LIBYA. Libyans “a Travel Guide and a Technical Handbook”

Le Brize Marc – Since 1994, he supervises humanitarian missions throughout the world. Geopolitical analyst, Human Rights/Advocacy

Human Rights Le Brize Marc

Muammar Al Kadhafi was an Arab, a Muslim, a man of the desert, a member of a very low ranked tribe4, a trained Army Officer5 and a dreamer who wanted Libya, Arabs and the World to follow his dreams. His conception of the world was simple: Islam is the best religion, Arabs are the best Muslims, Libyans are the best Arabs.

A Trael Guide to know Libya and Libyans: history, society, culture, problems, limits and future

A Technical Handbook to work with Libyans

A destroyed Libya is a danger for Tunisia and for both sides of Mediterranean;

a Black-Plague is destroying Syria. Daesh has declared Libya as its next target to attack Maghreb and Europe.

This threat concerns all of us, Libyans, Maghreb and Europeans; we are allies against the Plague.

Libyans have to build their country,

helping them means to know them!





All nations around Mediterranean Sea share much more things then they/we think whatever are their religions, languages or political organizations. Fernand Braudel1, describing the 16th century and the follo-wing 400 years war between Ottoman and Christian empires, showed there were more links between Mar-seille and Algiers than with Paris. There is a very long and common history of both sides of the sea, the mare-nostrum (our sea) of the Romans.

The actual tragedy hitting France, destroying Syria, Iraq and Libya must not be seen like everyday breaking news but like the provisory end of 200 years political and cultural relations around Mediterranean. The roots of this new war come from long ago, in the conflicts and miscomprehensions between both sides of the Sea.

In 2011, Tunisia and Libya made their “Arab Spring” and get rid of their dictators. Meanwhile Tunisia State remained, assuring a continuity of the rule of law, Libya collapsed and is now in a dire situation: civil war, terrorism, refugees, two different governments, areas controlled by Daesh… each day brings slaughters, battles, food and water shortage…

How come these two cousin countries are living such a different fate? Tunisia and Libya belong to the same cultural area: the Maghreb2 (Sunni Muslims, Arabic speakers) different from Middle-East.

Knowing Libyan’s history, culture and society is crucial to understand the present country-wreck and to find solutions to build peace and a country. No country, no community can be described as they are like that because they were always like that: there is a long and short term history that led two similar popu-lations to follow different ways.

When MENA3 nations were independent by mid 50s, some had a special gift: OIL. But the same root gave many different trees, i.e. different States: from military dictatorships with strong armies, Security Secret Services and one ruling Party to religious states with a heavy control of Mullahs on people’s life and an enor-mous King’s family looting the stream of USD.

Libya received the gift but lived a very strange and different fate: this huge desert land with little popula-tion was from 1969 to 2011 the laboratory of a strange dreamer who made all kinds of incredible experi-ments either political or social or cultural or religious or tribal or…

Muammar Al Kadhafi was an Arab, a Muslim, a man of the desert, a member of a very low ranked tribe4, a trained Army Officer5 and a dreamer who wanted Libya, Arabs and the World to follow his dreams. His conception of the world was simple: Islam is the best religion, Arabs are the best Muslims, Libyans are the best Arabs.

The problem for Libyans (and the World) was that he had the money to finance his dreams, wills, capri-ces and ideas. So during 42 years, Libyans lived in a permanent spinning washing machine.

This is a Travel Guide and a Technical Handbook, not an in depth analysis of all Libya’s realities. It’s a general map to help foreigners to approach Libyans’ minds. These people have lived in a strange closed country and are now in danger and facing the realities of the world. It is important for outsiders to know who-how-why and to adapt their approach to this highly sensitive culture.

Libyans have burned skin, handle with care!




    1. Maghreb, a long history

    2. Libya and the first half of 20th century


    1. The newly rich Libya: a multi levels society.

    2. Libyans, the “Best Arabs” or the “Best Africans”

    3. A closed political culture and a Permanent-Revolution

      1. A closed and military educated society

      2. A violent society

      3. A self centered society

      4. A permanent fear of losing reputation

    4. No civil society


    1. A “terrorist” no-state country

    2. An exploded society

      1. Crash of the political body

      2. A leading trouble maker: Misrata

      3. The tribes lose some control

      4. The militias gain control

      5. The elected VIPS

      6. Where is the big money


    1. Losing certitudes

    2. A very high defiance about foreigners

      1. Long time bad relations

      2. they are all spies”

    3. The problem of teaching Human Rights


    1. The Occidental defiance

    2. The despising Maghreb cousins

      1. Mutual ignorance

      2. Mutual accusation

    3. Motivated Libyans


    1. An incredible traditional/modern society

    2. The legitimacy is in the tribes

    3. The tribal heavy hierarchy is the best tool to make antagonists meeting:



    1. Background

    2. Society



    1. An incredible traditional/modern society

    2. The legitimacy is in the Tribes:

    3. The tribal heavy hierarchy:

    4. Entering Political Society means to be trusted by Elders:

    5. Individuals and tribal behaviors

    6. Three basic information:


    1. 4 GoLs for the price of 1

    2. The International Guideline

    3. Conclusion of IOs action:

      1. Missing the target

      2. Democratic process versus traditions.









    1. Rights without duties

    2. No confidence




    1. The Keys

    2. An approach by capillarity


    1. Opening Libyans to outside

    2. Sensitizing the community


    1. Descriptive approach and theories

    2. Operative approach and emotional acceptation.


    1. Responsibilities and Duties of Freedom

    2. Our Integrated Cultural Approach

    3. Seven ways to be trusted

    4. Finding the efficient activists





    1. I-AM-LIBYA

    1. MALIM





    1. Maghreb, a long history

Since 16th till the beginning of 20th century, Maghreb shores from Oran (Algeria) to Cyrenaica (East Libya) were Willayets6 under Ottoman Empire rule. The structures were the same: harbor cities, more or less controlled by Istanbul through the Deys or Beys (Vice-Roys), sheltering pirates looting Euro-pean and US ships7, with non-Arab high classes8 exploiting the indigenous farmers and cattle breeders nomadic tribes in the outskirts and receiving caravans from Africa bringing ivory, gold and slaves. From 1800, the Ottoman Empire slowly collapsed (“the sick man of Europe”), while the occidental countries9 started the colonial/de-colonial period which totally transformed MENA.

Colonization and de-colonization heavily changed Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. They eventually build their State when independences came mid 20th century because there were previous administrative structures and education institutions. The mind and the structures of a State were there, in heads and hands of their educated elite. This was not the case for Libya who was only destroyed by colonialism.

    1. Libya and the first half of 20th century

Libya was attacked by Italy in 191110. The fascism colonization was dramatic, Mussolini wanted an immigration colony, sending 250,000 settlers, confiscating good lands and destroying all tribal and cul-tural structures and the few elite11. WW2 battles worsened the situation and, after 1945, UK and US “protected”12 Libya under a UN mandate.

Libya started the 1951 independence as the poorest country13 of the world. King Driss ruled a country without any infrastructure unlike its three Maghreb cousins: no elites, education, health, admi-nistration, government… the 1st university was created end 50s with 7 students in the king’s palace. The few Primary and High schools were in Egyptian hands14.

The notion of state/nation did not exist, in such a large area with very few population and huge de-sert, the identities were only regional since thousands years: West (Tripolitania) against the East (Cyrenaica) against the South (Fezzan) against the Deep South (Tibesti)… added to that the cultural and social divisions between Arabs, Tebus, Tamazight, Bedouins… in a pyramid of 250 tribes and clans with all sorts of dominating /dominated relations.

Oil discovered in the 50s made Libyans the richest country per-head. They started modernization and bought equipments.

But what was the opportunity to build a modern Libya in liaison with the world was totally des-troyed from 1969 to 2011. 42 years this blocked Libyans inside their borders in a strange experimental laboratory.


    1. The newly rich Libya: a multi levels society

In September 1969, Colonel Muammar Al Kadhafi with a group of “Free Officers”15 ousted the king and took the power following the example of Egyptian Rais Gamal Abd El Nasser. Thank to the oil-money, he modernized16 and made a welfare state where each Libyans could have a small or big share.

This huge desert land is mainly occupied on the sea shore, a 2,000 x 100 km green strip. In 50s, the less than 1 M. population was 75% farmers on the coast or nomads in the desert, and 25% in towns. Nowadays, the 6.2 M. are 85% in towns, this shows a real modification of the social and economical frame. Beside the tribal traditional structures came new levels of society, new elites and new classes: Business, University and Schools, Army, employees and engineers17. The two neighbors (Egypt and Tu-nisia) provided hundred thousand workers, doctors and technicians18, building their economy on this collaboration.

This was a great evolution from the traditional Willayets when each town and its ruling no-Libyan classes exploited the tribes around and controlled all trades. The new cities became big and rich; a Libyan high class rose with businessmen ruling Libyan money, educated elite came from Universities. The modern period saw the construction of huge oil fields and industries, 5 oil-harbors fulfilling tankers and 1 off-loading thousands containers of all the goods money can buy in the world. There were more tribe members, employees or businessmen, in towns than in the native villages.

The country has new powers in place, and new kind of classes and social relations: any society chan-ges when the incomes improve. Libya changed and get rich but family life and personal behavior are still following traditions. The changes made by Kadhafi were more than strong and strange.

