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Proletarian issue 43 (August 2011)
Nato’s war crimes in Libya
Resistance continues amidst overwhelming popular support for Gaddafi.
By the 100th day of the imperialist predatory war against Libya, the warmongering and fascistic Nato alliance had made 12,070 air sorties, of which 4,569 were strike sorties that hit 2,125 targets. According to Nato sources, the targets hit included 740 ammunition facilities, 420 tanks and other armoured vehicles, 370 military facilities/bases, and 255 sites or storage facilities, including for SAM (surface-to-air missiles) and radar systems. Since then, Nato has intensified its air campaign, causing further damage.

Killing civilians in the name of protecting them

Nato spokesmen maintain a discreet diplomatic silence about the civilian targets the forces of this criminal fraternity have been hitting, causing huge damage and resulting in the deaths and injuries of thousands of civilians, including women and children.

According to the Libyan Red Crescent Society, which can be relied upon to tell the truth a thousand times more than the lying spokesmen of imperialism, in the first 100 days of the war 6,121 civilians were killed or injured, of whom 668 men, 141 children and 260 women were killed, while 3,093 men, 641 children and 1,318 women were injured.

In other words, Nato’s allegedly humanitarian mission to ‘protect civilians’ killed 1,069 and injured another 5,052. Of the injured, 655 were seriously injured and are still in hospital receiving medical care, whereas 4,397 have been sent home to their families for outpatient care.

This is Nato’s shameful record in ‘protecting civilians’ in just the first 100 days of its ‘humanitarian’ bombing campaign. From day one of this barbarous war, Nato has been hitting private apartments, homes, schools, shops, factories, and warehouses storing flour, and is currently targeting Libya’s only fresh water supplies. It has repeatedly targeted the leader of Libya, Colonel Gaddafi, and his family.

On May Day, in a deliberate assassination attempt, Nato planes bombed a residential area of Tripoli, specifically aiming at the house of Gaddafi’s second youngest son, Saif al-Arab, whom the assassins believed the Libyan leader was visiting. As a matter of fact, Gaddafi and his wife had left just 37 minutes before the attack, which killed Saif al-Arab and three of the Colonel’s grandchildren – all babies.

Nato’s cynical response to this attempted assassination of Colonel Gaddafi was that it had only aimed at a ‘Command and Control’ centre. Since when have residential areas, even if they happen to have in them houses occupied by the leadership of a country or their relatives, become Command and Control centres?

Nato has bombed Bal al-Azizia, Muammar Gaddafi’s headquarters, several times, each time on the same pretext, ie, that it was trying to destroy a Libyan Command and Control centre. On 24 May, Nato made a highly concentrated raid, believed to have been led by British Typhoon and Tornado warplanes, causing 20 massive separate explosions in the area of central Tripoli where the residential compound of the Libyan leader is located. The raid damaged several houses as well as a nearby mosque, killing 19 Libyan civilians and injuring another 156, some of them seriously, according to Libya’s health ministry, the General People’s Committee for Health.

Many of the strikes on Tripoli are clearly aimed at decapitating the Libyan regime and terrorising Tripoli’s citizens, who are overwhelmingly opposed to Nato’s predatory war and are backing the Libyan leader with all the strength and determination at their command.

The Voice of Russia has reported that Ghadames, an old town in Libya also known as ‘the pearl of the desert’, has been under bomb shelling, and now Leptis Magna, a prominent city of the Roman empire, is also in danger. Both Ghadames and Leptis Magna are Unesco world heritage sites.

A delegation of the CPGB-ML visiting Tripoli between 12-14 June was taken to see civilian sites destroyed by Nato, including the devastated rooms of the house of Saif al-Arab. A few days later, the market in the town centre was bombed, as was the Al Fatah university in Tripoli.

On Sunday 19 June, Nato killed nine civilians including a baby and a child, and for the first time apologised for the killings. A Nato spokesman, turning facts on their head, hypocritically stated:

“Nato regrets any loss of civilian lives and is doing all it can to protect the people of Libya from the violence waged by the Gaddafi regime. This campaign has conducted over 4,400 strike sorties. Every mission is planned and executed with precision and care with a high record of accuracy.

“We take all reports of civilian casualties very seriously and we will continue to look into the facts related to this event. Nato would be sorry if the review ... did indicate that it was caused by a Nato weapon.”

