The Real Aims of Imperialism in Libya
West continues bombing through Ramadan amid divisions in NATO and their allies
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Muslim countries and communities internationally began the celebration of the Holy Month of Ramadan on August 1. Inside of the North African state of Libya where the majority of the population is Islamic, the month began in the immediate aftermath of a series of NATO bombing raids in the capital of Tripoli.
In normal times, Ramadan is characterized with the slowing down of economic activity, a 30-day period of fasting, prayer and the avoidance of conflict. However, this year Libya will continue to be put in a position to defend its sovereignty which has been under attack since the beginning of the United States and NATO war that started on March 19.
For a whole month prior to March 19, a western-backed armed rebellion has been carried out against the central government in Tripoli from the opposition stronghold of Benghazi in the east of the country. The rebels were driven out of the areas they had invaded in most of the east and west by the second week in March as the Gaddafi government was set to retake Benghazi.
It was at this point that the U.S.-NATO forces began to bomb the oil-producing state under the guise of implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 ostensibly designed to protect civilians through the imposition of a “no-fly zone.” Nonetheless, the bombing of Libya has been documented thoroughly as a grave crime against humanity.
Since March 19 the U.S.-NATO forces have struck government buildings, civilian neighborhoods, hospitals, schools, communication satellites, ships and ports. The son and three grandchildren of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were killed in one of the airstrikes on a civilian compound in Tripoli.
NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium has been weighing for several weeks the political impact of the continuation of the bombing of a majority Muslim country during Ramadan. The fact that this consideration is being made over five months after the war began is a clear indication of the miscalculation of the West in regard to their capacity to defeat the Libyan people during this period of time.
According to the Tripoli Post, “The NATO alliance thought it could finish it (the war) off before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in time for a new government to take shape. They failed and this month could become a perilous black hole threatening to undermine their whole campaign.” (August 1)
Despite numerous attempts by the African Union to broker a ceasefire inside of Libya, the U.S.-NATO alliance and the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) --also known as the Interim National Council (INC)--have categorically rejected a peace deal. The AU since March 11 has called for an immediate ceasefire, the beginning of negotiations and the initiation of a process of national reconciliation, while the opposition forces and the imperialists have demanded regime-change.
Not wanting to appear to have been weakened in the war with Libya, the Tripoli Post stresses with reference to the U.S.-NATO military forces that “In the end they appear to have decided not to let up, and by virtue of the July 31 bombings they have decided to continue their aerial attacks on the Libyan regime in a war, that, when it sparked off on February 17, was predicted to last a few weeks. It has now dragged on to become a much lengthier campaign.” (August 1)
This failure on the part of the U.S.-NATO alliance has prompted a new round of bombings in the ongoing efforts to terrorize the civilian population in Libya. In late July the imperialist military forces bombed Tripoli International Airport, a component of the Great Man-Made River, and a peaceful march calling for national unity in the west of the country.
This peaceful gathering which marched from Al-Sabaa was attacked in Gwaleesh by the TNC forces with the air support of NATO. It was reported that Belgian FN rifles were used as well as anti-aircraft weapons.
Three activists were killed in the ambush and seventy were injured. During the course of the shooting volunteers in support of the Libyan patriots from Al-Sabaa intervened in defense of the unity march resulting in the deaths of seventy-five rebels.
Following this event NATO attacked Al-Sabaa in retaliation. These ongoing military strikes against civilian areas have characterized the war since March 19.
On July 28, one of the leaders of the TNC military wing was killed by assassins along with at least two of his assistants. The obviously planned killing of Abdel Fatah Younis has starkly exposed the obvious divisions within the ranks of the rebels.
Younis had defected from the Libyan government in late February and was later said to be leading the war against Tripoli. He became an immediate rival of Khalifa Hifter, who had resided in Virginia at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) since the early 1980s. When the rebellion erupted in the east of the country, Hifter was flown backed to Libya and proclaimed the leader of the opposition armed wing.
It appears as if the assassination of Younis was the result of a factional dispute within the opposition TNC. The former Minister of Interior for the Libyan government had been summoned back to Tripoli for consultation when he was shot dead.
In the aftermath of the announcement of the killing of the ostensible head of the TNC military forces, the corporate media began to report on the arrest of other rebels who the opposition said were loyal to the Gaddafi government. It may take some time for these reports to be sorted out but most evidence available suggests that deep divisions are occurring within the western-backed TNC in the aftermath of the Contact Group meeting of imperialist states and their allies which recognized the Benghazi-based armed opposition as the sole legitimate representatives of the Libyan people.
These claims of widespread support for the opposition have been refuted in recent months with the performance of the Libyan military against the rebel forces and the mass demonstrations that have brought millions of people into the streets in defense of the government in Tripoli. In a July 29 article in the British Guardian, it states that “The [government] controls around 20 percent more territory than it did in the immediate aftermath of the uprising on February 17.” (Guardian, UK)
In this same article writer Richard Seymour surmises that “If the Gaddafi regime is now more in control of Libya than before, then this completely undermines the simplistic view put out by the supporters of the war—and unfortunately by some elements of the resistance—that the situation was simply one of a hated tyrant hanging on through mercenary violence.”
At the same time as the divisions within the opposition are becoming more pronounced, the NATO forces have been losing participants with the announced halting of air raids by Norway on August 1 and the scaling back of participation by the former colonial power of Italy. The British military has stepped up its operations to fill the gap in the bombings by deploying four additional Tornado fighter planes that will carry on the air operations along with the United States, France, Canada, Belgium, Denmark and Italy.
Alexis Crow, a security analyst for Chatham House in Britain, told the French Press Agency that the war against Libya is “turning into a complete shambles. The single greatest problem for the operation as a whole is this inability to match goals and means and match tactics with strategy.” (newsinfo.inquirer.net, July 30)
In a series of rallies across the country featuring former U.S. Congressperson Cynthia McKinney, the truth about the Pentagon and NATO’s criminal war against Libya is being exposed before thousands of people. Cynthia McKinney, who was the 2008 presidential candidate for the Green Party in 2008, visited Libya recently and was an eyewitness to the bombing, the impact of sanctions and the naval blockade against the African nation of approximately six million people.
In Atlanta 500 people came out to hear McKinney speak on the need to end the war against Libya. On July 30 in New York over 500 attended a similar meeting where representatives of the progressive movement came out to express their opposition to what Washington and the other capitalist states are doing in North Africa.
Detroit on August 27 will be the scene of another rally to oppose the war in Libya where the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) will host Cynthia McKinney. This protest meeting will be co-sponsored by the Green Party of Detroit and Michigan, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, Workers World Party and the Pan-African News Wire.
A CBS News poll several weeks ago reported that 60 percent of people in the United States were opposed to the war against Libya. This is significant because of the biased reporting by the major news networks that limit coverage and distort the actual developments inside the country.
The North African state of Libya has the largest known oil reserves on the African continent. Under the government led by Muammar Gaddafi since a revolution in 1969, the country has risen from one of Africa’s poorest to maintaining the highest standard of living among all other countries on the continent. In addition to oil the country has substantial natural gas resources and its geographical position is strategically located on the Mediterranean which serves as a waterway to other nations in Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe.
The mass meetings held by the IAC and other organizations around the U.S. have emphasized the need to divert the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on war every year to address human needs by providing jobs to tens of millions of workers, to maintain people in their homes, the need for universal healthcare, public services and quality education. Efforts by supporters of the Libya campaign to win a resolution in support of the war by the Congress has failed although the house has not voted to withdraw funding to continue the bombing.