Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, at the National Conference for a New Urgency in the Struggle for World Socialism held in New York on November 13-14, 2010. (Photo: Alan Pollock), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Libya and the CIA Role in Africa
US/UK covert operations expose regime-change strategy against North African state
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Revelations in various corporate media outlets during the last week of March confirmed allegations that the opposition forces fighting against the Libyan government are being supported and coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency, MI6 and British Special Forces. Articles published in the New York Times and the Washington Post stated that U.S. President Barack Obama several weeks ago signed an order dispatching CIA operatives to identify targets for bombing and to vet potential leaders within the rebel forces in the event of the toppling of the Libyan government.
In addition to the role of the CIA, MI6 and British Special Forces, Al Jazeera contends in a recent article that both U.S. and Egyptian Special Forces are providing training to the rebel groups at a secret facility in eastern Libya where the opposition groups are based. These reports add greater clarity to the insistence on the part of the Obama administration that the current leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, should be forced from office and that a regime compliant with Washington’s foreign policy objectives in the region be placed in control of the oil-rich North African state of over 6 million people.
According to Al Jazeera, an unidentified rebel fighter relayed how he had received training in military techniques from U.S. and Egyptian military forces. Egypt’s military reportedly receives in excess of $US1.5 billion per annum from the United States administration for training, equipment and cooperation in implementing Washington’s foreign policy in North Africa and the Middle East.
“He told us that Thursday night (March 31) a new shipment of Katyusha rockets had been sent into eastern Libya from Egypt. He didn’t say they were sourced from Egypt, but that was their route through. He said these were state-of-the-art, heat-seeking rockets and that they need to be trained on how to use them, which has one of the things the American and Egyptian special forces were there to do.” (Al Jazeera, April 4)
The fact that the rebel forces are receiving arms and training from the U.S., UK and Egyptian intelligence and military units, illustrates the hypocrisy of the naval blockade being imposed on Libya under the guise of an arms embargo. In reality the arms embargo is only being carried out against the Libyan government while the imperialist states and their allies in the region are providing not only air and sea support for the rebels, but are also attempting to ensure that they maintain their military campaign against Tripoli.
Even Al Jazeera, which has been supportive of the military and political campaign against the Libyan government, was forced to admit that “since the rebels appear to be receiving covert support in terms of weaponry and training, it is not surprising that they are not inclined to criticize NATO openly….The intriguing development raises several questions, about Egypt’s private involvement and what the arms embargo exactly means….” (Al Jazeera, April 4)
U.S. Disinformation Cannot Cover-up Destabilization Campaign
Despite the repeated claims by the Obama administration that it does not know who the so-called “rebels” are in Libya, it is also been reported in the corporate media that the chief military officer for the forces fighting the Libyan government has been a longtime collaborator with the CIA. A right-wing think tank in an article published on their website noted that Khalifa Haftar, who was officially appointed as leader of the military campaign against the Libyan government, has for many years been financed and supported by the CIA.
In the Jamestown Foundation report it declares that “Today as Colonel Haftar finally returns to the battlefields of North Africa with the objective of toppling Gaddafi, his former co-conspirator from Libya’s 1969 coup, he may stand as the best liaison for the United States and allied NATO forces in dealing with Libya’s unruly rebels.” (The Jamestown Foundation report on Libya)
This same study revealed that Haftar played an important role in establishing the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) in June 1998, which is the military wing of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya “with strong backing from the Central Intelligence Agency.” Not only did the CIA set up the LNA but they created a training camp in Virginia where members of the group were taught counter-insurgency and destabilization tactics by the U.S. government.
