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Revolutionary Wants Technology To Transform Libya 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-can-build-it-better dept.
pbahra writes in with the story of Khaled el Mufti, the network-security engineer who was in charge of providing telecommunications for the Libyan revolution. "It isn't often you get the chance to meet a real revolutionary. It is a term cheapened by misuse, but Khaled el Mufti is a revolutionary. It is no exaggeration to say that the role he played in the Libyan uprising last year was crucial; had he and his telecoms team failed, it isn't hard to think that Col. Muammar Gadhafi might still be in power. Today, Mr. Mufti is a telecoms adviser to the interim government and heads the e-Libya initiative, a bold plan to use the transformative powers of technology to modernize the Libyan state, overturning 40 years of corruption and misrule under Gadhafi. Mr. Mufti is an unlikely revolutionary, a softly spoken network-security engineer with a degree from Imperial College in London. Almost by chance he was in his native Libya when the revolution took place, working on a project with BT in the capital, Tripoli."

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Revolutionary Wants Technology To Transform Libya

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  • My prediction: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by russotto (537200) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @08:23PM (#38824447) Journal
    Dead within a year.
    • The guy who wants him dead is dead himself and didn't have a lot of people who liked him enough to seek vengeance. I'd say odds are in el Mufti's favor.

      • There are plenty more people [reuters.com] in post-Gaddafi "liberated" Libya who would fancy this guy dead.

        • Well, that's true. I was just looking at it in regards to toppling the last guy, but his continuing work (like anyone's if they're trying to do anything big) will be dangerously controversial.

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        Unfortunately the Iranian revolution shows that the progressive elements get bulldozed into the ground by the reactionary religious side - I can see within a year some Mullah wrapping him self in the green flag and denouncing the internet as the great Satan and Khaled as a pawn of the SIS.
  • by AHuxley (892839) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @08:33PM (#38824521) Homepage Journal
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_African_Satellite_Communication_Organization [wikipedia.org]
    http://articles.janes.com/articles/Janes-Space-Systems-and-Industry/Rascom-Libya.html [janes.com]
    "'ground network includes gateway Earth stations and low cost," -
    It made parts of Africa spend less on Intelsat and a lot less on big telco interconnection fees.
    Now the West is back and wants their telco interconnection fees back... all of them.
    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      really I bet its local corrupt government officials want telco interconnection fees back - back in the day it was good way of ripping off your countries foreign currency - that's why telecoms minster was such a prized position in some third world countries
  • by Burz (138833) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @08:40PM (#38824577) Journal

    http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MD14Ak02.html [atimes.com]

    No wonder The Wall St. Journal is gushing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's one hell of a conspiracy theory. Her main thesis is that Libya was attacked because it wouldn't play ball with the Bank for International Settlements? Well, if you look at the map there are only 4 Islamic countries which are part of the BIS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_for_International_Settlements [wikipedia.org]

      Could it just be that banking standards in the Islamic world differs highly from the rest of the world, and rather than there being an extra layer of conspiracy where Western countries are targeting n

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        And libya happens to be big enough and have enough regional divide that there was a clear 'this team that team' scenario, rather than, what is in Syria a more layered insurgency/battle for the streets thing.

        Gaddhafis regime, like happens in pakistan and Iraq under Hussein, benefited one particular group. In pakistan elections change who's looting the public coffers this week, but the other places there's a very clear power grab. In Saudi and bahrain, and Syria it's very much an upper class vs lower classe

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Her main thesis is that Libya was attacked because it wouldn't play ball with the Bank for International Settlements?

        You think that's far-fetched? We've got bankers threatening to break up the European Union if certain countries dare suggest that maybe there are more important things to spend money on than those banks' profits. And the BIS is some of the same inbred cousins.

        Personally, I'm surprised we didn't see a thermonuclear attack on Iceland.

        • by icebike (68054) *

          Yup ridiculously far fetched. Only an utter fool would believe you could sneak in, and convince people who can each get fifty thousand dollar interest free loans from a benevolent dictator to instead stand in the street day after day getting their head shot off by government snipers.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        He had oil/gas exports, water projects (massive public projects), education, medical care, housing, cheap sat telco for Africa and was going to change African banking with gold.
        He was very coup worthy just for any one of the above projects.
      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        yes Gaddafi had pissed so many people off over the years - that even the usual suspect like China and Russia had given up on him.
    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:05PM (#38825333) Homepage Journal

      Skimmed the article - from what I've read elsewhere:

      Gaddafi wanted to price oil in terms of gold and get all of Africa to do so as well. This threatened the petro dollar.

