Monday, March 21, 2011

Libya 101

I have been very happy with the number of questions I receive when I wear my "Free Libya" button (which is all the time!). I've decided that I'm going to share with you the questions I’ve gotten and my responses over the last month:

“Are you Libyan?”
Yes, I was born in Libya, to Libyan parents. I came from Darneh (in the far east) where my father’s family is located, but I grew up in Bengazi, where my mother’s family is located. I also lived in Tripoli, where my parents were both teachers in schools and where I attending a British private school for three years. We came to the US when I was 7 so my parents can continue their education but received political asylum and became labeled as refugees by the US government since my parents participated in several anti-Gaddafi events. Most of my family lives in Darneh, Bengazi and Tripoli.

"Why are the rebels fighting?"
First of all, they are not "rebels" despite what the media is calling them. They are actually "revolutionaries" and here is the difference:
*A rebel is a participant in a rebellion; or more generally, someone who resists authority.
*A revolutionary is a person who either actively participates in, or advocates revolution. A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.
The Libyan people that are fighting the Gaddafi regime are revolutionaries, since they are actually trying to create a democratic change in Libya, not just resisting “authority”.
Now, the question of why the fighting can be explained in three simple words: Libyans want democracy. Libyans have been under the same ruler for 42 years and let me show you what that time line means. While Gaddafi was in power, the US went through these presidents: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Regan (twice), Bush, Clinton (twice), Bush (twice) and Obama. Say what you want about those presidents and what they did to the US while being Democratic or Republican, but they were all different and brought different opinions and events to the White House. And they each were elected into power. Gaddafi, not so much.

“Why is it called a Libyan Civil War?”
This is another misuse of a media loving catch phrase “civil war,” which is a war between organized groups within the same nation. The correct word is Libyan Revolution, since the only divisions that are fighting in Libya are the Libyans who want Gaddafi out (99.9999999% of the population) vs. Gaddafi and his family (.0000001%). Pre dating the Libyan Revolution, the total number of the Libyan Armed Forces (the Libyan Army, Libyan Air Force and the Libyan Navy) personnel was estimated at 119,000, but that number shrank significantly when they were asked to fight against their own people have defected and joined the revolutionaries. It has been proven over and over, by reputable news sources, that when caught, the only people that are fighting against the Libyan people are mercenaries who are paid to do so.

“How is the No Fly Zone going to help?”
The revolutionaries are not trained to be soldiers. These are men and women that have never picked up a gun and had no training in using machine guns (some even accidently killing fellow revolutionaries). They were lawyers, students, factory workers, etc that have simply had enough of being ruled by a tyrant. Gaddafi has been flying in mercenaries from Chad, Niger and other parts of Africa to fight the Libyan people and paying them. He is also assaulting towns from the air. By imposing no fly zone, the Arab League and United Nations Security Council are giving a tremendous help to the revolutionaries by giving them a hand to fight a fair fight.

“We don’t want to owe China for another war like in Iraq and Afghanistan”
Trust me, I pay my taxes just like you do and I have to go to the gas pump just like you do. I don’t want foreign intervention in Libya, just as the Libyans do not want foreign intervention in Libya. They do not want “boots on the ground” they just need help getting the planes out of the sky. Freedom always tastes sweeter when you cook the meal yourself. Libyans want to fight this battle and get rid of Gaddafi on their own. Giving them a no-fly zone has only been the help they have been asking for, for the last 31 days. Time will tell if this is going to work, but we owe it to humanity to stop a leader from trying to annihilate the second largest city he governs.

“Americans are worried about how this (the revolutions in the Middle East) will effect the Israeli nation”
American should not be worried about how these changes affect Israel; Americans should be working to create a change in Israel itself. President Obama stood in the shadows of the Egyptian pyramids on June 2009 and asked that Palestinians and Israelis to end their conflict and that US does not support “continued Israeli settlements” in the Occupied Territories, yet it is still continuing to do so. He also asked Israel to stop the blockage of Gaza, since the “the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security” yet the blockage is still there. Yes, Israel should be worried about what is happening around them, because the Arab nations are demanding democracy in their countries. This might lead into Israel being pushed into creating one also, something it refused to do, since it would mean acknowledging the votes, and the rights, of the Palestinians living there.

“What is the next step? Isn’t the unknowing of what comes after Gaddafi scary? What if someone worse takes over?”
Libyans have already lived in hell, and they will not go back to this way of life, ever. Once Benghazi escaped out from underneath’s Gaddafi thumb the first thing they did was create an Interim Transitional National Council. Within days, this council restored order in hospitals, restarted trash pick up services, reopened businesses, started two radio stations and published a newspaper. When Gaddafi took power in 1969, he eliminated all forms of free speech, along with all non-profit organizations to create a country run by fear. This caused many Libyans to flee the country and live aboard. But once Libya is free, thousands will return to help build the new Libya, and they will bring with them the knowledge of what it means to live in a free society. It can not get worse because Libyans will not allow this, just as the Germans have never seen another Hitler.

“Is al-Qaeda helping the revolutionaries?”
No, al-Qaeda is not in Libya. This is another lie from Gaddafi who is trying to distract the American people while he is slaughtering his own people. There are no tribal wars, there are no hallucinogenic drugs and the only rats that are in Libya are part of the Gaddafi family. This man is not rational and will say or do anything to stay in power. The reason he is doing this is to make sure his son, Saif, takes over if he agrees to leave. If Saif is in power, then he is safe and no trials of what he has done can be brought forth against him.

"What is what is happening in Libya so important to the region?"
The Libyan Revolutionaries are trying to bring democracy into Libya. They want the regime out so that they can vote and take part into who will be their ruler. Just as the American Revolutionaries wanted to change who was governing them, what is happening in Libya can be used as a prime example of the need to be self governing. But if we as Americans truly want democracy to be a part of the Middle East, now is the time to show our support of these ideals.

“Now that the No-Fly Zone is being implemented, what is the next step?”
The rest of the world needs to band together and acknowledge that Interim Transitional National Council is the only form of representation of the people of Libya. France has already done this and the rest of the world now needs to follow suit.

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