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February 20, 2011


I would have bet that Libya would be the last of the north African autocracies to fall. There seemed to be less connection to the outside world, and fewer of the economic factors that might kick-start a rebellion. And between Gaddafi's oil money and his ruthlessness, I figured he would quickly trash anything that did get started.

But it looks like I may have been very wrong. Happy to be wrong, mind, and I hope it turns out I was.

It's still too early to say. As I quoted, Benghazi has unique aspects, and the Leader is apt to play by Hama Rules.

Whether or not the fire can actually be put out for quite a while longer, I really wouldn't want to venture to say.

I'm afraid there's going to be a lot of blood in Libya, one way or another, but we'll see.

Meanwhile, Moatessem-Billal Kadhafi has allegedly shot Saif al-Islam Muammar Gaddafi.

I haven't a clue yet whether this is true or rumor, but it's certainly at least symbolic of what's going on, either way.

For those who want a summary:

Saif al-Islam Muammar al-Gaddafi (Arabic: سيف الإسلام معمر القذافي‎, lit. Sword of Islam Muammar al-Gaddafi) (born June 25, 1972) is a son of Muammar al-Gaddafi, leader of Libya. [...] 2011 Libyan Unrest

On February 20th, 2011 at 18:00 EST, he gave a controversial speech on Libyan State TV. In his speech, he blamed the unrest in Libya on drug taking foreign elements he repeatedly referred to as "thugs," declared that the stability of Libya and people's access to oil money was threatened, that wages would be raised, and that the security forces would not hesitate to use force.

Moatassem-Billah Gaddafi (also translated as Mutassim) is the fourth son of Libyan leader Muammar Kadhafi and the National Security Advisor of Libya since 2010.[1]
So, um....

But so far it's just unconfirmed reports that "Libyan diplomat Hussein Sadiq in Beijing China" has said this, so may just be rumor.

Finally something positive from Bush presidency. His destruction of American hegemony and power all over the world is causing US backed regimes to fail, one by one.

Known: Gaddafi son warns of civil war dangers:

By Andrew England in Cairo

Published: February 20 2011 19:06 | Last updated: February 20 2011 23:40

The son of the Libyan leader, Saif el-Islam Gaddafi appeared to make concessions to protesters in a national television address on Sunday night, but also warned of the dangers of civil war.

Although he called the deaths of protesters “a tragedy”, he said the numbers were exaggerated and blamed blamed separatist movements and political, trade union and Islamist organisations for pursuing a separatist agenda.

Speaking without clear notes, Mr Gaddafi said some protesters had seized control of some military bases and tanks and that Libya was going through “major chaos”. Thousands were prepared to march on Tripoli and Benghazi to stand up for his father Muammer Gaddafi and that the army stood behind the regime and would fight to the last man.

Mr Gaddafi insisted that Libya was not Egypt or Tunisia, but said a general popular congress would meet on Monday to discuss a “clear” reform agenda.

“We will have a new Libya, one we have dreamed of. ... But we can have reforms without destroying out country.”

Plenty of reports on the speech.

It's worth pointing out about Moatassem that:

He spent several years in Egypt following an internal leadership dispute.

Independent terrorism consultant Evan Kohlmann, writing about the death in Libya of Ibn Al Sheikh Al Libi, a former captive in the CIA's "high value detainee" program, suggested Kadhafi had played a role in the death.[1] Under torture directed by the CIA Al Libi confessed to using trainers from Iraq to train jihadists how to use Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction. Senior officials in the George W. Bush Presidency cited Al Libi's confession as proof of Al Qaeda's ties to Iraq and proof that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction.

After several years of speculation as to what had happened to Al Libi, when it became clear the confessions wrung from him were false, human rights workers found he was being held in a Libyan prison.[1] They tried to make arrangements to meet with him, only to be informed he had committed suicide.

Kohlmann wrote that Al Libi's death followed shortly after a meeting between Moatessem-Billal Kadhafi and Omar Suleiman, a senior Egyptian intelligence official.[1] Kohlmann wrote that the reports in the Libyan press about Al Libi's death were authorized by his elder brother and rival, heir apparent Saif al-Islam Muammar Al-Gaddafi.

