News / Middle East

Tripoli Neighborhood Checkpoints Help Keep the Peace

Men stand guard at an anti-Gadhafi checkpoint in downtown Tripoli, August 27, 2011
Men stand guard at an anti-Gadhafi checkpoint in downtown Tripoli, August 27, 2011

Multimedia

James Brooke

The Moammar Gadhafi government in Libya has collapsed after 42 years, and many people question whether Tripoli will descend into the chaos that plagued Baghdad after the fall of Iraq's Saddam Hussein.  An answer may be found in neighborhood checkpoints.

“You are Americans?  Nice to meet you.  Nice to meet you.”  

We meet Mohammed Abou Gabha manning a checkpoint on a central Tripoli street.

Mohammed, a 21-year-old pilot trainee, grew up on Zawiya Street.

For the past week, he and his lifelong neighbor, Mohammed Badi, a student of French, have been manning a checkpoint, stopping cars and trucks traveling through the neighborhood.

“We need to be safe here, because we know mafias, Gadhafi’s mafias...,” Abou Gabha says.

This checkpoint, multiplied by the thousands across this sprawling city of 1.5 million people, helps explain why Tripoli has suffered only small-scale looting since the sudden collapse of the Gadhafi government.

Pausing from checking cars, Abou Gabha explains the checkpoints did not spring up by accident.

Since May, underground military councils formed neighborhood by neighborhood.  

“If Gadhafi's government know we have a council here, they will kill us, and catch us, and put us in prison,” says Gabha.

Critics say the city is awash with guns.  Mohammed says the guns at his checkpoint are strictly controlled by his neighborhood military council.

“They count it...and if I shoot one, I will be in trouble,” he says.

Mohammed Badi grew up across the street from Mohammed Abou Gabha.

“I trust him too much.  If I do not trust him, I do not give him my back," says Badi.  "He has a gun.  We do not like guns very much in Libya.”

One week after Tripoli’s uprising, as the city returns to normal, there is no evidence of looting on Zawiya  Street.  The key, Mohammed Abou Gabha says, is neighborhood unity.  Referring  to the multi-story apartment buildings on his street, he says, “All the buildings, we are just like one man.”

Later, I encounter Mohammed down the street, directing traffic in front of the neighborhood mosque.

“This car and this guy is coming from Misrata.  And there's another guy is coming from Benghazi also," says Gabha.  "That means we are one country.  We live one country.”

With luck, the unity displayed on the block level here in Tripoli, will play large in Libya, allowing for a new government of national unity.

Scenes from Tripoli:

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid