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Proletarian issue 45 (December 2011)
Ethinic cleansing in Nato's 'new' Libya
The resistance to imperialism and its rats will prevail.
We all know that capitalism makes people sick, but the sight of Hillary Clinton’s jubilation at the news that Muammar Gaddafi, a 69-year-old man and a veteran world statesman, had been dragged through the streets of Sirte, stabbed, sodomised and eventually murdered, demonstrated the deep psychological chasm that divides imperialism’s servants from the rest of the human race. Visibly overcome with joy, the US Secretary of State casually flicked through her Blackberry messages, gloating “We came, we saw, he died!”

Her mimicry of Caesar may have more than a touch of irony about it if the Wall Street protestors learn the lessons of history. Perhaps one day in the not-too-distant future we shall hear her gasp out “Et tu, Brute?” on our iPhones. In the meantime, we can take solace in the fact that whilst Mrs Clinton and her fellow Nato cut-throats may indeed have assassinated Gaddafi – they most certainly have not ‘conquered’ Libya.

Response of imperialists and the British ‘left’

Having bombarded Libya with an array of heavy weapons and subjected her people to months of siege, starvation and torture, Nato finally enabled its toy soldiers (‘revolutionaries’ if you’re a British Trotskyist) to put their hands upon the man who had done so much to lift Libya and Africa out of poverty and misery. Their vile treatment of him exposed more than their own wicked savagery – it also helped to expose the thoroughly reactionary, fascistic behaviour of imperialism and its agents in the working-class movement.

These people and their newspapers (imperialists and Trotskyists alike), who scolded British youths for their ‘criminal’ and ‘violent’ behaviour in August, screaming from the rooftops about the ‘criminal mindset’ of those who pinched the odd pair of Nikes, these hypocrites brazenly celebrated the torture and extra-judicial murder of a national leader, and stood quietly by as wholesale looting, rape and murder was perpetrated by their surrogates.

That the imperialists were joined by Trotskyists in celebrating this killing should come as no surprise. We saw it before with the lynching of Saddam Hussein and the ‘mysterious’ death in custody of Slobodan Milosovic. But now these insipid dogs were even more outrageous. The SWP’s Alex Callinicos was one of the most vocal bloodhounds. Likening the fall of Gaddafi to the fall of Mussolini (!), he yapped “The west’s role in the dictator’s downfall shouldn’t stop us celebrating”!

Never mind that Benito Mussolini was the leader of an imperialist nation and a war criminal who was killed by partisans, or that Gaddafi was the leader of a strong anti-imperialist movement among Arabs and Africans, killed by rats. The Trotskyite Callinicos happily equated the two and celebrated Gaddafi’s downfall, hand in hand with Hillary Clinton, thus proving once more that Trotskyism is a counter-revolutionary movement that uses ‘left’ terminology to mobilise the unsuspecting on to the side of imperialism.

Tawergha torture and murder

As if by design (or collusion!) the western media have gone very silent on the internal situation now that Gaddafi has been slain. We know that sharia law will be making a return, along with an expansion of polygamy and who knows what else, but more importantly a slow yet steady trickle of information is already creeping out exposing the crimes that have been committed by Callinicos’s ‘revolutionaries’. An article posted on the Human Rights Watch website reported:

More than 100 militia brigades from Misrata have been operating outside of any official military and civilian command since Tripoli fell in August. Members of these militias have engaged in torture, pursued suspected enemies far and wide, detained them and shot them in detention, Human Rights Watch has found. Members of these brigades have stated that the entire displaced population of one town, Tawergha, which they believe largely supported Gaddafi avidly, cannot return home ...

In the far west, anti-Gaddafi militias from the Nafusa mountains have looted and burned homes and schools of tribes that supported the deposed dictator. Anti-Gaddafi militias from Zuwara have looted property as they demanded compensation for damage they suffered during the war ... Both Misratans and Tawerghas say residents there were enthusiastic Gaddafi supporters. Hundreds of erstwhile civilians in that town took up arms to fight for him.

