Libya

Genocide, Historical Amnesia and Italian Settler Colonialism in Libya—An Interview with Ali Abdullatif Ahmida

In the late 1920s, the Italian fascist regime implemented a campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Libya to create more land for Italian settlers and quell armed resistance to colonization. Ali Abdullatif Ahmida’s new book, Genocide in Libya: Shar, a Hidden Colonial History, examines this forgotten case of settler-colonial violence. Jacob Mundy talks to Ahmida about the genocide, the kind of research methods he had to develop to uncover this history and its present-day relevance.

Genocide, Historical Amnesia and Italian Settler Colonialism in Libya—An Interview with Ali Abdullatif Ahmida

In the late 1920s, the Italian fascist regime implemented a campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Libya to create more land for Italian settlers and quell armed resistance to colonization. Ali Abdullatif Ahmida’s new book, Genocide in Libya: Shar, a Hidden Colonial History, examines this forgotten case of settler-colonial violence. Jacob Mundy talks to Ahmida about the genocide, the kind of research methods he had to develop to uncover this history and its present-day relevance.

The Enduring Taste of Hope—A Poem and Interview with Khaled Mattawa

Soon after Libyans rose up in protest against the brutal authoritarian regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi in February 2011, the Libyan American poet Khaled Mattawa wrote “Now That We Have Tasted Hope.” His poem powerfully captured the mix of relief and anguish, despair and hope felt by many who participated in, or were inspired by, the Arab uprisings and was widely shared. In addition to presenting the poem here, Atef Said interviewed Mattawa about the poem, poetry’s relationship to revolution and his work supporting artists in Libya.

The Enduring Taste of Hope—A Poem and Interview with Khaled Mattawa

Soon after Libyans rose up in protest against the brutal authoritarian regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi in February 2011, the Libyan American poet Khaled Mattawa wrote “Now That We Have Tasted Hope.” His poem powerfully captured the mix of relief and anguish, despair and hope felt by many who participated in, or were inspired by, the Arab uprisings and was widely shared. In addition to presenting the poem here, Atef Said interviewed Mattawa about the poem, poetry’s relationship to revolution and his work supporting artists in Libya. Forthcoming in the Winter 2021 issue of Middle East Report, “Revolutionary Afterlives.”

Minorities in Libya Marginalized by the Revolution

Despite a decade of attempts to create a new democratic system of governance based on respect for human rights, efforts by non-Arab groups and other minorities in Libya to end discriminatory practices have been unsuccessful. The continued marginalization of minority groups is largely due to the persistence of historical divisions and rivalries between communities on the local level and the struggle over resources and wealth on the national level—both exacerbated by the policies of the former regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi (1969–2011).

Maghreb From the Margins

This issue of Middle East Report on “Maghreb From the Margins” addresses the evolving challenges that the peripheries are posing to power structures in Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and the Western Sahara.

Why Civil Society is Libya’s Best Defense Against the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nada Elfeituri 07.23.2020

With its national government in fragments and fighting ongoing, Libya was in an extremely vulnerable position when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March. Four months later, however, infection rates have been kept relatively low. Nada Elfeituri explores the crucial role of post-Qaddafi civil society in confronting the coronavirus and the still precarious position of the Libyan people.

Russia Opens Digital Interference Front in Libya

The Middle East is increasingly awash with fake news and misinformation campaigns. Russia has become a major vector of these disinformation campaigns, affecting virtually every major flashpoint in the Arab world. It just opened a new info-war front in Libya.

The Globalized Unmaking of the Libyan State

The current disorder in Libya is not merely the result of a failed humanitarian intervention, which allegedly collapsed the state. Global currents and processes have also combined with local forces to unmake the Libyan state. Like the other cases of globalized state unmaking in the region, a new phase in Libya’s history opened in 2011 and has yet to be closed. It is one in which the order of Libyan disorder has been constituted by global networks of interpenetrating relations within and beyond Libya’s borders.

The Politics of Egyptian Migration to Libya

The beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts working in Libya, as shown in video footage released by the Islamic State on February 12, 2015, made headlines across the world. The story was variously framed as one more vicious murder of Middle Eastern Christians by militant Islamists, one more index of chaos in post-Qaddafi Libya and one more opportunity for an Arab state, in this case Egypt, to enlist in the latest phase of the war on terror. What was left unaddressed was the deep and long-standing enmeshment of the Libyan and Egyptian economies, embodied in the tens of thousands of Egyptian workers who remain in Libya despite the civil war raging there.

“Libya Is Not Safe for You If You Want to Speak Your Mind”

Anjali Kamat 09.10.2014

Hassan al-Amin is a long-time activist for human rights in Libya. He left Libya in 1983 under duress from the regime of Col. Muammar Qaddafi. In his London exile, al-Amin founded the dissident website Libya al-Mustaqbal (The Future Libya). He returned to his native city of Misrata in June 2011, in the midst of the rebellion against Qaddafi. Al-Amin was subsequently an independent member of Libya’s first elected parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), from Misrata and a member of the Human Rights and Civil Society Committee. He fled Libya again in March 2013.

Another Benghazi

Chris Toensing 08.9.2014

“We didn’t want another Benghazi.” Oh no, is that really why the Obama administration decided to bomb Iraq?

Do we have another bunch of fools in the White House who learn precisely the wrong lessons from their mistakes?

The China-Africa Axis in Relation to Other Regional Axes

China and Africa grosso modo are often seen as standing at two ends of the spectrum of developing countries, the former having acquired enormous industrial capacity in short order, and the latter not. In this view, a great potential for exchange exists between the two: manufactures and infrastructure in exchange for raw materials. Certainly the two do not exist in a vacuum; to think about how this potential may be realized in the coming decades, it is useful to think about them in the larger international arena.
 

North African Commonalities (part one)

David McMurray 04.2.2013

Bill Lawrence is director of the North Africa Project for the International Crisis Group. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer (Morocco), Fulbright scholar (Tunisia), development consultant (Egypt), State Department official, Arabic translator and filmmaker (Marrakech Inshallah, Moroccans in Boston). He has also participated in the production of 14 albums of North African music, including co-production of the first internationally released Arabic rap song. He has lived in North Africa for 12 years, six of them in Morocco. I spoke with him in Rabat on March 15.

Can you talk about the problems in Libya caused by the proliferation of militias and arms?

The “Matrix” Comes to Libya

Steve Niva 11.2.2012

Within days of the deadly assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, the skies over Libya began buzzing with American surveillance drones, prompting annoyed responses from some Benghazi residents. “Give it a rest, Obama,” one resident posted in a Twitter message after a low-flying drone woke up much of the city. “We want to get some sleep.”

Libya’s Restive Revolutionaries

Nicolas Pelham 06.1.2012

Beneath a golden canopy lined with frilly red tassels and vaulted with chandeliers, hundreds of militiamen from across Libya gathered at a security base in Benghazi, the launch pad of their anti-Qaddafi revolution, at the end of April and called for another uprising. After a lunch of mutton and macaroni, a nod to their former Italian masters, one belligerent revolutionary after another took to the podium to lambast Libya’s would-be governors, the National Transitional Council (NTC). “Thuwwar (revolutionaries) of Libya unite!” cried the chairman, beseeching his fellows to reclaim the country from those who had stolen the revolution. These are no idle threats. My lunch companion from Jufra, one of Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s former garrison towns in central Libya, claimed to have 600 tanks under his command. If push came to shove, the militias could overpower the fledgling forces the NTC have at their disposal.

Libya’s Lessons

Chris Toensing 03.5.2012

Libya is commonly counted as a success story among the ongoing Arab uprisings. NATO bombing, the story goes, saved thousands of lives and allowed Libyans to overthrow the absurd and murderous Muammar Qaddafi. The intervention proves that the West has aligned its interests in the Arab world with its values — and may even be a measure of redemption for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the deeper colonial past.

Not much of this comforting tale rings true.

New Insights into Libyan History

Anna Baldinetti, The Origins of the Libyan Nation: Colonial Legacy, Exile and the Emergence of a New Nation-State (Oxford: Routledge, 2010).

With the fall of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011, his paranoid and largely successful attempts to close off contemporary Libyan history to academic inquiry have presumably also come to an end. Over the next several years, there is every reason to anticipate a flowering of scholarship utilizing Libya’s untapped archival resources. The authors of these yet-to-be-written studies would be wise to root themselves in the work of the few Western scholars who were productively operating in Libya prior to the collapse of Qaddafi’s regime.

Was the Libya Intervention Necessary?

The death of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi has become one of the most contested moments of Libya’s eight-month war. The exact circumstances of the colonel’s demise on October 20 are unclear, but evidence is mounting that Libya’s former ruler was killed — extra-judicially executed — by the band of young gunmen who captured him.

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