City of Brass

City of Brass

a No-Fly zone over Libya NOW

via @SultanAlQassemi Al Jazeera breaking: Multiple reports confirm that military airplanes are bombing protesters in Tripoli. #Libya

In President Obama’s Cairo speech, he said,

Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words — within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum — “Out of many, one.”


The youth of the Arab Street heard him and have looked at our example as they have taken to the streets and plazas of Arab cities demanding freedom and self-governance. To them, Obama said in Cairo,

Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere.


The Arab Street did not need the US in Egypt, but in LIbya it is a different story entirely. Reports suggest that Gaddafi’s forces have already used heavy equipment and aircraft weapons against protestors. Al Arabiya sources say that bombing of Benghazi will commence tonight – or any minute, since we are half a day behind the Middle East, night is already falling there. And there are even some reports via Twitter sources that the Libyan navy is firing on shore targets.

Earlier, it was reported that a group of Libyan Air Force officers had defected to Malta. It turns out that they were already on a mission to Benghazi and disengaged at 500 feet. Unlike in Egypt, where the military refused orders to fire upon the civlians, these air force officers are in the minority – Libya is killing its own people.


It’s rare for me to advocate something as direct as a military action – but a no-fly zone is something we must as a nation do, and do immediately, if we are to do anything to help bring about a new golden age of democracy in the Middle East. After Egypt, all Arab leaders feared their people; after Libya, the people will again fear their tyrants. All the progress will be lost, all the potential will be wasted.

This is the moment that must be seized. And only we can do it.

As Marc Lynch said on Twitter, “Horrific violence in Libya demands stronger international and US action — different situation from Egypt, Tunisia, even Bahrain… Strong US/NATO/UN action against Libya now could prevent coming massacre and also restrain other Arab dictators from following suit.”


Left unsaid – the lack of action now will restrain the Arab people. WE MUST ACT. OBAMA MUST ACT.

If you agree – say so on Twitter with hashtag #noflylibya. You can cut and paste the following if you like:

OBAMA must ACT – no-fly zone for Libya NOW! #noflylibya

UPDATE: There’s also an internet petition you can sign via Twitter to support the no-fly zone for Libya – just copy and paste:

Petition USA @StateDept to send in the Sixth Fleet! visit #noflylibya

UPDATE 2 – at Foreign Policy, Marc Lynch makes the case for forceful action as well.

  • Youssif Shanshiry

    I sent an email to President Obama earlier today suggesting an immediate no-fly zone over Libya to stop Qaddafi’s murderous attack on his the Libyan people.

  • Jennifer

    USA is supposed to a White European nation. Not this nonsense that you’re being sold. Besides, we’re a Republic, not a Democracy.

  • yeah, right

    Interesting how you’re against American aggression in Iraq, but you support sending our military to shoot down the air force of a country that has not attacked us.
    Who are we to be the world’s policemen?
    Please explain why you are against our mission in Iraq but you’re ok with going into Libya. Your support for preemptive violence seems like blatant hypocrisy, which I’ve come to expect from you actually, so I’d love to see you justify your position.

  • Phelps

    I’m for this, the same was I was for the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan. I see enforcing a no-fly as a low risk/high benefit action.
    Where my curiosity runs is this: why is this different than Saddam? I would think that Saddam was actually worse than what we’ve seen so far.

  • Jerome Armstrong

    I’d rather us just shut off their oil– see how that works for a few days. A no-fly zone is not the solution. Lets get real here and get rid of this mofo without having to be the supercop and embracing the pentagon.

  • yeah, right

    So Jerome, you’re ok with our Navy firing on their oil tankers, but not our Air Force firing on their helicopters and jets as they bomb their citizens while they protest?
    Could you explain that please?