Kadhafi made Libyans living in an incredible and permanent spinning washing-machine.

    1. Libyans, the “Best Arabs” or the “Best Africans”

Kadhafi wanted Libyans to be the “best Arabs” and ruled following his dreams of the “Great Umma19” and the union of all Arabs in one country, one empire. Libyans lived 42 years in a welfare state but in a Permanent Cultural Revolution like China of the 60s20: a totally closed and a permanently shacked and upside-down society.

Every time he had to choose between Libya and the “Great Arab Land” he took the 2nd one. When Arabs countries were fed up of his permanent wills to create a great Arab state, Kadhafi jumped to the South, claiming that Libyans were the “best Africans”. He gave billions USD to African govern-ments to make them following his ideas of an African-Great-Community ruled by the “Green Book”.

While promoting an African identity, he denied the Tebus of Deep South Tibesti Mountains their Libyan ID. Strange attitude knowing that Kadhafi made a long war (70s and 80s) against Chad (and France) to annex its northern region21, populated either by Tebus, recruiting them as desert troops!

    1. A closed political culture and a Permanent-Revolution

Kadhafi controlled all economical/tribal/social/cultural frames, having all the system in his hands. He spent time (and money) following his visions and caprices, changing his mind and the society every 3 years, manipulating each system against the others: tribes<>Revolutionary Committees<>business< > Tamazight <>Tebus<>Arabs, and back! He had a total control on the tribal system, punishing or upgrading them following their total allegiance: in the 70s a Cherkess “Free Officer” tried a coup; the whole tribe was punished during years.

He reinforced the Tribes but in the same time created their contraries: various kinds of Revolu-tionary Committees and thereafter he launched their very opposite: a Capitalist and Business program. But, 2 years after, enterprises were attacked and looted by the revolutionary Trade-Unions following his orders22. As in falling USSR, the chiefs of the Trade-Unions took the business, money and premises, but without any management skills everything collapsed.

The enormous amount of oil-money gave way to all expensive experiences, constructions and equipments. Any crazy idea was launched and failed, giving place for a new one. Kadhafi equipped the Army but, afraid of a coup, took off the caterpillars of the tanks. The capital city was moved in differ-rent places and Ministers and Ministries were spread in various far away towns.

Kadhafi joined in the same country 3 kinds of revolutions, Wow!

  • The Permanent Revolution of Leon Trotsky

  • The Cultural Revolution of Maozedong

  • His own Green Revolution: the Jamahiriya, the “State of the Mass”

The Jamahiriya was a mix of Socialist/Muslim/Revolution/Bedouin concepts where all opposite sys-tems were under his control and which was supposed to be the solution for the whole world, as said in his “Green-Book23.

      1. A closed and military educated society

Kadhafi totally closed Libya to external (i.e. occidental) influences; “all foreigners are spies24. The education was only in Arabic with no other inputs: most of the elite people didn’t speak any foreign language. Education received funds, many teachers were recruited and schools, universities covered the country. But the pedagogy is totally hierarchy-minded, following the traditional culture and the militarization of spirits of the “Green Book”: army-like uniforms, order-based teaching and violence on children25 26. Pupils and students are just told to learn the books and to give them back to be gra-duated, “keep silent and read the book!”, this doesn’t build individuals and citizens.

In a population quite totally in towns, the official Culture was the Bedouin one: celebrating the pu-rity of the desert against the town, place of corruption and Devil. That’s why he traveled with the no-mad tent he put in his Paris official visit residence.

Kadhafi was a good Muslim even leading the Friday prayer at the Mosque27. But he rejected some holy books28, arguing then with Al-Hazar mosque and the Muftis. Some thought he believed to be so-me kind of a Caliph, successor of the Prophet, to build a new Islam and a new Arab World. His perso-nal views of Islam led to an opposition with the Brothers-of-Islam who tried to kill him.

      1. A violent society

In a country where people were publicly hanged and their execution released on TV, this violent mind led a lady to become the mayor of Benghazi… and one of the main executioners: Huda Ben-Amer29. In 1984, a student30 was publicly hanged because he created a democratic movement, as he was still alive and moving his legs, the “lady” grabbed his body and added her weight… Kadhafi saw her on TV and liked that, choosing her for public executions in Stadium and the Head of Security in East.

With a strong control by Police, various Security forces, Secret Services and Revolutionary Commit-tees, the streets were secure; not like the prisons where many people disappeared. Meanwhile, boxing

sport was not allowed because of violence!

      1. A self-centered society

This self-centered society is a strong hierarchy where everybody has his precise place following his ethnic origin>tribe>family>fortune>father’s position>graduation>age. Each person belongs to a com-munity (family/clan/tribe) depending of a bigger one, depending of… and each one respect any person (or his son) higher than him: there are superior and lower tribes, persons, families, clans, positions.

For example, in a workshop we made,

University and Primary Schools teachers couldn’t work in the same room because it is

Impossible for a primary teacher to speak in front of a university one!

Women drive, go to Universities and work in Offices, wearing scarf or not but cannot travel alone and follow fathers or husbands wills. Children and young adults don’t have any rights to speak, to think and to live their way. Their life is decided by parents31 whose life is controlled by elders whose Shura is supervised by a bigger one who was under Kadhafi control.

      1. A Permanent fear of losing reputation

Libyans live under a permanent (self)censorship: “what will think the neighbors, the family, the people?”. Everything is haram (forbidden) or halal (authorized): no initiative, no fantasy, they always follow a strict protocol, showing respect to superiors and strictly obeying to them. Adults can be punished like children and they accept that. It is incredible to see how strong their fears are:

  • to lose their identity because of external influences32

  • to lose honor and public consideration if

    • any member of the family misbehaves33.

    • the social internet (Facebook…) is spreading rumors about them.

Reputation is the key word, furthermore now when the tsunami of put individuals and fami-lies in a permanent stress. They over-react to each words or photos seen on the web: this goes from tears up to big violence. Propaganda, manipulations, blackmail, rumors… everything arriving on their Smartphone is seen as true and stresses them. It can be images of fights, slaughters and political ru-mors or can be rumors attacking one person, putting his extended family/clan (hundreds of persons) in a deep emotional commotion.

Emotion is a major part of Libyans reality, not just an internal family problem but a social one that can lead to high over-reaction. For example, a lost reputation can led to the expulsion out of the socie-ty of a family, obliging their relatives to stop any contact with them if they don’t want themselves to be ostracized. Nobody will speak to them, will invite them to family feast, will share Ramadan and Aid… they are looked out in the social desert.

What works for family goes for clans and tribes, people die and kill, tribes fight. The strong hand of Kadhafi could control this violence but the accumulation was too strong.

    1. No civil society

Libyan Society is not a Civil Society of citizens aware of their rights and duties. The traditional re-lations were reinforced by the oil money which provided all the equipments of modernity and welfare but without neither the political nor the culture nor the education linked with: the country was rich and Kadhafi powerful, each level, society and individuals, could have its share, small or big, that’s it!

A totalitarian regime, all political/social/economical powers are in one hand.

Most Libyans don’t understand the concepts of citizenship, rights and duties, the democratic division of the 3 powers34 and the necessity of the 4th one: media and freedom of information. The py-ramidal structure gave them a single global vision: the Chief (the Rais) owns power and money > when you obey you receive benefits > given by the elders (shibani) of the tribe > who got it from the Rais. Being part of a group is the only protection and you have to pay respect to your superiors.

Libyans are without answer to face the crash and the forced opening to outside.


    1. A “terrorist” and no-state country

The internal problems Libyans might have with their regime became an international one when Kadhafi strongly supported terrorist groups, going even to bomb two planes, killing 500 passengers.

Libya, Libyans and their chief were the “terrorist country of the world35

Some overture came mid 90s and the end of embargo, when Kadhafi cleared relations with the world by paying compensations for people killed in terrorist attacks. He spent big money in military equipment, industry, energy36 and was even received in France and UNO. But, in 2011, following Tunisia, a Libyan spring started in Benghazi. Kadhafi over-reactions against demonstrators gave the very bad impression his old lunatic and terrorist nature was back.

Kadhafi being the keystone of the society, when he felt, Libya collapsed. There were no structures: government, administration, civil society… the system losing its head, everything went out-of-control: each group or individual felt it was time to catch what they can ”power is at the end of gun”37

Libyans made their revolution without the exit: a Civil Society and a State.

    1. An exploded society

1 the Mediterranean and the Mediterranean world in the age of Philip II”

2 The West, the sunset in Arabic (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya) = North-Africa, opposing the Machrek, the East, the sunrise = Middle East.

3 MENA = Middle East – North Africa

4 The Kadhadfa, around Syrte and coming from Sebha in the desert, half nomadic and very poor, they were shepherd for a strongest tribe.

5 1965/6 in UK – as student he learned Italian and English in Misrata

6 Ottoman provinces.

7 . 1801-1805 – the 1st international intervention of US Navy and Marines, the anthem of USMC has the words “…to the shores of Tripoli…”

8 Turkish, Lebanese, Jews, Greeks, Maltese, Sicilian… Most of the barbarian pirates were Christian Greeks converted to Islam. Many Greeks were sailors aboard the Ottoman ships of the battle of Lepante (1571) because salaries were better than with Venetians!

9 France, UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, USA, Belgium, Russia. Named “les Puissances” “the Almightiest”

10 It was the last Maghreb area to be colonized and the 1st time the name “Libya” was given to this region known before as the willayet of Tripolita-nia, Cyrenaica and Fezzan.