From reading this mockery of an apology one may be forgiven for thinking that Nato has made an innocent little mistake in the larger plan of protecting the Libyan people from the violence of the Libyan regime. The truth is that it is Nato which is showering death and destruction on the Libyan people, against which the latter are putting up heroic resistance under the leadership of the Libyan government of Colonel Gaddafi. And the day following the ‘apology’, 20 June, Nato bombings killed another 15 civilians, including three children.

After the devastation and carnage wreaked on Libya by Nato, after killing and injuring several thousand civilians, after several attempts on the life of the Libyan leader and the assassination of four members of his family, British defence officials, possessed of a sick sense of humour, say that Gaddafi suffers from “a sense of paranoia”! Hardly surprising! Would these gallant officials behave differently if they were targeted with laser-guided Paveway III bunker buster bombs dropped from Tornado GRA jets?

The British defence secretary, Dr Liam Fox, this Hitler-without-moustache and without a swastika on his lapel, has cynically characterised the murderous activity of Nato’s assassination squad as “sending them increasingly loud messages”. One wonders if he would maintain his aplomb if his office or residence were to be at the receiving end of such a “loud message”!

Libyan regime stands firm

The principal imperialist powers waging this unjust war of aggression had expected the Libyan regime to collapse within three or four weeks of massive bombardment by the combined forces of the US, Britain, France and several other countries. To their utter dismay, the Libyan regime stands firm and retains the popular support of the vast majority of the Libyan people, while the insurgents, rechristened as the Transitional National Council (TNC), have failed abysmally to make any significant progress on the battlefield, despite having the world’s most powerful air force on their side.

Equally, the imperialist hopes of regime collapse have failed to materialise, notwithstanding the defection of the former ministers of foreign affairs, justice and the interior, as well as a number of diplomats.

“Time is on our side – it is not on Gaddafi’s side,” remarked David Cameron recently. Cameron’s bravado flies in the face of the stalemate reached on the battlefield between the Libyan forces and the ragtag collection of insurgents – a stalemate that has begun to force a section of even our corrupt journalists to recognise reality, albeit in grudging and convoluted terms, for what it is.

Writing in the Financial Times recently, James Blitz, Michael Peel and Anna Fifield expressed their frustration at the stiff resistance put up by the Libyan regime, its refusal to submit to the diktat of imperialism, the popular support it enjoys and its failure to crumble as per the hopes of imperialism:

At the heart of the difficulties facing the Nato coalition remains the stubbornness of Colonel Gaddafi and his acolytes. For all the defections that have taken place, there have not been cracks in the regime that make his departure a certainty. The Libyan leader remains protected by a network of armed civilians and regime loyalists ...

Nor outside the rebel areas have there been any popular uprisings against him.” (‘An uncertain mission’, 23 June 2011)

Waning support for the war

A whole four months into this murderous war, and for all the lethality of its most up-to-date killing machines and the material resources at its command, Nato has been unable to break the stalemate in Libya, forcing the political, military, diplomatic and ideological representatives of imperialism to wonder whether this predatory venture can actually succeed or whether it is running into the Libyan sand.

Nato is today as far from achieving the mission it set itself – regime change in Tripoli – as it was four months ago. As a result of the stalemate, support for Nato’s war has further eroded, while opposition to it has grown, and the Nato coalition has begun to disintegrate.

In view of their failure to break the stalemate with air support, the leading Nato powers have now to decide whether to admit defeat and find a face-saving formula that allows them to beat a slightly less humiliating retreat, or to send in ground troops in large numbers, which, as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq eloquently prove, will by no means guarantee success. In any case, such a course of action would be highly unpopular in the countries waging the war, let alone amongst the rest of humanity.

In the run-up to the 100th day of the war, a Harris poll for the Financial Times found that any attempt by Nato to expand its operations in Libya, either by bombing Libyan utilities and infrastructure, such as electricity and water supplies, or by introducing ground troops, would be opposed by the majority of the people in big European countries and the US. According to the Harris survey, 53 percent of the people in the UK and 65 percent in France oppose bombing civilian targets, while 48 percent in the UK, 51 percent in France and 56 percent in the US are opposed to the introduction of ground troops. A recent CBS News poll revealed that 60 percent of the people of the US are opposed to the bombing of Libya. The longer this war continues, the greater the opposition it will arouse.

