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By William F. Gavin

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Ear to the Ground

Indian Summer for Arab Spring?

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Posted on Oct 21, 2011
Wikimedia Commons / Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom / ABr (CC-BY)

Looking over his shoulder: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Thursday’s death of Col. Moammar Gadhafi represents different things to different people—long-awaited liberation, further evidence of American meddling on the world stage, or a powerful sign that the upheaval collectively known as the Arab Spring isn’t over yet. That last option is explored further in this CNN article about the major changes that already have happened in that part of the world and what may still be in store for certain of Libya’s neighbors. —KA

CNN:

Moammar Gadhafi’s demise, after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, means that three rulers in power collectively for 95 years are gone. Scholar and author Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, says that 2011 “is to the Arabs what 1989 was to the communist world. The Arabs are now coming into ownership of their own history and we have to celebrate.”

Protesters in Yemen and Syria may be re-energized by the pictures from Sirte, Libya, showing the almost pathetic end of a ruler whose flowing robes and uniforms had long given him an aura of invincibility. Demonstrators in Syrian cities celebrated Gadhafi’s death and warned President Bashar al-Assad that he would be next. As one Syrian activist told CNN: “The clear fate of all who kill his people is to end up under the feet of the nation.”

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By heterochromatic, October 24, 2011 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

brew—-    “The press thing is very complex”

blow that bullshit away…it’s not at all complex. either .

——“Apart from Jamahiriya TV channel and its national news agency, Libya has
only one radio station and four very thin state-owned newspapers. The only
privately owned Arabic-language newspaper allowed to cross into Libyan
borders is the London-based Al Arab. There is no circulation whatsoever of the
other well-known Arabic press, let alone foreign-language ones. The main
political opposition Web site, UK-based http://www.libya-watanona.com, and the
opposition radio, Sawt Libya, are censored inside the country.

It is possible to interpret the absence of printed news and Jamahiriya’s silent,
anchorless broadcasts as the media’s embodiment of Qadhafi’s philosophy of
“direct democracy.” In the same way as there is no need for parliamentary
representatives to have political participation, and no Muslim learned scholar to
interpret Islam, maybe the qaid al-thawra also believes that there is no need for
journalists to interpret the news. Dispatches can be presented in their rawest
form so that the people themselves can make up their own opinions. If there
are issues to be discussed, Qadhafi claims, these ought to be addressed at the
“people’s congresses,” which he considers “better forums than a newspaper.”

The result is that total absence of news culture in a country that Human Rights
Watch director Kenneth Roth described as “a closed and tightly controlled
society.” In an op-ed published in January in the International Herald Tribune,
Roth stated: “There is no independent press or civil society, and there are no
political groups that are not officially sanctioned.” On pain of imprisonment,
Libyans are not allowed to criticize the government, its political system, or its
leader.”


http://www.tbsjournal.com/Gazzini.html

——

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By brewerstroupe, October 24, 2011 at 2:15 am Link to this comment

heterochromatic

Glad your curiousity is aroused.
Keep reading. Try something a little less Global/Capitalist oriented than The Economist. For example, I have seen nothing to support this: “chosen personally by Colonel Qadhafi”.
If the man exercised the control he is personally accused of, he would not have time to pee, let alone rape his Kalashnikov wielding guards.

The press thing is very complex. Suffice to say that Jamahiriya recognises the danger of allowing owned media to become manipulative - the precise reason Robert and Chris established Truthdig.
I am a little uneasy about this but I must admit there is a point. In theory, it is not the State that owns the media under Jamahiriya, the various outlets are governed by People’s Committees. Jamahiriya does not acknowledge “State”. The People are the “State”.

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By heterochromatic, October 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm Link to this comment

brew——the practice hasn’t a thing to do with
“theory”.

