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A group of tribal elders in southern Libya are reported to have held a preparatory meeting in Obari on 26 September 2013 to discuss the possibility of setting up a “Fezzan Supreme Council” similar to the Cyrenaica Transitional Council set up in 2012 by Cyrenaica federalists. However, reports that the meeting declared Fezzan a federal state within Libya have been denied. A statement at the end of yesterday’s meeting claimed that the Fezzan Supreme Council would appoint a military governor whose duties would include the activation of the army, police, judiciary, protection of borders, oil and gas fields and water resources located within the region. The head of the Preparatory Committee of the Forum of the Tribes and Social Components of Fezzan, Ahmed Ibrahim, was quoted by Ajwaa Al-Bilad saying that “we feel that the government is oblivious to Fezzan and has no real existence. If the government has been in existence, we would not have raised the federal option”.

In its general outlines, Fezzan presents the form of an amphitheatre gradually inclined towards the east, and on the other three sides encircled by plateaux. Its mean altitude is about 1,650 feet, the lowest levels of the oases nowhere probably falling below 650 feet. According to Barth, the deepest depression occurs at the Sharaba wells, east of Murzuk, where a lacustrine basin receives the drainage of an extensive area, and remains flooded for months together.

The vast region enclosed by the escarpments of the plateau is itself a somewhat broken country, the general relief of which, as well as its mean elevation, shows that it has not certainly formed a marine basin during recent geological times, notwithstanding the theories lately advanced to the contrary by some eminent geographers, not only for Fezzan, but for the whole of the Sahara. Nevertheless in many places traces are visible of the former presence of salt water, and the submergence of the land at some very remote period is attested both by the undulating lines of shifting sands driving before the winds on the western plateau, and by the polished pebbles of diverse colours strewn like mosaies over the surface of the eastern serirs.

The space encircled by the surrounding plateau consists in great part of secondary terraces, whose main axis runs in the direction from west to east, and which are separated from each other by crevasses with a mean depth of about 150 feet. These narrow, tortuous intermediate depressions take the name of "wadies," like the beds ol temporary watercourses in the northern parts of Tripolitana, but as they are never flushed by any freshets, a more appropriate designation would be that of Lofra or "diteh," which in fact is applied to one of these depressions in the Murzuk district. Some are mere ravines of sand or hard clay, while others present the aspect of verdant glens shaded by overhanging palm-trees. Although not forming a fluvial system properly so called, they generally converge one towards another, without, however, always reaching the common bed towards the east of Fezzan. In this direction the unfinished channels are obstructed by sands and reefs.

Early visitors were often surprised to meet in this almost rainless region permanent or intermittent lakes in the midst of the dunes. In a single group north of the Murzuk hamada there are as many as ten, nearly all, however, of difficult access, owing to the hillocks of fine sand encircling them, in which the foot sinks at every step. Two of these basins contain chloride of sodium and carbonate of soda, like the natron lakes of the Egyptian desert; hence the designation of Bahr-el-Trunia, or "Sea of Natron," applied to one of the Fezzan lakes. Several other lacustrine basins are inhabited by a peculiar species of worm, highly appreciated by the epicures of the district. The lake yielding the most abundant supplies of this delicacy is specially known as the Bahr-el-Dud, or "Sea of Worms," and the local fishermen take the name of duwada, or "worm-grubbers." This sheet of water, fringed by palms and almost circular in form, has a circumference of about 600 miles, with a depth in the lowest part, measured by Vogel, of 26 feet. But owing to the almost viscous consistency of the excessively saline water, it appeared far deeper to the natives, who regard it as fathomless. Invalids from all parts of Fezzan frequented it in crowds, first bathing in this basin, and then plunging in some neighboring freshwater pool, in which is dissolved the incrustation of salt covering their bodies.

The rainfall also is all the lighter in Fezzan, that the moisture-bearing clouds from the north are arrested by the Jebel-es-Soda and Black Haruj ranges. There ia even a complete absence of dew, owing to the dryness of the air. Yet, strange to say, the inhabitants of the country do not themselves desire rainy weather, not only because it washes away their earthern cabins, but also on account of its injurious effects on the palm-trees, by interfering with the normal system of irrigation from the subterranean supplies. "Rain water is death, underground water is quickening," says the native proverb. Heavy showers fall usually in winter and spring, that is, from December to April, when the northern winds contend for the supremacy with those from the south.

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Page last modified: 23-10-2013 19:12:55 ZULU