One year since the brutal assassination of former Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, the Republican Party is using Libya’s political crisis in an attempt to defeat President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 election. Both U.S. ruling-class parties backed the 2011 war against this oil-producing nation that had maintained the highest standard of living in Africa.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. personnel died in an assault on U.S. government buildings in Benghazi, which was the birthplace of the counterrevolutionary war against Libya in February 2011. The Obama administration sought to link this assault with protests of the vicious “Innocence of Muslims” film.
Information soon reached the public that there was no such demonstration outside the U.S. buildings. On “Face the Nation,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham charged the administration — which had repeated the story fora few days — with “trying to sell a narrative, … that in the Middle East, the wars are receding and al Qaeda has been dismantled” and the embassy attack “undercuts the narrative.” (cbsnews.com, Oct. 14)
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on the same CBS program said the Republican criticism was designed to damage Obama’s reelection prospects. Obama has refrained from making additional comments on the Libyan attacks leading up to the Oct. 16 debate.
After passage of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973, the U.S., NATO and its allies in the region began a seven-month bombing campaign on March 19, 2011. By late October, NATO had flown 26,000 sorties and dropped at least9,600 bombs on this country of approximately 6 million people.
Millions of Libyans were impacted by the war through the deliberate destruction of the nation’s infrastructure. Along with a naval blockade imposed against the Gadhafi government, Western banks seized over $160 billion in Libya’s foreign assets.
News reports have estimated that from 50,000 to 100,000 people were killed during the war. Thousands of Libyans and foreign nationals were imprisoned by the rebel forces, and many remain imprisoned today.
The war has left the country without an effective political, legal, economic and security system. Armed militias roam the streets of the cities and towns as well as the outlying areas. The initial National Transitional Council regime that the imperialists imposed failed to control the militias.
Since July’s sham elections, the General National Congress has been unable to appoint a government due to infighting and political intrigue. Corruption is rampant. The U.S.-backed regime has targeted select militias and requested and sometimes forced them to disarm.
Today both the Republican and Democratic parties maintain their commitments to turn Libya into an outpost for the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency, transnational oil firms and international bankers.
The current dispute between the two ruling class parties stems from imperialism’s incapacity to subdue Libya and fear within Pentagon, CIA and State Department circles that the entire operation will soon unravel.
Bani Walid under siege
One of the regions never subdued in 2011 was the city of Bani Walid in Libya’s west. People there maintain a strong opposition to the rebel regime, and were credited with arresting a counterrevolutionary charged with fingering Gadhafi for liquidation on Oct. 20, 2011.
The military forces have laid siege to Bani Walid and are shelling the city. The U.S. State Department, which last year claimed its intervention was based on concern for Libyan civilians, has said nothing about the looming humanitarian crisis there.
In Gadhafi’s home city Sirte, which NATO bombs destroyed in 2011 in an effort to drive out and assassinate the Libyan leader, the current rebel regime has imposed a curfew. Several gun battles have taken place in Sirte since Sept. 25, and there is tremendous solidarity with the people of Bani Walid.
Even the Saudi Gazette reported, “Sirte has a reputation for being home to a significant number of pro-Gadhafi loyalists.” (Oct. 15)
The current regime is holding thousands of political prisoners from the Black population, namely, Africans from other parts of the continent. It has also detained several leading members of the previous government under extremely harsh conditions.
Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, is being illegally imprisoned inside the country. Seif, whose trial was recently postponed, is still under indictment by the International Criminal Court on false charges filed during the 2011 bombing campaign. The ICC appears to be satisfied to allow the continuation of his detention in Libya and eventual staging of a trial where no viable judicial institutions exist.
One year after the proclaimed imperialist victory, and that of their puppets in the region, the masses of Libya’s people are far worse off than they have ever been since the Italian colonial era. This follows the same pattern of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia — and it is developing in Syria.
Imperialism has nothing to offer the oppressed nations and the international working class as a whole except underdevelopment, political repression, economic exploitation and impoverishment. Whether in the so-called developing states and regions or within the industrial countries, capitalism is in terminal decline. The only solution to this crisis lies outside the existence of this exploitative system.