Since 1977 Libya has been a jamahiriya (republic of
the people) in accordance with the Third Universal
Theory propounded by Colonel Muammar Qadhafi in his
Green Book, which is a blend of socialist and Islamic
theories inspired by tribal traditions. The
jamahiriya system defines the political and social
order, which is also governed by the Holy Quran. The
General People’s Congress is the highest legislative
body. In 1992 Colonel Qadhafi changed the political
structure by dividing Libya into 1,500 mahallat
(communes), each with its own budget and legislative
and executive powers, formerly vested in the Basic
People’s Congresses. The mahallat and the congresses
are supervised by Revolutionary Committees directed
by secretaries, who are chosen personally by Colonel
Qadhafi——-

http://www.economist.com/node/13674363

any idea how Gaddafi’s democratic practices resulted
in outlawing political parties, not having Gaddafi
ever stand up and ask the nation to vote for him or
for an alternative candidate?

any idea about why there was never any free press in
Libya’s democratic system? any idea way, by every
measure Libya had the least freedom for TV, radio or
press in the entire Middle East…and was regarded as
one of the five worst places for journalism in the
entire world?

http://www.cpj.org/censored/censored_06.html

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By brewerstroupe, October 23, 2011 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment

OK. One more.
“never stood for election in 40 years”

This is the reason one has to research Jamahiriya. There are no political parties. Libyans voted on issues through a system of over 6,000 People’s Committees sending delegates to the General People’s Congress which elected the Cabinet.

In theory at least, it is way more democratic than anything we have. Libyans of my acquaintance tell me it was a bit clunky but generally worked.

There was an independent Judiciary modelled on the French system:
http://www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/Libya.htm

Gaddhafi’s coup was bloodless and he gave up a direct role in Government in 1979. Since then his title has been “Guide to the First Revolution” (a role not dissimilar to the Kings and Queens of Europe - head of State but with no direct control) and numerous of his recommendations such as nationalising all the Oil Companies and female conscription were turned down by the GPC.
The current leader of the TNC, Mustafa Jalil, was elected Justice Minister in 2007 despite a reputation for finding against the Government when a Supreme Court judge.
At the onset of NATO bombing, arms were made available to the general populace which had never been denied the right to bear them.
These facts, along with Gaddhafi’s willingness to participate in U.N. supervised elections run counter to the image of “dictator”.

I can only add that, since researching this stuff at some length, Gaddhafi’s utterances and behaviour which I had previously thought rather bizarre, began to make some sense. An example of this is the female bodyguards which the MSM has had a lot of fun with. This was instituted after his recommendation for female conscription was turned down - sort of a “lead by example” gesture.

Finally, let me simply say that I have thoroughly researched several of the brutality narratives such as Abu Salim (1996), the 2006 Bhengazi crackdown and Lockerbie and found scant evidence supporting the MSM accounts. I will be adding to my blog as time permits. If anyone is interested in pursuing these matters, click on my username.

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By heterochromatic, October 23, 2011 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment

brewer…. that the US paints someone as a dictator doesn’t change
anything….sometimes it’s not true ...and sometimes it is true…...Gaddafi was
exactly a dictator who seized power in a military coup and never stood for election
in 40 years or allowed any opposition parties….that’s not enough to make him a
dictator?


(BTW…you probably shouldn’t include Ho or Castro in your list of people that the
US toppled)

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By brewerstroupe, October 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

I am well aware that I am batting on a sticky wicket here. A year ago I would have agreed with you.

A “few hundred” supporters on July 1st this year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWzNhk3zv4U&feature=related

An eye-witness

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Zqb6Q65AdKc

There is not one leftist leader toppled by the U.S. who has not been first painted as a mad, bad “dictator” by the press - Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, Mossadegh, Ho Chi Min, Allende, Patrice Lumumba, Castro etc. History has been kinder to these men. Most are now recognised as patriots who bucked the imperial system.
Few who hold the demonic view of Gaddhafi have ever bothered to study the system of government in Libya or its outcomes for its citizens. One striking feature is the incarceration rate - less than one third that of the U.S.

This is somewhat dated but a fairly concise introduction:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVDdBYsAzA8

I am not going to post any more on this subject as it is off topic. I simply hope readers will look beyond the caricature to the substance of Jamahiriya.

