Libya’s Benghazi, cradle of anti-Gaddafi revolt, torn by chaos that followed

A view shows debris in a room at a children’s hospital, which was damaged in unknown shelling in Benghazi, Libya April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

(Reuters) – When Libyan government forces and Islamist militants battled with artillery guns right in his district, Khalil al-Barassi knew it was time to pack up. He moved his family into an abandoned schoolhouse, where they live on aid from the Red Crescent, while the city around them falls to pieces.

After a year of war, Libya’s second-largest city Benghazi is divided into areas controlled by forces loyal to one of two rival Libyan governments, and areas held by Islamist fighters led by the group Washington blames for the 2012 attack that killed its ambassador.

The city was the birthplace of the revolt that toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with residents who pride themselves on a willingness to rise up and defend themselves from exploitation.

But with rockets crashing daily into its boulevards, neighborhoods reduced to rubble and around a tenth of its 1 million people made homeless, Benghazi has now become one of the worst examples of the chaos that followed Gaddafi’s downfall.

As elsewhere in Libya, armed groups have lined up behind the two rival governments. In Benghazi, one government backs a Gaddafi-era army general and the other backs the Islamists.

Both pay fighters out of central revenues under a system set up after Gaddafi’s downfall, which saw scores of armed groups placed on the public payroll, effectively subsidizing civil war from the country’s oil exports.

Some of Benghazi’s 90,000 displaced people have moved in with relatives living in safer areas. Others, like Barassi with his wife and four children, have moved into schools, empty now that the fighting has prevented them from opening…

A general view of homes damaged after clashes between members of the Libyan pro-government forces, backed by the locals, and Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries, an alliance of former anti-Gaddafi rebels who have joined forces with Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, in Benghazi April 1, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

A general view of homes damaged after clashes between members of the Libyan pro-government forces, backed by the locals, and Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries, an alliance of former anti-Gaddafi rebels who have joined forces with Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, in Benghazi April 1, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

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  • dance…dancetotheradio

    Yay! Arab Spring!

    • Frau Katze

      Really worked out well!

  • Mohamsandwich

    As the weeks pass, I miss Hussein (not the Obama imam-in-chief in the USA) — I mean Saddam — and Gaddafi more and more! They knew all too well what they were doing, albeit in a ruthless manner, to stop the Islamist cancer.

    • Raymond Hietapakka

      Khghadaphffii was probably the “best” of the worst. He had basically renounced terrorism. They killed him off, because he wanted to get rid of the US dollar as the currency of oil trade, and to unite N.African countries. But, What Difference Does It Make Now Anyways? Just one fag ambassador choked to death with wood smoke, and a couple or three dead soldiers, to hide the crime….that price is cheap, nowadays…

  • Raymond Hietapakka

    There’s no available resources in the “Stans” or the SubSahara capable of adequately maintaining their bloated indigenous populations. Any resources they do have won’t be developed because the monkeys can’t organize themselves and run a civil society, because their “culture” is based on falsehoods, thievery and appropriation. Any natural resources they do have are available elsewhere. Typical of a deadbeat mentality, they just want to smear more of their kind of shit all around the World, rather than tidy up their outhouse back home. End all Trade. End all Aid. Isolate and Embargo. Time to tell their over-populated citizens to keep their c***s in their pants for a while, and stay home.

    • Mohamsandwich

      Hear, hear!