Libya defiant as NATO widens war
Published Jun 15, 2011 9:53 PM
After nearly three months of U.S./NATO bombing operations over Libya, the North
African state has remained defiant in the face of one of the most intense
military operations in recent months by the imperialist countries of North
America and Western Europe. Official NATO sources say that more than 10,000
sorties have been flown over the oil-rich nation resulting in large-scale
destruction of the country’s infrastructure and the reported deaths of
10,000 to 15,000 people.
Editor’s note: On June 14 Congress sent a letter to President
Barack Obama that warned he would be in violation of the War Powers Act if he
did not get Congressional approval for the war on Libya by June 19. A June 3
House vote on the Republican initiative challenging the president got
support from both Democrats and Republicans, which reflected the growing mass
displeasure with the U.S.-NATO attack on Libya.
On June 7, NATO escalated its attacks on the capital of Tripoli, striking
government buildings and making additional attempts on the life of leader
Muammar Gadhafi. These bombing operations were designed to further boost the
morale of NATO forces before yet another so-called “Contact Group”
meeting on Libya that took place in the United Arab Emirates on June 9.
In response to the stepped-up bombing by NATO, Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi
issued a statement saying that “martyrdom is a million times better than
surrender.” Gadhafi continued by stressing, “We have one option and
that is the protection of our country. We will remain in it till the end. Dead,
alive, victorious, it doesn’t matter.” (Gadhafi audio released June
At the meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE, the imperialist states and their allies
discussed continued provocations aimed at toppling Libya’s government and
installing a client regime. The rebel Western-backed Transitional National
Council, claiming it was out of money, continued to request funding from
Contact Group countries.
No explanation was made regarding the use of hundreds of millions of dollars
that the U.S. and other governments supporting the attacks on Libya have
already pledged to the rebels. Neither was there any mention of the status of
more than $50 billion in Libyan government assets that have been frozen in
Germany’s conservative government, headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel,
had earlier maintained that it would not enter the NATO operations targeting
Libya for destruction and seizure. Yet in a meeting with President Barack Obama
in Washington during early June, Merkel called for the removal of the Libyan
On June 13 the German government sent Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to the
rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Western media reports indicated that Westerwelle
formally recognized the TNC as the supposed “legitimate government”
in Libya despite the fact that the group has done nothing to demonstrate that
it is representative of the people’s will in this besieged state.
(Reuters, June 13)
Through the CIA, the U.S. ruling class has supported the TNC’s leadership
for decades. There have been neither elections nor any other way to gauge if
these “rebels” have any popular support. Yet they have been propped
up by the CIA, MI-6, British and Egyptian special forces, the Tunisian military
and the NATO states carrying out the large-scale bombing operations over the
country and a naval blockade in the Mediterranean.
In Westerwelle’s June 13 statement, he said that Germany would support
the rebels in creating a “democratic and constitutional” Libya. Yet
whether this constituted firm recognition of the TNC remains to be
Westerwelle reiterated the call by Merkel for the Libyan government to be
removed, stating, “The people of Libya want a peaceful and free future
without Gadhafi. That is also our goal. Germany is a friend and partner of the
democratic forces in the country.”
Reuters also reported that the German International Development Minister Dirk
Niebel said the European government would contribute another 7 million euros
($10 million) for what he described as “emergency and interim aid to
assist in stabilization efforts.”
State Department seeks to pressure African Union
While the Western states, including Germany, claim their aims in Libya are to
protect civilians and stabilize the country based upon the supposed mandate of
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, the African Union has maintained its
call for an immediate ceasefire. The A.U. insists that U.S./NATO bombing be
halted and demands respect from all parties for the territorial sovereignty of
Libya, the protection of African migrant workers along with Libyan civilians,
and the beginning of negotiations between the rebel TNC and the government in
Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré, a member of the A.U. negotiating
team on Libya, emphasized that the majority of governments on the continent
wanted the bombing to stop. In a press conference in the capital of Bamako,
Touré stressed, “Like the African Union, we wish for the
bombardments to stop and the opening of political talks to find a way out of
the crisis.” (www.afriquejet.com, June 12)
Nonetheless, in a June tour of Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania, U.S. Secretary of
State Hillary Rodham Clinton continued to call for the toppling of the Libyan
government and demanded that the A.U. reverse its policy on the North African
state and support NATO’s plans to seize Libya.