      Libyans had a very high per-capita reserve of gold.

      The same day as the US^H^H^H^H^H NATO started to attack, the 'rebels' set up a central bank and a national oil company.

      The idea that the war was fought to protect rebels or civillians (see also: Syria, Bahrain) is sketchy. The idea that it was fought to protect the value of the US Dollar as the world reserve currency and maintain the primacy of central banks ... well, we wish that weren't true.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You are using "^H" wrong. A character to the left is supposedly eaten for each ^H. The resulting string above would be: "The same day as t NATO started to attack, ..."

      • by Xest (935314) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @04:44AM (#38826609)

        "Libya - The US Currency Protection War"

        An Epic story, brought to you from such esteemed authors as "The Jews did 9/11", "The Financial Crisis is the Banks Taking Over the World", and "UFOs took my mum"

        It's stupid, I suppose these people think that Gaddaffi was in on it too and sent his forces to destory Benghazi provoking the initial French strikes to tip the scales in favour of military action too only to be backstabbed later on? Presumably after the initial strikes the reason Qatar, Britain, and France spent most money and took most risk over the conflict was because Cameron and Sarkozy were caught up in a love triangle with Obama and hoped to whisk him away to Canada where gay marriage is legal too?

        A bank is a pretty important symbol of a functioning state, and a rebel cause like this needs an incredible amount of funding to stand up to the amount of reserves of gold and cash Gaddaffi had lying around to fund mercenairies and so forth.

        As with all wars, those that helped the winning side will likely hope for some kind of repayment - favour for their companies when it comes to oil contracts and such, but to suggest this was some kind of planned US coup is fucking laughable. America was pretty reluctant over Libya and didn't even really want much to do with it, and after softening Gaddaffi's stationary implacements and facilities with initial cruise missile strikes, didn't in fact have much to do with it providing little more than intel from drones and satellites.

        If there were any countries for whom this would be a conspiracy it would be Britain, France, or Qatar, as they were the primary instigators of it throughout, but then you'd have to find a reason other than the US dollar conspiracy theory.

        It's also highly unlikely Russia and China wouldn't have an idea of what the Americans were upto, and they'd have outright vetoed the UN resolution knowing this is what it was about.

        Really, it was what it was, some may disagree whether it was right and that's a fair point, some may point to greed when countries who supported the uprising get handed favourable contracts, but this wasn't some grand US conspiracy - as with most conspiracy theories, the theory only tentatively pieces together a handful of disparate points, whilst failing to string together a cohesive explanation for all the parts of the story that don't fit, no, they just get conveniently ignored by the nutjobs.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Iran has lots of gold, and thanks to new sanctions, coupled with ZIRP & QE will have much more. India has agreed to purchase oil from Iran in gold.

          Many of the Shanghai Coop Org (SCO) states have arranged to trade in their own currencies, effectively making a dollar exclusion zone. (Obama's focus on Pacific make more sense now) Notable participants are (former??) axis allies India and Japan.

          And lets not forget the Dominique Strauss-Kahn saga. Via RT I read Gadaffy had let the cat out of the bag to the I

          • by Xest (935314)

            "And lets not forget the Dominique Strauss-Kahn saga."

            Perhaps he's actually a Chinese man with lots of plastic surgery, and has the go code for the space based China world-mind control device? Obviously because of this the NSA needed to set him up as a rapist.

            They had to take out Gaddaffi because he was threatening the strategic oil transport route of Kosovo, which is a nation so large no one could ever pass round it.

            I agree, Afghanistan as an oil transit route was important, because they had to stop Iran p

      • Gaddafi was a BAD guy, he funded insurgencies and terrorist groups around the world for forty years. He kept his population in poverty, neglected infustructure, and enriched his own family. He also tortured and murdered thousands of his own people with foreign mercenaries. The opportunity came for the west to end his reign of terror and they took it. There is no need for conspiracies.
      • Maybe I could see +3 Interesting, but I can't believe this is what qualifies as +5 Insightful nowadays, by Slashdot nonetheless. By an infallible low UID at that! I could see on a conspiracy forum this theory getting heavy support, but having followed the Libyan conflict since its inception (to the point of knowing all the major battles day-after-day and going from next to zero knowledge on the country to knowing most of towns/cities of any significance in the country) I can tell you that that opinion is me

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Into the Nightmarish Technology Cult of the Empire of the SANDS!

    Bow before them or die!

  • When I read the headline the first thing I thought was,

    Autobots, move out!