Misratans say Tawergha volunteers committed rapes and pillaged with gusto, though Misrata officials decline to produce evidence of the alleged rapes, saying family shame inhibits witnesses and victims from coming forward.

In any event, Misratan militia members are venting their anger on all Tawerghas, who are largely descendants of African slaves. Most fled their town as Misratan fighters advanced there between 10 and 12 August.

Witnesses and victims we interviewed provided credible accounts of Misratan militias shooting and wounding unarmed Tawerghas and torturing detainees, in a few cases to death. In Hun, about 250 miles south of Misrata, militias from Benghazi have taken it upon themselves to protect about 4,000 refugees. They say Misratans are hunting down Tawerghas.

One hospitalised Tawergha told Human Rights Watch how he was shot in the side and leg and abandoned to die near Hun: ‘They left us at the edge of the road, put a blanket over us and then started swearing, “You are dogs, hope you die.”’” (Daniel Williams, 28 October 2011)

Another report that appeared on the same website continued:

The people of Tawergha mostly fled in August to the Jufra region, south of Misrata, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which put the number of displaced Tawerghans there at 15,000. Local officials in Hun, a town in Jufra, said 4,000 Tawerghans had sought shelter in three camps there as of early October, and an unknown number are in the town of Sokna and nearby agricultural settlements. Since then, at least 5,000 Tawerghans have moved from Jufra to Benghazi and Tripoli, and other groups are in Tarhuna, Khoms, and the far south.

When Human Rights Watch visited Tawergha at the start of October, it appeared emptied of its residents and most of the buildings had been ransacked. Over three days between 3 and 5 October 2011, Human Rights Watch saw militias and individuals from Misrata set 12 houses aflame in the town.

On 25 October, Human Rights Watch spoke with a Misrata brigade that claimed to be ‘guarding’ Tawergha. The deputy commander said his forces were ‘protecting the place from arson and looting’. At the same time, trucks full of furniture and carpets, apparently looted from homes, drove past with men on the trucks honking and waving. Brigade members failed to intervene, arguing passionately that Tawreghans should never return after ‘what they did in Misrata’.” (30 October 2011)

The criminality that is still being played out on the streets of Libya’s towns and villages is but a reflection of the criminality that was played out at the highest level by the leaders of the NTC and their imperialist masters.

The French newspaper Liberation has reported on a letter written in Arabic by the Libyan ‘rebels’ and which was sent to the French via Qatar in April. It is purported to have promised France 35 percent of Libya’s oil wealth in return for overthrowing Gaddafi. Now that Libya’s north coast is under occupation, these promises made in secret and those made at the meetings arranged in London back in April are being exposed with an expectation of fulfilment.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation chief Nuri Berouin has now reported to international investors that the Ras Lanuf oil refinery will be in operation by the end of the year and that production will also resume at the Waha oil field. In a statement reported by Reuters on 14 November he declared that oil production is now at 600,000 barrels a day (still way down on the 1.7m bpd delivered before the start of Nato’s campaign) but that it should have recovered to pre-war levels by 2013 (no doubt by this time it will be leaving Libya at knock-down prices!)

Countries want independence; nations want liberation!

With such brazen criminality on the part of the new regime, it is to be expected that many more thousands will rally to the resistance forces to try to stop the plunder of the Libyan people’s natural resources.

Despite the wall of silence being maintained by western media, small glimpses of the ongoing conflict continue to filter through. Franklin Lamb, who has been reporting for various independent websites, is reportedly inside Libya and has travelled the region extensively. In a report on counterpunch.org in early November he spoke about the formation of the Libyan Liberation Front (LLF), which is currently assembling forces in the Sahel (which encompasses parts of Libya’s border with Algeria, Niger, Chad and Sudan):

Today the Sahel is providing protection, weapons gathering and storage facilities, sites for training camps, and hideouts as well as a generally formidable base for those working to organise the growing Libyan Liberation Front (LLF). The aim of the LLF is to liberate Libya from what it considers Nato-installed colonial puppets. The Sahel region is only one of multiple locations that are becoming active as the Libyan counter-revolution, led by members of the Gaddafi and Warfalla tribes, make preparations for the next phase of resistance.

