Archive for the ‘Libya’ Category

This text was written by Dyab Abu Jahjah in 2012. This is his site.
Relative to revolutions all around the world, the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions are historical miracles and a shining example of non-violent, civilized uprisings. The Yemeni revolution, in its insistence on non-violence and its discipline, is truly amazing, as is the revolution in Bahrain. The Syrian revolution, in its enormous sacrifices in the face of a ruthless killing machine, is a historical epic. The revolutions in Libya is an epitome of effectiveness.
We cannot just mention Libya in passing because the Libyan case has become the favorite example for conspiracy theorists and doubters in the revolution. It is true that the intervention by NATO is complicated and is definitely not innocent. But it is also true that the agenda of the Libyan revolutionaries is not identical to NATO’s agenda. This divergence will emerge slowly but surely because the relationship between the Libyan revolution and NATO is not one of submission. European powers wanted to secure the oil contracts that they had signed with Kaddafi and at the same time appear to support the Arab revolution after their shameful support for Ben-Ali and Mubarak to the very end. The Libyan revolutionaries wanted air cover in their confrontation with Kaddafi’s barbaric killing machine. and unfortunately no Arab or Islamic country was able to provide such a cover. Hence, a deal was struck, and we must look at this deal from the point of view of shared interests. In the end, Libya has been liberated and there are no occupation forces and no NATO mandate on Libya. As for the oil contracts, they are a matter of commerce because oil is nothing more than a commodity that is sold by the state based on the people’s interests; it does not represent our dignity or our honor. Isn’t it better for a free Libyan people to trade and cooperate with foreign countries to benefit itself rather than for a dictator like Kaddafi to do the same thing while oppressing his people for the benefit of himself and his sons with their many lovers?

A free people determines its path by itself and no one can claim any longer that a deranged tyrant knows his people’s interests better than the people. The alternative, for those who are always asking about alternatives, as if we were replacing one totalitarian government with another, is always the ballot box. What’s more important, and what is true in any region in the Arab World, is that foreign intervention is a small detail in the midst of the massive historical movement that the Arab revolution represents, which neither the reactionary oil oligarchies nor Western imperialism will be able to co-opt no matter how hard they try. The old regimes and their remnants will fail in their attempt to paint the Arab revolution as a western conspiracy to dethrone them because of their achievements in pursuing the interests of the people. The people know that the historical trend in our region is one of revolution, and they are aware of the West’s attempts to intervene and co-opt the revolution, but they are also capable of thwarting these attempts. In Syria, for example, the revolutionary forces have rejected military intervention and instead called for international protection and observers, and some insist on most being Arab, in spite of the enormous oppression and killing. Those who accuse the Syrian revolutionaries of being traitors are similar to someone who denies a seriously ill patient medicine because that medicine is made in Paris or London and is being distributed by United Nations agencies.

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Meyssan and Friend.....

Meyssan and Friend…..

From ISLAMETRO by LORENZO DECLICH translated by Mary Rizzo 

Thierry Meyssan carefully chooses the place in which he lives.
At the time of the war in Libya he was in Tripoli, in the palaces of Moammar Gaddafi.
After the war he moved to Damascus, where he has been living for two years.
But, as we read on Megachip, he has known Syria for ten years.

And Sunday, 3 November 2013, having a sudden illumination, he comes to say that “Syria has changed.”
It had not changed ten years ago, after the pale “Damascus Spring” was crushed by the young son of Hafez al-Assad, Bashar, to the sound of arrests. It has not changed since March 2011, when the people, overcoming fear, began to take to the streets knowing that they would be shot at. It changed today, but the reason for it being today, who knows what that could be.

Maybe because at the presidential palace they say that it’s time to bring closure to the circle of propaganda, now that the event of the chemical weapons has paid off and the world has come to the common conclusion that “a war has been avoided”. Perhaps because there is the need of a dusting off of the image, the idea must be reinforced that after all, “everything’s going in the right direction”.

As the intro of the piece tells us:

The media coverage of the war in Syria extends only to military, humanitarian and diplomatic actions. But all of that leaves aside the profound transformation of the country.

And if this comes from someone who lives in Damascus, presumably in the city’s centre, which is one of the few areas of Syria Bashar has not bombed, you can be sure that it is true.
One hundred and twenty thousand deaths, including eight million displaced persons and refugees do not register for Meyssan as a “transformation.”

Speaking of “humanitarian actions”, therefore, we do not register the profound change of a country. Speaking of bombardment of the population by the army serving Bashar, that proves to be indiscriminate when they affect areas beyond government control but targeted when they hit schools and hospitals in those same areas, we “leave aside” the deepest Syria, the one which has changed.

Speaking of the indolence, inaction and hypocrisy of diplomacy over Syria, we are denouncing that this situation is left to rot in indifference.

And if we want to talk about media coverage, we do not understand why the “mainstream” – and with it Thierry Meyssan – systematically has been ignoring  the voices for three years – some faint and inaccurate – of Syrian activism at home, those voices that Bashar as well as since several months, the qaidists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have been silencing to the sound of arrests, assassinations, torture.

And if we want to go and see “the media outlets” that host the reflections of Thierry Meissan we find that these, after all, are not as “poor”.

As they write on Megachip:

This “weekly news on foreign policy” appears simultaneously in the Arabic version of the newspaper “Al- Watan” (Syria), in the German version of the “Neue Reinische Zeitung” in the Russian language on the “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, in English on “Information Clearing House” in French on “Réseau Voltaire”.

One wonders what journalist – or one who is alleged to be – has the luck of being simultaneously translated into five languages. One has to wonder who engages in such a zealous manner to spread the thought of the embedded for Bashar.

***

Here you are.

Now one supposes that a deconstruction of Meyssan’s article will follow, but I’m already tired.
The propaganda of Bashar has won again, he works right alongside it.
But I will make one last effort, trying to direct you on how to read – unless you find yourself overcome with the urge to vomit, which would mean that you are already aware and it’s simply no use to continue – this gem of deception, creation of false trails and propaganda.

The article uses categories of thought that are considered to be those of the “left discourse”.

It speaks to those persons who, as is highlighted in the titles to the paragraphs, are concerned about things like freedom.

Hence the division into themes:
The war according to the armed opposition
Freedom of expression
Freedom of thought
Political freedom
Reactions of class

Thierry, in them, holds the bar solidly on one thing alone: to not accredit in any way the only Syrian opposition that would show how ridiculous his reasoning is.
This opposition is represented by the Syrian Local Coordination Committees, which are the backbone of the revolution against Bashar, and the galaxy of nonviolent activism (which I have mentioned before).
These two entities are the only ones to be able to speak with authority and ownership of the topics with which Meyssan headlines his paragraphs.
So it is obvious that he attempts to delete them.

As well as, since March 2011, trying to make Bashar, firing on the crowd.

And just as with initiatives that lure the unsuspecting, awkwardly composed of small groups of mindless “pacifists” in various parts of the world, including the effort afloat for some time by the nun of Bashar, Agnes Marie de la Croix.

The only way that Meyssan can achieve the goal, from the rhetorical point of view, is to seize control of the words and concepts of the real opposition, in order to build a parallel reality on them in which the opposition no longer exists and the “good people” are the friends of Bashar identified as an ideal “people” of the “poor” who seek ” freedom” and “democracy” and fights against “obscurantism”.

Let’s see how it goes.

Meyssan says more or less, “everyone is talking about civil war when in fact there has been an external aggression.”
The truth, however, is that he speaks of “civil war” when we should be speaking of the destruction of a country and a people by a mafia clan, acting like a dog that refuses to give up the bone (remember the writing on the wall? “Only Assad, or we will burn the country”).

Then he tells us that Bashar has emanated laws on freedom of expression so that today – given that “Syria has changed” – everyone is talking about politics. But he does not tell us that there are tens of thousands of political prisoners in jail. That there are mass graves near these prisons. That there are secret torture centres scattered across the country.*

Then he tells us that today, given that Syria has changed, there are those who fight for “freedom of thought”, for religious freedom, etc. taking up arms and fighting against the obscurantist terrorists, formed and trained by the West, who are in the opposition.

But among these people who are fighting he does not include those who truly have been part of the struggle, revolting against Bashar, often paying with their lives, and now becoming a victim of those extremists – which among other things do not identify with the revolution of March 2011, they have another agenda – one that Bashar has done everything to foment.

These people who are the true part of the struggle for freedom are activists and representatives of those Local Coordination Committees mentioned above.

Persons whom Meyssan simply wants to wipe from the face of the earth.

What a guy!

An easy-going guy who then tells us that there are so many parties that we cannot even count them. That people used to watch al-Jazeera and now they watch government channels or channels of the Shi’a network. That the snipers who fired on the crowd they were terrorists, they were not the army of Bashar. That the internal Syrian intelligence services, the Mukhabarat, if the first part good and part bad  have now become absolutely good and fight with us, with all of us east to west north to south, for freedom.

Other pleasant lies follow, up to the “Class reactions”, which comprises the final gem.

Meyssan, without ever obviously mentioning the mafia that is in power, is able to say that the rich have all left and what remains are the people, a people that combats against the evil of the West, incarnated by the terrorists. A people who will win against all odds. The amount of lies can be summed up entirely in this penultimate sentence:

This war has bloodied Syria, of which half of the cities and infrastructure have been destroyed to satisfy the appetites and fantasies of the Western and Gulf powers.

While the tragic truth is that the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad has destroyed Syria and massacred the Syrian people for the sole purpose of not leaving his power and privilege. And that there is no solution to the conflict if he and his gang of criminals do not go away and die far from Syria.

——

* I can already imagine the pro-Assad that says, “if they are secret how do you know that they exists?” My answer is “fuck you, you idiot.”

——

P.S. My congratulations go to Megachip but especially friends of the network of “Globalist “, with which I have worked in the past. This stuff, dear readers, is quite creepy and there is no policy of clicking “like” that can justify the publication, not even via syndication. Make an analysis for yourselves, find the answers. Or let the world go on as it is, between a bit of light porno that passes for network TV and a Meyssan, at the core, there really is no difference between them.

http://islametro.altervista.org/la-voce-damasco/

No "more" bombs...the ones from Russia and Iran dropped by Assad's army can keep coming though... there are terrorists, you know.

No “more” bombs…the ones from Russia and Iran dropped by Assad’s army can keep coming though… there are terrorists, you know.

RE: Stop the War in Syria

Hello Antiwar Activist,

How are you? It’s been 2 and half years. I’ve missed you. I hope all is well. Thank you for writing back. Yes you’re right, we have to stop this war!

I am glad you are here now. We can use your help. You are against war, right? So you must really care about the Syrian people and want to help save them from the tragedies they have endured for far too long. Let me catch you up to speed so you can join the effort to help end this war.

The media is telling us that the West is about to attack Syria. You seem concerned. Just a heads up, Israel attacked Syria a month ago. The West attacked Mali last year, Libya the year before that, and continues to use drones worldwide every day. I didn’t hear from you then so you probably just didn’t get the memo. The war isn’t just about to start. It’s actually been going on for 2 and half years. 100,000 people are dead. 1 out of every three people is displaced. 1 out of every 3 people needs humanitarian assistance. The medical system has collapsed. And third of the country is in rubble because conventional weapons are being used indiscriminately every day.

So, the West is about to attack. We don’t want foreign military intervention right? Oh but Iranian and Lebanese forces have been there for some time now fighting with The Government’s army, and along with Russia have been arming them with sophisticated weapons. I guess that doesn’t count as foreign because those are not western countries. Israel attacked Syria a few times too but they are not Western so let’s forget about that too.

What’s important now is to stop the West. They’re always looking to start wars. They are the bad guy. So that means Syria must be the good guy. Oh you don’t know much about them. Let me fill you in. There is a dictatorship there. It’s been about 40 years. It comes with all the stuff you expect from good guys, no freedom of expression, no democracy, gross human rights violations, political prisoners, and complete theft of the economy. In fact one guy owns 60% of the entire Syrian economy! Hmm, let me see what else. Oh yeah they were responsible for the killing of an entire city of Hama killing over 20,000 people in 1982 and are a designated a state sponsor of terrorism since 1979. And in case you forgot they attacked, kidnapped, tortured, and killed peaceful protesters for the first 6 months of the conflict while people asked for their basic rights and freedoms. Most recently chemical attacks were used against people while they slept killing over a thousand men, women, and children. In case you were wondering, Syria has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world.

But they are not the bad guys, right? It’s more important to stop the West because they cause collateral damage. Never mind the existing collateral damage caused by The Government that has reduced a third of the country to rubble and killed tens of thousands in the process. No need to protest against the daily indiscriminate missile strikes being used by Syria’s military because the 3 days of missile strikes by the West will be much worse for the people of Syria.

I mean who does the West think its fooling? After their claims about Iraq, who can believe them? There is no proof that a war exists in Syria and that The Government is responsible for anything. Maybe we should check with someone else who we can really trust. Let’s see what AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, UN-OCHA, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS, AND REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS have to say. What? You’re kidding me? There actually IS a war going on and The Government IS responsible for the vast majority of crimes against humanity. You mean they have been using tanks, airplanes, helicopters and snipers indiscriminately against the population? You know, I don’t think I have heard you mention this war. Maybe you believe that war is only bad when other countries get involved, and that it is not a war when the government attacks its own people?

Let us be clear. When you say stop the war, you don’t just mean that West should not attack? You also mean that The Government should stop indiscriminately attacking its own population? I don’t think those countless reliable sources are wrong when they have repeatedly documented that a war has been going on, that The Government is largely responsible, and that this is not acceptable? You are against war, right? Or maybe it’s okay if the war is just inside the country itself? I mean the government’s crimes against humanity are needed because their enemy is foreign jihads who eat human hearts. That’s the real bad guy. Oh didn’t you know? The foreign jihadis have always been there. They have been there for 40 years so that’s why it was okay to have a dictatorship that trampled people’s freedom for decades. They were there during the peaceful protests, that’s why The Government had to attack and kill peaceful protestors for 6 months. And they are everywhere now. No Syrian has ever picked up a gun to defend himself after seeing his wife raped, his children slaughtered, and his home razed. The 100 000 people killed and 6 million people displaced are all foreign jihadis.

Don’t you know that dictatorship, oppression, waging war, and committing crimes against humanity does not cause a local population to resist? This is all just one big conspiracy by the West. Syrians don’t have a problem from 40 years of oppression. The scenes of millions of people across the entire country protesting peacefully for the human rights were all faked. And if they weren’t, well they must have been orchestrated by the West. I mean any human rights activist can tell you how easy it is to mobilize nationwide protests in the millions for 6 months. Even in the face of torture and death, they continued to protest because the West wanted them to. It had nothing to do with any internal desire for their own basic rights. We all know how easy it is to brainwash millions of people to go in the street and protest day after day when you’re facing possible death.

I mean in the end, it’s the people you care about right? That’s why you don’t want the West to attack. Protesting against a limited Western attack will help the people much more protesting against a war that has destroyed the country for 2 and half years, calling for more help in the largest humanitarian operation in the history of the UN, or demanding our governments do something, anything REAL to stop the bloodshed. Protesting against a limited Western attack will help the people by stopping the war all together. That’s what you really care about after all, the people. It has nothing to do with protesting yet another American foreign attack. You are there to protest because you truly care about the people.

Hmmm but where have you been. I haven’t seen you protesting and lobbying your government to increase humanitarian aid to the people of Syria. You do know it’s the largest humanitarian disaster of the century? That there are over 7 million people who need humanitarian assistance? I haven’t seen you asking for more pressure on the Syrian government to stop attacking civilians indiscriminately. You do know not a single UN Security Council on Syria has been passed?

Well you are here now. Nice to have you. I hope I can count on you to help the people of Syria. We need all the help we can get. We need to stop this war. We need to help the people. Let us stand together in solidarity and call for an end to the war in Syria. Let us stand together and demand protection and aid for the people of Syria. That’s why we are here right. It’s not just about stopping a small scale limited Western military intervention. It’s about ENDING THE WAR! It’s about helping the people of Syria. We are activists for a reason, right? Stopping wars is not our end goal, it’s just a means to saving our fellow man from oppression.

I have been here for some time now. I am exhausted. It’s nice to have you next to me. This war will likely not end anytime soon. I hope you will stay for the long haul.

Thank you,
A Human rights Activist

It is said that Assad sold the GPS coordinates to France for a promise.
Assad aurait vendu les coordonnées GPS de Kadhafi en échange d’une contrepartie.

Il y a de fortes probabilités pour que la capture de Kadhafi soit l’œuvre des services secrets français. Le Colonel aurait été “vendu” à l’Ouest par Al Assad.

De notre correspondant au Corriere della Sera, Lorenzo Cremonesi, traduit par Eric Lamy

TRIPOLI.    Ce ne serait donc pas un membre des Brigades Révolutionnaires mais un “agent étranger” qui a tiré le coup de feu mortel ayant atteint Muammar Kadhafi à la tête le 20 octobre de l’année dernière, dans les faubourgs de Syrte. Ce n’est pas la première fois que la version officielle communément admise concernant la fin du colonel est remise en cause en Lybie. Mais aujourd’hui, c’est Mahmoud Jibril en personne qui s’exprime : Jibril est l’ancien premier ministre du Gouvernement de Transition, et actuellement en concurrence pour diriger les affaires lybiennes après les législatives du 7 juillet. Il pointe à nouveau l’hypothèse d’un plan conçu par
des services secrets étrangers. “C’est un agent étranger infiltré au sein des Brigades Révolutionnaires qui a tué Kadhafi” a-t-il précisé il y a deux jours, au cours d’un interview avec la chaîne de télévision cairote Dream TV, où il participait à un débat sur le printemps arabe.

La French Connection
S’il y a bien un secret de Polichinelle dont on parle abondamment dans les milieux diplomatiques de la capitale lybienne, c’est bien que l’assassin de Kadhafi n’était pas seulement un étranger : il était français. Et voici pourquoi. Depuis le début du soutien de l’OTAN à la révolution lybienne, fortement encouragée par le gouvernement de Nicolas Sarkozy, Kadhafi avait ouvertement menacé de révéler la teneur de sa relation avec le président français, et d’évoquer les millions de dollars versés au candidat Sarkozy pendant la campagne électorale de 2007. Selon des sources diplomatiques européennes, Sarkozy aurait eu toutes les raisons de réduire Kadhafi au silence
le plus rapidement possible. Ce point de vue est confirmé par les informations recueillies par le “Corriere della Sera” il y a trois jours, à Benghazi. Rami El Obeidi, ancien chargé de mission auprès des agences de renseignements étrangers pour le compte du Conseil National de Transition (la première entité politique de la Lybie révolutionnaire) jusqu’au milieu de l’année 2011, nous a révélé qu’il connaissait les procédures qui ont permis à l ‘OTAN d’identifier l’endroit où se cachait le colonel Kadhafi , après la libération de Tripoli par les forces révolutionnaires, entre le 20 et le 23 août 2011. “On croyait, à cette époque, que Kadhafi s’était réfugié dans le désert avec une poignée de partisans, vers la frontière méridionale du pays, avec l’intention d’organiser la résistance” déclare El Obeidi. Ces informations étaient sans cesse relayées par les révolutionnaires eux-mêmes, qui avaient lancé des attaques jusqu’au secteur de Bani Walid et des oasis du sud.

En réalité, Kadhafi avait trouvé refuge au sein de Syrte, qui lui était restée fidèle. El Obeidi précise que “le raïs a utilisé son téléphone Irridium pour joindre ses fidèles réfugiés en Syrie et protégés par Assad”. Parmi ces loyalistes se trouvait le fidèle Yusuf Shakir, chargé de la propagande à la TV
lybienne, qui vit actuellement incognito à Prague. C’est, en fait, le président syrien qui aurait donné le numéro de téléphone de Kadhafi aux services secrets français ; en échange, Assad obtiendrait l’assurance que Paris limiterait sa pression sur régime syrien responsable de réprimer son peuple révolté. Dès lors, la localisation du téléphone Irridium du dictateur grâce au système de GPS était un jeu d’enfant pour les spécialistes de l’Alliance Atlantique… Si la chose était confirmée, on peut raisonnablement affirmer que ce fut le faux pas qui conduisit Kadhafi à sa perte quelques semaines plus tard.

It is said that Assad sold the GPS coordinates to France for a promise.

The credit for the capture of Gaddafi would have been the Intelligence Services of France. The Colonel “sold” to the West by Assad

From our reporter LORENZO CREMONESI / Corriere della Sera

TRIPOLI – It is said to have been a “foreign agent” and not the Libyan Revolutionary Brigades, to fire the gunshot wound to the head that would have killed Muammar Gaddafi on October 20 last year on the outskirts of Sirte. This is not the first time the official and more widespread version concerning the end of the Colonel is doubted in Libya. But now it is Mahmoud Jibril himself, former Prime Minister of the transitional government and currently vying for the leadership of the country after the parliamentary elections of July 7, to again mention the version of the plot devised by a foreign intelligence service. “It was a foreign agent who had mixed with the revolutionary brigades to kill Gaddafi,” he said two days ago during an interview with the Egyptian network “Dream TV” in Cairo, where he is to participate in a debate on the Arab Spring.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION – Among the Western diplomatic circles in the Libyan capital, the most widespread unofficial comment is that, if indeed there was the hand of an assassin in the service of foreign intelligence, he “almost certainly was French.” The reasoning is known. Since the beginning of NATO’s support to the revolution, strongly backed by the government of Nicolas Sarkozy, Gaddafi openly threatened to reveal details of his relationship with the former president of France, including the millions of dollars he paid to finance his candidacy and the 2007 election campaign. “Sarkozy had every reason to try to silence the Colonel and as quickly as possible,” European diplomatic sources in Tripoli told us yesterday.

REVELATIONS – This view is reinforced by the revelations collected by the “Corriere della Sera” three days ago, in Benghazi. Here Rami El Obeidi, former responsible for relations with foreign intelligence agencies on behalf of the National Transitional Council (the former self-governing body of Libyan revolutionaries) up to mid-2011, told us his knowledge on procedures that allowed the NATO to identify the place where the Colonel had hidden after the liberation of Tripoli at the hands of the revolutionaries between 20 and 23 August 2011. “At the time it was believed that Gaddafi had fled to the desert and to the southern border of Libya along with a handful of followers with the intention of reorganising the resistance,” says El Obeidi. The news was repeated continuously by the revolutionaries themselves, who had stepped up their attacks on the region south of Bani Walid and towards the southern oases. In reality, Gaddafi had found refuge in the loyalist city of Sirte. El Obeidi adds: “Here the Rais tried to communicate via his Iridium satellite with a number of loyalists who fled to Syria under the protection of Bashar Assad. Among them was his heir for television propaganda, Yusuf Shakir (today he is safe and sound incognito in Prague). And it was in fact the Syrian president to pass the satellite number belonging to Gaddafi to French intelligence. In return, Assad would get a promise from Paris that they would limit international pressure on Syria to stop the repression against the people in revolt.” Locating the Iridium of the dictator with GPS would then be child’s play for the NATO experts. If it is confirmed, that was the first step that led to the tragic end of Gaddafi several weeks later.

