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Libyan Writer Ghoma

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Wednesday, 26 September, 2007

HOW FAR SOUTH EUROPE'S BORDERS GO?

By: Ghoma


        Europe, maybe is a small continent, but that certainly doesn't stop her from moving where it finds a vacuum or attractions beyond its traditional borders. Neither the Caucasus Mountains, in the east nor the Mediterranean in the south are any longer considered as where Europe ends. It's stretching those borders and extending its jurisdiction and long arms, into Asia, on one side, and into Africa, on the other, where its interests and its problems thought to reside. Perhaps in a globalized world, borders as such are passe', heirloom inheritances -and nuisance- from other eras and mentalities. Interests, such as markets; and problems, such as those of security, immigration, and the environment certainly don't stop at the imaginary lines humans conventionally have designated as separating one clan and its tribes from the other clans and their tribes. Roba vecchia! (Old stuff), as el-Hajj Tripolino would say.

        News reports, sporadically, file on the attempts made by the Europeans to stem the flow of immigrants from the South across the Mediterranean Sea. These attempts are tainted, as usual, by the neocolonial attitudes, but above all, methods too: of those so-called, carrots and sticks. If you collaborate with us -that's, do what we tell you!- we'll reward you with such "easings"as say we'll sell you what spare parts you need, put you on normal status on par with everybody else, etc; or else! if you don't harken and listen carefully, we'll tighten the noose further and restrict our dealings with you and encourage our friends to do the same. The Southern Mediterranean being what it's, has no other choice or better recourse, but to listen and listen, indeed, carefully. However, too much listening, just as too much light, stiffens the ears and blurs the vision of an old rag, like Qaddafi, who'd made a career out of lip-serving every possible cause including the eccentric and bizarre ones. The Colonel, for sometime now, seems to hear only the resonating din of what America and Europe wanted. He also sees only and sometimes by imagining, American and European's GI's, Navies and Air forces all over around him. And as they say, fear generates paranoia! All These statelets on the southern shores of the venerable Sea (Mediterranean), particularly Libya, are scared to death and thus are ready to do anything as long as the West promises to keep the regimes now in power where they are. The upshot of all of this, these states have become factual "watching towers," if not watchdogs, to Europe's southern borders, by taking on themselves the difficult task of protecting the "Lucky Continent's," Europe, from the swarms that want to cross the sea and join in the partaking of a bit of the vaunted prosperity, up on the northern shores, by, of course, being scullions moiling in the menial jobs, the native sons and daughters of Europe, no longer, deem appropriate or dignified to their talents and status.

        Way back, during the Roman Empire times, the Mediterranean Sea had also the pet-name of being "Il Mare Nostrum" (our sea). It seems, it's becoming again, their sea! The borders of Europe no more run along an imaginary line somewhere in the middle of the Sea but rather somehow further south, perhaps in the middle of the Great Sahara. Italy, if news to be believed, has just started monitoring the southern borders of Libya, and with the help of the feeble dictator, it's opened a number of so-called 'refugee camps' in the middle of the Libyan deserts. One asks why Italy needs to do this? Well, after all that racket of bad publicity Italy had received lately, being also a tourist destination, has decided to do something about the issue. To stem the wave of poignant criticisms, which have lodged against her, by almost everybody, including local and international human rights monitoring agencies, media, and individuals, etc. for the wretched and inhumane treatments meted against the unlucky refugees who happened to have been washed on its shores or occasionally have been picked up by its Coast Guard or Navy. Italy, being what it's and as a European nation, has long learned to export its problems outside of the Continent, to other less, luckier lands. Basically to ward off such bad images, Italy has decided to expel its problems and outsource their solutions -if there's any!- ergo, by transferring the camps somewhere outside of its territorial jurisdiction, as, for instance, USA has done in the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Even medium powers are not ashamed to imitate the Big One!

        Italy, perhaps less than its sister neighbor states, has held some refugees in various camps in its southern islands, but one of them, Lampedosa has become notorious. At Lampedosa Island 's concentration camp, more than a refugee's camp- conditions were so appalling and outrageous, beyond description, to the degree they've not been deemed fit even for animals -in addition to overcrowding, lack of adequate food, water, and health care, the daily humiliations and mistreatment, by the guards, were also far below what humans should be subjected to.

        Libya, today, and perhaps the rest of North Africa later on, has accepted to be the dumping ground, that's, the recipient locale to Italy's dirty work. Libya will open its territory, and maybe more, so that Italy's can do its dirty work far away from the eyes and ears of its population and out of reach of any international media. The 'civilized' northern neighbor will wash and hang its dirty laundry to dry, way far down, not to be seen or smelled by anyone close to or within its borders. As to Libya? Who cares about the Libyans after all they've never smelled of roses? Arabs, in general, are used to and apparently not mind bad publicity! Since they're already in it up to their ears, another bit of it, will not make much difference! The fact is as far as human conditions and the like, all Arab states, and Libya in particular, don't give a damned fig and less so minds what the others say or think about them as far as disregarding of human rights, not playing by the civilized rules, torture, etc., as long as the digs remain mere gabbing and thinking in words.

