Final Reflection

December 8, 2014

From the beginning, I was curious about Libya because I wanted to know how a country would decide a future for itself after so many years of being told what to do. Because Libya was such a broad topic, I decided to focus my blogs on a few themes.  My articles focus on civil rights abuses, war, personal stories, and the role of religion in Post-Qaddafi Libya. My final post will summarize my research, make connections to perspectives on globalization, express my broader thoughts about Libya, and reflect on my personal understanding of Libya.

Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder, authors from Controversies in Globalization say that some countries just lack the preconditions for democracy. In addition, these authors assert that unleashing mass opinion through sudden democratization might raise the likelihood of war because the rule of law, per capital incomes, literacy rates, and other factors are weak and well below the levels needed to sustain democracy. Mansfield and Snyder explain the exact situation that Libya is experiencing after the fall of Qaddafi. The agenda set by the United States to rid Libya of a corrupt ruler only put the country in danger of more corruption, war, and chaos. Libyans were left without a supportive base to lead a stable country. Qaddafi’s demise has only created a breeding ground for more power hungry anti-Islamist and extremist groups.

Three years after the fall of Qaddafi, Libya has turned into a place that U.S officials and others fear: a lawless land that attracts terrorists. Although the fall of the Libyan regime was good news, the United States and others did not take too much consideration on how exactly Libya was going to successfully move towards the path of democracy and stability. The U.S did not want to embark on a nation building effort in Libya because it did not pose any real threats to our countries security. However, after hearing news that ISIS is in the picture, the United States and other countries have grown nervous. It is interesting that the United States has grown interested, especially now that its security is threatened. But by limiting efforts to help Libya stabilize, the U.S and its allies have inadvertently helped turn Libya into a major security threat than it was before the military intervention in 2011. When Clinton was asked why the United States did not do more to help Libya, Clinton responded by saying “Libya is a perfect case where people who’ve never had the opportunity to run anything, manage anything, even participate in meaningful politics, and they are not even sure what questions to ask.”

I think that much of the chaos could have been avoided if Libya had received more support so that it could stabilize its country. The country does not have the foundational support to begin forming a democracy. Towns and tribes across Libya are choosing sides, and many people are so hopeless and hungry, that they are siding with terrorist groups. Sectarianism. The country’s chaos has mostly been portrayed as a contest between Islamists and more secular groups – young revolutionaries and military officers of Qaddafi’s regime. One of the most powerful Islamist groups fighting in Libya is Ansar al-Sharia, which has been affiliated with al Qaeda.  It is not surprising how the aftermath of Qaddafi has turned out. After the fall of Qaddafi, Libya’s citizens were left with the responsibility to elect their own leaders after almost 50 years of being governed by one leader. Much of my research centered in the point that Libya’s plan for democracy was poorly planned and unorganized. Little thought was placed on the power struggles that would arise with the absence of a leader or stable government. The General National Congress, Libya’s elected leader, is unstable and is being taken over by Islamists. The GNC’s original plan of sharing differing points of view backfired, and the country of Libya is divided by those who are for Islam and those who against Islam in Libya.

In terms of society, I thought it would be beneficial to research about the role of women in Libya, and what they are doing after Qaddafi.  I found that many women have joined woman’s rights organizations, such as The Voice of Libyan Woman, in order to shift the woman’s role in society at both the grassroots and policy making levels. These women believe that by increasing the role of woman in society, there will be more order and stability in Libya. The organization says that there is no quick fix to their problems; instead of using military combat, people must fix the community. Without fixing the community, no improvements can be made.  VLW uses religion to enforce their roles, which is very interesting to me because it is a radical perspective. The radical perspective is the very reason why they are so undermined in society to begin with and why Libya is in so much chaos. However, these women are also taking a cosmopolitan approach. It seems necessary to incorporate religion into their cause, because people need to be integrated slowly; it takes time for people to be comfortable to different ideas when certain ideas are so engraved into their culture. Slow and careful integration and creating a stable foundation is what needs to be done in order for democracy to happen in Libya.

Civil rights abuses are rampant in Libya, and much of this is due to the countries lack of governance. Many Libyans have been killed, tortured, and detained based on their origins of perceived political views. Many Libyans even fear spreading the word about their conditions and political views via social media. A few of the articles that I read portrayed how innocent people are being attacked for simply having a point of view. One woman was attacked for not covering her face.  Egypt’s president has recently called on the U.S and Europe for assistance to combat terrorism in Libya.  Although it is obvious that Libya needs attention, the international community must carefully consider what measures need to be taken so that their investments are not wasted. If efforts to control terrorism are to attack them out of the country, then what measures will be taken to keep them from coming back? As mentioned, Libya was particularly attractive to extremists groups because of its lack of stability and governance. The international community must look at Libya’s situation from the ground up, instead of temporarily treating the problem.

Various perspectives on globalization are colliding here. Libya has been under regime for almost 50 years. Libya and its neighboring countries have historically, culturally, and economically been reliant on the radicalistic perspective; it is all they have known.  It is difficult for people to change their ways, especially if it is rooted in their culture to think a certain way. While the ousting of Qaddaffi was supposed to gear the country away from radicalism, many groups in Libya are fighting to preserve it. Islamist groups are taking the opportunity to turn the unstable country into an Islamic one, keeping the country from growth and freedom. Although many individuals in Libya want to democratize the country through grass roots approaches, a cosmopolitan perspective, there are groups that are only looking for power over others who do not share the same religious views. These power struggles are creating more chaos, and unless these groups can come to some sort of agreement, there will not be order in Libya.

My overall understanding of Libya is still limited, but improved. Researching the country was difficult, because I could not decide where to direct my focus. Much of the crisis in Libya is rooted by so many different factors, and it was impossible for me to understand Libya from every angle. Historical knowledge was extremely important in understanding the countries issues because it explains how the country has progressed or regressed. A sociological imagination was also necessary, which is why I found personal stories so helpful; they gave me more context. Without a sociological imagination, it is difficult to understand a countries circumstance. Because Libya was too broad of a topic, I decided to increase my understanding of Libya through a variety of topics, such as the civil war and who the main key players were. I found it difficult to stay on one topic, because there was so much information to learn, so jumping around to different topics was more effective for my learning.


November 21, 2014

The first article is “Libya’s primary oilfield remains closed after fierce battles for control.” The article explains the oil crisis in Libya and how one of its main oilfields, al-Sharara, remained closed for more than a week due to chases between rival militant groups. The field was originally shut down after guards protecting it were expelled by  local tribesmen who are believed to be affiliated with Libya Dawn and workers at the facility itself. Crude oil is Libya’s primary foreign export, and generates some 95 percent of the country’s income. The capture of these oil fields shows Libya’s direction into deeper chaos and corruption. Islamist’s have control over the the countries main source of oil, which might become a problem for the United States and other countries. I will not be surprised if the united states becomes more interested in intervening in Libya’s humanitarian crisis, especially since oil is of great interest to the U.S.


Post 9

November 21, 2014

The first article I read was “Egypt’s Sissi Urges West to Support Libya.” Egypt says that militants cross the border to help the Egyptian jihadi group Ansar attack Egypts security. Just recently, Ansar swore allegiance to Islamic State, which is now facing U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria. Sissi says that the international community should provide the same measures in Libya as it is in Syria and Iraq, because Libya is becoming a good place to breed islamist extremism. As of now, Egypt does not want to intervene directly, but it is aiding the Libyan army. It is interesting that Egypt is calling on the international community while it does not want to intervene directly. Even the United States is not willing to get involved. This reminds me of the chapter about Military Intervention in Controversies in Globalization. The united States intervened in 2011 because of widespread human rights abuses conducted by Gaddafi. Because genocide was occuring, the US intervened. But what about the Libyans who are caught in the midst of war, or those who are beheaded by IS members in the town of Derna?

The second article that I read was “Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya.” This article talks about the struggle between groups in Libya and how the Libyans are fleeing to the southern border of Europe. Amnesty International says that if the situation in Libya is not addressed, then there is going to be increased radicalization near Europe or possibly in Europe. I wonder if the increasing number of Libyans who are fleeing to Europe’s borders are creating a threat to Europes security, and whether this will increase greater intervention efforts by Europe.

Post 8

November 20, 2014

The first piece is a video about Tawfik Bensaud, a 18 year old who was assassinated for promoting democracy in Libya through social media sites, such as Twitter. This reminded me of the chapter that we read in Battle for the Arab Spring that covered social media. Although social media is revolutionary as it allows people to display their points of view to millions of viewers, people in Libya are still in fear of their lives, even though freedom was what they wanted in the first place.

The second article, “Libya: ‘Rule of the gun’ amid mounting war crimes by rival militias,” is similar to the first piece. The article describes the human rights violations that are rampant in Libya. Many Libyans have been killed, tortured, and detained based on their origins or perceived political allegiances.Many of those abducted told Amnesty International they were tortured,beaten with plastic tubes, sticks, metal bars or cables, given electric shocks, suspended in stress positions for hours, kept blindfolded and shackled for days, deprived of food and water, and forced to endure poor sanitary conditions.
These two articles make me wonder if it is necessary for countries to seek developmental efforts to preserve culture. The culture that some people belong to are violent and seriously threatening. Why would a person want to preserve such a culture? And there is also a theme with these radical extremist groups: they feel threatened by globalization and homogeneity because they are afraid of a changing world. These groups are forcing culture on people who want to escape the culture.

Week 7

November 19, 2014

The first article I read was “ISIS comes to Libya.” From the article, I learned that ISIS is in complete control over the city Derma. These IS members are taking advantage of the political chaos to expand their powers. The IS presence in Libya has been blamed on the return of Libyan Jihadists who were part of the ISIS al Battar Brigade, which was deployed in Syria and Iraq. This group is beheading anti-islamists in the local football stadium and all over the city. This was interesting to me because it reminds me that terrorism is a challenge to national security, even United States security. After reading this article, I am more concerned about the growing number of hopeless Libyans who are joining radical extremist groups. This growing number could pose significant threats.

The second article I read was a personal account of the 2011 uprising in Libya. In the article, “Alex Owumi: I played basketball for Gaddafi,” Owumi describes his experience playing basketball for Gaddafi. He explains how extravagent his own apartment (his couch was plated in gold), and the excessive compensation he would receive just for “winning.” However, if his team lost, Gaddafi’s security would beat them. Owumi did not really see the injustices around him until the starting of the uprising. He witnessed countless murders in the street, the kids he used to play with holding rebel AK-47s, and the little girl he taught English to getting raped by a soldier. He began to starve , so he started eating roaches and drinking toilet water. This is just a snapshot of what he experienced. I liked reading this story because it was a more personal account on what someone experienced during the uprising. For Owumi, his wealth did not matter when the country was in turmoil. The gold on his couch could not feed him when he was locked in his apartment. I wonder if military intervention in this case would cause more harm than good, or if it is justified.

Week 6

November 12, 2014

The first article that I read was “Libya violence: Activists beheaded in Derna.” Three activists were beheaded in Libya for posting on social media sites. An activist that cannot be named for safety reasons said “We reject IS being here. We can’t come out in public about it.” There are three main extreme groups in Libya: Islamic Youth Shura Council, a branch of Ansar al-Sharia, and the more moderate Martyrs of Abuslim Brigade. Some think a group that broke away from the Shura Council has pledged to IS.

The second article is “23 Killed in Libya as Islamist Militants Battle Rival Militias.” In summary, Islamist militias seized control of Tripoli in October 2014. The anti-Islamist Zintan militia attacked the libyan town of Kikla, an Islamist stronghold. The Islamist Militias, known as Libya Dawn forced the Zintan militia to retreat after the Zintan tried to seize parts of Kikla and cutting roads from Kikla and Gharyan.

These two articles remind me of when we spoke about how sectarianism contributes violence. My response to these articles is a cosmopolitan one: Speaking about civil rights when the major audience are a bunch of terrorists does not seem productive, not to mention safe. But what are the people to do? These extremists believe what they are going to believe because it is in their culture for it to be known and forced on people no matter the measure. These citizens need assistance from other nations because it is no longer about the citizens of Libya who fought to overthrow Gaddaffi. Now it is about power and which religion to choose. (?)

Post 5

November 11, 2014

In the article “The Key to Countering Violent Extremism,”, I read about the woman who founded The Voice of Libyan Women (VLW), the most prominent women’s rights organization in Libya. VLW advocates for the increased participation of women in conflict mediation and peace processes by shifting around the role of women in society at both the grassroots and policy levels.The organization uses religion to instead positively reinforce women’s rights and active participation. When I read that the organization uses religion to promote womens rights, I thought it was strange, because many people believe that religion is the source of the problem. It is sort of a radical way of looking at things. However, it makes sense because it is easier for people in a culture to catch on to ideas that they are comfortable with. People in Libya are religious, and if she uses religion subtly, then people will begin to feel comfortable with new ideas. If she dismisses religion all together, no one will listen to her and change cannot happen. It must happens slowly.
The second artifact is “The Law is Failing the Women of Libya.” This article mentions the womens rights issues in Libya. One example is that a women was physically and verbally attacked for not covering her head. Also, a school in Derna required that women and men were separated. Some women contemplate wearing a hijab when they leave the house just to avoid the harassment and physical harm. Most of the harassment and attacks on women by militias and individuals go unreported and unchecked.
This article is similar to the first one in that women are starting to break away from the norm of covering their heads and becoming more politically and socially verbal, even by the uncovering their heads. Although these woman are harassed, it is a non violent way for them to challenge extreme radicalism. Once people begin to see more people participating, it might be become accepted over time, maybe.

