as well: a catastrophic Western military intervention.
The word "emergence" puts the lie to her statement. Her interest is in using slavery to attack those that overthrew Gaddafi, not ending slavery in Libya. To do that, you have to start with the truth; and the truth is that this problem didn't just rise up with the fall of Gaddafi; it is the remnants of a regime of slavery that he cultivated for 42 years before Libyans changed that regime. Now they can begin to change this system.

The Exploitation was Systematic

Under the Gaddafi regime, the exploitation of the refugee and migrant flow was systematic and organized by the state. The Hamood report noted:
There are indications that smugglers and police or prison guards may cooperate in order to make financial gains both from receiving payments in exchange for the release of detainees and from facilitating further travel by illegal means within or outside the country.
As human rights organization and refugee reports from Libya at the time show, this was something of an understatement. Habtom, a 28-year-old Eritrean man, who arrived in Libya in June 2008, explained:
The police know everything that happens in Libya. They know what is going on with the boats. They get their own share of the money. The only problem comes when the police don’t get their share of the money or too little of it. If the government didn’t like [the migrant smuggling] they wouldn’t do it.
That government was the product of 39 years of Gaddafi rule at that point. The Hamood report gives this picture of business as usual, Libyan style:
A stark example of this alleged corruption was related by an Ethiopian man, granted humanitarian status in Italy, YU., who was detained on arrival in Kufra after having crossed the desert in 2002. After about one year of detention without charge or trial for illegal immigration, he was released and told that he should return to Sudan, where he had lived prior to traveling to Libya. He and a group of others were driven to the border with Sudan and at the last minute the Libyan police offered to take them back with them to Kufra for a fee. Each man paid $300 and they were indeed taken back by the police to Kufra. On arrival in Kufra, the police themselves took them to a smuggler who could arrange for their travel to Benghazi.
A 2009 Human Rights Watch report on "Libya's Mistreatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers," gives us this story:
Aron, a 36-year-old Eritrean who was detained at the airport jail in Tripoli in 2007 said that the cost for a bribe was either $500 in cash or about $800 for a wire transfer. After he paid the bribe, Aron said that a policeman in uniform took him from the jail in the police car and put him on the street in Tripoli. He later made an appointment with the policeman and “gave him money to release my friends.” Aron said, “It’s a rotating business. They take people out in the city, get money, and replace the prisoners with other Africans.”
It also tells us the story of Tomas, a 24-year-old Eritrean, that was part of a group of 108 migrants who resisted boarding a clearly unseaworthy vessel in October 2006. Navy officials intervened on the side of the Libyan criminals to force them on the boat:
Once I saw that boat, I knew I would die if I went on it. They forced two people on the boat and the rest of us began fighting them. Many military men came and caught us at the boat.

The smugglers had an agreement with the navy forces to take our money. They put us directly into the navy port office. The people who demanded money from us were wearing navy uniforms. They had an athletic build. They were clearly navy, not coast guard. A high-level naval officer spoke to us.

What surprises me is that the person who told us he would take us to Italy is the same person who arrested us. The ones who arrested us were in civilian clothes. Those who said they were going to take us were in uniforms. But they all arrested us together.

I think the smugglers were 100 percent connected to the police and the military. I saw the officers in uniform with stars on their shoulders talking to the transporters. And the drivers said, “There is no problem,” when we saw the police or military. The smugglers also told us if we didn’t pay them that we would go to prison.
Immigrant boat picked up off the coast of Libya in 2009
Like other countries that have exploited migrant labor, the Hamood report pointed out that Libya encouraged this immigrant flow:
At the same time, Libya ran an internal and external campaign situating Libya in the African domain and encouraging Africans to come to work in Libya, even by placing advertisements in daily African newspapers (Pliez, 2002).
Gaddafi's Libya refused to recognize refugees

The Gaddafi regime took the position that there were no legitimate asylum seekers in Libya and refused to grant anyone refugee status. The Human Rights Watch 2010 report, "Rights on the Line" on abuses against migrants complained:
Libya is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has no asylum law or procedure. In April, Libyan Foreign Secretary Moussa Koussa said his country “does not have any refugees but only illegal migrants who break the laws.”
Trump would have loved that guy; this guy too: Brigadier General Mohamed Bashir Al Shabbani, the director of the Office of Immigration at the General People’s Committee for Public Security, told HRW:
“There are no refugees in Libya. They are people who sneak into the country illegally and they cannot be described as refugees. Anyone who enters the country without formal documents and permission is arrested.”
We can gleam Muammar Gaddafi's views from this report on his 2009 visit to Italy:
During his first visit to Italy in June 2009, Libyan leader Mu`ammar al-Gaddafi said that the issue of asylum seekers “is a widespread lie.” He went on to say that Africans are “living in the desert, in the forests, having no identity at all, let alone a political identity. They feel that the North has all the wealth, the money, and so they try to reach it... Millions of people are attracted by Europe, and are trying to get here. Do we really think that millions of people are asylum seekers? It is really a laughable matter.”
Libyan oil money to fuel conflicts in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Darfur that many of the refugees were fleeing. In commenting on Gaddafi's EU visit. Hama Tuma said:
Over the years Libya has been accused of racism and of officially provoking the beating and killing of African migrants. Gaddafi’s pan-African pretensions have always appeared shoddy and hollow as a consequence and his recent statement in Europe— calling Africans ignorant and barbarian invaders— has nailed his coffin as an Arab racist.
For Gaddafi, the really big money to be made off the African migrants was the millions he got, some say extorted, from the European Union for all that he was doing to suppress that migration, and that was what he was selling in Italy. When he spoke to Italian Senators, 11 June 2009, he told them that the money he was already getting wasn't enough, sayingMany billions of euros are needed to stem the flows of immigrants into the Mediterranean.” The BBC reported on his August 2010 visit:
Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi says the EU should pay Libya at least 5bn euros (£4bn; $6.3bn) a year to stop illegal African immigration and avoid a "black Europe".

Speaking on a visit to Italy, Col Gaddafi said Europe "could turn into Africa" as "there are millions of Africans who want to come in".
"Tomorrow Europe might no longer be European, and even black, as there are millions who want to come in," said Col Gaddafi, quoted by the AFP news agency.
Needless to say, the millions of euros paid to Libya went straight into bank accounts controlled by Gaddafi with no accountability.