  • This depresses me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sideslash (1865434) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @09:31PM (#38824843)
    Not saying there isn't great potential for good there, but I don't expect to see it. Unfortunately, the Islamists in Libya and Egypt would like nothing better than to use technology the same way Iran does -- to stifle any dissent from the political/religious straightjacket that is Islamic fundamentalism. I hope for the best, but don't like some aspects of the political momentum I see in the "Arab spring". It seems like they are dumping corrupt secular dictators, just to prop up theoretically less corrupt, but still abjectly fascist slave masters wielding Sharia law.
    • Re:This depresses me (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @09:48PM (#38824955) Homepage

      Oh come on. The media elitists keep telling us that this arab spring is nothing but good stuff, and there's rainbows, and cookies, and everyone is going to hold hands. That's why in egypt they just elected a group of people which will be happily throwing the countries legal system back to the 13th-14th century, and quickly shoving women back to chattel status.

      Oh...and the same thing is going on in libya. Sadly the people that believed this revolution stuff would be positive were so naive that it made me wonder if they'd ever left their home countries and wondered the world in the slightest.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oh come on. The media elitists keep telling us that this arab spring is nothing but good stuff, and there's rainbows, and cookies, and everyone is going to hold hands. That's why in egypt they just elected a group of people which will be happily throwing the countries legal system back to the 13th-14th century, and quickly shoving women back to chattel status.

        Oh...and the same thing is going on in libya. Sadly the people that believed this revolution stuff would be positive were so naive that it made me wonder if they'd ever left their home countries and wondered the world in the slightest.

        If thats what the egyptians want, then thats their right. You or I don't have to like it, but it sure as hell aint any ones business but the egyptians. fought hard for their democracy, and its up to them to decide what to do with it, not some slavering angry westerners who want to turn the middle east into some sort of bizzaro reflection of washington, london or paris.

        • Re:This depresses me (Score:5, Informative)

          by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @01:29AM (#38825917) Journal

          If thats what the egyptians want, then thats their right. You or I don't have to like it, but it sure as hell aint any ones business but the egyptians.

          Keep in mind that Sharia equals death penalty for homosexuals, for example. Statistically, about 10% of Egyptians are homosexual. Do you think they want it? Or do you think that, if the majority wants to oppress some of the minorities - maybe even massacre them - they're free to do so so long as they held a vote first?

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Actually, based on what I know of history, I bet a lot of these homosexuals want Sharia law even if it means death for them. They probably think that despite Sharia law, they'll never get caught or they think the risk is worth the "good" stuff Sharia law brings. I'm willing to bet at least half of Egypt's homosexual are just as extremist as the straight extremists and would have no problem stoning a cheating woman or beheading a girl who had premarital sex.

            And to be clear, I'm not saying the fact that they

          • by Inda (580031)
            That's twice in a week I've seen that 10% figure on Slashdot.

            It's wrong. Proved wrong. Many times proved wrong.

            Try 1%, statistically.
            • by Mashiki (184564)

              Actually it's probably higher. Homosexually is rife in arab culture, they simply don't call it that. I'd guess around 40%.

            • 1% is the amount of people who self-identify as gay. That is considerably less than the number of people who are genetically predisposed to be gay, however, and obviously varies depending on how acceptive the society considers "coming out".

      • Re:This depresses me (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sourcerror (1718066) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @05:49AM (#38826835)

        If you refer to the Muslim Brotherhood, then you must be really misguided. It's like saying that a Christian-Democrat partys wants reintitute inquisition.

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          You have read the muslim brotherhoods statements of declaration right? You know the parts where they believe that there should be no peace with israel, there should be no peace with jews, that women have a specific role and should be relegated to the home. That sharia should be the highest law of the land, so on and so forth.

          It's all right there, in front of you. On their own website.

    • Re:This depresses me (Score:4, Informative)

      by artor3 (1344997) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:00PM (#38825011)

      It seems like they are dumping corrupt secular dictators, just to prop up theoretically less corrupt, but still abjectly fascist slave masters wielding Sharia law.

      I don't see that at all. The Muslim Brotherhood won in the election in Egypt, not to Salafis. They had an election, and they elected one of the moderate parties, by their standards. Maybe you were hoping for them to elect the liberal party, but there's a difference between "not the party I would have voted for" and "abjectly fascist slave masters".

      If anyone expects Egypt to be a utopian bastion of democracy within a few years, they're fooling themselves. It never works like that. But they're taking steps in the right direction, and they fought like hell for the right to take those steps. Don't run them down for that.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        If you think the muslim brotherhood is moderate, you're fooling yourself. These are the same guys who hold the same beliefs as 50 years ago when they wanted to slap tents on women, and make them into second class citizens. They didn't change, they were banned. They held on to their ideals, and simply spread them among the populace.

