With thanks to Donna Ross, Senior Account Manager, Frasermedia Ltd.
An Aberdeen-based well engineering and project management company has marked five years in business by opening new
bases across the globe to meet growing demand.
Zenith Energy, which provides a range of services to the oil and gas sector within the UK and internationally through its Aberdeen headquarters, has opened offices in Abu Dhabi and Perth, Australia, following contract wins with major names in the industry.
The specialist firm has built its client base to more than 34, with continued repeat business, since its establishment in 2012, going from a two-man business, to a global organisation employing 23 people.
The firm provides specialist expertise for the complete well life cycle from the conceptual design phases through to field development planning, well operations, well intervention and well abandonments, using both rig and rig-less solutions.
During the first quarter of 2017 Zenith expanded its client base and successfully completed work in the UK, Italy and Equatorial Guinea for new and existing clients.
All projects were delivered on time and on budget, with zero HSE accidents or incidents showcasing the company’s ability to deliver the correct technical and commercial solution for our clients.
Managing director of Zenith Energy, Martin Booth (pictured), said:
“Zenith Energy was set up with the intention of creating an Independent Well Engineering and Wells Project management company, and over the years we have diversified our services to meet demand.
“We have experienced the highs and lows of oil price and one of the longest, worst recessions in the oil industry that most of us remember. However, five years later we are still here, growing and developing our company and capabilities.
“We are now looking forward to the next five years from a position of strength in the market and an ability to deliver in a low cost environment.”
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With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.
VisitAberdeenshire is teeing up for success by heading Stateside to showcase Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s world-class golf facilities to a global audience.
The tourism organisation will visit the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando from 24-27 January – one of the world’s biggest golf shows – where they will meet with key industry professionals in a bid to boost the region’s golf tourism trade.
The trip is the latest initiative in VisitAberdeenshire’s drive to increase golf tourism in the north east of Scotland, following sponsorship of the Northern Ireland Open last year.
Jenni Fraser (pictured), business development manager at VisitAberdeenshire, says,
“Golf has long been one of the biggest draws for visitors to the north east, attracting both leisure and business tourists throughout the year.
“Holidaymakers looking to play at some of the world’s most famous links courses, and business visitors using the fairways for networking and incentive travel, have lots to discover in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
“Golf is worth around £220 million to the Scottish economy every year, and it is estimated that golfers spend 120% more than other visitors. With such fantastic facilities in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, there is a real opportunity for local golf courses and tourism businesses to capitalise on and benefit from that income.
“By attending the PGA Merchandise Show – a major event in the golf world – we’ll be able to communicate the strength of the offering that we have here in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to hundreds of key contacts.”
Research commissioned by Scottish Golf Tourism and VisitScotland shows that Scotland is third on a list of desirable golfing destinations across the globe (#1 Spain, #2 Portugal, #5 Ireland, #9 England).
“The north east of Scotland is home to over 50 top golf courses, including some of the sport’s most recognisable names: Royal Aberdeen, Trump International, Cruden Bay and Newmachar. But it also features some of the UK’s quirkier and more historic courses, including Britain’s highest 18-hole course at Braemar, and Fraserburgh where play dates back to at least 1613.
“Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have something to offer golfers of all levels, whether serious enthusiasts looking to tick a renowned course off their bucket list or casual players seeking a friendly nine-hole challenge. From stunning links courses to incredible inland courses, the north east has it all.”
VisitAberdeenshire will be joined at the PGA Merchandise Show by tour company Bonnie Wee Golf, which creates exclusive golf trips to some of the most exclusive courses in Scotland – including many in the north east – and Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course.
David Harris of Bonnie Wee Golf says,
“For a long time, golf has been a key attraction in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and every year we see golfers coming from America to play some of the most famous courses in the world, right on our doorstep.
“The chance to visit one of the world’s biggest golf exhibitions with VisitAberdeenshire is a fantastic opportunity to network with industry professionals, discuss the sport’s latest developments, and show what we in the north east of Scotland have to offer the global golfing community.”
Andy Burgess of Meldrum House Country Hotel and Golf Course adds,
“We are delighted to be partnering with VisitAberdeenshire and Bonnie Wee Golf at the 2017 PGA Show in Orlando. We have been attending the show for the last seven years, and as a result have welcomed hundreds of American golfers to stay at Meldrum House to play golf around the north east.
“Attending events like the PGA Show sends out a very positive message and shows that we are serious in developing our international golf market, encouraging as many global visitors as possible to experience golf in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”
The usual satire is suspended temporarily for a look at some of the comments Aberdeen Voice has had about some petitions. By Suzanne Kelly.
Two days ago a petition went live to ban Trump from the UK for hate speech; 5 days before that, a petition to revoke Donald Trump’s honorary degree from RGU was started. I had hoped both petitions might get a little attention. They did.
That they exist is down to many factors; groups like Tripping up Trump, organisations like 38 Degrees, which created, promoted, supported the RGU petition. People like the Menie Estate residents and their experiences are never very far from my thoughts.
The celebrity George Takei (aka Sulu) had written a piece on how he’d never allow a situation like the WWII Japanese internment camps to arise again, and it was very moving.
Lots of protest songs, lots of protest art, and lots of individuals out there fighting their corners with their own petitions across every social ill there is.
I knew I’d have people agree with me; I knew people would condemn me. But I never, never thought RGU would revoke the degree so swiftly; I never thought 75,000 people would ask them to do so.
Not for a second did I think getting 100,000 people to take the time and trouble to sign and then confirm their signatures on the UK ban petition would be easy.
It reached that level within 24 hours of the petition being live, and as I’m writing, over a quarter of a million people want Donald Trump banned for hate speech. This is a huge goal for unity against racism and prejudice, whatever happens. If I could buy every signatory a BrewDog, then I would.
As to people condemning me, Britain First have a pro Donald Trump petition; and plenty of people are sending me / 38 Degrees comments against what’s happened.
Perhaps you’d like to see some of these comments, both good and bad. I’d love to do the usual satire about the Council, I’d love to praise the beauty of the Marischal Square project or the success of the Tree for Every Citizen scheme in establishing a beautiful forest on Tullos Hill. But that will have to wait. I’ve done over 20 phone/tv/radio interviews, and have one at 11:45 tonight.
Normal service will have to resume when things go quieter. For now, enjoy some of the many comments Aberdeen Voice and I have recieved.
It was interesting to see how many people from other countries wish they could have signed the petitions. As Steve Duncan put it:
“I was made aware of your petition to bar Donald Trump from traveling to Great Britain. As a U.S. citizen I’m filled with shame he represents our nation on the national stage in any fashion. I wish there was a way to include non-British signatories to your petition, as a way of impressing upon your Parliment the widespread consternation with Trump’s deplorable policy suggestions and opinions.
“Have you thought of offering an U.S. version of your petition, sort of an addendum to your efforts? Put that petition up in The States and I’ll venture a few hundred thousand would sign on. I certainly don’t want him sullying your grounds.”
Boniface wrote the following; I am trying to figure out if they are better at satire than I’ll ever be, or if they’ve got a point:
“GO TRUMP! BUILD THE WALL! PROTECT WHITE CIVILIZATION! WE STAND WITH YOU!”
You’ve got to respect the use of the capitals; I might not have taken notice of this one otherwise.
“Your just such a typical fucking gobby Middle class British woman who doesn’t like what someone says, about Banning Muslims, if u fully listen to what trump says, it’s to ban them until the visa situation is sorted out so we’re not letting fucking terrorists in, or is that what u want to do? Let “Refugees” into America without knowing who they are, you should just consider yourself a terrorist for that ???? typical middle class women”
– Alas Jamie! You seem to have missed 99% of the other things Trump’s said in the past, and you are slightly misguided: the petition came out before the anti-Muslim quote was even made. But full points on one score; yes, I’m a completely typical middle class woman. If you say so.
A Mr A Dore has this to say. Alas! Like Jamie above, he doesn’t seem to know I am US born.
How dare you interfere with our US politics and how dare you start a petition to refuse entry of D J Trump into the UK. You should mind your own business and realize the treats to your own homeland. My family fought the Muslim hoard in the third Crusade with Richard I and my antecedent Stephan de Longchamp routed Saladin. You seem to forget Islam has sought our Christian and Judaeo destruction for 1,400 years.
“Putin is considering using ICBMs against ISIS which will define exactly what Trump has declared when he put down the gauntlet against Islam. Please retract your stupid Nanny petition and go back to crochet.”
Personally, I’d love to have more time to crochet, sew and paint, but that will come later.
A succinct comment from Wayne M:
“Kelly is a moron,”
“Fuck that bitch Kelly.”
– Ah Wayne, it’s been said before. It’s this kind of structured, intellectual debate that makes writing worth it. Your mum must be very proud indeed.
Someone calling themselves George Bush from Bush City writes:-
“trunp is human and scared just like the rest of you of ISIS so block them from entering any country. Islam is not a christian view religion. duh..!”
– Well, you learn something new every day.
A Ms Josephine Hawk writes:
“Soon to begin – a petition to ban the bitch Suzanne Kelly from the U.S. What happened in Paris and San Bernadino will be coming soon to neighborhood near you if the Muslims have anything to say about it. Remember when they burned cars by the hundreds in France. How is that assimilation working out for you in the U.K.?
“On a recent trip to Britain, I can’t count how many people said that the “country is not theirs anymore”. All you have to do is go to Heathrow to see that. Some of you politically correct mother fuckers need to wake up before it is too late for you.”
– When I find that petition to ban me from the US, I’ll share the link. Did the rest of you know that Heathrow has international people moving through it? I should have been told.
Louis Friend wrote:
“So it’s only freedom of speech when it’s the type of speech you deem to be correct? At the end of the day more people didn’t sign the petition than did. I can’t help but feel there is a vindictive element to this petition, you didn’t stop his “ecological disaster” of a golf course so we will have our round two with this petition. There are actual hate preachers in this country who publicly call for the destruction of Britain.
“Where is you petition for them to be deported and banned? Seems that a rich white male oh and American makes an easier target for the socialist left leaning lunatics. I don’t agree with what Trump said, but I agree that he has a right to say what he thinks If you don’t like it?…change the channel.”
– Yes Louis, I should have given up when I didn’t win the environmental battle, because if at first you don’t win, give up. Free speech is of course the same as saying anyone can say anything they like, whether it incites violence and hatred. Thanks – had thought there was some kind of difference. But some of us socialist left-leaning lunatics are actually American. And white.
And for the record I’ve objected to hate speech wherever it comes from. I should just admit I didn’t save the sand dunes and the Menie environment, sit back and do nothing as someone filled with prejudice gets celebrated with degrees and honours, and who wants to have their finger on the button. Seems a good plan.
The legal expert:
“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
And there you have it, a rich vein of responses. Finally here are one or two I’ll fondly remember:
“Rather than bar him from entering Great Britain, perhaps you could admit him and then immediately send him in exile to one of those tiny little rocky islands far off the coast of Scotland, the ones that are only like twenty by twenty feet or so. Drop food for him every few weeks, but that’s it. He’ll have to stay on his tiny island until he apologizes.
“Please, Britain, you are our ally. Couldn’t you take him off our hands for us here across the pond? The great majority of we Americans do not want Adolph — er I mean Donald over here any longer”
Umm Arif on Facebook wrote:
“Just wanted to say … Thank You and my God bless you. A [A Human, A British, A tax payer (pay 20K+ tax per year and proud of it) / A Muslim] from London. Have a great day!”
– some of the slightly intolerant might want to mull this one over.
Clem Smith on Facebook wrote:
“Oh, man. I just read about the petition you started to keep Trump from entering the UK. I have to say I am so happy to see that! I’m from the US and he is not well-liked here, either. I love that you started that petition! I so hope it is successful! (And I hope you see this message so you know he is not representative of most Americans. In fact, he makes me wish I could move … out of America.)”
Finally, I thought this was very sweet; I leave you with one more from Jane Doe. I knew I’d get abuse; that’s what happens to people who stick their head above the trench. If I get any that is in any way rational, I’ll let you know. I wish there were space for all the many kind words I’m getting. Maybe later.
“Please tell Suzanne Kelly THANK YOU from all rationale, compassionate, emotionally mature, mentally stable, humane Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Green Party members, etc. etc. in the USA that we completely agree with her, are truly appreciative of her petition, would sign it if we lived in the UK, are appalled beyond belief at the utter audacity of Mr. Trump, and view him only as a shameful representation of a dangerous, bigoted, narrow minded sector of our country now given a powerful voice on an international platform.
“While some fear what will unfold during the course of his now violent campaign activities, we now know we have active partners who also see the urgency around condemning and controlling his outrageous behavior.”
Next week – a return to the usual Old Susannah satirical column, unless I’ve been deported, hung, drawn and/or quartered.
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Aberdeen Climate Action are setting up a photography exhibition focused on climate change.With thanks to Erik Dalhuijsen.
Climate change is happening. It is happening now and is having very real consequences on people’s lives over the entire globe.
Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and will cost us even more tomorrow. We need to act now to try and prevent furtherwarming and the devastation that comes with that.
The world’s leading scientists state that there is strong evidence that humans are creating this climate change through their behaviour. If we are creating this problem then we can also be the ones to prevent it getting any worse by modifying that behaviour.
Climate change can be limited, with existing technologies and efforts, but we need to actually make this happen. Positive action is required. We need to send a clear message out to our leaders that we support action to reduce carbon emissions.