A spokesman for the counter-revolutionary rebel grouping, Colonel Ahmed Bani, “told Reuters in Benghazi on March 24 that Hefta would head the rebel army. “ Another spokesman for the rebels, Abdel Hameed Ghoga, is also cited in a Reuters article saying that the “military (rebels) was being reorganized and the situation would become clearer in two days’ time. He did not elaborate.” (Reuters, April 1)
Reports also suggest that LNA leader Khalifa Hafter has resided in Virginia for the last two decades. The Nation magazine notes in an April 3 article entitled “The CIA, the Libyan rebellion, and the president,” that “It seems then that a long train of earlier commitments in Libya was set in motion as soon as the Egyptian uprising began.” (The Nation, April 3)
This same Nation article concludes that “An event that Americans were led to believe was an autonomous rising on the model of Egypt turns out to have been deeply compromised from the start, and compromised by American meddling. All the external parties are in Libya for different reasons. Things could not have gotten this far without the CIA.”
CIA Has Long Role in African and World Affairs
Formed in the aftermath of the Second World War, in 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency is considered the successor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) which was the espionage wing of the military during this period. Some of the earliest operations of the CIA were carried out in Europe and were designed to prevent leftists from entering or taking control of governments after the defeat of fascism in 1945.
In fact the first operational base for the agency was established in Athens, Greece. In an article that first appeared in the Athens daily Ta Nea between Feb. 22-24, 1978, it states that “Thomas Karamessines established the first CIA Station in Athens some time in the late 1940s.” (Dirty Work, the CIA in Western Europe, Edited by Philip Agee and Louis Wolf, 1978, p. 151)
This same article continues pointing out that “From the very beginning, the Athens station was considered one of the most import CIA stations in all of Europe because of the strategic importance of Greece in the Mediterranean. With the passage of time, the station grew to become not only one of the most important but also one of the largest, serving as a staging base for operations in the Near East.“
In subsequent years, a lot of the covert operations conducted by the CIA were directed towards the oppressed nations, national liberation movements and socialist states. In 1953, the CIA engineered a coup against Mohammad Mossadegh, the leader of Iran, who sought to take control of the oil industry for the benefit of the people. He was replaced by the Shah who remained in office until 1979 when he was overthrown by the Iranian Revolution.
In 1954, the government of Guatemala was also overthrown with the backing of the CIA. In Cuba in 1961, the CIA attempted to topple the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro by staging a landing at the Bay of Pigs. The invasion was soon defeated and the-then President John F. Kennedy called off the operation and admitted defeat.
In 1966, the CIA was behind the destabilization and overthrow of the Pan-African and socialist-oriented government of President Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana. Nkrumah supported the national liberation movements throughout Africa and the world and formed close relations with the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and Yugoslavia.
In 1975, the CIA attempted to prevent the consolidation of national independence in the oil-rich Southern African nation of Angola. The agency would fight alongside the racist South African Defense Forces (SADF) and the counter-revolutionary UNITA and FNLA movements which sought to stem the tide of the total liberation of the region which was delayed because of imperialist intrigue until 1994.
The Importance of an Anti-Imperialist Perspective
For those who have studied the history of U.S. imperialism over the last century it is not surprising that the CIA would be involved in efforts to destabilize and overthrow governments in developing states. In addition to the role of the agency in fostering instability and chaos in various countries where the U.S. government felt compelled to intervene to protect its strategic interests, the organization has a long track record of fomenting disinformation and psychological warfare.
In the United States it has been noted by various progressive media outlets and organizers that one important role of the corporate media is designed to build public support for U.S. imperialist aims and objectives both domestically and internationally. Therefore going into Libya utilizing the CIA, stealth bombers and tomahawk missiles to engineer regime-change is framed as an act of humanitarian relief designed to protect civilians.
Nonetheless, the deaths of civilians, governmental personnel and the seizure and destruction of property belonging to Libya is covered-up by the corporate media. It is the duty of the anti-war and peace movements in the U.S. and throughout the Western industrialized countries to expose the role of the CIA and other intelligence services and uphold the right of oppressed, post-colonial and revolutionary governments to self-determination and sovereignty.
Any other approach that strengthens the imperialists and their intelligence and military apparatuses will only delay the struggle for international solidarity of the workers and oppressed inside the United States and around the world. Anti-war organizations must take on the task of transforming the racist, capitalist and imperialist government here in the U.S. in order to ensure the attainment of peace and social justice inside this country and throughout the world.