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Libya in Transition Exhibit @ UNHQ's

The pictures in this photostream document Libya’s early challenges and accomplishments as the nation strives to become a democracy in the aftermath of the Gaddafi regime’s legacy of repression and the fighting that led to its overthrow.

All images are part of an exhibition entitled “Libya in Transition: Helping to Build a New Democratic Libya”, which was produced by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), a political mission overseen by the Department of Political Affairs, and displayed at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 29 January to 6 February 2013. More...

New look Libyan Dinar arrived in Libya earlier today
This was the old money:

Slowly but surely, Libya is recovering from four decades of dictatorship.

The Libya Herald ran an opinion piece today I wanted to share with you:

How international media get Libya wrong

By Nigel Ash
Tripoli, 1 February 2013
In the past few days, thousands of calls and messages will have been sent by anxious relatives and friends to foreigners living and working in Libya.  Almost certainly, each will have have asked if the recipients really think it safe to stay in the country, given the dire warnings  from the European and North American governments of imminent terror attacks,  first in Benghazi and then against the British Embassy in the Tripoli Towers.

The urgent changes to the travel advice of these countries, stating that none of their citizens should visit any part of Libya, unless their journey was essential, flashed around the globe. Taken with the steady stream of media reports of shootings and assassination attempts, particularly in Benghazi, the picture  the outside world is receiving of Libya is of a country teetering on the brink of chaos, with armed militiamen defying the government, under whose command they are now supposed to fall.

Given the 11 September murder of US ambassador Chris Stevens and three colleagues at the Benghazi consulate, the earlier attempt on the life of the former British ambassador Dominic Asquith and the later shooting up of the vehicle carrying Italian Consul-General Guido de Sanctis, this portrait of a Libya plunging into anarchy seems entirely credible to people overseas.

However, there is a problem with much of the international media reporting of Libya. There are relatively few foreign journalists on the ground here, but there are a great many writers sitting in their distant offices, who may never have visited the country but who have been busy following “the story”.  Unfortunately “the story” all too often consists of what other writers, also sitting in distant offices, have been penning.

Thus half-truth and misunderstanding are piled one upon another to create an ill-informed narrative that misleads the average reader, as well as other journalists.  Among the posse of British pressmen that accompanied British PM David Cameron on his Thursday visit to Tripoli, there were some who demonstrated the problem.

One journalist asked the Libya Herald if it was really true that the government’s writ did not extend beyond the outskirts of Tripoli. Of Cameron’s 15-minute walkabout in Martyrs square, another wrote that the British politician was “100 yards from Gaddafi’s old palace”. He also described Martyrs’ square as “ the site of the start of the revolution against Muammar Qaddafi nearly two years ago ”.

To journalists on a flying visit, such errors may appear a trivial price to pay in  providing “colour” to what was, for them, largely a political story of the meeting between the Ali Zeidan and Cameron.  But such mistakes confuse and mislead their readers and are unprofessional. Some pretty basic preliminary research would have established that the revolution began in Benghazi and that Qaddafi’s Bab Al-Azizya compound was not near the square.

Security in Libya is indeed poor and as the second anniversary of the revolution approaches, there is widespread concern over terror attacks. Yet as foreigners who have had to reply to anxious family and friends well understand, Libya is not Iraq nor Afghanistan, nor the anarchic mess described by overseas media.

Click here for a list of my other Daily Kos dairies on Libya

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, joe from Lowell

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 01:46:53 PM PST

  •  Things are not quite as rosy as you make them out (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to be. Sectarian violence is still widespread and on the increase. Militias are still not under control. There are strikes within the oil industry for higher wages and the NOC is not being transparent in it's dealings. Unemployment is high and rebuilding the country has not started yet.

    I'm waiting for the new constitution to be written. Libya may yet end up like Tunisia or Egypt with the revolutionaries feeling they were cheated. Their socio-economic conditions were not bettered and, in many cases, they were worse off than before as austerity and privatization were imposed.

    There's a real push for private health care and education currently going on. Libya is becoming a gold mine for private equity firms from around the world. I'm wondering how much of the Libyan welfare state will be left in the future.

    Here's just a few headlines from the last week:

    Fundamentalists driving Christians out of Libya
    February 02, 2013

    VATICAN CITY: Christians are being driven out of eastern Libya by Muslim fundamentalists, the Catholic Church’s main clergyman in the country told the Vatican missionary news agency Fides.

    The situation was “critical” and the “atmosphere very tense” in the Cyrenaica region, the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli said in the interview Thursday.

    He said two religious communities are leaving “after being pressured by fundamentalists,” adding that the Apostolic Vicar of Benghazi was cautioned to take shelter ahead of a large-scale demonstration on Feb. 20.
    Christians have voiced fear of a rise in sectarian sentiment in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation following the 2011 revolt that toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi and in which hard-line Islamists played a major part.