        Libya to whitewash the pariah's image, to ward off any subsequent actions, and to avoid any further complications, is ready and willing to perform whatever it takes to ingratiate herself with its old tormentor and present patron and benefactor. The West as usual is ready to oblige! Notwithstanding the ethical torrents and moralizing lectures are a galore. The undeniable fact is, the West had never shown any mercy when it came to wasting human life until killings and torture have become part and parcel to the cultural lore of everyday life in the in most the domains where Europe not long ago had evacuated. If from time to time Europeans appear to shed some tears, here and there -crocodile tears, are fake!- or mouth some harsh words against one regime or another, these gestures are not meant to taken literally, they're pro forma gestures, forgotten by the minute they were uttered. The hullabaloo maybe good for the image but nothing more. For, such digs were not made out of real concern, but merely out of guilt, and to placate the pangs of what Marx had called the false conscience of the bourgeoisie, when it's sober enough to remember what her past and present actions have incurred on those wretched lands, now it's scorning them for the people's sneaking to the Old Continent by any means, and landing on its shores, like moths attracted to a light source.

        Well, then, it's not anymore the case when one can utter such expressions of regret as, what an irony, or the tragedy is, et cetera. For the world is full of hypocrites, and the regime of Tripoli, has long crossed the rubicon of decency and anything resembling coherency, honesty, or consistency. The Colonel has made a career out of boastings to having kicked out the colonial remnants out of the country, etc, etc.... in less than half-life's span he's also made one of the most amazing U-turns in the history of the planet, to the effect of taking back what had been said and done before, and of letting those powers return again but this time rather than from the door, through the proverbial window. By allowing the same power, Italy, to have its footprints all over the place and even monitor its borders, Qaddafi has forfeited any claim of liberating anything from anybody. Another one more of those flip-flops the Colonel has become so good at performing without in the least a trace of a faint of blush.

        "To and fro" just as a pendulum, seems to be the favorite political moves and the constant trait which had distinguished this area from time immemorial. For retracing one's steps in the other direction, is sure thing to keep the place in continuous wallowing in its own regurgitations. Being locked in an imaginary world of its own making, what the rest of the world does or say is of little concern. After all the premises on which it has structured its wold-view -and thus life are so different, as if it were on another planet, say Mars, and that as far as Earth's concern, nothing matters what it does, nothing would have changed. What one side sees as crucial, the other considers as mere exuberance out of vanity. Democracy, human rights and the rest of the list that the West, and indeed the rest of the civilized world lives by, Arabs/Muslims consider mere rigmaroles of a brief and vanishing life. Mere Summer cloud in an ephemeral apparition, the real and permanent thing has yet to come!

        Lately, the regime has been complaining about the vastness of the country and the scarcity of its population. Reasons that prevented it from keeping watch on its borders and dealing with the problem of the so-called illegal immigrants effectively. Feeble excuses! Any country, worth its name, should be able to manage and control its territory, if it sets its priorities right and put some efforts to it. Libya, with a population of close to 6-million, half of them effectively unemployed or underemployed and the other half pretends to work, can if it wanted to put few tens of thousands of them looking after the borders. After all the regime employs perhaps hundred of thousands as informants, snooping around and ratting on their neighbors! Why not put them to work for their pay, instead of filing lies and fake reports catch real humans crossing the borders illegally? As to the Libyan military, power has corrupted it to the extent they seem to have forgotten what their original mission and tasks were! Otherwise, what other tasks are nobler than watching after the borders of the country for who comes in illegally instead of counting who gets out legally. What kind of a soldier who's sworn to defend and protect the integrity of the country's borders, instead sets around watching other powers' military forces trashing the place? It may be time for those guys in uniform to leave power to where it belongs, the people, and to return to their barracks and be reminded of their original mission: that of protecting the country's territory as well as borders.

        Some may say that Libya has appointed lately a Minister, without of course a Ministry! for immigration and emigrants. The guy who's touring North America these days trying to lure some wearied souls to his cause and 'organize' the diaspora into becoming a standing reservoir for the Greenies, as he once was. Well, in Libya, as in the rest of 3-World, that's exactly what's called smokescreens. Appointing a minister only to sweep the problem, for which he was tasked, under the colloquial rug. To start with, he may see his problem as the Libyans outside of the country and not of the foreigners who descend on it from all directions. And second, he's such a small fish to be part of the so-called 'national security' biggies. Whether he's a small or big fish, so far not much good has come out of any of the Greenies -and Hell will freeze before some "repentant" cowed, sold-out, hypocrite, like this un-honored and un-honorable Minister of Immigration and Emigrants, will do anything for the problem and the affected folks: the immigrants and much less for the emigrants.

        Out of all countries of this world, Italy must be the last one on earth to be allowed to set its feet again on Libyan territory, and more so its armed forces. After all, Omar el-Mukhtar had not paid with his life so that one day the same executioners will be allowed to smooch around his grave. A country, Italy, which hasn't yet allowed its people to watch the movie about Omar's stand against its savage campaign of Libyans' extermination is not wise nor cool enough or qualified to watch over its borders. Those hundreds of thousands who'd perished in the Italian onslaught to their lands, would have hade died in vain if someday day that same land will be swept from the garbage of its invaders and cleansed from the stink that Italy had left her in. Omar's and the scores of others's, who like him had paid with the ultimate sacrifice, memories today are not kept alive, nor for that matter of 'never again,' when letting the sons and daughters of the country that murdered them, and who once had trashed this land badly, to be able once more to use it as their backyard to hang their dirty laundry in. If Libyans were a different species, Italy, before it's allowed even to peek into Libya, must do few things: 1- come to terms with its own colonial history, that's, write it and teach it as it did happen and not as Rudyard Kipling had put it, the lies of "the White Man's Burden," 2- apologize for its crimes publicly and vow never again, 3- make up to the Libyan et al. to put the conditions necessary for 'repentance', that's the issue of compensation -how to compensate for the tragedies of colonialism?.

Ghoma
Ghoma47@hotmail.com

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