September 29, 2012 | Translated by Mary Rizzo Original: http://www.corriere.it/esteri/12_settembre_29/gheddafi-morte-servizi-segreti-francesi-libia_155ed6f2-0a07-11e2-a442-48fbd27c0e44.shtml

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.

BFF

Did you doubt that there is actually a handy DIY for all the tyrants, with a few variations? This useful manual has been circulating, and some additions have been made to bring it up to date for the President  Duck Supreme of Syria, Bashar al-Assad.

Rami Kamal – Arab Tyrant Manual
-I remember the time Mugabe cracked down on protests against Gadaffi.

-Chapter One: The Tyrant is always right. Chapter Two: If He is wrong, refer to Chapter One.

-Blame your wife’s excessive shopping for the country’s political turmoil.

-When accused of atrocities, dig up instances of other countries doing the same. If others do it, it means it’s OK.

-Be sure you have a tyrant-friendly country backing you up. Bonus points if it has veto power in the UNSC.

-When in doubt, refer to the Arab Tyrant Manual.

-Blame it on a conspiracy. Our country is so awesome that everyone is trying to bring us down.

-Blame feminism for the increased presence of women in protests, and moral decay during protests.

-Tell everyone you’re the only Arab leader who supports Palestine and that Palestinians would be screwed without you.

-If world opinion is against you, state that #CNN and soccer teams are part of evil Islamist-Zionist conspiracy.

-Got grey hair? Dye your hair & moustache/beard black, it’ll make countrymen forget you are almost 100 years old!

-Hang on to power tooth & nail. If anyone comes along to challenge your legitimacy, accuse him of seeking power.

-As your regime crumbles while you massacre entire communities, do some quick online shopping. iTunes is always good.

-If any images or videos leak showing civilian casualties, call it propaganda from the opposition.

-Certainly, offer to step down if the majority of your people so desire. Then make sure they are dead.

-Kill a mother’s children then have your wife come on State TV appealing to mothers of killed children.

-Accuse media of using fake footage to fabricate, then be caught using fake footage to prove armed terrorists in your country.

-When things get really bad, address the nation in front of your Cabinet. Make sure they clap after every 3 words.

-Your favorite words are “reform” and “conspiracy”.

– You can always find a Lebanese politician supporting you.

-When sh*t hits the fan, you can always blame Barcelona FC and Messi for it.

-Tip 2: Lead your people as if they were sheep

– Claim refugees who are fleeing your violence are just visiting their families/are tourists in neighbouring countries.

-Look, if necessary you can always call on foreign governments to assist you while decrying foreign intervention.

-Some people call it mass murder. We just call it efficiency.

-Forge relations with the great republic of Venezuela & the free democratic Russia, they’ll come in handy in time of need.

-Cry during a press conference about mom’s kids who were martyred but continue to allow other moms’ children to be killed.

-Run your country like you run your mob.

Rami Kamal – Il Manuale del Tiranno Arabo

(tradotto da Mary Rizzo)

Mi ricordo quando Mugabe ha fatto la repressione delle manifestazioni contro Gheddafi.

Primo Capitolo: Il Tiranno Ha Sempre Ragione.

Secondo Capitolo: Se Non Ha Ragione, Vedi il Primo Capitolo.

– Dare la colpa del disordine nel Paese allo shopping eccessivo della tua consorte.

– Quando accusato di atrocità, trovo esempi di altri Paese che fanno la stessa cosa. Se gli altri lo fanno, non hai nulla cui preoccuparti.

– Assicurati che hai un Paese che piace avere i tiranni per amici. Punti extra se ha il potere del Veto nel Consiglio di Sicurezza del ONU.

– Quando ci sono dubbi, vedi il Manuale del Tiranno Arabo.

– Dare la colpa ad un complotto. Il nostro Paese è talmente stupendo che tutti, ma proprio tutti, hanno l’interesse di farci fallire.

– Dare la colpa al femminismo per la presenza massiccia delle donne nelle manifestazioni, che conduce al degrado morale durante le stesse.

-Die a tutti che sei l’unico leader arabo che sostiene la Palestine e che senza di te, i palestinesi saranno nella m……

– Se l’opinione mondiale è contro di te, devi dire che CNN e squadre di calcio fanno parte di un malvagio complotto islamista-sionista.

– Hai i capelli grigi? Allora, tingi i capelli ed i baffi/barba neri. Questo servirebbe a fare i tuoi soggetti dimenticare che hai quasi 100 anni e sei in potere da sempre.

– Aggrappati al potere fino al ultimo respiro. Se qualcuno arriva a dubitare della tua legittimità, devi accusarlo di cercare solo il potere.

– Mentre sbricciola il tuo regime sotto il massacro che stai facendo di interi comunità, fai un po’ di shopping online. iTunes fa proprio per te!

– Se dovesse filtrare accidentalmente video che mostrano morti civili, devi chiamarlo propaganda dall’opposizione.

– Certamente, dichiarati pronto a lasciare il potere se la maggioranza del tuo popolo lo vuole. Poi assicurati che sono morti.

– Uccidi i bambini di una madre, poi fare che la tua moglie va nella TV di Stato con un appello alle madri di bambini uccisi.

– Accusare i media di usare filmati falsi per fabbricare evidenza, poi tu stessi usi filmati falsi (non importa se si sono dimostrati falsi) per dimostrare che i guai sono causati da terroristi armati nel tuo Paese.

– Quando le cose si mettono male, parla alla nazione davanti al tuo Gabinetto. Assicurati che ti applaudono dopo ogni tre parole.

– Le tue parole preferite sono “riforma” e “complotto”.

– Puoi sempre trovare un politico libano per sostenerti.

– Quando le cose si mettono VERAMENTE male, dare sempre la colpa a Barcelona FC e Messi.

– Un consiglio: guidare il popolo come se fossero le pecore.

– Devi dichiarare che i rifugiati che scappano dalla violenza sono soltanto in visita alle loro famiglie/sono turisti in Paesi confinanti.

– Dai! Se è necessario, puoi sempre chiedere che governi stranieri ti assistono nello stesso momento che tu denuncia l’intervento straniero.

– Alcuni possono chiamare quello che fai “massacre”. Noi usiamo il termine “efficienza”.

– Consolidare il rapporto con il grande repubblica di Venezuela e la libera e democratica Russia, saranno di grande aiuto nei momenti di bisogno.

– Piangi durante una conferenza stampa quando parli di bambini e di madri che sono stati uccisi, ma lascia che i bambini di altre madri continuino ad essere uccisi

– Guida il tuo Paese come guidi la tua mafia.

Protesters for Libyan freedom in London

It seems like years ago, but only a few months have gone by. The anti-imperialist world raised their virtual glasses in a united toast to the people’s revolutions. When I say this phrase, it seems I need to define every term, so bear with me. I will try to not take any concepts for granted.

The anti-imperialist world as I have come to know it is generally comprised of generally well-to-do intellectual-type folks who engage more time in discourse and social networking than they actually do in developing strategies or training individuals for a radical change in society where local (indigenous) people are their own leaders and determine for their exclusive benefit the policies and economic organisation of their own territory. They however are generally very passionate about the need to seek justice against tyrants and they believe that the people themselves want the same thing, so they do what they can (far from the places themselves) ninety-nine times out of one hundred by raising awareness through their articles, videos, comments, social network activities and fundraisers for more public events to raise awareness (and this cycle continues until it exhausts itself into the next fashionable group of unfortunate others).

With all that awareness-raising, you would be sure that by now, this formidable band of selfless virtual warriors would have convinced all of the world that there is no way on earth that the will of the people should be trampled on and that sooner rather than later, each people will achieve its own autonomy and self-reliance. These people who have concretely moved towards self-liberation might even be so inclined as to bite the hands that looks like it feeds them, if this has to happen for them to truly be free, but an anti-imperialist should never look at his or her own interests as a member of the empire who enjoys the privileges of that status, and should even tolerate great levels of aggression against the empire he calls home.

That said, when first Tunisia, then Egypt, began staging independent demos to demand change in their government systems, inspired by their sheer numbers, they seemed to be fully successful. There was bloodshed among civilians, but it ended, and this was a revolution that was almost like a dream, almost too easy and certainly so full of promise and hope. It even adopted the name that will remain with it for all time, “Arab Spring”, the long-awaited renewal of Arabhood connected to the idea of development of a new society that was going to put people before anything else. That it gained support at a global level probably was intrinsic to its success.

Protesters in Gaza

How did that happen? Well, we all know it was through mass communications, some of it entirely spontaneous between those directly involved, and some of it presented to a wider community to enlist their sympathies and support. It was the fact that the world was watching that perhaps hastened the demise of Ben Ali and Mubarak, and it could also be the fact that a barrier of fear had been broken. Make no mistake, I have been  documenting Egyptian uprisings for at least 3 years, and there are others who like me were not under the impression that Egyptians were passively accepting a lack of political expression and a worsening social crisis. Several of us had commented that it was necessary to break through the impression that Egyptians were incapable of rebellion and to show that there was the emergence of a protest movement that was non-confessional, and was tying together the idea of the rebirth of Arabhood as well as an Egyptian national identity that was as vibrant as the Egyptian people. We could have been some of the few who were not surprised by the revolution, but what did surprise us was the enablement that  this gave to nearby peoples.

Living in the European country closest to Libya and with a colonial past which as recently as 1972 has seen mass expulsions of Libyans of Italian descent, whatever happens in Libya is going to be felt directly. In the past years, hundreds of boats full of refugees have headed toward our shores,  and as has been documented thoroughly, the Libyan regime had utilised the African migrants as a playing card to obtain many things from Italy. The Africans who were brought to Libyan Migrant Detention Centres were actually imprisoned there, and the thought of dying at sea on unsafe and overcrowded ships was a risk almost all of them were desirous to take after months of torment from the military and police branches of the Libyan government. There were truckloads of them driven to the confines of the desert and left there to die, documented by Italian film crews, who were concerned about lives in the face of the “Bilateral Agreements” so that Gaddafi could keep a foothold in Italy’s economy and obtain “aid” worth billions of Euros for infrastructure (some of it I can personally testify was for bunkers), weaponry and telecommunications in exchange for a policy of limiting African immigration from Libyan shores.

Gaddafi’s racism thought it found another foothold in the sensitivities of the Italian government, and his words were carefully used to obtain what he  wanted, a combination of greed and rank racism that I witnessed few anti-imperialists getting upset about.  It deserves being read word by word:

“Europe runs the risk of turning black from illegal immigration, it could turn into Africa. We need support from the European Union to stop this army trying to get across from Libya, which is their entry point. At the moment there is a dangerous level of immigration from Africa into Europe and we don’t know what will happen. What will be the reaction of the white Christian Europeans to this mass of hungry, uneducated Africans? We don’t know if Europe will remain an advanced and cohesive continent or if it will be destroyed by this barbarian invasion. We have to imagine that this could happen but before it does we need to work together.”

Gaddafi's recent "Rome By Night" outing

Gaddafi would come to Italy, honoured by Silvio Berlusconi and the best that the Italian government had to offer by way of hospitality, in order to seal more deals and to re-establish that these two neighbours had the same interests at heart: especially a thirst for petroleum and a provider who would make sure there would be preferential treatment under certain conditions, including keeping Europe white. Berlusconi was also an honoured guest in Libya, promising billions of Euros for schools, retirement homes, infrastructure and other things. It is curious that those continually claiming Libya was fulfilling all of its people’s needs on its own seem to not question why they would need so very much Italian money to do what they claim has already been done. During these visits, our news shows were almost suffering an embarrassment at how to represent it. The feelings run deep, and we had known of the abuses that were going on in Libya. Many of us know Libyans, some of them in exile, “You mean  you can’t go back? What do you mean you can’t go back?” Others who come on scholarships and seem to never want to talk about politics either. I would joke with two friends (one in each category) and call it the Libyan black hole. However, both would easily admit that Libya could be much more than it is, if only it could have the chance for that.

So, I watched the revolutions with other anti-imperialists, and the Libyan revolution had quite a few of us excited at the first moments because  Libya is not a Middle Eastern country and it also has ambiguous and collaborative relations with the empire, and with my nation in particular. I  was naively convinced that true anti-imperialists would welcome the will of the people as sovereign and that the information constantly withheld from us regarding many human rights violations would cause one of those powerful moments of decision: supporting an action that really was going to mean conflict and risk for my own nation. As February 17th approached, (with its planned march in Benghazi of the family members of the 1,200 political prisoners of Abu Salim who had been executed by Gaddafi ) I noticed that a few would start to say it was not a real revolution because a) it was against a leader who claimed to be anti-imperialist, b) it was a tribal conflict that we should not take part in, as it would lead to division of Libya (as if they actually knew or cared!), c)the protesters had some problems that did not make them revolutionary, with the sub-groups of 1) they are seeking the restoration of the monarchy, 2) they are religious fanatics that will turn back the clock on progressive revolutions and make Libya a theocratic state. I asked them if they had the right to determine when a revolution was valid and when it was not, and I was surprised to hear that they were putting conditions on the support of a people, and didn’t they notice the people were demanding their freedom?

I started to check into all my favourite anti-imperialist sites, most of the relevant articles indicated to me by friends on Facebook, and lo and behold, most of these were articles by Westerners. If I had kept count, and I should have, I would have the evidence in front of me that out of 100 articles perhaps 3 were actually penned by Libyans. I got to wondering what was happening when I had been reading and hearing the reports from Benghazi by Mohamed Nabbous, killed by Gaddafi’s squadrons and in the many comments surrounding these interventions, and noticed the enormous gulf in what the Pundits were saying, and what Libyans were saying. It was as if there were two worlds colliding. All of these people claimed to love freedom and to want to do anything necessary to obtain it, but there was that nasty issue of Gaddafi actually threatening to exterminate those who tried. At this point, one would think that this would be enough for one to firmly side with the Libyan people and wonder what the pundits were going on about.

And, at this time, many things entered the scene, such as NATO, which all of us detest, and transitional governments and Libyan officials abandoning their leader and an upsurge in refugees flooding into Tunisia and war and death in the land that only a few weeks before was the next domino with a tyrant’s face that had to be knocked down.

We read of infiltrations of Al Qaeda, (this was what Gaddafi claimed the Thuwar (“rebels” to those who hate them and “freedom fighters” to those who love them), of deals with Empire, of CIA infiltrates and anything else that you can imagine by way of establishing that those who were commemorating the massacre of their loved ones and who were massacred while doing so were SO BAD and if we supported them, we were dupes. I guess it would take a very self-assured person to still want to see the Thuwar and indeed the people opposing Gaddafi in a decent light.

Already involved in a few discussion groups regarding the events in the region, I was invited by friends to join a few private mostly-Libyan discussion groups. I wanted to observe the discourse, and since my sympathies and antipathies were known to me, but not backed up by enough concrete information, I took it as my “personal fact finding mission” to learn as much as I could about the situation from Libyans. Indeed, the discussions in these groups are lively, and shockingly, almost everyone in the groups (which are by no means small either) has a martyr for the cause and has family living in conditions of siege. It is quite a shocker to log in and see someone receiving condolences for his father, his uncle, her brother, a daily litany of suffering and loss… And even more shocking was the coming into contact with a world I should have been more aware of, that of the acceptance of the will and wisdom of God.

Yes, religion plays a big part in many of these struggles, and while this is not a religious war, (and all Libyans practice the same religion for the most part), the element of faith and perseverance that these people surely learned from over four decades of negation of their political freedom is omnipresent. I would also peek into Pro-Gaddafi boards and oddly, there was a sort of violence and lack of humanity that were not even hidden very well. It became almost apparent to me that there was a lot more to this situation than meets the eye.

I got into discussions with American Communists (self-proclaimed, naturally) and leftists in general and when they started to stress that they didn’t like the religious symbolism that they were seeing (as if their taste was going to matter) I had to ask them why they thought they knew better than the Libyans what was best for Libyans. I was told that the Libyans would put the monarchy in. I stated that the TNC issued a statement and it was supported by those I was discussing things with, that there were to be elections and there was going to be an establishment of democracy. These AC + Leftists told me that the Libyans were dupes for the empire and religious fanatics and that if they were not working for a world revolution but for a repressive and authoritative patriarchal set-up, and thus, as AC + Leftists, the Libyans would not be worthy of obtaining their support. I thought that was some cheek. So what I decided to do was to serve as a filter, I invited Libyans to use my board to engage with these anti-imperialists, and many willingly did so. They presented the Libyan point of view, they were kind, patient and tried to explain what the situation was so that it could be understood.

I admit I was shocked at the violent verbal reactions they got. I admit it was the classic Western Pundit thing of orientalism and ignoring the voice of the common man if that common man was not “politically advanced”. It was the thing I see time and again in Palestine activism: the great Western hero (usually white, male, often Christian or Jewish) determines that he or she knows what is best and becomes the spokesman and mouthpiece for Palestinians. It is denial of Palestinian agency, but it is so common and so normal that we tend to not notice it as the alarming trend it is.

McKinney not looking too objective there.

Working for the Man

So, when Cynthia McKinney stepped onto the scene, it is as if the secret prayers of the Gaddafi supporters who also are against the Libyan people’s revolution (they want to deny it’s what it is, but they are unable to turn off our memory cells that far back) had been answered. Black, female, present in the past in brave gestures for Palestine, outspoken against the robbery of the Democratic vote in the Bush elections, pacifist and they can plug their noses on the fact that she actually might represent empire by being involved in the presidential elections as a candidate and as a Roman Catholic. She does fine to complain against NATO abuses and even their involvement, but to become the mouthpiece of Gaddafi went above and beyond the call of duty, even going so far as to follow the game plan he provided while establishing the proper narrative to put forth. She did this as well on Libyan State TV, yes, the same state TV that has been accused by Libyans as sending out calls for ethnic cleansing of the Amazigh people (a linguistic minority in Libya) and those living in cities where protesting became resistance and then revolution.

And it seems, once again, we have thousands of eyewitnesses who the anti- imperialists, Leftists, American Communists refuse to listen to or when they are given the opportunity censor them or hurl insults their way, but when an American “eyewitness” (who has been shown where the Gaddafi cronies have taken her and nowhere else) speaks, she is the one who must be listened to, because she will not change anything, because she has no loved ones there, so whatever happens is politics, because she will have her hardcore followers and for all the ones she loses, she will pick up more, sensing where the anti-imperialist (banter) winds blow, feeding the fundraising machine for awareness-raising in an endless cycle. Those who actually are Libyans are treated to the usual “shut up” that is reserved for “counter-revolutionaries”. All from the comfort of these Western Anti-Imperialist homes far away from where the blood is being shed.

So what is my final remark to anti-imperialists, that group which I had felt I had proudly belonged to for decades? Quit lecturing with such an attitude of cultural colonialism and start listening to those who are actually the directly interested party. Answer them at least once when they ask  what alternative you would have offered when it was clear that their people were being violently crushed. Realise they are not interested in anything but their own freedom, and that includes freedom from you and your ideology and platitudes that contain nothing concrete for them to use towards obtainment of their freedom. If the anti-imperialists can’t understand that, then Khalas, because shutting up is golden.

scene from a big fish story

This article was one of the most popular on Palestine Think Tank, and one of the most controversial. It examined “our” world of activism, and how the claims of an “alarm and emergency”, unchecked and unverified, lead to an incident that cast a negative light on all the hard work that many people around the world are doing, and worse, putting the true victims of Zionism, the Palestinians, in the shadows. We reprint it due to great request (the photos and comments from the original site shall follow), as members of the community are once again unsuspecting protagonists in another “big fish story” with a different tack of obtaining attention and accolades. Within the coming weeks, the entire PTT archives will be transferred here. We must inform our readers that since this, Ken O’Keefe has finally admitted that he is indeed NOT a former US citizen, but that yes, he does travel on a valid USA passport. So, his top claim to integrity finally has been shown for what it is, nothing! If Truth matters, one must be truthful. Facts have an odd way of always coming to the surface.

Recent events regarding the setbacks that involved the Road to Hope convoy had made an impact on the activist world in an extremely negative way. That the mission was (finally) successful after such dramatic events is positive and undeniable, yet in light of information that had been gathered from as many sources as possible, a picture emerged which may change the interpretation of what it is that we are witnessing and make us question the utilisation of our activists in disseminating unverified information which, when held up to scrutiny, reveals a totally different set of affairs. One where what actually happened was that those who had initially been accused of the worst deeds had done everything necessary to avoid the real risk of a major international crisis due to the recklessness of some, and those who many judge as heroic instead might actually have been the cause of a series of events that would have been the centre of a lengthy diplomatic crisis and possibly extensive time in detention for many, with Gaza being pushed to the corner, had things taken a different turn and other decisions made.

This report of the RTH “boat incident” attempts to shed light on what was a nebulous situation, full of contradiction, disinformation, erroneous information, extensive calls for sending money to places that were not the organisation itself and now it has become a penal case that will unfold in due time. This report is in no way attempting to represent any party directly involved, and as a matter of fact, it was made possible by means of contributions from very many parties and from the information that was freely shared on several social networks (in the public domain). There was no pressure to publish or withhold information, and as will become evident, some parties were generous in making themselves available, and others refused to do so unless their unacceptable conditions were met. Even the matter of asking the “other side” for their version was treated as if it were a betrayal to truth, and efforts were made by some to stop this from even happening by spreading the most vile and insulting lies regarding this writer and anyone at all who dared to want to know information. (This writer and anyone else who dared to question were accused without the slightest moment of pause as being “paid agents for the CIA, the Mossad or the MI5”. Yeah, sure!)

Every party involved was given the same opportunity to be interviewed under the same conditions and no preference was given to anyone who might then in some way control or limit our freedom in objectively assessing the event and its aftermath. It is our hope to shed light on a very crucial matter concerning all of us, and which has involved many in an emotional, economic and political way and which may bear repercussions on future interventions in favour of Palestine.

When a project fails or flounders, analysis for correction and re-planning is the obvious course. Possibly, bringing a humanitarian convoy to Gaza by means of a land transfer via Egypt was doomed to failure from the outset. Road to Hope’s purpose is admirable, but a lack of logistic intelligence combined with other factors undermined the entire enterprise. Currently, in practice, flotillas are organised precisely because of the existence of Egyptian protocol that allows goods to arrive exclusively in its port at Al Arish, where, with Egypt’s good offices and the correct documentation, the delivery of the materials will be completed. There is a total block on entry via land. Every successful mission so far has had this as the leitmotif, a recognition of what the “rules” are and have been logistically organised with that in mind.

