February of 2011, Fathi Tarbel, a Libyan human rights campaigner was violently arrested in his home, in front of his wife and children, who were given no explanation as to the reasons behind his arrest, by armed men who identified themselves as Interior Security. When Abdullah Senussi, Intelligence chief, and brother in law of Muammar Gaddafi, ordered his arrest, he sparked unrest throughout Libya, leading to the end of Col. Gaddafi’s controversial, merciless 42 year regime.
A country raised without experience of unity, where society and army were both kept weak, knew nothing of how to react as a vicious uprising took hold, breeding countless militia factions, all fighting for a similar cause.
However, having lived in a country where teamwork had always been discouraged, they failed to join together to create a larger single force, this caused problems as various different militant groups contributed towards the eventual destruction of the regime, some paid a higher price then others nonetheless they all claimed right towards leadership, and once power had been gained by gun, it proved difficult to put it down.
The only thing these numerous militant groups had in common was there animosity towards Col. Gaddafi, however, they were divided by dissimilar ideologies, religious, regional and ethnic.
So where did NATO step in?
With Col. Gaddafi and his government having previously been visited five or six times by western leaders from 2004-2009, being affably assured that relations between countries were, and are to remain, comfortable and that they are happy with the progress Libya has made, with its literacy rate increasing to over 94% and the WHO noting its life expectancy steadily rising to above 70. Where did it all go wrong? Why did the Western leaders retract on there words? OIL.
Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell had a deal in place worth over £500 million for gas exploration rights off the coast of Libya, an area thought to be hugely oil rich. Various other oil companies including, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil Corporation, Hess Company and ConocoPhillips all had there hands in Libya’s oil pie, being the ninth largest oil reserve in the world. So surely co-operation from western governments was a given? Yes it was, until January of 2011 when Gaddafi stated his country were looking into nationalising foreign companies, due to decreasing oil prices. He wanted control of the oil saying that it should be owned by the state, in order in have power of increasing or decreasing oil prices and to control flow.
Then in February, almost immediately after the hint of Nationalisation of Libya’s oil resources, sparked by an arrest the uprising began, and soon after on March 17th the United Nations formed a no fly zone above Libya, this was the start of NATO’s involvement.
Two days after the no fly zone was established, NATO started air strikes, which continued for seven months. During this time there were numerous civilian casualties including those of Gaddafi’s closest family, to which the pentagon denied all knowledge of. All this was disguised under the pretext that they were “taking all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country” however in my opinion it seems that NATO and it allies and the governments that run NATO did not want nationalisation of Libya’s oil resources, and done all that they can, under any disguise needed, to stop it.
October 2011, after a 7 month UN authorised air campaign, there was a messy regime change and a brutal man evicted from power. Propaganda fed Western Civilisations saw the intervention as a success. The civilians of Libya had been saved.
Almost immediately after the campaign was over and western leaders got what they wanted, Libya was abandoned. Left to fend for itself, after a short time a new government was formed, which had control over Tripoli, and that was about it. Libya became a country without a leader. Breeding ground for militant groups such as Isis. The various different militant groups who helped towards the overthrow before and during the NATO Campaign, all wanted to fill the power gap. Different towns and cities were run by opposing militant groups, suddenly Gaddafi’s Libya didn’t seem so bad?
Now a country without direction, bordering on a civil war, Libya has huge internal affairs and has become a foundation for extremist militant groups to develop. Libya has begun to disintegrate and the fault lies solely with greedy oil hungry Western governments. You could even go as far as saying that NATO created the conditions in order for ISIS to flourish.
Currently working on an article looking into the Western worlds destruction and abandonment of Libya. Check back later!
As a country is torn apart by a ferocious civil war, so complex with little chance of cessation, its people run. Approximately 3 million Syrians have fled their own country, their own identity, in search of a safer life, a life without the day to day fear that today may be their last. A huge majority of these have made a small but significant journey to bordering Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and even Iraq.
Meanwhile, over 140-150 thousand Syrians have chosen to take the deadly journey into Europe. Their first and probably the most challenging task is crossing the Mediterranean sea. The crossing has proved to be hugely fatal with over 3000 migrants losing their lives in 2014, this figure may well be much higher if the governments surrounding the Mediterranean actually decided to document and keep track of there deaths. Many Syrian refugees fall into the hands of money thirsty people smugglers, taking the perilous journey on dilapidated old boats, the refugees are feeding an immoral, shameless trade threatening the lives of so many, but with little choice, they continue.
The majority of those who survive crossing the sea, enter into Italy under the cover of darkness, or, on an Italian coastguard ship after being rescued. Now in Italy with nothing but themselves and their closest family they begin their quest into prosperous Northern Europe. For many their journey gets cut short as they struggle to find the means to exit out of Italy, finding themselves trapped, living illegally, avoiding authority.