11 More than 250,000 Libyans were killed.

12 UK had an Airbase near Benghazi (Labrak) and US had “Wheelus-Field”, now Mitiga, in East Tripoli.

13 An old Libyan remembers receiving UN food at school

14 Meanwhile in Tunis in 1840, the Turkish Bey created the 1st international university « l’Ecole Militaire du Bardo » with French, Italian and En-glish teachers. This university was the base of the modernization of the country through an educated elite, 175 years ago!

15 There were 3 Officers’ plots in the same time, he ran faster!

16 Schools, Universities, hospitals, roads, housing, many public employees…

17 read Tunisian sociologist Moncef Ouanes “militaires, élites et modernisation dans la Libye contemporaine », an English version is expected.

18 During « poor Libya » times, it was the Libyans who went to work in the « rich » neighboring countries!

19 The community of Muslims

20 In 70s he created various kinds of Revolutionary Committees waving the “Green Book” of his thoughts for a Muslim Socialist New Society which will save the country, the Arabs… and the world!

21 Aozou Strip

22 Moncef Ouanes, op.cit – Businessmen were even assassinated in Europe.

23The Arab of the Future, a graphic memoir” Riad Sattouf (2015 – Henri Holt ed. – NY)

24 In the 70s Libyan people were hanged, publicly and on TV, just because they studied in USA.

25 An UNSMIL lady visiting prisons was astonished to see that schools premises were built the same way: high walls, small grilled windows…

26 All adults remember being beaten by teachers.

27 The 1st time for a Head of State in Muslim countries.

28 For him, only Qoran was saint because “words of God”, not the Adith describing Prophet’s life and words.

30 One out of many

31 Marriages, studies, positions.

32 I don’t want my son to become a Christian by doing like occidentals…”, “you are the son of a Sheik (tribal Chief), you cannot wear blue-jeans…”

33 I shall not find a wife for my son if people know he once drank alcohol…”

34 Legislative – Executive – Judiciary

35 Oct 2015 is the 30th birthday of the 1985 movie « back to future », the “bads guies ” were 3 “Libyan terrorists”.

36 A Nuclear Power Plant was planned.

37 Maozedong.

      1. Crash of the political body

The civil war is the total collapse of the Jamahiriya, the Kadhafi system which created all enemy groups but obliged them to live together. Like the after-Tito’s Yugoslavia, all frozen conflicts melt when power went off. From families to tribal/regional/political structures, everything exploded.

The “3D. Chess game”: conflicts and friendships are on top of many layers of “friend-or-foe” rela-tions which only Libyans know. New or old conflicts show up at all levels: either family vendetta (because someone killed somebody 100 years ago) or tribal 1000-years-conflicts1 or political retalia-tions of 2011 slaughters between pro and anti-Kadhafists, or drug smugglers fight or… you name it!

      1. A leading trouble maker: Misrata

The old division between the 2 big towns Benghazi and Tripoli was completed by many newly rich cities: Syrte, the town of the Kadhadfa2 and others towns on seashore or in the desert close of oil fields. Misrata, an old trading harbor, became powerful when Kadhafi, after having punished them in the 70s, gave them the only importation port: 80 % of all imported containers arrive there. So Misrata controlled all importations.

An economy controlled in one place by few hands is a colonial frame giving lot of power to a small group on a whole country.

In spite of this gift, Misrata was the spear-head of the 2011-17th-February-Revolution, the leader of anti-Kadhafists forces, rich enough to recruit militiamen from poor tribes.

Misrati are specific because they are not really inside the traditional Libyan tribal frame. The town is the heir of a Turkish influence preserved by Cherkess: a Turkish-speaking community arrived mid/ end 19th century from West-Caucasus3 ousted in 1864 by Russian Tsar4. 1 million arrived in Turkey where they are now a rich community and some stretched along the Mediterranean, settling in the Willayets. They are some thousands in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and the Personal Guards of the King of Jordan are Cherkess. In July 2011, Kadhafi sent to Amman a special envoy to meet their Shura (council of Elders), looking for help, they refused!

So no wonder the strong partnership built by Misrata and Turkey. They share the Touran5 cul-ture and Turkish (Erdogan) dream to renew the 500 years ottoman influence on all this Arabs coun-tries which were under their rule up to 19236. Turkish businessmen sign great construction con-tracts7 and scores of planes and cargos are offloading weapons, supporting the Islamists militias of Ansar-al-Charia/Farj Libya8 and maybe Daesh.

      1. The tribes lose some control

The tribes and their shuras lost some power on their members, especially on the youngest ones, because they lost the power/money received from Kadhafi. But they have still a social/cultural promi-nence which allows them to rule the society and to intervene for inter-tribal peace agreements and exchange of prisoners, but their political power has weakened. Most avoid taking political position and try to protect their people.

Ignorant of the world, tribal Elders don’t have the knowledge to face the collapse of the only politi-cal system they know. They don’t understand the concept of elected representatives introduced by occidentals, as their tribal system was up to date quite efficient:

  • Elders (shibani) represent their people,

  • there is no “king” in the tribe, they decide in group (Shura).

  • When one cannot fit (too old or not smart) he is put apart with respect, all appearances being saved, the White Beard is respected but not heard.

The whole tribal hierarchy is strong with top leading tribes followed by less top ones, followed by lowest followed by… to reach the bottom tribes of servants, field workers and shepherds9. The Lo-west must pay respect to the Highest which must protect and feed them. Europe knew that political organization from 9th to 15th Century: the Middle-Age, the Overlords and the oaths of allegiance10.

Some tribes are choosing their side: Zintan and Warshefana against Zawia, against… they fight but the reasons are not clear and mixed:

  • Long time enmity because of a conflict 1 or 200 years ago.

  • and/or control of bigger area for bigger money.

  • and/or ideological opposition.

  • and/or regional alliance.

  • and/or ethnical conflict.

  • and/or mercenaries paid by big people.

  • and/or control on smuggling roads…

Everything is on the table,

In Libya, all fighters have many various reasons in the same time11.

      1. Militias gain control

Militias are outside tribal control, playing their own games12 at bottom level but controlled at top le-vel13. There are a minimum of 6 armed forces: the 2 Governments, the tribes, the militias, Ansar-al-Chari/Farj and Daesh. They are friends and/or foes with surprising changes in the time and the space and with different levels of political interests, agenda and supports, in and out-country.

No wonder if in such a restricted society and with emotional persons, Libyans go violent when so-cial and political control vanished: militiamen and commanders come from very low social class or very poor tribes. If before 2011 a young man was just allowed to wash cars in the street, a Kalashnikov makes a commander out of him14. This group of young males has smelt the power of their free-dom, they will not come back easily under traditional custody! Even their chiefs are not that free to command and some have problems with their troops because they could not pay or arm them.

      1. The elected VIPs

The political persons running the government(s) and representing the country outside are not res-pected like the traditional headmen. Their election is legal but not seen as legitimate.

Elected through an instant-democracy15 process provided in emergency by foreigners,

these “Officials” are not considered as really representing population and tribes.

In a small community, everybody knows everybody and who is what in the pyramid of powers16. Newcomers in political loop are seen with cautious eyes, everybody knows where they come from:

  1. Either they were Kadhafi’s VIPs who joined 17-feb revolution, Diplomats or Ministers.

  1. Or they were advisors of those VIPs, back-yard executives jumping to take the floor.

  1. And/or they represent militias and armed groups.

  1. And/Or they were elected “representatives” but they are not the real ones, the Headmen.

  1. And/or they were living abroad, either for business or conflict with Kadhafi. These “foreigners” are not considered as Libyans: leaving the community destroys your identity17!

Population sees them like scavengers looking for money and paid by USA or Qatar or…

      1. Where is the big money

Libya has billions USD in international banks but the National Central Bank is broke; employees don’t get salaries since months. Who are controlling those international funds? GoL? Libyans abroad ? Who have the real power? Who are the countries behind each fighting forces? Who is providing mo-ney and arms to militias? Who is behind extremists?

The very (oil) rich Libya is a prey for scavengers,

Libyans cannot trust their “friends”, Arabs or others;

their helps will have a price18.


    1. Losing certitudes

The Libyans are totally stressed not only because of civil war but because they lost all the certitudes supporting their pride:

  1. They were a strong and respected country with a known Chief and armed forces, all vanished.

  1. They were rich and technically developed, they are now refugees or living without water and power in Tripoli.

  1. Told to be the “best Arabs” and welcomed in Arab countries, now it is hard to get visas19.

  1. They employed hundreds thousands Tunisian and Egyptian workers, they are now refugees in Tu-nisia and Egypt.

  1. From 1995, they thought being accepted by the World, they are once more considered as terrorists.

  1. The rich Libya collapsed when the poor Tunisia followed its own way, how come?

    1. A very high defiance about foreigners

      1. Long time bad relations

Libyans’ knowledge and feeling of the world is very bad after one century of problems with forei-gners. The colonizations, WW2, the permanent propaganda of Kadhafi against “sheitan” (devil), and US air attacks in the 80s to punish terrorist bombing gave them the certitude that Occident is their enemy. Meanwhile Occident had a very bad feeling about this “terrorist State”.

The 2011 NATO intervention killed many and led to a total country-wreck, one can understand that Libyans are reluctant about relations with western countries.