Human Rights Abuses of Migrants in Gaddafi's Libya

The 2004 HRW report "Closed-door Immigration Policy Is Shameful Vision" elaborates:
Libya’s recent immigration “reforms,” introduced by Colonel Muammar Gadaffi apparently after overtures from Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, resemble a catalogue of human rights abuses against migrants and asylum-seekers. African internees and migrants in Libya are being detained in what one MEP has described as “catastrophic conditions.” And Libya continues forcibly to deport Eritrean refugees to Eritrea, where they face arrest, illegal detention and torture.
The Hamood report simply stated:
In Libya, refugees and asylum-seekers are not afforded adequate protection due to unclear policies regulating their stay in the country and to a lack of recognition of the specific legal status of refugees
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination also raised these issues with Libya in their 2004 report:
9. CESCR noted that the State does not have a law on asylum-seekers and refugees. It recommended that the State adopt a law establishing national asylum procedures.
16. CEDAW remained concerned that Libyan women married to non-Libyan nationals are not granted equal rights with respect to the nationality of their children. It remarked that legal provisions relating to personal status, in particular concerning marriage (including polygamy), child custody, divorce and inheritance, do not provide for equal rights for women and men.
19. CERD noted that the State categorically maintains that racial discrimination does not exist in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. It recommended that the State conduct studies with a view to effectively assessing the occurrence of racial discrimination in the country, and review its assessment accordingly. Furthermore, CERD again took note of the discrepancy between the State’s assessment, according to which Libyan society is ethnically homogenous, and information indicating that Amazigh, Tuareg and Black African populations live in the country.

8 20. CESCR was concerned about the absence of legislation prohibiting racial discrimination, and regretted that not enough information was provided on measures to guarantee that migrant workers are treated on a non-discriminatory basis. It recommended that the State adopt legislative and other measures to prohibit racial discrimination, especially against Black Africans.

21. CESCR expressed concern about domestic legislation prohibiting the use of languages other than Arabic or the registration of non-Arabic names for newborn children.
The US State Department country report on Libya of 23 February 2001 stated:
The Government discriminates against and represses certain minorities and tribal groups. The Government continues to repress banned Islamic groups and exercises tight control over ethnic and tribal minorities, such as Amazighs (Berbers), Tuaregs, and Warfalla tribe members. The Government restricts basic worker rights, uses forced labor, and discriminates against foreign workers. There have been reports of slavery and trafficking in persons.
Hamood reported that the Gaddafi regime used the immigration issue to promote racism in a way that is becoming increasingly familiar to Americans:
However, statements by Libyan officials reported in the media more regularly describe the phenomenon of illegal immigration in negative terms, describing it as an “invasion” (AFP, 9 August 2004) and recalling the heavy price Libya has paid for the rise in immigration, especially after the increase in smuggling activities. Migrants are often presented as causing wide-ranging problems in Libya related to health, cultural norms, social relations, and the economic situation. They are also portrayed as bringing about a degradation in the security situation. Thus, they are said to be at the heart of the rise in criminality, the spread of disease (particularly HIV/AIDs), the decline in morality, the economic downturn (brought about by the abundance of cheap labour), and even to be linked to “terrorism.”
Hamood reported that these policies had results:
On 21 July 2004, 110 Eritrean nationals were returned from Libya to Eritrea, where they were at risk of torture. On arrival, they were arrested and reportedly held in incommunicado detention - that is without access to the outside world - in a secret prison (Amnesty International, 2004b). Until today, there is no news of their fate and whereabouts.
Migrant detention was brutal in Gaddafi's Libya

Three of some 30 migrants crammed into
a 24 sq meter cell in Gaddafi era detention.
The detained immigrants and refugees were imprisoned under squalid conditions and regularly beaten as more money demands were made of them. Tomas, the Eritrean we met earlier, recount an experience he had while he was being held at Jawazat Prison in 2006:
One day we were singing songs. The guards came and said, “Who is making this noise?” The others said, “The Christians.” They took out the six of us and beat us. They beat the bottom of our feet with a wooden stick. They hit the soles of both of our feet for 5 to 10 minutes. Two guards put a wood plank under our legs. They then tied our legs to the wood. We fell down on our backs, and then they beat our feet. They did this to all six of us. They just beat our feet. They know if you are beaten that you are unable to walk afterwards, but they made us run around the courtyard after beating our feet.
Migrants were subjected to very long periods of imprisonment in Gaddafi's Libya. A diplomatic source in Libya told HRW that migrants could be detained “from a few weeks to 20 years.”

Amina, a 19-year-old Somali woman, spoke about her experience in Kufra:
They held us for ransom. They hit me and the others too. They hit us with a special stick for hitting people. Every time the smuggler guard entered the room he beat us. He said that we needed to pay them money.
Misrata migrant detention center in Gaddafi's Libya
In late 2004 the European Commission interviewed some immigrant detainees in Libya and reported on the due process they were receiving in Gaddafi's Libya:
Throughout this period of detention, they had no access to a lawyer, nor were they presented before a judicial authority. In addition, no trial took place to establish their guilt or innocence, so far as they were aware.
Instead of due process, beatings and torture were regularly used to resolve cases, in 2004 Amnesty International told us how:
From the testimonies collected by Amnesty International, it appears that if a detainee “confesses” quickly, they are usually subjected to light beatings or other forms of ill treatment. However, if a detainee refuses to “confess”, torture is used in order to extract a “confession”. The most frequently reported techniques are beatings with electric cables, beatings on the soles of the feet (falaqa), the use of electric shocks and being suspended from a height by the arms.
Slavery, called "an obligation to perform labor," was also a feature of Gaddafi's detention system. The 2001 State Department report says:
In its report this year, the Committee of Experts of the International Labor Organization's (ILO) stated that in Libya "persons expressing certain political views or views ideologically opposed to the established political, social, or economic system may be punished with penalties of imprisonment," including "an obligation to perform labor." The ILO report also noted that public employees may be sentenced to compulsory labor "as a punishment for breaches of labor discipline or for participation in strikes, even in services whose interruption would not endanger the life, personal safety, or health of the whole or part of the population."

There have been credible reports that the Government arbitrarily has forced some foreign workers into involuntary military service or has coerced them into performing subversive activities against their own countries. Libyans, despite the Penal Code's prohibition on slavery, have been implicated in the purchase of Sudanese slaves, mainly southern Sudanese women and children, who were captured by Sudanese government troops in the ongoing civil war in Sudan.
Africa migrants detained in Misrata
The Hamood report had this to say about the racist treatment African migrants received while in detention in Gaddafi's Libya:
Both men and women reported being regularly insulted by guards who used racist remarks.

A Sudanese man A.K. reported being detained in al-Janzur Prison, near Tripoli, in 1996 for two days, during which time he, and over 40 other Sudanese arrested alongside him, were made to roll around in dirty water until they became dizzy and immediately forced to stand and run for short distances from wall to wall, causing some to fall to the ground. They also had dirty water poured on their heads. An Eritrean man B.G., granted humanitarian status in Italy in November 2004, also related having to roll around in dirty water, as well as being forced to stand in the burning sun for long periods of time. He was detained for one month in late 2002/early 2003.

D.G., an Eritrean asylum-seeker in Italy, was detained in 2003 for six months in four different locations. He described regular evening beatings, and on one occasion being burnt with a cigarette butt on his leg. He recalls the horrific experience of seeing a newly-arrived inmate, a Chadian, being struck on the head with an iron stick which caused him to fall to the ground. The guards reportedly ignored the fall and continued to beat others. The Chadian detainee died shortly afterwards in the presence of D.G. and the guards.