It had been suggested in the calls for participation by RTH, implicitly or explicitly, that all the arrangements were in place to make the trip by land. Further, calls to join the convoy, which arrived in many of our email boxes, stated that all that was needed were vehicles to take part. “Paperwork” would be left to the organisation. If the original organisers were aware or not of the Egyptian position, that pales with what seems to have struck the organisation since control of it was assumed by activist, Ken O’Keefe.

This overview of events, not all-encompassing, attempts, paramountly, to be objective, highlighting several vital points. The first, that the just and honourable purpose of Road to Hope should not be tarnished by the recklessness of a few, and that there still may be time for the organisation to re-assess and regain self-responsibility. Secondly, plans and efforts made in activism, should also be backed by clear strategic thinking, encompassing areas such as coordination of fundraising, public relations, logistics and, though possibly secondary, a unified, identifiable political strategy. Time spent in “damage control” and “contingency and emergency” is time wasted, to be used sparingly, if at all.

Fundamentally vital is assuring public support and positive media attention by commitment to transparency and accountability. Activists must be serious, reliable and transparent. They also must maintain their actions within international law.

All who are passionately concerned wish to be involved in some way, but most do not have the “chance” to actively take part. If you are in Australia or Japan, caring deeply about Palestine, without the possibility or power to participate personally, you know that you CAN do something, you can join the “information war”, you can contribute economically to the initiatives of others. You can fundraise locally, give talks, knowing your funds will be directed into something “practical.” In this case, a convoy that will seek to break the siege against Gaza.

Since few activists are full-time (like any other “job”, it requires financing) the majority donate energies, money and time. Those who took part in the convoy raised funds, left families, homes and jobs for an unspecified period of time and entrusted the logistics of the mission to a leader or leaders. Those remaining home, contributed by following the news and making calls necessary to further the convoy’s journey. Thus, there is a responsibility by both groups of activists, those able to make themselves available personally, and those who are unable, but who also have a role to play in the success of the enterprise.

It should be mentioned here that RTH did not have the same leader from its inception. At a certain point, it simply changed leadership. How did Ken O’Keefe take part in this convoy? From his site http://kenokeefe.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/road-to-hope-convoy-kidnapping-statement-of-events-by-ken-okeefe/ we read this excerpt (complete quote in footnote)
****
“Whatever people may believe, I did not want nor ask for this position, nonetheless I accepted it and have done my best to help keep this convoy together and to ensure its success. Having taken this role as late as I did I fully realised that it was impossible to undo past mistakes, so moving forward I have done my best to see the convoy reach Gaza, with or without me.”[i]
*****
Leaders are not dictators nor are they the purpose of any organisation. If they make decisions or undertake actions contrary to the purposes of the organisation, if they bring the project to ridicule or needless waste, they should, arguably, be held accountable.

Whether decisions are by consensus or delegated to a leader/leaders, is a question that arises within activism. Consensus can be granted or denied. It is up to RTH as an organisation to judge their personal balance sheet of gains/losses in terms of image, money, reliability, effectiveness. That said, Ken O’Keefe and others had flown directly to Libya and were not part of the land convoy up until arriving at the termination of the land journey, thus had not shared the experiences of the core group.

The first alarm bells for those who were unaware of the “internal crisis” started to ring when the convoy was being held for a particularly lengthy period of time in Libya. Apparently, the guaranteed passage was not happening, so activists were instructed to call and write the Egyptian Embassy to demand (those were the words) the convoy’s passage. In the appeal http://www.facebook.cDemand-Egypt-let-the-Road-to-Hope-convoy-through/163486290350119?ref=mf, which had appeared multiple times in the inbox of almost every activist on Facebook, we were asked to inform Egypt that we would start campaigns to boycott Egyptian tourism if the demand was not met. Aside from the fact that this would punish the Egyptian people and not the regime, it has never been a demand by any Egyptian activist for Palestine, because they are aware it would only weaken them in an already difficult situation where they are prohibited from personally being as active in support to their neighbours in Gaza as they would like to be. Nor is it a feasible strategy when we cannot even get the boycott against Israel to have global relevance. It would be aiming and shooting at our best allies, the Arab people who are the most sympathetic to the cause. Strategically, in our view, this is unwise. Also to the point, Gazans themselves do not want to bring any negative actions against Egyptians. The political leader of Hamas himself has stated:

*****
“We have limited our resistance to be in opposition to the Israeli occupation alone. Our resistance is against the enemy occupying our land and encroaching on our people and holy sites, and not against anyone else.” Khaled Meshaal.[ii]

*****

So, not only can this position be considered as ineffective, it also clashes with demands of those directly interested.

Ken O’Keefe had something to say about the stall.[iii] It seems the “understanding” of passage was not what was reality held in store, and Convoy Leader Keiran Turner had a plan, to press on without permission or deliver aid by sea.[iv]

Every activist agrees that the policy of closure to Gaza is wrong, and if it was understood that there was going to be a policy change of some sort, all of this should be taken into consideration for future actions and in the RTH assessment of their route. If they were mislead that there was going to be an exception to the rule, they should hold the persons accountable for having lead them down the garden path and into the Libyan desert. However, as wrong as the closure is, crossing a border without permission is not an act of civil disobedience, it is violation of an international law and there would be consequences that perhaps those who first began RTH were not seeking, which would entail violating the law in a foreign country while there on a temporary visa for passage purposes. It is certainly not a situation that anyone setting out had added into their calculations. The organisation itself emphasised the need to maintain outstanding relations as temporary guests:

“It has always been a central aspect of the Road to Hope convoy that it acts in a non-political, non-confrontational manner. To work with and cooperate with every government in every country through which it travelled.”[v]

When all seemed to be lost, messages became more and more frequent from the leaders of the convoy who were in Libya and they were specifying the arrival of something they called “confrontation time”[vi]. I leave it up to you to define the term, but let it be said that many activists were wondering how this was going to be carried out, by whom, against whom and what the effects would be. A video is also available which alludes several times to the “hope” that there would not be confrontation, not the guarantee of that, as well as suggesting that the convoy now was going to become “political”.

One note circulating on Facebook (which seems to be the modern day Tam-Tam and will be referred to frequently as the primary means of communication in this account) was practically claiming that there would be blood if the Egyptians did not open the border. Many had asked for clarifications here, and there were many speculations on this phrasing, which was from Ken O’Keefe and circulated by what his most active friends were calling “Ken’s FB Army”. However, whether or not it was just bluster and bravado, it was certainly not in line with the Road to Hope purpose, which was to be an ecumenical, humanitarian mission that was non-confrontational and non-political body joining together individuals to carry out the purpose of providing Gaza with aid and breaking the siege. It would be ludicrous to assume that anyone finding fault with the mismanagement which possibly crossed the line from error to extreme lack of solid strategy is in favour of the siege against Gaza or if they in any way “accept” blockage of aid. Realism and experience however can’t be left on the shelf just when they are the most needed.

Ken O’Keefe We continue to wait, there is some reason to believe a ship will be provided in the next few days, again we shall see. There is a limit to how long we can play this sit and wait game before the convoy members will go straight to the border. I would ask that everyone be ready to turn the pressure on big time if we are forced to do this.e ready to turn the pressure on big time if we are forced to do this.

Be ready to turn the pressure on big time if we are forced to do this.
*****

In the midst of the discussion on what “confrontation time” was supposed to mean, we learned that it was indeed necessary to hire a cargo ship, as per Egyptian protocol dictates. A letter was sent back from the Egyptian Embassy to those making the “demand” and it is printed in its entirety in these footnotes, though a portion is reprinted here.[vii]

*****
In light of the above mentioned, it is quite regrettable that organizers of the Road to Hope convoy have failed to liaise with the Egyptian side at any stage regarding the delivery of the aid directed to Gaza, where they choose to cross over from the most remote point on the western borders of Egypt to get to Gaza on the far eastern borders rather than going directly to El-Arish, only half an hour from Gaza. They even ignored any visa requirements that are necessary to enter Egypt, where they would have been welcomed and granted the required visas had they arranged for that prior to their departure.
*****

While hiring a ship to deliver the aid by sea may look as if it is capitulation, in light of the amount of time and money already invested, the nearing of Eid, when the entry to Gaza of outsiders would be closed to permit the pilgrims to travel, it may have been in actuality, the only way to make the best of a deteriorating situation, as well, this was the second option that RTH had voiced in the face of denial of land passage. The only problem was the cost, which was (as per an email sent to me from RTH) equivalent to the amount of money already spent for the convoy to travel in over a month from its London base. Also unclear, despite several questions seeking information, was the quantity of aid. It was stated in generic terms as medical aid, humanitarian aid and toys.

Accounts were set up to cover the need to hire a cargo ship, not in the name of RTH though, but something called Human Aid, and somehow, in a very short amount of time, the money apparently was raised, as we had then learned that the ship was hired and that the convoy would continue. It is not clear how much money was raised, and not all of it came from donations sent to this place, as it later turns out that there had been significant Libyan donations, though I would imagine that this should all be recapped in the closing assessment of Road to Hope and that all monies collected would be directed into the specific cause though they were not going to RTH, but to other beneficiaries.

KEN O’KEEFE. “55,000 dollars have been transferred for ship payment, despite this the Greekowner of the ship (the Strofades IV, Malta flagged) is currently refusing us. Call Egyptian officials and embassies and urge them to confirm our right to travel with this ship.”

So, despite all odds, lack of having followed the standard procedure which in the past had proved effective, and a miraculously rapid fund-raising, you have a boat, you communicate to your group and to anyone listening that you have obtained the “right to travel with this ship”, you are ending the stalemate and you can finally look forward to the beautiful release of the convoy and aid landing in Al Arish and the short travel to Gaza as was the sequence for the highly successful Viva Palestina 5 convoy. You would think so, but instead all hell broke loose. If you happened to be sitting at your computer the evening of 10 November, you may have received a quantity of tweets, Facebook notices or emails. Something happened to the convoy, and it was terrible. Things were going from bad to strange, and these were the tweets, notices and emails you were starting to get:

Ken O’Keefe Now the captain is threatening to leave without us despite 75,000 dollars being paid to his agent for the charter of this ship. We are on the verge of a standoff using our bodies on the back of the ship. (10 November)

Ken O’Keefe We are being forcefully taken out of the harbour with the captain going crazy ordering the ship to leave!!!

Ellie Merton “EMERGENCY – the Greek ship Captain’s gone nuts. He’s had a row with the Egyptian agent who was passing over the charter payment. Instead of waiting till morning, the Greek Captain has yanked the ship off moorings, with 10 convoyers and some Libyan police on board. Captain ploughing on out of Derna port. Very dangerous.”

*****
Then the REAL madness began.

Messages came to activists including this press release:

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY

Wednesday 10th November, 2010 23.15 GMT – LONDON

UK AID WORKERS (INCLUDING 2 MAVI MARMARA SURVIVORS) HELD HOSTAGE ON GREEK-OWNED SHIP, AFTER SHIP OWNER ARGUES WITH EGYPTIAN BROKERDERNA PORT, LIBYA

“Strofades IV” has broken its moorings, without port permission, and is heading out of Derna Harbour.The rear door of the ship is half closed, with convoy vehicle B7 stuck on it precariously. It is extremely dangerous.

In the lower deck of the Ro-Ro (rollon rolloff) ship are held hostage:

3 Libyans – (2 port authority policemen, with Colonel Salahuddin Rashin, Manager of Derna Port)
1 Moroccan
1 Algerian
2 Irish
6 UK nationals

The violent Greek owner who is also its captain of “Strofades IV” has just disembarked (as at 22.50 GMT) through a side door of the ship, onto a speed boat. His speed boat has made for another cargo vessel in Derna the harbour – “Odin Finder”.

None of our guys now know who is in charge of Strofades IV, or where it is destined to go.The ship is empty, apart from the hostages and single convoy vehicle jammed in the doorway. It is making rapid headway to get out to sea.The matter is a serious breach of every maritime law possible.

We have asked all relevant Embassies to supply urgent, immediate, consular assistance.We are EXTREMELY concerned for the safety of all the nationals on board.

Ken O’Keefe “Captain still crazy, has rammed the dock and nearly another ship. Call the media, have them call my Libya mobile 0020918020981”

Obviously, if you see this message, it is practically an SOS, sent by the members of the convoy on board and they have already asked for consular assistance, but they are insisting that the readers call the media and have them directly contact Ken O’Keefe. The tone is such to urge immediate action. It contains information that indicates the actions of the Captain/Owner, (identified at this point as the same person) and suggesting that these actions are a “serious breach of every maritime law possible.” It states that the passengers (including two who are identified as Mavi Marmara “Survivors” are held hostage, and it expresses alarm for the danger of the situation in that the “rear door” is in an extremely dangerous position. Add to that the further depiction of a violent Greek captain who then jumps ship and goes in a speedboat to another ship in the harbour.

Messaging between activists was underway containing all these details with a variety of subtexts to accompany them, including an exchange one of our editors had with a concerned activist who was circulating the information on Facebook.[viii] The sense of this exchange can be summarised as follows, and a longer excerpt is in footnotes:
*****
FB friend: Mary, the captain has abandoned the ship and it is heading out of port unpiloted. This is giving me shivers, how about you?

Mary: Mary Rizzo this also does not sound realistic! I am sorry, but it sounds fake.. sorry. ships are a gigantic investment. they do not just leave a dock unmanned in the dead of night. I really can’t see that happening. It is not Israel jumping a ship, we are talking about a guy entrusted to a company abandoning the vessel.. why would anyone do that???

FB friend: Guy captains and owns the vessel. I’d do it if I was paid to do so, if my life or my family was threatened, if I was drunk, or if I was a hotheaded idiot with a history of erratic behaviour … Yes, who could possibly threaten a Greek (not Egyptian) captain chartering to delivery a supply convoy to Gaza. Who would do that? Clue: who would get on board a boat in Cyprus, also chartered to Gaza, and sabotage it?
And indeed why threaten. Cajoling is also possible. Money is its own reward.

*****
So, it’s clear here that in a short time, the Tam-Tam had started and the precise words “hostage”, “abduction” and “kidnapping” were starting to circulate, without any counter-checking on that though, and it even being admitted that the captain did not want them to board and that they would physically impede this by using their bodies on the back of the ship! Intent is clearly stated by Ken regarding both parties, and this, minutes before the “kidnapping”. Stories had circulated that it was really about a payment dispute and it was taken for granted that the owner had changed his terms once the agreement was made, and an argument broke out to avoid paying extra money than what was agreed upon. It became an issue of the greed of the Greek owner and the madness of the Greek Captain. There were theories that not only did he get the RTH money, but was also gone with Israeli money and left the boat and passengers to their own fate. Money was the factor always mentioned. And no matter how wild some of these accounts would seem to be, people were a-buzz in disseminating this information, for anyone in the world to read, without verifying if it was true or false.

Some might ask, “our activists are trustworthy, why do we need to check the other side?”. Well, there is a need in activism circles, when dealing with the press to have reliability. If we are giving information to people, perhaps we can’t check it out ourselves, but we have to also bear in mind, our enemies, who have formidable economic and political power, WILL check it. If they find elements that are wrong, they will do the same thing we do to them, make the adversary face the contradictions. There should NEVER be contradictions in our reports, even if it means delaying the information, we have to be careful.

It was stated by Ken that the consular bodies were contacted, and he was insisting that activists contact THE MASS MEDIA, which he later refers to as prostitutes if they dare to question the validity of statements he’s issued. It is additionally crucial and problematic if this same media (which we may not like, but which maintains some power) depicts us as lunatics if we are making statements that will reflect badly upon us for “sins” going from exaggeration to contradictory messages to bald-faced lying, which, to the more conspiratorial minded persons, is the way that false flag operations all work. You have enough information that is legitimate and it is embedded in a quantity of false information. The legitimacy of something is completely at odds and we are involved and so is the cause we work for. Truth, accuracy, even the elementary need of reservation and discretion are all shot to the wind if we are unable to communicate a completely reliable, sound, unified message about a particular event or question. We are being used, but we have to question ourselves if we are also being manipulated. Some media sources will never again trust someone who gave them bad information, some of us would never work again with persons who have a bad track record of reliability. Not to mention, if we need future travel visas to some of these States, complaints that turn out to be calumny and unnecessary alarm may endanger that.

And this is when persons who have worked very closely with Ken in the past began stepping out of the shadows. They were writing to some of us and in other cases they were posting their thoughts on Facebook. This began the moment of the claims of being “kidnapped” and not earlier, and it seems to be a flood that was frankly, very unexpected. However, if one starts to look into the person, and not in the hundreds of his own posts bragging about his exploits, one finds that he has a very negative track record with other activists. The Human Shields certainly was initially lead by him, but his style of “command” had driven all but the most personally loyal very far away from him. His feelings of superiority to others in the cause drive him to accuse those who do not bend to his orders of the worst affiliations, and declares they work as spies, today he adds in that they are working directly for Israel:

*****
“My experience with the Human Shield Movement I created in 2002 made painfully clear that “volunteers” are all too often agents of the enemies of justice, specifically working for the CIA, MI6 and other such government agencies who deal in the business of deception masqueraded as “national security”. So I supplied all the information requested and although my name has been stained to a degree by those within the Human Shield Movement who consider me the devil incarnate, my record of activism and thoughtful response won out and I was accepted as a volunteer for the Free Gaza Movement” http://ken-okeefe.net/?paged=2

*****
In the footnotes are excerpts of three brief statements from persons who had known Ken, not when he was in the USA Marines, (which often has discipline where the entire troop “pays for” the mistakes or disobedience of one soldier, but he is no longer in the military). The first is Greta Berlin, who worked with him on one of the first (successful) flotillas to Gaza. The second is from an activist who came into contact with him while volunteering in the Human Shields project to prevent the Coalition bombing of places in Iraq. The third is from Felicity Arbuthnot, human rights worker and unembedded journalist specialised in the Middle East who was in Iraq at the time. These are statements from activists who know him well by firsthand experience on the ground (and not on tours speaking about himself). In the footnotes are the extended statements. All are worth reading to understand the “reputation” with persons involved in concrete organisation of actions, but here is reprinted only an excerpt.[ix]

*****
Greta Berlin: Ken was on our first trip (FGM) in August, 2008 … During the entire voyage, he was obstreperous, obnoxious and, finally, dangerous to all of us. He threatened some of the activists with bodily damage. If you’ve seen him, you know he is capable. Finally, he tried to commit mutiny on the Free Gaza during the night we were traveling to Gaza with no outside communication and our ship’s captain sick.

Two or three of us put our feet down and said ‘no’. He did not have paperwork to be a captain, and he is not a captain of anything except a small fishing boat once in Hawaii. He did not seem to comprehend that, if Israel had stopped us, and we had no real captain with papers proving that, he would put us all at risk. Instead he screamed obscenities, threatened several men on board and told me he’d get even with me.

Once we arrived in Gaza, we were relieved that he was not coming back with us. We have had nothing to do with him since.
*****

Unlike the three human rights activists above, the vast majority of people, including this writer, came to learn about Ken O’Keefe for the first time after the Israeli Massacre on the Mavi Marmara, part of the Freedom Flotilla at the end of May 2010. Many of us had seen his Internet reports of the brutal beating he receieved by the Israeli police in detention, along with photos of a badly bloodied face and refusal to wash himself. Those of us who know Israeli officers and soldiers beat Palestinians and do not reserve particular care for activists either were once again thoroughly disgusted, and did not for a moment doubt the account. However, it does appear peculiar that this is the only activist who had the same thing happen, head-bashing, TWICE. As a matter of fact, it is almost gleaned fact for fact by a similar account of his, with frontal wound, reported in 2004, but never mentioned successively.

O’Keefe said: “I was beaten and put in shackles and then had my head bashed into the wall which caused a concussion and brusing. I responded by saying to him, ‘makes you feel big does it, little man?’ He retaliated by pulling out his penis.” http://www.beirut.indymedia.org/ar/2004/06/1426.shtml

Yet, there were odd inconsistencies about his treatment at the hands of the Israelis that this paper (already quite long, and not even halfway through the account) cannot properly address. Why did he not have a bruised or cut face in the Al Jazeera video a few days later and where did he get that powerful shout if two days before his wife wrote a press statement claiming that he could only speak in a whisper due to the pressure on his throat? In the same letter we see that he was denied a laywer but a few paragraphs down we are hearing about his lawyer’s advice?

How come the IHH report of the raid does not mention his name and its accounts of the disarming of weapons does not match his own in any way? How come no one has come forward to state that they were the brother who had assisted in his heroic deed? Why does the number of Israelis he managed to disarm levitate (in Salem-News, this week we find out it was not two but three)? Why was he not called by any investigative commission by any side at all to testify, if his involvement was so important and he directly had handled Israeli commandos? Why did he respond to the BBC Hardtalk journalist that the deaths on the Mavi Marmara were definitely “worth it” and why does the discourse of it always centre around his deeds and the martyrs themselves are never mentioned by name but are part of his storytelling to prove that he “saw” so many things in great detail with his own eyes? We invite people to look at all of those things and see if it was the beginning of a “survivor” branding which would be a desirable thing to earn the quick adulation and donations of others who share the same outrage at the atrocity of the massacre. And, as you will see, donations towards his own projects and personal needs become a big part of his activism, indeed, currently, a “free trade” company with Gaza (as if they can actually compete in the market!) accompanied by a resistance flotilla all run by him is the new way for activists take part economically. He is asking for large 3 BR or more flats in London for its operation, for attorneys, accountants, marketing experts… all of them free or pro-bono of course (though he states it is about free trade, not charity or even fair trade, and the call is for “investments” he seeks everything free of charge as if he himself is a Gazan). He does this based on his reputation as a survivor. It should be mentioned that Turkish friends of mine also on the Mavi Marmara ship and who were raising funds for it for many months, have written to me about it and refer to themselves as “passengers”, not heroes or survivors.

And then we would also ask people to question why on one of his many autobiographies we see him describe himself this way: “Ex US Marine who renounced US citizenship on March 1 2001. Now holding Irish, Hawaiian and Palestinian citizenship.” Despite the fact that Hawaii is in the USA and the current USA President was born there, it is simply untrue. He did not renounce his citizenship, at least, his request was never fulfilled and he in fact utilises the primary US document, its passport. As a matter of fact, being a US citizen (whether he likes it or not), allows him travel privileges which he absolutely takes advantage of, including “rights” to travel in occupied Iraq. And thus, he finds it useful to continue to possess it.

