Neocolonial regime in Libya faces war over oil exports

On March 19, 2011, the United States and allied NATO war planes began a massive bombing campaign against the North African state of Libya. Under the guise of protecting the lives of civilians, the imperialist war machine was unleashed on a country of 6 million people.

Three years later, the conditions for working and oppressed people in Libya have gone back to where they were under the monarchy of King Idris I, who was installed by the Italian colonial regime when it ruled the oil-rich nation from 1911 to 1951.

It was Col. Moammar Gadhafi who, along with the Revolutionary Command Council, overthrew the feudal system on Sept. 1, 1969, and proclaimed Libya a genuinely independent territory, in solidarity with oppressed and struggling people throughout the world.

During the period of the Jamahiriya, Gadhafi’s political system after 1977, Libyan development strategies created the highest standard of living in Africa. Libya’s support for national liberation movements and progressive governments around the world made it a target for successive U.S. administrations, from Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan, who bombed Tripoli and Benghazi on April 15, 1986, to the current Obama government. Washington and the Pentagon were behind the war in 2011 and created the conditions for the brutal assassination of Gadhafi.

Libya was producing 1.6 million barrels of oil per day during the Gadhafi era. Today the flow of crude has been reduced to a near trickle. Disgruntled rebel factions and oil workers have shut down ports in the east of the country.

Since mid-2013 the situation has reached crisis proportions. Militias based in the eastern region, where the counterrevolution against Gadhafi’s Jamahiriya began in February 2011, have pledged to export oil without the permission of the U.S.-backed regime in Tripoli, the capital.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and his weak constituency in the so-called General National Congress parliament do not have control of the strongest militias in the east. Even within the capital itself, the GNC parliament is often invaded and taken over by angry rebels who complain of payless paydays and other poor conditions.

North Korean-flagged tanker threatened

Exemplifying the oil crisis, a standoff has arisen at the Es Sider terminal in port Ras Lanuf over the loading of a north Korean-flagged tanker. The Zeidan government in Tripoli warned the rebels controlling the eastern ports that the government would destroy any vessel sailing from Libya with oil shipments unauthorized by Tripoli.

Reuters news agency reported March 10: “Libya’s parliament has ordered a special force be sent within one week to ‘liberate’ all rebel-held ports in the volatile east, officials said on Monday, raising the stakes over a blockage that has cut off vital oil revenues. The rebels, who have seized three ports and partly control a fourth in the OPEC member country, said they had dispatched forces to deal with any government attack.”

The potential for a full-blown military conflict between the forces loyal to the GNC in Tripoli and other western cities and the militias in the east is accelerating.

Much speculation has surrounded the north Korea-flagged vessel. It was not clear at the time of this writing if the tanker was owned by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or by another country.

Nonetheless, by emphasizing that the oil tanker flew a north Korean flag, the Western press could be attempting to justify the aggressive stance by the regime in Tripoli. Washington maintains a hostile position against the DPRK and has been conducting military exercises on its borders.

Gadhafi son extradited to Libya

A son of the late Col. Gadhafi has been extradited by the regime in Niger, which is backed by both France and the U.S. Saadi Gadhafi, a professional soccer player, had taken refuge in Niger in the aftermath of the collapse of his father’s government.

Niger is a major producer of uranium, but the facilities are owned by the Areva firm based in France. At present the U.S. maintains a drone station in Niger as well as hundreds of Special Forces.

The rebel regime in Tripoli says it will put Gadhafi on trial for alleged crimes committed in Benghazi during the early days of the Western-backed counterrevolution. Saadi Gadhafi’s brother, Seif, has been held for two years by a militia group in Zintan, Libya, without a trial.

Judicial institutions in Libya are virtually nonexistent. Violence and targeted assassinations take place frequently without legal redress. Under such circumstances, no one associated with the previous government could get a fair and impartial trial.

Washington, London and Brussels achieved the overthrow of the Gadhafi regime with an all-out military assault on Libya: NATO planes flew 26,000 air missions over Libya between March and October of 2011; Central Intelligence Agency operatives, along with Special Forces units from the allied regimes in Egypt and Qatar, were deployed to all strategic points. Nevertheless, the Western forces have been unable to set up even a semblance of normality and stability inside the country.

It will take the organized will of the Libyan people to stabilize the country through a revolutionary movement designed to overthrow the U.S.-backed clique in Tripoli and other regions of the country. In recent months, several towns and cities in the south of Libya were seized by loyalist forces still committed to the Gadhafi-era form of politics and economics.

Based upon developments in Libya over the last three years, it is quite obvious that the imperialist states that engineered the overthrow of the Jamahiriya government have no program for the reconstruction and unity of what was once a prosperous and respected country. Other states, from Ukraine and Syria to Venezuela, are facing similar challenges that necessitate a clear anti-imperialist stance on the part of progressive and left organizations based in the Western imperialist countries.