As documented by Amnesty International, “the practice of unlawful detention after completion of sentence seems to be widespread”
In 2004 Amnesty International reported on seven Eritrea refugees detained in Libya:
For some 18 months of arbitrary detention, the seven men lived in fear of being deported to Eritrea, where they would be at risk of serious human rights violations. They have been moved to several different prisons. In two separate instances, the men described being beaten with sticks; the first time prior to being transported in a lorry into which they were crammed with scores of others. The second time occurred while being transferred from Ghiryan Prison to three other prisons. Michael Yemane Tekle said that he was particularly badly injured on the second occasion and lost consciousness after being hit over the head with a truncheon. During a separate incident, Rezene Issak Yohanns was allegedly beaten by a guard with a wire while in Jdeida Prison in January 2004. The men told Amnesty International: “we just want to get out of detention. We have seen here in prison what we never saw in our country.”
They also reported on the death of another Eritrean refugee:
Another Eritrean national, Binyam Abraha, who was in his early 30s and married with one daughter, died in custody on the night of 16-17 September 2003. He was detained in Ghiryan Prison with the seven Eritreans mentioned above. He had reportedly been detained in Libya since early 2002 on alcohol-related charges, for which he had been sentenced to three months’ imprisonment. He apparently contracted tuberculosis as a result of poor prison conditions and was allegedly denied access to medical care despite requesting it repeatedly. Just before his death, Masfin Aman Adem and the other Eritrean detainees asked again for Binyam Abraha to be sent to hospital for treatment. Instead he was apparently held in solitary confinement in a dirty room between 5 and 16 September 2003, when he died.
One young Eritrean refugee, Ezekiel, had the temerity to appeal to a higher authority when he was mistreated by a guard:
I speak Arabic and I spoke to [name withheld], the man in charge of that police station. I told him that this was unkind, that we had suffered greatly at sea and that the soldiers shouldn’t have taken our money. He demanded to know which soldier had taken the money. When I pointed him out, [name withheld] he had the soldier share the money with him.
The most notorious killing in Gaddafi's prison system took place in 1996, although the regime denied it until 2004. It was mentioned in this UN report:
Libyan authorities had failed to adequately address the killings of up to 1,200 prisoners in the Abu Salim Prison, in June 1996. Most killings occurred the day after a riot took place sparked by appalling prison conditions as well as the denial of medical treatment and family visits. Official recognition of the facts came only eight years later, when the Libyan leadership acknowledged in February 2004 that killings did take place.
It should be added that in those 8 years, while Gaddafi regime officials continued to deny family visits to the murdered prisoners, they continued accepting family payments into the dead prisoner's welfare fund.

The Abu Salim Prison massacre was far from the only one. It was just the most famous. Abukar, a 25-year-old Somali, was interviewed about a shooting at Ganfuda, a migrant detention center outside of Benghazi, where he had been held for more than a year. First, he spoke about their treatment:
“The guards just keep us locked up here. They humiliate us. They beat us. If we talk to them, they punish us very hard. They hurt us with electricity.”
Then on 10 August 2009, he told them about the shooting:
Last night a group of Somalis and Nigerians saw the external gate was open and tried to escape. The guards opened fire on them. There were around 30 guards, but five did the shooting. I could see most of my friends were injured, and some fell to the ground.
Somali news sources reported 20 detainees had been shot and killed, Mareeg news website reported on it from Mogadishu:
At least twenty Somalis have been confirmed dead and fifty wounded in Bangazi town in Libya.The Libyan soldiers reportedly used knives and electric machines for torturing the Somali prisoners.
Sexual abuse in detention was pervasive

Women migrants rescued at sea 6 May 2009 © 2009 Enrico Dagnino
Madihah, a 24-year-old Eritrean woman who was detained in both the Al Fellah and Misrata migrant detention facilities told UNHCR in 2008 that although she saw no abuse in Al Fellah:
At Misrata, she said, “All of the women had problems from the police. The police came at night and chose ladies to violate.”
A 20-year-old Somali man told HRW about a “special house” outside of Tripoli where migrants were held and where women were raped:
The traffickers were involved with the soldiers. They work with the government to keep the special house outside Tripoli. There were 32 of us held in this house, 25 men and 7 women.

They didn’t respect the women. They saw one girl and admired her. They forced her into a room. She said to me three times, “Why didn’t you save me?” I answered, “What could I do?” She said, “They forced me.” I cried. I couldn’t do anything
Daniel, the 26-year-old Eritrean man, was also held in a smuggler’s house in Tripoli where women were preyed upon. He told HRW:
Every day, the Libyans came and took women to do whatever they wanted with them.
He was also detained in Misrata after being interdicted by the Maltese coast guard in 2005. He said of the detention facility there:
Every night the guards took women for their pleasure. I met one pregnant woman who was ready to give birth. She give birth there in the prison with us.
It was even worst in Kufra where "all feared that they would be left in the desert to die," Berihu,
a 32-year-old Eritrean man, described what he saw there:
I saw them take women away. They took a woman with her husband. They made them exit together, but then when they got outside the room, they separated them. They took the wife from the husband and raped her.
Route 666 - The migrant ping-pong path through Libya

Sub-Saharan Africans trying to go North for a better life, or to escape war, followed a well traveled route that usually started with paying a smuggler to bring them across the Sahara and the Libyan border to Kurfa. This account from the 2009 HRW report was typical:
The smugglers were drug addicts. They didn’t bring spare parts for the vehicle. We were left stranded in the desert with no food or water. The original agreement was to pay them $250 to go from Khartoum to Kufra. But in the middle of the desert the Sudanese turned us over to the Libyans and they told us we had to pay another $300 or they would abandon us in the Sahara before we reached Libya. About 75 percent of us were able to pay. We paid for the other 25 percent, so no one was left.
Once in Kufra, they had to try to find transport to the coast while trying to avoid arrest and detention in its desert outposts. B.M., an Eritrean man, was interviewed in Sudan about this leg of his journey:
On release from seven months’ detention in Kufra in 2004, he explained that he was met by two officials, whom he understood to be the governor of Kufra and the Director of the Prison. They asked him how he had travelled to Libya and he replied that he had come by means of a smuggler. The officials went on to offer to organize to take him and a group of 127 Ethiopians, who were released at the same time, to Benghazi for a fee of $200 per person. When the detainees said that they did not have the money to pay such a fee, they were transferred some 5 km into the desert to a detention camp and threatened with being abandoned there if they did not pay the money. After the detainees insisted that they did not have money, the officials suggested that they use the ‘hawala’ system to obtain money. The detainees agreed and were taken to a farm, apparently owned by a police officer, while they waited for the money to arrive. Those who had money were released immediately and once each group of 20 or so had paid their fee, they were sent with a smuggler in a pick-up truck to Benghazi. B.M.’s money arrived after a couple of days and he too was smuggled to Benghazi for $200
By forcing immigrants to use the ‘hawala’ system to appeal to loved-ones back home for money to save their lives, Gaddafi's oil-rich Libya was able to extort money, not only from the intrepid traveler, but also from the whole of impoverished sub-Saharan Africa.

