Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, addressing a public forum honoring Black August. The event was held on August 7, 2010. (Photo: Andrea Egypt), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Imperialists Escalate Bombing Operations Over Libya
Opposition to war builds around the globe
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
After over a week of intensive bombing of the North African state of Libya, U.S. President Barack Obama went on national television to provide a rationale for the commencement of yet another war against a developing country which has a majority Muslim population. Even though Washington claims that it is no longer in the lead of the campaign to overthrow the Libyan government and install a puppet-regime compliant to the West, the bulk of the firepower used in the war is being supplied by the Pentagon.
It was announced on March 28 that the full command of the war against Libya was being rapidly transferred to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which was founded and still is controlled by the U.S. government. Canadian Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard has been designated as the commander of operations for the war against Libya.
On March 21, Canadian CF-18 fighter jets flew their initial bombing missions over Libya amid claims by Defense Minister Peter MacKay that Ottawa had a “moral duty” to participate in the war in North Africa. All four opposition parties in the Canadian parliament endorsed the ruling Conservative Party’s decision to support the U.S. and other European imperialist states in carrying out this military operation against Libya, a country of approximately 6 million people.
Reports indicate that warplanes from the U.S., Britain, France, Canada, Italy, Denmark and Belgium are involved in the aerial and sea bombardments of Libya. In addition, the U.S.-backed Gulf states of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have entered the campaign against Libya alongside the imperialist states from North America and Western Europe.
Since March 25, Qatari Mirage Jets have flown alongside French aircraft in bombing operations over northeastern Libya. France has been eager to highlight the role of Qatar to make it appear that the Arab states are supportive of the imperialist war against Libya.
According to the French Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Jean-Paul Palomeros, “It really shows the courage (of Qatar) to enlist at our sides." The UAE has committed six F-16s and six Mirage aircraft to the war in North Africa.
The reason behind the involvement of these Gulf states in the war was explained by the Associated Press on March 28 when an article stated that “The decisions by Qatar and UAE to join the coalition in Libya reflects their strong traditional ties to the United States and their desires to play a more active role internationally. The Gulf states rely on a strong regional U.S. military presence as a buffer against Iran, which is seen as a threat by the Gulf’s kings and sheiks. Western nations are also key trading partners.” (Associated Press, March 28)
It was also announced on March 28, that Turkey, a recent member of NATO, and a longtime base for U.S. military operations against Iraq and Afghanistan, will purportedly take control of the airport in the rebel-held city of Benghazi. Turkey’s involvement with the Benghazi airport will be bolstered by their naval forces that will patrol areas between Crete and this northeastern Libyan city where the rebellion against the Gaddafi government began on Feb. 17.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a press conference on March 28 at the Esenboga Airport before departing for occupied Iraq, that “Turkey said yes to three tasks within NATO: the takeover of Benghazi airport for the delivery of humanitarian aid, the task about control of the air corridor and the involvement of Turkish naval forces in the corridor between Benghazi and Crete.”
Bombing Operations Escalate Against Libya
Meanwhile British Tornado aircraft bombed Libyan government installations in the Sabha area in the south of the country. Libya’s state news agency reported that there were several casualties in the attacks by planes that conducted their strikes from a base in the UK.
Western imperialist airstrikes have provided cover for the rebel forces that are seeking to recapture key cities lost to the government forces during mid-March. Fierce fighting between government forces of the Libyan military and the rebels have taken place in Misrata, Nawfaliya and Sirte.
The current war against Libya represents the largest U.S. and Western European military deployment in the region since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. With the vast oil resources in Libya and its strategic location on the Mediterranean Sea near southern Europe, the imperialist states want to bring this North African state under its control in order to not only seize its natural resources but to also stall any potential revolutionary shift in direction for the democratic movements that have sprung up in Egypt and Tunisia.
According to Michel Chossudovsky in an article published by the Center for Research on Globalization, the war is based on “Outright lies by the international media: Bombs and missiles are presented as an instrument of peace and democratization. This is not a humanitarian operation. The war on Libya opens up a new regional war theater.” (Global Research, March 20)
Chossudovsky notes that “There are three distinct war theaters in the Middle East and Central Asia regions: Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq. What is unfolding is a fourth U.S.-NATO War Theater in North Africa, with the risk of escalation.”
Nonetheless, the Libyan people are maintaining their resistance to the imperialist onslaught against their government and country. Libyan military forces have fought the rebels and held them off in Misrata and areas leading toward Sirte, despite the heavy bombing by the U.S. and European war planes and naval units off the coast in the Mediterranean.