By law an asylum seeker is required to claim asylum in the first European country they step foot in, for most this is Italy. If the refugees make it into Italy undetected they will do all they can to avoid detection by the police in order to prevent their fingerprints being recorded, the reason being is Italy doesn’t have a great deal to offer them , their economy is on the demise and recession lingers, benefits for migrants are paltry.
By hook or by crook and with some help from selfless Italians, begging on the streets or any other means necessary, they manage to raise the pennies needed to get to Milan. It takes time, a lot of it, patience and some brute will power and determination to carry on but eventually they will make it. Most heading for Germany and Sweden due to the generous hand outs, but some, probably because of its reputation, will do everything they can, in order to get to the UK, risking their lives over and over again in utter desperation.
Perhaps we are taking the wrong approach here in the UK, put yourselves in their shoes. These humans, and yes that’s what they are, humans, equal in every way to you and I, have made this colossal journey, and on the last hurdle they meet one of their biggest struggles, breaching Britain’s border. An estimated 30,000 Syrians are endangering themselves every day, so desperately trying to hide themselves in the back of, or underneath, lorries heading into the UK. If they are lucky enough to get onto a lorry undetected, they must then get through four tier security, including canines and heartbeat monitors before that lorry will board the ferry. An estimated 20-30 make it everyday.
In the wake of the largest and most colossal humanitarian crisis the world has seen in decades our governments refuse to step up. These people so determined, so desperate, full of fear with nowhere to go, nowhere they feel safe and nowhere they can call home need help. They need our help, they need our governments help, they need an international response to a crisis that should, in the 21st century, be an unimaginable and completely avoidable situation.
Separated from the Caribbean sea by an arduous mountain range, lies a city who’s population has grown vastly since the 1970’s, from just over 2 million, to now well over 3.5 million, forcing its less privileged out into the encompassing hills, largely known as the ‘barrios’ (slums), where crime is rife and poverty is high. The quality of life is ever decreasing, these barrios are now home to over 50% of Caracas continuously increasing population.
After dark in Venezuela’s capital city the streets are often bare. Night time curfews, when put in place, are largely observed. Travelling by armoured car on a night out would be considered normal, armoured guards will be standing at the entrance to malls – the only place you could find a bar. All this seems a little extreme but when you consider the murder rate per 100,000 citizens is almost double that of USA’s most dangerous cities, and in 2012 surpassed what is considered one of the most dangerous places on earth – Baghdad – then perhaps all this is not enough?
Caracas has been stamped the second most dangerous city in the world coming in just after drug stricken San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The Venezuelan government claim the murder rate fell by 18% in 2013, although this figure is widely believed to be much lower.
However, do not be fooled by the facts and figures, Caracas, located in the central north region of Venezuela, 25km from the port of La Guairá is a sophisticated city, home to millions of Mestizos (of mixed European, Indian and African ancestry) with a tropical climate, warm days and cold nights, throughout the year. The city has a feel about it that says we are unbreakable, it has a high moral, for a city with so many problems, and a reputation not to be desired, its residents are holding it together. Citizens of areas where crime is on the rise, are becoming more and more afraid of venturing out after dark due to the ever increasing risk or armed robberies and kidnappings. However a running group called Running Venezuela are fighting back. With well over 300 members, Running Venezuela runs all over the city throughout the night in a bid to take back the city after dark, and to urge people to show unity and gallantry in the face of adversity.
So why are the crime rates rising? The responsibility lies deep within the slums, high up in the hills, poverty stricken, with little opportunity, drug traffickers and armed gangs rule. Low level drug dealers are commanded by higher level cocaine traffickers from neighbouring Columbia. Selling and moving drugs is considered a sure way of making money in the barrios.
However they are not the only culprits that have made Caracas’s crime rate soar above the rest. It is commonly known, and even admitted by the Venezuelan government themselves, that approximately 20 percent of Venezuelan crime, is committed by the police themselves. Kidnappings have become an every day occurrence in the city, professional kidnappings, in co-operation with the police, or even committed by the police, are a fear for every foreigner who visits the city. Many go unrecorded simply because the police are not trusted. In 2012 alone there were 513 recorded kidnappings in the city, the true figure is believed to be in the region of over 2000, that’s 1500 unreported kidnappings in one year.
Statistics aside, I may have painted a somewhat, gloomy picture of one of Latin Americas most contemporary, cutting-edge cities. With a time-honoured charm and long established community spirit that is much to be desired. In the face of villainous treachery and deep rooted corruption a city flourishes, with an always increasing population. Museums, bars and restaurants, shopping malls and entertainment venue’s are becoming ever more popular, a city with many problems yet to overcome, perhaps the future is bright, brighter then it may seem on the outside.
Join me on my journey into amateur journalism.