neo-pangaea

@neo-pangaea
Hello. I'm Jamila El-Gizuli. My thoughts that go beyond 140 characters will end up here.
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Tripoli, scapegoats and collateral damage

Urban warfare is the ugliest of all. It’s bloody and unpredictable. In 1989, my family and I fled Baku, Azerbaijan as violence escalated in and around Nagorno - Karabakh. I am sure the situation then is not comparable to what is taking place in Tripoli these days, but I’d like to think of it as a mini urban warfare. Charged with fervent ethnic emotions, snipers targeted innocent civilians peaking out of their windows or standing on their balconies at night. Neighbours I’ve known were killed. Memories of having to huddle with two Azeri girls in the bathtub when gunshots were penetrating walls of buildings are still vivid. When and how violence would end was everyone’s guess.

Now in 2011, I can only imagine what the residents of Tripoli must be going through. My two main concerns are the following:

First, the innocent civilians (women, children and elderly) who are unarmed and unprotected probably hiding in their houses, or God forbid injured and bedridden in hospitals, unable to depart them due to the fear of being targeted and retaliated against by pro-Qaddafi snipers. I will not underestimate their ability nor capability especially after the appearance of Saif Al-Islam yesterday roaming Tripoli’s streets, arrogant and defiant as usual, while thumbing his nose at the word and telling the world, and the ICC which boasted his capture a day ago, “tooz" (an impolite word in colloquial Arabic for "whatever" at its best and "get lost or screw yourself at its worst). Wouldn’t be the first time Saif Al-Islam or his father uses it. 

Second, the journalists stranded in Rixos hotel in Tripoli. If the reports are credible and they are surrounded by Qaddafi’s armed supporters, I pray they are not used as scapegoats when the mess hits the fan. 

We all know that in any sort of civilian unrest there is collateral damage, whether civilian or infrastructural. I just pray its more of the latter than the former. The rebels and NATO personnel must take utmost precaution in announcing any advances/retreats/captures unless they are 100% authentic. Conflicting news that are uttered to gain applause can have detrimental effects on the grounds as well as on the people’s morale.

I, for one, was disheartened to see Saif Al-Islam flipping his victory sign following his “detention” and moreover disappointed that his half-brother, Mohammed Al-Qaddafi, escaped, according to Aljazeera channel. 

JE

This is a beautiful photo of Tripoli, the capital of Libya. I am sure that the image of this building overlooking the sea is often seen on various news channels. Tripoli is called in Arabic, طرابلس الغرب, or Tripoli of the West to distinguish it from Tripoli in Lebanon. I noticed with the advent of the rebels some refer to its as طرابلس العرب, Tripoli of the Arabs (the only change is one letter) to signify the stand of the Arab Street with the uprising and as an inspiration to the revolutions currently taking place in Yemen and Syria. 
I find symbolism in Arabic language during the Arab Spring to be fascinating. From slogans, signs, billboards to names given to days of popular disobedience as well as operations.
The most recent operation to enter Tripoli has been called Operation “Mermaid Dawn.” It is a misnomer. Mermaid is a silly name for an operation. It’s fairy-like, fictional and does not convey the intended massage of the rebels. The word “mermaid” in Arabic is عروس البحر, literally translated as the bride of the sea. Tripoli has always been called by Libyans the Bride of the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, the operation is actually the “Dawn of the Bride of the Sea”, i.e. Tripoli.
It is insignificant how the name of the operation was translated, but the incident is representative of many other more significant cultural issues that get lost in translation. Traditions, norms, patterns of thinking and behavior in the MENA must be approached delicately and with reference to history, culture and again language.
To Tripoli, the Bride of the Sea, stay strong! Your dawn is here!

JE

This is a beautiful photo of Tripoli, the capital of Libya. I am sure that the image of this building overlooking the sea is often seen on various news channels. Tripoli is called in Arabic, طرابلس الغرب, or Tripoli of the West to distinguish it from Tripoli in Lebanon. I noticed with the advent of the rebels some refer to its as طرابلس العرب, Tripoli of the Arabs (the only change is one letter) to signify the stand of the Arab Street with the uprising and as an inspiration to the revolutions currently taking place in Yemen and Syria. 

I find symbolism in Arabic language during the Arab Spring to be fascinating. From slogans, signs, billboards to names given to days of popular disobedience as well as operations.

The most recent operation to enter Tripoli has been called Operation “Mermaid Dawn.” It is a misnomer. Mermaid is a silly name for an operation. It’s fairy-like, fictional and does not convey the intended massage of the rebels. The word “mermaid” in Arabic is عروس البحر, literally translated as the bride of the sea. Tripoli has always been called by Libyans the Bride of the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, the operation is actually the “Dawn of the Bride of the Sea”, i.e. Tripoli.

