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The difficulty of reporting from inside Libya

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Jon Williams Jon Williams | 10:30 UK time, Sunday, 20 February 2011

Reporting from Libya is tricky at the best of times - clearly, the situation there right now is anything but.

For 41 years, Muammar Gaddafi - the self-proclaimed "Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution" - has made life difficult for the Western media. While British nationals can enter many of the world's 192 countries without visas, or collect them on arrival, Libya is one of the exceptions. There, the door is firmly shut to international journalists, local reporters face intimidation and the threat of worse. It explains why, in contrast to recent events in Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain, we're unable to report from inside Libya on the protests taking place there, and the authorities violent response.

And that's an uncomfortable place for us to be.

In recent years, from Burma, to Afghanistan and Zimbabwe - even in Iran and North Korea - my colleagues have been on the frontline, eyewitness to events making headlines around the globe. In Libya this weekend, we've been forced to rely on others' eyewitness accounts. The geography of the country - much of it is barren desert - means it's simply not practical for us to enter Libya "under-cover". Add to that, the ruthlessness of the Libyan authorities, and the scale of violence, and you'll understand why - just a week after covering Egypt's own convulsions - Jon Leyne is reporting developments from Cairo.

When violence was last visited on Tripoli and Benghazi, the BBC was there to witness events. Famously, Norman Tebbit condemned Kate Adie's reporting of the US airstrikes on Libya on April 1986. Twenty five years later, the protests - and the authorities' response - are taking place with no international reporters present.

The BBC and other news organisations are relying on those on the ground to tell us what's happening. Their phone accounts - often accompanied by the sound or gunfire and mortars - are vivid. However, inevitably, it means we cannot independently verify the accounts coming out of Libya. That's why we don't present such accounts as "fact" - they are "claims" or "allegations".

Similarly, the flow of video - the so-called "user-generated-content" - has dwindled to a trickle as the authorities have periodically turned off the Internet. That means we have an additional responsibility - to be clear with our audiences not just what little we do know, but perhaps more significantly, what we don't.

Critics of the BBC's coverage of Libya 25 years ago accused our reporting from Tripoli and Benghazi of being "riddled with inaccuracy, innuendo & imbalance". I suspect Colonel Gaddafi's supporters will make the same allegations about the international coverage of events in Libya this weekend. It wasn't true then, it isn't true now. But when we're not on the ground, we have to work twice as hard to make sure that we're telling all sides of the story.

Jon Williams is the BBC World News editor.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Hope this will help...

    Telecomix are trying to get humanitarian comms set up, and are monitoring for amateur radio signals from the protest areas.

    In the meantime, the following feeds are being supplied form a hospital in Benghazi.. - Al-Jazeera Uk is carrying it - but the feed has been lost since.

    Hope this helps...

  • Comment number 2.

    Isn't it shameful that the US and EU, the devout lovers of freedom and democracy, do not have the guts to do anything to help those poor subdued peoples? Let's admit it and get rid of the hypocrisy in us: self-interest goes well before the freedom of other peoples; preaching democracy and liberty are just political tools as cynical and often as deadly as airstrikes.

  • Comment number 3.

    Most appreciate that most of the reports from Libya are difficult to verify but what appears to be happening if true is close to if not war crimes. I feel it has been dereliction of the duty on the part of the international media to leave these events vitually unreported for 2 days. The victims have very little voice and this allows the government to act with impunity. The same thing happened in Rwanda and Sri Lanka. The international media has a duty to report what it can albeit with caveats as the bbc has started to do this morning especially given the severity of the blood shed taking place. Maybe if there more stranded tourists in benghazi, this story would have recieved more coverage.

  • Comment number 4.

    I acknowledge that it is difficult to get information out of Libya, but can the BBC stop reporting, as a journalist on BBC World news did this morning that people in Tripoli have not been protesting because they support Gaddaffi? Family living there confirm that there are protests but there is massive police and military presence that has been there for the last two weeks since protests errupted in Egypt with the same shoot to kill policy. The reporter then said that people in Tripoli have "benefited from Gaddaffi". A few of his men yes but to most Libyans that is highly offensive.

  • Comment number 5.

    What a pity the BBC didn't report on the involvemebt of mossad in the events surrounding the US airstrikes on Libya in April 1986. It's one thing to report the events on the ground but the events surrounding the circumstances of the action tell the true story. If the commentary is biast then the perception of what is going on is one sided and can take events in the wrong direction. Nowhere are that human rights violations more prevelent than in Saudi Arabia but no one mentions them for fear of rocking the boat. Oil is king, people just get in the way.

  • Comment number 6.

    Libya is going through turmoil at the moment, but all for an honorable and most noble cause- freedom, liberation and democracy. Isn't this what we have been brought up to peacfully fight for? I am British but of Libyan origin and I feel a combination of pain and pride for what I am witnessing in Libya. Pain for the savage killings of my country's martyrs, but extreme pride and veneration for the sheer courage and bravery of the Libyan people peacefully protesting for the simple human right of freedom and overcoming oppression and brutal dictatorship for over 40 years!
    All I have to say is- how ironic is it that the arabs of the Middle East are the ones who are peacefully standing up to terrorism and the West (who are constantly preaching for a war against terror) are sitting and watching terrorism at its bloodiest take place by ruthless callous dictators and doing nothing......

  • Comment number 7.

    This afternoon we received an e-mail from one of the doctoral students RE her dissertation, she is Libyan, and her husband and other family is currently in Libya. She has asked us to let
    people know what is going on. Please feel free (actually, please feel
    compelled) to forward this message as far and wide as possible. I have
    deleted the student's name for the sake of her safety and her family's

    Begin forwarded message:
    >> From:
    >> Date: February 19, 2011 5:45:42 PM EST
    > Subject: Re: hoping that everything is well

    >> Thank you so much Dr. xxx
    >> I have spoken to him and my family in Benghazi. They are all well.
    >> In Benghazi, the situation is terrible; there are massacres occurring.
    >> People getting shot by helicopters and snipers; there have been reports
    >> of poisoning of the city water supply and mercenaries from sub-Sahara
    >> Africa and Algeria have been unleashed reportedly being paid $30,000 each
    >> to kill innocent people. Please spread the word among your colleagues and
    >> urge everyone you know to contact the UN, the Red Cross and Crescent, all
    >> news agencies, the State Department, and the White House. Please tell
    >> everyone you know; people are being massacred.
    >> Thank you again for checking in. Please pray for the people.
    >> -

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    CONDEMN CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY Protest outside Libyan Embassy 2-6pm today

  • Comment number 10.


  • Comment number 11.

    My wife is Libyan and is in Benghazi now. I am worried sick about her and have heard nothing from her. What kind of army attacks their own unarmed people with machine guns and mortars. The hypocrite Gaddafi thought he had the right to protest when he organised the coup against his king and country in 1969. Yet, he kills his own people for wanting the right to protest against his repressive regime. The few in that country have live in luxury while the majority live in poverty. How can the world allow him to massacre his own people? Maybe worried about their next oil deal?