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By IMax, October 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment

heterochromatic,

I remain convinced that, at least as a military exercise, the United States is leading in Libya. I believe it a rare occasion that the U.S. takes a back seat when troops and hardware are so heavily involved. Particularly when, in the case of Libya, 70% or better of munitions and sortie’s are American - currently no other nation is capable of such sustained capabilities. - Should we not be clear that none of this could have happened this way without U.S. involvement?

Anyhow, the issue I had raised concerns Middle Eastern perceptions. Specifically the lessons that may be taken away by other tyrannical leaders. I don’t claim to agree with these perceptions.

-

brewerstroupe,

I’m sorry but here we will disagree.

Gaddafi was the clearest example of a murderous tyrant and global pariah. Despised by most as a lunatic. You won’t find but a few hundred Libyans who actually supported him.

Gaddafi held his power by way of murder, fear, and subjugation. There is no defending the way this one man governed. Not even if he had built a school and hospital on every third street corner.

The Arab League wanted him out. The European Union wanted him out. The United Nations Security Council apparently agreed and Gaddafi is no more.

In this case I think you and others are defending the indefensible.

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By heterochromatic, October 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

brewer—-I call bullshit.

Amnesty International said that their wasn’t proof that Gaddafi ordered mass
rapes as a weapon of war and said that he didn’t use helicopters, not that he
didn’t send aircraft. Amnesty said that he DID send aircraft…..


Amnesty International-The Battle for Libya
KILLINGS, DISAPPEARANCES AND TORTURE

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE19/025/2011/en/8f2e1c49-
8f43-46d3-917d-383c17d36377/mde190252011en.pdf

—-” This report documents serious and widespread human rights violations
committed by al- Gaddafi forces, including extrajudicial executions and
excessive use of force against anti- government protesters; torture and other
ill-treatment; and the enforced disappearances of perceived opponents. It
presents prima facie evidence of war crimes, including deliberate attacks
against civilians and indiscriminate attacks.”—-


Link to the original document, Brew, not to some site pushing bullshit
distortion of what the original REALLY says.

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By brewerstroupe, October 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm Link to this comment

“he was bombing Libyan cities” is one of the Top Ten Myths of this War on Libya.

Amnesty reported:

There is no evidence that aircraft or heavy anti-aircraft machine guns were used against crowds…....
......The report adds that “much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the regime’s security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no security challenge”.

All offers to resolve the conflict by negotiation were rejected by the rebels:

Libya Govt Accepts Chavez Mediation Plan, But Not the Rebels, Reports say
04/03/2011


Al Qathafi Seeking UN, AU Probe into Libyan Unrest
06/03/2011


Al Qathafi to Allow UN Humanitari­­an Team into Libya
07/03/2011


Libyan Leader Al Qathafi Accepts African Union’s Roadmap for Peace
11/04/2011


Libyan Regime PM Calls for a Ceasefire
18/08/2011


Libya Regime Had Asked UN to Intervene Before Rebels’ Assault on Tripoli
23/08/2011

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By heterochromatic, October 23, 2011 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

IMax…...the US didn’t lead the overthrow of Gaddafi…IIRC he was bombing Libyan
cities until the Arab League couldn’t stomach it and voted to have the UN
condemn it and start military action against him..

I don’t think that “the region” will draw any other lesson from Libya than the usual
one….kill whomever you wish, but on’t do it obviously and publicly.

Even then, the lesson won’t be clear until Assad’s future is determined.

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By IMax, October 23, 2011 at 4:24 am Link to this comment

brewerstroupe, heterochromatic.

Differences aside; we can asses what the death of Gadhafi means, yes. We can also asses what lessons will be drawn by other dictators in the region and around the globe.

One lesson, I fear, is that the events of the last year have reinforced this worldview — repress or die. Have no illusions.

An interesting case study of how this works is offered by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi in a superb short article, “Assessing Bahrain.” The strength of al-Tamimi’s analysis is that he points out both the real threat (Iranian-backed, radical Islamist Shia opposition) and the tragedy (the regime’s failure to deal with a more moderate Shia faction that wants a constitutional monarchy and isn’t Islamist).