[Ken O’Keefe] was forced under duress, to request a U.S. passport at the American Consulate in Rome on February 12, 2003. This request became necessary after the Turkish Government unlawfully deported of Mr. O’Keefe and thus prevented his peaceful transport through Turkey, on his way to Iraq to act as a Human Shield. Had Mr. O’Keefe not made his reluctant request he could have been denied the inherent right to travel to Iraq. [x]

Despite this being the most oft-repeated claim to his fame, only after his title as a “Mavi Marmara Survivor”, it is a lie. He is currently a US citizen and though we have seen videos of him burning US passports on several occasions (that is, he had more than one to burn, so he renews them), and as recently as September 2010 he was doing a self-promotional tour in the USA, in which he was travelling on his US passport, where activists had said part of these meetings involved money being collected for his “expenses”. It does appear, as a bare minimum, that declaring himself as having renounced his citizenship is outright misleading. At any rate, this “calling card” that differentiates him from all those who for some reason don’t disassociate themselves with the USA seems to attract people for some kind of appeal it undoubtably possesses, though this writer still has to figure out what that appeal might be. Also, being an ex-Marine (with an Other Than Honorable Discharge for steroids use), while not earning exciting acclaim in most of the world, is considered at least by other ex-Marines as a “plus” in activism, and this was the point made also in a video interview of Ken’s mother (yes, his mother) made by former embedded journalist in imperialist wars in the Middle East, another ex-Marine, Tim King of Salem-News, to which Ken contributes.

We also would see, once we start moving around in the world that blossomed around him after the Mavi Marmara raid, lots of commentary as a political leader. He issued a document titled “The Freedom Charter” (http://kenokeefe.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/the-freedom-charter-or-the-second-nakba/), which is his own idea of how the situation of Palestine/Israel should be resolved. Though it never once mentions the Right of Return, it does talk a lot about sharing things equally. Despite the fact that he’s not an elected Palestinian leader, he took it quite seriously and stated it there was a choice between his solution or Palestinian Nakba. Many activists and Palestinians saw the document as a “light Zionist” attempt to overtake their cause by already giving away 50% too much when the problem is not lack of peace, but an illegitimate military occupation of Palestine and a constant selling out of the legitimate Palestinian cause.

While understanding the way that Ken presents himself, since the bulk of his material, video and written, has Ken O’Keefe as its central theme, may be important – as he bases much on the amount of trust people put in his leadership role, and it was in this role that decisions were no longer done by consensus, but were left to the leader – it does seem to be taking the issue too far from our basic argument: that there was a grave management problem affecting the RTH convoy, and as a result of that, a Pandora’s box of trouble opened up.

We were receiving alarming messages from Ken’s contacts such as this one:

LATEST – 11/11/2010 10.50AM GMT – reports of 4 Libyan navy vessels & two fighter jets surrounding ship, attempting to bring the vessel back to harbour safely. Attempts to ensure 10 kidnapped convoyers & 3 libyans safely transferred to Libyan ships, to return to Derna. No force being used – only verbal reasoning applied to Strofades IV captain.

In time of peace, this kind of message is not reassuring. The Maltese vessel was in international waters, and a Navy is not a Coast Guard, it cannot attempt to change the route of a commercial ship without causing a potential international crisis.

Then we got further messages about Greek Commandos being involved. A new press release which turned into an instant piece by the previously mentioned Tim King stated: Gaza Activists Taken to Sea Against Their Will Now Held at Gunpoint in Greece – Salem-News.Com

But the misinformation had by now reached epic proportions, and without precise clarification of the various and contradictory claims, false narratives would circulate for days, an example is this article appearing on 24 November: 

The ship captain, who kept raising the price while en route to Egypt, abandoned ship in open waters. The convoy members were lost at sea for 36 hours until they managed to send a distress signal, which was picked up by Greek forces that rescued them. http://www.gcbs.gov.ps/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=149:road-tohope-gaza-aid-convoy-arrives-at-al-arish-port-

All of this is quite alarming and it is logical that the event was becoming much different than an Aid Convoy hiring a ship and delivering persons and material to Gaza. It became a personal drama involving the activist world. It was not getting very much press coverage, actually, but in “our” circle, it was enormously dramatic as these were “our” people. A Mavi Marmara survivor a victim of kidnapping, abduction, being surrounded by Libyan military vessels and planes, being held at gunpoint by Greek Commandos. Very dramatic stuff.

Then we were able to see the reports by the Convoy members, who at this time had named themselves “The Convoy Ten”, later to be changed into “The Gaza Ten”. It is assumed that all of this time, they were sending information through their mobile phones, as informtion streamed in continually, and this alone is strange that kidnapped persons are allowed to maintain their communication devices. http://gazafreedommarch.org/cms/en/News/View/10-11-11/KIDNAPPED_AID-WORKERS_SPEAK_OF_CONTINUING_ORDEAL_ABOARD_ABSCONDING_GREEK_SHIP.aspx shows where they lamented of being severely restricted in their movement, denial of water (which they later stated was “from the toilet”, hardly any food and no life jackets, “managing to get a hold of” a radio on the ship to make SOS calls which reached a “NATO warship” which “said it would help”, but no one actually rescued them. In the two days of this drama, none of these messages towards the activists in Libya or others “participating” vicariously, contained any call to continue to find a ship to bring the aid in or move the Convoy along (which was now down to 50 people who were, by their own admission, stranded in precarious state and in extreme distress, in the Libyan desert) or find storage for the material. All communications by the leader only concerned his own situation and those of the others who had been “kidnapped”.

But there were other reports stating something different:

Gaza activists willingly on ship from Libya-ship manager | World | Reuters

Needless to say, it was thoroughly confusing for anyone watching, and the contradictions of the Captain escaping off the side of the boat on a speedboat had been forgotten (and later, in an ironic turn of events, the mad escape was vehemently denied by one who was on the dock, claiming that there was no speedboat whatsoever, and when shown the RTH press release, asked who was infiltrated to insert that kind of message), as the Captain began being present everywhere, magically reappearing in every account. There were legitimate reasons to doubt that there was more than one area of inaccurate reporting and the use of the terminology that was always extremely dramatic began to be questioned by quite a few as the ship was located closer to its destination, which at this time was localised clearly as Greece.

And at this point, naturally, regarding the “hijacking”, the voices from “the other side” were coming in. No, not the Zionists, who had not been paying attention, but those who were considered to be involved with the Greek ship. This same ship that had taken the aid from Viva Palestina 5 to Al Arish only a month earlier, so evidently, with direct experience in precisely what had been asked by RTH and a positive outcome.

The Road To Hope opened a Facebook page where a person named Christina Baseos began providing live information about the persons involved. She claimed to be affiliated in some way with the ship and answered all the various questions about the conditions of the convoy members, even handing her own phone to at least one person so he could speak with a relative. She appeared from out of nowhere, and was able to provide quite a few details. Some had immediately insulted her, but not everyone, and she persisted in contributing to reassure everyone that people were safe and that the situation was not critical. She however continued to deny that there had been any kidnapping and instead, what had happened was that the convoy members boarded the ship without permission, without the shipowner ever having reached an agreement with them and their broker and that he was in possession of permission to leave the port. The convoy members were disobeying the orders to immediately leave the ship which was not going to take them anywhere and to remove the van they parked on the shore-based ramp. Not only that, after the ship began moving, more jumped aboard, in an attempt to prohibit it from leaving the port, thus obstructing its right, which is a violation of Maritime law and an imposition.

In the posts to this group, the tension was very high and “the Greeks” were accused of everything from depriving the convoyers of sleep, food and water to physical assault. There were constant references made to the recklessness of a captain unable to control the vessel, destroying the harbour on the mad dash out, endangering life and property and needing to have his license immediately revoked for this. Persons asking information were thankful to receive it, but others were also extremely hostile with Ms.Baseos, including the London office manager of RTH, Ellie Merton who left a message – 10 times within 2 minutes – in all caps for people to not engage with Ms. Baseos, and then, in total disregard for her freedom of speech, she was completely censored, as she was banned from the group, though she had been the only one able to provide valuable detailed information for the family members to reassure them of the conditions of their loved ones.

URGENT URGENT URGENT –

YOU MUST NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT LIAISE ON THIS GROUP WITH CHRISTINA BASEOS, WHO IS LEGAL COUNSEL FOR CRIMINAL GREEK SHIP’S CAPTAIN.

SHE IS ATTEMPTING TO GATHER EVIDENCE TO TRY TO PRETEND HER CAPTAIN IS NEITHER MAD NOR CRIMINAL. DO NOT, REPEAT DO NOT INTERACT WITH HER, FOR THE SAFETY OF THE ROAD TO HOPE MEMBERS WHOM SHE IS TARGETTING, ALONGSIDE THE CAPTAIN WHO IS ALSO TARGETTING THEM.

THANK YOU. ELLIE MERTON, ROAD TO HOPE, LONDON LIAISON

In the meantime, the situation had continued to be dramatic. One incoming message talked about the convoyers being arrested, another denied that. Then the Captain was arrested, that was then denied, and so on. The only thing missing in all of this was any sort of indication as to what would need to be done with the aid and the persons because the closure of Al Arish was fast approaching. What should have been the priority was then changed into the situation of Ken and the group. It was really strange, considering these were people who knew there were others in their convoy in extremely precarious situations and considering they were on their way to Gaza, to read the disappointed tone of being taken to “a ghetto hotel” in Athens, having to obtain once again their passports which were in Libya, becoming the activist priority, and finally, action calls were made with enormous insistence for a new call to action: the donation drive was on so that Ken O’Keefe could have the money to fly back to Libya, despite the Irish embassy assuring him return to Ireland (he lives in the UK). Another paypal account was announced, leading directly to his personal account, as well as his Western Union location for wires transfers. The mission was now focused on Ken’s logistics and personal needs.

Unable to comprehend the situation and its enormous contradictions and question marks, our site announced we would do a completely objective report on what had happened, since some voices had been totally silenced and censored and others were reporting a fact and then denying it. Aware that the entire situation was already a disaster, but not at this point hopeless, we invited those involved to contribute to clarification and we would conclude our work after the convoy had achieved its mission. The immediate response to this was that the person doing the report was not “objective” (i.e., not biased in Ken’s favour). This writer was censored from an ad hoc emergency group she was invited to, as it was considered as hindering the mission that she was advising others to be prudent before informing the media of information that we did not get verification of to protect our reliability and also to not create undue panic or disseminate false information. Then being labelled a Zionist started, since for some it is inconceivable that one could feel very uncomfortable with contradictions and seek clarity, so this tactic was used to stop the questions. The leap of faith towards Ken seemed to be the priority, and other attempts to quelch the entire “investigation” by character assassination that was aimed at frightening me off and damaging me had begun.

Besides being utterly inappropriate and infantile, it simply made no sense, since we are there to serve Palestinian interests, we need to be accountable to them, to each other and safeguard the entire cause from abuse, including accusations of anyone seeking accountability as being “paid by Israel”. If it were indeed factual that there was a kidnapping, it would benefit only the RTH to collaborate in a positive way and provide any information that would demonstrate their claim once more, and to a sympathetic public, since the doubts were growing and there was no reason to keep on believing the things being told to us. Several parties agreed to be interviewed for this report, in fact, they were anxious to do so. The only party that was against it was Ken O’Keefe, after an initial claim that he is “happy to share the truth, always”. The exchange concerning that is quite interesting and is integrally shown in the footnotes and well worth the read to understand that if someone asks for information by others who have a different side to tell, (though in the past they have been even the logistics specialist for the charter company of the previous successful flotilla!) in Ken O’Keefe’s world, they are affiliated with Zionists or stupid: no one is supposed to know any truth but “Ken’s Truth”, but here we can see also his attitude of superiority and the verbal abuse that had been alluded to over and over again by those who had known him and were refusing to “obey his orders”.

*****
Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 12:33 Mary, I decline to be interviewed and I will post this exchange on my blog as an illustration of the self-righteous, holier than thou attitude that exudes from you and which is injurious to unity and respect within the Palestinian justice movement. For my part I do not recognise you as the authority you claim to be and I will not feed your delusions by doing any interview with you. [xi]

*****
At this point, the resources that remain are the Statement by Ken O’Keefe and all the various materials available in the public domain. I refer to them for Ken’s contributions, and the “other side’s view” is represented primarily by Christina Baseos, who kindly responded to all of my questions and not only that, provided me with an extremely detailed document and other documents, one of which was identical to a document Ken O’Keefe sent me, before he realised PTT is not a bulletin board, but a site where our writers research and write our own assessments based on the information we obtain. Her document also included photographs that had been taken from Ken’s site, as well as original photographs to document the claims made and verify if they were true or false.

I also had spoken to two persons who were in Libya waiting to get into Gaza, who gave me general information and encouragement. I had a Facebook exchange with one convoy member in Libya who only intended to defend Ken and attack me, but her information about the denial of the speedboat only added to the picture that there had been no debriefing, and the same story by the same side was looking like Rashoman, and the claims were still all over the place. In the light of this, I am attempting to be as objective as possible to present the actual events that took place, and which are the core of the situation that will have repercussions for some time: The Kidnapping / Hijacking on the MV STROFADES IV.

The elements to consider are the following:

  • The request for a ship was made by RTH who contacted a broker.
  • All transactions regarding hiring of the ship involved two distinct relationships: the Client (RTH) and the Broker (Messrs. El Reedy Shipping Agency, Damietta-Egypt) and the Broker and the Ship-owner (Greek owner of MV Strofades IV, flying Maltese Flag).
  • There is no “set price” for a shipment. There are variables which are taken into account and terms are arranged that should satisfy the needs of both parties. A phase of negotiations is underway so that at the conclusion of which, both parties are able to conclude the deal to their satisfaction.
  • The negotiation includes the terms (type of cargo, amount of passengers, dates required, commissions, method of payment) and both parties contribute to this phase, each with their own relationship to the broker, and not with one another.
  • Included in these negotiations are elements that do not directly concern the other party, and as we shall see, had not been fully disclosed. For RTH, that the funding was coming through private donations and was for humanitarian aid, and for the ship, that their ability to conclude the deal at a specific price with this client depended upon the cargo ship also concluding another deal with a different client to occupy part of the vessel, which would of course reduce the expenses for RTH, because the objective costs (which have been itemised and are in footnotes[xii]) of a charter would be divided between two clients. It should be noted that during RTH’s negotiations with the broker, other negotiations were ongoing with another client from the Greek office for a shipment it would be hired to do involving Syria which would impact the amount charged.
  • The decision to charter the ship or not is in the final analysis the sole prerogative of the ship-owner. He is entitled to conclude the negotiations positively or negatively. In the case he does not conclude with the broker, no contract is signed and the ship is considered free to conduct its other business without any obligation to the broker’s client for lack of conclusion.

Bearing in mind the above, the negotiations were proceeding with an initial offer of 50,000 USD should there be the cargo still in negotiation from Syria and 75,000 USD if the client at Derna was to be the only group chartered. All along the contracting, this was done under the name of the broker, and not RTH. The terms were for a cargo of exclusively 30 vehicles and 30 drivers, which was in the final version of the “recapitulation of the fixing terms”, a pre-contract statement of what would be on the contract should it be signed. This same identical document was sent to me by both Ken O’Keefe with the title “Contract” and by Christina Baseos. It is clear at this point that what the logistics personnel was aware was the basis upon which to draw up a contract only in the case the negotiations were resolved positively, in the eyes of Ken O’Keefe, was indeed a contract! It does seem incredible to even consider that he would be unable to differentiate between the two, but his insistence, and his claim to legitimacy rest on the fact that he is informing one and all that he had been invited to begin loading – never by the Captain or Ship-owner in his account, but by the Libyan officers – and that was because everything was in place to do so, payment and paperwork. It was only being blocked by someone’s “greed” or perhaps even something more sinister.

It is essential to note that the number of passengers was limited and at no time included the entire convoy. It was clearly indicated that the number of passengers would in no way exceed 30. Also fundamental to the outcome was the fact that during the negotiations, the name of the organisation Road To Hope was never nominated to the owners, and indeed, the correpsondence between the broker and the owner during the phases of negotiation which was forwarded never mention the name or the purpose of the humanitarian organisation. I also was forwarded the emails between the London RTH office and the broker. It is clear that the businessmen were conducting their business and while both wanted to conclude the deal according to praxis, RTH was sending public messages that all would board the vessel, despite the fact that they were aware some people would never be allowed to board, and not informing any of them of this. Indeed, the entire convoy had left Tobruk for Derna, though more than half would not ever have been allowed to board. The lack of transparency or even misleading communication between the leader and the members of his own convoy, persons directly affected, is another element which must be analysed by the RTH organisation.

After a final series of negotiations between the broker and the owner, it was agreed upon to proceed under specific conditions. Not having fixed the Syrian cargo, the amount due would be 75,000 USD, as well, at this point, the broker changed several elements that were not in previous agreements. In addition to these negotiations involving the head office in Greece and the Egyptian broker, at a certain point, four persons claiming to be part of the group that wanted to charter the ship began attempting live negotiations with the owner. The document given to me by Ken O’Keefe includes an email from the broker which states to them that they should try to negotiate on their own, as he had not successfully concluded. Though they insisted to him that they had given him 75,000 USD, he indicated he would return the entire 55,000 USD, the complete sum that he had received from RTH.

The ship had its shore-based ramp lowered on to the deck as it was discharging another shipment. One of these persons who boarded asked when loading would begin and the owner of the ship said it would not begin because no agreement had been reached. That, in effect, was the negotiation, that there would be no cargo shipment and that the ship was headed out to effect other work.

Why had no agreement been reached, even if the sum of 75,000 could be delivered in the manner required by the shipper? This is dependent upon the broker asking the owner to change the name of the charterers from “Messrs. El Reedy Shipping Agency” to “Messers. El Reedy Shipping Agency ON ((BEHALF OF CHARTERERS)). In essence, the charterers had not been named and only days after the negotiations initiated was it even made known to the shipping company that the charterer was a non-profit organisation. Also lacking was a necessary proof of authorisation vested to the broker. To be specific, these are the words regarding the matter: “The ship-owners reiterated their offer of November 6th, requesting a lump sum freight of USD 75.000 together with charterers’ full style (this includes address, contact numbers, background and references). Anyone involved in shipping is fully aware that full details of a charterer are requested in order for the ship-owners to have the chance to consider, evaluate and eventually either accept or reject them. This is a due diligence standard procedure in shipping.”

That details of the charterer were not provided (and why they were not provided remains a mystery) was one of the motivations for which the shipping company considered not in its interests to conclude the negotiation positively. Other reasons were other terms being changed by the broker (time allowed for loading / discharging operations to be changed from 2 days to 3 days, payment of the docking expenses, commission and other things). Not accepting the terms, the owner informed the broker that no business could be developed on that basis and all previous negotiations were null and void and the vessel was not chartered, thus free to work elsewhere. The head office informed the owner on board the ship about the latest developments, and this was what he indicated to the convoyers who were on the ramp. This is verified by Ken O’Keefe when he took the time to inform everyone that the owner was “threatening to leave without us”.

As per praxis, the owner contacted the Greek office to say that no offer was concluded and that they would depart. The Master (this is what the Captain is called) instructed the vessel’s agent to make all necessary arrangements with the Port Authorities in order for port clearance to be issued and enable the vessel to sail. The agent complied with the Master’s instructions and informed him that from the moment the Port Clearance is issued the vessel must sail from Derna by 24:00hrs in order to avoid port charges for another extra day in relation to berth occupation.

What happens next is the account detailed by Ms. Baseos, and it indicates what had occurred not from the point of view of the shipping company, as the portion of the business transaction was concluded, but what the point of view of the crew was. It merits being given in full:

*****
In Derna, a couple of the aid workers (namely Mr. Kenneth O’Keefe and Mr. Saeb Shaath) still remained on the ship’s stern ramp. They had been asked by the Master to get off the ramp but they disobeyed his orders.

While the vessel waited for the Port Pilot (official employee of the Port Authorities, whose duty is to assist any vessel’s entrance – exit to/from the port) to hand over to the Master the port clearance, the situation with the aid workers who remained in the pier was getting intense. Rumors were going around since early that evening that all members of the convoy (in excess of 100 persons) intended to board the vessel, despite the fact that the whole time during the negotiations (from day 1) the owners had made it clear that the vessel can accommodate only 30 drivers (one driver per vehicle). Why were there more than 100 persons in the pier waiting for more than 5 hours? Why had they been allowed to enter the port in the first place if they never intended to board the vessel? What were they waiting for? It was more than obvious that the rumors were about to become an actual fact! The Master’s suspicions were confirmed when the head-office contacted him and informed him that some members of the convoy were uploading messages in the internet via their mobiles, leaving innuendo that they were determined not to allow the vessel sail, unless all of them were boarded, no matter what!

In addition to that, the fact that Mr. O’Keefe and Mr.Turner remained on the vessel’s ramp, refusing to disembark was another clear sign that the aid workers were not going to allow the vessel to sail at all. The icing on the cake was the information that was conveyed to the Master by an Egyptian member of the vessel’s crew that outside in the pier there were some sort of discussions about taking the vessel directly to Gaza and not El-Arish!!!

Whilst all above were taking place in Derna, (around 22:00- 23:00hrs), the head-office received another message from the charterers’ broker, despite the fact that the owners had already officially informed him that the negotiations had terminated and there was no fixture whatsoever, saying that he confirms on behalf of the charterers the recap of terms sent by the ship-owning company earlier; only this time instead of “Messrs El Reedy Shipping Agency” shown as charterers, a private company in Tobruk was given, namely “Messrs c/o Butnan Investment & Development Company, Alkarwarismy St, Tobruk, Libya, Tel: 00 218 62 762 4978, Fax: 00218 62 762 1859”.

The broker was asking the head-office to confirm it by return and urgently instruct the Master to proceed with loading of the cargo.

Ten minutes later, the office reverted to the broker’s last and once more declined without counter. The office informed the broker that there is no way that they will reach an agreement, whatsoever, since the owners were once more given a name of a completely unknown company to them, as the charterers, ergo the case was from then on considered closed. The head-office reiterated that the vessel is not chartered, that no fixture had been confirmed and that the vessel is free to work elsewhere. 

In the meantime, the situation in Derna was heated. Around 23:30, the pilot boarded the vessel to hand over the sailing permit, only for him & the Master to realize that four members of the convoy had driven two vehicles on the stern ramp, against the orders of the Master. At that time, 6-7 Port Police Officers were also on the ramp of the ship. The officers boarded the vessel to enforce the order.

The Master ordered for the vehicles to be driven off the ramp, as well as all convoy members to disembark immediately. One of the vans was removed, however the convoy members declined to remove the other van and to disembark.

The rest of the aid workers in the pier were getting more ill at ease minute by minute and it was crystal clear that things wouldn’t calm down, on the contrary they were about to get worse.

It was now about 23:50pm and the Master ordered the crew to slowly lift the ramp and initiate unberthing maneuverings. At that time and while the ramp was being lifted, more members of the convoy literally jumped onto the ramp and boarded the vessel.

The pilot, who was still on board and was caught by surprise from the R2H members jumping onto the vessel, disembarked using the pilot ladder and hopped onto the pilot boat, which was next to the MV Strofades IV.

