Friday, October 28, 2005

Down Memory Lane

We're leaving for Libya.

Libya? Where's that? Why can't we go to the States, I asked my dad. I have never heard of a place called Libya. All I knew was I don't want to leave my friends and my school. I was not ready to leave them. But, I was too young to make any decisions for the family.

A few months later, I found my self on a plane heading to Libya. The moment I set foot on Libyan soil, I knew I can't run back to the comfort of my home. It was miles away. I already miss my grandma. The only person I love and care about at that time. I didn't have a close relationship with my parents although all of us live under the same roof. I miss my grandparents and I cried everyweek especially while reading letters from my grandma. My dad got irritated with me but he never once hit me, and I'm thankful for that although I was such a difficult child.

What made it more difficult for the whole family was, we had to live in a hotel for a few weeks as the apartment was still occupied. We lived in a beautiful hotel called the Beach Hotel which was located not far from OCS (Oil Companies School). Don't ask me if it was a 5 star hotel. It wasn't. (I think it's gone now, I found out it has been turned into a shopping complex).

We then moved to the apartment in the middle of the city. I think we lived on the 4th floor. We had a great view of the city and also of the Tripoli port. We didn't have tv, so what do I do for fun? I watch the ships sail in and out of the harbor everyday. I could still see it vividly in my mine till today. I miss living there although the elevator would be out of order most of the time! Thank God we were only on the 4th floor and not the 13th. Pun intended!

Mom and dad took me around the town, by foot, going to the market to buy fish & fresh fruits. I remember dad carrying 2 huge watermelons from the market back to our apartment. Although it was summer, we didn't feel the heat as we were enjoying the walk and the view. At first, we were very cautious of walking around town as were afraid of being spied by the secret police. As you know, Libya has her own "reputation" of being notorious. But, during our 3 1/2 years there, we have never experienced such things. In fact, we enjoyed our time there. Mom and dad would love to visit Libya again.

After a few months, we shifted house again, this time we lived in Hai Andalus, Gargaresh. It easier for dad, as it's closer to the embassy and school. We lived in a villa along the main road to the Friendship village which is owned by the Oil Companies. What I love about Libyan homes is, we have ample space to move around. We can have picnics on the roof top. I had wonderful night picnics with my friends on the roof top and when were start to get bored we throw grape seeds towards cars passing by my house. Those were the days.

When the Americans bombed Tripoli, I was still awake doing my homework. It was about midnight. I was busy studying my social studies and we were learning about civilizations. All of a sudden, I heard a loud noise, I thought it was about to rain, a thunderstorm. In the middle of summer? I didn't know, I was naive.

The next day, I went to school as usual. The gate was locked. Dad usually sends me at Gate B. It was locked. We were curious, I wasn't late, was I? Dad decided to drive to the main gate. We found out school was closed for a few weeks due to the bombings. I was surprised and I told dad what I heard last night. We knew the US & Libya can't seem to see eye to eye. But this? Libya aka Axis to Evil...yeah right...(sarcastic). The Malaysian government wanted all the Malaysian citizens to leave Libya if the situation was critical, dad won't be leaving as he was the 2nd man after the ambassador. He has to make sure that the Malaysian students were safe etc. It's not easy being a diplomat! None of us left eventually but this event has been up here in my mind forever. I don't think I'll ever forget it.

What's sad was that, many innocent people died on that day, a Palestine girl died because her house was hit by the bomb. Her younger sister, Kinda was my junior at OCS. We mourned for her & her family.

In some ways, we were lucky that we moved to Gargaresh because the Americans hit the strategic places in Tripoli & our old apartment was very close by to the intended target. We visited the area a few days after the bombings. We were devastated. The area was badly hit. Mom scolded me for picking flowers at the park. How should I know it was dangerous. I was 9, back then!

So this is what I remember about Libya. An experience I will never forget!


  • love you feel Libya is part of you Redenclave. Thats how I feel about every city/country I visited/lived in the world. I think you are influenced by not only your origins but your surroundings, and the cultures you live in and mix and meet thoughout life (my to do list is to visit Bombay(Mumbai) and New York City in the near future. Although it does make you feel nomadic, which gives you skills to adapt quickly and understand others from other parts of the world. I find hotel rooms/airports are like second homes, much more then my friends who lived all their lives in one country or one town. I envy their stability, and they envy my nomadic childhood.

    By Blogger magda, at October 28, 2005 8:40 PM  

  • I think you must have lived in Zawiat al-dahmani buildings? check the photos on my blog if you recognize them ?

    By Blogger Highlander, at October 30, 2005 3:42 PM  

  • Which picture? I don't see any familiar pictures except for the green square & the pic of the port. A number of diplomats used to live in the flat @ apartment.

    By Blogger removedalready, at October 31, 2005 1:09 AM  

  • Thanks so much for sharing.. was a great read! You probably know my country better than I do!!! :o) I wonder, would you go back to live if given the chance? Why or why not?

    By Blogger Nura, at November 03, 2005 4:11 PM  

  • i would go back to libya and need to get a job first. maybe at one of the international schools there!