        • by artor3 (1344997) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:26PM (#38825159)

          By the standards of the country, the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate, and perhaps more importantly, they were elected. It's better to have an elected government than a dictator, even if that elected government does some bad stuff.

          Let's not forget that America passed plenty of terrible laws when it was younger. Still does, in fact, though not to the same extent. The Sedition Act made it illegal to say anything bad about the government. Black people were deemed 3/5ths of a person. No, that doesn't mean they got three fifths of a vote. It means their owners did. They banned sodomy and alcohol. Non-protestants weren't allowed to hold office in many places.

          It takes a long time for democratic countries to level out and start running themselves well. But it beats the hell out of being completely at the mercy of a dictator.

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            And we remember what happens when you elect dictatorships and fascism don't we? Especially with groups that already espouse the destruction of another people and religion. I can count on one hand the number of benevolent dictatorships that we've seen in the last 300 years.

            Sure, and those laws were over-turned, in time, and inplace. Let's not forget either that in all of those cases there were still fundamental freedoms that allowed them all to be tested against a foundational principal. In egypts case,

            • by artor3 (1344997)

              When did the newly elected Egyptian government espouse the destruction of another people? I suspect you're conflating them with the Iranian government or the like. That's unfair.

              You are arguing that the Egyptians should have just been content to be ruled by a dictator, rather than try to rule themselves, because you've convinced yourself that they'll fuck it up. That's a very White Man's Burden sort of attitude.

          • Thing is, U.S. Constitution was very progressive for its age; the country just had to "grow up" to fully fit into it and learn to equally apply and exercise all the freedoms. It didn't have any silly things like saying that it's a "Christian country" or that "Bible is the supreme law of the land all laws and constitutional provisions contradicting it have no legal force", nor adding clauses that prohibit amending the constitution later with respect to those articles. But doing the same with Islam is Sharia

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          If you think the Muslim Brotherhood is homogeneous, you're fooling yourself. Calling the Muslim Brotherhood "the same guys who hold the same beliefs as 50 years ago when they wanted to slap tents on women" because a faction of the movement is violent and fundamentalist is like calling the Tea Party "the same guys who assassinated Kennedy and Lincoln" because some psychos with guns who call themselves tea partiers make death threats and in one case tried to follow through.

          Neither is a fair representation of

      • Taking steps toward Sharia law is not taking steps in the right direction. It's just not.
  • It is not the technology, rather it is the opportunity to practice the art of systems design.

    Design what?

    Designing a whole government is an impossibly huge job. Divide the problem into parts and solve the parts. One big part to fix: How about resolve one key problem that plagues governments worldwide... how to vote the incumbent out of office before the incumbent takes control of the voting system.

    Why not use cell phone and Internet technology, together with some statistical sampling to overcome the physica

    • by drkstr1 (2072368)

      Ha! I think I just drooled a bit.

      I'm a programmer by profession, but only because I couldn't manage to wrangle myself up a job as a systems designer without any "education" or previous experience. :)

      What a fantastically fun problem that would be to solve!

    • Randomly elected representative government (uniformly selected from the entire eligible population by widely approved statistical sampling methods), switched out every 4 years, with as many representatives selected as necessary to have confidence at the 97th percentile that their beliefs represent the beliefs of the country as a whole. Make constitutional referendums last >4 years preventing any one elected government from making arbitrary changes.
  • by hessian (467078) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @12:05AM (#38825577) Homepage Journal

    USA: starry-eyed techs go into IT in order to make our lives better through technology, end up having to update thoughtless websites, and hate it.

    Middle East: starry-eyed techs go into IT with hopes of bringing democracy to their countries, end up working for Islamic Brotherhood and designing suicide vests, and hate it.

    See, we're all the same after all....

  • by msobkow (48369) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @02:07AM (#38826065) Homepage Journal

    My hats off to the Libyan IT team that kept the communications going.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126)

    Telecoms won't be the big money maker for Libya, solar thermal will. The EU wants to build some massive plants over there, and Libya will be happy to work with us because they know that oil is running out and going out of fashion.

  • Good luck to you. If you can get technology into the hands of people it empowers them. The fear of big brother and a panopticon society works both ways. Those cameras can be in the hands of little brother and can point at cops. It keeps them honest, reduces waste, and makes life better for all.
    I don't know how well he'll do with e-commerce, but some basics for government transparency would do a lot for a budding government. Hell, it's doing a lot for my government.
    Stories like this are the sort of thing
  • A highly trained undercover MI6 spy just happened to be there when the revolution started?

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