Libyans have very negative views about occidentals, people and institutions. Following their tribal culture, each one represents the whole group and all groups are linked by the same interest. They cannot understand occidental life. The ideas of individualism, freedom of opinion and diversity of social and political structures are out of their perception. Their weltanschauung20 is based on community mind: you are the group you belong to..

      1. they are all spies”

They cannot discriminate US, NATO, EU and UNO, seen as the same occidental powers plotting to destroy Libya to give the country to Daesh and oil to US21. An US/Israel plot is always in the mind22.

Most tribal elders refuse to admit UN peace process, not knowing the differences between:

  • NATO, an Europe/US armed alliance created to face USSR and the Warsaw Treaty forces, which attacked Libya (to protect population?) in 2011.

  • UNO gathering all countries of the world (even Arabs and Developing countries) to build peace by making Libyans meeting and talking.

    1. The problem of teaching Human Rights (HRs).

HRs will need a long way to be accepted. Lectures and trainings by international experts are not only useless but counterproductive23, reinforcing Libyans in their despising of the Western world: they see rich foreign organizations wasting money to teach them things they don’t need neither un-derstand. Their reaction is: “take the money and smile!”, enjoying plane trip, hotel and per-diem and for-getting what was taught!.


The cage is destroyed, country is totally opened and Libyans have to learn how to run free. If Libyans don’t know the world, the world doesn’t know Libyans!

    1. The Occidental defiance

For occidentals, Libyans are just followers of a lunatic and terrorist Rais: Muammar Al-Kadhafi. This bad reputation sticks to them when they (can) travel. The civil war and the recently waived Kadhafists’ Green-Flags in and out-country, reinforced this feeling.

Libyans don’t really know that during 42 years their country, their Chief and they were considered as the “axle of evil” and a terrorist country.

For International Organizations and countries, Libya is terra incognita24.

    1. The despising Maghreb cousins

If this miscomprehension can be understood because previous conflicts and differences of culture, it is much less understandable to see the incredible lack of mutual knowledge between cultural cousins and economical partners in Maghreb: Tunisia and Libya.

      1. Mutual ignorance

Since the 60s both countries are economical partners: Tunisia was providing hundreds of thousands workers, technicians, engineers and doctors and selling food, Libya was investing in hotels, roads, In-dustries, equipments, constructions, hospitals and providing cheap oil. The without-oil qualified and educated Tunisia being the supplier of oil-rich Libya! Tunisia could build its economy on that! But each side ignores and despises the other one.

Tunisians ignore Libyans:

If many Tunisian workers know their Libyan cousins because they worked there, it is not the case of elite and educated Tunisians25 who probably know more about any lost tribe of Amazonia26 than they know their “uneducated” neighbors, who are only “able to drive dangerously their huge cars, to pay Tunisian workers to do the job they are unable to do, to waste money in luxury hotels and to get drunk with prostitutes”. Most of those elite persons never talked with any Libyan and are very astonished when they discover they are like others, with family and jobs, problems and qualities.

Libyans ignore Tunisians:

They see them as preposterous, more French then Arab27 and probably no good Muslim because they have alcohol shops and their women behave and dress like occidental, i.e. prostitutes28.

      1. Mutual accusations

Since 2011, each country accuses the other one to be at the origin of their problems. True or not, this is what both people believe and say:

  • Tunisians are stressing

    • the violence and the islamists strong presence in Libya affecting them

    • Libyan refugees/visitors spoil the economy, food and houses29 prices are skyrocketing

    • Some districts in towns are “little Libya”

    • The South is destabilized by smugglers and armed groups.

    • Score of weapons and extremists are crossing the border.

    • Libya is behind the terrorism which destroyed the tourist economy

    • The misbehavior of some rich Libyans, thinking money allows them to do what they want.

    • Tunisians despised these non-educated and stubborn Libyans, some kind of “very rich nomads driving huge 4WDs and just able to pay four time the price”.

  • Libyans are stressing

    • Most of Daesh fighters and commanders in Libya are Tunisian.

    • They bring money in Tunisia but are crooked by Tunisians who double or more the prices and snake around not respecting contracts.

    • Driving a car with Libyan plates makes you stopped every by and then by police30

    • These thinking-to-be-highly-educated and poor Tunisians think they are better than them meanwhile they were their employees and servants.


If Libyan suffering population is without answers to face the crisis, regretting the Kadhafi time of secu-rity and welfare, some educated people31 think it is time to build a new Libya:

  • a Nation with a State, a Constitution and a Civil Society,

  • knowing and accepting other people and cultures.

They don’t want their children to live in the Libya they know, they understand their responsibilities to prepare the future and they know that, for good and bad, a new-born baby cannot come back in the mother: they take the situation as it is and they don’t try to come back to the golden age.

It is important for Tunisians to discover their cousins: they share roots, history and economy. It is obvious that all changes in Libya affect them, so they have to work with Libyans to solve their pro-blems and build a new country.

Libyans discovering their Tunisian cousins, the Maghreb and the world,

will see that other ways of life

are not obligatory dangerous for their children and their country.



    1. Background

What could be a rich and modern country linked to the world was a golden cage blocking Libyans insi-de traditions and violence without giving ways to create a State, a Nation and a Civil society. Chapter 1 describes who the Libyans are. This Chapter 2 is to analyze the political approach,

Ignoring the social and political culture of a country is the only way to miss the targets:

Peace process and State building.

Beside their obvious occidental way of life with big houses and big cars, beside the permanent conflict and battles, Libyans have a strong social system: the Tribes, guiding their conception of the world. We have to know and to work with them.

    1. Society

              1. An incredible mix tradition<>modernity

              1. Traditions structure the society and the minds.

              1. The idea of a Nation is just beginning, Libyans have different levels of answers:

              1. There is a total ignorance of any political systems other than the Kadhafi’s Jamahiriya.

Libyan Society is inside a frame protecting up to date its people, guiding its life and giving them their “conception of the world”32

there is no Civil Society because there is a Tribal Society


In 2011 the society erupted like a volcano of frustrations!. Many different movements and situations are present, they fight or not, the groups are with or without power, the events are with or without violence, all powers are divided meanwhile some parts deal with the supposed-to-be enemy ones33: a total mess34, your enemy can be your friend.

                1. 2 different Governments (HoR Tobruk<>GNC Tripoli) 1 only is legal for UN (HoR), there are 2 “elected” parliaments. Now there is a 3rd one, organized by UN Bernardino LEON.

                1. Mid Oct15 a new GoL, Government of National Accord GNA was named through UNSMIL ac-tion, the questions are

                  1. Who are the new members? Are they “legitimate” for communities?

                  2. Who will accept or refuse them?

                  3. What will do HoR and GNC, supposed to have finished their legal period?

                  4. Where will be its “Capital”

                  5. What will be their financial support?

                  6. What can do UN in case of opposition?

                1. All ministries and administrative Offices are divided between Tobruk and Tripoli but if heads chan-ge, both administrations are generally collaborating. They work

                  1. when they have power,

                  2. when they can come safely,

                  3. when they receive their salary..

                1. One official Libya National Army (LNA) + some tribal militias (Zintani…), is the “official” Dignity Operation:

                  1. Commanded by General Hafter, more or less under HoR control35.

                  2. they fight in Benghazi and around Tripoli against extremist’s Farj (Operation Dawn).

                1. Misrata town, thinking they could rule Libya, is fighting against everybody, playing their role of spear-head of 17-Feb Revolution. Fully supported by Turkey (GoT and businessmen) and sha-ring control of Tripoli with local militias.

                1. Farj/Ansar-Al-Charia are controlling Tripoli and fighting in Benghazi against Dignity

                1. Daesh, controlling Sabratha, Derna and Syrte, is attacking everybody, even Farj and Misrata, suppo-sed to be on the same side.

                1. Militias are playing their own looting games under Extremists/Misrata/Farj or Dignity control36,

                1. Pro and Anti-Kadhafists are dividing the whole society at every level: family, clan, tribes.

                1. VIPs from Kadhafi’s regime live outside, controlling huge funds37. Meanwhile in-country and Na-tional bank are broke.

                1. Some of the 250 tribes from the Tribal Army are gathering the self-protection forces.

                1. Some tribes take positions on either sides,

                  1. most wait for the end of the storm, trying to survive.

                  2. The Top tribes are silent and not taking positions.

                1. Local rivalry between tribes rose up, long term enmity exploding in local conflicts where shuras intervene for cease-fire and to exchange prisoners.

                1. Most political leaders (recent or traditional) cannot design short or long term strategies with politi-cal visions.

                  1. Without International/Political culture they don’t speak the same language than IOs.

                  2. They do their best in the storm; trying to protect their people.

                  3. some are just there for money and the power, newly arrived on the political floor.

                  4. behind are Big people (Libyans or not) who have political visions and strategies.

                1. Businessmen with international connection and big contracts (see Turkey) are on duty, making big money out of the troubles38.

                1. More than 2000 CSOs are officially registered, created by courageous people discovering 5 years ago they have the right to assembly for Human Rights… without any knowledge of associations, citizenship and political sciences: CSOs without CS!

                1. New political people arrived with revolution were elected but not really recognized by Libyan people and traditional authorities; some represent Libya in International Institutions.

                1. The Tamazight, old native population from Morocco to Libya, claim since long to be officially re-cognized as Libyan and their language to become official. Many are on Revolution side (Farj) be-cause Kadhafi was hard with them, waving the flag of “Arabism” to put them apart.