If the immigrants made it to one of the seaside cities, Tripoli, Misrata, Sirte or Benghazi, they had to live like a refugee no matter what their legal status. That meant finding a boat out of there, while avoiding arrest and living under conditions of complete illegality. Since both transport and living cost money, and as one fictitious refugee in North Africa famously said "it was much more than we thought to get here," they probably also needed to find work while they waited and hid from the police. From HRW interviews:
They said they feared being robbed, beaten, and extorted not only by common criminals, but also by the police. Many told Human Rights Watch that they even feared children on the street, who often threw stones at them.
The Hamood report gave additional details:
Typical examples of the problems mentioned by respondents from Sudan and the Horn of Africa are: Libyan youth throwing stones at them or hitting, spitting or insulting them, often shouting ‘abeed/’abd (meaning ‘slave’ in Arabic). Both men and women described facing such harassment when walking in the street or taking public transport.
In "Pogrom," 12 October 2000, The Economist wrote, "Black-bashing has become a popular afternoon sport for Libya's unemployed youths." The Hamood report noted they also faced racist treatment from the police and other Libya government agencies:
When relating the problems they faced from Libyan society, interviewees regularly described what they saw as a massive disparity between the treatment by police and other state officials of foreigners, particularly sub-Saharan Africans, and that of Libyan nationals. Those interviewed felt that they had no recourse to the police, who would never take action against a Libyan in the case of a dispute between a Libyan and a “black African”.
The Hamood report added for clarification:
When probed, respondents using the term ‘foreigners’ explained that they specifically meant ‘blacks’.
Being mugged was a common experience for migrants, particularly for sub-Saharan Africans, in Tripoli and other cities; as was having children throw stones at them. Ermi, a 25-year-old Eritrean, spoke for many when he told HRW:
Even children took money from me. Libyans could beat me and I couldn’t defend myself. Even their parents didn’t stop them. The police back them up. Most of them don’t know that we are human beings
F.H., a Somali refugee interviewed in Egypt, said: “Libyans have a separate plate for their black servant and they refuse to eat from it after it has been used from them, they might even throw it away.”

Such racist attitude among the Arab population has led to pogroms in Gaddafi's Libya. The Hamood paper reported on an occurrence in 2000:
The potential for this racism to have dangerous and even fatal consequences was borne out in 2000, when racist attacks against sub-Saharan Africans led to dozens of deaths and scores of injuries. Disturbances in Tripoli and neighbouring al-Zawiyah soon spread to other parts of the country. Many sub-Saharan Africans found themselves homeless after their homes were burned and looted, forcing them to move to camps, “where on occasion members of the security forces failed to protect them from further attack. On at least one occasion, there were allegations of police involvement in the attacks” (Amnesty International, 2001). The attacks were followed by a wave of large-scale repatriations. In 2001 two Libyans, a Ghanaian and four Nigerians were sentenced to death in connection with the attacks.
BBC News reported on it briefly on 10 October 2000 saying:
During the past week, thousands of African immigrants living in Libya have been attacked by local residents. Some have had to take refuge in their respective embassies.
The report in The Economist two days later was far more detailed:
PLANELOADS of bodies, dead and alive, flew back to West Africa from Tripoli this week, after Libya's worst outbreak of anti-foreigner violence since the expulsion of Italians and Jews in Muammar Qaddafi's coup in 1969. Survivors told of pogroms.

Emeka Nwanko, a 26-year-old Nigerian welder, was one of hundreds of thousands of black victims of the Libyan mob. He fled as gangs trashed his workshop. His friend was blinded, as Libyan gangs wielding machetes roamed the African townships. Bodies were hacked and dumped on motorways. A Chadian diplomat was lynched and Niger's embassy put to the torch. Some Nigerians attacked their own embassy after it refused refuge to nationals without proper papers—the vast majority.

Libyans sheltering Africans were warned that their homes would be next. Some of Libya's indigenous 1m black citizens were mistaken for migrants, and dragged from taxis. In parts of Benghazi, blacks were barred from public transport and hospitals. Pitched battles erupted in Zawiya, a town near Tripoli that is ringed with migrant shantytowns. Diplomats said that at least 150 people were killed, 16 of them Libyans. The all-powerful security forces intervened by shooting into the air.
Over the past fortnight, hundreds of thousands of black migrants have been herded into trucks and buses, driven in convoy towards the border with Niger and Chad, 1,600km (1,000 miles) south of Tripoli, and dumped in the desert.
Cynthia McKinney at pro-Gaddafi conference in Tripoli, 2009
Europe didn't have a problem with hundreds of thousands of Africans left to die in the desert by Gaddafi. There was no outcry, and US members of the white Left, from Cynthia McKinney to Dennis Kucinich continued to sing his praises. They certainly couldn't call on the police for protection. There were no sanctuary cities in Gaddafi's Libya. Now, in Trump's America, illegal immigrants that have spent the better part of their lives in the United States may find themselves detained at any time. This was always the case in Gaddafi's Libya, where they might be detained for years, beaten, tortured, and sold into slavery or left to die in the desert. From the Hamood report:
The detainees did not understand the reasons for their detention since many had already spent years in Libya, mostly working and establishing themselves on a temporary basis in the fringes of any process allowing legal residence.
Maybe the reason for their detention was to squeeze them dry of what little they had accumulated by working and trying to establish themselves. Although, even when they were lucky enough to find work as illegals, that didn't necessarily mean they would get paid for it, as the Hamood report related:
The two most common problems faced were related to thefts, especially by Libyan youth, and not being paid their salary after having completed their work. M.A.A., a Somali refugee in Egypt, said, “Somalis prefer not working in Libya because they know they will be beaten and humiliated.” M., a Darfurian asylum-seeker in Italy, elaborated further with a somewhat typical response, “Many people work and do not receive their salary at the end. If you ask for your money, they beat you and the police do nothing to help.”
The return route: failed boat attempts mean death or detention