    Before the uprising, 3 percent of Libya’s population of around 6.3 million were Christian. Now only a couple thousand of them remain, with the majority of them expatriates.

    Read more:
    (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

    Gunfire Blends With Coffee as Libya Seeks Tripoli Control
    By Christopher Stephen - Jan 29, 2013

    The crackle of gunfire mixes with the burble of conversation in Cinnabon, Tripoli’s most popular cafe, where customers enjoy cappuccino and chocolate cakes even as Libyan militias battle for control of nearby streets.

    “There’s gangster trouble over there, you get used to it,” says Majdi Nakua, a photographer, former rebel fighter and patron of the closely held Atlanta-based bakery chain. “But if it goes on for long, that’s not good. That’s not why we fought a revolution.”

    While Libya, home to Africa’s largest oil reserves, has seen crude oil production return to pre-war levels of 1.54 million barrels a day, roads in Tripoli are potholed, building projects dormant and laws to create a city council stalled. Photographer: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images

    More than a year after the downfall and death of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Tripoli is as divided and fractured as the country itself. The central government has yet to establish order on a city that lacks an elected council and where militias, some loyal to the former regime, vie for control with police, the national army and the gendarmerie.

  •  OOOOoo they got new muneez (0+ / 0-)

    no more dollars for these guys, nope!

    Where did these "Libyan" dinars "arrive" from? DC Bureau of Engraving and Printing or Fort Worth?

    •  Does it matter? Libya has plenty of oil so (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe from Lowell, mookins

      it's not going to drain US treasury. And many countries have their money printed by companies (primarily in Europe and Canada) that specialize in this type of thing.  
      Lybian money has been printed in UK even under Qaddafi.

    •  So much for Gaddafi's gold backed dinar... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I wonder what will become of the 144 tons of gold found in the Libyan Central Bank at the end of hostilities.

      That yellow stuff is kryptonite to Superpower. Too much of it in circulation would bring Superpower to its knees (or worse) so it has to remain buried in deep underground vaults.

  •  Juan Cole had some great posts about his visit. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clay Claiborne

    It seems like the people who have the least knowledge about the country are the ones pushing the most dire story lines, while those who have actually been there to see the post-revolutionary nation are the most optimistic.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 07:29:51 PM PST

    •  Maybe Juan Cole should go back for another visit? (0+ / 0-)
      Two years on, Benghazi threatens "another revolution" in Libya
      BENGHAZI, Libya | Thu Jan 31, 2013

      (Reuters) - As night fell over Benghazi, a familiar sound echoed across the eastern Libyan city - an explosion, and then gunfire. A bomb had just been thrown at a police car on patrol, injuring an officer.

      It was the latest of many attacks on local security forces. Two months before, the man whose job it was to ensure Benghazi was safe, the police chief, was shot dead outside his home.
      The anarchy, along with garbage-strewn streets and unraveling municipal services, have deepened a sense of neglect by the capital Tripoli far to the west and reawakened demands for autonomy in a region with most of Libya's oil wealth.

      "Everyone is increasingly worried about eastern Libya," a diplomatic source said. "Things are seriously deteriorating."
      Randy Robinson, principal of British School Benghazi, said: "One of our staff was carjacked. Our residence last spring was robbed with teachers in a room held at gunpoint as thieves cleaned out the apartments. We have to take care."

      Two years ago the anti-Gaddafi uprising had the strongest support in Benghazi but today a very different mood has emerged.

      "Most people here would say they are very unhappy," a local oil worker said. "Some say they are worse off than before."

      Benghazans want their city to be the economic capital again and bodies like the National Oil Corporation, founded in Benghazi and later moved to Tripoli by Gaddafi, to return here. They have given the government until February 15 to make a decision.

      "(Politicians) said they would do many things but there is no change," said Yussef al-Ghariani of the oil and gas workers' union. "People say they will do another revolution."

      Travel Warning U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
      Bureau of Consular Affairs

      January 02, 2013

      The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Libya and strongly advises against all but essential travel to Tripoli and all travel to Benghazi, Bani Walid, and southern Libya, including border areas and the regions of Sabha and Kufra. Because of ongoing instability and violence, the Department’s ability to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in these regions of Libya is extremely limited. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated September 12, 2012.