                1. The Tebus, Arab/African tribes of Deep South Tibesti39, claim to be officially recognized. Treated by Kadhafi like the Tamazight.

                1. The Bedouins, smuggling in deep-South Sahel, fight with Tebus to control the traffic routes.

                1. Many 100,000s illegal immigrants are waiting to cross the sea: a fabulous resource for smugglers, new slaves traders.

                1. Libya became the Logistic base for all smugglers of Mediterranean, Sahel and MENA, traffics are in hand of everybody40:

                  1. Southerner tribes of Fezzan/Tibesti run the Sahel supermarket.

                  2. Northern harbors and airports under Extremists’ control receive planes and cargo-boats off-loading all sorts of goods, from weapons to LED-TV,

                  3. Tunisian border sees lot of trucks crossing both ways, importing and exporting.

                1. Some various car bombs, suicide bombs and murders randomly dispatched from Tobruk41 to Misrata42 and Tripoli43. Origins are various.

                1. Neighboring families are fighting for personal conflicts, going even up to AK47 and RPG!

                1. No organized police forces, “security” is in hand of Militias44

                  1. Checkpoints are spread by and then, very close from each others, in hand of different com-manders and ready to take what you have.

                  2. Never drive a 4WD, it will be taken. Never transport English written documents, “you are a spy!”

                1. Many countries support with money and arm each side, sometime both sides, officially or not.

                1. In Tripoli, previous Tunisian and occidental businessmen are replaced by Turkish

                  1. There are many Ukrainians and Russians running the technical plants.

                  2. Many Tunisian hand-workers take risks to get good salaries building houses.

                1. Oil fields and most of the 5 oil-harbors are closed and/or attacked by Daesh – production drop-ped down to 10 %. The 2 “GoLs” are broke. What will get the 3rd one?

                1. The “great-man-made-river”45 is in danger to be closed by desert tribes, cutting Tripoli water when they don’t agree with GNC decisions!

                1. Gas power stations are without maintenance, power is cut 20 hours/day in Tripoli.

And so on… Too many participants, too many events and too many situations, Libyans cannot under-stand their fate and their country. Let’s find a way to be accepted by their stressed mind.


    1. An incredible traditional/modern society

This society shows all levels of political/economical/cultural/military/traditional layers and powers. Be-side traditional hierarchies, new classes rose up: bourgeoisie, employees, workers and Army. A Warfalla businessman is culturally and politically opposed to a Misrati but, sharing the common value of their so-cial class, they have and will work together, sooner or later.

The new political persons are trying to find their way through some democratic representation, but, if they are legal for Internationals, are they legitimate for population??? All groups are fighting but they have one thing in common: their tribal origins and their strong culture.

    1. The legitimacy is in the Tribes:

No Libyan is without tribal allegiance whatever is his class, position or fortune. This very old system is no more as unique and exclusive as it was up to the 50s, but tribes are still a big part of the structure so they must be part of the solution,

Tribes are the only stable system remaining in the country-wreck.

Involving them efficiently in peace talks obliges to respect their mind and organization. Inviting in a Cairo conference tribes “representatives” out of command of the traditional hierarchy is just giving the floor to children in a kinder garden: all rivalries rose and personal conflicts spoiled the congress: “200 years ago, your tribe killed the brother of my ancestor”, “in 1984, Kadhafi gave a position to your nephew which was for my son…” children without master, fighting about stolen cakes and lost toys!

    1. The tribal heavy hierarchy:

There are overlord tribes and under ranked ones, so a tribal congress (Majliss al Shura) must be organized by overlord tribes with support of UN, not by UN gathering people in bulk. Very few Shuras of any tribe will dare to oppose or avoid the meeting: they can be banned of the system as are “dishonored” individuals.

All personal behaviors are linked with this strong tradition.

Tribal system is still present with its rigid hierarchy with tops and bottoms: shuras go and pay respect to higher ones and they receive the same from lowest ones. Relations are very subtle, only known by Libyans; Kadhafi was very good at that: he built his 42 years’ power on it.

Kadhafi’s State disappeared with him, ones could think tribes are just spoiling the country with their permanent conflicts and arguments, but there is a huge difference: the tribal system is in the minds and lives. Even lone people and out-of control militiamen belong to a family, a clan and one day will report back to his father, mother and uncles.

If tribes show disorganization and conflicts, it is because they are low ranked and because the real top leaders, the Overlords tribes, refused to speak, to take party and to involve themselves in one side or another.

Tribes didn’t vanish with Kadhafi and his system; they are silent but always here.

Warfalla, one of the biggest tribe, allied with the Tarhuna46, is one good key, the top overlord. No talks can go without them gathering tribes and working with other powers.

If Warfalla moves, tribes will follow

For our individualistic culture, this unusual out-of-the-world society mixing money-can-buy-modernity and old time traditions makes us seeing only the incredible disorder and country-wreck. But there is a hidden carpentry behind, let’s look for it.

    1. Entering Political Society means to be trusted by Elders:

Any INGO or IO must know that:

  1. the Overlords tribes are the one to coordinate tribes.

  1. Social/cultural/political system is under big tribes’ control, neglecting them is a lack of respect

  1. Elders must be aware of what are really IOs and INGOs

  1. a Majliss47 is called only by big tribes’ elders, then IOs can participate,

  1. no workshop or training must be held without knowledge/approbation and even participation of Elders.

A congress without Leading tribes, an in-country workshop without Elders presence is a way to lose contact with Libyan realities, i.e. to miss the goal!

Any solution coming from outside will be refused.

The peace-process agenda is not uniquely in Tribes’ hands, many other forces are involved, but a poli-tical system is like a chair: 4 good legs are better than with a broken one. Tribes are one of the strong legs of Libya society and country, lean on them! Dealing only with the legally recognized people and groups and avoiding the legitimate ones is the best way to fail.

    1. Individuals and tribal behaviors

Libya is a country with conflicting groups and powers. All these groups must be part of the peace process. So International Organizations (IOs) have to deal with them.

The problem is: how to create a legal democratic structure in a situation where:

  1. most Libyans don’t understand what are the IOs and foreign countries and their differences48

  1. International experts and Organizations don’t know the strength and refinement of traditional so-cieties. For them, tribes are not modern and can be ignored because they are a source of troubles.

  1. IOs think that by building a Legal Frame with elections and democratic representations, they will do the job, forgetting that countries and IOs needed centuries to build the state of rights and the “Universal Declaration of HRs”.

Democratic is the end of a long cultural and political process, not a ready-made one49.

If traditions exist since ages it is because they have qualities for their members. This was our European situation up to 18th century until we found new definitions of the political50 and personal rights. This mutual lack of understanding is a danger.

    1. Three basic information:

                1. It is important to show to Libyans how different are IOs representing the whole world.

                  1. UN gathers 195 countries, including 22 Arab League, and is mandated to help Libyans to build their peace.

                  2. they don’t plot to give the country to bad hands.

                  3. NATO is another thing!

                1. dealing with groups means knowing the personal behaviors:

                  1. highly emotional

                  2. stressed

                  3. a permanent defiance of foreigners

                  4. a fear to lose reputation.

                1. traditions and tribes are the strong system running for thousands years mentalities and society even if economical/technical side has improved since 50 years,

When IOs are dealing with groups in and out-country, it is important to use what they have in com-mon: their tradition of life, their culture.

Tribes are the social and cultural frame for Libyans, so it is important to work with them.


    1. 4 GoLs for the price of 1

.Previous Libya collapsed without a State, so they could not follow Tunisian way. This people without any political knowledge and structures were suddenly under new political frame, created with the help of IOs and support of countries. In 5 years, there were 3 Governments of Libya and now a 4th one:

  1. National Transitional Congress, NTC, provisional GoL in 2011

  1. General National Congress GNC, elected 2012, was supposed to end March14 to give place to

  2. House of Representatives HoR, elected 2014, supposed to end Oct15,

  1. HoR jumped to Tobruk because GNC stayed in Tripoli,

  1. Government of National Accord GNA, created Oct 2015 after many meeting by UNSMIL. Gathering chosen political people of either side and suppose to replace HoR (and GNC).

The problems are in either side (GNC – HoR – Farj – Dignity…) there are for and against GNA:

  • accepting or refusing the new PM, Vice-PMs (2 or 3?) and Ministers…

  • accepting of refusing people and groups told to be terrorists or Kadhafists or…

  • accepting and refusing the conditions put forth by UNSMIL51.

UNSMIL has a MDA52: money, HoR is broke, having just enough to pay salaries; credit lines will be opened only to GNA.

    1. The International Guideline

The Mid Oct15 London conference gathered UN and a group of Countries concerned by Libya. There were some Libyan’s representatives but the Libya Embassy in UK was not invited. The agenda is about “lessons learned53, the main ideas are:

  1. The international community had “failed to focus on politics and the political settlement’’.

  1. They speak to talk/recognize Militias but without “strengthening them

  1. Libyans must also fully accept the concept of foreign experts on the ground in the country“.

    1. Conclusion of IOs action:

      1. Missing the target

The social and political structure is very complex, so when IOs try to solve the problems their own (occidental) way, it is like one thinking to know the Great Canyon because he has a postcard. Libya is a strong country with a clear identity, don’t miss it!