  • chanda

    The inconsistency between laws prohibiting hate speech and the continuing publication and dissemination of the Koran is not emphasized as much as it should be. It seems to me that since the Koran itself incites hatred indeed, since the Koran is by far the greatest inciter of hatred in history], there are only two logically consistent options:
    (1) have hate speech laws, and ban the Koran; or
    (2) have no hate speech laws, thus allowing criticism of the Koran.

  • seretese smith

    How can you as Muslims not question the reports given to you by the US Media. I mean that all you have to go on and you believe it, face value. There isn’t such a thing as sudden un rest….here in America it took years for it the boil over into civil unrest. Let’s get more stuff before we include ourselves in a Libya’s judgement.
    let Al Jazeera allow us to see clearly what is going on.

  • Teed Rockwell

    One of the many differences between Iraq and Libya in this context is that we would be giving aid to a genuine grass roots movement in Libya, not superimposing a government from the outside. And a no fly zone is not the same as occupying Libya.

  • christine

    obviously you have never read the Quran since you are speaking out of ignorance like so many do against Islam.
    you all tend to group radicals as this being all muslims. true muslims would never harm another.
    pick up a Quran and read it, then please talk to me and show me where in the Quran it spreads hate, I have read the Quran many times and never have I found anything that incites hatred in me towards anyone.

  • Chandra

    Christine, you obviously never have read the Koran. Let me count the verses.