Post 4

November 11, 2014

The first article is a video that mentions the different groups in Libya who are fighting against each other. General Haftar is one of the major players in the attacks. He is against Islamist groups and he says that he will never retreat until Islamist groups back down. After watching the video I am reminded that the need for power, especially economic gain, is one of the reasons why democracy is so difficult to achieve. Until everyone in Libya wants and understands free elections, then democracy will not happen– one despotic family will replace another despotic family in a never ending cycle in the fight for one’s own point of view.

The second piece of research is a profile on the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia that calls for strict Sharia law across Libya. The group, whose name means “Partisans of Islamic law” in Arabic, emerged following the February 2011 anti-Gaddafi uprising. (BBC news). The group opposes the interim government and democracy in the country and has pledged to fight back and warns the US not to get involved. In 2012, the group reduced its military presence in Libya and began focusing on charity. Their charity efforts such as social services like establishing cultural centers, cleaning the streets, and regulating traffic. Because of their social efforts, the group increased followers. However, the group as resorted to violence when threatened. Some people are suspicious that the group is affiliated with Al Qaeda. This profile is similar to the first article in that the need for power trumps what everyone really wants– to be able to believe what they want to believe. Everyone one of these groups is fighting for what they believe in and is afraid that the other group with take it away from them. No one will be satisfied until everyone agrees that everyone wants the same thing — to be free from being told to do things that they do not agree with.
These groups are both radicals in nature because they want to assert control and use revolutionary means in order to challenge globalization.

Post 3

November 11, 2014

The first article, “Libya in shock after murder of human rights activist Salwa Bugaighis,” posted on The Guardian, is about the murder of Salwa Bugaighis. She was stabbed and shot through the head by gunmen who also abducted her husband. Her and her husband are a reminder of the growing number of extremists taking over Libya. Salwa was a part of the National Transitional Council, but left after accusing it of freezing-out female members. She also opposed moves to make the wearing of the hijab compulsory, and her views brought her into conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist extremists. What I found typical about Salwa’s death is that she was fighting for human rights, especially women’s rights, which has correlation with western idea’s. Because Western idea’s are shunned in this region, it is not surprising that she was murdered.

The second article, “Gaddafi died 3 years ago. Would Libya be better off if he hadn’t?” posted on Washington Times, is about Libya after Gaddafi. The article discusses whether or not Libya would have been better off if Qaddafi had not been killed and it said “probably not.” The article mentions that the real issue is not Qaddafi’s death, but why the international community neglected post-conflict reconstruction. The article says that because Libya is a resource rich country, and is close to Europe, it had pretty good chances of making a smooth transition to peace and stability. I found it most interesting that the article points out the neglect of the international community to aid in post-conflict reconstruction. I wonder how difficult it would be for a country like Europe to come in and help establish a base for Libya. It seems like the author did not take into consideration that Libya had been under Qaddafi regime for almost 50 years.

These articles remind me of the author who said “no” to forcing democratization, because it increases war, sectarianism, terrorism. Salwa was promoting human rights for women in a country whose cultural base does not support it. I also find that the second article forgets to reflect on the lack of institutional preconditions needed for democracy to function effectively. Libya’s rule of law is poorly established and elections are rigged. It is not as easy for Europe to come into Libya and establish order and peace when there is so much building to be done.

Egypt Civil Rights (Response 2)

September 29, 2014

My first tag on diigo was about Egyptian NGO’s. Egypt’s president Sisi requires that every NGO register with the government, which enables the government to control their actions. Law 84 also requires the NGO’s to obtain permission from the government before carrying out their activities. If any organization violate the law, they could be jailed for a year or more with a fine of $14,000. This law therefore, restricts any freedom from these organizations. This shows that the government is operating similarly to a regime and that the people are still not completely free. My second tag was about the torturing of Egyptian teens in prison by police guards and military officials for peacefully demonstrating. The teens have been subjected to electric shock on their genitals, cigarette burns, rape, and being hung by their hands for hours. These instances correlate with the weak state of the government and its ability to control violence and corruption. After the overthrow of Morsi, Egypt hoped to elect a present who would solve Egypt’s problems such as poverty and lack of freedom. It seems like there is a cycle that is repeating and it is unreasonable to think that Egypt can get back on its feet one year after 60 years under a regime.

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