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PostItalians at Mogadishu, 2 July 1993 (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 08/10/19 4:33 am)
John E asked about my friend Silvio on 2 July 1993. He was serving in the Italian Group (Folgore) which was ordered to move on from their checkpoints and start an operation of search and mop-up looking for weapons and guerrilla leader Mohamed Farah Hassan (called Aidid = the Victorious).
The Italians moved with the support of some M60 tanks, but they also had strict orders that under no circumstances could the M60s fire their guns and no civilians should be hurt.
Everything was initially going well: The Italians were moving according the old system of "Italiani Brava gente" maintaining friendly relations with the locals. Also with the local girls the Italians always look for a satisfactory mutual situation for both.
Anyway at a certain point, a big cache of arms and ammunition was discovered and then the Italians were attacked by guerrillas mixed among civilians.
The situation became extremely bad, and withdrawing from the middle of the town along Imperial avenue was not easy at all. According to my friend, however, at a certain point the commander of an M60 violated orders and fired a few rounds that sent the opponents scrambling away. The Italians in Silvio's group were safe.
Following the fight the Italian Secret Service contacted the elders of the local Communities and the Italians could return to their checkpoints among cheering people and without firing a single shot.
The UN Authorities officially directing Restore Hope, in reality the US Ambassador Robert Oakley and Marine Corps Lt General Robert B. Johnston, preferred a strong hand but without success. Finally, in 1995 they had to get out of Somalia.
JE comments: A quarter-century later, Somalia still has the trappings of a failed state. Eugenio, Somalia is in Italy's historic "sphere of influence." Do you follow the goings-on there? If so, could you send an update?
Somalia, Libya, and Italy's "Sphere of Influence"
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
08/11/19 4:08 AM)
When commenting on my post of August 10th, John E wrote that "Somalia is in Italy's historic 'sphere of influence.'"
Unfortunately, the new Italian republic--lay, democratic and antifascist, born from the resistance--has shamefully done his best to erase memories and relations with the nations of its former Empire.
Italy could have done much more for Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, where local people were still taking care of our cemeteries and their old Italian uniforms. I will always keep dear in my heart the marvelous Ascaris. My Eritrean skipper in Mena al Ahmadi had everything that I would like to see in an Italian.
The post war with Libya was different. At first Gaddafi kicked out the final 20,000 Italian settlers, on 1 September 1969, having completely robbed them of their property while their churches became mosques.
Now the Italian "nice souls" scream about immigrants kept at sea waiting for a landing permit, but in 1969 the same things happened to the expelled Italians who had to remain a long time at sea in order to be properly checked as if they were all criminals with the most contagious illnesses. Nobody complained.
However as more time passed, relations with Gaddafi became closer and closer. Italian firms and workers were all over Libya. Gaddafi was transforming Libya from the poorest to the richest country in Africa. For work I spent 5 days in Tripoli and everything seemed extremely good, with free housing, free education, free medical care and plenty of water.
However, how long will the well water pumped from deep down in the desert last?
Gaddafi occasionally insulted Italy's colonial past, but in reality he was our man in Africa. The fool Berlusconi even kissed Gaddafi's hand, but the Libyan leader was actually in the hands of Berlusconi.
On 30 August 2008 an Italian-Libyan Friendship Treaty was signed. It was because of this favourable (for Italy) treaty and also to hide huge amount of money received from Gaddadi that lousy Sarkozy started the war.
The Treaty included a prohibition against conducting any hostile act from the two nations' respective territories. There was no incompatibility here with NATO, provided that Libya acted within International Law, but of course you can play with the wording.
But on 19 March 2011 Sarkozy started the unprovoked but long-prepared military attack alongside Islamic extremists, within a few hours followed by the UK and the Empire with the laughable excuse of UN Resolution 1973. As we have so often seen the Empire can move and interpret the UN as it likes, even for the purpose of starting the usual self-defeating wars.
Here we have a very shameful page of Italian history, similar to the unconditional surrender and the betrayal of 9 September 1943.
The Italian government at first tried to resist, but it was pushed against Gaddafi in spite of the treaty by the president of the republic, a good lackey of the US Empire. This guy was previously a good lackey of the Fascists (GUF), and later of the Soviet Empire against the Hungarian insurgence. Also the Empire made it clear to Italy that it should join the imperialist coalition and Italy finally obeyed cutting its "attributes" and credibility.
Poor Gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons and was wiped out. All this is "good advice" for someone else.
JE comments: Two questions: Can we "credit" Sarkozy with starting the war against Gaddafi? Especially to hide some sort of clandestine payments from the Libyan dictator? This sounds too tidy and conspiratorial for my tastes. And second, how close was Gaddafi to acquiring nuclear weapons? Reports say that way back in the early 1970s he tried to buy a bomb or two from China. To the latter's credit, they refused. Imagine an alternate world in which Gaddafi was one of the earliest members of the Nuclear Club.
Eugenio, tell us more about your time in Tripoli during the initial Gaddafi years. Was the cult of personality already evident at that time?
A 1990 Visit to Tripoli: Gaddafi's Green Book
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
08/12/19 7:41 AM)
When commenting on my post of 11 August, our esteemed moderator asked if I observed a Gaddafi cult of personality during my visit to Tripoli.
I did not notice any cult of personality when I was there in the summer of 1990.
Not only that, I went around Tripoli trying to purchase the famous Green Book in three volumes (The Solution of the Problem of Democracy, The Solution of the Problem of Economics: Socialism, Social Base of the "Third Universal Theory") in whatever language I could understand (Italian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese). But I had no luck; it was available only in Arabic. This reminded me of 1971, when I went around Tenerife unsuccessfully trying to buy a recording of "Cara al Sol." I finally received one from Radio Nacional.
The local representative of my company promised to find the books and send them to me.
Some time later I received two books, one in Italian and the other in Spanish, of the same book "Comments and review of the Green Book, volume 1." Anyway in Italy the whole book can now be found in online.
Nowhere in the books received from Libya was the name of the author indicated. No cult of personality.
The book is supporting a new kind of socialism with some Mussolinian influence starting with the use of the word "producer." There was even some influence of the old Greek city-state democracies. It is worth reading to find some very surprising points of view--all modern, lay and social. One interesting point of view has to do with men and women. They are equal but different as the woman is beauty and should not do the physical work that only strong men can do, etc. The language of the book is extremely simple.
JE comments: With the marvels of the Internet, you can now read the Green Book from the comfort of your sofa. I perused the chapter on women, and it's a case study of no-nonsense thinking: "Women are females and men are males." Moreover, women menstruate. Click here for more insight:
Did any other WAISer visit Libya during the Gaddafi era?
- A 1990 Visit to Tripoli: Gaddafi's Green Book (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 08/12/19 7:41 AM)