  • Chandra

    It is quite common to hear two arguments from Muslims and apologists of Islam, the language argument, and that old standby of crooked, lying politicians, “you have quoted out of context.”
    Let us look at the language argument first. You are asked aggressively, ‘do you know Arabic?’ Then you are told triumphantly, ‘You have to read it in the original Arabic to understand it fully’. Christians, even Western freethinkers and atheists are usually reduced to sullen silence with these Muslim tactics; they indeed become rather coy and self-defensive when it comes to criticism of Islam; they feebly complain “who am I to criticise Islam? I do not know any Arabic.” And yet freethinkers are quite happy to criticise Christianity. How many Western freethinkers and atheists know Hebrew? How many even know what the language of Esra chapter 4 verses 6-8 is? Or in what language the New Testament was written?
    Of course, Muslims are also free in their criticism of the Bible and Christianity without knowing a word of Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek.
    You do not need to know Arabic to criticise Islam or the Koran. Dr. Paul Kurtz, founder of the Center for Inquiry, and Prometheus Books, does not know Arabic but he did a great job on Islam in his book The Transcendental Temptation [1]. You only need a critical sense, critical thought and skepticism. Second, there are translations of the Koran by Muslims themselves, so Muslims cannot claim that there has been deliberate tampering of the text by infidel translators. Third, the majority of Muslims are not Arabs, and are not Arabic speakers. So a majority of Muslims also have to rely on translations. Finally, the language of the Koran is some form of Classical Arabic [2] which is substantially different from the spoken Arabic of today, so even Muslim Arabs have to rely on translations to understand their holy text. Arabic is a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Aramaic, and is no easier but also no more difficult to translate than any other language. Of course, there are all sorts of difficulties with the language of the Koran, but these difficulties have been recognized by Muslim scholars themselves. The Koran is indeed a rather opaque text but it is opaque to everyone. Even Muslim scholars do not understand a fifth of it.
    Let us now turn to “you have quoted out of context”. This could mean two things: first, the historical context to which the various verses refer, or second, the textual context, the actual place in a particular chapter that the verse quoted comes from. The historical context argument is not available, in fact, to Muslims, since the Koran is the eternal word of God and true and valid for always. Thus for Muslims themselves there is no historical context. Of course, non-Muslims can legitimately and do avail themselves of the historical or cultural context to argue, for instance, that Islamic culture as a whole is anti-woman. Muslims did contradict themselves when they introduced the notion of abrogation, when a historically earlier verse was cancelled by a later one. This idea of abrogation was concocted to deal with the many contradictions in the Koran. What is more, it certainly backfires for those liberal Muslims who wish to give a moderate interpretation to the Koran since all the verses advocating tolerance (there are some but not many) have been abrogated by the later verses of the sword.
    Out of Context Argument Used Against Muslims Themselves:
    Now for the textual context. First, of course, this argument could be turned against Muslims themselves. When they produce a verse preaching tolerance, we could also say that they have quoted out of context, or more pertinently, first, that such a verse has been cancelled by a more belligerent and intolerant one, and second, that in the overall context of the Koran and the whole theological construct that we call Islam ( i.e. in the widest possible context), the tolerant verses are anomalous, or have no meaning, since Muslim theologians ignored them completely in developing Islamic Law, or that, finally, the verses do not say what they seem to say.
    For instance, after September 11, 2001, many Muslims and apologists of Islam glibly came out with the following Koranic quote to show that Islam and the Koran disapproved of violence and killing: Sura V.32 : “Whoever killed a human being shall be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind”.
    Unfortunately, these wonderful sounding words are being quoted out of context. Here is the entire quote: V.32 :
    “That was why We laid it down for the Israelites that whoever killed a human being , except as a punishment for murder or other villainy in the land , shall be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind; and that whoever saved a human life shall be regarded as though he had saved all mankind.
    “Our apostles brought them veritable proofs: yet it was not long before many of them committed great evils in the land.
    “Those that make war against God and His apostle and spread disorder shall be put to death or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the country.”
    The supposedly noble sentiments are in fact a warning to Jews. Behave or else is the message. Far from abjuring violence, these verses aggressively point out that anyone opposing the Prophet will be killed, crucified, mutilated and banished!
    Behind the textual context argument is thus the legitimate suspicion that by quoting only a short passage from the Koran I have somehow distorted its real meaning. I have, so the accusation goes, lifted the offending quote from the chapter in which it was embedded, and hence, somehow altered its true sense. What does “context” mean here? Do I have to quote the sentence before the offending passage, and the sentence after? Perhaps two sentences before and after? The whole chapter? Ultimately, of course, the entire Koran is the context.
    The context, far from helping Muslims get out of difficulties only makes the barbaric principle apparent in the offending quote more obvious, as we have seen from Sura V.32 just cited. Let us take some other examples. Does the Koran say that men have the right to physically beat their wives or not? I say yes and quote the following verses to prove my point:
    Sura IV.34 : “As for those [women] from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge [or beat] them.”
    This translation comes from a Muslim. Have I somehow distorted the meaning of these lines? Let us have a wider textual context:
    Sura IV.34 : “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. God is high, supreme.”