The African Union and the Arab League announced on March 27 that they would renew efforts to bring about a ceasefire inside the country. Amr Mousa, Secretary General of the Arab League and Jean Ping, the African Union Commission Chair, met in Cairo on March 27 in order to develop a roadmap for the resolution of the fighting in Libya.
Previous efforts on the part of the African Union, which rejects foreign military intervention in Libya, have been dismissed by the imperialist states and the rebel forces that they are supporting in the east of the country. An AU meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 26 failed to make headway in the declaration of a ceasefire since the western-backed rebels failed to appear.
This meeting was attended by five members of the Libyan government, 15 members of the AU Peace and Security Council, representatives of the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the European Union and the United Nations. Ambassadors from Germany, Belgium, India, Italy, France, Japan, Norway, Portugal, UK, China, Russia, Denmark, Spain, Brazil, Turkey, the U.S. and other states within North Africa also attended.
Demonstrations and Condemnations Grow Around the World
Despite the claims by corporate media outlets that there is widespread support for the war against Libya among Arab countries and within the imperialist states, demonstrations have escalated over the last week. In Mali, a West African state, thousands of people demonstrated on March 25 against the imperialist war on Libya chanting “Down With Obama!, Down With Sarkozy!”
The crowd in Mali marched through the capital of Bamako to both the French and U.S. embassies. Public opinion throughout Africa has been highly critical of the western states and their war against Libya. (Associated Press, March 25)
President Mugabe of Zimbabwe described the western countries attacking Libya as “bloody vampires.” South African President Jacob Zuma, after much internal criticism by the ANC Youth League and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) over the vote of his government in support of UN Resolution 1973, called for an immediate cease fire.
Numerous organizations throughout the U.S. and the world have condemned the attacks on Libya. In Greece, youth supporting the Communist Party burned flags of the EU in protest against the war.
Demonstrations were also held in Belgrade, Serbia in solidarity with the Libya government. In Madrid thousands of people marched through the streets on March 26 protesting Spain's involvement as a launching pad for military attacks against Libya.
A statement issued by the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (G-C) called upon people to "Organize and prepare to return to the streets, and to demonstrate on/in and occupy every campus and every city in the United States, Germany, Britain, Canada, France, Italy and occupied Palestine (so-called Israel) and all countries in the world who participate in this affront to and crime against Africa, the African Diaspora, and World Humanity, until any and all of their regimes are changed.”
Min. Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam has spoken out forcefully against the U.S. war on Libya. His remarks have been broadcast widely on African American formatted radio programs throughout the United States.
In a recent article published in the Final Call newspaper, it said that “Concern about the U.S., French and British-led air offensive against Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi surfaced just two days after America’s first Black president ordered attacks on the North African nation. With President Barack Obama’s vocal approval, military assaults on Libya started March 19, with French planes striking anti-aircraft and other locations, including a military convoy, followed by 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from five U.S. ships in the Mediterranean.” (Final Call, March 29, p. 2)
Former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who was the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate, issued a statement on March 27 condemning the U.S. bombing of Libya. McKinney noted that “The reason Muammar Qaddafi is a target is because he has been a thorn in the side of anti-revolutionary forces since he took power in Libya, overthrowing the King and nationalizing the oil industry so that the people could benefit from their oil resources.”
With specific reference to the Obama administration, McKinney points out that “Today, the Obama administration is responsible for its own war crimes, torture, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the peace and defends in U.S. Courts those from the Bush administration who bear responsibility for having approved or justified them in the past. Yet, this responsibility will not even agree to investigate the violation of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s civil rights in his first trial rife with racial innuendo, judicial misconduct, and a lack of evidence.”
McKinney continued to expose the hypocrisy of the Obama administration by pointing to a death penalty case in Georgia involving “Troy Davis where seven of nine witnesses recanted their testimonies and cited prosecutorial misconduct. But it did go to court to defend military commissions and insulted Native Americans in the process.”
In regard to the advances made by the Libyan Revolution over the last four decades, McKinney reminds her readers that “Libya’s Revolution brought free health care and education to the people and subsidized housing. In fact, students in Libya can study there or abroad and the government gives them a stipend while they are in school and they pay no tuition.”
These domestic policies in Libya are then contrasted with conditions prevailing in the United States noting that “If a Libyan needs surgery that must be done overseas, then the government will pay for that surgery. That is more than the soldiers of the United States military can say. While Libyans enjoy subsidized housing, members of the U.S. military risk foreclosure while they serve their country abroad.”
