Stop U.S. bombing of Libya!*
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published Mar 24, 2011 10:08 PM
The bombing of Libya, which began on March 19, has aroused world opposition to this new aggression by the U.S. and European imperialist powers.
The bombing began on the eighth anniversary of the U.S. and British invasion and occupation of Iraq. Pentagon warplanes were bolstered by ships and planes from France, Britain, Italy and Canada. Using U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 as a cover, these imperialist states have initiated an all-out war aimed at overthrowing the Libyan government and occupying that North African country.
The assault, dubbed “Operation Odyssey Dawn,” has included strikes by fighter aircraft and missiles launched from warships off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea. Areas inside Libya that have been bombed include Benghazi, Tripoli, Misurata and Ajdabiya.
On March 19, three Air Force B-2s from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri dropped 45 bombs weighing a ton each on Misurata. Also, 15 Air Force and Marine fighter jets accompanied by aircraft from France and Britain bombed Benghazi. One U.S. F-15 jet fighter was reported downed on March 21.
The next day bombs dropped on the capital city of Tripoli destroyed a compound used by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
The Libyan government said a three-story building in Tripoli had been destroyed by war planes of the U.S. and European states. Although U.S. and European military officials have stated that the Libyan leader is not a target in these operations, it is clear that these Western governments are out to assassinate Libya’s head of state. Nearly 25 years ago the U.S. military under Ronald Reagan bombed the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi in an earlier attempt on the life of Gadhafi; his young daughter was killed in the attacks.
In regard to the March 20 attacks on the compound where Gadhafi is often present, Libyan spokesperson Mussa Ibrahim told journalists, “This was a barbaric bombing which could have hit hundreds of civilians gathered at the residence of Moammar Gadhafi about 400 meters away from the building which was hit.” (Herald Sun (Australia), March 21)
Ibrahim went on to point out the contradictory and deceptive language being utilized by the Western countries now bombing Libya. He noted that “Western countries say they want to protect civilians while they bomb the residence knowing there are civilians inside.” In the aftermath of the bombing in Tripoli, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said on March 20 that Gadhafi was a “legitimate target.” (The Australian, March 21)
Nevertheless, U.S. Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney of the Joint Chiefs of Staff claimed that no civilians had been harmed in the bombings, which have included the use of stealth B-2 bombers, jet fighters, and more than 120 “Tomahawk” cruise missiles as well as other deadly U.S. weapons.
NATO, the Arab League, African Union and U.N. Security Council
Since the bombing began on March 19, the United States has claimed to have limited objectives related to protecting civilians and imposing a “no-fly zone” over the North African state. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, contradicting his British counterpart, said Gadhafi was not a target. Gortney also claimed that “The no-fly zone is now effectively in place. We are not going after Gadhafi. At this particular point, I can guarantee he is not on the target list.”
Yet since late February, the Obama administration has called for the removal of the Libyan leader. These calls have been repeated not only by the president but by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.
Moreover, the so-called rebellion in Libya that began in Benghazi on Feb. 17 has been supported by the U.S. and other Western imperialist states. Several of the groups trying to overthrow the Libyan government have long been financed, armed, trained and coordinated by the CIA.
France, prior to the bombing operations, gave recognition to the rebels as the legitimate government of Libya. At least two major peace proposals, put forward by Latin American states as well as the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, were rejected outright by the imperialist states now bombing the country as well as by the rebels.
Evidence of the real objectives in the bombing of Libya is the cover being provided by the imperialist states for the rebels. After the rebels’ defeat in the western and eastern section of Libya, the U.S. and European powers began bombing to support attacks by the rebels on key cities under government control.
Another important political aspect of the bombing of Libya has been the assertion that the Arab League supported the attacks. Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, said several weeks prior to the bombings that he would support a no-fly zone over the country. However, the Arab League vote on support for U.N. Resolution 1973 was in a closed-door session with only half the member states present. Of those, Syria and Algeria reportedly objected to it.
Moussa has now expressed reservations about the military operations by the imperialist states against Libya. The Arab League leader said, “What happened differs from the no-fly zone objectives. What we want is the protection of civilians. Protection, not shelling more civilians.” (abc.net.au, March 21)
The African Union, a 53-member state organization for the continent, issued a communiqué on March 11 expressing solidarity with Libya and opposing foreign military intervention. The AU Peace and Security Council, which issued the communiqué, called for a negotiated resolution to the war in Libya and appointed a fact-finding mission to visit Libya to work on ending the fighting.
Nonetheless, the AU communiqué was totally ignored by the U.S., Canada, France, Italy and Britain. A delegation from South Africa that was scheduled to travel to Libya on March 21 was cancelled due to the imposition of the no-fly zone by the Western states.
Egyptian protesters attack U.N. chief
Outrage has been expressed throughout the world over the launching of a new war by Western imperialist governments. Inside Libya itself, thousands of citizens have resisted the rebel forces backed by the U.S. and other former colonial powers such as France, Britain and Italy, which had colonized Libya for many decades.
Thousands of Libyans have flocked to government buildings to act as human shields against the bombs being dropped by the Western military forces. Gadhafi on March 21 called for a civilian march on the city of Benghazi, where the rebels remain under the protection of bombs being dropped by the U.S., France and Britain.
Perhaps the most dramatic protest against the attacks on Libya took place in Cairo, Egypt, on March 21, when U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in the country to hold talks with Moussa of the Arab League. Several hundred anti-war demonstrators attacked his vehicle.
Ban had tried to visit Tahrir Square, the center of protest for the pro-democracy movement in Egypt, but was prevented from doing so by the demonstrators. His vehicle was pelted with rocks as he was driven away.
Demonstrations were held in Manila, Philippines, where U.S. flags were burned amid denunciations of the bombing. Criticism has also come from China, Russia, India and Brazil, all of which had abstained on the U.N. resolution.
In the Republic of South Africa, the African National Congress Youth League condemned the ruling party’s vote in the U.N. in support of the resolution. The ANCYL said that “It is evident that certain powers, particularly the U.S., U.K. and France, want to impose a puppet government in Libya so that they can have access to its oil reserves.” (timeslive.co.za, March 21)
The ANCYL stressed that it was a mistake for the South African government to vote in favor of the U.N. resolution, noting that its allies had abstained “because they noticed the inconsistencies being applied to Libya.”
This response by the ANCYL and the impact of the bombing missions over Libya prompted South African President Jacob Zuma to express concern over how the no-fly zone was being implemented. “We call for an immediate ceasefire in Libya and an end to attacks on civilians,” Zuma said. (timeslive.co.za)
Organizations throughout the world that have denounced the U.S./European bombing campaign against Libya include: Workers World Party, Free Arab Voice, the South African Communist Party, World Federation of Trade Unions, the Nation of Islam, Communist Party of Greece, Communist Party of Canada, All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC), Philippine Communist Party and Communist Party of Australia, among others.
Numerous African states including Zimbabwe, South Africa and Uganda have denounced the bombing and efforts on the part of the imperialists to effect a regime change in Libya.
On April 9 there will be national anti-war demonstrations in New York and San Francisco whose demands include a halt to U.S. and European aggression towards Libya.