    If anything, the wider textual context makes things worse for those apologists of Islam who wish to minimize the mysogyny of the Koran. The oppression of women has divine sanction; women must obey God and their men, who have divine authorisation to scourge them. One Muslim translator, Yusuf Ali, clearly disturbed by this verse adds the word “lightly” in brackets after “beat” even though there is no “lightly” in the original Arabic. An objective reading of the entire Koran (that is the total context) makes grim reading as far as the position of women is concerned.
    Finally, of course, many of the verses that we shall quote later advocating killing of unbelievers were taken by Muslims themselves to develop the theory of Jihad. Muslim scholars themselves referred to Sura VIII.67, VIII.39, and Sura II.216 to justify Holy War. Again the context makes it clear that it is the battle field that is being referred to, and not some absurd moral struggle; these early Muslims were warriors after booty, land and women not some existential heroes from the pages of Albert Camus or Jean-Paul Sartre.
    Let us take another example: Sura IX.
    Here I have tried to use where possible translations by Muslims or Arabophone scholars, to avoid the accusation of using infidel translations. However, many Muslim translators have a tendency to soften down the harshness of the original Arabic, particularly in translating the Arabic word jahada, e.g. Sura IX verse 73. Maulana Muhammad Ali, of the Ahmadiyyah sect, translates this passage as:
    Sura IX.73 : “O Prophet, strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be firm against them. And their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.”
    In a footnote of an apologetic nature, Muhammad Ali rules out the meaning “fighting” for jahada.
    However the Iraqi scholar Dawood in his Penguin translation renders this passage as:
    Sura IX.73 “ Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate.”
    How do we settle the meaning of this verse? The whole context of Sura IX. indeed makes it clear that “make war” in the literal and not some metaphorical sense is meant.
    Let us take another verse from this Sura:
    Sura IX.5 “Then, when the sacred months have passed away, kill the idolaters wherever you find them…” These words are usually cited to show what fate awaits idolaters.
    Well, what of the context? The words immediately after these just quoted say, “and seize them, besiege them and lie in ambush everywhere for them.” Ah, you might say, you have deliberately left out the words that come after those. Let us quote them then, “If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful”. Surely these are words of tolerance, you plead. Hardly, they are saying, only if they become Muslims then they will be left in peace. In fact the whole sura which has 129 verses (approximately 14 pages in the Penguin translation by Dawood), in other words the whole context, is totally intolerant, and is indeed, the source of many totalitarian Islamic laws and principles, such as the concepts of Jihad and dhimmitude, the latter proclaiming the inferior status of Christians and Jews in an Islamic state. All our quotes from the Arabic sources in Part One also, of course, provide the historical context of raids, massacres, booty, and assassinations, which make it crystal clear that real bloody fighting is being advocated.
    First the idolaters, how can you trust them? Most of them are evil doers (IX. 8); fight them (IX. 12, 14); they must not visit mosques (IX. 18); they are unclean (IX. 28); you may fight the idolaters even during the sacred months (IX. 36). “It is not for the Prophet, and those who believe, to pray for the forgiveness of idolaters even though they may be near of kin after it has become clear they are people of hell-fire” ( IX. 113). So much for forgiveness! Even your parents are to be shunned if they do not embrace Islam: IX.23 “O you who believe! Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for friends if they take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith. Whoso of you takes them for friends, such are wrong-doers.” In other words if you are friendly with your parents who are not Muslims you are being immoral.
    The theory of Jihad is derived from verses 5 and 6 already quoted but also from the following verses:
    IX. 38-39: Believers, why is it that when it is said to you: ‘March in the cause of God’, you linger slothfully in the land? Are you content with this life in preference to the life to come? Few indeed are the blessings of this life, compared to those of the life to come.
    If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly, and replace you by other men.
    IX. 41: Whether unarmed or well-equipped, march on and fight for the cause of God, with your wealth and with your persons.
    IX. 73: Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal harshly with them.
    The word that I have translated as fight is jahid. Some translators translate it as go forth or strive. Dawood translates it as fight, as does Penrice in his Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran, where it is defined as: To strive, contend with, fight –especially against the enemies of Islam. While Hans Wehr in his celebrated Arabic dictionary translates it as “endeavour, strive; to fight; to wage holy war against the infidels”.[3]
    As for the intolerance against Jews and Christians, and their inferior status as dhimmis we have IX verses 29 –35:
    “Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given as believe neither in God nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His apostle have forbidden, and do not embrace the true faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued.
    “ The Jews say Ezra is the son of God, while the Christians say the Messiah is the son of God. Such are their assertions, by which they imitate the infidels of old. God confound them! How perverse they are!
    “They make of their clerics and their monks, and of the Messiah, the son of Mary, Lords besides God; though they were ordered to serve one God only. There is no god but Him. Exalted be He above those whom they deify besides Him!….
    “It is He who has sent forth His apostle with guidance and the true Faith to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters may dislike it
    “O you who believe! Lo! many of the Jewish rabbis and the Christian monks devour the wealth of mankind wantonly and debar men from the way of Allah; They who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, unto them give tidings of painful doom …”
    The moral of all the above is clear: Islam is the only true religion, Jews and Christians are devious, and money-grubbing, who are not to be trusted, and even have to pay a tax in the most humiliating way. I do not think I need quote any more from Sura IX, although it goes on in this vein verse after verse.