      The following site has lots of detailed information if you plan to travel to Libya.
      Libya 2012 OSAC Crime and Safety Report
      Crime; Terrorism; Political Violence
      Near East > Libya > Tripoli

      While official statistics are often inaccurate and difficult to access, crime levels in Tripoli have significantly increased with the fall of the Qadhafi regime as local militias are demobilized and there remains an absence of effective security and police structures.  Carjackings, robberies, burglaries, and thefts have noticeably increased in Tripoli. The majority of the 16,000 criminals released by Qadhafi during the revolution have yet to be re-apprehended.  Police and judicial authorities are still in a state of transition, with significant portions of the security infrastructure damaged or destroyed.  The Government of Libya, through the Ministries of Interior and Defense, has embarked on a robust plan to integrate the various militia organizations under the two ministries.  However, reconstitution of police and security remains slow as the Government of Libya tackles a wide range of policy issues in addition to demobilizing and retraining, and re-equipping former militia fighters.
      Road Safety

      Traffic accidents constitute the most common safety threat for visitors to Libya.  In addition to traffic accidents, there has been an increase in the number of reports of armed highway robberies in both urban and rural areas.  Police do not routinely enforce traffic laws and Libyan drivers are often reckless and inattentive.  It is not uncommon for Libyan drivers to drive through red lights at full speed and swerve across multiple lanes of traffic in order to make turns.  Traffic accidents are the leading cause of accidental death in Libya.

  •  UNSMIL - Great potential and missed opportunities (0+ / 0-)
    Published on Jan 6, 2013

    The UN Support Mission in Libya visits Libya's desert South discovering unrealized potentials in a remote region buffeted by tensions and ethnic politics

  •  UNSMIL Briefing for Libya (0+ / 0-)

    Briefing on current political situation in Libya.

    Briefing by Mr. Tarek Mitri SRSG for Libya - Meeting of the Security Council 29 January 2013

    Mr. President,

    22. While the determination of the authorities and its many initiatives may augur greater capability of moving forward in institution building, it is worth insisting that many difficult decisions have yet to be taken in the areas of constitution-making, transitional justice, reconciliation and, it goes without saying, security sector reform. In going forward, broad based support to these decisions is necessary. Equally necessary is consensus-seeking on national priorities in this critical phase of democratic state building. For this purpose, Libyan authorities, political forces, community and tribal leaders, revolutionaries and civil society organizations should engage in a process of national dialogue. UNSMIL is committed to assist in this endeavour.

    Thank you Mr. President.

  •  Mr. Claiborne (0+ / 0-)

    I always appreciate reading your posts here.  Whether people agree or disagree with you, I always learn something.  In some ways, I feel like this is the "bird's eye view" we couldn't have of our own fledgling democracy forming.  I do believe democracy in a form Westerners will recognize will emerge eventually.  Mybe I'm dreaming, but the USA was just dream once, too.  Peace to all.

    "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

    by NancyWH on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 06:34:15 AM PST

  •  Tawergha - born from slavery (0+ / 0-)
    Tawergha : Only Through Acknowledging Our True History, Can We Move Forward

    In 1963 Dadda Salma, at the age of ninety-five, had a toothless smile which was quite infectious. You could not help but smile back. Her eyes were a window to the sadness in this world and told the story of the suffering of her race. She was an emancipated black slave spending her final years in a “poor house" on the outskirts of Tripoli.

    Dadda Salma was kidnapped at the age of five by Libyan slave traders from her village in southern Sudan late in the 19th century and sold to a wealthy Libyan officer in the Ottoman army.

    Salma was the name given to her by her owners. She doesn’t remember the name her mother gave her. Dadda Salma’s story was not confined to the sad look in her eyes.
    Libyans cannot build a future on a heap of historical grievances. Sometime somewhere somehow the cycle of revenge and counter revenge has to stop. Reconciliation between the people of Misurata and Tawergha can be a precursor for national reconciliation but can it be achieved within our lifetime?

    Meanwhile where will the people of Tawergha be located without being dependent on another city for their livelihood? This is the moment for statesmen to take control, unfortunately however, so far there has been a lamentable dearth of statesmen in Libya.

    It is incumbent on those who claim to have Libya’s interest at heart to give priority to solving this problem with justice and humanity and in a manner that both addresses the suffering and aspirations of all of the inhabitants of Libya whether they be of the elk of Dadda Salma or of Mariam.

    Until that happens the suffering will continue and the pain will endure.

  •  Now, where else ... (0+ / 0-)
    ...there is a problem with much of the international media reporting of {}. There are relatively few foreign journalists on the ground here, but there are a great many writers sitting in their distant offices, who may never have visited the country but who have been busy following “the story”.  Unfortunately “the story” all too often consists of what other writers, also sitting in distant offices, have been penning.

    Thus half-truth and misunderstanding are piled one upon another to create an ill-informed narrative that misleads the average reader, as well as other journalists.

    It isn't nice to go to jail ... but if that's freedom's price

    by Rusty Pipes on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 02:00:31 PM PST

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