But would it have been possible to work with the latter without ending up having the hardliners triumph? Impossible to say for sure, of course, but the hardline ruling faction in the monarchy wasn’t interested in finding out, and the Saudis certainly didn’t want to take any chances. Hence, they turned to pure repression and remain in power.

Another lesson (ironically) you can’t trust the West, so be tough and defend yourself

I am reminded of a peculiar fact: even though Gaddafi was generally a horribly repressive anti-American dictator, in his final years he tried making a deal with the Americans. Gaddafi was frightened by the U.S. attack on Iraq in 2003 and didn’t want to be next on the list. So he cooperated, gave up his nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction programs, and reduced (not end) his foreign subversive efforts.

That did not save him from being overthrown by the United States, just as it did not save a genuine American ally, President Hosni Mubarak, in Egypt. On this point, I’m not advocating anything about what the United States should have done in Libya but just observing how it will be received in the region.

Thus, the region will note that when Gaddafi was a leading sponsor of terrorism, subversion, and anti-Americanism, he got away with it. When he was on “good terms” with the United States, he lost power. That might not be fair, but it appears to hold water in terms of Middle Eastern political philosophy.

Sorry to be so long-winded.

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By brewerstroupe, October 23, 2011 at 12:09 am Link to this comment

So we disagree.

You post yours and I’ll post mine

Fine.

Let readers decide.

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By heterochromatic, October 22, 2011 at 10:27 pm Link to this comment

brew, you’ve been drinking something like kool-aid ?


Gaddafi supplied free education and the US doesn’t ???


where o where did you go to school. It shit-sure wasn’t in the US or you would
have had been not merely given free education but required to undergo it
unless you opted to buy your own.


as for all the things that you’re gassing about Gaddafi “providing” .....where
exactly did he get the money for those things?  did his daddy give it to him?
did he grow up wealthy or did all his hard work in the Libyan military not give
him time to spend his salary and did he get a lot of bank interest or something?
did he invent something and get rich? 

OR did he kill a bunch of people and announce that he now was in charge of
not just the government but also all the of the oil wealth of the entire nation?


Gaddafi didn’t own a damn thing and he spent no money that was his iwn and
he gave the Libyan people nary a thing except a fraction of what was their own
while spending the rest of their money as he pleased.

“Scholarships to study abroad” were for the lackeys of gaddafi’s regime pal and
for no one else…..

from February 17
—-Libyan nationals studying abroad have recently been contacted via phone
and informed that they must participate in counter-protests to a solidarity
demonstration held in Washington D.C. or they will be denied their
scholarships.——

———

Assad is popular and a reformer…....

“horseshit’ isn’t strong enough as a reply.

anybody can see just how popular he is…..and he’s a reformer in the sense that
he promises to reform and to stop having his family steal quite as much, maybe
have them own a little less of all the things that they don’t really own.

maybe promise to reform his brother Maher al-Assad, commander of the
Republican Guard, and his brother-in-law Asef Shawkat, head of military
intelligence and not let them kill and torture as many folks..

maybe make lots of promises to reform   and yet not change a damn thing

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By brewerstroupe, October 22, 2011 at 9:43 pm Link to this comment

Has U.S. debt hit 100% of GDP yet? What time is it now?

States that cannot manage their own finances and provide the basics of education and health have no business meddling in the affairs of another.

Syria does not have much in the way of resources.
Assad is both popular and reformist. There is nothing to indicate he is “sucking the wealth out of Syria”.

I am always astonished by folk who cannot do basic arithmetic.
Gaddhafi provided Free education (including post-graduate studies overseas), free health Care (including travel and expenses for procedures not available domestically), 92% home ownership, a monthly stipend to every family from oil revenues, spent billions on infrastructure including the largest irrigation project in the World - all self funded, placed billions in Sovereign Wealth Funds in the name of the Libyan people…...
....and was accused of stealing.

America provides none of this.
It follows from this that someone must be stealing a much larger chunk of America’s wealth n’est ce pas?

