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The battle for Libya rages on while imperialists rush to legitimize NTC ‘rebels’

Persecution of Black Libyans draws international outcry

Published Sep 26, 2011 8:32 PM

Despite the Sept. 15 visit to Libya of British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the struggle for control of the oil- producing North African state of Libya is far from complete. Battles for control of Bani Walid and Sirte illustrate that supporters of Muammar Gadhafi’s government still represent a disciplined fighting force against the U.S./NATO fighter jets and military operatives backing the National Transitional Council “rebels.”

British and French leaders visited to publicly support the NTC rebels who have so far failed to pull together a provisional government. They also represented two of the European countries — former colonizers of Africa — claiming responsibility for the death and destruction they have wrought in Libya since February.

As the U.N. 66th General Assembly’s opening approached, the Obama administration hailed the NTC rebels as Libya’s legitimate government, despite the council’s undemocratic and disorganized character.

Nonetheless, resistance to the expansion of NTC rule in the western regions of the country has recently been quite effective. Loyalist fighters in Bani Walid and Sirte have repelled several attempts by the Western-backed rebels to enter and remain inside the cities that are Gadhafi government strongholds.

Gadhafi remains at-large. His spokesperson, Moussa Ibrahim, says that the leader is still inside the country and is directing resistance to the NATO- backed rebels. Meanwhile, NATO’s bombing in civilian areas in Bani Walid is aimed at clearing out the population so that the NTC forces can enter and proclaim victory.

In Sirte, Gadhafi’s home area, fierce fighting has occurred, as the rebels have attempted to enter the coastal city. Loyalist units have struck the rebels with sniper fire and mortars, killing many of them and forcing them to flee.

“The fighters [NTC rebels] push into the city in the morning,” observed Associated Press reporter Hadeel al-Shalchi, “but withdraw at night, forcing them to battle their way in each day. When they decide to enter the town, they charge in half a dozen pickup trucks, only to retreat a short while later.” (Sept. 19)

The article continued, “On [Sept. 19], three of their cars rode right into an ambush by Gaddafi forces on a street none of the outsiders was familiar with. One of their fellow fighters, Wassim Rajab, said he heard that four of them were killed.” Also exemplifying the loyalist forces’ intense resistance, Lutfi al-Shibly said, “We [rebels] entered the city, 600 meters from the city center, but we didn’t have enough forces, so we lost the position and had to retreat.”

Mercenaries reported captured

Significantly, Ibrahim announced that loyalist forces near Bani Walid had captured 17 mercenaries from France, Britain and Qatar. Since the war on Libya began on Feb. 17, confirmed reports have told of intelligence operatives and Special Forces from these three countries and the U.S. and Egypt coordinating and bolstering the NTC rebels’ military actions.

British and French foreign offices immediately denied Ibrahim’s allegations. However, the Libyan government spokesperson said resistance to the assaults on Bani Walid and Sirte resulted in the capture and killing of hundreds of NATO- backed personnel. Ibrahim told Syria-based Al-Rai Television, “Sirte is the symbol of resistance in Libya.”

Because of intensifying resistance to the NATO-led forces, the NTC rebels have become confused in the areas under assault. AP says the so-called “trained military of the NTC pulled away from Bani Walid to regroup and reinforce for a new assault after they were heavily beaten in the city [Sept. 16]. That has left bands of ragtag, undisciplined fighters on the front line.” (Sept. 19)

According to AP, the remaining personnel from the NATO-led forces “include fighters as young as 18 who spend hours smoking hash, shooting at plastic bottles, arguing with one another and sometimes just firing wildly into the streets out of apparent boredom.”

Meanwhile a Turkish C-130 cargo plane was fired upon while purportedly dropping humanitarian aid over Bani Walid on Sept. 17. Turkey, a longtime NATO member, had initially expressed reservations about this war, but later joined the fray and has recognized the NTC as Libya’s government.

Anti-African terror can no longer be concealed

Black Libyans and Africans from other countries on the continent are being falsely labeled as “mercenaries” by the NATO-led forces and are being persecuted. Thousands of guest workers and expatriates from other African states that have good relations with Libya have been dislocated, harassed, imprisoned, beaten, tortured and even lynched.

The blatant racism fostered by the imperialist states that are financing this war has prevented the African Union from recognizing the rebel NTC. The A.U. has taken this position despite tremendous pressure from the U.S. and other NATO countries.

The Digital Journal pointed out, “Black Libyans and African migrants have been targeted by Libyan rebel fighters who even have a special unit for this purpose. The ‘Brigade for Purging Slaves, black skin’ has torched homes of residents of Tawergha, whilst black African migrants are rounded up in Tripoli and thrown into prison, suspected of being mercenaries in the employ of Gaddafi.” (Sept. 19)

The corporate media has rarely raised this issue since it contradicts the image promoted by the imperialists that the rebels are fighting a dictatorial regime, imbued with ideals of “democracy and freedom.” Even the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have had to report on this phenomenon that has permeated the counterrevolution in Libya.

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has called for an investigation of the matter by the International Criminal Court, which has played a largely reactionary role in Africa. It indicted Sudan’s president and recently issued arrest warrants for Gadhafi and other Libyan leaders. Jackson says that he will “raise this issue with my colleagues and condition any financial support for the reconstruction of Libya and its transition to a democratic society.” (Digital Journal, Sept. 19)

The White House and NATO, which have repeatedly stated that their involvement in Libya is designed to protect civilians, have failed to acknowledge the persecution of Africans there.

On Sept. l8 the British Broadcasting Corporation cited the plight of a Nigerian family in hiding since the occupation of Tripoli began. Their 16-year-old daughter said, “A group of armed men [NTC rebels] came to our house. They started knocking; they came in saying ‘murtazaka’ (mercenaries). They locked my mother inside a toilet. Six of them raped me. They took our belongings and money. My father tried to stop them, but they hit him and carried him away.” (Sept. 18)

The young woman has not seen or heard from her father since this incident occurred three weeks ago. Stories abound of home invasions, beatings and robberies by the NTC rebels.

The BBC quoted one man anonymously who said, “This is the African continent, I am an African, this is my land. Is it because of my color, because I am a black man? We don’t have a voice. Who would you turn to?”

RT satellite television recently docu­ment­ed the “police-state” conditions that have prevailed in Tripoli since the NTC rebels entered. Many civilians said they still supported the Gadhafi government but could not speak out for fear of retribution.

Libyan occupation doomed to failure

Even though the imperialist states and their allies have given the NTC rebels full diplomatic, economic and military support, the NTC has not been able to form a provisional government, and factions have expressed hostility and suspicion toward each other.

Anti-war and social justice organizations inside the U.S. and other NATO countries must demand that all foreign military forces be withdrawn from Libyan territory and its waterways. They must protest the racist persecution of Black Libyans and all Africans and demand that it stop immediately.

The developments in Libya illustrate that there is no such thing as a “good” imperialist war of aggression and occupation. The aim of imperialism is to subjugate the masses in Libya in order to steal their resources and labor.