The Italian coast guard boat Bovienzo, taking migrants back to
Libya, 7 May 2009
When they do find transport, they are likely to pay a premium for transport on a safe ship, only to later be forced onto a flimsy raft at gunpoint with beatings. Then the motor will likely die in the first hours of the voyage, leaving them adrift. That's what happened to Daniel, the 26-year-old Eritrean:
The smugglers beat us with a stick to get us to board the boat. They crammed 264 of us onto the boat. There were pregnant women, babies, children. The captain of the boat said there were too many, but the smugglers wouldn’t listen. After ten hours, the motor broke. We had no food or water. We drifted for five days. The battery ran out on our Thuraya [satellite phone]. We were waiting to die.
They got "lucky" and were found by a coast guard boat from Malta that towed them back to Libya:
When we arrived, there were no doctors, nothing to help, just military police. They started punching us. They said, “You think you want to go to Italy.” They were mocking us. We were thirsty and they were hitting us with sticks and kicking us. For about one hour they beat everyone who was on the boat. Then they put us in a closed truck with only two little windows, not enough air to breathe. There was no food or water on the truck. It was 40 degrees Centigrade outside but it felt like 80 degrees inside the truck. I thought we would all die inside the truck, but somehow we all survived. They first took us to Al Fellah Prison, but it was full, so they took us to Misrata Prison.
In a way, Daniel's boat really was lucky, if Gaddafi's Libyan navy had found it, might have been fired upon with live ammunition. From the 2010 HRW report:
On May 4, 2009, Repubblica TV showed footage of men who appeared to be Libyan police brandishing and firing Kalashnikov AKMS assault rifles as they arrested migrants trying to board a boat.
This report of refugees being fired upon by "Pastor Paul," a 32-year-old Nigerian, is from a 2009 HRW paper on immigrant interdiction off the coast of Libya:
We were in a wooden boat and Libyans in a [motorized inflatable] Zodiac started shooting at us. They told us to return to shore. They kept shooting until they hit our engine. One person was shot and killed. I don't know the men who did the shooting, but they were civilians, not in uniforms. Then a Libyan navy boat came and got us and started beating us. They collected our money and cell phones. I think the zodiac boat was working with the Libyan navy.
This practise of shooting at refugee boats came under further scrutiny after a Libyan patrol boat opened fire on an Italian fishing trawler on 12 September 2010. Although there were no casualties, it caused an international incident, but since Gaddafi had long been working with Berlusconi to suppress the refugee flow, they were both quick to patch things up. The Libyans apologized and Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni excused it, saying "perhaps [the Libyans] mistook the fishing boat for a boat with illegal migrants." Apparently, that was okay with the Italians, so they were willing to excuse it on that basis.

It wasn't just refugees at sea that were met with lethal force:
West Africans describe similar problems when they enter Libya’s southwestern frontier. Migrants said that border police would shoot at them.
If the Italian navy found the immigrant boat, it might not be fired upon, but it would be returned to Libyan custody where the beatings will begin again. From the 2010 HRW report:
Italy and Libya patrol waters near their borders to interdict boat migrants and return them summarily to Libya without screening.
Libya in 2010 operated patrol boats provided by Italy with Italian personnel on board to interdict boat migrants on the high seas and in Libyan waters and return them summarily to Libya with no screening to identify refugees, the sick or injured, pregnant women, unaccompanied children, victims of trafficking, or victims of violence against women.
If they get to the coast and find a boat, that hardly assures they will make it to Europe. The boat may sink and if they are lucky enough to be rescued, they will be brought back to Libya and imprisoned. This is what happened to Abdi Hassan, a 23-year-old Somali. He was imprisoned in Zleitan after the boat he was on sunk and he was rescued. He described his release on 7 July 2008:
The head of the prison used me to translate an announcement to all the prisoners. He said, “It’s time for business. Everyone has to pay us $1,000 for rescuing them at sea. Those who pay will be sent to the smugglers to help them go to Europe.” Most of us paid the money. We were all released and taken by police car to the Abu Salim neighborhood and put at the door of the smuggler’s house, back where we had started before our boat sank
That is how the cycle is made to repeat itself until Gaddafi's Libya had squeezed the last dollar the poor immigrant had or could raise from the folks back home.

The return route - deportation back to Kurfa

After varying periods of imprisonment and abuse in the coastal region, in which more money was extorted from them, they were likely to be transported back to Kufra for deportation from Libya. The 2010 HRW report told of the aftermath of a immigrant prison protest:
Detainees told Human Rights Watch that Libyan guards severely beat them in the confrontation in Misrata, as well as on the way to al-Biraq; some were taken from Misrata to hospitals, while others arrived at al-Biraq with broken limbs. The detainees said they were given no food or water during the journey and no medical attention in al-Biraq. They also said that Libyan guards told them they would be deported to Eritrea.
Then as now, deportation to Eritrea means "imminent torture or death at the hands of the brutal, dictatorial regime that rules Eritrea." And from their 2009 report:
The truck journeys themselves are extremely dangerous and degrading. Migrants told Human Rights about being crammed into closed vehicles with almost no air. They would remain standing for a two-day journey, not allowed out even to urinate and defecate.
And again from the 2010 HRW report:
Witnesses informed Human Rights Watch that the Eritreans were jammed into three shipping containers mounted on trucks for the 12-hour, non-stop journey through the desert.
Being trucked to Kufra for deportation didn't necessarily mean they would get there. Very likely they would be released short of Kufra to traffickers who will take them back to Tripoli if they can pay, or to make their way out of the desert as best they can, if they can't pay. From the 2009 HRW report:
Libyan authorities in the coastal area put migrants (particularly from the Horn of Africa) in trucks and send them to Kufra purportedly to deport them across the land border with Sudan, but often they are not actually deported, rather simply left in the Libyan desert.
Daniel was also transported to Kufra after the Maltese Coast Guard interdicted his boat. He continued his story:
After three months [of detention at Misrata], the Libyans brought a truck and said they would take us back to our home countries. I said I was Sudanese. The truck took us to Kufra. It was overcrowded with 200 people and there was no air. It was very hot inside the truck. It was made of metal. If we had to urinate or defecate we had to do it in the truck where we stood. When the truck stopped, the drivers wouldn’t let us out. We arrived in Kufra. It was a very bad prison. I had a cross on my neck, which they ripped off. We had to line up with our faces against a wall. They hit us with a stick.
There was no doctor. At one point I felt very sick; I had a fever. The people started hitting the door to get the attention of the guards because I was very sick. The guards took me outside. The camp manager came and said, “Take him and throw him in the desert.”

A policeman took me, but he took pity on me and took me to the hospital instead. He bought medicine with his own money and they gave me an injection.
Tomas, the 24-year-old Eritrean we met above was sent to Kufra after his failed boat attempt and a two month stay in Jawazat Prison in Tripoli. He continues his story:
After two months, they put us with another group of Eritreans—150 people in all. They put us in a big truck packed with people. There wasn’t room for anyone to sit down...The only air was from some open holes in the roof of the truck; otherwise it was completely closed. The truck drove us from Tripoli to Kufra. We started at 6 am and traveled all day and all the next night. The truck was closed the entire trip. There were cracks in the floor and people urinated on the floor, but my eyes were in pain from the smell.

We begged for air. The truck would stop for the drivers to take a break and eat, but they would not open the door for us. They were afraid we would run away. The worst was when we arrived in Kufra. At least the air circulated when we were moving. In Kufra, we stopped for two hours in 45 degree [centigrade] weather and we could hardly breathe. The truck was made of metal. They kept us in there for two hours as punishment because we were shouting during the journey. God is great; we all survived.

When they let us out of the truck, we were in Kufra Prison. We spent one week there. They fed us food only once a day; rice only. Ramadan was over. I had already experienced two months of hunger in prison. We were now 800 prisoners crowded in different rooms. We slept on pieces of cardboard. There were no mattresses. It was dirty. The guards had no communication with us. They just opened and closed the doors.

Kufra is the border place for deportation. They just let you go from there because there is no place to go. There are always three nationalities there: Sudanese, Eritreans, and Ethiopians. They cast you back to your country at Kufra. They don't actually take you to the border; they just let you go.

But the smugglers have an agreement with the prison commander. When they let us go, we are ready for market. The drivers wait for us outside the Kufra prison and make deals to take us to Tripoli. The drivers say that they have paid money to get us out of prison. They then take us out of the city to a place in the open bush.

