Category: News

A Case for the ‘Responsibility to Rebuild’ (R2R)

I’ve written a paper for the Boston University International Law Journal, entitled: “NATO’s Libya Intervention and the Continued Case for a ‘Responsibility to Rebuild'” (Summer 2013, Vol 31, No. 2, p 365-386)

The abstract is here:

This article evaluates the success of the 2011 NATO campaign in Libya relative to the emergent and fragile doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (“R2P”).  The paper argues that, while the Libya intervention may have met  formal R2P consensus criteria, the overall success of the operation has been undermined by the failure of the international community to complement international military action with robust assistance in critical areas, including disarmament, national reconciliation and employment generation.  Collectively, these constitute a Responsibility to Rebuild (“R2R”).  This article cites developments in Libya and Syria to suggest that, despite the attendant complexities, some version of R2R is essential to continued relevance of R2P. 


Tripoli Witness

Rana Jawad’s Tripoli Witness (Gilgamesh, 2011) is a fast and unconventionally assembled, but very interesting read, which contains some valuable insights into Gaddafi’s feints at reform, and the origins of the revolution itself.  More skillfully than most, Jawad drives home the long-term damage done to Libyan people by Gaddafi’s rule, the national apathy that Gaddafi’s repression generated, and the contradictory Libyan revolutionary calculus, i.e., despite what pain might be forthcoming– and was forthcoming– and the real possibility that the revolution might fail in several of its key goals, practically anything was be better than living the stunted, subsistence existence Gaddafi afforded them.

What is striking about Jawad’s own story, which overshadows much of the rest of the material,  is her patience and courage,  as evidenced most clearly by her willingness to risk her life to blog bits of what was happening within Libya in 2011 to the outside world.  Almost as impressive is how she wound up in Libya in the first place– a novice 22-year old reporter convinces the BBC to make her its Libya correspondent, and evolves into a seasoned war reporter.  Jawad describes the “reform years” (2004-2010) and the ruses that both Gaddafi and his sons engaged in, to, as she puts it, beat external human rights auditors to the punch. She suggests Gaddafi and his sons likely had a good idea  before his brutal murder, that he (Gaddafi) had played his cards horribly wrong.

I would have liked to read more about what drew Jawad to Libya in the first place, how she felt about the changes underway from 2004-2010, (and to what degree she saw the revolution coming). Ms. Jawad has more material and insight to draw upon than any other journalist who has covered Libya, and Tripoli Witness offers only a taste of this. The book provides a series of primers on various aspects of Gaddafi’s screwed up universe, from the security services and lijan atthowriyya (Revolutionary Committees), to monumental projects such as the Great Man Made River — which was actually something of a white elephant, an a health hazard at that — and biographical sketches of the Gaddafi progeny.  She states Saif had his hands deeply in the mid-Feburary crackdown, but doesn’t provide much additional information on what might be true, and what was rumor.

Ms. Jawad devotes a very entertaining chapter to the Leader’s speech ritual, which Gaddafi forced diplomats and journalists alike to endure on a regular basis.  I recall vividly watching with admiration from the rafters, as she castigated one of Gaddafi’s security personnel in the middle of one of his interminable speeches, for confiscating her camera. The blogs themselves are very interesting, but seem a bit of an afterthought to the main part of the book, even though her experiences writing them are supposedly the focus of the book.

The book is available in print in the UK, and in e-book form via Amazon.



Benghazi Report

The results of an independent inquiry into the U.S. response to the Benghazi outpost attack were released yesterday.

A NYT article can be found HERE

…and a U.S State Department report can be downloaded HERE. [PDF]

“Al Hayat” Posits Tacit Government Support for Assassinations

An article published in the Pan Arab “Al Hayat” Nov. 24 describes a view current in Libya that the months-long series of murders of senior security officials, most of which remain unsolved, is a part of a ‘planned’ conspiracy by elements within the Libyan transitional administration to eliminate potential rivals– individuals in senior security-related roles, who also had some influence in the previous regime.

The killing by three unknown gunman on Nov 20th of Faraj Ad-darsi, director of security for Benghazi region, was estimated to be the 20th such assassination since the killing of former Rebel commander Abdel Fattah Younes, in Benghazi, in late July, 2011. At the same time, the article supposes that there are still many elements within the East with strong sympathies to the previous regime, who are themselves working to undermine stability. Just as there are militias, secular and Islamic, who perceive their interests best served by staving off centralized control and extension of the influence of the Libyan police and army.

Nov. 10 News Roundup

Five nominees to Libyan PM Ali Zidan’s cabinet requested to withdraw their nominations, pending an expected decision on their cases by an Integrity Committee regarding possible corruption or human rights abuses committed during the Gaddafi years. The existence and ‘non-transparency’ of this unelected commission has been the subject of strong internal debate.

The new government has proposed a series of laws circumscribing the conditions under which popular protests may be held — which is understandably causing strong concern re: the limits to free speech in the New Libya (after a period in which, others counter, there has been a bit ‘too much’ free speech).

61 Libyan Parliamentarians have put forth a formal request for the GNC HQ to be transferred to Al Beida in the East, formally for ‘security’ reasons, after several militia attacks on the GNC compound, and in the midst of a week that saw the worst militia fighting in Tripoli in many months.

Abdallah Senusssi (former Libyan head of intelligence, extradited back to Libya by the Mauritanian government), recently provided Libyan authorities the location of a villa containing the remains of two individuals, including Mansour Al Kikhia, one of the most prominent anti-Gaddafi dissidents, kidnapped in 1993 in Cairo. Another high-profile ‘missing’ case is that of Lebanese Shiite Imam Musa Al Sadr, who disappeared during a visit to Tripoli in 1978. Senussi denies involvement in the deaths of either individual (Asharq Al Awsat). The NTC handed over a body to Lebanese authorities in early Summer, 2012, asserting it was that of al Sadr. Lebanese authorities say DNA tests proved otherwise (al Arabiya).

The formal inquest into the death of former Rebel Commander Abdelfattah Younes has been postponed until February, in part due to questions as to whether or not Mustafa Abdeljalil, former NTC head, would appear in person to testify.

Libyan President Mohammed Al Megaryaf, claimed in a late August interview on the Al Jazeera program ‘bi la hudud’ (without borders) that it was a Gaddafi policy to infect political prisoners with HIV, and that Gaddafi was responsible for a drastic rise in the number of HIV cases since the late 90s.