Dissension within the imperialist camp

In fact, Britain and France are incapable of waging the Libyan war for much longer, let alone bringing it to a successful conclusion on their own. They need the US, where the war is even more unpopular than it is in Britain and France.

Britain’s military top brass have let it be known in no uncertain terms that the armed forces they command are overstretched. In the middle of June air Chief Marshall Sir Simon Bryant and naval chief Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope openly expressed their doubts about the UK’s ability to wage war in Libya, saying that the prolongation of the Libyan war would force the armed forces to transfer equipment from other theatres, notably Afghanistan.

The government is in a quandary, for it can hardly lavish further largesse on the armed forces while it is busy imposing savage public expenditure cuts and higher taxes on the working class. As a result, there is a total mismatch between the imperialist ambitions of Britain’s ruling class and the means with which to pursue those ambitions.

Irritated by these public observations of two of Britain’s top soldiers, David Cameron rebuked them on 28 June, saying “You do the fighting and I’ll do the talking.” Shorn of euphemism, he told his service chiefs to shut up. Such an open spat would not have taken place if the Libyan war, Britain’s 46th intervention in the Middle East since 1945, had been going well.

Similar doubts have been expressed in France by the French naval chief.

The US participation in this war is decisive, but the Obama administration faces much opposition to the war in the country as well as in Congress. Strangely, some of the opposition is coming from the Republican side. A considerable number of congressmen have accused Mr Obama of waging the Libyan war in violation of the War Powers Act of 1973, which requires US Chief Executives to terminate hostilities after 60 days unless they have been authorised to continue by Congress, a deadline that was reached on 20 May.

Obama defied the WPA on the plea that the US involvement in Libya fell short of full-scale hostilities. In the end, “the House dealt a symbolic blow to President Obama on Friday [24 June] rejecting a bill to authorise United States military operations in Libya. But the chamber also defeated a measure that would have limited financing to support those efforts. ” (‘House spurns Obama on Libya, but does not cut funds’ by Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times, 24 June 2011)

A typical rogues’ compromise, which nevertheless reflects the overwhelming opposition of the people of the US to the war on Libya!

Meanwhile Robert Gates, the then outgoing defence secretary, delivered a speech on 10 June after a two-day meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels, in which he came close to saying that the European members of the alliance were a useless bunch of timewasters, feckless and unreliable. Accusing the Europeans of not pulling their weight and not devoting adequate resources to defence, he said that they faced “the very real possibility of collective military irrelevance”, as the cash-strapped US was no longer willing to subsidise Nato operations in Libya and other places.

“The mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country,” he said, “yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the US, once more, to make up the difference.”

He continued: “The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the US Congress – and in the American body politic writ large – to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defence.”

Nato, he said, had degenerated into a “two-tiered” alliance, with the US and a small number of European members doing the difficult jobs, whereas others benefited from Nato’s protection while avoiding costs and risks. A situation in which the US accounted for 75 percent of military expenditure in Nato was “unacceptable and unsustainable”.

Gates’s wrath was especially reserved for Germany, Poland, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, which had the means but refused to contribute to the Libyan war. Germany and Poland together have 400 combat jets, which they refused to throw into the war, despite all Nato members having sanctioned it. If this situation continued, Mr Gates predicted, Nato faced a dismal future.

The disarray and recriminations within Nato, born out of the bitter experiences of the Afghan and Iraq wars and the frustrating and inconclusive nature of the Libyan adventure, are threatening seriously to undermine and destroy this most potent instrument of imperialist war and aggression. On top of all this, budgetary constraints and the resultant cuts in military expenditure in Europe are beginning to be replicated in the US.

Admiral Mike Mullen, head of the US joint chiefs of staff, has characterised the budget deficit as the single biggest threat to US national security and, therefore, the largest obstacle to waging the predatory wars that have, since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, been launched under the fig leaf of ‘liberal interventionism’.

Thus the very necessity of waging predatory wars, resulting from the crisis of imperialism, is impairing the ability of the foremost imperialist powers to wage them. The imperialist powers are propelled to wage these wars for spoilage and for redivision, but as a result they end up weaker. They face destruction if they don’t wage these wars, but the wars in fact only hasten their destruction. Such are the dialectics of this process.

