Libya in the news today

"We will never let the country fall back into the hands of 'climbers'", he adds, using a word that has come to refer to profiteers and opportunists, people whose allegiance during the revolution was dubious.

"On behalf of all the former rebel forces, I say we will crush with an iron fist anyone who tries to destroy the revolution."

- Abdel Hakim Sheibi, a commander of the Zintan Revolutionary Brigades.

I saw two segments on the morning news that I think gives a true flavor of what is happening in Libya today and for that reason I wanted to bring them to your attention.

The first was a segment by Gabriel Gatehouse on the BBC on the militia groups that still control Tripoli's International Airport, and the second was an Al Jareeza segment on the way education is changing in revolutionary Libya.

The Gabriel Gatehouse piece concerns the Monday deadline that the Libyan interim government has given for militia groups to relinquish control of the country's border crossing. Here are some excerpts from that piece:

Battle of wills over control of Libya's border crossings
2 March 2012 Last updated at 08:32 ET

Many of Libya's international gateways are still controlled by brigades of former rebel fighters.

A spokesman for the interior ministry told the BBC they must all be in government hands by Monday.

The issue is becoming part of a battle of wills between Libya's politicians and the young men you fought the revolution.

It is the latter who have the upper hand.

Tripoli International airport is getting busier every day, as Libya emerges from civil war.

When Tripoli fell to rebel forces in August 2011, it was fighters from the small town of Zintan, south-west of the capital, who rushed in to secure the airport.

Six months later, they are still here.
The government is trying to assert itself. But it lacks authority. It wants former rebel fighters to join a national defence force.

But Abdel Hakim and his men simply don't trust the government. Not yet.

They believe they are still needed to prevent Libya's international gateway from falling into the wrong hands.

"We will hand over control of everything once the country is back on its feet, but not before," he says.
Zintan's various brigades control more than just Tripoli airport.

They control security for at least one bank and an Islamic centre in the capital, as well as several oilfields in the southwest of the country.

Nestled in the foothills of the Nefusa mountains, with a population of no more than 50,000, Zintan has become a force to be reckoned with.
Ask Zintanis about their town and they will quickly tell you about the colonial period, when their forefathers fought against the Italians.

But it was during last year's revolt against Col Gaddafi that Zintan gained its current fearsome reputation.

Ibrahim al-Madani lost his father in the revolution. He is now one of the town's most respected commanders.

"It's a small town," he said, "but [fighting] is in our blood."

"Even our grandfathers fought until the end. When you give your blood for Libya and Libyan people, I am happy for that."

The power that men like Ibrahim al-Madani now enjoy is forcing even global players to take note.

So while everybody from the governments of the US, China, Russia and Britain to Amnesty International complain that the revolutionary brigades are "out of control" one thing that is missing from this article, and is missing from most reports coming out of Libya are any hard facts to substantiate those claims. The fact is that incidents of armed clashes between the militias are rare, and those leading to deaths, even rarer. Even Amnesty International had to say "Militias have established sometimes fluid networks of co-operation."

Also we know that Tripoli International Airport is now functioning well under the control of the Zintan Brigades, with more international and domestic flights coming and going everyday and no reports of bribery or thuggery getting in the way.

So it sounds like the revolutionary brigades are carrying out an armed occupation of their own country, very much in the spirit of the worldwide occupation movement, with the aim of assuring that the revolution won by their blood is not lost by "their"politicians. To this I say "Right On!"

The second piece New chapter for Libyan education is a short 2 minute video that talks about how education is changing in Libya, and for the better. I was surprised to find that under Qaddafi, every student had to pass four courses on Qaddafi's little Green Book to get a college degree. Four courses? It's only 33 pages long! At the end one student complains that her studies are much hard now. I guess! Probably have to read more...

I note the black students in the class only because it would appear to contradict the picture of genocide and racist pogroms being painted of race relations in revolutionary Libya by some anti-interventionists and pro-Qaddafi supporters in the US left.

It sounds to me that Libya is doing just fine considering what they just came through.