Reuters also reported on June 13 that a senior U.S. government official
traveling with Clinton said, “We know that there is hesitation on the
part of a number of African states, in large measure because of the enormous
influence that Gadhafi has wielded across Africa for such a long time, and they
have shown some reluctance. African countries are very deeply divided and
conflicted over Libya.”
Only three African countries have openly supported U.S./NATO calls for Gadhafi
to step down: Gambia, Mauritania and Senegal in West Africa, all largely
dependent upon U.S. and French economic assistance. The official position of
the African Union has remained firm, and popular opposition throughout the
continent has intensified against the U.S./NATO war against Libya.
In addition to pressure by the U.S. State Department on the African countries
to support the imperialist agenda in Libya, Clinton also continued hostile
rhetoric against Sudan, Africa’s largest geographic nation-state. Clinton
represented the U.S. position of further balkanization of Sudan, which is
poised to be split from the South region in July. She called for the withdrawal
of Khartoum’s military forces from the disputed border area of Abyei.
The same Reuters article reported that at a press conference in the Tanzanian
capital of Dar Es Salaam, Clinton said, “The United States strongly
believes that a strong peacekeeping presence should be a central part of the
security arrangements in Abyei. The government of Sudan should urgently
facilitate a viable security arrangement, starting with the withdrawal of
Sudanese armed forces.”
The first stop on Clinton’s trip was in the Southern African nation of
Zambia where at a conference of African governments the Secretary of State
attacked China’s growing economic partnerships with various states on the
continent. She then encouraged greater trade with the U.S. and promoted the
so-called Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, a Clinton-era administration
measure that seeks to further the penetration of highly exploitative light
industrial production on the continent.
Libyans refute claim of rebel advances
At the same time, the rebel TNC claimed it had broken out of the western port
city of Misrata where these counterrevolutionaries have attempted to establish
a beachhead in this region. The TNC also stated that it had taken parts of the
coastal oil-producing area of Zawiya, also in western Libya.
Libyan government spokespeople in Tripoli immediately dismissed these claims.
Moussa Ibrahim, a representative of the Libyan government, said that state
military forces had driven off the rebels from Zawiya. (Tripoli Post, June
Ibrahim said, “The wishful reporting of some journalists that rebels are
gaining more power and more control of some areas is not correct.” Of the
fighting taking place in these areas, Ibrahim noted, “It is pockets of
Ibrahim also said, “The rebels [in Zawiyah] are no more than a hundred.
The army has killed some of them, captured others and is negotiating the
surrender of others.” He also emphasized that Tripoli rejects any notion
that Gadhafi will resign. Ibrahim said, “No one has the right to demand
that the leader stand down. No one can come here with a plan that includes his
departure and this idea is immoral, illegal and makes no sense.”
Meanwhile, Gadhafi was shown on Libyan TV on June 12 playing a game of chess
with visiting International Chess Federation President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who
is in Libya in his official capacity as leader of the world agency. Gadhafi met
with Ilyumzhinov for two hours and stated after the discussions and games,
“I am neither premier nor president nor king. I do not hold any post in
Libya and therefore I have no position which I should give up.”
These developments are taking place amid pronouncements by outgoing U.S.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that other NATO-member states must contribute
more to the alliance and that the continuing war against Libya was a good
indication of NATO’s lack of effectiveness.
Inside the United States, opposition to the war against Libya is escalating
with more questions being raised by even some of the more reactionary
representatives within both the U.S. Senate and the House. The House Foreign
Affairs Committee Chair, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — known for her
vicious hostility toward revolutionary Cuba — spoke out against ongoing
U.S. involvement in Libya and demanded answers from the State Department on the
aims of the mission and its legality within the context of constitutional
A recent CBS News poll indicated that 60 percent of people in the U.S. opposed
the bombing of Libya. The same survey revealed that only 30 percent supported
the mission, and among this group it would not be surprising that these views
are based on lack of information.
The Obama administration and the corporate media have consistently refused to
hold discussions and debates on U.S. policy toward Libya that are open to the
public. The anti-war movement must continue to stress the imperialist aims of
the war and demand the immediate withdrawal of all imperialist forces from the
airspace of Libya as well as its waterways.
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