As if the above problems were not enough for Nato, on 7 July Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister, became the first Nato leader openly to break ranks by voicing serious doubts about the chances of success, saying that he had been against the war from the outset. Speaking at a book presentation he said: “I was against this measure. I had my hands tied by the vote in parliament of my country, but I was against – and am against – this intervention, which will end in a way that no-one knows.” (Quoted in ‘Italy breaks silence on Libya doubts’, Financial Times, 8 July 2011)

Mr Berlusconi’s remarks will add to unease about the fragility of Nato’s war, which, after four months, has little to show for itself except the death and destruction rained down upon the Libyan people. And they strengthen a growing foreboding that the entire project will end in fiasco if Nato does not manage to topple the Libyan regime by the end of the summer – which it is most unlikely to do.

Undoubtedly, Mr Berlusconi was nudged to speak out by the negotiations that the Libyan government has started with Russian and Chinese energy groups to take over the oil and gas projects of ENI, the largest oil company in Libya, which pulled out its international staff earlier this year following the launch of the rebellion.

Opposition by other countries

Russia and China, who abstained on UNSC Resolution 1973, which provided Nato with the legal pretext for the war against Libya, have since then stepped up their campaign against the war, saying that it is being conducted by overstepping, and therefore in breach of, the UN mandate, as has South Africa, which voted for the resolution.

However belatedly, Russia has denounced the “indiscriminate” use of force by Nato and called for a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement. The Russian foreign ministry has said that it was “inadmissible” to use the Security Council resolution for the achievement of aims that “clearly go beyond its mandate ... to protect the civilian population”.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has said that intervention by Nato “in what is essentially a civil war has not been sanctioned by the UN Security Council resolution”. Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, was more to the point when he denounced Resolution 1973 itself by calling it a “deficient and flawed document that allows anyone to take any action against a sovereign state”.

He went on to add: “To me, it actually resembles medieval calls for crusades, when someone called on others to go to a certain place to liberate it.” That being the case, what Mr Putin failed to explain was why Russia did not veto the resolution to prevent the carnage that was only too likely to flow from it?

Even leaders of weak countries with small populations, who might normally be expected to keep their heads down so as not to incur the wrath of powerful imperialist brigands, have begun courageously to oppose Nato’s aggression and extend support to the Libyan government and leader.

At the beginning of July, speaking at the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Heads of Government meeting in St Kitts, Roosevelt Skerrit, prime minister of Dominica, denounced Nato’s military action against Libya and extended unequivocal support to the Libyan leader. For their part, the leaders of Caricom fearlessly condemned Nato’s aggression and indiscriminate bombing of civilians in residential areas, and called for an immediate halt to the aggression, which they rightly asserted was in violation of Resolution 1973, confined as the latter was to protecting civilians.

Denzil Douglas, the prime minister of St Kitts and current chairman of Caricom, stated that the group realised the roots of the plot hatched against Libya lay in the pro-African policies and the mineral reserves of that country.

The Kosovo model

In their attempts to effect regime change in Tripoli, the imperialist powers of Nato have been re-enacting the Kosovo model, developed and perfected during Nato’s war against the former Yugoslavia. Under this model, the imperialist powers bypass the UN or overstep its mandate. Simultaneously they foment internal strife in the targeted country in order to get rid of its leadership under the pretext of ‘human rights before sovereignty’. Finally, to legitimise their illegal and predatory war, they mobilise the so-called International Criminal Court (ICC) to charge the victims of their war crimes with crimes against humanity.

Britain, France and the US coerced the Security Council into passing Resolutions 1970 and 1973. The first of these, passed in February, referred leading figures in the Libyan government to the ICC and also established an embargo on the shipment of weapons to Libya, while the second established a no-fly zone to “protect civilians”.

The IC was created in 1998 as a permanent body to exercise jurisdiction over the most serious international atrocities: crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and, above all, the crime of aggression. Although over 100 states have signed up to this tribunal, some important states, including the US, Russia and China, have not, which makes the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1970 all the more bizarre.

Nato has violated that part of Resolution 1970 which prohibits the shipment of weapons to Libya by arming the rebels, while it has turned the ICC into an instrument of the Nato war criminals – who have been waging a Hitlerite war of aggression against Libya and committing untold crimes – to try the victims of its own aggressive war. In fact, it is the Nato leaders – Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy et al – who should be tried for waging this predatory war, for the murder of Colonel Gaddafi’s son and three of his grandchildren, as well as for thousands of Libyans murdered or injured through Nato’s bombing raids.

