So, what’s the situation in Libya today?

Posted: 06/05/2012 by editormary in Libya, Middle East

We hear a lot of talk about what goes on in Libya, mostly about “thousands of NATO deaths”, when actually, seeking the numbers, we realise that this is another one of those innacuracies and fallacies that wish to dupe people who are not paying attention. We hear about NATO boots on the ground. Another fallacy. However, unless you are involved closely with Libyans, after the war that took place on their land and the ousting of the Gaddafi regime, there has been a sort of silence, which leaves room for those who aren’t closely involved with Libya or who actually never even thought of it before the revolution to dominate the discourse.

In a Facebook group, the question was asked regarding the truthfulness of the things being said by the Westerners who ar nostalgic of the Gaddafi regime. This was one of the replies:

Zuran Zolowski

In Libya today, some dissatisfied militia occupied the airport and interrupted flight traffic. After negotiations they seem to have left in peace, or so Twitter said this evening. There is no foreign military presence in Libya that amounts to anything; oil companies are not protected by the Libyan troops at the moment. Generally, the mood seems to be OK; there were not many problems with the election preparations that could not be fixed, and the people protest vigorously and freely when something is not to their mind. Tens of thousands of Berbers came to Tripoli to protest for increased cultural rights some months ago, perhaps the first time this has ever been possible. There have been some armed clashes, but generally they are resolved by negotiation. Two more serious incidents had a tribal, not political background though.

Tolerance for incompetent politicians is low to nonexisting. Open militia presence on the streets is not commonplace anymore at least in the major cities. After some problems around March 1, connectivity and Web traffic has fully resumed its pre-revolution pattern. Public services are generally working, except in Sirte, where reconstruction is progressing but much is still damaged. The number of political prisoners is still too high and prison conditions are bad, but 80-85% of the political prisoners have been released since the fall of the regime. There are cultural and educational festivals and meetings on things like womens’ rights, sustainable development, digital democracy, human rights etc.

There is much discussion about increased regional autonomy, but I have yet to come across any marked sentiment of factionalism or tribal independence. The Berbers are outspoken, but even there outright separatism is muted. There are still problems with getting the embezzled Gaddafi funds. The legal system is a mess. A working noncorrupt social-security system is urgently needed.

There may be future problems with foreign mercenaries – presently the oil companies only use bodyguards for the specialist technicians and engineers (Gaddafi was not an anticolonialist – he merely elevated exploitation of the natives to a higher level: Libya has not nearly sufficient trained personnel for the high-tech jobs in oil/gas drilling. Libyan people were good enough to do the ork work for foreign oil companies – the well-paid jobs were WASPs and are still WASPs.)

Altogether more Libyans than not seem to think that NATO did a good or at least not a bad job. There is much discussion and criticism on Twitter, but very very little pro-Gaddafi sentiment. I have yet to see as much as 1 Libyan in 10 on Twitter who cries for him. Russian and English and German tweets OTOH… you wouldn’t believe they are talking about the same country. According to the info we get in Western “underground sources”, Libya has been flattened and depopulated by NATO but the Green Army marches victorious. Really makes you wonder what these guys smoke.

All in all I’d give Libya 7.5 points out of 10 for its revolution. It is still too much in the balance to ask “was it worth the killed? – as if it ever really were, but the “check what Bush did in Iraq and do the exact opposite” rule seems to work. But considering what *might* have happened, the state of affairs in Libya is surprisingly good. The news often seem harsh to Western ears – like with the guys at the airport today -, but Libyans were always more Beduin than anyone else, and are somewhat blunt and have a rough and ready “cowboy” mentality. The caveat is that we will see more tribal and even cross-border violence. But it might not amount to much all in all if it’s played cool. Borders are porous down there, and tribal feuds have always been around. Under Gaddafi, the military made short work of any tribals who raised hell; this is not gonna happen anymore anytime soon.

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