Not a bad time to watch this film, by the way: Lion of the Desert.

Lion of the Desert is a 1981 Libyan historical action film starring Anthony Quinn as Libyan tribal leader Omar Mukhtar fighting the Italian army in the years leading up to World War II. It was directed by Moustapha Akkad and funded by Muammar al-Gaddafi's government.
If you want to be very very upset, however, this is a NSFW link of real dead Libyan bodies.

Another site to follow.

Alarabiya news station is reporting in its live broadcast right now that a Gaddafi has left Libya on his private jet headed to either Brazil or Venezuela!
I strongly suspect this is wishful thinking.

Video of Saif.

20 February 2011 Last updated at 18:42 ET Sayf al-Islam Gaddafi has appeared on Libyan TV and accused people outside Libya of provoking violence, adding that the reported numbers of deaths in anti-government protests were "imaginary".

He said this area of the world was "going through an earthquake" and people were trying to copy what was going on in Egypt.

He claimed "a few people have died" in clashes where "the aim was to be violent against the police" and he said the army was not trained to deal with riots.

Finally something positive from Bush presidency. His destruction of American hegemony and power all over the world is causing US backed regimes to fail, one by one.
Despite some nice cooperative sharing over torture, and the recent various improvement in relations, including Libya giving up their Khan-network nuclear weapons plans, and the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi , I'm unconvinced that it's terribly accurate to refer to the regime as "US backed."

Operation El Dorado Canyon was a while ago, but hardly forgotten, given that:

[...] The air strike killed 45 Libyan soldiers and government officials, and 15 civilians. Forewarned by a telephone call from Malta's Prime Minister, Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, that unauthorized aircraft were flying over Maltese airspace heading south towards Tripoli, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family rushed out of their residence in the Bab al Aziziya compound moments before the bombs dropped. Gaddafi escaped injury but his 15-month-old adopted daughter Hanna was killed, and two of his sons were injured.[7] However, according to Giulio Andreotti and Abdel Rahman Shalgham, it was Bettino Craxi who warned Gaddafi.[8]

Al Jazeera is reporting that the Touareg and Warfala tribes have joined the uprising -- their combined numbers are approximately 1.5 million members. The situation appears to be escalating rapidly.

Thanks, Gary. When I'm an old man (hopefully), thinking back about this time in history (because I think this will be one of those times in history that most people, alive and aware at the time, will remember for the rest of their lives) I'll be thinking of you and ObWi along with all the rest of it. This is getting big, and this is getting bigger. Hoping for the best, here at my suburban laptop.

This is a fabulous roundup, thank you.

So if the old regime falls, do we know what or who is likely to take its place?

Among people I will not be sorry the see the back of, Qaddafi is close to the top of the list.

He's going to collect his own ransom in blood on the way out. Good luck to the people of Libya, it's going to cost them a lot to get rid of him.

Good luck to the people of Libya, it's going to cost them a lot to get rid of him.

Increasingly, it looks like a price that they are willing to pay. Consider the following comment from a Libyan man (from the Daily Beast http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-02-20/gunshots-and-fires-reported-as-libyan-protests-spread-to-capital/ ): “I don’t mind being dead. We’ve been dead for 42 years.”

With that mind-set in the population, and the military looking increasingly like they are deciding that Qaddafi is not their future, there is only one way this will end.

This is getting big, really big. I just hope it's not another 1848 repeat where nothing much changes, or we end up with even more repressive regimes.

That said; the status-quo is unacceptable and had to be brought down at some people. My heart is with them.

Correction: Over the long term, 1848 had huge implications for Europe. I was referring to the immediate aftermath.

"So if the old regime falls, do we know what or who is likely to take its place?"

The people with the most guns.

Which means the military, but they'll be responsive to the populace depending on how many they're willing to kill.

Short answer.

The Libyans aren't the only ones who remember Operation El Dorado Canyon -- I still have trouble wrapping my brain around the idea that the US has in any way supported Gaddafi.

I remember the night of the attack, vividly: Reagan announced it, then later that night in Philadelphia, where I was living at the time, there was a loud thunderstorm. I woke up with a desperate flare of panic, thinking *we* were being bombed in retaliation.

