Thursday, December 21, 2006


We crossed Jabal Nafussa at Teji تيجى, Al Joush الجوش, Shakshouk شكشوك, Jadu جادو, Zentan الزنتان and on 28/01/1912 we arrived in Yefren. I was met by Major Yousef Jamal, Commander of Turkish garrison in the region, who spoke very well French. He welcomed me in perfect French and gave his orders for our lodging to be prepared. He then invited us to a dinner of Turkish dish of lamb and meat sauce.
The following day he accompanied me in a tour around Yefren. We visited Wadi Al Rummia, a valley of about 3 km long, 1 ½ km wide and 300-400 meters deep. At the bottom of the valley were seen some roman ruins. Major Y. Jamal, who was present in Tripoli city when the Italians invaded, told me his story:
‘The position of the Turks was very difficult during the first two weeks. The Libyans accused us of selling their country cheap to the Italians and refused to stand up with us or provide us with supplies or camels. But as soon as the Turkish officers and soldiers succeeded in organizing few skirmishes against the Italian enemy, the Libyan realized that we didn’t betray their cause and changed heart. The Libyan leader of the peoples of Jabal Nafussa –Sulliman Al Barouni-, the Leader of Tripoli city –Mohamed Farhat Alzawi- (Gheriani:Both of them were members in the Turkish Parliament) and other religious leaders and tribal chiefs ignited the call for Jihad against the Italian enemy. The spirit for resistance was widespread and recruits came upon us from everywhere, Beduins from far lands, people of mountains and the plains, from the oasis of distant Fezzan and from far away Sudan.
We started achieving few victories which paralyzed the Italians and frozen them within the confines of the city of Tripoli. They couldn’t venture outside the limits of the city.
We established our headquarters then in Souk Al Juma, a village only 4 km east of the city. We resisted the Italians advance over there for 40 days. However, the Italians had an unlimited line of supply, of men and modern arms. The sea to the north was open to them and to Italy, while our line of supply was only what the Libyan could gather and spare from their homes and villages, thus very limited (Gheriani: from Turkey only few men -mosly volunteers- and smuggled arms, and some doctors and male nurses arrived).
So finally, we were forced to retreat to the interior, to Al Azizia – 40 km south of Tripoli.
However, the unity between Libyans and Turks was forged by blood. The Mujahedeen kept arriving in great numbers. After being organized, trained and disciplined by the Turkish officers they became a force to be reckoned with for they didn’t fear death.
On the other side, the invading Italians used treachery, wile and deceit. They bought through their agents few Libyans in the city of Tripoli to become their stooges and propaganda mouths presenting the Italians as progressive, democratic and superior force to the Turks.
(Gheriani: Here there are thirteen first names mentioned in the narration. The translator –Dr. Mohamed El Wafi- declined to mention their last names for fear that the author, being a foreigner might have misspelled them, or that possible malice of the Turkish officer against some Libyan families made him name them as traitors. We have to remember that the descendants of some of these people may still live. I have read in another source that one of those collaborators was preaching the Italians name while his son was fighting against them in Al Azizia)
These traitors were given large amount of money by the Italians to promote a campaign of propaganda in favor of the Italians between their fellow Libyan in order to stop the resistance and raise the white flag.
In brief, the situation of the people of Tripolitania is desperate, while on the other side, the Italian army and navy were in perfect shape of preparedness and organization.’ (Here ends the narration of Major Y.J.)

Then how against all these obstacles and with so few arms, the resistance continued like a miracle until now. How could this resistance achieve some victories at all.
How could it become a formidable danger threatening the Italian invasion?
This was what even the Mujahedeen themselves, who made these victories, found hard to explain.
This would be the objective of my trip across Libya – to find out ,to describe and try to explain to my readers.
Finally, we bid our farewell to the Turkish officers and Libyan notables out side of Yefren on 29/01/1912 and hit the road toward Gharyan.”

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