It is insignificant how the name of the operation was translated, but the incident is representative of many other more significant cultural issues that get lost in translation. Traditions, norms, patterns of thinking and behavior in the MENA must be approached delicately and with reference to history, culture and again language.

To Tripoli, the Bride of the Sea, stay strong! Your dawn is here!

JE

Search for Qaddafi: House to House, Zanga to Zanga

In the last hour, Facebook, Twitter and main media outlets are bombarding us with conflicting news of Qaddafi’s whereabouts. 

Here are some of those reports:

  1. Tripoli: He’s been captured in the capital along with his sons. Mohamed, his son has surrendered and Saif Al-Islam has been captured. No video footage or photos have been released till this moment and reports of Qaddafi’s capture have not yet been confirmed nor verified. A Dutch friend of mine says local news in the Netherlands say “ICC PROSECUTOR’S SPOKESWOMAN SAYS HAS CONFIRMATION GADDAFI HAS BEEN DETAINED.” Qaddafi the father or Qaddafi the son … je ne sais pas… *UPDATE: Saif Al-Islam is the one detained*
  2. Algeria: Qaddafi has managed to flee to Algeria. His three speeches in the past 24 hours are pre-recorded, said a spokesman of TNC on Al-Jazeera Arabic citing Qaddafi’s appeal to areas already captured by rebels. David Ignatius made reference to previous reports on money transfers to Algeria by the Qaddafi regime. This is plausible, as I mentioned before. Will it be his final destination? I’m not sure. It seems that he will be better off in Zimbabwe provided his flee is done in the midst of the chaos currently enveloping Tripoli.
  3. Libyan Desert: Lastly, a couple of towns in the Libyan desert are residence to Qaddafi’s tribe, the Qaddadifa, and he may seek refuge there, again to continue his flight outside Libyan territory, most probably south-bound.

Whichever the case may be, search for Qaddafi will continue, using his own words “house to house, zanga to zanga (zanga is colloquial for neighbourhood)” until he is captured and held accountable for his acts. 

JE

Qaddafi choosing Tunisia over Zimbabwe?

When I clicked the link titled “Gadhafi making plans for leaving Libya,” I expected the final destination to be Zimbabwe given the warm relationship Qaddafi maintains with Mugabe who dubs France, Italy and other Western countries “vampires” and has recently called the NATO a “terrorist group.”

It seemed as an expected outcome. First, Zimbabwean sources reported on several occasions that Zimbabwean soldiers were serving as mercenaries in Libya (I guess that means it has been with Mugabe’s approval). Second, Zimbabwe is a safe refuge to the former Ethiopian officer of the Dergue, Mengistu Haile Mariam and is purported to harbor the Hutu extremist Major Protais Mpiranya. So far Mugabe refused to extradite either despite the international pressure it is subjected to. Third, there were leaks at the onset of the Libyan revolution that Qaddafi had already decided to flee to Zimbabwe.

But the subtitle of NBC’s news piece declared Tunisia as Qaddafi’s destination “within days” according to “U.S. officials … citing intelligence reports.”

As irrational and unpredictable as Qaddafi can be, recent developments in Libya and Tunisia will equate such a decision to pitiful surrender. Dr. Juan Cole dismissed the viability of such an action outlining the following reasons:

 

1. While Qaddafi might be willing to flee Tripoli, I’m not sure he has it in his cantankerous old soul to go into exile abroad.

2. Tunisia would not want him. He opposed the Tunisian revolution and had had members of the Ben Ali government on retainer. When I was in Tunisia this summer I found that most Tunisians to whom I spoke were afraid of Qaddafi and tended to support the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, even if some opposed NATO intervention. There would be a danger of him intriguing with tribal supporters in Libya from Tunisia, which would be a huge headache for the latter.

3. The Transitional National Council would not accept Qaddafi’s presence right next door, from which he could do mischief, nor his residence on the soil of a friendly neighbor.

4. Tunisia has joined the International Criminal Court. Since the ICC has indicted Qaddafi for war crimes, as a signatory Tunisia would be constrained to turn him over to the Hague for trial. 

If I were to bet on Qaddafi’s safe haven, I wouldn’t risk my moolah on Zimbabwe. We must not forget that leaving Libya by sea or air can and will be easily detected. But it is not as easy a task with an escape through land routes, especially in the Sahara.

The next possible option is Algeria. Friendly, accessible by land routes, and, although a signatory of the Rome Statute since 2000, it did not ratify it.

Regardless of Qaddafi’s destination and legitimacy of the sources that U.S. intelligence consulted, NBC’s report, if it reaches his clique and the residents of Tripoli, can have detrimental results. Think of it as an old fashioned propaganda tactic. Either, the rats of Qaddafi’s regime start to escape the madman’s ship realizing that they are in a rat race, or the residents of the capital muster courage to take to the streets and support the rebels. Whichever the scenario, I pray Qaddafi’s end is nigh.


JE

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