When I entered an office conference room in Niger recently to meet with some recent evacuees from Libya who I was advised were preparing to launch a ‘people’s struggle employing the Maoist tactic of 1,000 cuts’ against the current group claiming to represent Libya, two facts struck me.

One was how many were present and did not appear to be scruffy, intensely zealous or desperate, but who were obviously rested, calm, organised and methodical in their demeanour.

My colleague, a member of the Gaddafi tribe from Sirte explained: ‘More than 800 organisers have arrived from Libya just to Niger and more come every day.’ An officer in uniform added, ‘It is not like your western media presents the situation, of desperate Gaddafi loyalists frantically handing out bundles of cash and gold bars to buy their safety from the Nato death squads now swarming around the northern areas of our motherland. Our brothers have controlled the borderless routes in this region for thousands of years and they know how not to be detected even by Nato satellites and drones.’

However one wishes to explain it away, and whatever degree of credibility we may place upon all the reports we hear, the fact that Libyans continue to engage the forces of the NTC is admitted even by the BBC, the New York Times and other bourgeois media outlets. On 14 November the BBC carried the following piece on armed clashes outside Tripoli:

Several days of fighting between rival factions near the Libyan coastal city of Zawiya have left at least seven people dead, reports say ...The country is still awash with weapons and armed groups following the rebellion that led to the collapse of Col Muammar Gaddafi’s rule.

Interim Libyan leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil said the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) had brought together elders from the feuding areas – Zawiya and the nearby tribal lands of Warshefana – and that the dispute has been resolved over the weekend.

‘I want to assure the Libyan people that everything is under control,’ he said on Sunday.

However, witnesses said some fighting was still taking place as he spoke.

Reports said trouble flared up on Thursday when fighters from Warshefana set up a checkpoint on a highway near Zawiya, challenging fighters from the city.

Fighters from Zawiya reportedly accused their Warshefana counterparts of having links to the old government.

A fighter from the capital Tripoli, quoted by AP news agency, said the two sides had been battling for control of a military camp of the ousted government on the main road between Tripoli and Zawiya.

Witnesses reported hearing heavy gunfire and the explosions of rocket-propelled grenades.

At least seven people were killed although one report quoting medics in the Warshefana region put the toll at 13 – four from Zawiya and nine from Warshefana.” (‘Libyan factions in deadly clashes near Zawiya’)

Speaking about the same incident, the New York Times added:

Many of the claims and counterclaims could not be independently confirmed, including reports heard through several of hours of confusion Saturday night that the fighters shooting at the Zawiyah men might be led by Seif el-Islam, one of Colonel Gaddafi’s sons.”

Victory to the forces of the Jamahiriya

Exactly what state of health the progressive forces in Libya are in is beyond the direct knowledge of this newspaper. There are two incontrovertible facts, however, which point to the certainty of massive anti-imperialist resistance. The first is that the vast majority of Libyans were Gaddafi supporters; the second is that Gaddafi was overthrown because he diverted Libya’s oil money into providing the Libyan people with a high standard of living and into helping other African countries to escape the worst effects of poverty.

As a result of Gaddafi’s overthrow, Libya’s wealth will be rediverted to its ‘proper’ destination, ie, turned into imperialist loot, as a result of which not only will millions of Libyans be very much worse off, but many more millions of other Africans will suffer too – and they will all know that this is as a result of the imperialist intervention in Libya.

Undoubtedly, then, there will be a strenuous and effective mass fightback against imperialism and its puppet rats, as the formation of the LLF already testifies. It can be expected that the occupation of Libya will go even worse for the imperialists than have the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

That the resistance will continue is understood even by the imperialists. Our job is to win support for this war of liberation here in the British anti-war movement.

Victory to the Libyan resistance!

Death to imperialism and its stooges!
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