Meantime, the Master ordered (ordered, not forced as Mr. O’Keefe claims) the engine-room crew to prepare the engine and the deck crew to cut the lines (mooring ropes) in order to release the vessel from the dock, as no mooring men were available to unfasten the lines from the bollards (shore side). The lines were cut (not snapped as Mr. O’Keefe claims) by using an electric cutting wheel and this is clearly shown in the video uploaded on YouTube by Mr. O’Keefe (in 2:26). The adverse weather conditions prevailing in the area at the time had made the vessel’s maneuverings a very difficult task.

The vessel drew away and stopped about 0.3 nautical miles (about 500 meters) off the port’s entrance.

*****(end)

The above is illuminating in many ways. It indicates that despite the terms of negotiation being restrictive of passengers, the convoy either had no idea it was going to be denied entry aside from approximately one third of the members, or that there was still discussion about alternatives to the arrangements such as taking the boat directly to Gaza. At any rate, combined with the refusal to disembark despite the absence of any contract concluded with the shipper and his orders for them to leave his ship, there was no legitimate reason for members of the RTH to remain on board and there was furthermore no reason for them to drive vehicles onto the ramp, especially when the pilot had handed over the official port clearance document, authorising the vessel to leave. Libyan officials entered of their own free will and rights and remained on board to maintain the order.

The next passage is crucial and I ask everyone to read it carefully:

*****
The Master contacted the Port Authorities via radio and asked them to send a launch boat to pick up the 10 convoy members and the 7 Libyan Officers.

The 10 activists refused to be picked up and the 7 Libyan officers said that they also do not wish to disembark without the activists.

*****
It begs the question: in the light of the above, can the presence of Ken O’Keefe and the other convoyers be considered even remotely as a kidnapping?

Ask yourself these questions: if you have official written authorisation to leave, if you have no contract, thus, are in no way obligated to board the passengers or cargo of a failed negotiation, if you have none of their money since the transactions were only ever between RTH and the broker or some other party and the broker, but never between RTH and the ship-owner, if you have ordered them to leave, and after you have begun operations to leave, MORE persons jump onboard, if you have not tried to extort money or anything from them, can you be kidnapping them? Is their presence against the will of the ship-owner? YES. Is the presence on that ship against the will of the convoyers? NO. As a matter of fact, it bears repeating: THE ACTIVISTS REFUSED TO BE PICKED UP WHEN THE BOAT WAS LEAVING THE HARBOUR. The Officers as well remained as they did not want to leave the activists on the ship, though their motivations are not stated, one can imagine what they would be since they were aware that the activists jumped on the boat without permission.

The Libyans instructed the ship to remain in Libyan waters, with no justification or explanation. However, since there was no court order to do so, (which is the praxis), and in fact, the owner was in possession of the document permitting his departure, this instruction was not legally binding. Again, the elements that follow are important:

*****
Upon entering international waters the Master contacted via radio the Search and Rescue Coordination Centre (SRCC) of the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs and informed them both of position and the incident. The Maltese Authorities were contacted as well as the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the SRCC of the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Libyan Authorities. During the communications, the Libyan Authorities asked the Master to proceed towards Benghazi (Libya) in order to meet with a corvette of the Libyan Navy. The Master refused entering into Libyan waters again, as he was bound to ensure the safety of the vessel and her crew. He requested for all 17 persons to be picked up in international waters by a conventional vessel. He reported that the incident should & could be resolved in an amicable way without the intervention of the Navy.
*****

It is necessary to stress here that in time of peace, it is the Coast Guard and not the Navy of a sovereign nation that can board “foreign soil”, which is what the MV Strofades IV is while sailing in international waters. The Master’s request to have the Libyans once again collect the persons on board and avoid an international dispute since Greece and Malta had already taken charge of the situation was actually far-sighted, as will be clear in a moment. The account continues:

*****
Around 17:00hrs and while the vessel was some 75-80 miles away from the Libyan waters (between Libya and Crete island in Southern Greece), The Master was called via VHF by a Libyan navy ship. The navy ship asked for the Master’s consent to approach the vessel in the international waters in order to pick up the 17 persons on board. The Master posed no objection to this proposal and agreed to stop the ships’ course and wait for the warship to arrive. The warship advised that it would approach in about 5 hours. The Master contacted the SRCC of the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs immediately to update them on the situation and to advise them that the vessel will remain idle for about 5 hours, when a Libyan navy ship would approach them to pick the activists & the Libyan officers. He also stated that in an effort for this incident to end in an amicable way, he had no objection in waiting for the warship in international waters.

The Libyan navy ship then asked from the Master to allow the Libyan high rank officer, who was on board, to talk with them via VHF. The Libyan officer was allowed entrance to the bridge (navigation/control room), the vessel’s communication means were made available to him and the officer communicated in Arabic with the Libyan warship.

The Master asked the helmsman on duty, an Egyptian member of the vessel’s crew who was in the bridge at that time, to translate to him in English the communication the Officer had with the warship. The helmsman told the Master that the Libyan officer asked the warship to “come as quick as possible, we have to arrest them and hold them in detention”. The warship’s reply was “just wait there, we are coming”.

Further to this turn of events and as it was clear that there was no intention whatsoever for an amicable resolution of the incident, the Master immediately contacted the SRCC of the Greek Ministry of Marine Affairs, as well as, the Maltese Authorities, updating them on the developments and informing them that he will now continue his course and head to Neapolis port in Southern Greece. The SRCC suggested for the vessel to proceed directly to Piraeus port in Greece, because in Piraeus the coordination & communications of the involved Authorities would be much easier and more effective. The Master confirmed the SRCC’s suggestion and headed straight to Piraeus port. Upon taking this decision, the Master informed all crew members, the 10 activists and the Libyan officers of the final destination.
****

It should be clear to anyone reading this far that had the Libyan Navy been allowed to intervene in international waters, they would have created a situation which is impossible to know the outcome of. A crisis of this type is a common occurrence, and it is always extremely alarming for ships to be directed towards Libya with the passengers on board, (indeed at the day of this writing, another Italian civilian vessel sailing in International waters has been brought to Benghazi by Libyan forces). That all aboard the ship would have been arrested was an evident danger that the Master was not willing to allow, and thus, as much as he is accused of all and sundry, we must acknowledge that the freedom of all of the persons on board, the crew and the activists, was safeguarded by the decisions of the Master, who was willing to collaborate in an amicable way with the Libyans, but not willing to surrender his legal right to not have a foreign military body board and arrest persons on his vessel.

Any person, activists included, will recognise that no precedents should be set of encouraging foreign military to enter civilian ships in international waters in peace time. The Israelis did such a thing, and it was rightly condemned in the loudest possible terms.

The next event was the arrival of the Special Forces of the Greek Coast Guard approaching in a Zodiac boat. It was stated by Ken that the Master had instructed the crew to not allow them on board (to not drop the ladder), but this again is untrue. The crew members had instructions to make the necessary arrangements, and the movements depended on the conditions of the sea and assuring safety, which is not something the activists would even be able to know, so the activists pushing the crew members away from a task they alone were able and authorised to do, as they forcefully took the ladder themselves is an act that has no explanation whatsoever. The Greek Coast Guard embarked, ascertained that the situation was under control and all 17 persons remained under custody of the Port Police and their Special Forces until they were allowed to disembark.

Following the events, Ken O’Keefe issued on 18 November his previously cited “Statement of Facts” (Nota Bene: RTH did not issue a statement in its name) which was meant to be the definitive truth about the incident. Reading it, and being aware of events, one is allowed to analyse it properly.

“At this point myself and Kieran Turner were standing at the back of the ship and when the owner ordered the ramp up, instinctively some of the convoy members boarded the ship. They did so of their own volition, they were not asked or ordered to do so, and I agree 100% with what they did. Youtube videos show this clearly, as does the testimony of the Libyan police. Keep in mind we knew of the rumblings of the owner wanting to leave, we all knew the payments had been made, and we also had one vehicle on the ship along with two leaders (including myself) onboard; it was only natural to at least retain our property and get our payment back if indeed this ship was not available to us.”

*****
The above statement is a confession of willful navigation obstruction, which by the way is an offence. A “captain” should know better than that!

There was no excuse whatsoever for anyone to board the vessel, even if they thought that this way they would “retain property” and “ensure getting back the payment”. If they believed that there was a breach of contract (provided that a contract existed in the first place), they could find justice in the Courts but certainly not on the RAMP of a vessel, and especially since they very well knew that the money was not in the Master’s possession, but in RTH’s broker’s possession.

The legal definition of “kidnapping” is: “It refers to forceful abduction of a human being with the intention to hold them for ransom, or seize them away for the motive of harassment (physically or mentally or sexually), taking them hostage and various other motives. It is done by the way of taking the kidnapped person to a place where they are unlikely to be found and is unlikely to be released till abductors demands are satisfied.”

(http://www.legal-explanations.com/definitions/kidnapping.htm)

Further to that, one must keep in mind that the burden of proof always lies with the person who lays the charges, therefore the following have first to be established for the “kidnapping” charges to stand:

a) Ransom: What was the amount of ransom requested by the “kidnappers”?

b) Motive: What was the ultimate motive of the alleged “kidnappers”?

c) Benefit: What was the benefit pursued by the alleged “kidnappers”?

d) Unknown destination: Why would the alleged “kidnappers” inform the abductees, while still on board, of their destination (i.e. Greece)? Why would the alleged “kidnappers” inform all relevant Authorities after the vessel had sailed from Libya about the incident? Why would the alleged “kidnappers” have been in continuous contact with the Libyan Authorities, the Greek Ministry of Marine Affairs, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs seeking protection and resolution? Why would the alleged “kidnappers” require from the above Authorities to immediately contact and inform the Embassies and Ministries of Foreign Affairs of all the countries involved directly or indirectly to this incident? An indicative example proving that the relevant Authorities had been duly informed from the beginning of the incident is the statement of Britain’s Foreign Ministry on 11th November: …“Our Embassy in Athens has spoken to the shipping company and is also in close contact with the Greek authorities. Our priority remains that there be a safe resolution to this incident”…

(http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AA4EW20101111).

O’Keefe continues and states that ….“From what I saw more than one of the police did urge the owner and captain to cease and desist their dangerous behavior.”

One can see from their footage the Libyan officers pushing-away the 10 RTH members, who boarded without the Master’s consent and chasing after them to prevent them from entering into the cargo hold (0:14-0:35) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRceo_mdM8k&feature=related)

Once the RTH members embarked, without permission, the Master was duty bound to take all precautionary measures, for the safety of the crew and the ship, as outlined in various emergency guidelines and rules imposed by SOLAS (international convention for Safety Of Life At Sea) and the IMO (International Maritime Organisation). Therefore, in compliance with the safety manual, instructions were given for the engine-room crew to secure the engine room and the deck-crew to secure the bridge. At no time were the engine-room and the bridge to be left unlocked.

While the vessel’s engine-crew was isolated in the engine-room and the deck-crew in the bridge, the RTH’s members were freely wandering all over the ship, from lower decks to upper decks and from fore to aft. The contradictions in the statements, from the very same persons, are quite noticeable:

Facebook post:

Ken O’Keefe The captain has left the harbour, we are 10 captives.

November 11 at 3:02am via Text Message

Release posted on Facebook:

PRESS RELEASE – ROAD TO HOPE, CONVOY TO GAZA

THURSDAY 11/11/2010 – 22.30 GMT

Ellie Merton “ I am also disappointed to hear the ship owner and his assistant are armed, and refuse to give the convoyers freedom of movement around the ship. The aid workers are genuine hostages. It is still deeply worrying…..

…..Kieran further adds: “At first we were made to stay in the loading bay area at the rear of the ship, which was really dangerous once the ship got out to sea”….

….. They didn’t give us any life jackets…

….Kieran adds: “Initially we were stopped from moving around the ship and had to stay in the bottom of the lower deck. Eventually we just walked through to the crew quarters, and they’ve let us occupy their small smoking room. At least we are safe and in the dry, and it has a couch so we can try to sleep. We’ve been given one meal, of sorts, since the ship left Derna. We’ve got access to water, but it’s not drinking water.”…..

*****
Ms. Merton says that freedom of movement on the ship was denied, while the leaders claim that they were initially “MADE” to stay in the loading area and “STOPPED” from moving around the ship. What they all have failed to mention is HOW were they MADE and STOPPED from moving around the ship and by WHOM?

Then again, the pictures that have been shot, uploaded and posted all over the internet by Ken O’Keefe are worth a thousand words. They show the convoyers in various parts of the ship at the same moment (some shooting those below from above), some with groups of them together on various parts of the ship, with almost complete access to it and none of them being confined or in any other way lacking freedom of movement, (admitted as much by Kieran who adds that they just walked through to the crew quarters).

Other wild claims were regarded their treatment by the Greek Authorities:

Anna O’Leary URGENT….STATEMENT FROM HOSTAGES ON BOARD STROPHADES IV….. We have been kidnapped at the Libyan port of Derna, by the Captain and crew of the Straphades IV. The Captain and crew have since left and the Greek authorities are now holding us hostage on board the Strophades IV.

Ten of us are being held …at gunpoint by a Greek SWAT team, in a small room 8×8ft. We have been told if we move we will be shot. We have requested sleeping facilities, showering facilities, access to telephones/internet and consular assistance – all have been denied. In the last 48 hours we have had one tin of coke and one sandwich to eat. We have had no access to water other than that in the toilets. We have to ask permission to do anything, including using toilets. We have no status. We do not know the nature of the charges we are being held under and feel extremely vulnerable. We ask that everyone please put pressure on the Greek government and demand that they end this nightmare. We want the Greek authorities to release us and allow us safe passage to Libya, where we can join the remaining members of the Road to hope convoy and proceed with humanitarian aid to Palestine. Message ends…..November 13 at 2:25am

But then, to follow the trend, the contradiction couldn’t be trailing far behind, if someone bothered to wait for it:

Posted by Ken O’Keefe on:

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/11/14/road-to-hope-convoy-to-gaza-memberskidnapped/

“…the Greek commandos were professional, moral and humane. This runs in stark contrast to the brutal and murderous treatment we received from the Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara.”

Despite the odd internal contradiction that one was sending communication stating that they were denied access to telephones and internet, what seems to happen is that we are expected to believe the worst case scenario, including being told that they will be shot if they so much as move, and expected to DO SOMETHING. In this case, the Greeks become the enemy. Below is a sampling of the dozens and dozens of communications demanding our activists to change the nature of their involvement and focus on Libya and Greece. Ken O’Keefe Please demand that the Greek government release us at least to accommodation off the ship. Preferably to a hotel where can make calls freely and have access to the Internet. Perhaps demos at Greek embassies in order.
November 12 at 11:14pm via Text Message

Ken O’Keefe Please urge the Libyan government to approve our immediate travel back to Libya so we can fulfil our mission.
November 12 at 11:18pm via Text Message

Pol Mac Adaim 10.55pm Just spoke to Ken. Our comrades have requested accommodation, showering facilities, bedding, access to telephone and internet – all of which has been refused.

WE CANNOT ALLOW THE GREEK AUTHORITIES TO TREAT OUR COMRADES THIS WAY.

They have decided that if they aren’t permitted to travel to Libya that they would rather go to jail. They have asked that we put pressure on the Greek government and demand that our comrades are released and granted safe passage to Libya, where they can join the convoy and proceed to Palestine. We have to send emails and call the Greek embassies. demand their release and that they have safe passage to Libya, then we have to organize demonstrations at these embassies. So…… Who’s up for a demo?? Spread the word…….November 13 at 1:13am

Anna O’Leary URGENT. Tauqir Tox Sharif:

HELP!!! I have been arrested and detained along with the other 9 convoy members on the Boat. We need every1’s help plz contact all media sources and let them know that the greek authorities are trying to charge us for illegally occupying the boat when we were the Kidnapped. We are being treated very badly by the greek authorities. We are being held HOSTAGE! November 13 at 3:35am

Ellie Merton URGENT – Lobby Greek Government to release 10 Road to Hope humanitarian aid workers, urgently. MSM Spin: Gaza Aid Workers Labeled as Terrorists and Hijackers | Irritate The State irritatethestate.net

In an attempt to discredit the works of humanitarian aid efforts on the part of the “Road to Hope” convoy, the “lame-stream” media has attempted to put its own spin on a story some three days in the making.

*****
Well, one can’t really be blamed for putting its own spin on something with the paradox of a telephone call to someone telling them that they were being denied making calls! People might be gullible, but that level of stupidity would set off any kind of alarm bells.

Ken O’Keefe’s own report changes the “toilet water” to “tap water”, which they refused to drink, despite that fact that on board are water coolers (photos had been sent to me) and the tap water is treated water that everyone on board drinks. According to Christina Baseos:

“Before the Coast Guard’s Special Forces embarked and during the voyage from Libya to Greece, the Master had given direct orders to the cook to prepare meals for all persons on board, not only for the crew. That included the R2H group and the Libyan officers.

Mr. O’Keefe and Mr. Turner have admitted themselves during interviews that they had been offered meals during the voyage. With regards to the water, Mr. O’Keefe states “while we were at sea for two days we had almost no fresh water, instead we only had access to ship tap water, which we did not trust.” The “toilet” water has now become tap water. By the way, all members of the crew drink from that tap water. The ship has water desalination facilities and also water tanks that are filled with potable water delivered by ships chandlers in the various ports of call. So, it was really their decision to choose not to drink from the tap water but that is totally different than saying that they were only offered water from the toilets!”

Continuing O’Keefe’s account:

“Understanding the potential danger and feeling ourselves getting further and further away from our convoy, roughly 14 hours into our abduction we managed to commandeer a handheld VHF radio and use this to make distress calls for immediate rescue. This message was received by the OOCL Oakland and apparently relayed to a “NATO warship” that said it would come to our aid… but it never did. The OOCL Oakland was able to track our heading, speed and location and relayed all of this to the useless warship.”

The response to this by Ms Baseos is long, but necessary to understand the context and the situation in its REALITY, not in its shock value.
*****
Definition: “A distress signal indicates that a person or group of people, ship, aircraft, or other vehicle is threatened by grave and imminent danger and requests immediate assistance. Use of distress signals in other circumstances may be against local or international law.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distress_signal

The use of “distress signals” is a very sensitive issue in the shipping community and especially for seamen. Lots of lives have been lost in sea, due to various reasons, and therefore the “distress signal” causes shipmen extreme anxiety.

A vessel receiving a distress signal is bound by Maritime Law, first to immediately inform the nearest Coast Guard & Authorities and second to immediately proceed to the rescue of the vessel, even if that means deviating a great deal from her course and cause serious economical damage to the ship-owning company by doing so. But LIFE ALWAYS comes first no matter what.

Apart from just being bound heading to the rescue of a vessel, it is also a sacrosanct duty of all seamen to do so. By sending distress signals, numerous Authorities, Ministries, Governments are immediately alerted and rescue plans are immediately activated.

Sending distress signals when there is no imminent danger and alerting purposelessly the Authorities is against the Maritime & International Law and it is punishable.

Moreover, it is an action highly condemned by all shipmen of the world. It is an unethical act to cause stress and anxiety to the shipping community without reason. A purposeless “signal distress” for the seamen is simply a sacrilege.

A “captain” should have known that.

If the neighboring vessels had responded to this “distress call” only to realize that there was no emergency at all, the person who actually made the “distress signal” would surely face claims of hundreds of thousand dollars by the ship-owning companies of these vessels for unreasonably alerting neighboring ships for a non-emergency situation.

Video uploaded by Mr. O’Keefe on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71AARnihrsQ

In 10:14 of the video: Mr. O’Keefe making a “distress signal”

++++

In 10:14 of the above video we see Mr. O’Keefe making a “distress signal” and his communication with the neighboring vessel MV OOCL Oakland.

However, in 10:34 of the video it is obvious that one or more pieces of the footage have been cut. Why would Mr. O’Keefe extract pieces of the original raw footage?

Furthermore, the OOCL Oakland after receiving the “distress signal” informs the “abductees” that they have given the MV Strofades’ coordinates to a NATO warship. One would expect to hear the rest of the communication but that was not the case. Mr. O’Keefe inadvertently cut from his video the rest of the communication.

It would be interesting to hear / see what was next told by the OOCL Oakland and the NATO warship. A warship does not need information on a vessel’s position to be given by any merchant ship. God forbid a warship not having the necessary means to locate any vessel at sea and rely on information given by other vessels in the area.

Why would a NATO warship not come to the “kidnapped” aid as per Mr. O’Keefe’s statement?

Because the NATO warship acted as obliged. The warship contacted the SRCC of the Greek Ministry of Marine Affairs for an update of the situation. The SRCC informed the warship that her intervention is not necessary as the matter is under control and that there is no “kidnapping” emergency and that the incident lies under “commercial dispute”.

Furthermore, wouldn’t an intervention of a NATO warship, whilst in international waters, in a non-emergency incident be frowned upon and condemned, as the intervention / attack of the Israeli warship at the Mavi Marmara incident was RIGHTFULLY condemned? Of course cutting the footage at will “supports” Mr. O’Keefe’s following statement:

FROM THE STATEMENT OF FACTS ISSUED BY Mr. O’Keefe on November, 18th: …” Having made a distress call for a NATO warship that never showed up, we were happy to see the Greek warships and commandos off the coast of Greece.”

It is common knowledge that in democracies, in times of peace the only duty of the Army, Navy & Air Forces of a country are to guard the country’s borders, and they take action or interfere only in war or warlike situations.
*****

Indeed, it was the Greek Coast Guard, and NOT warships or commandos that were responding! More contradictions emerge regarding the amounts paid. It is clear that the numbers were flying, leading to legitimate doubt.

From O’Keefe interview on PressTV, on 14 November:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNrnDovmj7E

In 0:28 of the video, he claims that freight paid was $75.000

From O’Keefe’s interview in Athens, on 15 November:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obgIVwF_Yp8

In 1:19 of the video, the convoy’s leader claims that freight paid was $75,000. At 5:58 of the same interview, he claims that freight paid was “$75,000 at that point and then another $7,500 so a total of $82,500”. At 5:40 he brags, “If we wanted to, we could have taken control, we did not. I’m sure we could have managed”.

