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Libya: 10 months of imperialist war leave chaos

Published Dec 21, 2011 10:32 PM

On Feb. 17, the enemies of Col. Moammar Gadhafi began their rebellion against the Libyan government. Immediately, the United States, Britain, France and other NATO allies declared the unrest a democratic uprising and warranted his removal inside this oil-rich, North African state.

Ten months later, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited Libya to reassure the NATO-installed National Transitional Council (NTC) that Washington would fully back the new regime. Although Panetta told the unelected and undemocratic leadership there that they would face formidable challenges, he said he was confident they would succeed and bring all the groups together and be “part of one Libya and one defense system.” (Reuters, Dec. 19)

A major challenge facing the Western-backed government is the failure to rein in the armed militia groups that have terrorized the population for months. One day prior to Panetta’s visit, two sons of Khalifa Haftar, the purported commander of the anti-Gadhafi ground forces, were wounded in an ambush by a rival militia group that still controls the airport outside Tripoli.

A week ago, Haftar, who had lived in Virginia for 30 years under Central Intelligence Agency sponsorship, was involved in clashes with militiamen near the airport. NTC Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib and Defense Minister Osama Al-Juwali have again ordered the militias to vacate the city by Dec. 22.

The militia groups have refused to leave Tripoli and other areas of the country, and say that their fighters will not disarm until they are given political and economic authority. These disparate forces were only united around the imperialist-driven aim of regime change in Libya. There has never been ideological or political cohesiveness among the NTC interim regime and their supporters.

After 10 months of sanctions, a naval blockade, the destruction of the infrastructure by militia attacks and U.S.-­NATO bombing operations, the once prosperous and stable state has been nearly destroyed. Even among the NTC’s political leadership, profound differences have prevented the regime from developing a coherent policy to govern the country.

Unblocking stolen funds

During the imperialist-led war against Libya, the imperialist states not only imposed sanctions but also froze more than $160 billion of Libya’s national wealth. There was no justification for those actions, which constituted an act of war designed to assist in Gadhafi’s overthrow.

On Dec. 16, the U.N. Security Council announced that it would lift sanctions on Libya’s central bank and a subsidiary that will supposedly provide tens of billions of dollars to the rebel regime. The U.S. said it is releasing $30 billion in funds for NTC use.

The regime admits that there is a “cash crunch” inside the country. Funds are needed to pay public sector workers and hire contractors to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

However, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Treasury Department says, “Assets in the U.S. of the Gaddafi family and former regime members remain frozen … as are funds tied to the Libyan Investment Authority and entities named as being owned or controlled by it.” (Dec. 19)

U.N. tries to deflect criticism
of role in Libya war

The U.N. Security Council’s passage of Resolutions 1970 and 1973 provided the pseudolegal rationale for the obliteration of the Libyan government and military attacks against its people. After the resolutions passed, the U.S. and NATO began bombing Libya. The 26,000 sorties and 10,000 airstrikes resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of at least 1 million people.

During the bombings, there were voices of condemnation throughout Africa and worldwide. The African Union, a 54-member continental organization of sovereign states, developed its own road map for peace, which was totally ignored by the U.N. and the imperialist countries that were bombing Libya.

Additionally, Russia, China, India and Brazil have accused the U.S. and NATO of utilizing the U.N. resolutions as a cover to destroy Libya and overthrow its government.

Since the NTC’s installation, criticism of the U.N. role continues. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon falsely claims the U.N. was innocent. On Dec. 14, he said, “Security Council Resolution 1973 … was strictly enforced within the limit, within the mandate.” (Reuters) He further claims, “These changes of regime were done by the people, not by the intervention of any foreign forces, including the United Nations.” The reality is that the NTC rebels were on the verge of total defeat until the U.S.-NATO forces began to bomb the country.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Libya just two days before Gadhafi’s brutal execution on Oct. 20 by the NATO-backed rebels in Sirte. During this visit, she called for Gadhafi to be captured and killed.

A U.S. predator drone along with French fighter planes had identified the convoy carrying Gadhafi and other government officials for liquidation. Gadhafi was killed while in the custody of the U.S.-backed rebels.

Despite these blatant crimes, the U.S., the other NATO countries and the U.N. have all recognized the NTC as Libya’s legitimate government. Now, the U.N. secretary general is calling for similar actions to be taken against Syria.

ICC is hated in Africa

The Netherlands-based International Criminal Court is loathed in Africa since it has solely focused on persecuting government leaders there. Recently, however, the ICC announced that Gadhafi’s extrajudicial killing would possibly be investigated as a war crime. In fact, though, the high court indicted Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and intelligence head Abdullah al-Senussi.

Clearly, the ICC is in no position to pursue real justice in Libya since it played a major role in supporting the imperialist war against Libya.

After Gadhafi was killed, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo visited Libya and said that the political situation was conducive to holding a trial there to prosecute Seif al-Islam. But international lawyers hired by the Gadhafi family haven’t been able to meet with Seif and other political prisoners being held inside Libya.

Thousands of Africans from Libya and other neighboring states are incarcerated in Libya’s prisons. In their campaign of torture, imprisonment and lynching, the NTC forces specifically targeted dark-skinned people who were accused of being Gadhafi loyalists.

Only 13 African states have recognized the NTC because it came to power through an imperialist-imposed war of regime change.

Solidarity with the African people

It is important for anti-imperialist and anti-war forces worldwide to express their solidarity with the suffering masses in Libya. The war against that sovereign country was illegal from the start and was based on false accusations of human rights violations. In fact, Libya had been cited for human rights’ advances by the U.N. Human Rights Council in a glowing report released one month before the U.S.-NATO war began, unleashing massive death and destruction.

Africa is a focal point for expanding U.S. imperialist intervention with another war now underway in the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia. U.S.-sponsored drone attacks have killed hundreds of civilians there, while the CIA maintains a field operations center in Mogadishu.

U.S. “military advisers” and Special Forces units have been in four countries in Central and East Africa since October. Military expenditures for the United States Africa Command (Africom) have increased under the Obama administration.

U.S. military efforts must be halted to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the African people. The workers’ tax dollars here should be rechanneled back to provide jobs, housing, health care, pensions, social services and public services for the people. n