    By Blogger removedalready, at November 04, 2005 10:49 AM  

  • Hmmm... I've been away from blogging for a while! I see there is a nice libyan community blog now!

    I hope I'm not too late to comment on this. I read Highlander's account of the 1986 bombings in her archives, but it was a year old when I read it so I never commented. I will now, as in a way, that event also affected my life, to some degree.

    Firstly, I want to say that I went on my 3rd deployment in the US Marines in February of 1986. On April 15th 1986 I was part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit on an Aphibious Assault Ship. Quick side note! I was on an IWO JIMA class LPH. The side note is that LPH 10 is named "Tripoli" - here's a pic of the Tripoli:

    Tripoli (LPH-10) underway

    And a site about the ship:

    USS Tripoli (LPH-10)

    The Navy has a tradition of naming the ships used for deploying Marines after famous Marine Corps battles/campaigns. The USS Tripoli is named for this:

    Battle of Derna

    Which Hibo has mentioned on her site! Another tie in!

    As I said, though, I wasn't on that one, I was on a different one.

    I guess my point is, that as bad as that bombing was, it could have been MUCH worse. Highlander mentioned in her post that she wasn't sure if there was going to be a ground assault. If there WAS a ground assault, I would have been one of the Marines who landed in Libya. That's what Marines do, and I was already at sea in an Amphibious Assault Group.

    The bombing was bad, Red Enclave, but an invasion would have been hideous. Virtually every infantryman in the USMC in 1986 knew somebody who died in Beirut in 1983. Some of us were IN Beirut in 1983. You may not know this, but Beirut remains to this day the only time the US Marine Corps has been hit and didn't hit back. An invasion to stop Arab terrorism in an Arab land, by Marines... in 1986? Oh my God. I don't even want to think what that would have been like.

    Also, you said "Libya aka Axis to Evil...yeah right...(sarcastic)" but you were only 9 years old, RE. Do you really think Reagan just pulled the Q-Man's name out of a hat? Libya and Iran were the only state sponsors of international terrorism in the 80s.

    On a positive note, Libya is NOT on "the axis of evil" today, as I'm sure you have noticed. If the past had been different, and bombing/sanctions/etc hadn't happened... I think Libya absolutely would be on the chopping block right now. So, I can't really say that bombing was a mistake. I know that isn't a politically correct thing to say, but I have to say it anyway.

    Anyway... too much typing! I hope somebody reads this at least :o

    By Blogger programmer craig, at November 05, 2005 9:00 AM  

  • PC
    That was what I remember. I was basically brainwashed by the Libyan news. To tell you the truth, I do not hate Regan but I totally disagree with bush both bushes ;P

    I think both are in the wrong. But, what has happened, happened! I hope it would not happen again.

    By Blogger removedalready, at November 06, 2005 6:03 AM  

  • PC,

    I couldn't follow your train of thought... Are you trying to justify the bombing by saying that it could've been worse? An assault is an assault whether it conflicted the worst harm or not. I'm not saying that it was not the right move, nor am I saying it was the right one to bomb Libya. Actually, it was a complete failure and resulted in nothing but proving that the US lacked the adequate level of intelligence to carry the attack to start with. The bombing is not what brought Ghaddafi around; it's digging Saddam out of a hole what did that!

    Sanctions! Oh, that's along story. I think here too, the American and the international community are failing big time. Sanctions hurt the innocent people more than they do the governments. People in power and with stolen wealth can get around things, but those helpless others are the ones who suffer.

    Off the topic: do you know that by 2001 there were 40 million people who are HIV positive; more than 25 million of whom are in Africa with no access to drugs or medical treatment. The retroviral drugs costs $10,000 - $15,000 per patient per year. In Africa, out of every $100 funded HIV/AIDS treatment, only $12 worth of medicine reach the patient (World Bank estimates)! Corruption at its best. My point is, why don't we see any sanctions imposed by the west and the international community for humanitarian reasons, such as human rights, the well-being of human race, etc., rather than just self-serving political reasons. Wouldn't the world be a better place for all of us? Wouldn't those sanctions gain more support than any others. Think about the number 40 million people!

    This brings another question, heading in another direction. Why are the Libyan children inflicted with HIV dying one by one. HAART (Highly Active Antiviral Therapy), for example, does not cure the disease, but has proven that the treated patients will live longer, healthy, productive lives. Is $15,000 in drugs for a child a year something the Libyan government can't afford? A heart-tearing tragedy!

    By Blogger Hannu, at November 06, 2005 8:44 AM  

  • Hiya Red Enclave :)

    I understand your dislike of the current Bush... I have very mixed feelings about him, myself, and I voted for him both time, so I can certainly see how somebody may dislike him. What's your beef with the first Bush president, though? My main complaint with him was that he didn't finish Saddam when he had the chance back in 1991, and that he had a pretty bad domestic policy. His Presidency was fairly unremarkable, though, wasn't it?

