Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why did you create this site?
A: I wanted to create a Web site and needed content, so I dusted off a research paper written in the late 1980s while attending a class at Georgetown. This site is no less a tribute to Dr. Hanna Batatu, my class instructor and one of the most learned men I have ever met.
Q. You talk about tribes in Libya, but tribalism is a thing of the past. It has no influence.
A: I disagree. Granted, I am not Libyan and have never visited the country, but I have found many references on the Internet alone to what I can only describe as an ongoing and vibrant "tribal dynamic" among Libyans. For example, one unidentified Libyan national recently attempted to establish an Internet discussion forum for members of his tribe:
"This a community that includes all the members of Fergan tribe in the Arab and non-Arab countries. This tribe is based originally in Libya and composed of 3 main sub-divisions; Twafga, Ermaithat and Awlad Bu-Aisha." [sic]
Although the forum no longer appears to be operating, its inception is an indicator of the social and perhaps political importance many Libyans attach to tribalism to this day. Of interest, the contemporary description of the Farjan jibes well with De Agostini's notes on the tribe's structure.
Q. I am a Libyan. Can you help me obtain political asylum in the United States?
A: Sorry, I am not positioned to help. If you are already living outside of Libya then you would do well to investigate resources within a local Libyan expatriate community. The information below was obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service:
"Under U.S. law, the United States grants (political) asylum only to aliens who are physically present in the United States."
You may be able to qualify for residency in the United States under the provisions of the U.S. Refugee Program:
"...to be eligible for the program an applicant must meet the definition of a refugee: a person outside of his/her country of nationality or outside his/her habitual residence, who is unwilling or unable to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion."
"In addition, he or she must be able to establish that he or she is not already firmly resettled in a foreign country and must fall within certain refugee processing priorities."
Note that only a handful of U.S. Embassies can render assistance to asylum seekers:
"Persons seeking admission to the United States through the U.S. Refugee admissions program may
[only!] be processed at U.S. diplomatic posts located in Athens, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Madrid, Manila, Mexico City, New Delhi, Rome, and Vienna."
If you have made your way to London or Sanaa, for example, it is my understanding that the U.S. Embassies there are not going to help you.