Instead, perversely, in the third week of May ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo made a request for an international arrest warrant to be issued against Colonel Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Gaddafi, and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Sanussi, even while Nato air forces were busy launching devastating raids on the areas controlled by Libyan government forces. In doing so, Mr Ocampo has shown himself to be an unquestioning servile flunkey of the imperialist powers waging war against the Libyan people.

His intervention occurred just as the war was going badly for Nato and its Libyan puppets, with the Bedouin tribes entering the fight on the government’s side, and the opening of a second front in Benghazi by local militias tired of the criminal excesses of the insurgents, and also coincided with an attempt on Gaddafi’s life.

As for Resolution 1973, it was illegal to begin with, and has been abused still further since its passing.

It was illegal because the UN Charter does not permit the use of armed force for humanitarian interventions. Chapter VII of the UN Charter allows the Security Council to authorise action against a party to a dispute, but only if that party’s actions endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, and only after attempts to “seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice” have failed.

No one in their right mind can maintain that the situation in Libya in February/March of this year constituted a threat to the maintenance of international peace and security. Nor can it be asserted that any attempt was made at resolving the crisis in Libya through any negotiations whatsoever. If anything, it is Nato’s war against Libya that is threatening international peace and security, as are the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it is Nato that has consistently refused to countenance any negotiations for peaceful resolution of the crisis in Libya.

What has been going on in Libya since mid-February is a civil war, which is entirely an internal Libyan affair, to be decided by the relative strength of the parties, without any outside interference. In this respect it is no different from the 17th-century civil war in Britain, the 18th-century civil war in France or the 19th-century civil war in the US.

As anyone with knowledge of the American civil war would know, the sympathies of Britain’s ruling class were with the slave-owning south, which had rebelled against the federal government and started the war. Britain rendered material help to the south, in particular by fitting out the southern warship, the Alabama, which then went on to do considerable damage to the Union (northern) naval forces.

At the end of the war, the US government claimed damages from Britain for its support of the rebels. Britain submitted to the arbitration tribunal, which gave its judgment in favour of the US. Britain had no option but to pay up for its reactionary actions in support of the slave-holders’ rebellion. We very much hope that the imperialist countries entering the Libyan civil war on the side of the rebels will likewise be made to pay for their murderous actions.

Regime change

Even if Resolution 1973 were legal, it does not actually authorise the use of force for the purpose of regime change in Libya. Yet that is what Britain, France and the US have been aiming at since well before the resolution was passed. Indeed, the CIA was on Libyan soil and actively supporting the rebels as early as 25 February 2011, the date when the US embassy in Tripoli was officially closed.

Dozens of British agents and commandos from MI6, the SAS (Special Air Services) and SBS (Special Boat Services) were also operating inside Libya at the same time, while three Dutch marines were caught by Libyan forces in Sirte, and Italy, in repudiation of its non-aggression pact with Libya, had on 27 February (three weeks before Resolution 1973 was passed) made available its military bases for use by Britain and France.

During this same period, the US moved its nuclear aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise, from the Gulf of Aden to the waters off the Libyan coast. It also stationed two amphibian ships, USS Kearsage and USS Ponce, with thousands of marines and fleets of helicopters aboard, in the Mediterranean, so as to be ready for action at a moment’s notice.

“There is no question that Libya – and the world – would be better off with Gaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means”, said president Obama in his address to the nation at the National Defence University, Washington DC, on 28 March – a mere two weeks after Resolution 1973 had been passed. As befits a bourgeois winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, this hypocritical mountebank has been trying his utmost to effect regime change in Libya through such ‘non-military’ means as Cruise and Tomahawk missiles, fighter planes and other materiel from his deadly arsenal.

Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron openly stated in a joint letter that they will not consider the mission in Libya to be over till Colonel Gaddafi has been removed. (See Daily Mail, 15 April 2011)

Thus it is perfectly clear that Nato’s mission has nothing to do with ‘protecting civilian lives’, as its leaders claimed in the UN, but is in fact aimed at effecting regime change in Libya as a means of grabbing the country’s mineral resources, reversing the tide of the Arab revolutions sweeping across Tunisia and Egypt, preventing the emergence of an alliance between Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, and reasserting imperialist domination over the whole of the Mediterranean.