What we have, dear readers, is a lesson and we better be ready to learn it or risk it being repeated. We witness an act to be condemned, yes. This is the conclusion. There is no excuse for this turn of events and it is clear that what happened was never in the interests of Palestinians, but it involved the Pro-Palestinian community in a way that they could not subtract themselves from. In the midst of all the contradictions of those releasing statements and emergency messages, in the presence of all the outright lies causing distress to the loved ones of those involved, totally ignoring the actual purpose of the convoy and putting the spotlight onto themselves and not on Gaza, we see the situation clearly. Having spared no effort to draw the world’s attention to themselves and promoting their “media image”, spreading panic in the media and provoking diplomatic irritation between six countries, all of this in the name of GAZA, a few persons changed the course of a legitimate and ethical effort to relieve Gaza and change the situation for the better, and this is nothing less than scandalous. We were manipulated, the facts withheld or distorted and urged to “SPREAD” “EMERGENCY NEWS” and to contact every possible embassy, consulate, diplomatic authority, ministry, Members of the EU Parliament, the European Commission, the Press, even to organise Demonstrations for the “Gaza Ten”. Rather than depending upon precise logistics, including chartering the air travel for the over 50 persons who would NOT board the ship that fateful night, thus leaving them in constant state of emergency actions, as they were suddenly left to figure out how to get to Gaza, though the aid was eventually carried on another ship, we see calls to divert money into the travel of activists, and star activists get the priority and special private accounts urged to be donated to publicly.

All of this, solely due to an incident caused by the irresponsibility of a few. Dragging more and more people into a power game and using political propaganda, censorship, gatekeeping, lies and insinuation and all of this, for the sake of a few people, and none of it to do with GAZA!

It may be looked down negatively by some that this report closes with the words of one of those interviewed, Christina Baseos. However, this writer could not find better words of her own:
*****
Has it never crossed their minds that should they be “forced”, for whatever reasons, to manipulate the media, that they have to manipulate them in such way that this will raise awareness to the world about Gaza / Palestine and the actual ORDEAL these people are going through? Has it never crossed their minds, instead of manipulating the media for defamatory purposes only, to manipulate them in such way, that in the long run, will help them recruit more & more people to contribute to their humanitarian missions, by raising money, collecting donations, receiving offers from people willing to voluntarily participate in the convoys ?

Isn’t Gaza worth all of that? Isn’t Palestine worth all of that?

*****


[i] “Before my statement I feel compelled to clear up a misunderstanding about my role in the Road to Hope Convoy. I am not an organizer nor an original leader of the convoy. I became a leader shortly after joining the convoy on October 23rd (three weeks after it departed London). This became necessary due to the convoy reaching significant levels of internal crisis. Whatever people may believe, I did not want nor ask for this position, nonetheless I accepted it and have done my best to help keep this convoy together and to ensure its success. Having taken this role as late as I did I fully realised that it was impossible to undo past mistakes, so moving forward I have done my best to see the convoy reach Gaza, with or without me.”

[ii] We have limited our resistance to be in opposition to the Israeli occupation alone. Our resistance is against the enemy occupying our land and encroaching on our people and holy sites, and not against anyone else. We did not use resistance even against those who supported our enemies and provided them with all the means of force and the deadly weapons which kill our people. We also adopted the policy of confining the resistance to Palestine and not conducting it outside Palestine. This was done not out of powerlessness, but on account of an accurate estimation of interest, and a balancing of various considerations.” Khaled Meshaal. http://palestinethinktank.com/2010/10/19/meshaal-interview-on-hamas-policy-a-must-read/

[iii] Ken O’Keefe: “Now we find ourselves in our third day at the Libyan / Egyptian border and we remain hopeful that the land route will be opened to us in the coming days”. The convoy departed from London with the understanding that the land crossing through Egypt had not been closed to it. Convoy leader, Kieran Turner: “One reason for our optimism that we will travel the land route is the fact that the Al Quds convoy, a Libyan convoy also delivering aid to Gaza, is set to travel the land route in the coming days. For several weeks we have hoped to join our convoys and travel together.” However, the convoy is awaiting permission from the Egyptian authorities to pass through Egypt in this way.

[iv] Mr. Turner understands that there is a possibility the Egyptian government will deny the convoy the land route, in which case they will have only two acceptable options –

1) To press on via the land border without permission, at which time our only chance of success will be by way of significant international pressure and a reversal of a policy which tacitly supports the illegal siege of Gaza.

2) If the land route is denied the only remaining option is to deliver our aid by sea. This option inherently requires significant increases in the cost of our mission, and importantly to all subsequent aid missions. The end result of this policy is a reduction of the already limited resources that can be brought to bear for the people of Palestine.

http://kenokeefe.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/road-to-hope-convoy-stalled-at-egyptian-border/

[v] “It has always been a central aspect of the Road to Hope convoy that it acts in a non-political, non-confrontational manner. To work with and cooperate with every government in every country through which it travelled. Thus far this approach has rewarded it with exceptional receptions in every nation. All of the North African governments have been extremely accommodating and the people of each nation even more so. We must give special praise to the Libyan government for its constant support; when the convoy have had challenges, including breakdowns of vehicles, the authorities here have provided the means to repair those vehicles and continue our mission.”

[vi] Ken O’Keefe: “We are getting close to confrontation time. When tourists can travel by car freely through Egypt and a humanitarian aid convoy is blocked, it pretty much says it all. The blockade of Gaza is in a word, unacceptable”. (http://akashma.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/road-to-hope-convoy-stalled-at-egyptian-border/)

[vii] Dear Sir/Madam
In reference to your email supporting the humanitarian mission “Road to Hope” and your concern towards Palestinians’ plight in Gaza, first of all let me thank you for the concern and interest you are showing, and allow me then to draw yourattention to a number of facts regarding this issue.

In line with Egypt’s continued efforts to alleviatePalestinian sufferings in Gaza due to the Israeli blockade, a mechanism has been put in place since last year to ease the passage of international humanitarian aid into Gaza. This mechanism aimed at channeling all aid to Gaza via the port of El-Arish which is only 40 km from the Rafah crossing to Gaza.El-Arish has been dedicated for receiving humanitarian and medical aid equipment and materials from all over the world, whereby aid consignments have been welcomed to pass through so as to ensure a speedy delivery to its beneficiaries in Gaza.

Accordingly, all aid convoys throughout the past year and this year have been liaising with Egyptian authorities to deliver their aid convoys to Gaza, which has successfully taken place, most notably the last Viva Palestinian Lifeline 4 convoy in October 2010. As well, the Rafah crossing has been continuously open for almost six months now where thousands of Palestinians have enjoyed free passage in both directions.

In light of the above mentioned, it is quite regrettable that organizers of the Road to Hope convoy have failed to liaise with the Egyptian side at any stage regarding the delivery of the aid directed to Gaza, where they choose to cross over from the most remote point on the western borders of Egypt to get to Gaza on the far eastern borders rather than going directly to El-Arish, only half an hour from Gaza. They even ignored any visa requirements that are necessary to enter Egypt, where they would have been welcomed and granted the required visas had they arranged for that prior to their departure.

An additional constraining factor is due to the current holy days, where the Rafah crossing is completely devoted to the thousands of Palestinian pilgrims who are heading to and from the holy lands in Saudi Arabia.

I once again express our appreciation for your concern towards the Palestinians and their suffering, and would like to stress that both the Egyptian Government and people will always uphold the best interests of the Palestinians and their just cause. I trust that this explanation will help in clarifying the facts of the situation at hand.

Best regards, Embassy of Egypt in [omissis].

[viii] It is a “Wall Post” by one of my FB friends (whose name I am omitting) and the discussion that went on over the course of 50 minutes with him. An edited excerpt is included here to demonstrate that theories were already beginning to formulate.

Update: Ken O’Keefe and the Road to Hope http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=125051327525642 convoy are in a significantly tricky situation. Captain hired to take the whole convoy to El Arish has panicked and sailed out of port early with some of the vehicles and supplies and convoy on board as virtual hostages. Bulk of the convoy being forcibly detained in port (Tobruk) despite having paid for a legitimate charter. Updates coming live.
If you have any expertise to offer in this situation (maritime law, or coverage for this story), please Ken directly at 00218918020981. More contact details as I get them

http://theroadtohope.org/convoy

Mary RizzoMary: …

careful to not toss around words like HOSTAGES and stuff. this is international law and do they want an unneeded international incident simply becuase they don’t like or understand maritime law?

FB friend: They paid for transportation of the cargo and all convoy members – on deck would be the assumption. Alan PritchardHostage term was being used by convoy members themselves – Captain panicking, throwing his chartees off the boat in an extremely dangerous manner, preventing others from leaving

Mary: it sounds just hoaky to me to leave with a ramp up?! I see docking every single day of my life (though not many ferries, to be honest) and NO captain is going to ruin his boat or lose his license by not following the safety provisions for entry and exit from harbour. What language were they doing this in, was there a proper interpreter. Not to sound nitpicky, but tell your friends THEY OUGHT TO DESIST from utilising words that can be construed in such a way as to accuse others of crimes. There is a crime of calumny and also of undue alarm and if they are filming all of this and have proof of what they say, it might help them, but going on a humanitarian mission doesn’t need the ruckus. so, who is hostage, those on board who asked to be on board or those on the dock who are not on board?

FB friend: Understand your position. Either of my brothers in the merchant navy could tell you stories about this sort of thing happening however, especially away from the better regulated ports, but even in Europort itself…In this case it’s a Greek captain, known for hoakiness, seemingly not acting rationally. Any number of potential reasons for this.
See status update which includes press release on situation which answers some of your questions.

Mary: Mary Rizzo ok, thanks for your response. I personally don’t understand what advantage the ship could have to not deliver its cargo, especially if there was a contract.

FB friend: Mary, the captain has abandoned the ship and it is heading out of port unpiloted. This is giving me shivers, how about you?

Mary: Mary Rizzo this also does not sound realistic! I am sorry, but it sounds fake.. sorry. ships are a gigantic investment. they do not just leave a dock unmanned in the dead of night. I really can’t see that happening. It is not Israel jumping a ship, we are talking about a guy entrusted to a company abandoning the vessel.. why would anyone do that???

FB friend: Guy captains and owns the vessel. I’d do it if I was paid to do so, if my life or my family was threatened, if I was drunk, or if I was a hotheaded idiot with a history of erratic behaviour … Yes, who could possibly threaten a Greek (not Egyptian) captain chartering to delivery a supply convoy to Gaza. Who would do that? Clue: who would get on board a boat in Cyprus, also chartered to Gaza, and sabotage it?
And indeed why threaten. Cajoling is also possible. Money is its own reward.

Mary:Mary Rizzo if this is the same boat that went last month, why the problems now? I will withhold my thoughts on this until there is more clarity. the presence of the port authority officers on board also seems a bit out of the ordinary.

[ix] Greta Berlin: Ken is a loose cannon with the real potential of hurting Palestine more than helping it. He has no clue that his actions with the Greek captain could have and may have put the entire flotilla at risk of being able to leave from Greece, something Ken does not ever think about, since it is always all about Ken. … Flotilla One and soon Flotilla Two have very few places we can leave from, Cyprus is closed to us, both North and South. Turkey we can leave from but is not in the EU. Only Greece offered us the chance to leave from its ports. Now, thanks to Ken and his utter disregard for anyone except himself, he may have jeopardized that. All of the strategy of going to Gaza and NOT going through Egypt, of breaking the Israeli siege and not taking attention off Israel… Ken has managed to complicate.

Breaking Israel’s draconian siege of the people of Gaza is not about Ken. It’s about focusing our time and talents and determination on Israel. It’s about human rights, not delivering humanitarian supplies (although that is a lovely thing to do). The Palestinians don’t need handouts, they need their freedom All of this energy on one man with stupid actions is a terrible waste. Thanks Mary for being so determined, but I am so sorry he wasted your time.

Ken was on our first trip in August, 2008. He was on that trip, because I recommended him (that’s what happens at first). During the entire voyage, he was obstreperous, obnoxious and, finally, dangerous to all of us. He threatened some of the activists with bodily damage. If you’ve seen him, you know he is capable. Finally, he tried to commit mutiny on the Free Gaza during the night we were traveling to Gaza with no outside communication and our ship’s captain sick.

Two or three of us put our feet down and said ‘no’. He did not have paperwork to be a captain, and he is not a captain of anything except a small fishing boat once in Hawaii. He did not seem to comprehend that, if Israel had stopped us, and we had no real captain with papers proving that, he would put us all at risk. Instead he screamed obscenities, threatened several men on board and told me he’d get even with me.

Once we arrived in Gaza, we were relieved that he was not coming back with us. We have had nothing to do with him since.

Many of the passengers on board that night would not say anything in writing or in public against Ken, in part because we all hate that activists are such anarchists, that we often can’t get along. I had no such qualms. Which is why he made the cryptic remark about me. He is a dangerous man. Like you, Mary, I don’t think he’s a paid provocateur. He’s too much of a loud mouth.

He has left a trail of disasters, including this one. The good people in charge of the Hope trip now pretty much want nothing to do with him.

ACTIVIST who requested anonymity: My past experiences with him made it not a stretch to consider that he was acting true to form – a center-stage maverick, disregardful of the mission as a whole, those carrying it out, and those it intends to benefit. My past experiences with him made it not a stretch to consider that he was acting true to form – a center-stage maverick, disregardful of the mission as a whole, those carrying it out, and those it intends to benefit.My past experiences with him made it not a stretch to consider that he was acting true to form – a center-stage maverick, disregardful of the mission as a whole, those carrying it out, and those it intends to benefit.my encounters with Ken were in Baghdad and Jordan as “human shields” – he manifested the same sorts of behaviors then, presenting himself as the super-star while, at the same time, using divisionary tactics and engaging in confrontational manner with the Iraqi government (former) at a time when tensions were high and we felt potentially putting us at risk. We kept our mouths shut because we did not want our efforts any further discredited than they already were being made out to be by much of the mainstream press and by Rumsfeld, also. We wanted to maintain attention on preventing the invasion and the safety of both Iraqis and of shields who courageously remained in Baghdad under shock and awe.

….I woke one morning and when I entered the office, Ken was behind the desk and told me (TOLD me) he was taking over things. He then called a meeting of those of us who had been manning the office and accused our press officer of being “M16″ — I had been working with this woman nearly 24 hours per day for a couple of weeks, shared a room with her and always had found her impeccable in her judgement and admirable in her work, always putting the concerns of the effort and those participating at top priority. I stated this to Ken. He then told me I had a choice; I could believe him or take her side and leave. I told him I didn’t have to hesitate in making my choice.

Felicity Arbuthnot: For me, I was not, frankly pro or anti regime – it was for Iraq to sort out should they wish – but I was outraged at the embargo – beyond outraged. Saddam never killed an average of 7,000 children a month, whatever his undoubted other actions. In to this tinterbox of fear, paranoia, walked Mr O’Keefe. He seemed unaware of any of the atmosphere, people who had been bombed often daily, for twelve years, now facing the unimaginable. Every evening, he would stand, in a dish dasha, in the Palestine, in the centre of the lobby, barking orders, ambushing Shields, creating waves like you cannot imagine.”Who is he, why does he behave like this, what should we do …?” asked the men from the Ministry. I had not a clue about him, but I cringed and realised the whole Shield movement was being tarred with his brush. I felt he might actually get a whole lot of them accused of being more Farzad Bazoft’s – the journalist who was hung for alleged spying. Finally he was slung out and has subsequently made it sound as if it was the wicked Saddam regime and he the victim. He scared them to bits. So another initiative for peace, of huge and desperate (literally) importance which was nearly destroyed. One could not possibly comment as to why this keeps happening, but it does seem like controversies dog all he is involved in. Having also been only an “armchair” watcher re the latest debacle, what does stick in my mind is the, number of times before it happened, how he wrote of the time for confrontation drawing near.

[x] Background – In what is a monumental irony Ken Nichols O’Keefe, the initiator or the Human Shield Action to Iraq that attracted the attention of world leaders and more importantly people around the globe, was forced under duress, to request a U.S. passport at the American Consulate in Rome on February 12, 2003. This request became necessary after the Turkish Government unlawfully deported of Mr. O’Keefe and thus prevented his peaceful transport through Turkey, on his way to Iraq to act as a Human Shield. Had Mr. O’Keefe not made his reluctant request he could have been denied the inherent right to travel to Iraq (UDHR – Article 13 sec. 2) stand with the Iraqi people in defiance of America’s subsequent invasion. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/62866?author_name=Ken&comment_order=asc&condense_comments=true

[xi] This is the private message exchange between myself and Ken O’Keefe. He is also going to be publishing it on his blog.

Mary Rizzo 16 November at 18:35

Palestine Think Tank has as yet not reported or in any way analysed the recent incidents with the Road to Hope Convoy. PTT has in its history supported and followed most of the many campaigns for Palestine, expressing our critique where we deemed necessary as well as our praise where merited. We have a sole objective and single goal: what is beneficial to the freedom of the Palestinians and what will enable the quickest end to the military occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people. It had been our wish to begin to see very clearly the truth of the situation, in order to have a clear and solid view on things so that our many readers would be able to be informed of this campaign.

We also had hoped that after the initial confused moments, clarity would emerge. This has not been the case. So, we would be willing to listen to and interview any of those involved who would like to state their case. To write our analysis/overview, we will be utilising material readily available on internet. If there are any who would also like to integrate this with their own comment or submit to an interview, please put yourself in contact with us. Upon verification of your affiliation or credential to speak on behalf of a collectivity or in an independent nature, we shall provide contact information where you will be able to call us or write to us.http://www.palestinethinktank.com/

Ken O’Keefe 17 November at 22:55

I am happy to share the truth, always.TJP

Mary Rizzo 18 November at 09:30

very well then. How shall we go about this interview? Shall I give you my phone number or would you prefer a written interview so that your own words will be quoted directly?

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 09:49

Here you Mary, if you give me your email I can also send you a couple of useful documents that are not for public consumption at this point.http://kenokeefe.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/road-to-hope-convoy-kidnapping-statement-of-events-by-ken-okeefe/

TJP Road to Hope Kidnapping Statement of Events by Ken O’Keefe « Ken O’Keefe

kenokeefe.wordpress.com

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 10:05

XXXXXXXXXX is my mail. Yes, I would appreciate that, as these are some of the problems in being able to have clarity, that there is little in the way of paperwork and in things of this sort, paperwork is no small matter. yes, I read that report, and have some questions I would like you to answer. Are you willing to do an interview? If it is more convenient to you, I can simply write out the questions that I have and you can take a day or so to reflect on them and answer them. That would probably allow you to also be certain that any statements you make are your direct quotes, stated as you choose and viewed by those you trust if you deem that necessary for you, and not a transcription of a recording which could result in bad audio of erroneous transcription. Other persons have wanted to have their statements being direct quotes and thus, to give everyone the same instrument, where they can edit themselves correctly, this may be the way to go. If you do not wish to, and would rather do a phone interview, please let me know, as I need to get together my recording device and then the transcription one.

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 10:09

Depends on how many questions, give me the list and if it will take too long we will have to look at another time.TJP

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 10:14

well, Ken, send me what you have so far, and the questions might depend on that. All those who committed to being part of this overview have asked me what my time concerns were and I said that I would be publishing in a week or so, they feel it is in their interests to also respect my time constraints. the site I run with others is not a small site and it would not be a bad investment of time to be able to present your answers to questions, however, generally, a person who is interviewed as often as you are should not really worry about the quantity of questions, as the more questions there are, the easier it is for you to clarify any points that are unclear. If however, you honestly do not have intentions of responding, since if i send you the questions, I would like an answer to them, let me know now and I will mention in the overview that you could not respond becuase the questions were too many. So, you must decide a priori whether you want to be interviewed or not. mary

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 10:34

Mary what I asked for was a list of questions to see if I had time to write the answers or not. Without having the questions I cannot know if I have the time to write the answers.

Let me say this as well Mary, if I recall you seem to have a rather cozy relationship with Mary Woodward and possibly Christina Baseos. Now I reaslise the job of a journalist, more than most, but these people are beyond any doubt from my point of view poisonous. In the case of Mary she has a personal vendetta against me. Christina is friends with a captain and owner who are flat out crazy and quite likely tied to Zionism in one way or the other.

Now I could care less about the defaming going on, I see this all as par for the course. And when you do things as I do, pure of heart, with genuine intent, you can accept anything at all being said of you. But I care not to feed into entities that have intimicies with those so lost that they would make an enemy of me or other good people. Such people are either stupid or agents of the enemy. So let me ask, what is your relationship with these two people in particular.

For me this whole inquiry of yours just seems a bit self-appointed and a little to cozy with other elements. I have given you a lot, but you seem to need more. Can you write a list of questions or not? I have already submitted damning video evidence, a personal statement and I will release more, including documents that will earn convictions, this is more than cooperative. So maybe you can give me a list of questions and I will see if I have the time to write out the answers.

TJP

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 11:13

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 10:34 Mary what I asked for was a list of questions to see if I had time to write the answers or not. Without having the questions I cannot know if I have the time to write the answers.
M: I do interviews all the time, and if the person is interested in it, they accept to do it, without seeing the questions and then deciding if they have time. I could ask you 10 questions and it could take you 10 minutes to reply, just as I could ask you 1 and it could take you an hour. I have never had to submit questions to anyone. they agree to the condition of being interviewed and then they respond to the questions that I have for them, without this condition. We are all busy persons, myself included. So, try to decide whether you want to take the necessary time whatever it will be or not!

K: Let me say this as well Mary, if I recall you seem to have a rather cozy relationship with Mary Woodward and possibly Christina Baseos.

Mary: absolutely yes with Mary Woodward. She is a longtime activist who I respect for her determination to always look into the details and to not be afraid of persons who insult her for that. She has her points of view, and I respect them. She has been a longtime fundraiser as well, and she is a local leader in activism who has been successful in her part of the organising for the upcoming flotillas, so I absolutely like and respect her. I know Christina Baseos like i know you, ie, not at all, and all of my interactions have been exclusively about this incident and seeking to understand the actual facts. She has been very cooperative providing information from the other party in this. I appreciate that.

K: Now I reaslise the job of a journalist, more than most, but these people are beyond any doubt from my point of view poisonous. In the case of Mary she has a personal vendetta against me. Christina is friends with a captain and owner who are flat out crazy and quite likely tied to Zionism in one way or the other.

M: I never detected any personal vendetta against you. I have seen her interactions where she asks you questions and rather than respond, you go pouty or disappear. So, obviously, that causes inquisitive persons to insist. Christina is a logistics professional who has also been behind the successful Viva Palestina 5 mission. Her duties are to facilitate freight on the companies that she works for or in some way lends her services to. I also understand it that the captain and owner had been the very same vessel for VP5. I do not understand the zionist connection. Though, i know it is easy to label anyone who does not agree with someone a zionist.

K: Now I could care less about the defaming going on, I see this all as par for the course. And when you do things as I do, pure of heart, with genuine intent, you can accept anything at all being said of you. But I care not to feed into entities that have intimicies with those so lost that they would make an enemy of me or other good people. Such people are either stupid or agents of the enemy. So let me ask, what is your relationship with these two people in particular.