@Dr Science. The Libyans did retaliate. They killed Dr. Emmett Brown and forced Marty McFly to flee back to 1955, nearly creating a time paradox destroying him and the entire future as we knew it.

The threat was real.


I just want to take a minute a thank you for this post and the links and comments on the Middle East and North Africa events. I am not as good at finding and tracking the breadth of this coverage and info as you and I really appreciate the effort it takes to keep up with the cross section. PLEASE, keep updating this or another post as you are able.

As a note, Doc seems to keep up well also, also appreciated.

... that is the weirdest comment spam I've seen yet.

I've updated, and I direct people's attention to update to post on Gadaffi's new televised speech.

Doctor, I've seen endlessly stranger spams; that's just a simple paid spammer, and you'll note that the URL has mysteriously changed. :-)

There are lots of people in China and South Korea and everywhere in the world there are poor people with internet cafes, or here in America who are suckered into the spamming equivalent of gold farming.

How Spammers Get Paid.

This is why it's crucial that spam be whacked like a mole ASAP. The real spammers, the industrial ones, use trackbacks to tell when a spam stays up, and as as soon as they see that, they know they've hit a security hole, and they come back, they report it on the spam networks to the other spammers, and robots start flooding, as well as paid humans, and soon you're flooded.

The only way to prevent that is to whack the mole ASAP.

Which is why it's important to have the SuperUser password spread to all trusted bloggers, which might be everyone, since we should all trust each other, or why should we be blogging together, so we can all work together, as our copious spare time allows, to cover each other, and keep the blog best as possible, and not siloize by thread, if possible.

Also, the community gets enlisted to write to the kitty, the email gets monitored, sub-administrators get recruited, one delegates and trees, and this is how social blogging works.

Just the advice of someone who has been doing this since 2001, watching it earlier, watching how it worked, and creating the same thing on Usenet hierarchies since 1995, and doing it and watching how it worked since first running all volunteer science fiction conventions of up to 8000 attendees, and a staff of over 800, as well as all volunteer sf organizations of smaller numbers, since age 16, and 1974. :-)

We can all only do what limited amount our limited time allows, and writers should stay as writers as they want, but organizing as above is how a blog builds community and grows, or at least stays healthy, I observe. Just, as russell says, my $.02, if you'll pardon the editorializing. :-)

Anyone reading the updates? New post? More analysis? Too much?

I'm going to repeat a few crucial points from latest update above:

But as they clamped down on the capital, Colonel Qaddafi’s security forces did not appear to make any attempt to take back the growing number of towns in the east that had in effect declared their independence and set up informal opposition governments. For now, there is little indication of what will replace the vacuum left by Colonel Qaddafi’s authority in broad parts of the country other than simmering anarchy. [...] But as they clamped down on the capital, Colonel Qaddafi’s security forces did not appear to make any attempt to take back the growing number of towns in the east that had in effect declared their independence and set up informal opposition governments. For now, there is little indication of what will replace the vacuum left by Colonel Qaddafi’s authority in broad parts of the country other than simmering anarchy. [...] The widening gap between the capital and the eastern countryside underscored the radically different trajectory of the Libyan revolt from the others that recently toppled Arab autocrats on Libya’s western and eastern borders, in Tunisia and Egypt. [...[ His four decades of idiosyncratic one-man rule have left the country without any national institutions — not even a unified or disciplined military — that could tame his retribution or provide the framework for a transitional government.

[...] he has kept even his military divided into battalions, each loyal mainly to its own officers. [...] Libya’s military is unlikely to play the stabilizing role its Tunisian or Egyptian counterparts did.

Thus the potential for many things: revolutionary committees in cities, provincial splits, divisions in the country, independent battalions forming core something or others, alliances between them, genuine democratic groupings forming, tribalism, various political groupings shifting, and/or something like post-American invastion Iraq, but, you know, far less stable.

Maybe something better, maybe something worse. What do you think?

