•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

NATO escalates bombing operations on Libya

U.S. & other imperialist states recognize rebels amid mounting defeats on the ground

Published Jul 21, 2011 11:05 PM

NATO planes bombed Libya’s capital city of Tripoli on July 17 for more than two hours. From 60 to 75 ordinances hit targets in the Tajura and Seraj suburbs.

One explosion created a mushroom cloud, raising speculation that a “bunker-busting bomb” was utilized. Libyan television confirmed that “NATO crusader forces” had struck civilian and military sites in the eastern suburb of Tajura.

Eyewitness reports from Tripoli published by the Center for Research on Globalization in Toronto said, “In the vicinity of the bombing, it was like an earthquake. Large buildings as far away as Al-Fatah Street on the Mediterranean coast were shaking. Dogs began howling in alarm and panic all over the city. ... Other animals, including birds and cats, also began to make noises in panic as the bombings took place. Usually after the bombings dead insects and birds litter some of the streets.” (July 17)

Raising further suspicions about the weapons used against the Libyan people in these attacks, the report said, “The smell of burning and a strange smoldering filled the air. The smell lingered in the air. It even remained on the skin in the wake of the bombings.”

These bombings appeared to further escalate the imperialist war against this oil-producing North African state, which has been under siege by Western-backed rebels since Feb. 17 and U.S./NATO fighter jets and warships since March 19.

The CRG report said, “The sounds were different. The smoke plumes were different. In previous bombings, the smoke would usually go up vertically like a fire, but tonight the smoke plumes were horizontal and hovering above Tripoli with a white cloud in the horizon. People who were not directly affected by the bombs, within a radius of 15 kilometers, experienced burning eyes, lower back pain, and headaches.”

Just three days prior to these bombings in Tripoli, NATO Secretary General Anders Gogh Rasmussen called upon member states to supply additional warplanes to attack targets inside Libya. In a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Ruttle on July 14, Rasmussen requested that NATO countries reevaluate their contributions to the war in Libya.

Rasmussen stressed the need for more air-to-ground strikes. At The Hague, he said, “I encourage all allies that have aircraft at their disposal to take part in that operation as well. I hope the Dutch government, like all other governments, will continuously consider adaptations of the strategy.” (Reuters, July 14)

Although the Netherlands has recently renewed its support for this war, its air force stated that it would no longer take part in bombing operations. This withdrawal from direct involvement in the bombing represents the differences within the imperialist military alliance on the Libyan war.

Norway is also winding down its participation. As of Aug. 1, its air force will no longer be involved. This growing reluctance by several NATO member states prompted British Defense Secretary Liam Fox on July 13 to accuse these governments of not providing enough air power in the overall campaign.

The escalation in the bombing of Libya came after a meeting of the so-called “Contact Group” in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 14. There the United States and 30 other imperialist countries and their allies recognized the Western-backed rebel Transitional National Council as Libya’s supposed legitimate government. The Libyan government dismissed this move as having little impact on the concrete conditions prevailing on the ground inside the country.

Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi addressed a demonstration supporting the government in Zawiya on July 16: “They are asking me to leave. That’s a laugh. I will never leave the land of my ancestors or the people who have sacrificed themselves for me. ... After we gave our children as martyrs, we can’t backtrack, or surrender or give up or move an inch.” (presstv.ir, July 17)

Critics condemn U.S.-led recognition of ‘rebels’

There has been international condemnation of the TNC’s recognition by imperialist states and their allies. Many view this latest U.S./NATO maneuver as proof of their desperation in a more-than-four-month air campaign, which has failed to dislodge the government in Tripoli.

The London Morning Star said, “The decision of the U.S-led Contact Group to recognize the National Transitional Council as Libya’s legitimate authority is a provocative self-serving development. It short-circuits the necessary process of bringing political forces in the country together to negotiate a lasting solution in favor of imposing its own nominees.” (July 17)

The article observed, “U.S. banks alone have $30 billion in Libyan assets, which will be made available to pay for arms and other supplies for the Benghazi-based TNC opposition. Those assets belong to the Libyan people as a whole, not a body that is not so much self-appointed as anointed by Washington.”

Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow would not recognize the TNC as the legitimate force in Libya. Lavrov told Interfax, “If it comes to recognition of the TNC and other opposition groups as a side in the talks, then unconditionally the TNC is such a side. However, if it refers to recognition of the TNC as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people, as the so-called Contact Group stated in Istanbul, we don’t share that position.” (xinhuanet.com, July 18)

Lavrov stated that the Contact Group’s latest declaration is designed to isolate the Libyan government. He repudiated this approach and stressed, “Russia traditionally rejects isolation as a way to resolve any problem in any conflict.”

Scott Taylor questioned Ottawa’s involvement in NATO’s war in a July 18 article in the Canada-based Chronicle Herald. That government sent fighter jets, tanker aircraft and more weaponry, and Canadian pilots are bombing Libya. Their Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, NATO war commander, has attempted to justify this genocidal military campaign.

Taylor pointed out that the Canadian and other Western media are using disinformation as a key war strategy. He noted the July 1 and 8 rallies were held where millions of Libyans turned out to defend their government and Gadhafi’s leadership.

“Almost no media coverage was given to these events in Canada,” he said. “It seems we are quite content with our air force bombing a hated dictator in the name of a humanitarian intervention. [I]nternational media outlets that [covered] the pro-Gaddafi rallies suggested that this was a propaganda stunt by the president, an attempt to demonstrate his continued popularity.”

However, Taylor said this is absurd. “This suggestion, of course, flies in the face of all known logic. If the vast majority of Libyans in Tripoli were simmering with hatred for Gaddafi, the last thing security forces would do is herd them en masse into a central square. One of the first rights removed when martial law is imposed is that of public assembly for the obvious reason that mob mentality can quickly degenerate into senseless violence.”

Capitalist crisis breeds war

The imperialist states’ intensified efforts reflect the growing crisis within the world capitalist system. European governments are facing panic with the possible default of Greece and other governments for failing to meet financial obligations to the International Monetary Fund and other economic institutions.

The U.S. government is split over the severity of the attacks it will impose on the workers and oppressed. Debates within Congress and between the White House and conservative Republicans are designed to mask the differences over how much more austerity they can dump on the masses without a political response erupting from broad sectors of the population.

The imperialists’ wars of aggression and occupation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Palestine and Libya only further aggravate the existing contradictions within capitalism. Workers are forced to take pay cuts and layoffs, and health care and pension plans are dissolved, while the financial gap widens between the ruling class and the working class.

The imperialists’ increasing failures in these wars will only bring greater misery to the majority of people in the U.S. and worldwide. This is why there needs to be a global effort to end imperialist militarism in order to seriously address the worsening conditions of working people and the oppressed throughout the planet.