The new job of M. LEON as Director of the Emirate Diplomatic School in Abou-Dahbi sounds bad in the mind of Libyans. They know the role played by those Emirates in Middle East and in Libya54. This doesn’t help to accept the Peace talks and strengthen the idea of a plot.

      1. Democratic process versus traditions.

A democratic process with no-legitimate people supposed to represent people is a problem.

  1. The recommendations of the London conference show the ignorance not only of Libya’s realities but a total lack of political/sociological/historical skills.

    1. The only good thing they said is to admitting they “…failed on political approach…”.

    1. The last issue about the “presence of international expert” will treat the Libyans like children needing masters.

      1. How qualified are the experts? since 5 years the situation they care of is worsening

      2. If international actions were not efficient, the question is: who did what and how? why it failed? And why stay stubborn?

    1. Their dream of “recognizing militias without strengthening them…” will be the nightmare for Libyans, giving militias a stronger political position than they have55 and allowing them to escape the tri-bal rules.

Never leave young males out of the control of the old males of the herd!

  1. If we add the lack of trust toward Tribes, distance to peace is even longer.

Libyans, human beings and society, are far from perfect but they ARE. They can be stubborn and strange for us but never forget they are strong and proud.

Treating them like children and despising their traditions and social organization

is the best way to avoid them, then to fail.


Approaching Libyans is like in the movie “close encounters of the 3rd kind”: 2 different cultures have to discover each other. Behind obvious oppositions there is a bigger frame: Libyans’ culture!

  • Because they were strongly closed, they have a stronghold: their identity. Their Libyan Pride!

    • They never liked outsiders trying to change them, with violence or “good words”

    • many find they are Libyan before being extremist: “I don’t need somebody to teach me how to be a Muslim!”.

  • Kadhafi put them in cage but, his lunatic and frenetic views created a permanent turmoil making them used to change and ready for new ways, they were trained to change.

  • Libyans are wise: they are very close of a Syria issue and they refuse it!

    • Military and political conditions are ready to go to worse but if Libyans can be “enemies”, they are in the same time “partners” inside the same community,

    • They know that the real danger is Daesh, the foreign force.

Compared to Syria, the advantage of Libya is to be 90 % the same cultural and religious community, Arab and Sunni tribes and, beside mutual ignorance with neighbors, they share a cultural basin: Maghreb. The 10% Tamazight and Tebus have to be officially recognized but they are small communities and cannot interfere with Libya State-building process as strongly as the incredible number of countries, communities and religions in Middle-East.

Like many traditional people facing the 20th and 21st centuries, Libyans have difficulties to find their pla-ce and to communicate with the world. They are obliged to enter now in a new history where everything is to be built. The only advantage of the actual destruction is to give way to create a new country with an improved and real Civil Society.

Their and Our problem is to open new doors to communicate and to use tools to rebuild. Not knowing them is slamming the door on the way in!, the danger being for both sides: Libyans and the world. The next Part 2 will show how we found a way in.



Theory and practice for inter- cultural works



Libyans’ skin was burned since 1969, long before 2011 revolution, when they were trapped in the dreams of a lunatic and ambitious dictator.

Part-1 explains how and why Libyans are different. They are very special: a very strong traditional community reinforced and modified by all money-can-buy things and the dreams of their Chief. Stressed and reluctant to any external influence, they see foreigners as a danger for their life, culture and society:

Libyans don’t trust no-Libyans.

There is already incomprehension with the 2 neighboring countries, Tunisia and Egypt, mind how occidental culture, countries and people can be understood!

That’s what we tried to be: accepted then understood!

This Part 2 aims to describe MALIM philosophy and actions to approach this community and how we share with them Human Rights and Democracy sensitization:

How we worked with Libyans and could get their confidence.


From May 2013 to September 2015, a team mixing Libyans, Tunisian, Italian, Greek, French and US ran the Libya-Human-Rights-Program (LHRP) made by Creative-Learning.Inc (Washington-DC based INGO) and funded by Swedish International Cooperation and Development Agency (SIDA).

We made 7 workshops in Libya, 13 in Tunisia and 2 in UNHCHR Geneva.

We built strong partnerships

  • MoU with ALECSO for education,

  • GoL and GoT Ministry of Education, University and Education experts to improving the education system.

  • Libyan CSOs and highly motivated activists

  • I-AM-LIBYA, a Libyan CSO aiming to

    • Coordinate HR-CSOs

    • in-country Training of Trainers (ToT)

    • Organize in-country workshops gathering CSOs, community Elders, GoL Officers.

    • Build the capacities and organization of CSOs

    • Spread the ideas of HR needs as described in the last UPR for Libya in UNHCHR Geneva.

    • Advocate these UPR recommendations to GoL.

  • GoL Officers motivated to build their country from Tobruk or Tripoli

  • Tunisian CSOs to organize the meeting of Libyans and Tunisians and to teach Libyans the new Consti-tution and Rule of Law.

  • WFANU, the coordinating/training UN body for CSOs in Geneva.

This quantity of skills, relations and confidence we built thanks to SIDA and Creative Learning is now continuing through an out/in-country action-group: I-AM-LIBYA/MALIM. A coordinating Libyan CSO and an International NGO, both sharing the same views and climbing both side of a big mountain: building a new country!

We gathered some knowledge, but above all, we could have the confidence of Libyans who want to work for their country. This is the subject of this Part-2: how we work together.



When Kadhafi died, Libya collapsed, fragile because closed and multi-layers society-of-duties, not a Civil Society of citizens

    1. Rights without duties

Libyan’s spring started in 2011, the first protesters were democratic activists (judges, lawyers) publicly refusing a Kadhafi’s decision spoiling a judgment. There were followed by Islamists, long time enemies of Kadhafi56. Street demonstrations started, most protestors were fed up of hard se-curity forces and corruption.

The country-wreck made this society-of-duties a society-of-MY-freedom. When the stone arch loses its key-stone, all crashes: “no more limits, I catch what I can, it is my freedom!” The ideas of Rights were obvious but Duties were out of minds.

The society was erupting like a volcano of frustrations!

    1. No confidence,

There is no confidence either in person-to-person relations or between International Organizations and Libyan Political forces.

Libyans don’t know how to deal with foreigners. Libyan-Pride and poor international culture57 are strong filters for foreign ideas.

  • Libyans don’t know any other political system than the Kadhafi one. There were rich in a wealthy country, “so what, we are a great country, we don’t need other’s advices!”

  • The destruction of Iraq in the name of Democracy, the 2011 NATO bombings and the actual Syria situation are not seen as a “help” from Internationals.

  • If rich and educated Libyans who travel and send their children in UK/US/Serbia/Hungary universities since 2000, are ignorant of IOs (International Organizations) and occidental minds, guess what can think the common population which never left the country?


Nevertheless, after 5 years of civil-war, some democratic activists and educated people, already used to deal with the world, think that outsiders may have tools to help them to build a new Libya. These peo-ple don’t want their children to live in the Libya they knew.

Libya cage being destroyed, some birds are willing to fly, they look for teachers but are very careful and ready to refuse things and people they don’t understand.

Chapter-3 will describe our philosophy of freedom and what we did to be understood and accepted



Working with a different culture obliges to have a Technical Handbook. Nobody travels in the desert without strong preparation and a Guide.

Many countries and IOs are dealing with GoLibya through bi/multi-lateral contracts: Defense, Security, Oil, trade, equipment. But the ones in direct contact with Libyan people and realities are the INGOs and IOs (UN, EU, IOM, ICRC…) which work with the persons and the communities. It is important to be known and to know what to and not-to do.

The 1st thing is to make Libyans aware of the differences between



NATO, US, France, UK…


    1. The keys

Let’s suppose a Nobel Price of Physic making a workshop about Nuclear Power Plant to nomadic tri-bes of Sahara which use small generators and light bulbs: we are close of this situation when Interna-tional Trainers teach HRs to Libyans, it is far from their conception of the world! We can teach the words but the concept-frame being different, the meaning is lost59.

Universal HRs are the only tools to build a good and fair society but they must:

                1. be taught following the level of life and concept of receivers, their culture60.

                1. pass by different steps in the time to be understood and used.

The keys: culture and time.

An efficient approach must be: slow, deep and using subtle release process, taking time to be accepted >understood>approved. A capillarity work!

    1. An approach by capillarity

One cannot expect any country to build a democratic state without the support/will of the popu-lation and to do it in short term: Occidental Democracies needed centuries to build their state-of-rights. A democratic State is made with citizens, a citizen is an educated person knowing his rights and duties and willing to share with other citizens: a Civil Society.

This is not the situation of Libya: this strong but closed society is protecting itself and has problems to communicate and face the forced opening to the world. Foreigners need a strategy of approach to ma-ke Libyans aware of some new concepts to build their future country. The 1st task is to create the need of a Civil Society, that’s a very long process, not an instant one61. CSOs without a CS are a bit without foundations.

It is impossible to educate a whole population in once, so it is important to work with a handful of really motivated, educated and courageous partners who are trusted by their community and then are able to spread new ideas inside the society. Beside their fears of the world Libyans are curious, so when somebody they trust comes with interesting new foreign ideas, they look for more. When the Elders are informed, they accept to go farther: “I believe only people I know, so when they bring new things, I can take them”.

New concepts must pass through this capillarity way:

acceptance of people and communities through trusted persons.