    Hanu, I'm preparing a reply to you now but I may not get a chance to post it right away :)

    By Blogger programmer craig, at November 06, 2005 11:09 PM  

  • Hanu, no, I'm not trying to justify the bombing by saying it could have been worse. The bombing was justified under international law, in the right of any nation to defend itself. The only thing that would make it NOT justified, is if no Libyan government official had anything to do with the nightclub bombing in Germany.

    If you'd like to argue that position, I'd be happy to do some research and try to make counterpoints.

    #An assault is an assault whether it
    #conflicted the worst harm or not.

    I don't really agree with that. Being pricked with a needle is not teh same as being hacked with a machete. Nor is an airstrike that killed less than a hundred people the same as an invasions that would have killed tens of thousands.

    As for the effect on the Q man, he didn't have the desired effect. The desired effect was to kill him dead! So, the air raid was a failure, and clearly so.

    The sanctions, I think, did have an effect. I don't think the Libyan government engaged in any further acts of terrorism, after the sanctions. So, I can't really go along with the argument that they didn't do what was intended.

    I'm no expert on HIV and Africa and international aid, but I'll voice my personal opinions of your off topics, I guess :)

    I'm not really suer what you think sanctions would do to a corrupt government? Isn't the problem that foreign aid is being pocketted by government officials? It seems like there are two options, to me.

    1) Stop the foreign aid

    2) Find a way to make sure the aid gets to the people who need it

    BTW, the corruption is not all with the governments, much of it is in the aid agencies themselves!

    This is a very big problem, and not just with HIV, but with all humanitarian disasters.

    As for the expense of HIV treatment... maybe the Libyan government can afford it, but there are millions of HIV/AIDS patients in the world who cannot. The drug companies are charging WAY too much for this essential treatment. I understand they wants to profit from their R&D investment, but exceptions need to be made for people who cannot pay for treatment! And yes, that includes here inside the US.

    Hmmm... I didn't really say all that I wanted to say, but that'll have to do I guess :)

    BTW, what part of my train of thought couldn't you follow, Hanu?

    By Blogger programmer craig, at November 06, 2005 11:31 PM  

  • Hey, PC,

    No, I can't argue your position. As I said earlier, I'm not saying it was the wrong or right thing to do. I believe the outcome is what determines that, which we both agree was not the desired one. Usually a decision is made to produce the most desirable results; if it does not do that, then the decision was not right. And just to be clear, I agree the US had the full right to retaliate. Only if it were done efficiently!

    I still insist, an assault is an assault no matter what, though the degree of gravity is different. I understood your earlier statment as justifying the assault and imlpying something like "be thankful it was not an invasion." My point is, if you prick me with a needle, that wouldn't make me happy just because I wasn't hacked with a machete. A rapist could use the same logic stating that "hey, I just raped the girl, at least I didn't kill her!"

    True the sanctions had the effect of preventing Libya from carrying any other terrorsit attacks; that's what we know and only assume to be true. I think the sanctions were imposed to get more than that.

    As for the AIDS thing. You can't ignore 40 million people who are facing death. And actually, the pharmaceutical companies did relax the patent and supply the drugs at an incredibly low price (I think a couple of hundred per patient per year) on the condition that the WHO oversees the distribution.

    I agree corruption is wide spread even to those organizations, but even in the case above, that's not a very effective solution. My point is, you can force governemnts reform to minimize corruption and maximize the human welfare.

    As for Libya and HIV, that was another off topic :-) I was refering to the 400+ children who were inflicted with the virus through the Children's hospital in Benghazi. Yes, millions can't afford the treatment, but Libya can, just as much as Q's kids can afford throwing lavish parties in Venice and entertaining opportunist idiots like Nicole Kidman. The whole case of those poor children is heavily politicized; even doubleya is dictating what Libya should do about the Bulgarian nurses. The sad thing, no body is trying to help those kids. The Libyan government can afford full treatment for the kids, but they are not. They are manipulating the victims' families to politicize the issue further. Those families should just focus on helping their children and getting them treatment and care. Throwing blame now isn't going to make those kids better or the virus disappear.

    I could go on on this and spring-off many other "off topics." Well, there's only o much time at hand now... gotta go.

    BTW, the train that I lost was bringing up Lebanon and "justifying" the assault as I understood. I still don't get what does Lebanon have to do with the US bombing Libya.

    By Blogger Hannu, at November 07, 2005 8:31 AM  

  • Hi Hanu :)

    We don't have many areas of disagreement, I think.

    About me bringing Lebanon into the discussion... Well, I guess you have to put it into the context of the day. The embassy seizures (mainly the US embassy in Tehran, but there were others) the plane hijackings, the bombings, including the suicide bombings against French and American UN peacekeepers in Lebanon, the hostage taking (and the murder of many of the hostages) in Beirut, etc etc etc.

    1986 would have been a REALLY bad time to for a terrorist state to be invaded by the US. It was personal. You don't want your troops to have a personal grievance against the enemy, unless you are waging "total war" like America did against teh Japanese in WW II.

    By Blogger programmer craig, at November 09, 2005 1:36 AM  

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