How little concern Nato has for the protection of human lives may be gleaned from just one simple example. In early April, a boat trying to reach the Italian port of Lampedusa was left to drift in the Mediterranean for 16 days, leaving the 61 African migrants on board, including women and children, to die of hunger and thirst. Despite the alarm being raised with the Italian coastguard and contact being established with a Nato warship, most likely the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, no help was provided to the hapless victims, even though international maritime law obliges vessels, civilian and military, to come to the aid of those in distress at sea. Typically, Nato’s response was to deny all knowledge of the distress of these victims.

“Nato units are fully aware of their responsibilities with regard to international maritime law regarding safety at sea. Nato ships will answer all distress calls at sea. Saving lives is a priority for any Nato ships,” hypocritically asserted an irritated Nato official, while denying receiving any distress signal from the boat.

Moreover, there is currently a famine going on in the Horn of Africa. In southern Somalia no less than half the population is suffering from malnutrition and is in urgent need of food aid. Tens of thousands have already died. Yet the ‘humanitarian’ US will to date send nothing because to give aid could ‘materially benefit’ groups it considers to be ‘terrorist’, such as al-Shabaab (the Somali anti-imperialist resistance movement). To avoid saving a few resistance fighters, it’s apparently OK for literally millions of people to be allowed to die of hunger.

And France, so keen to rush to provide ‘humanitarian aid’ to Libya, is among the EU countries being castigated by Oxfam for being particularly reluctant to contribute towards the mere £650m it estimates is needed to save more than 11 million Somalis, Kenyans and Ethiopians from starvation. Imperialism’s hypocrisy is truly sickening.

Continuing with efforts at regime change, on 24 May Washington dispatched Jeffrey Feltman, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, to Benghazi to meet the TNC, where he delivered an “oral message” from president Obama that, in Washington’s view, the government of Gaddafi has “lost all legitimacy to rule; he cannot regain control of Libya and he must step down immediately”.

Feltman further told the TNC, which includes CIA agents and former disaffected Libyan ministers and officials, that Washington considered it to be the “credible legitimate representative of the Libyan people”, and invited it send a representative to the US capital. But, he told the TNC, unlike France and Italy, the US was not prepared to give formal recognition to the council. What stood in the way of this recognition was the status of the $100bn worth of Libyan funds frozen by the US and the EU, “the biggest bank robbery in history”, in the words of Mr John Pilger.

Now, however, the US and 29 other governments have taken the plunge by formally recognising the TNC as the government of Libya. Meeting on 19 July in Istanbul, the so-called Contact Group on Libya, which is essentially comprised of the imperialist countries and their Arab stooges, agreed formally to recognise the TNC as Libya’s government, thus clearing the way for these imperialist flunkeys to access the frozen Libyan funds and start paying their imperialist masters for the weapons and other materiel sent by the latter to prop them up.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, declared on behalf of the 30 governments represented at Istanbul that the Gaddafi regime no longer had legal authority: “I am announcing today that, until an interim authority is in place, the US will recognise the TNC as the legitimate governing authority for Libya, and we will deal with it on that basis,” she said.

Nato lies

The leaders of the international assassination squad that goes by the name of Nato keep repeating the lie that they are in Libya to protect civilians from the tyranny of the Libyan leader. Gaddafi’s departure, they assert, is the necessary precondition for a resolution of the Libyan crisis, and will be a triumph for Libya’s democracy and citizens alike. But nothing could be further from the truth than these assertions.

There is no basis in reality for the assertion that the Libyan government was slaughtering innocent peaceful protesters. The truth is that, beginning on 16 February, small groups of insurgents opposed to the Libyan government rose in armed rebellion. Over the following days, a pattern emerged in many cities – such as Benghazi, al-Bayda, Ajdabiya, Misurata, Zawiya, Derna and Zuwarah, among others – whereby police stations and internal security headquarters were attacked, vandalised, burned and looted, with the rebels taking advantage of the strict order given by the government to the security forces not to shoot. Ammunition depots were attacked and weapons seized by the attackers.

It is the rebels, not the Libyan regime, who are guilty of atrocities and the slaughter of innocent people. The uprising in Benghazi started with the brutal murder of six policemen by the rebels. The German newspaper, Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, reported in the third week of March that the rebels had been guilty of pogrom-style massacres of black African workers, while a Turkish factory manager told the BBC that more than 70 of his workers from Chad had been murdered in cold blood.

In the areas under their control, the rebels have been systematically killing anyone they suspect of being a government supporter, as well as foreign black workers, whom they falsely accuse of being ‘mercenaries’ of the Libyan regime. This was true before the Nato bombardment began on 19 March, and it continues to be the case at present.

In a rare fit of candour, the Washington Post of 22 May gave details of the repression, lawlessness and death squads in the areas of rebel control – just as Catherine Ashton, the visiting EU foreign policy chief, stated that she had found only “great aspirations” and leadership qualities amongst the rebels.

By way of expressing such leadership qualities, rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Libyan justice minister until February when he defected to the rebel cause, promised: “Our friends ... will have the best opportunity in future contracts in Libya.” (Quoted in ‘The violent world of Mr Hopey Changey’ by John Pilger, New Statesman, 26 May 2011)

The eastern part of Libya, be it remembered, is home to a large proportion of Libya’s massive oil deposits.

The UNSC passed resolution 1973 on the basis of false reports, which it did not bother to investigate, to the effect that the Libyan security forces were slaughtering peaceful protesters, that the Libyan air force had bombed residential areas of Tripoli, and that the Libyan government had enlisted the services of mercenaries brought in from many African countries to brutalise and kill the peaceful protesters.

These reports were put into circulation by the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), established in 1981, which has been receiving training and finance from the CIA ever since. (For a refutation of these lies, see ‘Libyan crisis ... causes and facts’, by the Tripoli-based Fact Finding Commission and Global Civilians for Peace in Libya)

Imperialism’s fury

As we have pointed out before, Libya has infuriated imperialism by its independent stance, the use of its mineral resources to benefit its people, and by its support for progressive movements in many parts of the world, including and especially the African liberation movements.

It was not for nothing that, soon after his release from 27 years in an apartheid jail, Nelson Mandela broke the UN embargo by travelling to Libya on 23 October 1997. When Bill Clinton characterised the visit as ‘unwelcome’, Mandela retorted: “No country can claim to be the policeman of the world and no state can dictate to another what it should do,” adding “Those who yesterday were friends of our enemies have the gall today to tell me not to visit my brother Gaddafi. They are advising us to be ungrateful and forget our friends of the past.”

It is a pity that the South African government acted so ungratefully and forgot its friends when it voted for Resolution 1973 at the Security Council.

It was not until 2 July 2008 that the US Congress finally passed a law that removed Mandela and his ANC comrades from their blacklist.

Muammar Gaddafi has always emphasised the need for African unity, and Libya has devoted considerable time and resources towards promoting that goal and freeing Africa from the clutches of exploitation by the financial magnates and robber barons of monopoly capitalism.

Libya had offered to connect the entire African continent by telephone, television, radio broadcasting and many other technological applications, such as telemedicine and distance teaching. In 1992, RASCOM (Regional African Satellite Communication Organisation) was established by 45 African countries to enable Africa to have its own satellite and thus drastically slash communication costs on the continent. At that time, Africa was paying $500m a year in rental fees to Europe for use of its satellites, such as Intelsat, for phone conversations, including those within each country.

An African satellite would have required a mere $400m one-time payment and freed Africa from the $500m annual charge. Not surprisingly, the World Bank, the IMF, the US and Europe dragged their feet for 14 years, making vague promises of help but delivering nothing. Colonel Gaddafi put an end to this state of affairs by providing $300m, to which the ADB (African Development Bank) added $50m and the West African Development Bank another $27m. As a result, Africa secured its first communications satellite on 26 December 2007.

China and Russia followed in the wake of this breakthrough by sharing their technology and helping to install satellites for South Africa, Nigeria, Angola and Algeria, and a second all-African satellite was launched in July 2010. Meanwhile, plans are afoot to build an indigenous African satellite, to be manufactured in Algeria, in the year 2020 – which is aimed at competing with the best in the world, but at a tenth of the cost of western satellites.

With just $300m, Libya has freed the African continent from being at the mercy of imperialism in the field of communications.

Of the Libyan funds ‘frozen’ (‘stolen’ would be a more accurate word) by the US and the EU, $30bn had been earmarked as the Libyan contribution to three crucial projects aimed at giving substance to the African federation: the African Investment Bank, to be based in Sirte, Libya; the African Monetary Fund, to be located in Yaounde, Cameroon, with capital of $42bn (of which $16bn was to come from Algeria and $10bn from Libya), and the African Central Bank, to be housed in Abuja, Nigeria. When it starts printing its own currency, the ACB will put paid to the CFA franc, which has been the financial instrument for the French domination of many African countries over the last 50 years.