Spreading Human Rights goes by 2 basic ways:

  1. Opening Libyans to outside

  1. Sensitizing the community

    1. Opening Libyans to outside

The Libyan society is a rigid frame blocking communications; all our trainings and workshops mix different Libyans and Tunisians of all kinds:

  1. Males and females

  1. students with University teachers,

  1. democratic activists with Government Official

  1. people from Benghazi or Tripoli or Tunis or Egypt or Italy or Greece or France.

  1. Most trainers are from Maghreb with Arabic culture.

  1. Workshops are in Libya, Tunisia, Geneva

We open their views on themselves, their country and on the world:

  • the 1st day of any workshop is always the same: everybody is silent and defiant. Attendants look at other Libyans and foreigners with strange eyes: “I don’t trust this people!” – “this French is a spy”

  • By the end of 2nd day, they don’t stop talking, are happy to share, want to go further and talk with foreigners.

    1. Sensitizing the community

Usual HR trainings are like an island: isolated. A meeting room in a resort hotel where sorted attendants spend 2 to 8 days: what do they learn? Are their communities aware?

Lessons are kept when people around are aware, for example:

  • A workshop with Libyan and Tunisian Students is followed by the same Students reporting to the families, relatives and elders. Thereafter families will speak during coffee-time, proud of what their children did!

  • In-country Trainings involve, beside CSOs, members of Tribal Shuras and GoL representatives.

  • The UPR-for-Libya workshop in Geneva mixed gender, ages, positions, officials and activists. It was followed by several information workshops to families and to CSOs/GoL.

Teaching without the knowledge and approbation of community is the way to miss the target:

  • what did you learn from these foreigners?

  • they told us…”

  • this is useless and not matching with our traditions!”

Gone with the wind!

The strategy is to open the curiosity of attendants by

starting from their cultural frame

and opening new doors they feel free to pass… or not.


A relief organization will be accepted: in dire situation whatever given is received. But teaching Human Rights (HRs), State-of-Law, Constitution is another challenge. No one wants to change its life and get new ideas; everybody is satisfied of what he is.

So how can we give the need to meet us? How to work with other cultures? There are 2 ways to first, understand and then, to work with other cultures, 2 linked approaches: descriptive and operative.

    1. Descriptive approach and theories

The 1st approach is the descriptive one with Ethnology, Sociology, Psychology, History, Geography, Politic, Economy, Philosophy… these Human Sciences have lot of theories and no definitive solutions like Hard ones (Physic, Chemistry, Biology…). Despite their limits, they are the only tools to understand societies and then being the foundations of any action: “if you want to win you must know 3 things: the enemy, the field and yourself!” told a Chinese proverb. That’s what we did: try to know using all the knowledge, ideas and theory given by the Social and Human sciences.

    1. Operative approach and emotional acceptation

2nd is the operative one: how to work with different societies, using the knowledge of #1 and the experiences gathered on the field! this is the reason of this Part 2:

A Technical-Handbook crossing theories and field practices!

Relations MENA<>World and inside-MENA were (and are) following the old, simple and only way: the law-of-the-strongest. Our humanitarian job is a bit different: to help people to build their society, how can we work together respecting each others?

Meeting other cultures through workshops is like the 2 ways to invite for a Diner:

  • Either doing like an Ambassador receiving Diplomats following official protocol, all appearances are strictly respected but the mutual knowledge stays on surface62.

  • Or making barbecue party at home where attendants shared the preparation of meals and help to grill and cook.

    • automatically people are starting to communicate,

    • and are willing to go farther in relations and mutual discovery63.

The workshops we make are of the 2nd kind, our Libyan/French/Tunisian team and our direct words and works creates an atmosphere of personal meeting. Our speech is direct:

Libya is your country but it belongs to your children, so you are responsible of building a new one, we are here to give you tools but you will be the builder, not us!”

The attendants who became our partners were the one appreciating these words of responsibilities and duties. These looks naïve but traditional people like when new-comers introduce themselves and tell who they are and what they want. In these societies where everybody knows everybody, any foreigner must show his ID, personality and vision of the world. Speaking straight forward is the 1st step to be accepted: emotional acceptation.

No University Courses but the Meeting of two different cultures


    1. Responsibilities and Duties of Freedom

A philosophy of freedom tells the Duties linked with Rights, the Responsibilities of Liberty64:

  • One duty is respect: “I respect you, you respect me!”

  • Another duty is the obligation to share: “we know tools to improve society and make people happier, we have to share!”

  • Our interest is to have a Libya free and happy, for your and our sake.”

Our actions with Libyans are then very simple and our speech is straight forward:

  • WE are here to work with you to build your country, to provide you the tools.

  • YOU are the only ones able to build your country.

  • In the world there are the tools you need and other ways of living: “behind the walls there are other shining suns”.

    • OUR duty as human beings and humanitarian workers is to open doors in these walls,

    • YOUR right is to go through… or not.

This is your freedom, take it or leave it! But you cannot say there are no doors!” We put Human Rights in the frame of Responsibilities, theirs and ours!

    1. Our Integrated Cultural Approach

An old proverb says “you can ride a horse to the river, you cannot force him to drink!”. This summarizes our Integrated Cultural Approach: give people the need to share with us:

  1. We don’t do HR international lecture to people who don’t share our ideas, concepts, way of life and language. We find the way to be accepted, then understood then trusted.

  1. Our Trainings put people in contact with other realities: gender, age, countries, positions and way of life. We put attendants in conditions to meet and discover others, to share!

  1. Whatever we teach about HR, all other members of the communities are aware and approve. We didn’t teach one group alone without explaining the people around: To be accepted, HRs must involve the community and be owned by it.

    1. Seven ways to be trusted

  1. We start from the needs Libyans tell and we organize workshops where they are part of the solutions that they will own!

  1. We mix attendance in the same meeting: gender, age, position, nationalities, Media, IO, GoL…

  1. All attendants and most experts are from Maghreb, all discussions, PWP and courses are in local Arabic: no gap as it can be either with English or the official Arabic or Middle East speaker65.

  1. We mix attendants from CSOs, Officer of Ministries and Elders. These will easy the advocacy by learning the same things in the same time.

  1. We employ few international trainers with English PWP. Even with a good interpreter, con-cepts are out of reach66.

  1. We chose interpreters67 and Reporting Officers able to pass the concepts more than transla-ting words68.

  1. We sensitize the communities by making workshops presentations

    1. Finding the efficient activists

Most of the 2000 CSOs are small, gathering very few activists; they do their best and are very coura-geous to speak of HRs in this strange and dangerous country. Some are permanently living out-coun-try, some are going back and forth, but, after 5 years:

  • they don’t represent many people,

  • they are not really understood by communities

  • they are mentally and physically exhausted69… and broke.

International congress and workshops are full of “professional” attendants, waiting for subsidies to survive. Many Democratic Activists are like fishes out of the sea: struggling for life and exhausted!.The problem is to find and keep the ones who are really involved in HR defense, advocacy and who are eager to work with authorities. The condition is to be trusted by them!


Our Programs for Libya have a broader view than strictly national approach. We make people filling citizen of their nation inside a greater frame, the Maghreb, whom they belong to70.

When in Feb 2014 Tunisia voted its incredible Constitution it was obvious for us that Libyans must sha-re experience with Tunisian activists and state builders. Our 1st workshop in Tunis mixed these people from both countries. It was a great achievement: each cousin discovered the other one and how it is im-portant to share experiences. Both learned and were eager to do more!


We know we did well when seeing the real involvement of our partners and attendants:

  1. All attendants stay in the meeting room till 08:00 PM and resume talks in the lobby!

  1. People coming for Libya spend 20 hours in taxis or planes and at the border to attend workshops, risking dangers.

  1. HR/CSOs asked us for better coordination, training and advocacy by helping to create a coordi-nating CSO in Libya: I-AM-LIBYA.

  1. Libyan Ministries of Education, Culture and Civil Societies are eager to collaborate.

  1. ALECSO71 is supporting our approach to improve education and gave us good team to prepare and make the workshops.

The commitment of attendants is impressive: all people talk and discover each other. Libyans realized that beside tribal and regional divisions, they are a Nation, which is part of a bigger community, sharing the same problems and looking together for solutions.

By mixing gender, ages, people, social status, nationalities…

All our actions aim to open Libyans to themselves and to the world.



All analysis and strategies described above come from 2 years of permanent work of Libyans and Interna-tional teams on the field in Tripoli/Tunis/Geneva. The team who created MALIM and I-AM-LIBYA we-re the organizers, trainers and attendant of HR education workshops. During 2 years we gathered a great knowledge about each other: Libyans<>Internationals.

Working as INGO with CSOs, GoL Officers, Education Experts, Students Organizations, Media people, Tunisian CSOs and Experts and International Organizations72, we could get the confidence of some Li-byans elite, GoL and CSOs, building a partnership out and in-country.

              1. I-AM-LIBYA73

I-AM-LIBYA is a Libyan coordination CSO which aims to coordinating the HR/CSOs.

  1. Training of Trainers (ToT) for CSOs in Libya and in Tunisia,

  1. Developing/supporting women rights CSOs

  1. teaching and mixing democratic activists and representatives of communities (elders)

  1. helping CSOs for advocacy to GoL

  1. improving their field/office/finance management

  1. helping CSOs in their relation with donors and International Organizations

In August 2015, I-AM-LIBYA organized in Tripoli a congress gathering 10 CSOs to spread the UPR inside CSOs and to advocate GoL how to answer74 to UNHCHR recommendations for HRs75.

