Tag Archives: news

Qadhafi’s Defectors

Recent headlines include:

Libya’s most senior diplomat in the United States, Ali Aujali, has criticised Colonel Gaddafi’s regime in a BBC interview

Libya’s envoy to the Arab League, Abdel Moneim al-Honi, announced he was “joining the revolution”.

Justice Minister Mustapha Abdul Jalil quit the government because of the “excessive use of violence”, the Quryna newspaper said.

from Guardian Newspaper 26 February 2011

“The encouragement of defections and the threat of punishment to come for those who use deadly force seem, as William Hague stresses the best instruments…”

Encouraging defections may be a reasonable tactic but the final end must justify the means. Encouragement should not include amnesties against future prosecution for crimes.  These defectors were appointed by Qadhafi and had no qualms about the plight of their own people for decades.  They defect only for their own interests and survival, not from morality or feelings for the Libyan people. They may hopefully receive fair payment for defection when handed over to a future regime. If the prospect of that happening terrifies them then, fair enough, they earned it.


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Pro Gadaffi Demonstrations

We don’t seem to get good information in the news reports on the scale of the pro-Gadaffi demonstrations.  For what it’s worth, over the period 1974-1982, I occasionally witnessed the pro-Gadaffi demonstrations or anti- everybody else demonstrations that took place frequently in Green Square, Tripoli.   A few dozen men were crammed into a corner of the square in front of a camera.  Later that day you would see them on the TV looking as if there were hundreds of them.  A good sound recording of the current demos would be useful as that used to give away that there were not all that many people taking part. A really big crowd makes a sound that fewer people can not produce regardless of the sound volume. It was also noticeable that they were having to be herded and directed like film extras, and perhaps that is more what they were than committed supporters. The rumour was that they were herded there from a nearby factory.  Demonstrate or lose your job.




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Bid for QADAFFI ! going, going,…

“Pick a window, yer leaving”

Do you remember PANAM Flight 103?  Certainly.

Do you remember the people of LOCKERBIE?  Probably.

Do you remember PC YVONNE FLETCHER?  Hopefully.

Do you remember a Berlin Disco bombing?  Perhaps

Do you remember UTA Flight 772 bombing?  Probably not.

Do you remember the invasion of Chad? Probably not.

Do you remember the Libyans bombed in 1986? Probably not.

Do you remember the ‘disappeared’ Libyans?  How can you?


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I used to visit Libya from time to time for work, between mid 1970s and early 80’s.  I wrote the following very short piece (650 words) about 30 years ago and just left it in a notebook.  It was going to be the first chapter of a thriller that I was going to write and get rich quick!  Once you read it you will see why that never happened! But the tiny episode does give a flavour of Tripoli around 1975.  The recent events in Egypt prompted me to read it again and post it.

The character Ray in the story was a real person , a Canadian ex military ner do well who for his sins was working for a geotechnical company in Tripoli.  I do not remember his real name but I hope it was not Ray Holson.  I encountered the real Ray over a three week period in Benghazi.

The description of the Azizia Barracks is probably no longer true. They were bombed in 1986.  In the mid 1970’s the Tripoli airport terminal building that I remember was a big corrugated steel shed.    When the packed full BA planes took off for Gatwick every passenger (a mix of businessmen, oil workers, engineers) spontaneously cheered and drinks were being served before the plane was 200 feet high and when still steeply rising.

The current photographs in the news show Col Gaddafi in his traditional flowing robes.   He is supposed to have mellowed with age.  Or is he still as he clearly saw himself on the postage stamps that I have from the 70’s?

If you read the latest news Gaddafi is threatening certain ‘opposition’ groups from supporting rumoured demonstrations in Libya “Day of Rage” on 17th Feb. His threats seem directed towards Benghazi . I learned by word of mouth thirty-five years ago (and it seems still to be true) that Gaddafi has his support in Tripoli and Sirte, while the people of Benghazi in Cyrene would be glad to be rid of him.  42 years has been a long time to wait.  It will be interesting to see if there are disturbances in Benghazi.

The coastal plain of Libya is a very interesting place with Mediterranean climate, long beaches, olive groves and excellent Roman ruins so it could be a great tourist destination.  The people I met in the countryside were generally polite and friendly, while those in Tripoli especially the petty officials were the reverse.

Have you got a big yard with space for a very large tent and parking for a few limousines and tanks?  If so, why don’t you give him a call and give the poor Libyans some respite?

Episode 1

Tripoli, Libya (1975)

“Achmed, stop blasting that horn!”

Achmed’s entire body flinched and he instantly obeyed. As compensation he thrust his mangy head out of his side window and roared abuse at a stray woman crossing in front. Swaddled in a white baracan and under Allah’s protection, the stooped ghost shuffled through the battle worn Fiats and Peugeots, each car jostling to gain a few inches on its neighbour. The traffic did not flow. It moved in fits of high-revving pauses, sudden lunges, and squeals. The only steady flow came from the constant metallic bleat of horns.  Like a flock of rust-dipped sheep the traffic made its stupid progress. There was no traffic shepherd, no collie. Drivers’ arms languidly stretched from windows, rose to threaten and curse, drooped to cajole or concede.  Achmed hunched back over the wheel and the VW truck forced its way forward. Only when they were clear of the worst of the chaos did he turn to steal a glance at his glowering companion.

Ray Holson sat stiffly at the opposite end of the tattered bench seat. Short spikey grey hair bristled above his sunbeaten brow and broken nose. Where his eyebrows should have been the skin was scarred and almost bare. His reddish face looked puffed and bruised.  By appearance he could have been a fading boxer between lost fights, of below average height but heavy boned and strong .

Ray was troubled by something more than traffic. After two years based in Tripoli, he was accustomed to the driving conditions.  He yelled above the clackety engine.

‘You’re sure they didn’t say why they want to see me?’

‘No, Mr. Ray, just that you must report to Azizia barracks at once. I tell you this before two, three times.’

Ray cast a cold eye over his subordinate level ‘fixer’ but could detect nothing from his dingy features.  He slumped against his door and became immersed in anxiety.

The Azizia barracks sit stolidly in the southern suburbs. It is a secure residential fortress for top army and police officials and government, those being one and the same. Facing onto the airport road, it is convenient for shopping sorties to Paris, bank runs to Zurich, clubbing binges in London and hospital care in Moscow; and, when the game is up, for a final exile from  rope and bullet. To the casual passer-by the barracks consists of a very high grey concrete wall that runs alongside the airport road for 300 metres. Dense coils of rusting razor wire top the wall. The only visible entrance is sealed by an enormous green door of steel plate, blank as the hull of a ship.

As Ray’s truck approached he saw two soldiers in ill-fitting green uniforms lounging in the shadows under the wall, Russian rifles slung carelessly over their shoulders.  At the sound of a slowing vehicle the sentries stirred, unslung their weapons and pointed them at the windshield. Achmed stopped the truck and they stepped forward. The younger soldier sauntered around behind the truck, pausing to decipher the Arabic words hand-painted below the printed sign on the side, ‘Geotechnic Exploration Inc,, Shara Nassim, Tripoli 2432′. Achmed leant out of the window and talked quietly with the second man. As they spoke Achmed turned to Ray several times and the sentry followed his example, staring intently into Ray’s face.  Moving closer to the door he waved Achmed back from the window, leaned in through the open window and carefully inspected the sand and fly laden cemetery of the cabin. Then he took their papers and walked over to a telephone mounted on the wall. After several minutes he hung up, glanced across to his companion, returned his nod and turning towards the wall he snapped out an order. The suburban fortress silently obeyed. The green steel split and slowly opened outwards from the wall.  The truck crept inside. The huge doors reversed quickly until almost shut but just at the last moment paused, as if for a final breath of fresh air, then sealed with a trembling clash.


End of Part 1  من جانب آخر


Filed under History, Politics, Stories, Travel

Local Evening News

Local Evening News

Good ev’ning all

Thank you for tuning in

Here’s the local news

To end your week

To make you cry

To make you weep


In Breaking News

You heard it here!

Millions are dead

Billions in fear!


Later in a

Local snippet

A cat was eaten

By a whippet


But first right now

Don’t go away

The weather with

Our Cindy Day..


“Good ev’ning all

For us next week

It will be bad

It will be bleak


With snow and sleet

And freezing rain

Good chance of floods

And hurricane”


Thank you Cindy

Now moving on..

This, about Gnus

They are on strike

In German zoos


Our leader says

By next July

We’ll all be happy

And pigs will fly


Let’s go outside

Our reporter

Is standing there

In her new coat

And fresh glued hair


Yes thank you Steve

It’s getting dark

That’s all from me

Here in the park


Great work now back

More breaking noos

It’s back to work

For those Gnus


After the break

We’ll be right back

For an update

About the park


Later we’ll have

The man who’s role

Is filling in

A new pot hole


But first we must

Go back outside

For the latest

Word on the tide


Yes thank you Steve

It’s rising more

Now back to you

From by the shore


Over here Steve

It’s nearly dark

So back to you

From in the park


Great work you both

That’s very clear

Remember folks

You heard it here!




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