  • yeah, right

    Of course the author remains silent. How convenient, Aziz you are a 2 faced fool with no consistency.
    To Teed Rockwell:
    So Libya and Iraq are different, really?
    Let us look at some facts:
    1. Iraq broke a cease fire agreement. Therefore our resumption of the war was perfectly legal. If we’re removing the current government and essentially conquering a country (justifiably) then we have every right to install a new government of our choosing, the country belongs to us after all. The opinions of the Iraqi’s and the rest of the world is irrelevant, they don’t get a vote. Iraqis must accept responsibility for their government’s past actions.
    2. Iraq did indeed have homegrown opposition to Saddam, however most of them had been imprisoned or executed. Plus they didn’t need to exist for #1 to be true.
    3. A no fly zone over Libya would be the US military killing Libyan’s at a time when Libya has not attacked us or broken a treaty with us. In fact they actually came to an agreement with us that required Libya to take responsibility for their past actions.

  • Victor

    The single most important point that is to be grasped about Islam–the continuity between Islam’s teachings and doctrines on jihad in its 7th through 9th century foundations, and the statements made by Islamic jihadists throughout the centuries up to the present moment. Every time a Muslim declares that infidels are to be killed, or that Jews are pigs and monkeys, or that a non-Islamic society is insulting and conspiring against Muslims, or that Muslims are commanded to wage war on infidels wherever they encounter them, he is not expressing some odd and idiosyncratic opinion of his own; he is piously repeating the divinely authoritative Islamic texts. Which means that Islam is not merely a collection of individuals a disproportionate number of whom happen to be violent and radical, as the nihilist obsurantist John Derbyshire asserts; Islam is a coherent, organic whole, and every believing Muslim will, in one form or another, come under the influence of that whole.

  • Lucic

    The second Pakistani cabinet officer in two months has been assassinated for opposing his country’s death-for-blasphemy law. This hideous news clarifies the ineluctable logic of the Islam problem, which not a single person occupying a responsible public position in the West is capable of understanding:
    According to Islam, if you insult Islam, you must die.
    This Islamic law, so horrible and anti-human, is a scandal to the conscience of humanity, and both non-Muslims and some Muslims naturally get the idea of reforming Islam, so that it will no longer require the death penalty for insulting Islam.
    But as soon as any Muslim speaks up against the Islamic law that requires death for insulting Islam, he is killed by his fellow Muslims. In one form or another, the same event has recurred repeatedly throughout the history of Islam: when anyone tries to reform or humanize the religion, he is killed.
    Therefore no reform of Islam is possible.
    This is the reality that not a single person in a responsible public position in the West is yet capable of understanding.
    However, though no reform of Islam is possible, this doesn’t mean that no solution to the Islam problem is possible. In fact, there are two, and only two, possible solutions to the Islam problem, one from the non-Muslim point of view, the other from the Muslim point of view.
    From the non-Muslim point of view, the only possible solution to the Islam problem is that Islam be segregated and quarantined from the non-Muslim world, so that Islam cannot work its evil and threatening influence on non-Muslim countries.
    From the Muslim point of view, the only possible solution to the Islam problem is that Islam cease to exist, meaning that Muslims renounce Islam so that the religion no longer has any influence over them as individuals and as societies.
    I realize that this sounds hopelessly extreme. But our current situation is hopelessly extreme, and no one says that therefore it can’t be true! If our current, hopelessly extreme situation can exist, then its opposite can also exist.
    Currently the two dominant belief systems in the world are liberalism (in the West) and Islam (in the 57 Muslim-majority countries plus the virulent Muslim outgrowths in non-Muslim countries). A world cumulatively dominated by liberalism and Islam is a world spiraling toward a horrible end, with each downward swoop of the spiral more horrible than the last. If the world is to be saved, both liberalism and Islam must be defeated, or at least disempowered, so that other, more sane and viable, belief systems take their place as the dominant belief systems.

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