African Union calls for end to NATO bombing of Libya
Published Jun 6, 2011 8:50 PM
South African President Jacob Zuma paid a state visit to Libya on May 30 that
proved to be a fruitless effort to bring about a ceasefire in the war launched
by Western-backed rebels and NATO forces, which have intensified their bombing
of the capital of Tripoli and other areas of the country. Zuma was acting on
behalf of the African Union, which held an extraordinary meeting on May 25
aimed at bringing an end to the war against Libya.
Although South Africa was one of the countries whose government voted in favor
of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, which has served as the pseudo-legal
basis for an all-out military onslaught against the North African state, Zuma
has spoken out against the bombing and regime-change strategy that was the real
motive behind the resolution. NATO has admitted that since March 19 nearly
4,000 bombing missions have been carried out against the Libyan people by the
U.S., Britain, France, Italy, Canada and other imperialist states and their
The NATO forces, which are providing arms, logistics, economic and political
support for the rebel Transitional National Council, have stepped up airstrikes
against Tripoli. At the same time the British and French governments have
announced the deployment of Tiger and Apache helicopters, which will inevitably
kill and injure more civilians.
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron held a
joint press conference in London on May 24 calling for the overthrow of the
government of Moammar Gadhafi. Obama at first had said the war against Libya
was limited, but he is now demanding immediate regime change. He faces growing
opposition to the war inside the United States.
The U.S. Congress is being prodded to vote on whether the Pentagon should
continue with the war in North Africa. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is
submitting a resolution in the House of Representatives challenging the
legality of the war against Libya.
African Union holds special session on Libya
The extraordinary session of the African Union held on May 25 in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia, produced a statement calling for an immediate halt to the NATO
bombing and the beginning of negotiations to end the war.
On March 11 the AU Peace and Security Council had issued a communiqué
opposing foreign intervention in Libya. Numerous efforts by the AU and several
Latin American states have been rejected outright by the imperialist states and
their rebel allies operating inside eastern Libya.
The AU stressed that in light of the horrendous conditions facing Libyans and
African migrant workers, who have been targeted in racist attacks by the
counter-revolutionary forces, the NATO bombing should be immediately halted.
Point five of the AU statement notes: “The continuation of the NATO-led
military operation defeats the very purpose for which it was authorized in the
first place, i.e., the protection of the civilian population, and further
complicates any transition to a democratic dispensation in Libya.”
The opposition TNC forces that are fighting the Gadhafi government have not
been elected by anyone, other than the Western imperialist states. The TNC is
largely led by monarchists, defectors from the government, and numerous groups
that have opposed the government for decades.
The AU statement addressed the deliberate failure of the rebels and their
U.S./NATO supporters to acknowledge the role of the continent’s leaders
in resolving the Libyan war, expressing “surprise and disappointment at
the attempts to marginalize the continent in the management of the Libyan
conflict” and recalled that “Africa, particularly the countries of
the region, are those that bear the greatest impact of the conflict in Libya,
both in terms of security and socio-economic consequences.”
The African National Congress Youth League of South Africa pointed out:
“The rebels have wounded hundreds of black immigrants from the poorest
African countries, who worked mainly as low-wage day laborers in Libya. From
fear of being killed, some of them have refrained from going to a doctor. At
the time of the outbreak of civil war, about 1.5 million black Africans were
employed in Libya as laborers in the oil industry and the construction,
agriculture and service sectors.” (ANC Today, May 27)
Conditions for refugees worsen
On May 25 a refugee camp in Tunisia housing more than 1,000 African migrant
workers was attacked by the military and locals in the area, illustrating the
precarious position facing those in border towns who have fled the fighting in
This camp housed African migrant workers from various countries, including
Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Ivory Coast. It was reported that the tents
providing shelter for the refugees were set on fire and the belongings of the
inhabitants stolen; five Sudanese men were shot. (Guardian, May 25)
These attacks on refugees come amid reports of preparations for a land invasion
by the U.S. and other NATO troops.
Manlio Dinucci wrote in Il Manifesto on May 28: “The U.S. has sent a
naval attack group led by the most modern and powerful Nimitz-class nuclear
aircraft carrier, named George H.W. Bush. The ship is 333 meters long, 40
meters wide and has on board 6,000 personnel, 56 aircraft (which can take off
at 20-second intervals) and 15 helicopters, and is equipped with sophisticated
electronic warfare systems.” (Il Manifesto, May 28; translated from
Italian by WW)
In the event of a ground invasion, the fighting inside Libya will intensify.
With a purported “humanitarian” landing of European and U.S.
troops, the war will enter a new and even more dangerous phase. Consequently,
the anti-war and anti-imperialist forces in the U.S. and Europe must escalate
their opposition to yet another war of occupation.
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