Sooner or later, some bright spark is going to hit on the idea of introducing a little violence into the protests going on all over the Western World. Only takes a few shootings, police or protesters, and the balloon goes up.

That is how it is being accomplished in Syria.

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By heterochromatic, October 22, 2011 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

brewer, that’s just tripe. everything about the Syrian Ba’athists sucks .

the economy is tiny, with $60B GDP and the debt is more than 20% of the GDP…..

and is only that low because the Ba’athists spent decades sucking the wealth out
of Syria.

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By brewerstroupe, October 22, 2011 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment

Ah yes. Way past time Libya, Syria and the remaining debt free nations overthrew their governments and joined the Globalist/Capitalist World. This burden of debt needs to be shared.

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By heterochromatic, October 22, 2011 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

It’s going to take a loooong time for the people in the Arab League states to
transform from authoritarianism.
These are very welcome first steps and the spread of Turkish influence is a
positive sign, particularly if Turkey can speed the rejection of the Iranian
projection into the area.

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By Sodium-Na, October 22, 2011 at 6:43 am Link to this comment

Correction:

Please read:”...there will be no returning back to what was the CASE before Muhammad bou Azizi ste himself on fire…...”

Thank you.

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By Sodium-Na, October 22, 2011 at 5:48 am Link to this comment

“Indian Summer For Arab Spring”

No sir! Such nomenclatures are simply deficient in understanding of what has been going on in the Arab world for the last ten months and counting. 

It is not Arab Spring nor is it Indian Summer. It is the long-awaited ARAB AWAKENING which has caught the tormentors of the great masses of the Arab world,along with the masters of the tormentors,while their pants were down. A complete surprise for which the Arab dictators(the tormentors)and their masters(some Western Imperialists)were not well prepared.

Nowadays,the termentors are in a bad fix,while their masters are trying hard to catch up and recover some of their losses they suffered in the region.

However,the ARAB AWAKENING has a long and tough road to travel and overcome the huge obstacles on the way to reach and unlock the gate that leads to the realms of genuine freedom,democracy and justice,for all. It may take the ARAB AWAKENING a decade,or so,to achieve its ultimate goals. It may even take longer than that.
But the positive finality for the ARAB AWAKENING is not in doubt

Since the element of fear has been conquered by the people of the Arab world,from Moroccow in the west to Iraq in the east,there will be no returning back to what it was the before Muhammad Bou Azizi set himself on fire in a street in Tunisia,in December of 2010,protesting the brutality of the dictatorship that ruled Tunisia for almost three decades with an Iron-Fist and Mukhabarat,(state intelligence). No returning back.

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By Robespierre115, October 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm Link to this comment

@gerard and what does OWS have to say about NATO waging a billion dollar-war to overthrow a former friend, install a puppet regime with Islamist overtones and open Libya’s oil fields to foreign corporations?

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By IMax, October 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

gerard,

I can’t be nearly as declarative as you on Libya becoming a democracy any time soon (decades). A great many things have to happen in a country and region that has known very little in the way of ‘representative’ forms of government. People within the region, even more than those outside the region, believe the only way to govern is with a ‘Strongman’ at he helm.

Democracy’s are quite difficult to birth and equally difficult to maintain. I do agree with you on how global, always on, communications is and will continue to make it a good deal more difficult to maintain tyranny’s.

We also can’t expect Libya to become a “liberal’ democracy either. Libya will most likely have a much easier time, in the beginning (decades), building what we in the West think of as a ‘conservative’ democracy. - Heavily religious and tribal. Few rights to privacy, few rights for woman, few rights for homosexuals, etc. and firm punishment for offenders.

With that said, I believe nearly all humans, at their very foundations, desire freedom and the individual right to choose who will lead them.  I have great hopes for Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and even Iran.

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By gerard, October 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

Considering the age and depth of all their problems, it will take time and wisdom, but the young people of the Arab States are going to see it through to more democracy.  Communication technology has weakened autocratic rule,and may have killed it entirely. War has become so ugly, disastrous and counter-productive that it has actually encouraged people’s desire to make massive and enduring efforts for non-violent change.

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