Supporters of Bani Walid’s people demonstrated outside the General National Congress parliament in Tripoli, Libya, on Oct. 21 calling for a halt to the town’s siege. Bani Walid’s 80,000 people were a bastion of support for the former Jamahiriya government led by the martyred Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Protesters attempted to enter the building but were dispersed by police.
For three weeks the rebel militias financed through the U.S.-backed regime in Tripoli have blockaded the city, denying it food, medicine and other essential goods.
Eyewitness accounts and videos posted on YouTube show constant shelling, with smoke emanating from targeted sites inside the city. Hospitals report that they are treating people for chemical poisoning and loss of limbs.
According to RT satellite television: “Plumes of white and black smoke can be seen rising all over the town and sporadic gunfire can be heard in one of the videos dated October 19. Shells hit civilian buildings. Inside one such house there are patches of blood across what appears to be the living room, while the whole house is strewn with rubble and dust, gaping holes in the walls.” (RT.com, Oct. 22)
A young man interviewed by RT said that his family was inside Bani Walid and that his relatives reported: “The situation in Bani Walid is really bad. We don’t have a lot of medicine. We don’t have enough places for wounded civilians. Right now the hospital is keeping wounded people outside.”
This same person reported that people inside the city say that shells with poisonous gas are bombarding the city. Photos of gas masks — found at positions of the militias of Misrata — have been emailed to RT and shown over their network, which is seen worldwide.
The GNC regime said the existence of resistance forces in Bani Walid is a threat to the pro-U.S. government in Tripoli. Interim GNC President Mohammed Magarief claims that forces loyal to the former government have “infiltrated the organs of the state, maybe even its leadership, and are plotting” against the NATO-backed counterrevolution “with the help of others who are abroad.”
Magarief denied allegations that the attacks against Bani Walid were based on tribal conflicts.
However, the existence of instability and ongoing conflict throughout Libya indicates that there is no legitimacy for the U.S.-backed regime among many people inside the country as well as internationally. From the eastern regions around Benghazi to the capital of Tripoli and the southern regions, fighting continues with no end in sight.
The destabilization brought about as a result of the imperialist-backed war beginning in February 2011 has spilled over into neighboring Mali. There the country has been partitioned between the north and the south. Mali is currently facing the possibility of foreign intervention from the European Union and a regional force backed by the U.S. and NATO.
Other reports have been circulating about the purported arrest of former Libyan governmental spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim. Ibrahim was the public face of the government during the intense U.S. and NATO bombing between March 19 and Oct. 31, 2011. Many have denied these reports, from both inside the GNC government and the pro-Gadhafi forces.
One year later, struggle intensifies
That an area perceived as a stronghold of Gadhafi supporters has been placed under siege clearly illustrates the major fear of the U.S. and its surrogates — that the resistance to the GNC regime will escalate and take on an anti-imperialist character.
The GNC regime has failed to rein in the militias, which terrorize the population and engage in all types of corruption. Unemployment and poverty are escalating, and the imperialist states that instigated and financed the overthrow of Gadhafi and the destruction of the state are primarily concerned with the theft of oil from Libya, which has the largest known reserves on the continent.
These developments in Libya confirm that U.S. imperialism and its NATO allies cannot bring stability to any country in which they intervene. In fact, Libya was one of the most stable countries in Africa and the Middle East until the Western governments and their allies intervened.
This pattern has been consistent over the last two decades. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Somalia, Yemen and Syria, the situations have worsened with the involvement of Washington.
The only solution to the crisis in Libya and all other countries occupied by the imperialists is to overthrow Western foreign rule and establish governments that represent the interests of the majority of people within these societies. Anti-war activists in the imperialist countries must support and defend the right of oppressed peoples to self-determination and sovereignty.