Sent around privately or posted on diaspora websites in the early 2000s, a poem entitled ياللي حررت البشمرقة / You who freed the Peshmergeh used the American invasion of Iraq and subsequent overthrow of Saddam Hussein to mockingly call for the same to happen in Libya. It addresses the American forces who overthrew Saddam’s regime in Iraq, thereby freeing the autonomous Kurdish army, the Peshmergeh, and requests they come and do the same in Libya. Of course, calling for regime change in Libya at that time was punished harshly, and if it were known who had composed such a poem, that person would no doubt have been imprisoned, or worse. So the poem circulated anonymously then, and apparently remained anonymous even within the poet’s own family, until Suleyman al-Sahli publicly revealed in 2012 that it was actually composed by Abdelsalam al-Hurr. Though usually known as a master of shitawa in eastern Libya, al-Hurr also composed a few qasa’id. And indeed, after the 2011 revolution and subsequent regime change, the public recitation of the poem and its attribution to a well-known eastern Libyan poet finally became possible.
Above, you can listen to Suleyman al-Sahli, then Minister of Education and son of the great Libyan folklorist and diwanist Ali al-Sahli, recite the poem. Below, I’ve provided the Arabic text and my own English translation and some notes.
Abdelsalam al-Hurr — ياللي حررت البشمرقة / You who freed the Peshmergeh
يا اللي حرّرت البشمرقه نبوا زرقة منَك شور شواطي برقة
يا اللي حرّرتوا بغداد بطرش ازناد وفكّيتوها م الجلاد
نريدوا جيش بكثر اعداد ايجي من شرقه زاحف قيس اتناشن فرقة
وياخذ في العظمى ملهاد عجاجه يرقى مرسول لعشاق السرقة
م اللي في الواسع عرباد محنّب عرقه نلحظ في عرب منخرقة
يا اللي طيّحت التمثال افزع برجال ودبابات تقول جبال
عليهم نصّب جانيرال خبيث المرقة في ايده سوط ايشفشف حرقة
يا اللي حرّرت المنهاس بقوة باس وحطّمت قصور الرياس
تعال لعضمة بو غصاص اللي في الشرقى لا بت تنزل لا بت ترقى
يا اللي حرّرت المنصور افزع بطيور ودبابات تقول نمور
نريده بو عايشة مزرور وشارق شرقه طالع رافع ايديه بخرقة
You freed the Peshmergeh, so, march on over to the shores of Barga.
You freed Baghdad with thunderous gunfire, tossed away its executioner,
so, raise another vast army and come marching west with all your men!
Ride your swift steeds into the Jamahiriya, raising clouds of dust as you come, and head straight to the chief thief,
the bully, with bulging veins, people all around are soiling themselves in fear.
You toppled that statue, so, come with your men and mountain-sized tanks,
headed by a slick general, eager to crack a whip.
You freed those in need courageously, and flattened the ruler’s castles, so
come over here! We’re choking on a bone, we can neither swallow it nor cough it up.
You freed Baghdad, so bring your planes and tanks agile like leopards.
Let’s corner Bu Aysha, so he comes out choking and waving a white flag,
you who freed the Peshmergeh!
(Notes on the translation:)
– By العظمى in line four, I assume the poet refers to Libya’s official name at the time, الجماهيرية العربية الليبية الشعبية الإشتراكية العظمى “the great Libyan Arab socialist people’s Jamahiriya”.
– In line ten, I assumed that المنصور refers to the district of Baghdad of that name, otherwise I don’t know what it refers to.
– بوعايشة in the final line refers of course to Gaddafi himself.