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Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

Category: Libya

SYRIA: Satellite TV station keeps Moammar Kadafi on the air

Kadassad

He's in hiding and state TV doesn't take his calls anymore, but Moammar Kadafi can still count on one friendly place to air his calls to burn Libya down: Syria, where beleaguered leader Bashar Assad is allowing a satellite TV station to air all the deposed Libyan leader's fervent appeals.

Al Oruba channel, linked to the privately owned Al Rai station in Syria, aired Kadafi's two latest audio messages Thursday, both calling for any supporters he has left in Libya to keep battling.

"Let there be a long fight and let Libya be engulfed in flames," Kadafi said in one of the messages broadcast Thursday throughout the Arab world.

Al Rai and Al Oruba are owned by Mishan Jabouri, an Iraqi exile and Sunni Arab once close to Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, who was later deposed and executed.

A member of Iraq's parliament in the first years after Hussein's overthrow, Jabouri fled the country after prosecutors indicted him in 2005 on charges of embezzling millions of dollars in state money from contracts to protect Iraq's oil pipelines against attacks. Officials accused him of diverting the money to the country's Sunni insurgency.

Syria allowed Jabouri to make his home in exile there. The U.S. Treasury Department issued sanctions against the first satellite channel he set up in Syria, Zawraa TV, after he used it to air videos of insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and denounce Iraq's "American occupiers." Zawraa TV went off the air in 2007.

Jabouri personally broadcast support for Kadafi during Libya's rebellion.

Throughout the rebellion, Kadafi used impromptu, rambling calls to Libyan state TV to get out his defiant messages. He called with appeals for more fighting, and with claims such as that the rebels were crazed young men hopped up on drug-laced Nescafe.

When Libyan rebels seized Tripoli in late August, they made capturing state TV one of their first objectives.

Jabouri's channel in Syria allowed Kadafi to continue his televised messages without skipping a beat, even as the Libyan leader otherwise disappeared from view.

"Cleanse Tripoli of the rats," Kadafi urged in one of his first appeals via the Syrian-based channel, declaring that fighting in Libya would continue "not for months but for years."

Libyan rebels are now seeking Kadafi and demanding his surrender. Kadafi, via Syrian TV, said no.

His sons, also in hiding, have used the Syrian channel to issue their own defiant calls.

All television stations in Syria are closely controlled by Assad's government. Syrian broadcasters say nothing goes out without the government's monitoring and tacit approval.

In early spring, the Arab League sought to block Kadafi's televised appeals by asking the regional satellite TV industry group, the Arab Satellite Communications Organization, to block any channels airing broadcasts on Kadafi's behalf.

ALSO:

Anti-government activist describes life in Baniyas

Death toll climbs as protesters celebrate Muslim holiday

Cartoonist beaten, Human Rights Watch disputes Assad pledge

-- Special correspondent Ellen Knickmeyer in Beirut.

Photo: Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, makes a point to Moammar Kadafi at an Arab summit in 2008. Credit: Hassan Ammar / AFP/Getty Images

Kadafi wife, three children flee to Algeria

Hannibal The Algerian foreign minister said Moammar Kadafi's wife and three of his children escaped to Algeria early Monday, according to Sky News.

The rebels' government, the Transitional National Council, which is in the process of forming an administration to run the country, has called sheltering Kadafi's family members an "act of aggression."

"We are warning anybody not to shelter Kadafi and his sons. We are going after them in any place to find them and arrest them," said Mahmoud Shamman, an NTC spokesman.

Officials with the NTC said they would seek the extradition of Kadafi's wife Safiya, daughter Aisha and sons Mohammed and Hannibal.

At the British Foreign Office, staff told Sky News they were aware of the situation, which they said was "a matter for the NTC."

Hannibal Kadafi, 35, earned his MBA from Copenhagen Business School and worked as a consultant to the management committee of Libya's General National Maritime Transport Co.

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LIBYA: Moammar Kadafi's son Khamis reportedly killed in airstrike

Khamis
Khamis Kadafi, the youngest son of longtime Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi, has been killed in a NATO airstrike, Sky News reported.

Khamis2 The British network said a man claiming to be Khamis Kadafi’s bodyguard said the younger Kadafi was in a Toyota Land Cruiser that was hit by a missile fired from a NATO Apache helicopter. A rebel official told the network that they were close to confirming that Khamis Kadafi died Saturday during fighting with rebels near Tarhuna, about 50 miles southeast of Tripoli.

Khamis Kadafi, a Russian-trained military officer, commanded an elite battalion dedicated to protecting his father.

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LIBYA: African Union refuses to recognize new Libyan government

Zuma
The African Union refused to recognize Libya’s oppositional National Transitional Council on Friday.

The group's Peace and Security Council called instead for the creation of an authority before the next elections that would include all of the country's warring parties, according to Al Arabiya.

Officials called an emergency meeting of the 15-member council, which they said was split almost in half between countries that have recognized the opposition Libyan government and those that have not, including many past supporters of embattled Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi.

The council includes Zimbabwe, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Libya, Namibia, South Africa, Djibouti, Rwanda, Burundi, Chad, Benin, Ivory Coast, Mali and Mauritania.

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LIBYA: Diaspora reminisces, via Twitter

Tasbeeh Tasbeeh Herwees, 19, is Libyan American, grew up in Cypress and is now a rising senior at the University of Southern California studying print and digital journalism. After the uprising began in Libya, she has been frequenting Twitter, Facebook and other online forums and blogging about what she sees.