Gary, you suggested in another thread that the US impose a 'no fly zone'. I wish I could agree. Pre-Iraq I probably would have. I can't see shooting down Libyan fighters and choppers and not shooting up their tanks or bombing pro-gov't troop concentrations. Not doing so would simply be saying, "you can't bomb your people, but tanks and machine guns are ok." What's happening over there is pretty horrible. Unfortunately, our good will in that corner of the world is nil and anyone we help automatically becomes our agent and hence a pariah. We have to stay out of this. As pleasing as canceling that bastard's ticket might otherwise be.

Neglecting to account for crucial populace-killing infrastructure is one mistake that the US made at the end of GW1.

I just had to post this somewhere(from CNN):

"Benghazi, Libya (CNN) -- Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Thursday blamed the violence in his country on young people, who he said are taking some sort of pills and being exploited by Osama bin Laden.

Speaking by phone on state TV as reports came in of pro-Gadhafi forces killing unarmed civilians in the town of Zawiya, Gadhafi said, "Our children have been manipulated by al Qaeda."

"Those exploiting the youth have to be arrested," he added."

(bold obviously mine)

The question is did they pick the blue pill or the red pill?

Maybe Gadhafi is thinking of invading Iraq.

I can't see shooting down Libyan fighters and choppers and not shooting up their tanks or bombing pro-gov't troop concentrations. Not doing so would simply be saying, "you can't bomb your people, but tanks and machine guns are ok."
I don't see how. How are we not saying "tanks and machine guns are ok" right now, but this standard?

Why must we attack ground targets, but not aerial?

We have to stay out of this.
We're not staying out of it.

U.S. Plans Sanctions on Libya in Wake of Crackdown. We can't "stay out of it." The United States is the imperial power of the world, diplomatically, economically (for now), militarily, and for the past century.

The United States closed its embassy in Tripoli on Friday and announced plans to impose unilateral sanctions against Libya, including the freezing of billions in government assets, as the Obama administration made its most aggressive move against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi since his security forces opened fire on protesters.

Just minutes after a charter flight left Tripoli carrying the last Americans who wanted to leave Libya, officials markedly toughened the administration’s words and actions against Colonel Qaddafi, announcing that high-ranking Libyan officials who supported or participated in his violent crackdown would also see their assets frozen and might, along with Colonel Qaddafi, be subject to war crimes prosecution.

“It’s clear that Colonel Qaddafi has lost the confidence of his people,” said the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, in a briefing that was delayed to allow the plane to take off because the Americans feared that the Libyan leader might harm the passengers. “His legitimacy has been reduced to zero.”


In fact, even as he was announcing that the Obama administration was cutting off military to military cooperation with the Libyan Army, Mr. Carney noted that such cooperation was “limited” — a stark contrast to the deep ties that the Pentagon has cultivated with other Arab armies.


Countering those criticisms, administration officials said they feared a hostage crisis, which tied President Obama’s hands until American citizens, diplomats and their families were evacuated from Libya. A ferry with 167 Americans left Tripoli on Friday afternoon, having been delayed for two days by 15- to 18-foot waves in the Mediterranean, and a charter plane with additional Americans left Friday night. The embassy, Mr. Carney said immediately after, “has been shuttered.”

European leaders have been more aggressive. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has called on Colonel Qaddafi to resign, a step which Mr. Obama has yet to take. But American allies and the United Nations also moved to isolate Libya diplomatically. A senior United Nations official said that the world should intervene to stop the bloodshed in Libya, and France and Britain called on the international organization to approve an arms embargo and sanctions. NATO said it was ready to help evacuate refugees.

In Geneva, the normally passive United Nations Human Rights Council voted unanimously on Friday to suspend Libya’s membership, but not before a junior delegate of the Libyan mission announced that he and his colleagues had resigned after deciding to side with the Libyan people. The gesture drew a standing ovation and a handshake from the United States ambassador, Eileen Donahoe.

In fact, administration officials said that getting the people around Colonel Qaddafi to abandon him is a key part of the American and international strategy to further isolate him. To that end, administration officials say they are supporting a British proposal to try to bring before a war crimes tribunal Colonel Qaddafi and those who support or enable his violent crackdown.

“It’s hard to do, but the point is to encourage the remaining supporters of Qaddafi to peel off,” said Robert Malley, the Middle East and North Africa program director at the International Crisis Group. “If you want to accelerate his demise, you send the message that those who do not participate in the violence might not be prosecuted for their association with the regime.”