The drivers told us we had to pay them money since they had paid to get us released from prison. We had either to pay the 40 dinar bribe to get us out of prison or $400 to get to Tripoli. The only way to do that is to call your family to have them send money. My family sent money and I went back to Tripoli.
The 2009 HRW report describes how a truck ride to Kufra, obstinately for deportation, is turned into a way of recycling the poor immigrant through Libyan again to squeeze more money out of him or her:
Libya trucks migrants from the coastal areas to its land borders to deport them. Migrants from the Horn of Africa, including Somalia and Eritrea, are sent by truck to Kufra in Libya’s remote southeastern corner to be deported into Sudan. In some cases, however, they are not actually deported. Instead, according to testimony from migrants, they are left in the desert within Libyan territory. In practice, this means that such migrants have no choice but to put their lives in the hands, once again, of the smugglers who brought them from Kufra to Benghazi or Tripoli in the first place, usually abusing them along the way.
The route - pay or die in the desert

Bodies found in the desert
Sub-Saharan migrants sent to Kufra for "deportation" were turned over to the human traffickers or simply left to die in the desert depending on whether they can still pay or not. Many saw the bodies of migrants who had been left in the desert to perish. Madihah, a 24-year-old Eritrean woman, was left in the desert by smugglers, and saw what happened to others who had been similarly abandoned:
I walked to Libya after being dropped in the desert. I saw the bodies of Eritreans and their ID cards there in the desert—two ladies and a boy who looked Eritrean. It took 24 days to get through the desert.
But she lived to tell her story. So did Emmanuel, a 34-year-old Togolese man:
They killed people, took our money and left 32 of us in the desert without food or water. Six more died of thirst. A car picked us up and took us to Al-Qatrun. After a week there, we went in another car to Sabha. There were checkpoints on the road. They check you for money. If you don’t have money they beat you and threaten to send you back in the desert to die. People lost their souls, left without food or water.
The bounce - from Kurfa to back to the coast

If they can pay, the cycle repeated until they reached Europe or died trying. Ghedi, a 29-year-old Somali, described how he had to bargain for his release from Kufra detention center in April 2008:
The first time I paid $300 and was not released. Then I paid another $500 and was released. It was at night. The smugglers and the police—or the army—were the same. They were all the same.
As HRW stated in its 2009 report:
Although the authorities transport migrants to Kufra for the supposed purpose of expelling them overland to Egypt or Sudan, in fact the Kufra authorities sometimes do not actually take them to the border but rather leave them in the desert outside Kufra or make deals with smugglers who pick them up to start the process again.
For those few lucky enough to finally reach the "promised land" of Italy, this 28 September 2009 Reuters article by Silva Aloisi, titled '"Modern slave" migrants toil in Italy's tomato fields,' gives us an idea of what they could expect:
Every year thousands of immigrants, many from Africa, flock to the fields and orchards of southern Italy to scrape a living as seasonal workers picking grapes, olives, tomatoes and oranges.

Broadly tolerated by authorities because of their role in the economy, they endure long hours of backbreaking work for as little as 15-20 euros ($22-$29) a day and live in squalid makeshift camps without running water or electricity.
“It’s a feudal system like in the Middle Ages. These modern slaves are handy for the economy: you can exploit them and then get rid of them when you don’t need them anymore,” said Father Arcangelo Maira, a local priest trying to help the immigrants.
“They left their country and came here hoping to find an El Dorado, but they end up living in conditions that are often worse than what they had at home,” said Benelli.
African immigrants sit in a shack in a makeshift camp in the countryside near the village of Rignano Garganico, southern Italy, September 23, 2009. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Arab supremacy is the child of white supremacy

Arab Ladies In the Harem by Filippo Baratti
White supremacy developed out of the European practise of enslaving Africans in the western hemisphere. Arab supremacy is a derivative of white supremacy. It emerged relatively recently, in the wake of World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. While historically the Arabs also enslaved Africans, it never played the critical economic role for them that it did for the Europeans that built empires with slaves. Far from providing the material basis for racist ideology, Arabs trafficked mainly in African women, who were prized for their beauty. They were sold into harems, where they were integrated into the culture and bore their master's children. This was not American-styled racial slavery. Those children became full heirs to their father's name, legacies and fortunes no matter how dark they were. That is why African blood can be seen in almost every Arab face. The vile hatred for that African blood practised by Muammar Gaddafi and the other Arab supremacists that supported him had a different genesis. It aped the customs and practises of the white racism that seemed to be doing so well, as their own Ottoman Empire was collapsing after more than 300 years. Jihan A. Mohammed, writes in "Arab Supremacy," 11 July 2014:
The emergence of the Arab supremacy was a reaction to the Western powers, Western colonialism, and imperialism in the early 20th century.
Libyan racism under Gaddafi

Tomas, the 24-year-old Eritrean, remembers the racism as well as the abuse, saying:
They called me “nigger” as they beat me.
It is a fitting tribute to the fatherhood of white supremacy that these Arab speakers used an English word to insult these Africans. "Nigger" is a racial slur for Africans that developed in the United States in the 1700's along with slavery. The Hamood report noted the effects of this racism on African migrants:
For sub-Saharan Africans, there are additional difficulties faced from society at large, notably racism. Testimonies of some of the Egyptian respondents, as well as those of sub-Saharan Africans, describe a situation in which sub-Saharan Africans face greater difficulties both from state officials, such as police officers and prison guards, and from ordinary members of society by virtue of the colour of their skin.
For Hama Tuma, the responsibility for these racist policies came straight from the top:
For all his claims to the contrary, Gaddafi has no respect for Africa or Africans. This is not just manifested by how very inhumanely he treats African workers and asylum seekers, nor by his self declaration as the King of All African tribes, but mainly by his deeply ingrained chauvinism and pretension to be an African Messiah. No wonder he refers to Africans as starved and ignorant and violates the rights of Black Africans in Libya.
Ethnic map of Libya
In 2010 the UN Human Rights Council commented on ethnic and racial discrimination in Libyan government policy. First they addressed the plight of the Berger or Amazigh people, who would later be among the strongest supporters of the revolution:
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) was concerned about the plight of ethnic minorities. Berber (Amazigh) and Toubou peoples had been suffering human rights violations. Some 10 percent of the Libyan population was estimated to be of Amazigh origin. Tens of thousands of Tuareg people migrated from Niger and Mali to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in search for jobs after the disastrous drought in the Sahel countries in the 70s. But the Libyan Government insisted on the Arab identity of the country and described claims of Amazigh identity as a colonial invention. Despite the fact that the Amazigh were the indigenous population of North Africa, on March 1, 2007, the Libyan leadership has publicly stated that no Berbers were living in North Africa. These remarks have caused an outcry among the Amazigh community in North Africa. STP reported that the President of the “World Amazigh Congress” wrote an Open Letter and protested against the denial of the existence of 30 million Amazigh in North Africa. Libyan Amazigh were facing ostracism, exclusion and broad discrimination, stated the letter.
Then they turned their attention to the Tabu:
STP recalled that massive discrimination of the Toubou minority had been reported from the south eastern part of the country. Some 4,000 Toubou people are living in the town of Kufra, an oasis city of 44,000 inhabitants some 2,000 kilometres from Tripoli. In the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, they were treated as foreigners by the authorities. In December 2007, the Libyan Government withdrew citizenship from members of the Toubou group, stating that they were not Libyans but Chadians. Furthermore the local authorities issued decrees barring Toubou from access to education and health care services. The armed movement “Front for the Salvation of the Toubou Libyans” has opposed these measures and up to 33 people died in Kufra, during five days of fighting between the official security forces and the Toubou in November 2008
In one of the most grotesque examples of racial violence to be found anywhere, the Gaddafi regime suppressed a major Tabu uprising in Kufra by deploying helicopter gunships and tanks. The Carleton report gives some background:
Historically, the town of Kufra was a key trading post between central and northern Africa; however, Libya's southern border region is now a main smuggling route for arms and migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa. The Toubou, who are deeply engaged in the smuggling economy, are allegedly in competition with the Arab Zwai to control these routes. Neither group is better off economically than the other, save for the discriminatory state policies against non-Arab minorities under the Qaddafi regime, including the removal of their rights to citizenship, ration cards, healthcare and education in 2007.
The Carnegie report described the situation this way:
The most intractable eastern conflict is the ongoing violence in the Saharan town of Kufra, where clashes have erupted between the Tabu, a long-marginalized non-Arab African minority, and the Zway, an Arab tribe favored by Qaddafi.
The UNHCR gives us these examples of Israeli-styled discrimination:
November 2009 dozens of families lost their homes due to forced destruction by bulldozers supervised by state security forces. Several dozens of Toubou were arrested because of their opposition against the forced evictions.
And the Gaddafi regime carried out these extreme policies:
Libyan authorities refused to renew or extend passports to members of this minority. Several times parents were prevented from registering births of their children and denied birth certificates.
The Carnegie report tells us what was happening before Gaddafi brought in the gunships:
Throughout the late 1990s and into the 2000s, the Tabu in Kufra saw their livelihood decline precipitously, with the majority of Tabu confined to ghetto-like conditions in the districts of Swaydiya and Qaderfi. In 2007, Qaddafi withdrew Libyan nationality from many Tabu in Kufra, effectively depriving them of health care, housing, jobs, and education. In response, local Tabu formed the Front for the Salvation of Libyan Tabus; widespread rioting and protests ensued. In 2008, the regime suppressed a major Tabu uprising in Kufra, deploying helicopter gunships and tanks.
It then adds this hopeful note:
During the 2011 revolt, however, the Zway and the Tabu temporarily shelved their differences and fought together against Qaddafi.
White Supremacy and the Green Book

The Green Book is a 19,054 word "book" which Muammar Gaddafi published six years after his military coup d'etat in 1969. It sets out the philosophy and political structures of his "revolution," it was "intended to be read for all people," and it was reported that Libyan school children spent at least 2 hours a week studying it. When asked to explain the Green Book, Professor Dirk Vandewalle of Dartmouth College said:
I must admit it's very difficult to understand in part because it really is not a coherent thought if you compare it, for example, to "The Little Red Book" of Mao and so on where you get at least a consistent argument. "The Green Book" contains really a set of aphorisms more than a completely thought-out integrated philosophical statement.
And yet, it was supposed to serve as the supreme law of the land. It has very little to say directly about black people, but what it does say panders to the racist mythology behind the so-called threat of "white genocide." It is also right in line with Gaddafi's fear mongering anti-migrant sales pitch to the EU. The Green Book says:

The latest age of slavery has been the enslavement of Blacks by White people. The memory of this age will persist in the thinking of Black people until they have vindicated themselves.

This tragic and historic event, the resulting bitter feeling, and the yearning or the vindication of a whole race, constitute a psychological motivation of Black people to vengeance and triumph that cannot be disregarded. In addition, the inevitable cycle of social history, which includes the Yellow people's domination of the world when it marched from Asia, and the White people's carrying out a wide-ranging colonialist movement covering all the continents of the world, is now giving way to the re-emergence of Black people.

Black people are now in a very backward social situation, but such backwardness works to bring about their numerical superiority because their low standard of living has shielded them from methods of birth control and family planning. Also, their old social traditions place no limit on marriages, leading to their accelerated growth. The population of other races has decreased because of birth control, restrictions on marriage, and constant occupation in work, unlike the Blacks, who tend to be less obsessive about work in a climate which is continuously hot.
Those 215 words are the sum total of what the Green Book has to say about black Africans in this North African country, although it does peddle its national chauvinism throughout the text with little tibbits like:
People are only harmonious with their own arts and heritage. They are not harmonious with the arts of others because of heredity.
It's no wonder that today Muammar Gaddafi words are featured on extremist sites like InfoWars, Daily Stormer, and Stop White Genocide.

Gaddafi's Libya exported white supremacy to Africa

Gaddafi's involvement in Darfur and with the founding of the Janjaweed is a case in point.

The best place on Earth to show that white supremacy has little to do with skin color maybe Sudan. In Sudan, white supremacy has begat an Arab supremacy that divides people largely by skin color even though the lightest Sudanese would be called "black" in the United States. Hama Tuma also noted, "The irony is that the same so called Arab Sudanese and Mauritanians are themselves considered as abeed or slaves in Saudi Arabia." Jacob Akol wrote about this in "Why peace is elusive: The government has suspended the peace talks with the rebels after losing the strategic town of Torit," Around Africa: Sudan, 2002:
the northern Sudanese see themselves as Arabs and deny the strongly African element in their skin colour and physical features. They associate these features with the Negroid race and see it as the mother race of slaves, inferior and demeaned.
"Their identification with Arabism." Dr Deng says, "is the result of a process in which races and religions were ranked, with Arabs and Muslims respected as free, superior and a race of slave masters, while Negroes and heathens were viewed as legitimate target of slavery, if they were not in fact already slaves."