Herwees has also written for The Daily Trojan and Neon Tommy, including her most recent reflection on the uprising.

Here she blogs for The Times about one discovery.

As the end of the era of Moammar Kadafi draws near, Libyans are starting to look to the future -- and reflect on the past.

A day after Libyan revolutionaries entered Tripoli and liberated it from Kadafi forces, diaspora Libyans on Twitter -- such as myself -- started a hashtag to reminisce about their time in Libya.

Tagging each tweet with #MemoriesInLibya, Libyans wrote 140-character-long recollections of visits to their homeland. The tweets were almost poetic in nature. Restricted to a few words, each one had to be chosen for the most powerful emotional impact. 

The tweets captured heartfelt family moments and memories of first visits. 

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LIBYA: Amnesty International offers evidence of Libyan detainee killings

Prison
Amnesty International officials claim they have evidence that Moammar Kadafi's guards killed detainees at two Tripoli military camps this week.

The London-based human rights group released a statement Friday relating what they had been told by men who escaped the camps, and demanding an end to the killings.

Here's what one of them said, according to Amnesty:

Hussein Lafi, 40, of Zawiya, claimed he was among those who escaped from the Khilit Ferjan camp in southwest Tripoli. He had been held there since June with his three brothers as punishment for supporting the opposition, he said.

He said guards shot at about 160 detainees as they attempted to flee the converted metal hangar, hurling grenades at them.

“I was standing by the door when I spotted two guards. They immediately opened fire, and I saw one of them holding a hand grenade. Seconds later, I heard an explosion, followed by four more," he said.

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LIBYA: Ban Ki-moon stresses 'smooth transition,' urges aid

Ban United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a "smooth transition" in Libya during a speech  Friday in New York.

"That transition must be grounded in inclusiveness, reconciliation and national unity  under a new government that can effectively deliver on the Libyan people's aspirations for democracy, freedom and growing social and economic prosperity," he said. "There is an urgent need to put an end to the conflict and restore order and stability."

Questions have emerged in recent days about whether the new rebel government, the Transitional National Council, is prepared to police the country.

"If the Libyan authorities request, we should be prepared to help develop police capacity, bearing in mind that the country is awash with small arms," Ban said.

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LIBYA: Doctors Without Borders faces challenges in Libya

Hospital
Among those responding to the conflict in Libya has been Doctors Without Borders, the international medical volunteer group. The Times spoke Friday with Michael Bates, the group's head of mission for Libya and Tunisia, from his base in Zarzis, Tunisia, about 270 miles from the Libyan border.

Q: Your group has about 70 people working in Libya, including medical teams in Tripoli, Benghazi, Bates Zintan, Yefren and Zawiya. What were conditions like there Friday?

A: Over the last few days, the number of patients coming through has slowed down.

The majority of the wounds we have been seeing are gunshots. We’re not seeing any shrapnel wounds anymore.

Q: Have you heard anything about reported revenge killings?

A: We can’t see it in patients or from interviewing patients.

We were concerned about the number of civilian casualties a few days ago. We heard a large number had been hit by snipers, which is unacceptable for either side to partake in. It’s completely against all rules for civilians in a combat zone. More care has to be given to civilians, including medical personnel in the combat zone to give them free passage to enter the hospitals.

Q: Is it difficult to define who is a civilian in this conflict between rebels and Kadafi loyalists?

A: When you're receiving children and women, it’s pretty clear they are civilians.

Q: What else are you concerned about now?

A: There are still some insecure areas. We do have concerns that patients may have trouble in some areas reaching health facilities.

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LIBYA: The taking of Aisha Kadafi's pool [video]

 

Libyan opposition supporters have apparently been bringing their families over to the luxurious Tripoli home of Moammar Kadafi's daughter, Aisha. Among other things, they come to take a dip in the pool.

The video could not be independently verified. However, note the:

-- Kadafi poster-turned doormat;

-- Apparent cannonball contest underway in the deep end;

-- Gold bench rally/photo op (reminiscent of photos taken after troops seized Saddam Hussein's palaces);

-- Hot tub tour.

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LIBYA: NATO and rebel forces attack Kadafi hometown

Airport
NATO and rebel forces attacked holdout forces loyal to Moammar Kadafi in the capital and Kadafi's hometown of Surt to the east on Friday.

British warplanes pounded a “large headquarters bunker" overnight in Surt, British Defense Ministry officials told CNN on Friday. Tornado aircraft also fired precision-guided missiles into the city, which lies on Libya's central coast.

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LIBYA: Hundreds of bodies found at abandoned Tripoli hospital

Bodies
More than 200 decomposing bodies were discovered at an abandoned Tripoli hospital Friday, the BBC reported.

A BBC correspondent found the bodies of men, women and children on beds and in the corridors of a hospital in the Abu Salim district of the capital. He said doctors and nurses fled the facility after clashes erupted nearby between rebel forces and those loyal to Moammar Kadafi.

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LIBYA: Rebels seize Kadafi intelligence headquarters

The headquarters of Libya's intelligence services -- a notorious symbol of Moammar Kadafi's 42-year rule -- is now firmly in rebel hands, according to Al Jazeera news channel.

Jamal Elshayyal reports from Tripoli that the building stored reports the regime kept on its citizens. Parts of the compound also served as a prison, with secret cells housing political prisoners whom the regime planned to disappear.

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