  • Comment number 12.

    You say there is difficulty reporting events from Libya
    I thought we had satellites that could read a newspaper someone was
    holding. Yet we don't no whats happening in another country come off it
    we were not all born yesterday

  • Comment number 13.

    It is an appalling irony that the West's policy of supporting Middle Eastern dictatorships to keep Westerners safe from islamic terrorism has resulted in terror directed at the people in those countries. We in the West all bear a very heavy burden of responsibility for the death and injury that those in Libya and other countries are experiencing. We should have a day of rage in London (where I live) to protest against the corruption at the heart of our 'democratic' system which ensures 'freedom' for the citizens of this country at the expense of the freedom of others.

  • Comment number 14.

    @Mr R C Norman

    That is incredibly naive of you to say. From what I know I'm not sure that the BBC have access to the state of the art spy satellites being used by the CIA, NSA, MI5/6, etc.

    You're probably right in assuming the governments known what is going on but since when were they completely open about anything?

  • Comment number 15.

    Libya - the protests - and the authorities' response - are taking place with no international reporters present. It means that independent verification is not always possible; therefore the use of "claims" or "allegations".
    The news on the ground (social media) seems to bespeak brutal repression by the Libyan regime. They also cite numerous "mercenaries" roaming Benghazi and other cities. Who are these "mercenaries" of whom it is alleged very negroid features but darker skin than generally seen in North Africans?
    Incidendtly the use of "mercenaries was also reported from Bahrain.
    Some allege they are from Chad, Bangladesh and Korea; but these nationalities would not seem to fit the physical description coming from "on the ground" sources.
    The news on the ground also bespeaks the number of casualties being far higher than is being reported by news agencies or human rights groups. D.C. Washington, Human Rights Watch said yesterday that more than 84 over 3 days had been killed in clashes across the country. So, I guess that D.C. Himan Watch must be getting pretty accurate "kill" count from somewhere becuase it didn't use the word alleged.
    Libyan American, Tariq Mohamed: "It's difficult for media and human rights groups to operate and get independent confirmation, but I'm in touch with people who say there have been more than 90 deaths today in Benghazi alone."
    British Foreign Secretary, William Hague issued a statement condemning Libyan authorities for what he called "unacceptable and horrifying" attacks on protesters, using "heavy weapons fire and a unit of snipers."
    This seems like a rather strong & specific condemnation from Mr. Hague when the international coverage of events in Libya is based almost solely on news on the ground (social networks)...and supposedly could prove false, exaggerated, or under-reported.
    Then there was that taxi driver, the one who returned from the United States to Libya who said that he has family members on the streets and does not know what has happened to them. They had reported being assaulted by "foreigners". Mercenaries?
    "It's crazy," he said. "We are in a desperate situation. We have no arms to protect ourselves. We need protection from international organizations."
    Tariq Mohamed described talking on the telephone to a contact in Libya who suddenly said, "Hold on. Hold on. Listen!" Mohamed said that he could hear shooting – "it sounded almost like explosions". His contacts, he alleged, have confirmed the many reports that the Libyan government is using mercenaries flown in from outside the country to try to quell the uprising.
    Doesn't Libya have its own military?
    Tariq Mohamed has apparently bombarded social media with ongoing messages say they have been frustrated for many years at the lack of international media or policy attention. "Unfortunately," he said, "it took the disaster of a totalitarian regime mowing down its citizens to get world to bat an eye."
    Latest news on the ground indicates an alleged state of civil war in the cities of Benghazi and nearby al-Bayda in Eastern Libya with the protesters running into thousands of Libyan army. Despite the use of mortars and heavy guns by the Libyan Army, which has allegedly been using mercenaries from Pakistan (new addition), Bangladesh and Chad, the protesters, who are also allegedly aided by mercenaries from Egypt and other countries, have managed to overrun the local Brigade headquarters and capture large quantities of arms and ammunition with which they are fighting against Col. Muammar Gaddafi's mercenaries?
    The Libyan authorities have alleged that Tunisian, Egyptian, Sudanese, Palestinian, Syrian and Turkish mercenaries have entered the country to fight on the side of the protesters. They have claimed to have arrested dozens of them. What are they doing with Gaddafi's mercenaries.
    The official Jana News Agency has said that those detained in several Libyan cities were members of a "foreign network (and were) trained to damage Libya's stability, the safety of its citizens and national unity."
    It has been alleged that Israel is behind the unrest. Jana said: "The people arrested have been charged with inciting acts of looting and sabotage, such as burning hospitals, banks, courts, prisons, police stations and offices of the military police, as well as public buildings and private properties. Certain Libyan cities have been the scene of acts of sabotage and destruction.
    Sources allegedly close to the investigation have not ruled out Israel being behind the network."
    The protesters have destroyed a radio station in Benghazi. There have been large-scale jail breaks. There's a Facebook video of a captured mercenary from Chad. The mercenaries have been allegedly offered between $12,000 - $30,000 each. Some of the latest Tweets originated by an organization called the “Democratic Underground” are given below:
    - Where the f...k is the US, the UN, or any other?
    - Come morning we'll learn just how much that oil is worth.
    - Security forces in Al Bayda, Darna and Ajdabiya have joined protesters...
    - Martyrs at Benghazi reached 500 and they will stay in the streets: no room
    - Do you remember what BP was allowed to do here? Libya is BP land now
    What a mess of contradictions and non-transparency. If any place needed clear, accurate reporting, it is Libya - AND THE TIME IS NOW.

  • Comment number 16.

    Why are people saying that the US and/or the UK should get involved? That is the last thing the world needs to happen. It will only cause serious ramifications throughout the world with potential retaliation by governments and terrorist groups. Just imagine how Al-Queda would react! Whilst I have every ounce of sympathy for these protestors, it is by far better to let them win the 'battle' themselves to bring about change in their countries.

    And someone mentioned there are sats that can read newspaper headlines. Yes that's true, but those are not civilian and therefore the BBC and other news agencies have no access to them!

  • Comment number 17.

    My partner & I were in Libya in December 2010. The Libyans we spoke to were very antagonistic towards Gaddafi but were wary of expressing themselves too openly (even using pseudonyms to refer to Gaddafi), fearful of the regime's complete intolerance of dissent combined with the brutality with which the police treat anti-government supporters.

    I received an email from a contact in Tripoli who is aware of the protests, and the subsequent savage reprisals, which are occurring in Benghazi, but states that nothing has yet happened in Tripoli. Bearing in mind this was sent to me early Saturday 20 February, so things may have changed since then. My contact further states that the government has closed down Facebook & Twitter & is trying hard to block the Internet, so further updates from within Libya will be increasingly difficult to obtain.

    It seems certain that whatever happens, Gaddafi will use whatever means he can to hang on to power and to continue to utilise the wealth of this resource rich country for his own personal gain.

  • Comment number 18.

    Rebellions in the Arab world have never resulted in revolutions but rather coups, assassinations and or holy wars, with existence under the military boot, fanatical holy men and radicals. To that end Egypt removal of the corrupt to the hilt tyrant, dictator is not much of an exception. Any reasonable returning to so called normalcy and economic equality is some five decades away. The people's plight, the traditions and the modus operandi in Egypt will not change over night. With the world economic terror besieged, food prices increase close to 40% far worst is on the horizon.

    Sooner then later the whole mess is going to come crashing down like there was no tomorrow.

    The US with the menace of these conservative republicans, their malignant narcissism, chronic scapegoating, uncorrectable grab bagging, perversity of inequality, rights only of their bigoted, racist kind, their war mongering, propaganda of terror hype, fomentation of hate, fear, wrapping up in the flag, farting patriotism hog wash, republican patriotic feeding frenzy to control the hearts and minds of the misled and gullible nation is ideologically divided, polarized and on a fast track of self destruction from within.

    There is not a State in this so called Union that is not in serious budget deficit and pay the bills. As compared to the criminally negligent Federal Government with over $13 trillion federal deficit, over $14 trillion debt owed the Chines, Arabs and others, these states states can not print money and extend the debt.

    To that end UK is not far behind and yet we still preach the hog wash of so called democracy that we preach it not. The prime example being the US Senate with two each idiots from each state, running a private club of the most undemocratic, unrepresentative, dysfunctional and inefficient body any where in the world.

  • Comment number 19.

    Now we have the BBC printing hearsay, this is worse than keeping quiet. The only way for Libya to settle its differences is by itself, if the US or UK step in it will be to create a situation more suitable for themselves. Yes, people will die as always happens when you try to right a wrong but when it's all over the people will govern themselves, which is the way it should be. The survivors will then be able to decide for themselves who they wish to trade with and set their own price, that price will be determined by market forces. If the big guns go in then they will be back to square one with a puppet government. As regards to Turkish Mercenaries in Libya, I think not. Turkeys policy is 'peace at home, peace abroad', what other countries do is their business not Turkeys.

  • Comment number 20.

    One senses in chui's meanderings that he is not a great fan of the Americans

  • Comment number 21.

    Despite attempts by the Gaddaffi regime to block all reports about what is happening, there does appear to be growing evidence of appalling atrocities inflicted on the civilian populations of Benghazi and other cities.
    In due course, there must be a United Nations investigation into whether war crimes have been committed. That is the least the world can do for all those innocents who have died.

  • Comment number 22.

    Being unable to enter at least means that reporters do not have to sell their souls and self censor their reports. Is no truth any worse than the half truths and bias that we get out of other dictatorships? After the collapse of the USSR, stories emerged that many journalists knew, but had not dared say, lest they be blackballed. How many such stories are there that journalists are sitting on, biting their tongues, from Saudi, Pakistan, Egypt and Palestine?

    I wonder if such behaviour by the monster Gadaffi will constrain the shrill and dishonest reporting we get about the behaviour of the only democracy in the region, where journalists may truly travel without let or hindrance, despite its being constantly traduced, viz. Israel? I wonder what may happen to the BP deal, bought by Blair and Brown in their Faustian bargain with the loony of Tripoli.

  • Comment number 23.

    How about sending in Tony Blair and Jack Straw to do your reporting? They seem to be most welcome in Libya - Jack Straw reportedly called Ghaddafi 'a great statesman'.

    Alternatively you could ask the boss of the UK firm that sold sniper rifles to Libya this year to go and see how they are being used.

  • Comment number 24.

    Whatever is going on, it is for Libya and the Libyans to sort out. Not for the BBC with hearsay reports and half truths. If the ogre Ghaddafi is guilty of all he is accused of then no doubt he will pay the penalty if the revolt succeeds. If it doesn't then nothing will have changed and the world will still have to deal with the man as though nothing has happened. I'm sure our good friends in the Orient and in Eastern Europe ( not to mention the EU ) will still be very keen to purchase his oil and assist him with development as well as filling their pockets.

  • Comment number 25.

    Its a brave man that decides to take on Gaddaffi! The guy is quite nuts and all out govenment have done is suck up to him and release a known terroris back to them. Got a very uneasys feeling at the moment with everything that is kicking off. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 26.

    @ Richard

    What exactly do you think the US and UK should do? Invade Libya? What are you talking about?

    Just because you are 'freedom-loving' people doesn't mean that you could or should go running round the globe meddling in other peoples' affairs. The US and UK do enough of that already and that's never worked out particularly well has it.

  • Comment number 27.

    To the people of the land of my childhood: You are a gracious and strong people. I hope for your victory and safety in this crisis.

  • Comment number 28.

    The reality is as Gadaffi himself said" we need the world to be involved in other things"
    translated into " i need to murder my citizens and need some diversion." hence his call on the Palestinians to rage!!!

    The problem is that the media is so dishonest and obsessed with Israel that they oblige and add to the diversion. Hence a big hoo haa about the Obama veto. Really the veto against at least 200 massacred Arabs in libya.

    Oh and guess what ? Is it not Libya the chairs the human rights committee at the UN.

    Silence and diversions and those who help the murderous dictators are your enemy. sadly it includes most of the liberal press and the liberal left.

    Hope they sleep well tonight as more Arabs get massacred by the chairman of the human rights committee .

    They are complicit in the murders.

  • Comment number 29.

    I lived in Libya as a child and absolutely loved the place before Ghaddafi came to power, but the key to all these issues across the Middle east is the military, supported by the Americans and the British with a view to securing the area for various reasons; oil, Israel and trade routes being the main ones. Nasser came to power as a nationalist propelled by the Egyptian army, backed by the British overthrowing a despotic King imposed by Britain. Simlarly we have the situation in Libya, Bahrain, Tunisia. The whole time it is a legacy of the last war and control.

  • Comment number 30.

    leoRoverman; The fact is history for North Africa is replete with Euro-Asian conquest and manipulation. America too, has its complicity and that is how Ghaddafi came to power in his overthrow of Idris. US and UK oil companies had the sanction of Idris to take the oil resource while he (Idris) became more wealthy from that deal and did little if anything for his people. While most of the responsibility for Idris falls on his own shoulders, Ghadaffi did use the US as a straw-man at the time. Ghadaffi did improve the material conditions of a large segment of the population but at great and ever increasing cost. Like all tyrants the Bedouin has lost site of his alleged origins and his real destructive effects on his people. It is time for him to stand down. But as you point out, what is the fate of this region under the duress of western interest?

  • Comment number 31.

    According to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), UK export licenses for sniper rifles bound for Libya were granted.

    "Sniper rifles were among the other equipment licensed in 2010. No requests for licences were refused in 2010. "

    It would be nice to see a BBC investigation into how many sniper rifles were sent to Libya, since they are clearly being used against civilians.

  • Comment number 32.

    Every since various reports began to talk about mercenaries, particularly in Bahrain and Libya, I questioned why would these dictatorial regimes need mercenaries? Don't they have their own armies?
    So I went searching:
    1. The Bahraini army is the only army in the world that is not formed from the citizens of the country. The Bahraini army and large part of the security forces are formed from mercenaries that are imported from across the world, including Yemen, India, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt and Jordan. They are "imported" mercenaries that under the international law are not allowed to form an army; however, in Bahrain the ruling family does not trust the Bahraini people so they import mercenaries. This may explain the ease at which these mercenaries can kill unarmed or sleeping people.
    The ruling family takes a large part of the country for their own financial use. They sell it or use it as their property. This has happened in Saudi Arabia, in Bahrain, UAE and Qatar. They believe that land belongs to them; it is their farm. The Saudis do not see anything wrong with the Al Khalifa taking that land in Bahrain. The value of the land he expropriated is worth about $40B - $40B for personal gain.
    2. As for Libya, allegedly Muammar Kadafi has flown in hundreds of mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa. Protesters in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city and an anti-Kadafi stronghold, supposedly captured some of the imported gunmen. The captured French-speaking mercenaries apparently admitted to having been recruited by Kadafi's son, Khamis. Witnesses Allegedly reported seeing four planes carrying mercenaries land in Benina International Airport near Benghazi. Several planes carrying foreign recruits in Libyan army uniforms landed at a military airport near Tripoli.

  • Comment number 33.


  • Comment number 34.

    a cogent explanation Mr Williams _ i thank you for it
    sadly all it really tells us is that the BBC did a better job in the past than it does today _ which is why the corporation you work for is running a very poor second to Al Jazeera which is widely accepted as the 21st Century 'Unbiased Voice'
    what you haven'texplained with your piece is why the BBC website is reporting "Scores killed in Libya" instead of the hundreds that every one of your news sources is reporting to you _

  • Comment number 35.

    I am posting under my real name because it is just possible that some amongst the older generation of Libyans may remember my father. I am old enough to remember Gaddafi coming to power, in 1969 as what then seemed an idealistic supporter of Nasser. His career over the past forty-two years has been a case study in "Power corrupts - absolute power corrupts absolutely".

    There has been a tendency amongst Europeans, Americans and Asians to see Gaddafi as an amusing eccentric - it should now be clear to everyone, as it has long been clear to Libyans, that he is no such thing but a clever, ruthless and brutal dictator. However, his age is showing - he is still trying to employ the techniques of his youth.

  • Comment number 36.

    What can the UK & US do? Or the rest of the world?

    Stop the hiring of mercenaries. Use whatever resources necessary to get rid of all mercenary organisations and their movement.

  • Comment number 37.

    I find it quite amusing that William Hague is criticizing the Libyans for their human rights abuses, when the British army continue, as they have done for decades, if not centuries, to abuse the human rights of every single person (and they amount to billions of human beings) who has been murdered or injured by their terrorist actions. The British government should sort out its own human rights record worldwide, before criticising the record of a fellow oppressive state!!!

    It's time to wake up and smell the stench of dead bodies, left behind by successive British governments and their repressive foreign policies!!!

  • Comment number 38.

    to the moderators _
    i don't know if this breaks the house rules or not _ if it's borderline then i ask you to err on the side of those caught up in the situation on the ground _ thanks

    [Personal details removed by Moderator].
    User = Telecomix. Password = Telecomix.

  • Comment number 39.

    staying on subject with Mr Williams report
    and just in case you don't know (BBC)
    Libyans and Egyptians on Twitter are reporting that the border between Egypt and Libyan is now wide open _ worth checking out??

  • Comment number 40.

    All I can say is thank god for Aljazeera who have been able to keep us updated on events in Libya

  • Comment number 41.

    my daughter is working in libya right now and just received an email of her saying that all tex messages stopped and sending an email will stop soon as well.She not allowed out of the house.Things do not look good.

  • Comment number 42.

    40. nbensaud
    "thank god for Aljazeera"

    I suggested that an Irish cousin of mine, who now lives in Long Island, should switch off Fox News and switch on Al Jezeera for a more balanced reporting on the Middle east. She almost had a fit and rubbished it. It just shows the image of free press in the Middle East is something that the West cannot and will not accept. It's a pity that the BBC could not be as free as Al Jezeera. So much for free press and democracy; the BBC is as much a propaganda tool as Jamahiriya Broadcasting is in Libya and that is a sad fact!!!

    "Follow the money. The... press has become... monopolistic and propagandist... the press in America... control the consciousness of the People. Kill your television before it turns you into a brainwashed slave. Democracy my ass!"

  • Comment number 43.

    NATO and the United Nations (UN) share a commitment to maintaining international peace and security. A situation like Libya, NATO and UN should send army to Libya immediately to help the ordinary people.

    Using the bystander effects and international military force, we can avoid the dictatorial government kills innocent people to remain its power; and also to promote international human rights conventions in that country.

    We are the citizens of the earth. We all deserve better treatment from our government and receive the protection of international human rights conventions.

  • Comment number 44.

    43. Lynn
    "NATO and UN should send army"

    Perhaps they should also send an army into Iraq and Afghanistan and remove the dictatorial governments backed by the US and UK, who kill innocent people to enforce supremacy and power; and also to promote international human rights conventions in that country???

    They should also send armies into Israel, and end the 'Holocaust' which the Palestinian people are being put through at present.

    The fact is, the UN and NATO have no say in actions carried out by the US, the UK and Israel, yet they have a say when it comes to Libya and other nations, who, like Israel, use force to oppress an opposing political entity.

    Would you agree???

  • Comment number 45.

    wouldn't that be interesting (&ironic too!)
    if this thread actually became the most up-to-date source for Libyan news on the BBC

    Benghazi has alreadey fallen and now Misrata too
    there are sounds of increasing gunfire in Tripoli
    and medical aid is free to travel from Egypt

    (meanwhile i guess it's Sunday evening on the BBC website!) >: /

  • Comment number 46.

    Jon Williams.

    "For 41 years, Muammar Gaddafi ... has made life difficult for the Western media."

    maybe for the media types, but certainly not for the men in suits; foreign investment and trade agreements with Libya are in a fine shape ( just have a look at some of the companies:

    anyway, as other commenters pointed out already, the BBC's sanctimonious hand-wringing must be seen in the context of our supplying weapons, etc to the regime. where's the analysis, Mr Williams??

  • Comment number 47.

    We all know about the difficulty of reporting from inside there.
    If you can't do it, simply don't say anything. Instead we've seen news teams create stories - ie the "hypocrisy" of the West in selling arms to the regime. Funnily enough this wasn't an issue with the other protests but because there is nothing else to report on, article after article I see in every paper is like a broken record talking about it.
    My view won't be popular with many but too bad. Those people protesting are to be blunt idiots. Gaddafi is one of the most ruthless and long-lasting dictators in the world. If anyone thinks he is going to worry about a few thousand unarmed protestors in the streets, they should think again.He will just mow them down with gunfire - by the thousand if he has to
    A lot of people are going to die and quite frankly very little will be gained. This is a man who would quite willingly drop a nuclear bomb on a city if he thought he could get away with it.
    If you want to take him on, you get enough firepower to give you a chance. Otherwise, you might as well just dig your own grave.
    And hundreds of articles whining about the west's hypocrisy will make no difference. Other than to make the left feel morally superior. Also, please remember it was Blair and Labour who first cosied up to Gaddafi, not the Coalition. A lot of people will die for this utopia and their deaths will I'm afraid all be in vain.

  • Comment number 48.

    It does seem that reporters find it difficult to get good news about the strength of Gadaffi's popular support. He undoubtedly has a fair bit. We saw recently video of him and supporters in Tripoli (he had on his white disco suit I noticed, not his army uniform) But a word of caution about such images.
    I saw demonstrations occasionally in Green Square, Tripoli between 1974 and 1982. They were the staple of the state TV channel. I also saw how contrived those events were and how deceptive when presented on TV. A few dozen men became transformed into hundreds. The demonstrators were reputedly rounded up from a nearby factory and coerced into participating. 'Go demonstrate or lose your job' was the story. The same few dozen each time. I can tell you that Libyans in a place as close to Tripoli as Misrata had no love for him even then. They'll be getting shot next if not already.

  • Comment number 49.

    47. glosterpowder
    "please remember it was Blair and Labour who first cosied up to Gaddafi, not the Coalition"

    Perhaps the Coalition could send, free gratis, some of the weapons it sells to people like Gaddafi, to the people in Libya who oppose him. But then, there would be no profit in it, so why would they!!!

    The British government, be it the coalition, Labour, the Cons or whoever, are culpable for the actions of Gadaffi and others. They feel the need to sell weapons of mass destruction to anyone willing to pay for them, then they criticise them for using these weapons. This is morally wrong, is it not Mr. glosterpowder???

  • Comment number 50.

    The problem is that its the job of BBC news to deliver news, and with Libya, one of the biggest stories of this or any other year, it's signally failed to do so. Even as I type it looks as though this should be the final hours of the current regime, but there's no real indication of this probability in the BBC's reporting. Similarly, whilst it was apparent with a modicum of investigation and a laptop that Qadaffi was massacring his own citizens in Benghazi over the course the past three days, the BBC said nothing. We go to the BBC news to find out what's going on in the world. It's fair enough if it misses or glosses over a story in a place so remote that news just isn't getting out or is only of marginal interest. But this is hardly that case. The dependence on having someone on the ground becomes a severe handicap with regard to getting the job done. Which puts its reputation on the line.

  • Comment number 51.

    It was said at the time that television helped to bring down King Idris; he perhaps unwisely gave an interview seated on his throne; he was a small man and the throne was large and the effect was unfortunate.

    I think the BBC are doing the right thing in carefully confining themselves to what they can verify - the Al-Jazeera blog is doing something different and very useful but there is no need for the BBC to do that as well.

  • Comment number 52.

    to the_aforementioned_reader

    i'm guessing by your post you're not following BBC this evening _
    just out of curiousity _ if you are watching a TV channel _ are it's initials 'AJ'? >; )

  • Comment number 53.

    news update
    Libyan tribes _ Arabs Berber Touareg and Chadians have all abandoned Gaddafi

  • Comment number 54.

    Another update

    Gaddafi has left for Venezuela.

  • Comment number 55.


    In part its Al Jazeera. But this has more to do with defining how you go about reporting. How do you ascertain the reliability of your sources? You either trust them because they're on the ground (as in the case of the Benghazi man who was interviewed last night live on CNN having set up a makeshift channel from there), or you test them on the basis of how accurate their information proves to be. Given the speed of events, that takes no more than a few hours. There are lot of very reliable people tweeting on what's happened in Libya, who have clearly had access to information on the ground that normal news channels cannot or will not access. Once you've established they are reliable, there's no reason not to refer to what they're saying, even if you still need a delay to verify facts through other sources. With regard to Libya it has been in the sources interest to reveal the truth rather than spread lies or even exaggerate. (Cf the way the tweeters themselves reacted angrily to spurious rumours about poisoned water supplies.)

    AJ reporting its now peaceful on streets of Tripoli. With regard to what could still be defined as a rumour that Qadaffi has left for Venezuela - that's one of those ones we'll have to wait a few hours and cross reference for veracity. But let's hope its true and the bloodshed has ceased.

    It should also be noted that it would appear there's a significant need for blood donations and medical supplies in Benghazi, a city which has seen its unarmed citizens confronting snipers and heavy weaponry. And winning... Not to mention other smaller cities in Libya where the story still remains opaque.

  • Comment number 56.

    For example - with regard to the Venezuela rumour someone has just posted (and this is typical of the reliable Tweeters/ Activists:

    "Let's all wait any see, these are all rumours so far. If they aren't true, we won't stop protesting!"


  • Comment number 57.

    DisgustedinDerry - why should the coalition get involved? They aren't responsible for Blair's actions. I repeat - if you support these protests, you are condemning thousands to die at the hands of a ruthless dictator. It may make you feel morally superior but as you talk about moral responsibility, perhaps you can explain how you justify supporting protests in which many will die in such large numbers. The left are good with the self-righteous talk but are quite happy to see others die for their own utopia.

  • Comment number 58.

    So let's have some evidence of Gaddafi's flight to Venezuela - I'll believe it when I see it.

  • Comment number 59.

    I would submit that media censorship is a common feature of dictator states that, amongst recent examples include: Ceausescu from Romania. There is no surprise - and probably other examples in the world today.

    Gaddafi will in my opinion go - maybe not this time, nor the next, but I'm quite sure it will happen. Towards this goal, the 'accuracy' of BBC reporting, and difficulties experienced by journalists in general is, surely, incidental to the lives currently lost, and those to be lost while this uprising continues.

    Reality check please BBC - the BBC moderates this blog - that seems fair enough to me - but it demonstrates that someone somewhere makes a decision on what someone somewhere else has posted and therein lies one possible explanation for the spat between Aide and Tebbit: one would rather that the other was a little more discrete in their publication.

    I sincerely hope the Libyan protests are successful and radical change takes place - but the presence of the BBC is surely incidental to the reality of the events.

  • Comment number 60.

    44. At 9:21pm on 20 Feb 2011, DisgustedinDERRY wrote: the Palestinian people

    Do you realise that BBC news is the best watchdog for all governments in the world? I didn’t mean to send NATO or UN troops to destroy the dictatorial governments, but be there to protect our journalists. It is very dangerous for our BBC journalists to report Libya news without the adequate protections.

    If any government found fail in compliance with international human rights conventions, then let the international human rights court make the judgement on them.

    However, having an effective and fair watchdog system is the first step to re-establish the world order.

  • Comment number 61.

    57. glosterpowder
    "why should the coalition get involved"

    I guess you could say they are already involved. As I said, they are culpable for the actions of Gadaffi. As for responsibility for Blair's actions; you are 100% correct. They are however responsible for their own actions; actions which ultimately gave Gadaffi the tools to murder hundreds of Libyan protesters. Stop trying to make the coalition sound sugar sweet. As I said before: The British government, be it the coalition, Labour, the Cons or whoever, are culpable for the actions of Gadaffi and others. They feel the need to sell weapons of mass destruction to anyone willing to pay for them, then they criticise them for using these weapons on their citizens.

    Let us not forget, it was the Tory party who were in power when the Parachute regiment were running amok in Derry and Belfast, killing dozens of innocent protesters!!!

  • Comment number 62.

    It IS quite irritating to see "the USA, UK and other western nations" simply 'condemn' the deaths of protesters in North African/Middle Eastern countries, nothing more. This unfortunately seems to be due to resources they require from said countries, resources readily obtainable. It appears obvious that these 'democratic' countries will deal with others regardless of how they treat their populace, until the last possible minute where they are forced to act by popular opinion. Hopefully at some point in the future governments can be completely honest with their people, instead of simply pretending they do and lying about it.

  • Comment number 63.

    60. Lynn
    "let the international human rights court make the judgement on them"

    It's unfortunate that the international courts are blocked by the US, from taking actions against the humanitarian crimes committed by the Israelis. I was merely making a point.

    You say send in the UN and Nato to protect journalists. Perhaps the NATO forces who murdered the journalists (as shown by Wikileaks), by gunning them down from an aerial gunship (piloted by coalition forces) could have protected these journalists instead of murdering them. I wish I could post the video here, but unfortunately, the BBC won't allow it. I will try on the next post, but if not, feel free to search for it yourself.

    Be fair to all journalists and not just Brit journalists. Don't you agree???

  • Comment number 64.

    60. Lynn

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]Here's the video, I hope the free press that is the BBC will allow it???

  • Comment number 65.

    Currently, when we talked about dictatorial governments like Saddam Hussein, we always used “word of mouth” (the past history) as evidence, which was very subjective and distorted by personal hatred.

    If we allow reputable journalists to catch the events like today’s Libya, which can be made as solid evidence in the international human rights court.

    We don’t want the revenge of the past. We should always follow the rule of “innocent until proven guilty".

  • Comment number 66.

    glosterpowder #57.

    "..why should the coalition get involved? They aren't responsible for Blair's actions."

    41 years !!! Blair's not much older than that; I think that you need to distinguish between party politics and government of the day.

    "..if you support these protests, you are condemning thousands to die at the hands of a ruthless dictator."

    people die when they try to wrestle power from 'the establishment', can't be helped. but what would be the alternative? consenting to being enslaved?

    Lynn #60.

    "If any government found fail in compliance with international human rights conventions.."

    first they'd all have to sign up (the US of A, for example, hasn't).

    human rights is just another of those items which fall by the wayside as long as we (ie all humans) allow ourselves to be divided, artificially, in to 'nationals'. there's only one planet, do we really need 200-odd nation states?

  • Comment number 67.

    65. Lynn
    "This comment has been referred for further consideration"

    Like I said, the freedom of press, granted by democratic values, does not apply to the BBC. I tried to post the Wikileaks video showing NATO forces murdering journalists, but the BBC won't allow it!!!

    "Follow the money. The... press has become... monopolistic and propagandist... the press... control the consciousness of the People. Kill your television before it turns you into a brainwashed slave. Democracy my ass!"

    Or you could watch Al Jezeera!!!

  • Comment number 68.

    Lynn #65.

    "If we allow reputable journalists to catch the events like today’s Libya, which can be made as solid evidence in the international human rights court."


  • Comment number 69.

    wise words brother ; )

    reliable sources on Twitter including Venezeluan officials flatly deny any truth to rumours of Gaddafi heading for Caracas

    "Do you realise that BBC news is the best watchdog for all governments in the world?"
    LOL _ i respectfully suggest you are slightly behind the curve sister _
    the foreign journalists of the BBC still have integrity _ but their producers_ of which i have some close experience_ no longer share that quality _ they are chased by managers who will happily turn to others if the 'right results' aren't produced and all of this is presided over by a senior management who very definitely have their own agenda _
    the BBC you ask us "to realise" is very nearly dead _ and sad to say i see very little within the corporation that can revive it

  • Comment number 70.

  • Comment number 71.

    70. DisgustedinDERRY

    Again, the free press of the BBC is not allowing the link to be properly posted. Is this China???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • Comment number 72.

    DisgustedinDERRY #70.

    yep, sure did. ;) the following is even more revealing:

  • Comment number 73.

    72. jr4412

    If any reader wants to view the links which have been blocked by China, copy and paste them into your server search box!!!

  • Comment number 74.

    Not allowing media and foreign journalists is not only unfair and unjust but inhumane. It is a political tool used by the despotic regime to suppress the legitimate voices for democracy by peaceful protestors.

  • Comment number 75.

    69. At 11:41pm on 20 Feb 2011, psy_warrior wrote: BBC producers

    Well. No system is perfect.

    If you read your own post again, don’t you think that your comments were “subjective and distorted by personal hatred” as mentioned in 65? You are trying to inject your impression of BBC producers into my head.

    Yet then, I will still have to follow the rule to think BBC producers are innocent until proven guilty. Otherwise, we will always talk in circle.

  • Comment number 76.

    actually i think the term 'personal hatred' is subjective and distorted

  • Comment number 77.

    72. At 11:52pm on 20 Feb 2011, jr4412 wrote:

    DisgustedinDERRY #70.

    yep, sure did. ;) the following is even more revealing:

    One day, I was attacked by local gangsters in my house. I was nearly killed by them.

    My point is that some journalists may have been honourably killed when they were doing their jobs, but others like me may have been killed when I was at home doing nothing. That is just life.

    The only thing we can do is to send troops to protect those journalists when they are working in the dangerous zones.

  • Comment number 78.

    77. Lynn
    "send troops to protect those journalists"

    And again I refer you to the coalition forces you wish to protect journalists, who murdered journalists in Iraq. I will also refer you to the numerous journalists murdered by Israeli forces. Why should NATO forces protect some journalists and murder others. The question I am asking is, what is the difference?

    Why should NATO protect you, yet murder Arab journalists???

    Why should NATO protect you, yet murder Terry Lloyd???

  • Comment number 79.

    Lynn #77.

    "My point is that some journalists may have been honourably killed when they were doing their jobs, but others like me may have been killed when I was at home doing nothing."

    would you be prepared atleast to entertain the thought that carrying out an investigation (professionally, as a journalist) will increase the likelihood of your losing your life?

    "The only thing we can do is to send troops to protect those journalists when they are working in the dangerous zones."