Colour of skin is also an important factor in Sudan: "The darker the colour of skin, the less authentic the claim to Arab ancestry and the greater the likelihood of being looked down on as of slave origin."
These differences in skin color, mixed with a little religion and a lot of Arab supremacy, led to one of the worst holocausts of the 21st century, the Darfur genocide. By the end of 2006, the Sudanese Arab janjaweed militias had shot, hacked, or starved to death up to 300,000 people in their attempt to wipeout the non-Arab population. Makau Mutua, wrote about the genocide for the Christian Science Monitor in a piece titled "Racism at root of Sudan's Darfur crisis," 14 July 2004:
Darfur is not an accidental apocalypse of mass slaughters, enslavement, pillage, and ethnic cleansing. The Darfur pogrom is part of a historic continuum in which successive Arab governments have sought to entirely destroy black Africans in this biracial nation.
The raison d'être of the atrocities committed by government-supported Arab militias is the racist, fundamentalist, and undemocratic Sudanese state. What is required for peace in Sudan is either regime change, in which a democratic, inclusive state is born, or a partition, in which the black African south and west become an independent sovereign state free of Khartoum and the Arab north.
Race - not religion - is the fundamental fault line in Sudan, though religion has certainly added fuel to the fire in the south.
Economic greed and global warming also played a role in the crisis. The piece continues:
Khartoum's genocidal policy in Darfur and the south is also a grab for resources. The Arab north is arid and barren, but the south is arable with vast oil deposits Khartoum covets and badly needs. In the west, in Darfur, Arabs seeking to escape the spreading desert kill and displace Africans for more productive land.
It's telling that the AU has not denounced Sudan for the Darfur atrocities. And, at its annual summit in Addis Ababa last week, the AU declared that the Darfur killings did not amount to genocide.
Muammar Gaddafi with Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum, 21 Dec 2010
Muammar Gaddafi opposed the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant for Sudan's President  Omar Al Bashir, and was pretty much running the African Union at the time. After the AU voted not to honor the ICC arrest warrant, David Greenberg argued "African Union Declaration Against the ICC Not What it Seems" on the Foreign Policy in Focus site, 6 August 2009:
However, several reports about the nature of the AU meeting, as well as the behavior of the African members of the ICC, all show that the continent hasn’t turned its back on the ICC or Bashir’s arrest warrant. The “consensus” does not exist. The decision was made through the use of manipulative tactics and bullying from the current chairman of the African Union, Muammar Gaddafi, and without a doubt, from Bashir himself.
There were reports that Gaddafi had threatened foreign ministers, censored e-mails, and had faxes blocked so that no one could effectively challenge the resolution. The vice president of Botswana, Mompati Merafhe, stated that “Gaddafi did not permit much debate on the matter…we did not get an opportunity to put our opinion across.” Others were prohibited from making any comment on the declaration at all.
In "Beyond ‘Janjaweed’: Understanding the Militias of Darfur" Julie Flint writes of the roots of the genocide:
In North Darfur, clashes between pastoralists and farmers over water and grazing land, especially in the wake of the great drought and famine of 1984–85, escalated into war in the central Jebel Marra region in 1988–89 as Arab fighters trained in Libyan camps returned to Darfur following the overthrow of the regime of President Jaafar Nimeiri and small arms flooded the region.
Libyan oil money misappropriated by Gaddafi probably financed those small arms. She seems to confirm this when she adds:
In the 1980s, many of Darfur’s Arabs had been armed, including with an agenda of Arab domination, as the Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi sought to establish an ‘Arab belt’ across Africa.
The origins of the Janjaweed go back to 1972 when Gaddafi created the Islamic Legion as a tool to unify and Arabize the region.  Alex de Waal wrote in the London Review of Books, 5 August 2004:
Gaddafi’s formula for war was expansive: he collected discontented Sahelian Arabs and Tuaregs, armed them, and formed them into an Islamic Legion that served as the spearhead of his offensives.
In Darfur, a western province of Sudan, Gaddafi supported the creation of the Arab Gathering (Tajammu al-Arabi), which according to Gérard Prunier was "a militantly racist and pan-Arabist organization which stressed the 'Arab' character of the province."

There was of co-mingling between these groups, and between them they kept up near continuous cross border raids that had already costed more than 9,000 lives in Darfur between 1985 and 1988 when the Janjaweed first rose from this rabble. "Peace in the Balance: The Crisis in Sudan," edited by Brian Raftopoulos and Karin Alexander, 2006, says:
Today Gaddafi's pan-Arabic ideals seem passé but the legacy of Libyan Arab supremacy lives on in Darfur. The Janjaweed are amongst those who are said to have received training in Libya.
In "Genocide in Darfur: Investigating the Atrocities in the Sudan," Andrew S. Natsios puts the blame for the genocide squarely on Gaddafi's foreign policy:
In 1987, Libya used the northwest Darfur corner as a backdoor to attack Chad. It had equipped and sent out the so-called Arab legion, an Arab supremacist militia, to pursue Arab expansion in the mineral-rich sub-Saharan regions it bordered and to drive out the African tribes. Libya was not orchestrating a simple border raid on a poor country; it was pursuing a new strategy of pan-Arabism, couched in an emotionally charged ideology.

The sharp distinctions between Arabs and Africans in the racially mixed Darfur region had not been drawn until the ideology of pan-Arabism that came out of the Libya made itself felt.
Now that Donald Trump is president of the United States, the experiences of Libya under the rule of "Brother Leader" Muammar Gaddafi should be read as a cautionary tale of what impact a corrupt, lying, full-of-himself, racist, dictatorial ruler can have on a country given enough time in power.


On 17 February 2011, a united majority of the Libyan people, including, Arabs, Amazigh, Tuareg and black Africans, rose up and put an end to the madness and oppression that was the 42 year reign of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. They received substantial help from NATO "allies" that had their own economic crisis driven reasons for insuring that the flow of Libya's light-sweet crude was not long interrupted, reasons that caused them to support Gaddafi's crackdown before they opposed it.

While the UN authorized, NATO implemented, no-fly zone stopped Gaddafi from doing to Libya, what Bashar al-Assad has been allowed to do to Syria, the heavy lifting of defeating Gaddafi's armed repression, the fighting on the ground, was done by people's militias organized by the Libyans themselves. They succeeded in doing what no other "Arab Spring" revolt was able to do; they succeeded in completely smashing the dictatorial state machinery including it instruments of violent repression!

Of course, overthrowing the government is just the first half of the revolutionary process. The process Libya is going through now, typically a ten year process, is the one in which the people, hopefully, replace it with something better. The future is not predestined however, 10 years after their revolution, the French got Napoleon, and 10 years after our revolution we were still hashing out the US constitution.

Post-Gaddafi Libya also faces some special problems; Gaddafi's unique style of "governance" left Libya with almost nothing like normal civil and government institutions. If you've gotten to this point in this essay, you know that is something of an understatement. Civil society has to be created virtually from scratch.

Generations of Libyans have no experience living outside of a police state and no tradition of carrying out ordinary civil functions like voting, joining civil discourse, or running for office. Generations grew up in an environment in which racism wasn't just tolerated; it was encouraged from the highest levels of law and government.They were also largely abandoned by the white Left, which discredited communism with their counterfeit versions, failed to criticize Gaddafi when he was in power, didn't notice the revolt until NATO changed sides, and then threw their support behind the fascists because NATO came around to needing to be rid of Gaddafi fast.

Libya should be rightly criticized for practices of racism, slavery and immigrant abuse that continue there today, but the Left should not join the imperialists in propagating the counter-revolutionary mythology that these are features new to Libya, or have gotten worse since Gaddafi was overthrown. Rather it must be recognized that his overthrow was but the first necessary step to correcting these ills.

It is true that post-Gaddafi Libya has serious problems, including with racism and their handling of immigrants and refugees, but this must be placed in the context of what the country has been through under the 42 years of Gaddafi rule. Far from being the "good old days," -it is the legacy Libya is still trying to overcome, and those efforts should be supported, not denigrated, by progressive people around the world.

My indepth pieces on the Libyan Revolution: