BAYDA, Libya — The signs in Bayda still read the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab State of the Masses. It was never much of a state, nor did the people have much say. Now two weeks after its liberation, residents of this highland town have the task of making it so, a challenge that may prove pivotal to the course of Libya’s revolt. (...)[Via Libyan Revolution Central]
Far from the front, in mood and reality, Bayda, an eastern city that was one of the first to embrace the anti-Qaddafi revolution, has now also embraced the work of what might follow: building a state on a landscape riven by divisions of tribe, piety and class in a country whose leader spent four decades in power dismantling anything that might contest his rule.
The new police chief has less than a third of his officers and worries that vigilantes might not surrender their weapons. He has no prison. Hundreds have volunteered for work, but on Sunday, many sat under a tent watching the news channel Al Jazeera. With revolutionary fervor, and a resurgence of pride in running their own lives, residents have set up a slew of committees to impose order, distribute charity and run schools, but even its own members admit they have more enthusiasm than experience. (...)
For decades, Bayda was run by the pretenses of Colonel Qaddafi’s Green Book, his supposed blueprint for a revolutionary state. There were Popular Committees that carried out the orders of the Popular Conference, but as Tawfiq Bughrara, a cleric here put it, “The head of it didn’t have the power to pick up a glass and set it back down.”
In reality, power was exercised by the security forces — internal security, external security and military intelligence — along with a more traditional police agency known as the security directorate. The loathed and feared head of internal security was Ali Saad al-Majaab, who residents say sought protection from his tribe soon after the uprising began.
Then there was Colonel Qaddafi’s second wife, Safiya Farqash, who was born in Bayda and whose family, from the city’s largest tribe, Birasa, acted as mediators between the city and the colonel himself. Her uncle, Jarah, long ran Bayda’s sole army battalion.
“No one in charge did anything without their permission,” Mr. Bughrara said.
At the height of Egypt’s uprising, Cairo exploded in fervor as popular committees sprung up to police neighborhoods and volunteers picked up trash and painted fences. It was largely symbolic, since the Egyptian military and bureaucracy remained intact. There was never that much bureaucracy in Bayda, where residents had to travel 750 miles to the capital, Tripoli, for something as simple as a housing loan or a business permit.
Days after authority collapsed, residents set up a local council. They said they avoided terms like popular and revolutionary because they smacked of Colonel Qaddafi’s statements. Of its six members, one is from a group called the Youth of February 17, the date people have given the uprising here. Two others are Muslim clerics, one a professor of agriculture and another a businessman. It is led by Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, a former justice minister from Bayda acclaimed as a transitional leader who is now in Benghazi.
Answering to it are impromptu committees for everything from security to education, though schools remain closed here. Underneath a tent in Bayda’s downtown, organizers added more names to a list of 750 volunteers, who identified themselves as everything from students to a tank gunner. Detachments have tried to collect trash every morning. Others have organized aid from Egyptian relief convoys crossing the border.
Even the volunteers, though, seemed overwhelmed at the task of running a city. Most of them on this day sipped tea, chatted and watched a television set up at the tent.
“We’re in a transition and in that, there’s going to be chaos,” said Mr. Bughrara’s brother, Ahmed, an engineer. “But what we had before was organized chaos.”
As he spoke, another volunteer interrupted.
“We’re still waiting for Tripoli to be liberated,” he shouted.
In the aftermath of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, there was anger at the occupation tinged with shame that destinies in the hands of a dictator were now determined by an invader. The experiences in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya have unleashed a far different energy, indigenous narratives written with the pride of people running their own lives.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Publicada por Miguel Madeira em 00:26