February 20, 2011
Libya, The Revolt of the East & The Guide takes the Chinese option
The Libyan situation rather smells like civil war, and that between regions.
10.30am Libya:12.01pm Libya:
This news report from Al-Jazeera shows chaotic scenes in Libya's north-eastern city of Benghazi. Anti-government protesters appear to have set fire to a security building and there are pictures of some making off with weapons - including an artillery round
Associated Press is reporting that the death toll is Benghazi may be much higher than the estimate from Human Rights Watch (which they had called "conservative").
A doctor in the Libyan city of Benghazi says his hospital has seen the bodies of at least 200 protesters killed by Moammar Gadhafi's forces over the last few days. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he fears reprisal.
Witnesses told AP that a mixture of special commandos, foreign mercenaries and Gadhafi loyalists went after demonstrators on Saturday with knives, assault rifles and heavy-caliber weapons.
I would interject that I am not entirely confident that the rumours of foreign mercenaries are not at least in some part driven by Libyan racism and frustration with the Guide's Pan African strategy (as the anti Black African riots a few years back highlighted). It is of no small political utility to imply that the Guide is dependent on foreigners, and the pretension that Libyans will not fire on Libyans strikes me as pure political positioning.
We have been contacted by a Libyan businessman who is based in the South East of England but who has large numbers of family in Benghazi – including his father. International phone calls out of the country are blocked but it has been possible to call in. The man – who does not want us to reveal his name – last spoke to his father at 10am GMT.2.22pm: Libya
His father said that there is a crowd of what he estimates to be tens of thousands of protesters on the streets close to the sea front where most of the government buildings are located. There was extensive violence overnight in the area and in pockets around the city (including the suburb of Fuhat which is 3 to 4 kilometres from the centre and is where the family lives).
The army has now pulled back, according to our contact's father, but the crowd is being fired on by foreign militia, believed to be from Chad and Sudan. Helicopter gunships have been used to fire on the protesters. "The libyans won't fire on their own people so [Gaddafi] has drafted in overseas African militia. They have not heard of these people before." There are rumours that protesters on the route from Tripoli have been blocking the roads to stop the militia from reaching Benghazi, but these are not confirmed.
The man's contacts in Benghazi's main hospital estimate that 200 were killed last night and hundreds injured. Again, these figures cannot be confirmed.
AP is reporting that Libyan security forces have again opened fire on mourners at a funeral for anti-government protesters killed in Benghazi yesterday. A man who was shot in leg says marchers were carrying coffins past a military compound when they came under fire. One person was killed, and 14 were injured, AP says. The report also seems to corroborate our earlier source in Benghazi (see 1.29pm), who claimed foreign mercenaries, apparently from Chad and Sudan, were taking part in the crackdown.
Libyan security forces opened fire on mourners at a funeral for anti-government protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi again Sunday, a day after commandos and foreign mercenaries loyal to longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi pummeled demonstrators with assault rifles and other heavy weaponry as well as knives. A doctor at one city hospital said he counted 200 dead in his morgue alone since unrest began six days ago.
The latest violence in the flashpoint city of Benghazi followed the same pattern as the crackdown on Saturday, when witnesses said forces loyal to Gadhafi attacked mourners at a funeral for anti-government protesters. The doctor at a Benghazi hospital said at least one person was killed by gunshots during the funeral march, and 14 were injured, including five in serious condition. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
A quick comment on Morocco.
MAROC : Au moins 5.000 manifestants ont défilé dans le centre de la capitale, Rabat, selon les évaluations de journalistes de Reuters. Certains participants agitaient des drapeaux tunisiens et égyptiens, référence aux révolutions qui viennent de chasser du pouvoir les présidents Zine ben Ali et Hosni Moubarak. "Le peuple rejette une Constitution faite pour des esclaves!", "A bas l'autocratie!", scandaient les protestataires qui demandent également pour certains le départ du Premier ministre, Abbas el Fassi. Aucune attaque directe contre le roi n'a, en revanche, été relevée dans les slogans ou sur les banderoles des manifestants.In speaking with friends and the like in Casablanca, I don't believe here we have anything like the other countries. First, there seems to be a large Islamist / Salafi face / presence in the organisation and demos (per what I saw as well), and a number of demands are religio-political (remove reference of King as Amir Al Muminine from constitution). Nevertheless, the critiques of Abbas El Fassi have much wider appeal, as he seems to be widely detested as an incompetent, featherbedder who has placed a staggering number of members of his own family into positions of government. This has begun to deeply irritate even the middle class, as said members of the family are not particularly distinguishing themselves are very competent.
Nevertheless, a substantial difference from say Egypt, El Fassi was genuinely elected in ... well not magnificently clean elections, but not the total farce of the Egyptian elections. Unfortunately the party system in Morocco is seriously bankrupt and desperately needs renewal.
As an example (one can translate I suppose via Google or some such, I haven't the time), an email forwarded by a close associate of mine in the financial sector, and which has widely circulated in those circles (it lists the relatives - blood or immediate marriage - of El Fassi that were appointed in the current government in recognisable posts):
Subject: المغرب الفاسي
عباس الفاسي : وزير أول
نزار بركة : زوج ابنة عباس : وزير وزارة غريبة وزارة الشؤون العامة
علي الفاسي الفهري : رئيس الكرة، رئيس مكتب الماء، رئيس مكتب الكهرباء
الطيب الفاسي الفهري : وزير الخارجية
عثمان الفاسي الفهري : المدير العام للشركة الوطنية للطرق السيارة بالمغرب
ابن الطيب، الصبي ابراهيم الفاسي : رئيس مؤسسة اماديوس التي تضخ فيها الدولة الملايير
ياسمينة بادو : وزيرة الصحة ،زو جة علي الفاسي الفهري
يونس المشرافي : رئيس المغربية للألعاب، زوج ابنة عباس الفاسي الثانية
ابن عباس الفاسي : مدير قناة الاخبارية وعمره لا يتجاوز 24 عاماً
ابن عباس الفاسي الصغير : النائب الثالث لعمدة الدارالبيضاء ومنسق حزب الفاسيين
لينا الفاسي : ابنة عباس الفاسي، 23 عاماً مديرة ديوان وزير الدولة اليازغي
أسامة الودغيري : ابن أخت عباس الفاسي”مدام زكية” : مدير الشركة الوطنية للنقل واللوجستيك
اخت اسامة الودغيري : زوجة منير الشرايبي، والي مراكش السابق
دواوين الوزارات : مليئة بلقب الفاسي زائد الفهري كالطفيليات
زينب الفاسي الفهري : بنت أخت عباس الفاسي وأخت الطيب الفاسي وعلي الفاسي تترأس منصب مديرة الشوؤون العامة في وزارة التجارة الخارجية
أحمد الفاس ي الفهري : المدير العام للبريد : بريد سيرفيس
This is an issue that very much does need to be addressed.
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Glad to see you returned to the blog.
I will note that Gaddafi was close to Ceaucescu, who tried to bring in foreign fighters to save himself (no time) and the old dictator of Zaire brought in a murderous collection of Serb mercenaries in his final days. Does not seem to help much, as Machiavelli advised.
Posted by: Zenpundit at February 20, 2011 10:45 PM