Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, during a speaking tour in Virginia on April 24-25, 2010. (Photo: Ana Edwards), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Humanitarian situation worsens in Libya
Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:41AM
Web Link and Video of Interview
Interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor of Pan-African News Wire, Detroit
NATO's new mission of bombing for 'regime change' in Libya does not appear to have merely failed, but seems to have actually worsened the humanitarian crisis in the North African country.
In an interview with Press TV, Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire, discusses the situation including NATO's neglect of humanitarian concerns despite formal agreements reached.
The following is a transcript of the interview:
Press TV: Our previous guest, Mr. Akram Elmuradi said NATO didn't do what was necessary in order to help and ensure the safety of civilians. Do you think that is the case?
Abayomi Azikiwe: Most people know that the US and NATO are not there to provide humanitarian relief, although this was the spin put forward to the public with the package of the UN resolution 1973.
The fact of the matter is that if you look at the news footage from Misrata, it shows clearly that the city has been systematically destroyed. And the fact that the opposition forces have control of the port there -- and also based on the fact that the UN said several days ago that they had reached an agreement with the Libyan government to allow relief to travel freely from Benghazi to Misrata -- what your guest is saying on the border with Tunisia and Libya, which is also controlled by the opposition forces, it would seem like they would be providing substantial relief for the people, who are suffering from tremendous health problems, trauma, lack of food, clean drinking water and so forth. So I think it speaks volumes in regard to the whole political aspect of the way this war is being carried out.
These people are dying in the hundreds, some say in the thousands, and the Western countries that have imposed a naval blockade, it would seem by the fact that some of them have even recognized the transition council as the official government of Libya, it would seem like they would provide some humanitarian relief for the people in light of the fact that they are highly responsible for the crisis that's going on right now in Libya.
Press TV: We saw a different dynamic in the situation in Libya right now with the US using drones in direct attacks. What is your perspective on this situation - why do you think they have brought in the drones and what is the significance of this?
Abayomi Azikiwe: The significance is that they are escalating the campaign to topple the Libyan government and also to weaken the resolve of the people who say they are in opposition to the Libyan government.
These drones, although they claim to be surgically precise, they have been known in other geo-political regions -- for example, in Pakistan -- to kill more innocent civilians than anyone else. We saw yesterday in Pakistan where children and women were killed by these drones; we've also seen it in Afghanistan; in other parts of the world where they've been utilized.
Their weapons are being used for targeted assassinations. We saw today where the compound of Qaddafi was hit by two bombs, so it is clear that this is part and parcel of the whole strategy of regime change as it relates to the situation in Libya.
And I think also the fact that the humanitarian crisis is worsening inside the country also illustrates the negative impact of not only the civil war that's going on, but also the bombing that's being carried out by NATO on a daily basis.
It is doing nothing to alleviate the conditions of civilians inside Libya- those people who are fleeing Libya across the border to Tunisia.
I don't think the situation in Misrata is by any means settled. What we've heard is that the militias in the areas that are loyal to the government are being armed in an effort to retake the city, so I don't think for one minute that the situation there is resolved.
Press TV: Referring to the UN resolution 1973 as far as helping with the no fly zone - How do you see these drone attacks falling within that resolution? Where is the line being drawn, in your perspective, of what (can) and cannot be done inside of Libya?
Abayomi Azikiwe: There is no line that has been drawn. The only line being drawn is the resistance of the people in Libya and the people in the region to this escalating US military effort in North Africa.
The passage of UN resolution 1973 was symbolic and actually provided a rationale for the placement of large-scale military resources by these Western imperialist countries in North Africa.
It is specifically designed to place a brake on any potential anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist revolutionary movement that will come to power in Egypt and Tunisia and in other countries in the region.
The US feels that if it has a large military presence or has a rationale under the false claims of international law to carry out a military strike, to be involved in military occupation, naval blockades, the deployment of weapons such as drones and Tomahawk missiles and other types of bombs that are being dropped on a daily basis in Libya ... This is what they're objective is - to stop the revolutionary movement that is spreading rapidly throughout North Africa (and) the Arabian Peninsula, as well as the Persian Gulf.
If we look at the situation straight across the region, most of the regimes, which are supported by the US have seen the most militant and the most popular revolutionary demonstrations that have taken place -- we look at Bahrain, Yemen, the situation in Egypt -- it is very fluid politically.
And the situation in Libya is different than the situation that developed in Egypt from the standpoint that the conflict has taken on a strictly armed character that has brought in the Western military states such as the US, Britain, and France, who see this as an opportunity to reassert their whole legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism in the region.
Not for one minute do most people believe that this is a humanitarian mission. The evidence of what is being reported on a daily basis through Press TV and other international news agencies illustrates very clearly that the humanitarian situation for the civilians in the most hotly-contested areas of Libya are worsening.
And even though there was an agreement worked out several days ago between the Libyan government and the UN to provide relief to the people in Misrata and in that region, it is not taking place. So it speaks volumes about the political character of this conflict.