American officials are also discussing a no-flight zone over Libya to prevent Colonel Qaddafi from using military aircraft against demonstrators. But such a move would have to be coordinated with NATO, and would require a Security Council resolution, diplomats said. Arab governments might object on sovereignty grounds.

Administration officials have avoided public discussion of additional military options. When asked whether the United States was considering using its military assets in the region — including a marine amphibious ship in the Red Sea — to support the rebellion in Libya, Mr. Carney said, “We are not taking any options off the table in the future.” But administration officials said there were no immediate plans to intervene militarily.

The administration’s measures appeared to satisfy human-rights groups, which have been urging the White House for days to act more robustly. Analysts said they wanted more details about the sanctions, but they were encouraged by signs that the United States would support the effort to have Colonel Qaddafi referred to the International Criminal Court on war-crimes charges, as well as by a special NATO meeting.

“Even if people aren’t explicitly talking about no-fly zones, the fact that NATO met today suggests there is more on people’s minds than diplomacy,” said Tom Malinowski, the director of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch. “I sense military contingencies are on the table.”

One complication that could speed up consideration of any military action would be evidence that Colonel Qaddafi was prepared to use his remaining stockpile of mustard gas.

The American sanctions will also include travel bans against Colonel Qaddafi and senior members of his government, and the freezing of assets, including a move to freeze all American-controlled portions of Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, administration officials said. Sanctions, once they go into effect, could have an impact on oil-rich Libya. According to an American diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks, a senior Libyan official told American diplomats in January 2010 that the Libyan Investment Authority, which manages the country’s oil revenue, had $32 billion in cash, and that several American banks managed up to $500 million in each of those funds. Administration officials said they planned to go after that money as part of the punitive sanctions.

“The government of Libya has claimed that it holds as much as $130 billion in reserves and its sovereign wealth fund reportedly holds more than $70 billion in foreign assets,” an Obama administration official said. The official said that “while we are aware of certain assets owned by the Libyan government in the U.S., there are likely additional funds that we are not aware of.”

Analysts said that going after the assets of Colonel Qaddafi’s aides would probably be more effective than going after those held by the leader himself, given that he is engaged in an all-or-nothing defense of his rule.

A more draconian approach, suggested Danielle Pletka, an expert on sanctions at the American Enterprise Institute, would be to impose a trade embargo on Libya, excepting only food and other humanitarian aid.

The United Nations Security Council will discuss a proposal backed by France and Britain for multilateral sanctions, including an arms embargo and financial sanctions. But no definitive move was expected until next week. Italy, which is not in the Security Council and has deep investments in Libya, said Friday that it also backed sanctions.

So much for staying out of it, and the impossibility of a no-fly zone.

Rebel army may be formed as Tripoli fails to oust Gaddafi.

BENGHAZI, LIBYA - Army leaders in eastern Libya who have turned against Col. Moammar Gaddafi's regime are preparing to dispatch a rebel force to Tripoli to support the beleaguered uprising there, a top military official said Saturday in Benghazi. [...] Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, warned in an interview with the al-Arabiya TV network Saturday that "the signs of civil war and foreign interference have started.''

U.N. votes to impose sanction on Gaddafi.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Saturday night to impose military and financial sanctions against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and his inner circle and to refer his regime's crackdown on protesters to a war crimes tribunal for an investigation of possible crimes against humanity.

The move came as President Obama for the first time called on Gaddafi to step down, deepening the Libyan leader's international isolation as he struggles to contain a revolt that threatens his 41-year rule. It also marked the first U.S. vote in support of a Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court, which the United States has not joined.

We might want to do something about that last, except that, of course, Republicans in Congress still oppose it, last I looked. Think they should reconsider?

[...] In a letter to the Security Council president, Libyan envoy Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgam wrote that his delegation "supports the measures proposed in the draft resolution to hold to account those responsible for the armed attacks against the Libyan civilians, including [through] the International Criminal Court."

A day earlier, Shalgam announced in a tearful appearance before the Security Council that he had broken ranks with his longtime friend, mentor and leader. That announcement followed a wave of defections by Gaddafi's diplomatic corps, leaving the Libyan ruler essentially without a voice or influence outside the country.

