“She is an Italian journalist.”
“What did she come for?”
“She says she came to redeem her grandfather's land, the lands of Tarhouna.”
The history of relations between Italy and Libya is also made of this. A handful of words inherited from grandparents, commonly referred to cars or gas. Steering is called steering here. Semaphore is called semaphore. And fuel is called fuel.
Although fuel then has many other languages to be said. It is a story of bequests and removals. In the office of the mayor of the municipality of Salah al Din, Abdulrhaman al Hamdi enters Ahmed, he is originally from Tarhouna, the city militias support Haftar, he ran away and, however, looks over his shoulder, because where you come from determines how suspicious he falls on you, how many threats you are subjected to, and if someone considers you a spy.
The Kaniat are the main allies of Haftar. Up until two years ago he called them massacres. And the blood they got stained with remains in people's stories. The fourth installment of the diary from Tripoli on the eve of the anniversary of the revolution
Ahmed has a long black coat that is accompanied by a vaguely mournful air, his face lights up on the opening of a memory. The family of neighbors, Ms. Ada, the oil, always gave oil to us, he says in broken Italian, a fragment of a piece of history that unites us. Few words that are a link, a bridge. Then he went away, he says and his face as it had turned on, reappears sadly.
When Gaddafi seized power in Libya in 1969, the Italians settled there by colonial generations began to leave. In the first four months after the conquest of the power of the young rais it is estimated that eight hundred Italians left in a hurry. Then, the following summer, that of 1970, the anti-Italian speech of July 9 and two weeks after the official expulsion decree. At that time there were more than forty thousand Italians, in a short time there were less than half of them.
The war between Haftar and al-Sarraj seen through the eyes of those on the front. Between international agreements and tribal ties. The third installment of the diary from Tripoli on the eve of the anniversary of the revolution
Gaddafi confiscated land and property, wealth and property. Unwanted and put to flight, the Italians were ordered not to use their accounts, not to withdraw their savings. Everything went back to Tripoli, everything belonged to Libya. Gaddafi confiscated forty thousand hectares of land, two thousand houses, five hundred between shops and businesses, for an estimated value of two hundred billion lire in 1970. The expelled Italians began to go back without visas and documents, refused, rejected, wept – they remember in Tripoli today – they left by ship without anything and renegade, headed for the Sicilian or Campania coasts.
Waiting for them there were no relatives impatient to embrace their loved ones but refugee camps to be sorted, indifference and a little annoyance. As if returning home was a piece of history that you don't want to deal with. A story of mass executions, prison camps, violence and slavery. Hence the removal.
Initiated in the Gaddafi era, they still remain surrounded by cranes. And they are the perfect symbol of what the country could have been and was not. While the war that was to last a short time seems never to end.
The diary from Tripoli on the eve of the anniversary of the revolution
The feeling, say the Italians expelled still alive, was to be back, better hunted and repatriated, by losers. Gaddafi sent back the colonial legacy, his was the exemplary punishment for the crimes he suffered. The churches in Tripoli became mosques, Castelverde went back to being called Garabulli, the villages and cities that had been renamed with the names of the settler families took up their name, so Sidi Said, on the mountains south of Tripoli or Sidi Masr, in the city , where once the students were more Italian than Libyan.
The regime also sent back the bodies of the former colonists and space was made for other Italians, those of specialized firms, of construction and of course, of gas. Fuel, fuel. It was a difficult land, the Italians said once repatriated, arid, dry ungrateful. Yes, just like that, ungrateful, said the former colonists. Heirs of those who had conquered by force. They returned with empty pockets, like the boys who today leave the coast between Tripoli and Misurata.
Gaddafi's men had torn identity documents and certificates of residence. Italians without a name, illegal immigrants would be said today. They docked in Italy and were sorted in the prefecture, filed and transferred to refugee camps. The state had prepared mattresses and five hundred thousand lire per family. Someone called them fascists, on their return, and said that they had made the good life in Libya and now they had gone home to steal the work from the real Italians. In the nationalist competition there is always someone more Italian than you.
February 17, 2011 marked the beginning of the first Libyan civil war with the overthrow of Gaddafi. Francesca Mannocchi, with a daily diary, tells us what is happening in the country
Today when it comes to Italians, whether at the front or in government offices, the reaction is always the same: where were you ten months ago? Where were you while our kids died? Italians, enough Italians. Better the Turks, at least they send us weapons. That, they say at the front, wars are not won at the Berlin table, they are won with anti-aircraft means. And in fact the film of this war has changed since the protagonists have changed.
Nasr Abuzeian is from Misrata, fought the war against Isis in 2016 and was appointed head of the anti-terrorist unit created by the Sarraj government at the end of the conflict, now he fights to defend Tripoli, and with his men he controls the front of Wadi Rabia. His tone is tense, unfriendly. There are no ways that are not abrupt to say: you are no longer welcome, it is no longer as before.
To say that diplomacy has failed, to say: what do you ask me, Italian journalist, while the photos of your Foreign Minister who is sitting next to General Haftar just as smiling and pleased as his forces arrive while his armed forces bomb the only functioning airport in the capital and nine rockets hit Salh al Din neighborhood, civilian houses, killing one woman and injuring twelve other people? What do you ask me?
If there is a ceasefire? There is not.
If we ask for weapons? Yes, we ask you.
If we trust you? Not anymore.
And get in the driving of a military vehicle, come. And for miles abandoned houses, civilian houses, mortar splinters, holes in the ceiling, the list of dead and injured, shutters shutters of shops that will not reopen because they are destroyed, the smell of rotten, rotten that the rotting corpses take, acrid, they are animals he tells me. Here there were farms, the animals all dead, they too. There is an attack and there is an attacker, he punches severely before dismissing me hastily. And on February 17th there is nothing to celebrate, there are only other deaths to commemorate. Then he leaves, without a greeting, with my back to me.
The Salah al Din neighborhood is a residential, populous neighborhood in the southern part of Tripoli, the front is close. The blows echo. Yesterday morning, the first mortar fell on a house with pink plaster, the windows of the kitchen window shattered, a splinter hit a woman on the head. Instantly dead. Eight more shots followed. Civil housing, all. And in the evening, when counting the rockets and the wounded, someone hides, someone walks close to the walls because you never know, someone packs a few clothes and leaves.
Like Ali, when I arrive in front of his house he and his family are about to go, the trunk of the car filled with envelopes and bags, they were having dinner, and then the hit. Ali trembles, you can't understand it, you can't understand fear if you don't feel it.
This is how we die today in Tripoli, and those who remain take to the streets to show foreigners, even unwanted ones, the signs of the splinters on the walls. And to look for words, which are never punctual, to say the fear of children, the night.
That fear there, the fear of dying.
Are you staying here, aren't you leaving?
And where, nowhere to go.
Nowhere to go.
Sadik's home was also affected. “Thank goodness that my wife wasn't cooking,” he says. “I called her to say that I would have lunch on site and she was in the living room. Usually at that time he is in the kitchen, for me and the kids. ” That hour is noon, the time of the crash, the destroyed kitchen, the shattered glass, pieces of wall that fall down and the case that kept her alive. On a wall adjacent to the stairs Sadik and his children gather intact things before leaving.
Italian? My father worked with the Italians, he says, indicating a frame that comes from another time, from another story. Then in Tripoli it gets dark. It is Thursday, the eve of the feast day. Someone gets married, red ribbons and the noise of the horns of those who celebrate, and the sound of fireworks for a while is confused with the echo of the fighting. The hits of the rockets, this comes out, this enters.
Who knows what struck.