People, organisations, companies and governments need to do much more of some things, and much less of some other things. Politically it is often easier to sell doing something new (such as free charging for electric cars), rather than no longer doing something old (such as burning coal or pulping rainforest). But doing more is no longer enough: we also need to do less.
The United Nations are holding their Summit on Climate Change on 23rd September 2014 in New York. Globally people will be speaking out to implore these gathered politicians to take the substantial steps necessary to reduce as much as possible further global warning and its attendant
We want to add our voices to those others campaigning for states to commit to a target and plan to reduce carbon emissions. We would like your help to spread the word and apply pressure on our leaders to do what they can to save this planet and all of us on it.
Aberdeen Climate Action: Photo Exhibition.
The Photo Exhibits will be interspersed with information posters, illustrated with extracts of artwork from Ade Adesina. The exhibition will open in The Belmont Filmhouse Cafe-Bar on Saturday 20 September at 11:00 (entry from 10:30) and will run until October 19.
In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the last part of his four article series.
Libya is an artificial state like much of the Middle East and Africa, carved out in the colonial era of early 20th century by Italy. After independence in 1951 Libya was ruled by a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris, Libya’s only monarch, who presided over an essentially tribal society.
On 1 September 1969, a small group of military officers led by 27-year-old army officer Muammar Qaddafi staged a coup d’état against King Idris, launching the Libyan Revolution.
Following the murder of Qaddafi in October 2011 and the collapse of his allies, the National Transitional Council (NTC) were recognised by the NATO powers at the same time however countries like Cuba and Venezuela who had offered to broker negotiations left their embassy’s in Libya.
The NTC from its outset was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood who are now, of course, out of favour with their erstwhile NATO backers.
In August 2012 a new Assembly was elected dominated again by the Brotherhood as in Morsi’s Egypt or Tunisia. The Muslim Brotherhoods ally Nuri Abu Sahmain is President of Libya. Mohammed Magarie replaced Mostafa Abdeljali in August last year as Head of State and Ali Zeidin replaced Abdurrahim al-Keib as Prime Minister in November last year following internal and external difficulties.
The latest news on March 12th throws Libya into even greater turmoil. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeiden was deposed on March 12th and fled to Malta, the Maltese government confirmed, on a stopover toward a reported destination of Germany.
Zeidan fled his country immediately following a vote of no confidence which ended his roughly one-and-a-half-year term as prime minister of the North African country. The hasty departure of the ex-diplomat rendered moot any attempts to arrest him.
Zeidan, who during his term as prime minister was once kidnapped and held for hours by armed militants, failed in recent days to stop rebels in the country’s east from controlling the sale of crude oil there. In spite of armed forces loyal to the government ensuring that a tanker called “Morning Glory” remained in harbor in Al-Sidra – the city has been held for months it left port and escaped flying a North Korean flag.
Back in Tripoli the blunder turned the mood in the provisional parliament against Zeidan. The subsequent no confidence vote was later criticized by Libyan media as a “trick” on the former prime minister.
Rebel leader Ibrahim Jathran now appears to be the winner in the war of nerves over the strategically vital oil harbors. Until July 2013 he was commander of the unit sent to protect the oil installations, explains Libya expert Amanda Kadlec of the Chatham House think tank in London.
“This gave him ease of access to all the port facilities throughout Libya”
His supporters have occupied three terminals, she says, and he has called for a separate government for a portion of eastern Libya. It remains unclear how many fighters Jathran commands, but according to Kadlec, reports range anywhere from 800 to 20,000.
Numerous accounts confirm the reality that lawless bands, armed by NATO during the war with modern weapons and which include foreign and local Al-Qaeda and other jihadists, are carrying out daily bombings across the country in the struggle for local control. Tripoli itself has numerous armed militias controlling various sections of the capital.
The general picture in Libya is that of developing armed struggle between local tribal militias and the Brotherhood that controls the central government with leaders in the provinces of Cyrenaica and Fezzan seeking to break away from Tripoli.
Congress has summoned militias allied to the Brotherhood to the capital to try to prevent a coup. As a result, the main opposition party, the centre-right National Forces Alliance, has deserted Congress together with several smaller ethnic parties, leaving the Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction party heading a government with crumbling authority.
The July 2013 coup in Egypt against Morsi has further weakened the government which had intended to support Morsi with finance from oil revenues.
Libyans are increasingly at the mercy of militias who act outside the law, demand bribes for services and help perpetrate rampant corruption. Popular protests against militiamen have been met with gunfire; 31 demonstrators were shot dead and many others wounded as they protested outside the barracks of “the Libyan Shield Brigade” in the eastern capital Benghazi in June last year and a further 44 were killed in Tripoli on 8th September.
The unreported Libyan diaspora
Prior to the 2011 “revolution” Libya had a population of 5,613,380 of whom roughly 2 million are now either internally displaced in camps or outside of the country. Official statistics suggest that 1.2million are now living in Tunisia, 400,000 in Egypt and 30,000 in Chad with others scattered around the world. We hear virtually nothing in our media about this and very little about the deteriorating situation inside Libya.
Libya exports terrorism
According to the New York Times, 13th June 2013, some of the more militant Islamic factions are now fighting in Syria and arms for the Islamic groups are coming from Libya.
However, Qaddafi’s assertion in 2011 that the rebels included Al-Qaeda groups was dismissed by the Western media. Prior to the conflict Al-Qaeda sympathisers had trained in Afghanistan then, on their return to Libya, started a bombing campaign. This led to arrests and imprisonments but ACCOR they were let out on amnesty largely according to the Amnesty 2010 report on Libya due to the influence of Qaddafi’s son Salif.
Though the NATO intervention against Qaddafi was justified as a humanitarian response to the threat that Qaddafi’s tanks and planes would slaughter dissidents in Benghazi, the international community has chosen to ignore the continuing and escalating violence. The foreign media, which once filled the hotels of Benghazi and Tripoli, have likewise paid little attention to the near collapse of the central government.
The strikers in the eastern region Cyrenaica, which contains most of Libya’s oil, are part of a broader movement seeking more autonomy and blaming the government for spending oil revenues in the west of the country. Foreigners have mostly fled Benghazi since the American ambassador, Chris Stevens, was murdered in the US consulate by jihadi militiamen in September 2012.
Violence has worsened since then with Libya’s military prosecutor Colonel Yussef Ali al-Asseifar, in charge of investigating assassinations of politicians, soldiers and journalists, himself assassinated by a bomb in his car on 29 August last year.
Rule by local militias is also spreading anarchy around the capital. Ethnic Berbers, whose militia led the assault on Tripoli in 2011, temporarily took over the parliament building in Tripoli. The government called on the Supreme Security Committee, made up of former anti-Qaddafi militiamen nominally under the control of the interior ministry, to restore order.