The drama unfolded as the 15-nation council considered a package of sanctions, including an arms embargo, a travel ban and an asset freeze on Gaddafi and his associates.

UK military planes rescue 150 from Libyan desert.
British military planes entered Libyan air space to rescue oil workers and others from desert locations Saturday in a daring and secret mission meant to save those unable to flee escalating violence.

The C-130 Hercules planes, carrying Britons and other nationals, safely landed in Malta after picking up the civilians south of the eastern Libyan port of Benghazi, Defense Secretary Liam Fox said.

The rescue mission was bold because few planes have been able to fly through Libyan air space. It was not immediately clear if it was a British special forces mission, but the government has not ruled out using the SAS to evacuate Libyan oil fields and rescue trapped Britons.


We have to stay out of this. As pleasing as canceling that bastard's ticket might otherwise be.
So how are "we" doing on staying out of this, would you say, McKinneyTexas?

Still think "we" can't intervene in Libyan airspace?

Possibly you might reconsider?

From previous link:

[...] Other Britons returning to London from Libya after being evacuated spoke of the chaos enveloping the North African country.

"Gangs of young Libyans had knives and machetes," said 51-year-old Paul Ellis, who works on the Great Man-Made River Project in Libya. "What they wanted was any valuables - money, laptops and mobiles. We just gave them those and the keys to cars and they just left us alone to some extent."

Mediterranean ports, meanwhile, overflowed with thousands of evacuees from Libya, and thousands more foreigners were still scrambling to flee the North African nation by sea, air or land as the security situation around the capital Tripoli deteriorated.

More than 2,800 Chinese workers landed in Heraklion on the Greek island of Crete aboard a Greek ship. Further to the west, another 2,200 Chinese arrived in Valletta, the capital of Malta, after a long journey from the eastern Libyan port of Benghazi. Hours earlier, in the dark of night, a U.S-chartered ferry dropped off over 300 passengers in Valletta who spent three days waiting to leave Libya's chaotic capital.

The sheer numbers of foreigners leaving Libya as Gadhafi's regime attacks anti-government protesters has been staggering. As of Saturday, at least 16,000 Chinese, 15,000 Turks and 1,400 Italians had been evacuated, most working in the construction and oil industries.

In addition, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council that some 22,000 people have fled across the Libyan border to Tunisia and another 15,000 crossed the border into Egypt.

Col. Malek Mihoub, a Tunisian security forces official, said that "despite the good intentions of those present," aid groups like the Red Crescent, local authorities and the Tunisian army have become overwhelmed by the flow of people fleeing Libya.

Meanwhile, France's Foreign Ministry said Saturday that the French embassy in Tripoli has been closed temporarily due to the unrest. It said a French Air Force flight took 122 people - including the entire embassy staff among the 28 French nationals on board - to France on Saturday.

In an accord with Russia, France said it is temporarily conferring its interests in Libya to the Russian Embassy in Tripoli, the ministry statement said.

Yowser. Maybe Putin will swim over and arm-wrestle with Gaddafi.

I read McT when he says 'we should stay out of it', he doesn't want to US to take the lead. Perhaps this is a grevious misreading, but given the principle that many conservatives often cite (though I don't know if McT has) is a concern about a loss of sovereignty, I'd like to think that he's not ruling out the use of US forces, but only as an integral part of a multi-national force.

I also read McT as suggesting that establishing a no-fly zone without also taking action against tanks and troops would be a strange line to draw. I don't think he made any argument about 'if we shoot down planes, we must blow up tanks' I think he's suggesting that a no-fly zone would be seen as a half measure and I think he has a point.

There's some much revolution going on, it is hard to keep up with everything, and I've had my eye more on Wisconsin, so I appreciate your cites, but I view this as part of the process of turning McT into someone who believes in the importance of a realistic (as opposed to a "realist" or even a "realpolitik") foreign policy that depends on international collections of players. (Actually, I don't have a precise fix on what McT's foreign policy views are so I'm not making any claims, just that an expression of hesitancy and humility concerning the US military is always appreciated)

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