The War Diaries

"We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Archive for the ‘Ras Lanuf’ tag

Portraits of Libya

without comments


Barcelona- I finally was able to upload this Libya mash-up video I had been working on in NYC from here in Catalunya. For technical reasons beyond my knowledge or control, I was having a devil of a time getting the thing onto Youtube before. I had wanted to get this online before the Friends of Anton benefit event at Christies in Manhattan on May 15. Not that I had anything to do with the event of course, but I was one human degree of separation from Anton Hammerl and I simply thought it would be something nice to do. I’m off to the next conflagration in the shattered Republic of Mali and wanted to get this up beforehand.

This project is obviously not a documentary or scripted television package. These are memories from Libya in total upheaval in 2011. This is my Libya mash-up, dedicated to those photographers that arrived in Libya to tell its story and never made it out. I want to reiterate how grateful I am to the people of both eastern and western Libya. Without their immense hospitality this project would never have been possible. War throws people together in such an odd way who would otherwise likely never have met.

!الثورة والحرية

Written by derekhenryflood

May 22nd, 2012 at 4:19 pm

The Honeymoon (in Libya) Is Over

without comments

Benghazi- Things are looking a bit bleak from here today. The Qaddaf’s are now making a serious push east while Seif is blabbing about never surrendering and never giving up the country. The rebels are backpedaling in high gear out of the Ras Lanuf area and will have to seriously reassess their logistics and casualties in Brega. Without Western intervention, it’s beginning to look like the rebels will be toast on the highway if they don’t get their act together or get some serious, committed external support. I was wondering if Idriss Déby’s Chad, Qaddafi’s long-time regional nemesis, might help them out but I haven’t heard anything. Obama and NATO/EU are still talking while people here are ready to lay their lives on the line.

As the really nice guy who gave me a ride home last night said: “We have gone half way. We cannot turn back now. We will never go back to Qaddafi.” He then gave me a beautiful woven scarf that he said was from one of his traditional Libyan clothing shops that are closed since the start of the war. Of his workers: “Those from Egypt have gone back there. Those from here are fighting down in Ras Lanuf.” Though many here in the east continue to scoff at the Guide’s and Seif ridiculous bravado, I’m seriously starting to wonder if the party in Benghazi is over. When I first arrived, there was a huge banner on the corniche that read: “No Intervention. We Can Do It [overthrow Q] On Our Own.” The other day I saw that banner laying in a crumpled pile.

Though each night in front of the courthouse, there continues to be a carnival atmosphere that often balloons into the thousands, if Q’s crew can keep pushing along the Gulf of Sirte, can the rebels adequately defend their de facto capital? Rather than the old fashioned multi-front war that’s going on now, this could really turn into an asymmetric insurgency fairly quickly.  If the guys hadn’t been wasting so much ammo in needless displays of machismo the last few weeks, I might not be so worried. The funny thing is I’m now quite sure that it is because of the very presence of so many journalists here coupled with the lack of free expression that has existed for decades, that has caused the rebels to blow so much smoke into the sky. I often wonder if not a single camera was there, would they be wasting all of this gunpowder? It’s sort of a silly tree-falls-in-the-forest question I suppose.

Yesterday I went for lunch at  my driver Faisal’s house and he pulled out a beat up old Kalashnikov he has stowed behind the couch for when the bad days come. Or for when the street crime becomes too much to bear. He told me that a friend of his gave it to him after the army barracks were trashed at the beginning of the revolt but that if one were to try and buy an AK now, the street price is nearly 3000 dinars (approx. $2000 USD if you go to the right money changer in the souq). I picked up a few Sanussi flags as souvenirs and wandered around meeting people and trying to make a few observations. Interestingly, as so many of the estimated 1.5 million Egyptians have fled the country, which make up much of its proletarian workforce, there are still loads of black Africans from the Sahel countries here. Frail looking women from Niger and Chad line the souq’s walkways vending tchotchkes and sit looking glum with blue tattooed tribal markings on their faces. I can only infer how pathetic the Sahelian economies must be to sit in a war-torn Arab city rather than even attempt to return home. That, or perhaps they simply can’t go home if their families are depending on remissions of Libyan cash or there is the social stigma of failure if one returns to the village prematurely as can be the case in South Asia.

Libyans demonstrate in front of the Benghazi courthouse for a western imposed no-fly zone over eastern Libya and for the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi as pro-government forces try to retake Ras Lanuf and Zawiya. ©2011 Derek Henry Flood

This outfit is just incredible. Is this eastern Libya's accidental Kosova moment? ©2011 Derek Henry Flood

Written by derekhenryflood

March 11th, 2011 at 5:02 am

The Bang Bang Club

without comments

Ras Lanuf- Went down to Ras today with a veteran USA Today correspondent from D.C. The whole new generation bang bang club was there. Someone who I thought was my friend had a bizarre, irrational meltdown on me. It’s nice to get the cold shoulder in such a high stress situation. Ahh the smell of war. All that noise aside, Q’s crew called in an airstrike, albeit a sloppily targeted one thank god, on the area where we were which was outside of Ras Lanuf’s oil refinery.  The rebels were trying to create a display of their control over the oil facility for the media but that dissipated pretty quickly once a fighter jet blasted over head.. Jim, the USA T guy and I slammed into the side of dirt berm on the side of the road while walking back toward the car when a rocket drilled into the ground. Thank goodness the pilot had terrible aim or a lot of people would have been toast. The war is already dragging on longer than expected and as Jim said, “The petals are starting to fall off the rose” with regard to Libya’s violent revolt. I’m tempted to head back to Egypt for a bit, which to qualify how much this whole region is in turmoil, is chill and relaxed compared to here. Total hecticness in Libya. This thing looks like it’s going to drag on for a while and may have the opposite effect of the other relatively peaceful revolutions to the east and west. People may now think twice about launching another Facebook uprising once the price being paid here sinks in elsewhere.

Welcome to the desert war. ©2011 Derek Henry Flood

An airstrike slammed into where we were today. Not trying to be brave, I went sprinting for cover. Thanks a lot Qaddafi. ©2011 Derek Henry Flood

Written by derekhenryflood

March 7th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Posted in Libya

Tagged with