At least 19 prisoners received gunshot shrapnel wounds, with one inmate saying “they were shooting directly at us through the metal bars”. There have been several mass prison escapes this year in Libya including 1,200 escaping from a prison after a riot in Benghazi in July.
The Interior Minister, Mohammed al-Sheikh, resigned last year in frustration at being unable to do his job, saying in a memo sent to Mr Zeidan that he blamed him for failing to build up the army and the police. He accused the government, which is largely dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, of being weak and dependent on tribal support.
Other critics point out that a war between two Libyan tribes, the Zawiya and the Wirrshifana, is going on just 15 miles from the Prime Minister’s office.
the terror network only retreats to remote areas, regroups and eventually bounces back
The surrounding area both Sudan and Mali and of course Syria have been greatly affected by Qaddafi’s fall. There has been civil wars in Mali and conflict in the Sudan. Al Qaeda has used Libya as a training ground for sending combatants into Syria.
In the rocky mountains and uncovered wastes of south-western Libya, al-Qaeda’s North African branch has established a haven after French and West African forces drove them out of their fledgling Islamic state in northern Mali a year ago.
Now, according to interviews with local soldiers, residents, officials and Western diplomats, it is restocking weapons and mining disaffected minorities for new recruits as it prepares to re-launch attacks.
It is an al-Qaeda pattern seen around the world, in hot spots such as Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan and increasingly in North Africa: seemingly defeated, the terror network only retreats to remote areas, regroups and eventually bounces back – pointing to the extreme difficulties involved in countering their growth and influence.
On Saturday January 18th 2014, a group of heavily armed fighters stormed an air force base outside the city of Sabha in southern Libya, expelling forces loyal to the “government” of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, and occupying the base. This report has been confirmed by the Saudi Gazette in an article dated 22nd January:
“The Tamenhint air base 30 km northeast of Sebha is reported to be back in pro-Qaddafi hands after Tebu forces from Murzuk who were guarding it withdrew. They unilaterally pulled out Monday evening [Jan. 20] claiming that the government was deliberately exploiting clashes in Sebha between Tebus and Awlad Sulaiman in order to divert attention from moves to replace it with a new administration.”
At the same time, reports from inside the country began to trickle in that the green flag of the Jamahiriya was flying over a number of cities throughout the country. Despite the dearth of verifiable information – the government in Tripoli has provided only vague details and corroboration – one thing is certain: the war for Libya continues.
Since mid-January forces that remain allied with the former Jamahiriya political and economic system set up by Qaddafi have taken control of several cities and towns in the south. Clashes have also been reported around the capital of Tripoli, where nationalist forces have fought pitched battles with militias and military forces backed by the GNC regime. (Libya Herald, 20th Jan)
These developments have prompted French Admiral Edouard Gillard in the Washington post to appeal for a fresh NATO intervention.
Dissatisfaction is growing among the Libyan population. Once the most prosperous nation in Africa, with a standard of living that exceeded several European countries, the conditions inside the country have drastically deteriorated since 2011. The decline in living standards, the failure of the regime to rein in the militias that terrorize the population, the collapse of the oil industry and widespread corruption have drawn broad criticism, even among the favoured elites.
Another decree issued in January prohibits scholarship students and public employees from speaking out against the conditions prevailing in Libya. According to AllAfrica.com:
“It calls on Libyan embassies abroad and others to draw up lists of names and refer them to the Prosecutor General for prosecution.”
What is certain is that unrest will continue for some considerable time and the civilians who NATO and the UN Security Council resolution 1973 was meant to protect will be those that suffer the most and it is almost certain that the world will continue to turn a blind eye.
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In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the second part of a new four article series.
As in the whole of the Middle East human rights abuses were of considerable concern under the Jamahiriya Government. The Amnesty International Report in 2010 in its introduction makes the following point:
“Freedom of expression, association and assembly continued to be severely curtailed and the authorities showed little tolerance of dissent. Critics of the government’s human rights record were punished. Former detainees at Guantánamo Bay returned to Libya by US authorities continued to be detained; one died in custody, apparently as a result of suicide.
“Foreign nationals suspected of being in the country irregularly, including refugees and asylum-seekers, were detained and ill-treated. An official investigation began into the killing of prisoners at Abu Salim Prison in 1996 but no details were disclosed and some of the victims’ relatives who had campaigned for the truth were arrested.
“Hundreds of cases of enforced disappearance and other serious human rights violations committed in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s remained unresolved, and the Internal Security Agency (ISA), implicated in those violations, continued to operate with impunity.”
What Amnesty fails to report however, is that health services and education were available to a high standard to everyone, food and electricity was heavily subsidised, all the population had been housed and the position of women in society was better than anywhere else in the Middle East or Africa, and in many ways better than many Western countries. The situation in Libya was also far from straightforward.
Numbers of men, particularly from Benghazi, had gone to Afghanistan to the Al-Qaeda training camps then returned to Libya and started a bombing campaign. The largest grouping of Al-Qaeda prior to the conflict fighting in Iraq came from Benghazi.
According to West Point authors Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman,
“Saudi Arabia took first place as regards absolute numbers of jihadists sent to combat the United States and other coalition members in Iraq during the time frame in question. Libya, a country less than one fourth as populous, took second place. Saudi Arabia sent 41% of the fighters.”
According to Felter and Fishman,
“Libya was the next most common country of origin, with 18.8% (112) of the fighters listing their nationality stating they hailed from Libya.”
Other much larger countries were far behind:
“Syria, Yemen, and Algeria were the next most common origin countries with 8.2% (49), 8.1% (48), and 7.2% (43), respectively. Moroccans accounted for 6.1% (36) of the records and Jordanians 1.9% (11).”
This means that almost one fifth of the foreign fighters entering Iraq across the Syrian border came from Libya, a country of just over 6 million people. A higher proportion of Libyans were interested in fighting in Iraq than any other country contributing mujahedin. Felter and Fishman point out:
“Almost 19 percent of the fighters in the Sinjar Records came from Libya alone. Furthermore, Libya contributed far more fighters per capita than any other nationality in the Sinjar Records, including Saudi Arabia.”
“But since the Al Qaeda personnel files contain the residence or hometown of the foreign fighters in question, we can determine that the desire to travel to Iraq to kill Americans was not evenly distributed across Libya, but was highly concentrated precisely in those areas around Benghazi.” ( See chart below from the West Point report, page 9 )
Unsurprisingly, Qaddafi and his government saw them as a threat to the stability of Libya. Apart from the sanctions, this was a major reason why Qaddafi came to the agreement with the West which was facilitated by Tony Blair.
None of this excuses the human rights abuses, but does put them in a wider context.
