A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fall of Border Post Highlights Unseen War in Nafusa

The border post of Wazin, on the Libyan-Tunisian border south of the Tunisaian town of Dehiba, has been taken by Libyan rebel forces.

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This is a spillover from the somewhat shadowy fighting going on in the Jabal Nafusa, the highland area of western Libya. Unlike Misrata and other coastal towns, where the world media are present in force (at some risk to themselves, as we are learning), the war for the Nafusa has been conducted largely offstage. Earlier this month I noted that there were reports of a scorched-earth campaign in the area, I also linked last month to a video of a town in the Nafusa proclaiming allegiance to the rebels, in which, after the proclamation in Arabic, they added a summary in Tamazight ("Berber"). The region has complained of forced Arabization and a ban on teaching Tamazight. In addition, like their fellow Berbers in the Algerian Mzab, many Nafusis adhere to the Ibadi sect (the link is to some 2009 Sunni-Ibadi clashes in Algeria).  Ibadis are genertally found only in North Africa, Oman, and Zanzibar.

If the rebels can hold on to the border, we may learn more about what has been going on in the Nafusa.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

The Jebel Nafusa region is one place where a no-fly zone can be most useful to the rebels. Very rugged with poor road connections. Not good for tank movements. Provided the rebels are organized and then armed with good enough weapons to defend their towns and a few choke points along the roads, they could hold out for a long time against loyalist forces.