M: I told you. And I will go further: I am loyal to one single thing and that is to the Palestinian people. I have been involved in activism for them while you were probably following orders in Iraq or cleaning your rifle. I have been also involved publicly in activism for 30 years, and if you have some sort of doubt as to my position, you should quelch it. Anyone who I believe abuses or undermines the cause of the Palestinian people, and that means ANYONE is held up to scrutiny by me and I am not afraid to express it. Long ago I stopped caring about what others think of me, and given that I know my place, I have really no doubts about my services and who I am serving. I also do not have such a black/white image of the world. Those who disagree with me are not necessarily serving the enemy.

K: For me this whole inquiry of yours just seems a bit self-appointed and a little to cozy with other elements.

M: of course it is self-appointed! I happen to have abstained throughout from expressing myself on my site. Many have asked for our view since we are a rather big site and also one of the few crawled on Google News. The lack of our reporting on this was due to our confusion, and while not seeing it being cleared up, we started asking questions and the more we asked, the more questions we have. (by we, I mean my site, which is me and 3 other Palestinians and an Iraqi). There are some who have objected to this, but they all defend you without having all the information from those who do not share your narrative.

K: I have given you a lot, but you seem to need more. Can you write a list of questions or not? I have already submitted damning video evidence, a personal statement and I will release more, including documents that will earn convictions, this is more than cooperative. So maybe you can give me a list of questions and I will see if I have the time to write out the answers.

M: have already stated myself on this, and taking all of this time has already been time taken away from a proper interview!

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 11:22

No, I am good. Thanks anyway.

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 11:31

so, you decline to be interviewed? Can i have a confirmation or denial of that please rather than No, I am good, thanks anyway. I have not spoken USA slang for 25 years now, and am not up to date on what I am good means.

Ken O’Keefe 19 November at 12:33

Mary, I decline to be interviewed and I will post this exchange on my blog as an illustration of the self-righteous, holier than thou attitude that exudes from you and which is injurious to unity and respect within the Palestinian justice movement. For my part I do not recognise you as the authority you claim to be and I will not feed your delusions by doing any interview with you.

As for any and all of the good work you have done for Palestine, well done Mary, genuinely. No one can ever take that away from you, and we are all allowed to make mistakes. And so I give you that Mary, your attitude and hostility towards me, your hyper critical perspective of the good people and mission of the R2H Convoy, all of this is a mistake at best. It is not good journalism; it is a witch-hunt posing as journalism in which Mary Woodward and Christina Baseos and likely Greta Berlin are leading the way. I accept all of this; it is indeed par for the course in the circus clown show we westerners have created.

I am sorry for you Mary in that you do not acknowledge my undeniable contributions to justice in Palestine and elsewhere. You say you know me “not at all” and yet my actions are well documented. In this you reveal ignorance or dishonesty, anyone who takes an honest look at what I have done and said will know I am a brother in the Palestinian cause, and a dedicated one at that.

I am sorry for you that you do not know my love for the people of Palestine, for the love of my wife and baby who have Palestinian blood in their veins. Write what you will, move with who you will, always strive to be the best person you can be. I forgive you your mistakes even if you are incapable of reciprocation.

TJP

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 13:07

Ken, can you actually say you know me? Honestly? I understand that Facebook has given an entirely new meaning to the word “friend”, so I can understand that while you expect that I should know “about you”, you can’t in any way claim that I know you, because it is simply not factual! I know you exactly as much as I know Christina Baseos, though you have my email and she does not! And as far as even being “Facebook friends”, no, I am not even a friend with you there, so I don’t understand why you insist that I know you, and then call me delusional. Have you ever heard of me before now? No, I would imagine not, and this is why it doesn’t make me so defensive.

Feel free to post this on your blog as an exhibit of how you judge those who respectfully engage with you, as “self-righteous and holier than thou”. I have declined from expressing my opinion of your character or impressions of your way of interacting, and I can understand that you are very defensive and you often feel a need to demonstrate your dedication, even supplying me and anyone who you speak with on videos and things, with irrelevant personal information. I don’t know precisely either where you can judge yourself to be “forgiving” (of what? my mistakes don’t need to be forgiven by you, actually, unless you would like to be a priest confessor) while determining I am incapable of reciprocation. Perhaps it’s just your communication style, but I can feel it is a bit holier than thou for real.

I had offered to you, as well as to anyone else involved the chance to contribute and respond, and if you have no issues with what the content of the responses might be, I don’t see why you are so defensive. Whenever I feel judged unfairly or misunderstood, I make the effort to arrive at understanding, especially when other people are involved.

I did not claim to be an authority, I claimed, and can substantiate it, that I have a site together with others that is a major site on Palestine and activism for Palestine and we are one of the few sites that has News crawling. This can all be confirmed with a click on Google News and putting our site name in. So, if you don’t want to make yourself available for an overview on our site, this is your choice and we duly note that, and as well, you are already laying out for yourself a justification of what I view as evasiveness. I think that if we want to be best friends with everyone who interviews us, we will only be producing Tazibao and not going on BBC or CNN or any other news media. You have a right to deny to respond to direct questions. This means I will utilise all that is available in internet.

One last note, I was not at all hypercritical of RTH, on the contrary! I know persons in the convoy and respect their desires for the mission. It was you who, in your own note, had complained about their bad management, and we can also see that having what happened occur, along with the stranding of good and dedicated people while you were busy acquiring funds for your own return left a bitter taste in my mouth. I had expressed on several occasions my total support to the people who took part in that campaign and understand that their very dramatic situation is actually something that could have been prevented, so yes, I am critical of the enterprise, but not of its statement of purpose, as it seems clear in your own statement that you do not agree with it in principle. I think that this however, is an internal issue for all of you to sort out. I can only have my opinion from the outside.

On one more note: I have seen what you have done/claimed to have done, and as a matter of fact, have contacted persons you have suggested regarding these matters. If people have reached some opinions, independently, this may not necessarily mean that they have coordinated it. Not at all. I think you tend to be overly defensive and interested in conspiracy type thought, but as a matter of fact, I will look into your work and record on Palestine.

mary

Mary Rizzo 19 November at 13:13

by the way, you are not allowed to publish my email address. I grant you no permission to share contact details. mary

[xii] The enquiry by R2H was for the transportation of 30 vehicles plus 30 persons from Derna/Libya to El Arish/Egypt.

The MV STROFADES is RO-RO (Rolling On-Rolling Off) vessel and has a DWT (dead weight) of 4200mt. In order for you to understand the voyage calculation, you must keep in mind the following:
– The vessel consumes fuel oil & diesel oil when at sea and only diesel oil when she is berthed in a port
– The distance between Derna & El Arish is 586 n.m (nautical miles) and with an average speed of 12.5 – 13.0 knots (n.m/hour) the duration of the voyage is about 2 days, agw, wp,uce (all going well, weather permitted, unforeseen circumstances excluded)
– The vessel would spend 1 day in Derna port for loading operations PLUS 1 day in El Arish port for discharge operations, i.e. 2 total days in the ports
– After the vessel had discharged the cargo in El Arish and due to the fact that in El Arish there is no rolling cargo available for the vessel to load, an estimation of expenses covering the BALLAST voyage from El Arish to Lattakia/Syria (where rolling cargo to load is available) had to be included (BALLAST voyage: when a vessel sails from one port to another empty, i.e without cargo). The duration of the voyage from El Arish to Lattakia is about 1 day, agw, wp, uce
– Fuel consumption rates are the actual ones of the MV STROFADES IV
– Daily operating costs include, maintenance, crew wages, insurance, classification society, victualling, etc and are the actual ones of the MV STROFADES IV

VOYAGE ESTIMATION:

Fuel oil: 17mt/day x $ 570/mt = $ 9690/day X 2days voyage = $ 19380
Diesel oil: 1.5mt/day x $ 700/mt = 1050 X (2 days voyage +2 days in ports) = $ 4200
Daily operating expenses $ 4000/day X 4 days = $ 16000
===========================================
A) Total voyage expenses $ 39580

Ballast voyage:
Fuel oil: 17mt/day x $570/mt = $ 9690
Operating expenses: $ 4000 X 1 day = $ 4000
===========================================
B) Ballast voyage expenses $ 13690

The freight the owners required was $ 75000 and NOT $ 82500 as Mr. O’Keefe claims

FREIGHT REQUIRED $ 75000
LESS GRAND TOTAL EXPENSES(A+B) $ 53270
===========================================
GROSS PROFIT $ 21730

Please note that the cargo (30 vehicles) was less than 1/4 of the MV STROFADES IV cargo carrying capacity. The remaining 3/4 + of the vessel’s carrying capacity would be empty.
Moreover, note that in the above Gross Profit calculation, the depreciation cost of the MV STROFADES IV investment ($ 4.000.000) has NOT been included.

N.B. The above estimation is only for the SPECIFIC voyage of Derna-El Arish and by no means does it constitute a “base” for generally making voyage estimations, as the estimations always depend on different factors.

Now, that I have given you the voyage estimation and the actual costs involved, I would like to point out the following:
All ship-owners are entrepreneurs. The fact that they might be asked to carry a humanitarian cargo does not constitute a reason for them to carry it without profit. There are thousands of vessels in the sea and thousands of shipping companies around the world. I remind everyone that is was R2H’s broker who approached the ship-owners of MV STROFADES IV proposing them a potential business. The owners decided to make an offer for the carriage of the cargo in question.
However, if the charterers (R2H) were not satisfied with the freight offered by the owners, they could always search for another vessel and/or shipping company to ask for more offers.
It is worth mentioning that the MV STROFADES IV carried humanitarian for Viva Palestina 5 from Lattakia/Syria to El Arish/Egypt for a freight of $70.000 for a much shorter voyage (1 day), which only proves that the freight requested by the owners for the R2H cargo was indeed competitive.

Blasting. Shouts. Screams. Sirens. 

Someone told me to run, I should.

I try to keep my eyes open; I would, if I could.

Wait,

Nobody told me it would feel this good.

I look at the sky and breathe in one last time,

That’s it; I think it has reached my time.

I close my eyes and as I let go, I smile,

I haven’t felt this happy in a very long while.

Don’t get carried away with me,

Going, Going, I’m gone away…

To my mother, father, son, daughter and anyone that has cried;

It would be an insult to say I have died,

Instead be blissful and speak my name in pride,

Or release those tears of joy you are trying to hide,

For I am waiting for you on the better side.

Sorry about the call you received at 4 o’clock in the morning,

I don’t want you upset and I don’t want you mourning.

I am sorry to anyone I have left behind,

I hope one day peace and tranquillity you will find.

Don’t worry about me I am wide awake,

For I have lost my earthly life for the almighty’s sake.

If you have lost me or any family member,

Stay with the thought that we will meet again in Jannah.

They say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,

So try and hold on a little while longer.

With you I will always remain, in your heart and your soul;

As you try to find freedom and accomplish this goal.

Be strong, and remain standing tall,

Don’t give up hope or lose patience as you fight for evil’s downfall,

Everything helps no matter how small,

Each one of us can build freedom like each brick builds a wall.

Pray, Pray, Pray and Pray.

Try not to lose patience and carry on day after day,

As you fight for freedom in every way.

My death wasn’t my end, it’s not over,

The sadness of my loss you will Inshallah get over,

Remember that paradise is what I fly over,

The Dunya’s hurt that I suffered I don’t think over,

Agony and Pain I will never again fret over,

Just carry on praying for the day that this is all over.

freedom fighters in BenghaziThe author of the article I post below, Robert Grenier, rightly asked: “Where are the Arabs?” but in our opinion, we Arab Nationalists, also believe that he had also rightly volunteered to reply to his own question which is in his own words:

“…the primary motivating principles of the rebels have been clear: A desire for personal liberty, dignity and collective social empowerment.” 

Once an Egyptian Arab intellectual lady, Huda Hanum Shaarawi, replied after the 1948 Palestinian Arab Nakbah to the question: “How is it possible that seven Arab states and their armies were defeated by one state “Israel”? Her reply was simple and clear: “Because they were seven states with seven armies and seven ‘leaderships’ each quarrelling with the rest, while the enemy was one with one leadership, one army for one state.”, which the author has described below:

Robert Grenier was the CIA’s chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002. He was also the director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism centre.” As a high CIA officer he should have known why did the British  Mr. Sykes and the French M. Picot come together to plan to divide the east Mediterranean Arab territories even before the defeat and  expulsion of the Ottoman Turks from it. They met and agreed to conclude on what is known as “The Sykes Picot Agreement”, that is, to  apply the principle of “divide and rule”, of course to create small weak Arab states that cannot defend themselves in the face of the colonialist powers and their colonialist ambitions, who were at the time in the first place Great Britain and France.

And lately why the old Zionist fox Shimon Peres to be joined at a later time by Condoleezza Rice, U.S Secretary of State under George W. Bush, further try to divide the present Arab states into a smaller states based on religious and ethnic minorities, which Zionists and other colonialist powers shall try to create between them feuds and enmities so as to resort to these colonialist powers for protection against their other Arab brothers… then Zionists and other colonialists shall be able to control them all, but fortunately enough what is known as the New Middle East colonialist conspiracy did not see the light, and with the domino theory of Arab revolutions presently taking place shall never be realized, and hopefully an Arab unity shall instead be realized to counteract these Zionist and western colonialist conspiracies.

Now the aim of young Arab revolutionaries is to get rid of these rulers who want to keep their control on what they consider as their subjects in collaboration with their colonialist protectors, but the young Arab citizens who want to be no more subjects of their corrupt ruers, but real citizens and be able to decide their own fate are struggling to overthrow all these rotten, corrupt and isolationist rulers. That is why those particular rulers shall not volunteer to come to give assistance to Libyan Arabs or any revolutionary Arabs citizens revolting against their rotten rulers… because as we said and saw that by the domino theory, revolutions shall pass from one Arab state to another. They, Arab rulers, want to keep their chairs under the seat of their pants and keep on riding on the backs of what they consider their obedient subjects. The young revolutionaries want their freedom and liberty from their internal and external rulers.

In a big and rich Arab state, an official and a member of the ruling family commented on the simple and rightful demands of their young citizens whom they consider “subjects” who gathered peacefully. As is the case with all Arab rulers, the official said after denying that there were gatherings and demands: “The cooperation of citizens with security men to confront those who call for anarchy was a good proof and spontaneous response against those calling for evil in a peaceful country.” He added that, “driving people to overstep matters to what doesn’t achieve demands or reform, calls for dialogue,and that is exactly what those in command in the state call for”!!!!

Another highly posted official said: “Some of those calling for evil gathered in front of the ministry of internal affairs,” he claimed that, “they want to make of the state a place of chaos, they are organizing purposeless demonstrations that have no high aims, but they proved that they don’t know the people of their state”!!!

From Libya, correspondent Ogharit Dandaash wrote the story of the engineer Almahdi Zeo:

“Before February 14th there was not a single exceptional matter or incident that makes it to informational mass media, nor was there a political stance, be it pro or con, regarding the regime that was in the activities of this Benghazi engineer who was in his forties. Engineer Almahdi Zeo was living a quiet life in Benghazi, his financial status was as described by those who knew him well as “better than good (kwaiseh)”. Zeo was the head of a family, and the father of two daughters studying at university, who never heard or noticed him fidgeting when Gaddafi and his men ruling from their stronghold of terror in Benghazi were mentioned.

On February 15th 2011 the young people of Benghazi didn’t expect the official birth for the February 17th revolution, to mount the winds of change that blew from their neighborhood. They demonstrated and were confronted from the Benghazi battalion of terror with fire in front of the court house… many of the revolutionary fell down martyrs…

While the young revolutionaries were marching in the funeral of their martyred comrades, Zeo was passing an ordinary day during his monotonous life. He passed in front of the headquarters of the battalion on his way to practice his ordinary daily routine work, it was inevitable that some incident should happen to attract his attention. Young people returning from the funeral of their beloved comrades, were, without notice, confronted with live fire, the source of which was from the battalion of Al-Fadel Omar, the headquarters of the soldiers of the regime, where any activists with political opposition to the regime, or with any ideas that contradict those of the Gaddafi Green holy Book. Zeo stopped to see the young people confronting the heavily armed soldiers with their naked chests, He returned home to tell his two daughters about 18 years olds fighting without help.

The following morning he returned to practice his ordinary work, believing that the zeal of the young couldn’t but be aborted with the regime’s brutality, but just in front of the same battalion tens of young people returned for another sit down with other supporters… Zeo realized after a long life of submission and looking aside shall not end with the feeling at ease required by other human beings, those youngsters realized, before it was too late, that there is a difference between living as ordinary human beings and a life full with a humanitarian meaning.

That night he hugged his beloved ones like he had never done before, he talked to them about small heroic incidents that history books didn’t mention, and about which no poems were written, but they leave their effect in people’s souls that had submitted to accepting life at ease, and as an ordinary matter… and left his house.

The place is the headquarters of the Benghazi battalion, date before the new Libyan history, attendants, the young persons seated on the ground, the occasion: drawing a new road map for the revolution.

The engineer said: “Success depends on the element of surprise: Clearly, we need to act quickly.

One of youth there understood: the moment the road opens, we attack.

Another youth pointed out to another group of young people, the brothers coming here are from Baida, they came to help us.

The engineer said, “I am going ahead”.

The engineer mounts his car that was loaded with gas containers for home use, and drives towards the wall of the two storey building housing the battalion’s headquarters, which is impossible to enter to or to break into. He steps on the accelerator to maximum speed, hits the wall, the car explodes, the wall crumbles creating an opening, the youngsters rush into the headquarters.

The element of surprise dispersed the soldiers who ran away, the revolutionaries took control and they obtained their first quantity of arms, they took control of the helm of the battle and thus the battle turned in their favor. After some confrontations, the Abu Al-Fadel Omar battalion fell and its leader fled to Tripoli along with Assaadi Al-Gaddafi (One of Muamar Gaddafi’s sons) who took refuge at the battalion’s headquarters after the outbreak of revolution. Then the weapons and ammunitions stores are now in the service of the revolution born on February 17th.

The fall of the battalion contributed to the liberation of Benghazi, and the revolutionaries gave credit in that to Engineer Almahdi Zeo for the morale and military help he gave to them, and encouraging many officers and soldiers to defect from Gaddafi’s forces and join the revolutionaries, and opening the door wide open for victories, which made the east of Libya fall from the hands of Gaddafi into the hands of the revolution within four days.

Martyr Al-Mahdi Zeo did not live to reap the fruits of the trees he planted, but those Libyan young men and women who had never heard of Engineer Zeo know now that the engineer of the realized revolution shall be the name who they shall tell to their children and grandchildren when their hair shall turn grey about a revolution executed by dreamers who didn’t wait enjoy its fruits.

So we should not expect from these decaying, rotten and dictatorial regimes to step in to help other revolutions against their equally decaying, rotten and dictatorial Arab regimes… they are equally bad and should be overthrown by young Arab revolutionaries.

“Where are the Arabs?” The other Arabs, are the young revolutionary Arabs, who are each cleaning the dirt the old Arab dictatorial and rotten Arab regimes left over by colonialism behind. Good things are coming with Arab liberty and unity. 

So we cannot but agree with Robert Grenier saying: A new day is dawning in the Arab world. The revolutions underway have only just begun, and there is much to be sorted out in the countries where the democratic wave has taken hold. The response of other regional regimes, under less acute and immediate pressure, but still grappling with the challenge of socio-political changes now set perhaps inexorably in motion, remains very much to be seen. For all that its common outlook is rapidly evolving, the Arab world has a long way to go in coming to a firm consensus about what forms of rule will meet its minimum standards of acceptability.”

 ORIGINAL PIECE

Opinion
‘Where are the Arabs?’ By: Robert Grenier 

If Arab states are serious about ending Gaddafi’s menace to his people, they must take the lead in helping the rebels.

Robert Grenier Last Modified: 13 Mar 2011 08:35 GMT
If Arab states do not act now, when the last Libyan rebel lies bleeding in the desert, his final words
may well be: ‘Where are the Arabs?’

It was August of 1982. For seven weeks, Beirut had been sealed off, under attack by Israel from land, sea and air. Water and electricity supplies were cut. The Israelis had secured the airport and much of the southern suburbs. The Syrians had been defeated, their air force wiped from the Lebanese skies. Chairman Arafat and the PLO were seemingly at the mercy of their enemies, utterly dependent upon the international community to arrange an evacuation of their fighters which would bring an end to the carnage. Isolated and alone, all the leader of the Palestinian movement could do was look into the cameras and plead: “Where are the Arabs?”

In January of 1991, a nominally extensive international coalition of armed forces, led by the US but including many of the Arab countries, stood poised in northern Saudi Arabia to drive Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. It might have seemed that much of the Arab world was unified, and had engaged the United States and the international community in their cause to liberate a brutally occupied Arab country.

But in many of the Arab capitals, and to a seeming majority in the Arab street, the armies massed in the Saudi desert were anything but a sign of Arab strength and unity. For in point of fact, the Arab countries had had comparatively little to do with organizing this un-authorized, largely Western coalition. Many Arab nationalists from across the region asserted strenuously that the Arabs should not rely upon the Americans to sort out their difficulties, arguing in favor of an “Arab solution” to the crisis. In fact, however, this was mere posturing: An Arab solution to the crisis would have amounted to meek acquiescence in Saddam Hussein’s intra-Arab aggression. Those Arab countries most threatened by Saddam were not about to entrust their fate to regional Arab councils. They did not wish one day to be left, alone, to make the entreaty: “Where are the Arabs?”

Today, in the deserts along the coast of Libya, patriots are fighting to liberate themselves and their country from over 40 years of brutal, arbitrary misrule. Although tribal and other social divisions are no doubt playing a role in determining the fault lines of the civil war progressively settling over Libya, the primary motivating principles of the rebels have been clear: A desire for personal liberty, dignity and collective social empowerment. In this they have been transparently inspired by the courage of their brothers and sisters in Tunisia, in Egypt, and in many other parts of the Arab world. But as they attempt to withstand the onslaught of Muammar Gaddafi’s better-armed loyalists, and as those rebels most hard-pressed repeatedly plead for at least limited outside assistance, well they might ask: “Where are the Arabs?”

Passivity and diffidence

A new day is dawning in the Arab world. The revolutions underway have only just begun, and there is much to be sorted out in the countries where the democratic wave has taken hold. The response of other regional regimes, under less acute and immediate pressure, but still grappling with the challenge of socio-political changes now set perhaps inexorably in motion, remains very much to be seen. For all that its common outlook is rapidly evolving, the Arab world has a long way to go in coming to a firm consensus about what forms of rule will meet its minimum standards of acceptability.

Nonetheless, the latest indications of Arab intent in the context of Libya are positive, if as yet insufficient. A clear message has been sent by both the GCC and the Arab League that Gaddafi’s brutality toward his people is not acceptable, and has effectively delegitimised his government. The Arab nations have taken a clear stand in favour of a UN Security Council-imposed no-fly zone, and for urgent outreach to the National Transitional Council in Benghazi.