As it relates to the struggle for Pan-Africanism, McKinney says frankly that “Muammar Qaddafi has long been a friend to African people. Pan-Africanists have travelled to and from Libya since the beginning of Qaddafi’s role as Libya’s leader, including the Black Panther Party, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, and Nation of Islam members. I once defended Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in the House International Relations Committee when the late Tom Lantos--on behalf of Israel—challenged The Nation’s relationship with Libya and wanted to dash Qaddafi’s desire to give The Nation several billion dollars to help Black people.”
On April 9-10 there will be two major anti-war demonstrations in both New York and San Francisco. The main sponsoring organization, the United National Anti-war Committee (UNAC), has issued a statement opposing U.S. intervention in Libya.
People from throughout the country are mobilizing to attend the April 9-10 demonstrations. The recent round of events in North Africa illustrates clearly that U.S. foreign policy has not changed at all under the Democratic administration of Barack Obama.
The War On Libya and the Struggle Against Neo-Colonialism
The aim of the western imperialist bombing operation against the North African state of Libya is designed to gain control of the natural resources, land, waterways, military and government by the U.S. and other subordinate European and Middle-Eastern countries. This desire on the part of the U.S., through its oil companies and financial institutions, is not limited to the situation inside of Libya but extends throughout the region of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf States.
Recognizing that the rebellions in Tunisia and Egypt held the potential for a genuine anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist national democratic revolution in these North African countries, the U.S. and other European governments moved to not only redirect the course of these worker and youth demonstrations, strikes and violent outbreaks but to promote, engineer and impose counter-revolutions within various countries that have been sworn enemies of the imperialists for decades. In fact the revolutionary movements in both Egypt and Tunisia have been effectively hijacked by the military and bureaucratic bourgeoisies within these respective states who are supported and financed by U.S. and European imperialism.
In a recent referendum held in Egypt on the draft of a new constitution, the turnout in the elections was low in part due to the fact that the entire transition process is being controlled by the military and a “panel of experts’ that were appointed by the Supreme Military Council. The Egyptian military has been trained, armed and subsidized by U.S. imperialism for decades.
U.S. military, administration and congressional figures have sent high-level delegations to Egypt and Tunisia in efforts to persuade the various political forces inside the country that the world’s leading imperialist state is in fact in support of a democratic movement in one of the most devastated states under neo-colonialism.
There is no reason to doubt that the U.S., France, Britain and the other imperialist states will maintain the same posture toward the nations of Africa, the Arab and Muslim world. The western states cannot afford to lose their strategic influence and dominance over North Africa and the Middle-East. Inevitably there will be a deepening class and national struggle to defeat neo-colonialism within this region of the world.
As Kwame Nkrumah wrote in 1963 for the founding of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that, “It can be readily seen that imperialism is a fundamental cause of war. An iniquitous system which has generated intense rivalries and conflicts between nations that erupted into open warfare on a major scale in the scramble to secure ‘a place in the sun’ of colonial supremacy, it has today spawned the neo-colonialism which is a busy as ever in creating clashes among the nations.” (Africa Must Unite, p. 202)
The founder of modern Ghana and foremost proponent of Pan-Africanism continued by noting that “When we in Africa denounce imperialism and the recent off-shoot, neo-colonialism, we do it not only because we believe that Africa belongs to the Africans and should be governed by them, but also in the interest of world peace which is also essential to our development and freedom. By abolishing imperialism in all its forms, the world will be rid of many of the present areas of conflict.” (Africa Must Unite, p. 202)
In a book published some five years later, Nkrumah in his classic work entitled "The Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare," he begins by stressing the need to "Know the Enemy." By breaking down and explaining the external forces impacting the inability of Africa to throw off the chains of oppression, Nkrumah underlines that these exploitative systems must be understood in order to wage an effective struggle.
At the very beginning of this book he says that "A number of external factors affect the African situation, and if our liberation struggle is to be placed in correct perspective and we are to KNOW THE ENEMY, the impact of these factors must be fully grasped. First among them is imperialism, for it is mainly against exploitation and poverty that our peoples revolt. It is therefore of paramount importance to set out the strategy of imperialism in clear terms." (Revolutionary Path, p. 447)
Consequently, the struggle against imperialism is essential in the current phase of the African Revolution. The assault on Libya is a manifestation of modern day imperialism in all its most egregious forms.