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Libya: NATO escalates bombing as ‘rebels’ enter capital

Fighting continues over Tripoli as imperialists plan plunder

Published Aug 22, 2011 9:54 PM

A six-month-old war against the government of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya has reached a new stage as NATO escalated its intervention with air power, naval power, strategy and intelligence to push the Transitional National Council’s armed units into the capital, Tripoli.

On Aug. 21, the TNC moved into at least three areas of Tripoli and its surrounding suburbs. Meanwhile, NATO warplanes flew coordinated military actions aimed at toppling the government.

By nightfall in Libya, the corporate media began to repeat claims that Tripoli, a stronghold of the government, had largely fallen to the TNC forces. Reports indicated that the airport was under TNC control and that three sons of Gadhafi had been taken into custody by the armed opposition.

Beginning early on Aug. 22, there were reports of fierce fighting in several areas of Tripoli between government loyalists and the TNC forces. Although Western media claimed Tripoli’s Green Square was under TNC control, rebels and journalists embedded with them were forced to retreat from the central section of the city.

These developments followed fierce battles in and around Zawiya, Zlitan, al-Brega and other areas in the west of the oil-producing country. NATO has intensified its bombing of Libya in efforts to facilitate a takeover of Tripoli ahead of the upcoming United Nations Security Council deliberations on the renewal of the military operations that the U.S. and NATO first launched on March 19.

A U.S.-NATO war of destabilization and conquest

Since Feb. 17, at least a half-dozen imperialist states operating under a NATO banner have supported and supplied weapons for a series of attacks against the Libyan government by armed groups.

The imperialist role became obvious when France, Britain and the U.S. passed U.N. resolution 1970 through the Security Council allowing a naval blockade of Libya, allegedly to stop arms, and U.N. resolution 1973 on March 19, giving a pseudo-legal cover to military intervention.

Since March 31, U.S.-NATO air power carried out 19,877 sorties, which included approximately 7,459 rocket or bomb strike sorties. These bombing operations grew more devastating when 105 struck the capital and its environs on Aug. 20. (Center for Research on Globalization, Aug. 22) Later, on August 21-22, there were additional bombings of specifically targeted civilian areas of the capital.

“Tripoli has been the object of extensive bombings of residential areas, creating an atmosphere of panic. Rebel forces are not the decisive factor. The decisive forces are the extensive NATO bombings and the support provided by NATO to the rebels,” reports Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya from Tripoli. (CRG, Aug. 22)

“Operation Mermaid Dawn,” aimed at taking Tripoli, began on the evening of Aug. 20 with the armed actions of TNC cells involving several hundred people. Flaunting U.N. Resolution 1970, a NATO warship anchored off the shore of Tripoli delivered heavy weapons and additional TNC rebel forces. Government and medical sources said 350 deaths and 3,000 injuries took place that night.

“Fighting started again during the night. There were intense firefights. NATO drones and aircraft kept bombing in all directions. NATO helicopters strafed civilians in the streets with machine guns to open the way” for the opposition forces, writes Thierry Meyssan for CRG, Aug. 21.

Meyssan also reports that a convoy of governmental officials came under fire, and they eventually headed to the Hotel Rixos, where foreign journalists are based. By 11:30 p.m. in Libya, the Health Minister said that the hospitals were full of wounded and injured people.

NATO forces have been the most important factor in the war aimed at regime-change in Libya. According to the Aug. 22 New York Times, U.S. military aerial surveillance proved crucial in the recent fighting. Unnamed U.S. and NATO officials told the Times that “coordination between NATO and the rebels, and among the loosely organized rebel groups themselves, had become more sophisticated and lethal in recent weeks, even though NATO’s mandate has been merely to protect civilians, not to take sides in the conflict.”

The Pentagon and the CIA’s deployment of predator drones enhanced the ability to pinpoint targets for air strikes that allowed rebel forces to advance from Zawiya to the capital of Tripoli. “At the same time, Britain, France, and other nations deployed special forces on the ground inside Libya to help train and arm the rebels, the diplomat and another official said.” (New York Times, Aug. 22)

NATO’s bombing operations attacked thousands of targets, including rocket launchers, tanks and military installations as well as national infrastructure that severely damaged the ability of the Libya government and military to coordinate its response to the intensified air strikes and TNC attacks. “The cumulative effect not only destroyed Libya’s military infrastructure but also greatly diminished the ability of Colonel Gadhafi’s commanders to control forces, leaving even committed fighting units unable to move, resupply or coordinate operations.” (NYT, Aug. 22)

The TNC leaders credited NATO with providing an opportunity to advance in the eastern and western parts of Libya. In earlier battles on their own, the TNC forces were quickly sent running when in battle with the government forces, even after NATO warplanes had eliminated much of the government’s armor.

It was thus not these ragtag “rebels” that stormed Tripoli, but the combined force of Britain, France, Canada, Italy and the United States — and the support of more of the old colonialist allies. This most powerful military and economic alliance supplied air forces, intelligence and special forces as well as warships that have supplied the TNC with weapons, training and transportation to fight an oppressed African country of 6 million people.

Implications of the U.S.-NATO war against Libya

As of Aug. 22, the situation in Libya still remains fluid militarily and politically. A major aspect of the war against Libya has involved psychological operations and media-generated propaganda that seeks to demonize the Libyan leader Gadhafi, his family and government.

Much of the information circulated about the political and military situation in Libya has been designed to turn both the people inside the country and the international community against the Libyan government. International conferences convened by the imperialist states have bestowed “recognition” to the TNC rebels as the sole legitimate forces representing the country.

Nonetheless, the people of Libya and throughout the regions of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf can only be alarmed by the Western military assault against the Libyan people. It is now possible to deploy U.S. and NATO ground forces into Libya, should the TNC forces appeal for “boots on the ground” to purportedly restore “stability” to the country.

Africa and the Middle East have a long history of struggles against colonialism, neocolonialism and imperialism. The uprisings throughout the region have set off panic among the ruling classes of North America and Western Europe due to the strategic minerals that are supplied to the world capitalist markets from various countries, especially oil.

However, the workers and oppressed of the region will not benefit at all from these imperialist military interventions. In all of the countries that are allied with the U.S. and other capitalist states in the region, the conditions of the masses of people have worsened.

As these conditions deteriorate along with those of the workers and oppressed in the imperialist countries, greater opportunities will arise for international solidarity among people throughout the world.