So far, perhaps, so good. Still, troubling signs of traditional passivity and diffidence remain. The Arabs are deferring action to the international community without suggestions as to how that action should be implemented, and with no firm commitment for their own direct involvement. The Arab League ministers aver that a no-fly zone should only be for the purpose of protecting Libyan civilians, and should end as quickly as possible. They continue to express concern over foreign intervention, while requesting precisely that. Their ambivalence is palpable.

At the same time, evidence is mounting that the international fixation on a no-fly zone may be a distraction from more urgently-needed action, and may in fact be counter-productive. First of all, it is not at all clear how great a threat is posed by Gaddafi’s air strikes, per se. While the military situation remains confused, it seems more likely that Gaddafi’s armour and artillery pose the more lethal danger to both rebel and civilian targets.

Moreover, imposition of a no-fly zone would be no simple task. Security Council agreement is far from assured: The Council is divided, and the Chinese, in particular, will do what they can to avoid approving international interference in internal Libyan affairs, out of fear of the negative precedent it might set for themselves. While others might well participate, the US, clearly, would have to take the lead. (As far we Arabs are concerned, we have no trust with the United States and other western powers, their policies are equally colonialist, and we suffered enough on their hands and their rogue adopted and nursed our Zionist entity- A.S.K.)

Following its doctrine, the US would need to attack Libyan air defences first; the potential for significant collateral damage is considerable. The Americans would also require a helicopter-borne “combat search and rescue (CSAR)” capability to be in place for downed pilots before they would willingly act. And there are not nearly enough aircraft in theatre, yet, for an effective no-fly effort. Finally, it may simply be too much to suppose that the Americans, already engaged militarily in two Muslim countries, should now intervene in a third, when the risk to their already weak regional standing from those who may advocate international action now, but will no doubt quickly criticise any missteps, is so great.

Taking the lead
If the Arab League is serious about ending Gaddafi’s menace to his people, they should focus on providing the National Transitional Council with the means to defeat him and his loyalist forces. The US, the EU and NATO have all made clear that they will only act with a clear legal mandate and with regional support. Therefore, it is up to the Arab nations to take the initiative.

It is very likely that the softness in the Arab League stance is a reflection of the divisions between those members on either side of the “democratic revolutionary” divide. Hobbled by the need for consensus, the League as a whole has gone about as far as it is capable; it is unlikely to take the tough decisions and hard actions necessary to counter Gaddafi’s resurgence. Those whose commitment to support of the rebellion is notably strong – Egypt and the GCC countries in particular – must be prepared to take the lead from here.

First, they should move quickly to recognise the Council in Benghazi as the legitimate government of Libya, and immediately request modification of the current UN arms embargo to exclude its forces. Meanwhile, a rapid assessment of the rebels’ military requirements is needed; these would likely include ammunition, anti-armour weapons, and perhaps rockets or artillery. It is clearly within the capabilities of at least some of the Arab countries to provide these rapidly by air, most likely with logistical assistance from the US or NATO. In this context, it would become far easier, and more palatable, for the US and NATO to provide overhead intelligence, perhaps off-shore jamming of Libyan military communications, and other forms of assistance to the transitional government.

We can begin to imagine that such an Arab-led initiative on behalf of the Libyans could help to build a new, cooperative relationship with America and the West – one which flows from Arab empowerment and collective resolve, and not, as in the past, from Arab weakness.

The time has come, in short, for the Arab regimes to demonstrate regionally and internationally the will and courage to act demonstrated by many of their own citizens domestically. Otherwise, they run the risk, in what is supposed to be a transforming Middle East, that when the last Libyan rebel lies bleeding in the desert, the boot of a pro-Gaddafi thug upon his neck, his last gasp will be: “Where are the Arabs?”

Robert Grenier was the CIA’s chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002. He was also the director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism centre.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.Source:

Al Jazeera

(thank you Hussain)

Gheddafi and Chavez

If one, like myself, is raised with the love of “the worker” and “the people” which exceeds any love of a party, an ideology or even a nation, it is difficult to really fit in with any established left. While the left claims that it seeks power of the people, too many times its public statements make it clear that the people to protect are instead the people already in power, despite what they might actually have to do in order to maintain that power.

In the past, I have been critical of the massive investments Fidel Castro allowed to be made by Rafi Eitan and have been told that expressing how wrong the policy of “anything at all to uphold the Cuban revolution is good, even if it means trampling on Palestinians” was. I was accused of siding with dissident Cubans. It seems that there is a belief that this leader is beyond criticism.

Again, when I have criticised Ahmadinejad (who is not a leftist leader, but currently a leader some of the anti-imperialists who do not accept pan-Arabism look to as being “the voice of truth”) for the lack of what I consider political savvy in some of his speeches and how easily they are used to deflect attention to Israel as victim and away from Palestine as real victim, I have been accused of being a Zionist… and to my eyes, the automatism of Ahmadinejad=the real anti-Zionist seems like rote dogmatism without true reflection of what precisely Iran’s role in the region’s in/stability might be. Iran deserves to be free of all instrumentalisation and to have a truly autonomous and independent domestic and foreign policy, no matter if Ahmadinejad is the leader or not, but those in the West who insist upon singing the praises of Ahmadinejad as a symbol and condemning those who don’t are using simpleton logic and do nothing that is different from those who use him as the banner for what is evil.

Today my inbox has gotten another jolt. It seems that the “Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity” is supporting Muammar Gheddafi and accusing the uprising in Libya as being the work of foreign services. Like classic dogmatic leftist propaganda, their press release attempts to equate the person of Gheddafi with the nation of Libya. Like all pieces of dogmatic propaganda, it contains some elements of truth, such as lamenting the lack of media attention for the crimes against humanity committed against the Palestinian people as well as the tendency of the forces of power in the West to attempt to hijack any popular movement and take control of it. As well, its statements about Gheddafi’s son being a benefactor in an NGO are also true, as his foundation donated 180 vehicles to the Viva Palestina mission as well as having assumed the exaggerated costs of the doomed and ill-planned Road to Hope Convoy, which did not factor in the amount of money to actually bring the goods to Gaza by boat, as is (unfortunately in these horrible times we live in) the only means possible. However aside from some facts and truth in the press statement, the core truth is that once again, the “left” sides by the power of a leader who states himself to be anti-imperialist, (despite evidence to the contrary) and instead tyrannically controls the business and wealth in a sort of State Capitalism where only a few gain and where democracy is seen as counter to the interests of the State. 

It is sufficient to read the press statement to see that the great blindspot blocking many who speak in the name of the “left” is a lack of awareness of the unstoppable force and legitimacy of the Arab masses. People in the MENA lands are divided into nations, religions, political orientation so that they can be used for a huge variety of dogmatic reasons. This is done even by their friends and supporters who neglect a very basic reality – unity across every artificial divide. There are those who blame/praise the recent uprisings on Islam, but that is again untrue. Though these are nations with a vast Muslim population, the uprisings are not religious rallies and are indeed joined by Muslim groups, but not lead by them, just as they are joined by internationalist groups, but are not lead by them. It is simply the power of human beings who live in the “Middle East” and North Africa who are demanding their political and human rights. It is their identification as a united front which brings them en masse to the largest squares in their countries, allows them to face bravely the very real threat of bodily harm and even death. 

It is the Arab human being who is being buried on the beaches of Tripoli, the cemeteries of Soussa, Manama and Cairo. It is the Arab human being who is arrested in Palestine for sharing his or her solidarity with other humans fighting for their rights. There is no limit of age, sex, religion, political credo or even social class. There is one uniting factor, the factor of Arabhood, Arab Consciousness that is drawing these people to demand to have a say in their own future and to construct their own country, and protect it for all the nationals abroad who are in exile or diaspora, ousting corrupt and tyrannical leaders who have at times used patriotism of the nation to inspire “brand loyalty” to the leader. 

Yet, these same feelings of patriotism, the beloved flags of all the independent nations, are being waved in a mass statement of unity. Arab people are supporting other Arab people across the globe, seeking to empower the individual national struggles in the name of Arabhood and humanity as a whole. The Algerian, the Moroccan, the Jordanian, the Tunisian, the Iraqi, the Egyptian and all the other national identities are not abandoned, but are instead joined together in solidarity as a sole people rising up against any outside forces or internal pressure that seeks to strip them of their power and determination to be the protagonists of their own stories. 

Just as it is wrong and improper to impose sanctions against a people to bring down a leader, as is attempted from the West and the imperialist powers (US and EU sanctions against Iran, Iraq, Gaza, to name only some), it is also wrong to have attempted to call for an economic boycott of Egypt to bring down Mubarak. To boycott an Arab nation at this time, as is expected soon from the USA towards Libya, never brings down the leader, it only weakens the masses and makes them further victimised by the oppressive powers, their own and those from outside. Boycotts are to change policy, not to bring down leaders, and they do nothing but increase suffering to the population which does not possess any kind of powers or economic clout. 

So the left, rather than support Gheddafi, should condemn the proposed boycott of Libya while at the same time accept the power of the people and abandon the dogmatism of the charismatic “revolutionary leader” when it is evident that his leadership is in place only by means of oppression. I would expect that true revolutionaries and leftists will ignore the appeal of the Chavez Foundation and will take their place alongside the Arab people in their struggle for freedom. 

(thank you Ali Baghdadi for bringing this missive to my attention).   

HUGO CHAVEZ INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR PEACE, FRIENDSHIP AND SOLIDARITY

HCI-FPFS

“To love one’s neighbor is also to love one’s enemy. Although in reality that qualifier-‘enemy’ does not exist in my vocabulary. I recognize that I only have adversaries and I have acquired the capacity to love them because in this way we do away with violence, wrath, vengeance, hatred and substitute them with justice and forgiveness.” 
Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet Gonzalez (1999)

Press Statement                                                                       23 February, 2011.

Bamako, Republic of Mali                    Tel: 00223-6413027.

This is the second statement to the Press issued by the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS), in the light of the situation in Libya. It is no more a secret to state in this Press Release that foreign powers, opposed to peace, unity and progress of Africa are in action again, leading a wicked campaign of treachery, deception and terrorism against Libyan leader, Muammar Al-Qathafi and the people of Libya. This time, the enemies of Africa are hiding behind the corrupt foreign media in their criminal attempts to attack and destroy Libya.

The international conspiracy to destroy Muammar Al-Qathafi through a carefully-calculated media frenzy constitutes the burden of each of our position statement on current events in Libya, especially the wide, vicious, hypocritical gap between the US and Western powers’ “democratic” avowal and the state terrorism associated with the activities of these so-called civilized nations towards the people of Africa, Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America. In the first place, the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace,
Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS) wonders how British Foreign Secretary William Hague can feel so comfortable in the company of anti-Libyan organized crime groups that seek the devastation and destruction of Libya. For instance, it was the British Foreign Secretary-turned-coat anti-Libyan, anti-Qathafi, anti-Africa, anti-Arab, anti-Hugo Chavez, anti-Venezuelan whom led the malicious lie to the world that Libyan leader Muammar Al-Qathafi had ran away and sought refuge in Venezuela. The malicious lie was doctored at a time British Prime Minister David Cameron was on an unannounced visit to Egypt, ostensibly to urge the military junta in Cairo to respect the so-called timetable for holding elections.

The other lies, deceptions and ill-thought-out propaganda associated with the ongoing anti-Libyan campaign in the corrupt media include the following misguided allegations, that:

LIBYAN WAR PLANES BOMBED CIVILIANS.

It is innuendos and reckless dissipation for any foreign government, organization or the corrupt media to suggest that the competent authorities in Tripoli used Libya’s fighter jet planes against Libyan civilians. It has never happened and there is no evidence to convince any sane person to believe that the Government of Muammar Al-Qathafi ever used fighter planes against the Libyan people, since the dawn of the era of the Great September 1st Al-Fateh Revolution in 1969. As a matter of fact, there are all evidences available to conclude that the Government of Muammar Al-Qathafi does not need importing foreign mercenaries to protect Libyan life and property against the terrorist activities of organized crime groups and the corrupt media.

It is now clear that the “corrupt international media” disproportionately covers human rights violations in Libya beyond an attempted distraction from the actual situation on the North African nation. For example when Israeli army massacred Palestinian men, women and children in the occupied Arab lands and territories, there is little media coverage compared to the coverage generated over the drown attacks directed by the White House in Washington against tribes men, women and children in Afghanistan. The extrajudicial execution of Egyptian opposition leaders by US/Israeli trained agents of former government of the disgraced dictator Hosni Mubarrak was not covered by the “corporate media” despite it being a heinous crime against humanity. We assert that, the assumption that Libyan fighter planes deployed by the Libyan Government against civilians is without basis. This is further evidence that the corporate media’s claims about happenings in Libya are without substance.

SAIF AL-ISLAM QATHAFI THREATENED THE LIBYAN PEOPLE.

The corporate media got it wrong from the beginning when it made and repeated the claim that Saif Al-Islam Qathafi, the President of the Gadafi Foundation threatened the Libyan people. When weighing the claims of the corporate media against the President of the Gadafi Foundation, one should look at Saif Al-Islam’s background. This is a man who leads a respectable Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Gadafi Foundation that has been instrumental in enforcing the principles of the Green Charter International (GCI), for peace, human rights, rule of law, democracy, freedom and human dignity in Libya and world over.

Saif Al-Islam’s statement on attempts by criminals to rob the Libyan people of their peace, freedom and dignity was crystal clear and made to urge the Libyan people to resist any foreign attempts to destroy their country. The accusations against Sail Al-Islam are false and reveal that the corporate media is ever willing to blatantly lie in order to attempt to damage the reputation and illuminating personality of Sail Al-Islam.

Thus far we have seen how a simple, clear-cut national security case became a wider, more serious problem through unwillingness on the part of the enemies of Libya to respect the sovereignty and independence of the North African nation. Instead they (the enemies of Libya) deliberately buried facts and began a campaign of gossip, tale bearing and slander against Sail Al-Islam. We have also learned how the US and Western imperialists encouraged the corporate media’s anti-Libya terrorism by listening to their unfounded and baseless allegations and treating them as true.

NO FLY ZONE RHETORIC.

A number of heretics, racists and anti-Libyans have gone mad and resorted to advocate for a “no fly zone” be imposed on Libya. The objective, it is now clear-to create a corridor for aggression and violation of Libya’s sovereignty and integrity. Those who advocate for this subversive action plan are themselves collaborators of organized crime groups intending to destroy Libya.

On whether Muammar Al-Qathafi is in control of Libya, we would leave it to the sane international community to read the writings on the wall. There is no gain saying the fact Muammar Qathafai is well, kicking and performing his duties as Leader and Guide of the Revolution, and remains the legitimate leader of the Libyan masses. The Libyan Government is fully in control of its country’s internal situation, and as repeatedly said by Muammar Qathafi, the Libyan Government would not sit idle and allow any body pursue vested personal agendas, or derail the country from path of economic prosperity and sustained development.

The competent authorities in Tripoli have undertaken full duties and responsibilities through decisive action in the face of a well planned international covert agenda, and managed to restore security and protect human life and property in Libya. The US and Western governments hate-filled attacks on Colonel Muammar Qathafi are mere “propaganda” aimed at diverting growing international concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Iraq, occupied Palestine, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Anger and frustration at the collapse of the anti-Arab, pro-zionist regime in Egypt is completely understandable and shared by us, in the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS), yet that anger must not be directed at destroying.

Concluding we call upon the civilized international community to exert pressure on the military junta in Cairo not to allow any part of Egypt be use as staging posts for the destabilization of Libya.

Signed:………………………….

Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh

President of the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS),

For, and on behalf of the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS).

A classic postion for a dictator's speech... from the window of the symbolic building

I have just finished listening to Colonel Qaddafi
I did not get wiser, nor did my opinion change.

40 years is enough even if the ruler is Mother Tereza
or Nelson Mandela…………

One thing I must agree with Qaddafi:
If and when Qadafi shall leave Libya,
it will no more be ruled by “a Libyan”
.
Raja Chemayel

Raja, I am surprised.  How did you get the strength to listen to Gheddafi’s speech all the way to the end?  I tried but couldn’t do it.  I got too sick.  I did even vomit. 

I met the man several times.  I prayed behind him on the sand outside his tent.  I visited his home and sat with his ordinary and humble wife and lovely daughter, Aashea.  I was impressed.  I loved what I saw.  Aaesha told me that she will soon be studying law to defend the oppressed.  I must say that my home is better than theirs.  I am not rich.  I saw no servants.  It was Aaesha and her mom who brought lemonade, pistachio nuts and baclawa.  The living room was tiny and had simple furniture.  Only the home of President Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan impressed me more.  It was even tinier and simpler.  The couch I sat on was an old iron bed.

Nasser was a dictator, but we loved him.  He was our champion. As a matter of fact, we almost “worshipped” him.  He built Egypt.  The Arab people realized that we are one nation.  Despite our defeats, we felt proud. He was one of the pillars of the non-aligned nations’ movement.  He continued to live in his house that he owned as an officer.  The home had only one bathroom.  Nasser was surprised when his children complained and told him that they knew some families who had two bathrooms.  The Nasser family members had to stand in line to wash, bathe and do the other thing; you know what I mean.  After he was poisoned, he left behind less than 100 dollars for his family.

Gheddafi was a dictator too.  But we tolerated him.  He financed several liberation movements around the world.  He didn’t succumb to Zionism.  He didn’t open an Israeli embassy at this bad time when the majority of Arab leaders are caving in.  We also thought that he didn’t deposit billions of dollars in foreign banks.  Of course, it is too early to find the truth.

I personally dropped Gheddafi from my “book” when he paid over two and a half billion dollars to the Lockerbie Pan American crash victims.  Libya has nothing to do with this horrendous crime.  It was a false flag.  It was a CIA operation.  The White Prime Minister of South Africa was warned in advance to not take that plane. Gheddafi also paid for the attack on a night club in Berlin.  Two American soldiers died.  This crime was carried out by the German Red Brigade that worked for the CIA.

My “respect” for Gheddafi ended when he capitulated to Bush the son on nukes and sent all material and equipment to Washington.  The guy even demanded that Iran should do the same to avoid destruction by America.

hand in hand

I was delivering a speech titled “Africa’s Brain Drain” in Tripoli, Libya when the Tunisian President fled to Saudi Arabia.  Almost 500 people from Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand attended a conference on African Immigration to Europe.  I was shocked to discover that the organizers were not interested in the papers we delivered.  They packed us as cattle and drove us to listen to Gheddafi and his puppets.  The great “revolutionary leader” delivered another speech telling the Tunisians that they should have kept Ben Ali for life as a president.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  He repeated the same nonsense later when the Egyptian youth revolution erupted.  He wanted Mubarak to stay.

The only thing that I loved about my trip to Tripoli is the fact that I met some good people.  Abdel Hakim Jamal Abdel an-Nasser was one.  Fortunately, he didn’t speak.  I felt that he was disgusted.  We embraced.  I saw Nasser in him.  But I also wept.  I am “weak”.

I do apologize to the Arab people of Libya.  I thought that they would never rise up.  I thought that they are not prepared to face the enormous firepower of Gheddafi’s army. Fortunately, I was wrong. To my greatest surprise, they did.  The price was too high.  My Libyan brothers and sisters continue to pay.

Today, Gheddafi accused the Libyan youth who demand his ouster of being on drugs.  Now I am convinced that the man himself is hallucinating.  He should check what his Ukrainian “nurse” is giving him.  He should leave now.  He must not forget to take his sons.  Libyans want to be free.  The Gheddafi “kingdom” must come to an end.

Ali Baghdadi

Ghedaffi and Italian Foreign Minister Frattini

Eni and Impregilo, Unicredit, Astaldi, Finmeccanica, Fiat, and even Juventus: Italian business deals with GHEDDAFI

I reject this devious Italy, petty trafficker, always nostalgic for its own colonial failure, heavily involved in this massacre of civilians underway, accomplice of the ferocious oppression of a legitimate popular revolt. I reject this accomplice, Italy, debased, asleep

Francesca Antinucci

This reading can be enhanced by this musical accompaniment

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWZR-ZO_m6A

for which I thank the wisdom of Doriana Goracci

Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi who kisses Ghedaffi's hand. Classic gesture used in the mafia to denote submission

Summary by Reuters

ENI: The major Italian oil company which has various activities in Libya, among which, long-term (take or pay) contracts. (Clause that is included in purchase contracts, under the basis that the purchased is obligated in all cases to pay, entirely or partially, the price of a minimum quantity of raw materials indicated within the contract, even in the possibility that this material is not withdrawn). The six-legged dog illustrates an investment plan running up to 25 billion dollars in the country. Tripoli had also indicated its intention of purchasing shares in the company.

  

IMPREGILO, ASTALDI: Impregilo,the leading construction company in Italy, would greatly benefit from the friendly relationship between Berlusconi and Gheddafi, in that they have been pre-qualified for the realisation of a super-highway project in Libya financed by the Italian government of a 5 billion Euros value. The second largest construction company in Italy, Astaldi, has also expressed interest in participating in the project. Impregilo has also been cited as a possible investment target by Libya.  

  

FINMECCANICA:  The Italian aerospace company in 2009 signed an agreement with Libya for the cooperation in the aerospace sector and in other projects in the Middle East and Africa. The agreement entails the creation of a 50-50 joint venture in which the partners are Finmeccanica and Libya Africa Investment Portfolio. Finmeccanica has also had various contracts with Libya, one of several, last year, for the construction of railways having a value of 247 million Euros. Not to be ignored is the fact that the Libyan Investment Autority holds 2.01% of the shares in Finmeccanica.

UNICREDIT. The Libyan holdings in the banking group are 7.5%, after the acquisition by the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) of 2.59% of the capital. The Central Bank of Libya is another shareholder in Unicredit, with shares for 4.988% of the capital.  

FIAT. Libya came to the rescue of Fiat in 1977, upon the invitation of Giovanni Agnelli, with the acquisition of approximately 15% of the shares by the Lybian Arab Foreign Investment Company (Lafico). The investment gave rise to a strong wave of criticism. Fafico thus sold its shares in 1986, but in 2002 repurchased shares exceeding 2%. At the moment its shares amount to less than 2%. 

Libya, lastly, is active in football as well. Lafico in fact holds no less than 7.5% of the capital of Juventus. Al-Saadi Gheddafi, the Colonel’s son, once a player in the Perugia and Udinese teams, is also a member of the Board of Directors of Juventus. Libya at a certain point also thought of investing in Lazio and had invested in Triestina.

Lafico is also active in the textiles sector, holding shares worth 21.7% in Olcese, according to what is written in the company’s Internet site.  

Further reading:

http://domani.arcoiris.tv/mentre-il-medio-oriente-brucia-gheddafi-compra-100-milioni-di-azioni-finmeccanica-diventa-un-po%E2%80%99-padrone-di-armi-navi-e-aerei-non-si-sa-mai/

Translated by Mary Rizzo for We Write What We Like and Gulagnik