In view of this, it is not difficult to explain the anti-Gaddafi rage of French imperialism. Moreover, Libya has frustrated French attempts at disuniting Africa through the creation of the Union for the Mediterranean (UPM), to which only a handful of African countries were invited, while all 27 members of the EU were. This project would have created a French-dominated organisation and facilitated France’s return to its erstwhile African colonies, where it hoped to derive huge profits from cheap labour and privileged opportunities for the export of capital. Gaddafi correctly characterised the Sarkozy plan as “an insult” which took “us for fools”.

Likewise, the AMF would seriously have undermined the activities of the IMF in Africa.

If Nato were to succeed in overwhelming the Libyan regime, the people of the entire African continent, not just the Libyan people, will suffer grievously. A regime change in Libya will leave many African countries starved of resources, with the Libyan oil and gas money flowing instead straight into the coffers of various imperialist financial institutions, defence contractors and other monopoly corporations.

China targeted

China is another country whose interests will be hugely damaged in the event of a Nato victory. Before the Nato bombardment began, 75 major Chinese companies were operating in Libya, where they had concluded $18bn worth of contracts. Following the Nato attack, 35,000 Chinese workers had to be evacuated from the country, and these companies are now expected to suffer huge losses.

Over the past 15 years, China’s trade with, and investment in, Africa has made remarkable progress. If China’s trade with Africa was valued at $6bn in 1995, in 2010 its value exceeded $130bn – a 25-fold increase. The South African Standard Bank estimates that by 2015 Chinese direct investment in Africa will amount to $50bn.

Presently, China receives 28 percent of its oil imports from Africa, a percentage that is likely to increase. Unlike the US and the EU, China has been busy building roads, railways, schools and other infrastructure in Africa. All of this infuriates the chief imperialist powers, who feel the ground slipping from underneath their feet on a continent that has for so long been the source of fabulous profits for them. Not without reason, serious writers on the subject are convinced that Nato’s war against Libya is designed, partly at least, to send a message to those leaders in Africa who are minded to take an independent stance that they must bow to the American baton and shy away from close commercial and diplomatic relations with China.

On a tour of Africa in June, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Zambia, where she spoke at a conference of African governments. In her speech, she openly attacked China’s expanding ties with several African countries and exhorted them to deepen their trade relations with the US instead.

Libyan people’s support for their government

Since the start of the rebellion, the Libyan government has consistently shown its willingness to negotiate a settlement, but Nato and its TNC puppets have rejected all Libyan government proposals for a ceasefire or for negotiations. The proposals made by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in February, as well as those of the African Union in early April and early June, have all been spurned by Nato.

In the circumstances, the Libyan government has but one option: to stand firm and resist. The Libyan people, led by their government, have so far displayed admirable steadfastness and fortitude in facing this mighty imperialist alliance. If they continue along this path, which we are convinced they will, then, to use the words of Fidel Castro, “Nato and its criminal projects will sink into the mire of shame.” (Cited in the Indian Frontline magazine, 22 April 2011)

As the CPGB-ML delegation noted, the Libyan people continue to go about their daily life without showing any signs of despair or despondency, while the Libyan government continues to enjoy the enthusiastic support of the overwhelming majority of its people. Hardly a week goes by without a million-strong pro-government demonstration in the centre of Tripoli – in defiance of the murderous Nato bombers. These uncomfortable facts may be ignored by the imperialist media and their pack of corrupt journalists, but they are true all the same.

Moreover, the Libyan regime has armed its citizens, a single fact which demonstrates that it is anything but tyrannical. If the imperialists decide to send ground troops into Libya, these armed citizens, far from turning their weapons against a hated government, are ready to give a very good account of themselves and to fight to the last drop of their blood against those who wish to overthrow their leaders and destroy their way of life.

It is perfectly possible that the truth has begun to penetrate the skulls of Nato’s leaders, for, as we go to press, the news has come through that the US has been involved in negotiations with representatives of the Libyan government at a location in Tunisia.

Meanwhile, it is the duty of workers in the imperialist countries to extend their solidarity to the Libyan people and to refuse to cooperate with the criminal war being waged by their ruling classes against the Libyan people.

Victory to the Libyan people and government led by Muammar Gaddafi!
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