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Map of Africa just before World War I……
The continent of Africa was the cradle of human life.
Each stage in the development of humankind can be traced in the African record.
The ancient civilization of Egypt flourished there.
In the classical world of Greece and Rome, Africa was regarded as a source of wisdom.

Many great yet viable kingdoms and states once thrived on the African continent. Much of South and Central Africa’s history took place in comparative isolation from the rest of the world, while sub-Saharan Africa traded with the North Mediterranean and North East Africa traded with the Middle East and with India.

European attitudes towards Africa changed with the Christianization of Europe so that by the Middle Ages, Africa became associated with darkness and heathen religious practices.

In 1454 and 1483, the Pope ceded much of Africa to the emerging maritime colonial powers, Spain and Portugal. In the nineteenth century, the northern European colonial powers divided the rest of Africa among themselves. 

Exploitation followed of the continent’s wealth and people, with few resources being invested for the continent’s own benefit.

The decolonization process during the twentieth century saw the emergence of nation-states with artificial borders, often crossing tribal boundaries and with limited infrastructure.

Political instability and economic crises characterized much of Africa during the second half of the twentieth century.
Presidents tended to be “for life” and political freedom was rare. However, such leaders led countries that lacked a solid civil society foundation upon which democracy could be built.
Many of these authoritarian leaders accumulated vast fortunes for themselves while they impoverished their countries and increased their countries’ financial indebtedness to the West.

At the beginning of the 21st century, it could be argued, European nations began to accept some moral responsibility for the plight of Africa due to centuries of exploitation and underdevelopment and to make its development a political priority.

For many, Africa represents a moral challenge to humanity and a test of humanity’s commitment to create a more just, more equitable world.

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The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) confiscated 20 hectares of Qaryut village land in a bid to legitimize and expand an illegal settlement outpost, the Peace Now movement said on Friday.

It said in a statement that 18.9 hectares (one hectare equals 10000 square meters) of uncultivated land in Qaryut village, to the east of Salfit city, were declared “state land” on 26th June to allow for the building of more houses in an illegal settlement.

The movement had asked Israeli courts to order the dismantling of this illegal settlement, which was built without official permission.

The non-government organization said that the confiscation of the land ran contrary to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge that his government would not confiscate more Palestinian land in the West Bank for the sake of expanding settlements.

The last such confiscation of Palestinian land to expand a settlement was made in 2008 south of the West Bank.

The Palestinian Information Center …

Countdown to Invasion; Libya’s Neighborhoods Prepare for NATO’s Boots…

By FRANKLIN LAMB

Tripoli, Libya

At ten a.m. Tripoli time on 6/28/11 the Libyan Ministry of Health made available to this observer its compilation entitled “Current Statistics Of Civilian Victims Of Nato Bombardments On Libya, (3/19/11-6/27/11).

Before releasing their data, which will be made public this afternoon, it was confirmed by the findings of the Libyan Red Crescent Society and also by civil defense workers in the neighborhoods bombed, and then vetted by researchers at Tripoli’s Nassar University.

As of July 1, 2011, military casualties have not been officially released by the Libyan armed forces.

In summary, the MOH compilation documents that during the first 100 days of NATO targeting of civilians, 6121 were killed or injured. The statistical breakdown is as follows: 3093 Men were injured and 668 were killed. Women killed number 260 and 1318 injured. Children killed number 141 and 641 injured.

Of those seriously injured 655 are still under medical care in hospitals while 4,397 have been released to their families for outpatient care.

NATO claims that private apartments and homes, schools, shops, factories, crops, and warehouses storing sacks of flour were legitimate military targets are not believed by anyone here in Libya and to date NATO has failed to provide a scintilla of evidence that the 15 civilians, mainly children and their aunts and mothers, who were torn to pieces by 8 NATO rockets in the Salman neighborhood last week were legitimate military targets.

Tripoli’s 3,200 neighborhoods, independently of the Libyan Armed Forces, are intensively preparing for the possibility that NATO forces or those they are seen as increasingly arming and directing, might invade the cosmopolitan greater Tripoli area during the coming weeks or months.

This observer has had the opportunity to visit some of these neighborhoods the past couple of nights and will continue to do so. As noted earlier, contrary to some media reports by the BBC, CNN and CBS Tripoli’s neighborhoods during the cool evenings with wafting sea breezes, are not tense, “dangerous for foreigners and in control of trigger happy soldiers or militias.” The latter assessment is nonsense. Americans and others are welcomed and their presence appreciated. Libyans are anxious to explain their points of views, a common one of which is that they are not all about Qaddafi but about protecting the family, homes, and neighborhoods from foreign invaders. A majority does support the Qaddafi leadership which is what they received with their mother’s milk, but nearly all emphasize that for them and their friends it is very much about defending their revolution and country first. They appear to this observer to be very well informed about the motives of NATO and those countries that are intensively targeting their leader and their officials without regard to civilians being killed. It’s about oil and reshaping African and the Middle East.

Sitting and chatting with neighborhood watch teams is actually an extremely enjoyable way to learn about and to get to know the Libyan people and how they view events unfolding in their country. It certainly beats hanging out at the bar at the hotel where the western press crowd often gather their journalistic insights and pontificate about what “the real deal is” as one told me the other day. I could not figure out much that he was talking about.

On the evening of 7/1/11 as many as one million, five hundred thousand Libyan citizens are expected to gather at Tripoli’s Green Square to register their resistance to NATO’s intensifying civilian targeting blitz. Some western journalists will not attend this news event because they are afraid of potential danger or their stateside bureaus are suggesting they stay away “so as not legitimize the gathering” What has become of orientalist journalism?

The neighborhoods in Libya are preparing for a ground invasion and to confront directly the invaders with a plan that one imagines would not be unfamiliar to a General Giap of Vietnam or a Chinese General Lin Peio, being a massive peoples defense. It has been organized with a house by house, street by street defense plan for every neighborhood and will include all available weaponry.

The defenders are not military although many of the older ones had done one year compulsory service following high school. Their ranks include every able bodied woman and man from age 18 to 65. Younger or older will not be refused.

They are organized into 5 person squads once they complete their training. It works like this: Anyone over 18 years of age can report to his neighborhood “Tent”. Knowing virtually everyone in the area, the person will make application and will be vetted on an AK-47, M-16 or other light arm.

Depending on her/his skill level he will be accepted and given a photo ID that lists the weapons the applicant qualified on. If he needs more training or is a novice it is provided at the location which includes a training area, tent with mattresses for sleeping, a make shift latrine and canteen.

The basic training for those with no arms experience, including women, is 45 days. Past that, the commitment is four months. Each accepted individual is issued a rifle (normally an AK-47 “Klash” along with 120 rounds of ammo.) Each individual is asked to return in one week to discuss their training and show that they did not waste their bullets which cost around one dollar each. If approved, they will be issued more.

Those who begin their duty work one eight hour shift. Women tend to work during the day when kids are in school but I have seen many women also on the night shift. Most men have regular jobs and proudly explain than they volunteer one work shift daily for their country. They appear to be admired by their neighbors.

I agreed not to describe other weapons that will be used if NATO appears besides rifles, grenades, booby-traps, rocket propelled grenades (RPG’s) but they appear formidable.

But besides preparing for armed defense of their families and homes and neighbors, these neighborhood volunteer civil defense teams explained to me what their main work involves. When an area is bombed, they quickly help the residents exit their bombed building, get medical help on the scene for those who need it, help the families assure the frightened children that things are OK, make notes of needed repairs, provided temporary shelter nearby if needed, and countless tasks the reader can imagine would be required.

Each check point becomes a neighborhood watch security center for the community. Cars are cursorily checked, usually just the trunk. Often the drivers are known to the security forces, many of whom are university students, because they are also from the area. Occasionally a car will stop and a citizen will exit and deliver a tray of fruit or pastries or a pot of Libyan soup etc. A very congenial social atmosphere.

Because NATO has been increasing its bombing of these civilian manned checkpoints, about 50 of which are along the road from the Tunisian border to Tripoli, the neighborhood watch teams are now operating without lights at night.. Those on night duty have each been issued one of those small heavy duty five inch mini flashlights with has a powerful beam. This observer was presented one as a souvenir and can attest to its fine quality.

They are civilian because they are volunteers and the regular policemen and women have in large numbers joined an army unit hidden elsewhere toward the east.

In addition to its current problems, NATO will face another major one if they decide to invade Western Libya.


Tom Dale: Nato’s real plan for Libya…

What is Nato doing in Libya? Drive through any town in rebel-held Libya and the slogans from the early days of Nato’s offensive are plain to see. “Thank you USA, Britain, France”, “Thank you Nato”. The graffiti is a reminder of the moment when airstrikes prevented Muammar Gaddafi’s tanks from overrunning the rebellion in Benghazi. But three months later that sentiment is evaporating. Last month, at a rebel outpost in the Nafusa mountains, in western Libya, this was very much in evidence. Gaddafi has been shelling the town of Nalut for weeks, and rebels on the mountain tops can see the launchers in plain view. They say they pass the co-ordinates to Nato, but these are rarely used.

According to them, on one occasion a Nato jet was actually overhead while a launcher fired, but did nothing. A rebel commander asked: “What is Nato doing about the shelling from Gaddafi? A girl was orphaned here because Nato isn’t helping. It’s all talk and no action, the revolutionaries have lost confidence in Nato, it’s clear that they are serving their own interests.”

On the eastern front there are similar sentiments. However, while confusion or outrage are common, there has been little acknowledgement that they are reactions to a definite Nato strategy. As the Economist puts it, the Nato powers hope that “the rebels will not capture Tripoli after a headlong advance from the east”. Instead, they want to see the regime implode: and that hope corresponds to a strategy of pressure on Gaddafi’s command apparatus, rather than the tanks that are preventing the rebel advance. That is the reason for the present deadlock. According to the Economist, the reason for this is the “risks of retribution being inflicted on Gaddafi loyalists” in a rebel advance. But is it plausible that Nato’s primary motivation is to minimise the loss of life?

There are reasons to be sceptical. For a start, while there have been human rights abuses on the rebel side, these have not amounted to mass killings. Rebel fighters tend to see Gaddafi’s soldiers as having been duped, and civilians in cities such as Tripoli as too cowed to rise up.

Most even see opposing soldiers as “Libyan brothers”. Nato’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has said: “I don’t think rebels will attack civilians.” Furthermore, the prolonged conflict is costing more casualties on both sides every day, as rebel fighters with little more than small arms seek to push back an army of tanks and artillery. Nato strikes in Tripoli, while aimed at military targets, inevitably put civilians at risk, and Gaddafi’s authority has already lasted longer than Nato anticipated.

But why would the western powers prefer a coup by Gaddafi’s inner circle to victory by the rebel army? Such a coup would imply a negotiated settlement between the elements of the old regime still around Gaddafi, and the rebel leadership – which itself incorporates many ex-regime figures. Western governments want stability and influence, and they see the figures of the old regime, minus the Gaddafi family, as the best guarantors of that. Meanwhile, the deadlock is producing tensions. On 20 June rebels cut the oil pipeline from the southern wells to Zawiya, although Nato had asked them not to do so. On 29 June it emerged that the French government has been unilaterally smuggling weapons, including “light tanks”, to rebels in the west. France has a disagreement with its coalition partners over how to bring Gaddafi down, and may be looking to build direct influence with the rebels.

In the first third of June, 46% of Nato strikes were in or near Tripoli, despite the lack of fighting there, while in the latter third that figure fell to 17%. After 20 June the number of strikes per day outside Tripoli nearly trebled. This suggests some sort of reorientation towards the rebels in the field, perhaps as a response to Gaddafi’s surprising resilience. Nonetheless, that resilience is not infinite. When he does go, the future of Libya will be the contested terrain of the forces that have deposed him.

That includes the different western powers, and the refugees from the old regime. Each of them is tussling for influence now, and Nato’s strategy is one expression of that tussle.

… … … 

(Source: Guardian)

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