              1. MALIM

Manifesto for Liberties in Mediterranean (MALIM) is an INGO created in France by Humanitarian Managers76 working since years in Libya and other countries in crisis, either in Relief or HR/Advocacy pro-grams. The aims of MALIM are to help South Mediterranean countries to build their Civil Society, to be connected with the world and to claim for the “pursuit of Happiness77.

The MALIM Objectives for Libya are:

  1. to improve Education system with the full support of Ministry of Education and ALECSO, organi-zing trainings for students, teachers and curriculum experts, in and out-country..

  1. to facilitate the sensitization and knowledge of HRs in Schools and Universities through new “HRs friendly school books” and in Arabic and English.

  1. To support I-AM-LIBYA to improve the skills of Libyan CSOs in HRs teachings, advocacy, manage-ment capacities and coordination.

  1. To work with Tunisian CSOs to mix Libyan and Tunisian experience and projects.

  1. To work with IOs as an INGO.

  1. To approach Morocco and Algerian CSOs to build an All-Maghreb collaboration.

I-AM-LIBYA/MALIM aims to build a Nation, a Watan,

by making traditional societies entering the new international legal frame.

1 The Banu-Slimane were slaves traders capturing Tebus (may be before Romans time): the actual fights in Fezzan town of Sebha have some origins there beside interests in Sahel smuggling.

2 The poor half-nomadic tribe of Muammar, there started his dreams of the purity of the desert.

3 In Western Caucasus, Cherkesk town is the 1st valley North-East of Sochi, place of the 2014 Russian Winter Olympic games

4 Leon Tolstoy « the Kossaqs »

5 Touran, the Turkish cultural area, from Central Asia to Balkans, opposing the “Iran” the Persian (Farsi) cultural area from Afghanistan to Middle-East. The cultural/political conflict is still present in Middle East and Persia Gulf with 2 new comers: since WW1, Arabs – since WW2 Israel.

7 A new 800 m pier for containers build in 2014, a future huge international airport, told to be the 3rd of MENA

8 1st week of Sept 2015, Greek Navy stopped a Turkish boat with a load of weapons for Misrata.

9 Banou-Slimane and Kadhadfa are the servants of Warfalla tribe. The uncle of Kadhafi was a shepherd for a rich Warfalli family.

10 Read Ivanhoe” by Walter Scott, the French king “Louis XI” by Paul Murray Kendal.

12 Drugs, arms, immigrants smuggling, control of areas, kidnapping, loitering. On the other side: political and military support to big people.

13 Abdelhakim BELHADJ, a long time opposing to Kadhafi, seen in Europe as a “moderate” islamists, is the head of these militias, some says “the king of Libya” He is the hidden CEO of a new Libyan Airlines “Wings” with planes to Istambul.

14 As was “Bouka” in Benghazi. A well know young commander killed recently probably by Daesh.

15 A Nes-democracy like Nescafe!

16 You cannot make a public speech without all the attendance knowing in ½ hour who you are: tribe, clan, family, father, uncles, job, reputation…” told a young lady.

17 General Khalifa HAFTER, after his opposition to Kadhafi, spent 20 years in USA. He got US citizenship in 2 years and was living in Virginia, close of CIA’s head office in Langley and Pentagon in Arlington

18 Egypt would be happy to put its hand on Eastern oilfields, the same for Algeria in West. Both have the 2 strongest armies of whole MENA. Egypt (with Saudi money) buys 2 support-vessels sold by France, showing a strategy of controlling Red Sea/Yemen and Mediterranean /Libya.

19 With the last Morocco and Turkey decisions to put visas, Libyans have less and less opportunities.

20 The Freudian “conception of the world”, the way each one is representing himself facing others.

21 When UN refused the Arab League proposition of armed intervention, many thought it was to help Daesh “they refuse the help of our brothers”.

22 as for all Arabs.

23 After 3 days of “HR violation reporting” workshop made by an INGO, the remaining idea was: “they teach us how to be spy!”

24 Unknown land

25 the last time we had things in common with Libyans was during Roman time 2000 years ago” told me a University teacher.

26 Because they saw it on French TV

27How comes Tunisians work on Friday and have Saturday-Sunday weekend? How comes so many French words in dialect?”they have big shops selling alcohol where many people are rushing the day before Friday”!

28 Since Neolithic ages (8000 years ago), all Mediterranean Cultures have men-centered mind putting their honor through the body of women. This is common for ALL MEDITERRANEAN AREA, civilizations and religions: read Germaine TILLION The Republic of Cousins: Women’s Oppression in Mediterranean Society . She shows that behaviors told to be “Muslim and linked only with Islam” are much older and shared by ALL nations, civilizations and religions stretched along Mediterranean Sea North and South shores.

29 Forgiving that sellers and landlords are Tunisians.

30 Cars coming from Border are controlled many time on the 400 km to Tunis..

31 Women rights activists, CSOs members, ministry officers and university/school experts.

32 The “weltanschauung” – the ideas each individual and society have about themselves and the world. Some kind of an ID given by culture.

33 God, protect me from my friends, I shall take my enemies in charge” French king Louis XI.

34 The 3D. Chess game: have a look on Libya news: , all events are on the way, some kind of a strange permanent fire-work with all colors of the rainbow + some unknown!.

35 It is said that Hafter tried to arrest or oust his Minister of Defense who tried to sack him.

36 Read note 48 – page 10

37 Ahmed Kadhaf-al Dam in Egypt and others…

38 Belhaj started Libyan-Wings airways, flying from Mitiga and Misrata airport to Turkey with brand new Airbus.

39 And Northern Chad.

40 Extremists and non-extremists, all militias take their shares.

41 Parliament and PM Office, Police and Army bases.

42 Turkish Consulate, twice!

43 Hotels, banks…

44don’t call them!, they will steal what was left. Happy you are if they don’t kidnap you for ransom!”.

45 The big and long pipe-line bringing water from deep water tables thousands kms away in Southern desert.

46 Warfalli, attacked by Misrata under accusation of supporting Kadhafi, don’t take to date any official position for or against any alliances (Farj <> Dignity) or Government (GNC-Tripoli <> HoR-Tobruk). Being 20 to 25% of population, spread from Tunisia to Cyrenaica, Warfalla is the only tribe covering such a big area. They are rich and powerful.

47 Great inter-tribal meeting of Elders.

48 for example, we heard Elders telling that “UN = NATO, so no use to talk with them!”

49 The Nes-Democracy!

50 Montesquieu, in “the spirit of the Laws” described the separation of Powers

51 For example : get rid of general Hafter, the head of LNA and Dignity Operation

52 Massive Destruction Arm

55 Don’t forget that if Militias have a real presence on the field, they are manipulated by big people of either side, recognizing them is reinforcing the Big Hands.

56 They tried to kill him by attacking his convoy in Derna in the 90s.

57 Less than 10% of international trainings and workshops attendants are English speaker!

58 Steven Spielberg’s movie

59 This shows the importance of the Interpreter, the Reporting Officer and the Translator, being sure words are linked with ideas.

60 When USSR collapsed, Europeans made special trainings to the new businessman to teach them the contract and insurances concepts running world’s economy. In Tunisia, UNDP created a training center for the newly elected Members of Parliament.

61 There is no Nes-Democracy like Nescafe.

62 What we call a 2D knowledge

63 Here is the 3D.

64 Jean-Paul SARTRE and the total responsibility linked with my total freedom.

65 Only highly educated persons know the Official Arabic, but a Tunisian cannot understand an Egyptian and a Libyan has to learn Syrian dialect.

66 The ones we had were astonished of the naïve questions about “obvious” (for Westerners) concepts.

67 A Libyan interpreter translated “Nation” as “Umma” (the community, religious and social), a Tunisian, an Algerian or an Egyptian one would say “Watan”, more political, linked with “Destour” (Constitution). Watan and Destour are name of Newspaper and political party in Maghreb.

68 In 1920, England and Arab king Faisal made a treaty in both languages but the precise definitions: “who is Arab?” were not meaning the same in either version. For English and the romantic views of Lawrence-of-Arabia, the “Real Arabs” were only the men of the desert, the pure ones (as thought Kadhafi) opposing to the “mixed and corrupted” people of the cities, the least Arabs for the English being the Palestinians and the Lebanese which had long contacts with occident! For Faisal, Arabs are the ones sharing the same ancestors wherever they live and whatever they are: Sunnis, Shias, Christians, desert, town… See College de France Teacher Henri Laurens video,0705 . In French, really interesting on the 1920 collapse of Ottoman Empire and the creation of an Arab kingdom through English “romantic” (and cynical) visions.

69 In Part 1 – 3.4, I speak of « stressed population », everybody is exhausted: persons, families, communities.

70 MENA classification is a frame mixing totally different cultures, the cultural areas are: North-Africa/Maghreb – Middle-East – Saudi/Gulf – East-Africa/Horn. As told me a Tunisian specialist: there are Arab worldS.

71 Arab League for Education, Culture and Science Organization.


74 By end Sept 2015 – Universal Periodical Review of HRs for Libya in UNHCHR Geneva.

75 June 2015

76 French, Italian, Greek, US, Libyan.

77 As written in the “USA Declaration of Independence – July 4th 1776”

⇓Original⇓   Libyans, travel guide and technical handbook – En