What can be said is that for the majority of people in Libya, life was good; however, if you went against the regime, watch out.
Though human rights violations in Libya under Qaddafi were bad, what followed in the wake of the so called ‘revolution’ far outstripped the human rights abuses of his time.
Armed militias continue to commit serious human rights abuses with impunity, including arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and unlawful killings. Thousands of people suspected of formerly supporting or fighting for Qaddafi’s government remained detained without charge or trial and with no means of remedy. The most famous of these is Salif Al-Islam, Qaddafi’ second son, who is still being held by one of the militias in Zinan.
Tens of thousands of people who were forced to leave their homes in areas perceived to have supported Qaddafi in 2011 remain internally displaced and continue to be at risk of revenge attacks and other abuses. Undocumented foreign nationals faced arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention, exploitation and torture or other ill-treatment.
Human Rights Watch recently posited the possible reasons for Libya’s current lawlessness. In a dispatch posted on 20th October 2013, Human Rights Watch described mass executions carried out by Libyan rebel groups on the day of Qaddafi’s death. In the days that followed, HRW gathered hard evidence of the executions and of who was responsible, which it presented to transitional authorities shortly afterward; to date, no investigation has been carried out.
“The failure to investigate systematic executions helped set the stage for the militia lawlessness in Libya today,” wrote Fred Abrahams, special advisor to HRW’s program office.
“Impunity for those and subsequent crimes sent the message that Libya’s armed groups stand above the law.”
Law 38 granted amnesty to those who committed crimes if their actions were aimed at “promoting or protecting the revolution” against Qaddafi.
On the 23rd October 2013 Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, stated that:
“two years after the conflict, Tawarghas and other displaced communities are still waiting for justice and effective reparations for the abuses they have suffered. Many continue to face discrimination and live in under-resourced camps with no solution in sight.”
Human rights Watch in their 2013 report have said:
“As of October, roughly 8,000 people were in detention. The majority of them were held for more than a year without charge or due process rights, including judicial review and access to a lawyer. The Ministry of Justice holds around 3,000 detainees, around 2,000 are held by the Ministry of Defence or Supreme Security Committee. The rest were being held illegally by various armed groups.’’
Given that most of the country is being run by militias the figures are likely to be in reality much higher.
Conditions in militia-run facilities varied, with detainees in some facilities reporting repeated torture and deaths in custody. Conditions in state-run facilities appeared to improve, although there continued to be cases of abuse and some deaths in custody.
Following rising violence the Interior Minister Mohamed Khalifa al Sheikh resigned in August last year
Non-Libyans from sub-Saharan Africa, mainly migrant workers, are particularly vulnerable to abuse, facing harassment, arrests, ill-treatment in detention, forced labour and no regulated access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Sporadic armed confrontations between militias across the country have caused hundreds of deaths; the victims included children and other civilians not involved in the fighting. Impunity remained entrenched, both for gross human rights violations committed in the past and for ongoing human rights abuses by armed militias.
Amnesty UK Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Libya Researcher, reported the following:
“The authorities have failed to break the stranglehold of the militias. Hundreds of armed militias that fought against Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s repressive regime now pose the greatest threat to human rights in Libya.
“In 2012, our researchers visited the country and found evidence of a catalogue of abuses, including arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, unlawful killings and forcible displacement. All are casting a shadow over post-revolution Libya.
“Torture is rife in Libya. It is carried out not just by military and security entities but also armed militia groups operating outside of legal frameworks.
“When our researchers visited 11 detention facilities in central and western Libya used by various militias, there was only one facility in which detainees did not report torture and ill treatment. In ten, detainees showed us injuries resulting from recent abuse.
“At least eleven people detained by militias have been tortured to death.
“So far, not one person has been brought to justice for these human rights violations. There have been no effective investigations into cases of torture and deaths in custody.”
Following rising violence the Interior Minister Mohamed Khalifa al Sheikh resigned in August last year. Some 500 prisoners in Tripoli jail undertook a hunger strike to protest being held for two years without charges. When the government ordered the Supreme Security Committee to restore order, they began shooting prisoners through the bars. Where was the outcry from the West? In July 1200 prisoners escaped a jail after a riot in Benghazi. In short, lawlessness and anarchy is spreading
The position of women
Whilst Islamic law established almost equal rights for women in relation to divorce for the past 1,400 years, under the Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya Government the rights of women became greatly enhanced. Women were granted equal rights to men with many younger women in the cities wearing western clothes and thirty percent were in employment, which compared well with many other Middle Eastern countries.
Women were also increasingly seen driving, shopping and travelling without husbands or male companions, a practice which is forbidden in some countries in the Middle East. Child brides were banned and the minimum legal age to marry placed at 18. Women became lawyers, judges, aircraft pilots, army commanders and Ministers in the Government. It has been suggested that women had a stronger position in Libya than in any country in the world. By all accounts, the rights of women have taken a severe setback since the destruction of Jamahiriya, particularly in areas held by Al Qaeda.
According to the Human Rights Watch 2013 report, attacks against religious minorities started in October 2011, and intensified in 2012. Armed groups motivated by their religious views attacked Sufi religious sites across the country, destroying several mosques and tombs of Sufi religious leaders. Armed groups attacked churches in at least two incidents in Tripoli in May and September. The government’s security forces have failed to stop the attacks and have made no significant arrests.
Amnesty International has said that a total around 65,000 people are internally displaced across Libya, not just Tawarghas, but members of the Mashashya tribe from the Nafusa Mountains, residents of Sirte and Bani, Walid, and Tuaregs from Ghadames too.
The Tawarghas, ethnic black Libyans, are among those who have suffered the most. More than 1,300 Tawarghas are estimated to be missing, detained or were subjected to enforced disappearances, mainly in Misratah. Most were seized by militias and subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, such as electric shocks, whipping and beatings with metal bars or water pipes in detention.
Amnesty International has asked the Libyan authorities to investigate all cases of enforced disappearance and indiscriminate torture, including of victims perceived as pro-al Qaddafi.
The European Union (EU), last year’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and its member states have been assisting the Libyan authorities in tightening border security and developing “an integrated border management strategy” in order to curb “illegal migration” to Europe at the expense of human rights. Amnesty International has repeatedly urged the EU to fully protect the human rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, and put in place a satisfactory system for assessing and recognising claims for international protection.
Migrants in Libya are often perceived to be a threat to national security. Since May 2012, the Libyan authorities have deported 25,000 persons.
“EU funding should be used to promote and protect human rights in Libya, especially while the country is still recovering from a recent armed conflict and confronted with a legacy of abuse,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui from Amnesty International has said.
“It is deeply troubling that EU funds appear have been used to support detention centres where thousands of foreign nationals are unlawfully held. Asylum-seekers and refugees who are entitled to international protection and should only be detained because of their status in the most exceptional circumstances are among those routinely detained and abused in detention.”