    I disagree; conflicts aren't black-and-white affairs, people who could expose 'our' role will be at risk. I'd say those troops would be as much of a hazard (to the investigative journalist), if not more so, than any of the 'enemy'. if you think I exaggerate, have a look at post-glasnost Russia. google, for example, "FSB journalists murdered". enjoy.

  • Comment number 80.

    news update
    Human Rights Watch warns that a massacre of grand scale is looming in Libya post-Gaddafi speech tonight.

  • Comment number 81.

    I can help you . I get live news from Libya [Personal details removed by Moderator] Here is the latest from Benghazi AlHuriya broadcast. Sunday 10:50 pm MST, Feb. 20, 2011.

    URGENT URGENT URGENT: Sheikh Zawi of the Sidra oil producing region says, “Oil will stop flowing to Europe if Europe does not take action against Gaddafi’s regime.”
    Benghazi is calm and under the control of the people.
    People are willingly surrendering their weapons as they are taking control of the city.
    Tripoli: Fighting is still taking place.
    Tripoli: Shops have closed in protest against Gaddafi.
    Two are dead in the Green Square in Tripoli.
    Zawiyya City: Anti-Gaddafi protestors who are armed are marching towards Tripoli and are expected to enter Tripoli within a few hours.
    Boats carrying Gaddafi supporters have landed on the shores of Derna: 25 have been captured and videos of their interrogation will soon be released.

    Marj City: Some of Gaddafi’s tribe have launched an attack on some citizens using anti-aircraft missiles;
    the people repelled the attack by commandeering a tank and crushed them against a wall.
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 82.

    Have a good day to all and God bless as ull!

    I would just like to inform the world through this comment here that even in Saudi Arabia they blocked the videos showing protesters in Bahrain lying on the ground and bloody, annd looks like hit by firearms. We can only see the video's "Thumbnail" but once you open it is totally restricted like the porn sites.

    Please check it out...thanks!

  • Comment number 83.

    "Critics of the BBC's coverage of Libya 25 years ago accused our reporting from Tripoli and Benghazi of being "riddled with inaccuracy, innuendo & imbalance"."

    Don't have to worry about that these days.
    From Al Jazeera English broadcast, just saw a while ago its US-based Arab news anchor interview a Libyan protestor in Benghazi in the English language. Same hard questions are asked with regards to how, who, what, where, when and approximately how many.
    Notwithstanding the second language used, the interviewer’s inquisitive questioning style coupled with the interviewee's choice of words and passionate delivery. Looked very credible to me.

    English is now the preferred 'language of dissent' further enhancing the language as the global lingua franca.

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

    sayasay #83.

    ""Critics of the BBC's coverage.." Don't have to worry about that these days."

    no, these days we have to worry about stuff like:

  • Comment number 86.

    Just to echo what others have said: I'm very grateful for aljazeera. I don't trust any news source completely, but they are outperforming the Beeb at the moment, on international news in general, not just the middle-east.

    In fact, if these revolutions fail in the end, I would expect huge pressure to be put on Qatar to rein it in. By fail, I mean new regimes in place which are very similar to the old, but with different frontmen, as after 1848.

  • Comment number 87.

    Another Tahrir Square needs in Tripoly and Benghazi .The situations remained still in Libya are really foggy and unexplained by the editor.So any way any kind of diplomacy should start for better corresponding.The world should have every right to know the present situations of Gaddafi's ruling now.Though in a sense Gaddafi is not in power as the people are leaving him at large from their hearts all across the country.Moments are to go Libya will see the light of democracy and it should be in a fair general expected election.

  • Comment number 88.

    Intriguing today to see BBC News Channel referring to tweets in their headline coverage of Libya.

  • Comment number 89.

    '84. At 10:35am on 21 Feb 2011'

    That this has been referred, doubtless for a few days until safe, either suggests a sense of humour failure on another reader's part, or an irony failure (given the topic), closer to home.

  • Comment number 90.


    It is awful what is happening in Libya but there is no need to bring Northern Ireland into this in such a way. It is quite clear that your views are very bitter and imbalanced. I don't know your background, nor you mine, but if you are going to bring it up then please remember there are two sides to every story. You say:

    "Let us not forget, it was the Tory party who were in power when the Parachute regiment were running amok in Derry and Belfast, killing dozens of innocent protesters!!!"

    Let us not forget terrorists who opposed the government in Derry and Belfast and elsewhere in the UK were killing innocent people. And still are trying to.

    I could be wrong but my gut feeling is however you were supportive of this. So it grates with me that you are offering such a self-righteous opinion of events in Libya.

  • Comment number 91.

    Also finally catching up with: @BBCWorld the channel is

  • Comment number 92.

    jag22 #90.

    "It is awful what is happening in Libya but there is no need to bring Northern Ireland into this in such a way."

    wrong. N.I. is part of the UK and governed from London; Libyan protesters are shot with weapons sold from the UK, Libyan police and forces were (apparently) trained and supported by UK personnel. whichever way you look at it -- the money trail always ends in London.

  • Comment number 93.

    64. Moderator

    Rich post indeed. As I always tell you mods who seem to be on a moral high ground: What is happening in the world, in terms of state sponsored terrorism, be that the Libyan state, the British state or the US state, it is the job of the media (who in this instance are subsidised by the public), and especially in a so-called democracy, to report with accuracy events that are occurring in the name of freedom. The Chinese element within the BBC, and indeed within the mods on these blogs, are doing no one any favours by hiding the truth. You the mods are as culpable as the governments carrying out acts of state sponsored terrorism, by failing to report the truth, and by preventing others like me from flagging up these terrorist acts.

    Shame on you, I hope you sleep well at night now, because some day you will meet your maker and your sleep will be eternal in the flames of a dark place!!!

  • Comment number 94.

    Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has treated Libya like his Manorial Estate and the Libyan citizens like serfs, since he took power in a military coup against King Idris in 1969. Gadhafi became a delirious buffoon who spent his time making speeches against the U.S. and Israel on Libya's Radio Jamaharija, and asked the Arabs to unite under his leadership by trying to re-invent himself as the "new" Gamal Abdel Nasser of the Arab world. He spent Libya's oil money in bribes to other friendly Arabs, and he made forays into Central Africa carrying $ millions to corrupt Central African dictators in an effort to gain recognition as a Arab and Pan-African leader. His confidant and co-leader in the military coup against Idris, Abdel Salem Jaloud, was running the government behind as prime minister.

    But 42 years later, Gadhafi has become a subject of intrigue and ridicule. He has welcomed foreign heads of states in desert tents, and he made official visits in other countries
    bringing along - and setting up, tent camps residence in foreign capitals for himself and his entourage, along with a herd of camels for the entire state visit! Foreign leaders have reluctantly accepted his antics due to diplomatic protocols, and because they had commercial interests in Libya tied to their economy. And as former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was grooming his son to take over upon the end of his tenure, so has Gadhafi prepared his son Saif Gadhafi to inherit the Libyan leadership after him - as if Libya were his private property! And Saif Gadhafi's answer to the Libyans uprising against his father's 42- year dictatorship was to go on the official Libyan TV, and tell Libyans that "the state -he and his father- will fight to the last drop of their blood, and to the last bullet, to stay in power," on quote. (Voice Of America, February 21, 2011) And that means, that the Gadhafi family is ready to slaughter thousands -and probably millions, of Libyans who are trying -and dying- to reclaim their land from the feudal ownership claimed by the Gadhafis.

    I believe the U.S. should use the CIA to contact and support anti-Gadhafi elements to support the Libyan revolution. The CIA had contacts in 1980's and 90's with Abdel Salem Jaloud in efforts to undermine the Islamic Republic in Iran, and I believe the CIA still has useful contacts inside Libya able to help bring down the murderous Ghadafi regime.

    Of course Gdadafi has wised up after the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein; scrapped his nuclear program; paid compensation to the U.S. Lockerbie bombing, and has cut his anti-American rhetoric. But should we be fooled by his calculated self-survival entreats to the U.S.? I think we shouldn't. Gadhafi has ruled Libyans as if they were medieval serfs for 42 years, and now he is killing them with the same ease that Montana hunters shoot prairie dogs. And I feel that the U.S. has to do more than just expressing "concern" for the widespread bloodshed in Libya, and then do nothing! It is an aberration on our part!

  • Comment number 95.

    Arab countries are expressing their rage loudly; long-established Arab regimes are starting to panic...or fight and kill.
    The fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, by far the largest Arab country, makes it possible that many other autocratic regimes in the Arab world will fall. (Remember the dominoes of communist regimes in Europe in 1989?)
    But why now?
    Social media is one widely touted explanation;
    al-Jazeera coverage of the events in Tunisia and Egypt is another.
    Both are reasonable explanation, but not really plausible.
    People seem ready to come out on the street, protest, and die if necessary.
    But why now? And do these people really understand for what?
    The one real difference in the Middle East - the United States is starting to withdraw. American intervention - of economic necessity of nothing else - cannot afford to intervene in Arab affairs. Maybe that's the reason for now.
    Americans must know that they essentially failed in Iraq. The last US troops are finally gettting out this year. The American people must suspect the futility of the War in Iraq as well as the War in Afghanistan - and at such tremendous, bloody bankrupting cost! Maybe that's the reason for now.
    Washington is finally reassessing its North African and Middle East policies; Washington must stop its gross imperalism; American is 14 trillion IN DEBT; THAT IS ABOUT ONE WHOLE YEAR'S UNITED STATES' GDP!
    The Arab people may not appreciate this sad American position, but most certainly the regimes do...They are, for the most part, on their own - sink or swim.
    The American motives have always been oil and Israel. American oil supplies had to be protected. Israel had to be protected; it was an important military asset, or rather should I have said MOSSAD - the Middle Eastern CIA, only better than the CIA.
    Things, they are a'changing.
    No one really knows the new face of the Middle East or North Africa - who will survive, who will not survive? it possible for real democracy to take hold, and then again, what is so great about real capitalistic democracy. Have we not seen enough of that system in the west?
    Yes, it is difficult to report from any of this rebellious countries, especially Libya...but one thing is for certain, each one of them, turned loose from American imperalistic dominance, must find its own way, its own style; and like it or not, this may not be democracy. e.g. It could, for example, be socialism.
    I think it is vitally important they external countries leave these rebelliuos countries alone - stop with the importing of mercenary assistance, stop with the meddling, stop with the biased reporting (when you really only know one side), stop playing with the future of living, breathing, thinking people: They will find their own way.

  • Comment number 96.

    BluesBerry #95.

    "..Egypt, by far the largest Arab country.."

    accuracy please. the most populous perhaps, but not the largest (by area).

  • Comment number 97.

    90. jag22
    "Let us not forget terrorists"

    First of all, one man's terrorist is another man's hero. look at the the British army for example. From the present day, and going back centuries, they have murdered billions of innocent human beings. They are seen by nations the world over as a terrorist organisation, propped up and defended by the most evil of parliaments, Westminster. If you cannot see that, then your statement also applies to yourself "you were supportive of this. So it grates with me that you are offering such a self-righteous opinion". Like you said in your imbalanced post: There are two sides to every story!!!

    In the context of this issue, Ireland, and in particular the massacres carried out by the Parachute regiment in Derry and Belfast in late '71 and early '72, have something in common with what is happening in Libya today. The state is using bullets to put down and suppress opposition. The reason why I brought it into the argument, is because, in post 57, glosterpowder was attempting, badly might I add, to paint the Tories as a party that is sugar sweet. As any basic Irish history book will inform you, that is not the case; the Tories are recorded as being a party who were rotten to the core in terms of the "Irish Question" and used the army, as well as the illegal terrorists the UVF, to suppress the Irish who wanted equality and change. Now to me, that has a similar ring to it as the actions of Libyan forces; wouldn't you agree???

    You also talk of the terrorists who opposed the government in Derry and Belfast. You might not know this, but the British state used unionist terrorists such as the UDA, UVF and others, to murder innocent men, women and children. They used sectarian serial killers to again suppress the Irish, who only ever wanted equality and freedom from oppression. Again, there are two sides to every story!!!

    I agree with jr4412: the trail of terrorism leads back to London, and has done for centuries!!!

  • Comment number 98.

    The origin of the weapons used in the tragic uprising in Libya is irrelevant, much like you could not blame a DIY store if a hammer purchased from it was used in a crime, or an oil company's petrol was used in an arson.
    The real concern here is how we can now help the people in Libya to find a voice without any further bloodshed, irrespective of other political hot-spots in the world. The past is the past. Let's help them find freedom in a similar way to those in Egypt have bravely done recently.

  • Comment number 99.

    Two Libyan Air Force Mirage jet fighters have arrived in Malta and landed at MIA.

    Their arrival was totally unexpected and it is not known if the pilots are defecting. Sources said that the pilots were both colonels based at Okha Brin Nafe, near Tripoli. They initially asked for emergency clearance to land and for refuelling.

    It was not clear if the pilots formed part of air force elements used to bomb protesters who have taken over the second city of Benghazi.

    Their arrival followed shortly after the arrival of two civilian helicopters which flew in and landed at Malta International Airport this afternoon carrying seven people.

    Informed sources said the helicopters 'escaped from Libya with no official clearance' but arrived in Malta regularly.

    Such was the haste of their departure from Libya, that only one of the passengers was carrying a passport. The passengers claimed they are French.

    Immigration police are checking the identities of the passengers while holding them at the airport.

  • Comment number 100.

    Please contact a group of Libyans working under the FaceBook name Libyan Eagel (yes it is the spelling they use) They are continually bringing out news and video out of Libya and working with others to disseminate information.
    their FB page!/profile.php?id=100002076704106

    The are at times scared as the violence against the people has been unthinkably inhuman. They can get you fresh news and they speak a workable amount of english.


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