Libya’s immigration detention practices not only violate the country’s international obligations under refugee and human rights law and standards, but they are also at odds with EU human rights obligations as well as EU standards concerning the detention and return of third country nationals.
Libya’s Constitutional Declaration, adopted in 2011, declares that the “state shall guarantee the right of asylum by virtue of the law”. It is urgent the authorities translate this principle into real action and adopt legislation establishing a national asylum system.
Amnesty International has urged the EU, and member states, not to enter into further agreements on migration control with Libya until the government demonstrates that it respects Human Rights.
Thousands of people deemed to have entered Libya “irregularly” have been held in detention for months before their deportation, without access to a lawyer or the ability to challenge their forcible removal and/or detention.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui from Amnesty International (AI) has said:
“The Libyan authorities must amend their legislation by setting a maximum detention period pending deportation for migrants.”
AI also found evidence that the Libyan authorities have resumed deporting foreign nationals diagnosed with infections such as hepatitis or HIV after compulsory medical tests were introduced earlier this year. No individual should be deported on the grounds of their medical condition. Hassiba continued:
“Reintroducing compulsory testing for foreign nationals and deportation on the ground of their health status amounts to scapegoating them and only proves how inadequate Libya’s public health policies are.”
At the time of AI’s investigation a total of 5,000 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were held in 17 “holding centres” under the Ministry of Interior, in addition to an unknown number of detainees held by militias. AI’s delegates also met a small number of unaccompanied children, sometimes as young as 10, who had been detained in at least three “holding centres” for months.
Many of the “holding centres” visited had extremely poor hygiene standards exposing those held there to the risk of disease, including chest infections and chronic diarrhoea. At the “holding centre” in Sabha, where some 1,300 were being held last May, detainees were held in filthy, overcrowded rooms.
The prison also lacked a functioning sewage system – and piles of garbage filled the corridors. Around 80 detainees – who complained of itchiness on their hands and genitals, suggesting a scabies infection – were held in a courtyard in the sun as treatment, but became dehydrated due to extended exposure to sun.
Denying detainees proper medical care is inexcusable. Libya’s government must show the world it is serious about protecting the rights of all individuals in Libya, whatever their status and nationality.
To date, NATO, which waged the air campaign against Qaddafi’s forces, has failed to investigate properly at least 72 civilian casualties caused by its airstrikes. The UN Commission into Libya also received written reports from the authorities stating that NATO launched about 3,000 airstrikes on several civilian and military targets in Libya. According to the same unverified reports, these strikes resulted in the death of 500 civilians and 2,000 injured.
The same reports stated that NATO had targeted schools, universities, mosques, and others civilian locations. According to the same sources, 56 schools and three universities were directly hit by these strikes. Furthermore, it is claimed that NATO airstrikes have resulted in the closure of 3,204 schools, leaving 437,787 students without access to education.
Security Council members that initially championed resolution 1970 referring Libya to the ICC have been largely silent on Libya’s obligation under that resolution to cooperate with the court.
The Truth About Libya: NATO Crimes & Mass Media Lies Exposed! Reported by Russia Today in 2011.
Though some of the people in Libya have benefited for the majority life has turned into nothing short of a nightmare.
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In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the second part of a new four article series.
As world attention has focused on the coup in Egypt and the Syrian conflict, Libya has plunged almost unnoticed into a political and economic crisis. Two and a half years ago, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases”, to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction of the country and exploit an anticipated boom in natural oil and gas extraction.
Before the civil war, oil companies were sometimes only allowed eight percent of the profits from oil and gas exploration, the rest of the profits going to Libya.
These were the toughest exploration of gas and oil terms in the world, and as such were greatly disliked by the oil and gas multinationals. The need for this to change was greatly aided by the financial collapse in the West, leading to vast debts in their own economies and the need to get resources to balance the books.
After the civil war/invasion, the multinationals were to be given fifty percent or more of the profits, and in some cases for a 40-year period.
China, which was increasingly being given contracts, would be out of the framework. China had also been given a 20-billion dollar contract by the Libyan Government to build new housing. Again this fed into a wider picture of the West not liking the growing economic and political influence of China in Africa. It must be stated however that China has been given a contract recently to build 20,000 homes in Benghazi.
Qaddafi also had considerable influence in African countries, many of whom had been ex- French colonies, and this conflicted with France’s economic need to have more influence in their old colonies.
After the 2011 civil war/invasion, Libya exceeded expectations and rapidly ramped up its oil production by more than one million barrels per day and doubled its real GDP. That recovery, however, was short lived. Libya has now almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government has lost control of much of the country to militia fighters.
Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, initially threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Qaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.
In an escalating crisis, output of Libya’s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day in December. Only offshore fields remained largely out of the militia’s reach and have been supporting Libya’s production. However, offshore volumes tend to be small.
The UK government, in a desperate attempt to save face, has said it will train more of the Libyan army and, of course, sell the Libyan army even more weapons to help our balance of payments.
Libya has no shortage of oil resources – both conventional and unconventional. Libya holds Africa’s largest proven oil reserves. Its potential may be even greater as only about twenty percent of the country has been explored.
The recent loss in production has no precedent in Libya’s history. Existing oil companies have scaled down their activities with predictable negative consequences for the Libyan economy, which is poorly diversified and heavily reliant on hydrocarbon revenues. Oil and gas account for nearly 96 percent of government revenues and 98 percent of export revenues. This was a weakness of Qaddafi’s Socialist People’s Arab Jamahiriya Government, as it is now, with an over-dependency on oil and gas.
Corruption had become an increasing factor in Libya directly linked to the depletion in resources due to the sanctions applied by the West on Libya from the 1990s, which led to disquiet amongst the population and a decrease in the popularity of Qaddafi and his Government.
During the civil war, the drop in oil and gas production led to a contraction of real GDP by 62 percent, but the situation now is far worse. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned last year that current levels of government expenditure are unsustainable, if oil production does not return to pre-2011 levels, putting the country at risk and further fuelling already heightened socio-economic tensions.
Libya suffers from a high unemployment rate, especially among its young population and to survive many are enticed to join the militias, while much-needed public and private investment has remained anaemic. This high unemployment, both prior to and after the revolution, was a major factor in the growth of Al-Qaeda affiliated groups.
In May 2013 Libyan officials announced plans to review and draw up a new Petroleum Law for a 2014 licensing round which would offer more attractive fiscal terms in an attempt to entice international oil companies. Prior to the conflict China had been involved increasingly in the extraction of oil, a fact, as with China’s increasing economic links with Africa in general, much disliked by the West.
Libya should, as Philip Hammond had suggested, be on the radar of every international oil company when considering the size and quality of the country’s oil and gas reserves, but the latest developments have distorted the risk-reward balance that investors aim to achieve.
Foreign businesses were involved prior to the fall of Qaddafi but the government took in considerable revenue which supported free health care and education as well as subsidised food, housing and electricity. Having done away with the subsidies, many Libyans are now living in poverty. To get anything done Libyans have to bribe the militias who control not only militarily but also economically.
Prior to the overthrow of Qaddafi, the IMF estimated that the country’s total foreign assets were worth $150bn with just under half of that managed by the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), with other investments made through the central bank and other investment vehicles.
The Financial Times interviewed former Gaddafi officials, directors of LIA and bankers who had never done business with the LIA, concluding that vague claims of mismanagement were more rumour and innuendo with no hard evidence. The accountancy firm KPMG had provided reports and audit in 2010 which showed the LIA asset position steadily improving, and made no suggestions of corruption or wrongdoing by any LIA staff member.
Farhat Bengdara, a Qaddafi appointee, the former governor of the Central Bank of Libya and member of LIA’s board of trustees, claimed that there was a “clear lack of governance at the LIA” which is surprising since he’d been on its governance Board of Trustees until the revolution came. On Bengdara’s recommendation Sami Rais , another Qaddafi-era appointment, had been made chief executive of LIA in October 2009.
Rais and Bengdara were subsequently sacked by the new Government of Libya.
The record actually shows the LIA managed to preserve Libyan state assets throughout the banking crisis of 2008 – 2010, and then during the revolution. Although a few investments showed book losses in 2010, the asset base grew from US$50 billion in 2008 to US$63 billion by 2010.
The performance of the LIA compares very favourably with the huge losses, up to 50% of total asset value, suffered by most other Arab and international sovereign wealth funds over the same period.
Stephen Jen, a Morgan Stanley economist, put actual international sovereign wealth fund losses at US$700 billion to the end of 2008, compared with the Libyan Investment Authority’s reported actual profits and increase in asset value over the last six years of the Qaddafi era.
The Libyan Central Bank had 143.8 tonnes of gold. This is an enormous store of wealth – particularly with gold prices at a historic high of over $1,800 an ounce. In terms of gold per capita, Libya had the ninth biggest amount of gold wealth in the world, just behind the US, at 22 grams per person.
There are important questions over what has happened to this gold since amid the chaos in Tripoli this is still not known. It could potentially have fallen into the hands of Al-Qaeda, or individual tribal militias, or Qaddafi loyalists, or a Western Government or Governments. What has actually happened to the $150 billion of foreign investments is also not clear.
A report, which was leaked to the BBC, revealed that at the time of the invasion, some of the biggest and best-known financial institutions in the world held billions of dollars of Libyan state funds. Principal among them were HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Nomura and Société Générale. However, the banks refused to say whether they held, or are still holding, the funds.
All the assets have now been frozen by the European Union and United Nations.
The document, dated June 2010, showed that HSBC held $292.7m in 10 cash accounts, with a similar amount invested in a hedge fund, while Goldman Sachs had $43m in three accounts. Almost $4bn was held in investment funds and structured products, with Société Générale alone holding $1bn. The Japanese bank Nomura and the Bank of New York also held $500m each.
All the banks refused to make any public comment on the funds they received and managed on behalf of the Libyan Investment Authority, citing client confidentiality
A much larger proportion of LIA’s assets – $19bn in total – was held by Libyan and Middle Eastern Banks, the document revealed.
It also showed that the LIA holds billions of dollars in shares in global corporations such as General Electric, BP, Vivendi and Deutsche Telekom. It had already been widely reported that the fund also held stakes in UK publishing group Pearson, Italy’s UniCredit bank and industrial group Finmeccanica, as well as Canadian oil exploration group, Verenex Energy.
The board of directors of the LIA resigned in September 2012, citing what it said was the incompetence of the fund’s current management. That has meant that the LIA hasn’t been legally able to execute substantial trades or sell any holdings. The LIA’s current management has lost support of the government. Last November, the Libyan prime minister dismissed the chairman, but his refusal to step down sparked a political crisis in Tripoli.
Those involved in management has said the dismissal was politically motivated and is illegal.
It has been suggested that the Western intervention was about stopping Qaddafi, who was the Chairman of the African Union from 2009 to 2010, introducing the Gold Dinar as a currency in Africa. This would have had substantial effect on increasing the deteriorating value of the Dollar, Sterling and the Euro. Qaddafi’s decision to pursue the gold standard and reject dollars for oil payments may have sealed his fate.
The price for a barrel of oil rose above 100 dollars amid concerns over instability in Libya and South Sudan, plus a growing US and worldwide demand for fuel. Fighting in South Sudan and erratic oil production in Libya are having a ripple effect on the global oil market.
Libya’s state news agency says gunmen stole $54m (£33.5m) in an attack on a van carrying foreign and local currency for the Libyan central bank. Ten men stopped the van as it entered the city of Sirte from the airport. The cash delivery had been flown 300 miles (500km) from the capital, Tripoli. “The robbery is a catastrophe for the whole of Libya”, Abdel-Fattah Mohammed, head of Sirte Council, told Reuters.
Libya’s economy has gone from being one of the most stable and financially effective in the world to a complete calamity. Whether or not this will eventually be turned around is yet to be seen, but the losers at present, whatever happens in the future, are the vast majority of the Libyan people. The West, whose intervention was at best naive and at worst extremely sinister, has also not gained.
As with other conflicts in the Middle East, the US and its allies, primarily in this case the UK and France, have played into the hands of militant Islamic groups.
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In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the first part of a new four article series.
The lies used to justify the NATO war against Libya surpassed even those created to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both had observers on the ground for months following the rebellion in eastern Libya, and both have repudiated every major charge used to justify the NATO war on Libya, which was meant to have been about imposing a No-Fly Zone as agreed by the United Nations.
The video “Libya War Lies – Worse than Iraq” which can be found on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNWf1kw2eUk , is the work of Thomas Mountain, author of the widely read article by the same title, and explains his perception of the real reasons for the war on Libya.
The media also played an important role in galvanizing public opinion, in particular Al Jazeera whose output was trusted particularly by many people in the Middle East including Libyans and by those in the West who had come not to trust their own media.
Al Jazeera reported on 22nd February 2011 that Libya’s Government carried out airstrikes on Benghazi, Tripoli and elsewhere. Both observers and Russian satellite pictures have said since that this was not correct. Many Libyans who supported the uprising now regret their support, not only because they were misinformed, but also because of the appalling state that Libya now finds itself in.
Below is a clip from the speech by Denis Kucinich, who stood twice for the Democratic Party leadership in Congress, suggesting that the military intervention was pre-planned. He raises concerns about both the abuse of the United Nations and democracy in the USA. You can see three further clips of his speech on Youtube.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s address to Congress on the War in Libya:
There were no confirmed accounts of helicopter gunships attacking civilians, and no jet fighters bombing people, which completely invalidated any justification for the No-Fly Zone in the Security Council resolution used as an excuse for NATO to launch its attacks on Libya. There were some tragic examples of rape on both sides of the conflict. However, the stories of mass rapes by Government troops were never verified.
‘What has happened in Libya since the conflict is, however, far worse than could have been suspected and has been highlighted again with the flight of Prime Minister Al Zeidin fleeing the country this Wednesday. So much goes on in the world and particularly the Middle East that there is little news coming out about Libya. What we have heard about is the killing of the American ambassador in Benghazi and the taking hostage of the Libyan Prime Minister by a militia group; and most recently the killing of a UK citizen and his New Zealand partner.
The general impression is that the country is lawless.
Sir David Richards, leader of the British NATO forces at the time of the invasion of Libya, has said on BBC Radio 4 recently that Qaddafi has been proven right in what he said would happen to his country following his fall from power. That is, that the country would fall into the hands of Islamic extremists and there would be inter-tribal fighting.
When looking at the situation more closely what you see is a broken country – the basic facts are:
that the country is being ruled by militias and that the Central Government has little control. Al-Qaeda’s flag is flown in many towns.
Under Qaddafi, multinational oil companies got as little as 8% of the profits from oil and gas. By contrast, it was agreed by the Transitional Government during the conflict that they would get 50% or more and some for a 40-year period.
Oil and gas exploration has now almost collapsed as installations are controlled by the militias.
Libya had been one of the few countries in the world that was not badly affected by the world economic collapse of 2008. It is now nearly bankrupt according to the IMF.
Around 2 million of the 5,613,380 population are either displaced in camps in Libya or no longer living in Libya. These people are mostly in camps in surrounding countries and mostly forgotten by the world – including the UN.
A law was passed – Law 38 – saying that no action would be taken against any crimes that had taken place against Qaddafi loyalists. Thus all crimes committed by anti-Qaddafi forces, including Al-Qaeda’s and NATO’s crimes go unprosecuted and it is open season on ex-Qaddafi loyalists.
Human Rights violations are massive, torture and killings are common.
Not only were the electricity stations bombed by NATO, as was done in Iraq, but also the Great Man-Made River http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Man-Made_River which supplied the country with water. Although some repairs have been carried out, electricity is cut every day and there are water shortages.
Women’s rights and involvement in society which were strong under Qaddafi have taken a severe step backwards; some cannot even join university out of fear.
The Libyan bank had 143.8 tons of gold that disappeared: who in fact took this gold? None of the $153bn of assets held by Libya abroad has been returned.
Here is a clip from Russia TV:
Three further articles will examine:
the economic situation;
human rights; and
the political situation in Libya and surrounding countries
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With thanks to Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.
People in Scotland with a commitment to social justice will mourn the death of Hugo Chavez.
He was a great leader for the people of Venezuela, with a practical commitment to improving the lives of its people and in particular the millions who had been left to a life of poverty by previous regimes.
The sheer scope of the imaginative programmes he led forward is extraordinary – for universal healthcare, literacy, food soverignty, land reform, electoral democracy, environmental protection, racial and gender equality, the rights of indigenous people and industrial democracy, for example.
To carry these forward he had to confront the malign influence which the USA had extended over the entire continent of South America and had instead forged an alliance for progress with neighbouring countries. No wonder this brought upon him the opprobrium of the USA government and its allies in this country.
Instead of listening to the untruths they tried to spread about him, increasing numbers of people in Scotland have been looking to Chavez and Latin America for lessons to apply to their own predicaments.
Some of these were heard at the Learning from Latin America conference we held last December in Glasgow, at which Sandra Whyte MSP told us, as an observer of the 2012 Presidential elections, of the impeccable organisation, the very impressive turnout, and above all the massive enthusiasm in Venezuela for the re-election of Hugo Chavez – sadly the last of the many elections which he won democratically in the teeth of a local and international media dominated by his enemies.
He was a great man and our thoughts and solidarity go out to his family and the people of Venezuela.
TheAberdeen City Arts Board and The Shared Planet Society have teamed up to bring you a couple more thought-provoking events in November.
First up is “The Industrial Workers of the World” taking place on Sunday 4th November, from 2 p.m. at the MacRobert Building, room MR268, Aberdeen University.
In this, the second of Aberdeen City Arts Board’s Autumn series of talks, Dek Keenan will give a broad outline of the organisation’s work and practice both here and abroad as well as provide some historical context.
Dek Keenan is an organiser and key member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The Wobblies, as they are often affectionately known, is an international radical workers’ union whose aim it is to unite all workers, irrespective of trade, with the common purpose of overthrowing the employing class.
It is a rank-and-file organisation with a long and inspiring history. The IWW boasted 100,000 members in the 1920s. More information can be found at http://www.iww.org/ .
For those coming to the University for the first time, a group will meet outside the MacRobert Building, just off King Street near the roundabout at Seaton, to enter the building together.
The second talk, “Food Sovereignty in Practice” will take place on Tuesday November 6th from 7.30pm at the Taylor Building, Aberdeen University.
The speaker is Professor Redimio Manuel Pedraza from the Study Centre for the Development of Animal Production (CEDEPA) at the University of Camagüey Ignacio Agramonte y Loynaz,Cuba.
Professor Pedraza will be looking at developments in sustainable agriculture in Cuba and how they relate to the concept of Food Sovereignty.
Professor Pedraza’s presentation will be followed by a screening of Simon Cunich’s film on Food Sovereignty in Venezuela, ‘Growing Change’.
Here is a wee summary of what this is about:
For the first time in human history, over a billion people have been officially classified as living in hunger. This record total is not a consequence of poor global harvests or natural disasters.
Hunger on this scale is the result of a global economy in which hundreds of millions of small farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists and indigenous people have faced ruin through the hijacking of the global food system by large agribusiness and food retailers. The Food Sovereignty movement is a response to this situation.
This is the definition of Food Sovereignty, taken from the declaration of Nyéléni:
“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.
“It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.
“It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation.
“It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers and users.
“Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal – fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability.
“Food sovereignty promotes transparent trade that guarantees just incomes to all peoples as well as the rights of consumers to control their food and nutrition.
“It ensures that the rights to use and manage lands, territories, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food.
“Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social and economic classes and generations.”
This event is part of Aberdeen City Arts Board’s Autumn Series and was organised in conjunction with The Shared Planet Society.
For newcomers to the University who may unfamiliar with the geography of the campus, a group will meet outside the Machar Bar on the High Street in Old Aberdeen at 7.15pm and will take the two-minute walk from there to the Taylor Building.