Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, at the Detroit Bead Museum on the west side during September 2008. (Photo: Omorose), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
African Union Calls for End to NATO Bombing of Libya
Imperialists dispatch fighter helicopters and prepare for ground invasaion
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
South African President Jacob Zuma paid a state visit to Libya on May 30 in a renewed effort to bring about a ceasefire in the war with the western-backed rebels and the NATO forces who have intensified the bombing of the capital of Tripoli and other areas of the country. Zuma was acting on behalf of the African Union which held an extra-ordinary meeting on May 25 aimed at bringing an end to the war against Libya.
Although South Africa was one of the countries whose government voted in favor of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which has served as the pseudo-legal basis for an all-out military onslaught against the North African state, Zuma has spoken out against the bombing and regime-change strategy that was the real motive behind the UN actions. Since March 19, NATO has admitted that nearly 4,000 bombing missions have been carried out by the U.S., Britain, France, Italy, Canada and other imperialist states and their allies against the Libyan people.
The NATO forces who are providing arms, logistics, economic and political support for the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) have stepped-up the airstrikes in the capital. At the same time the British and French governments have announced the deployment of Tiger and Apache helicopters that will inevitably kill and injure more civilians.
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron held a joint press conference in London on May 24 calling for the overthrow of the Gaddafi government in Libya. Obama, who has gone from stating that the war against Libya was limited to demanding regime-change immediately, faces growing opposition to the Libyan war inside the United States.
The U.S. Congress is being proded to vote on whether the Pentagon should continue with the war in North Africa. U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is submitting a resolution in the House of Representatives challenging the legality of the war against Libya.
African Union Holds Special Session on Libya
The extra-ordinary session of the African Union held on May 25 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia marked the 48th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the AU. A statement issued in the aftermath of the meeting called for an immediate halt to the NATO bombing and the beginning of negotiations to end the war.
This is the same position that has been advanced by the AU for nearly three months when on March 11 the Peace and Security Council issued a communique opposing foreign intervention in Libya. Numerous efforts by the AU and several Latin American states have been rejected outright by the imperialist states and their allies among the rebels who are operating inside eastern Libya.
Under the title of the "Decision on the Peaceful Resolution of the Libyan Crisis," the statement "reiterated all earlier communiques of the Peace and Security Council on the situation in Libya expressed deep concern at the prevailing situation and its consequences on the civilian population and the long-term stability of Libya, as well as on the countries of the region in particular those of North Africa and the sahelo-saharan area." (AU Statement, p.1)
This AU statement also emphasized that even without a comprehensive ceasefire that there should be at least "a pause in the fighting and in the NATO-led air campaign, to provide respite to the civilian population, alleviate its suffering and make it possible to deliver the much-needed humanitarian assistance that all those in need of it." (AU Statement, p.1)
Therefore, the African Union stressed that in light of the horrendous conditions facing Libyans and African migrant workers who have been targeted in racist attacks by the counter-revolutionary forces, the NATO bombing should be immediately halted. Under point five of the AU statement it notes that "the continuation of the NATO-led military operation defeats the very purpose for which it was authorized in the first place, i.e. the protection of the civilian population and further complicates any transition to a democratic dispensation in Libya." (AU Statement, p.1)
Despite the charges of Libya's "undemocratic" system, the opposition TNC forces that are fighting the Gaddafi government have not been elected by anyone other than the western imperialist states to ostensibly represent the people. The TNC is largely led by monarchists, defectors from the government and numerous groups that have opposed the government for decades.
The AU statement addressed the deliberate failure of the rebels and their US/NATO supporters to acknowledge the role of the continent's leaders in resolving the Libyan war. In fact "The Assembly expressed Africa's surprise and disappointment at the attempts to marginalize the continent in the management of the Libyan conflict... and recalled that Africa, particularly the countries of the region, are those that bear the greatest impact of the conflict in Libya, both in terms of security and socio-economic consequences." (AU Statement, p. 2)
Further illustrating the racist character of the imperialist adversaries and their rebel allies inside the country, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) of South Africa pointed out in an article published in the ANC Today newsletter that "The rebels have wounded hundreds of black immigrants from the poorest African countries, who worked mainly as low-wage day laborers in Libya. From fear of being killed, some of them have refrained from going to a doctor. At the time of the outbreak of civil war, about 1.5 million black Africans were employed in Libya as laborers in the oil industry and the construction, agriculture and service sectors." (ANC Today, May 27)
This same ANCYL statement notes that "The rebel TNC and(a constitution of Islamists, ex-Gaddafi politicians, parasitic businessmen and CIA agents), whose forces have been systematically killing black Africans who are assumed to be mercenaries, likes to play down the fact that it is primarily a movement from Cyrenaica, the greater bulge of eastern Libya where Gaddafi has always been unpopular."
Conditions for Refugees Worsens Amid Plans for NATO Ground Invasion
An incident on May 25, where a refugee camp in Tunisia housing over 1,000 African migrant workers was attacked by the military and locals in the area, illustrates the precarious position facing those in the border towns that have fled the fighting in Libya. After objecting to and protesting against the deplorable conditions prevailing in the Choucha camp near the main crossing with Tunisia at Ras Ajdin, Tunisian soldiers backed-up by people in the area, attacked the makeshift residences and burned them to the ground.
This camp housed African migrant workers from various countries including Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Ivory Coast. It was reported that the tents providing shelter for the refugees were set on fire and the belongings of the inhabitants stolen while five Sudanese men were shot. (Guardian, UK, May 25)
These attacks on refugees in Tunisia come amid reports of preparations for a land invasion by the U.S. and other NATO troops. In an article by Manlio Dinucci, he claims that "the U.S. has sent a naval attack group led by the most modern and powerful nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier, named George H.W. Bush. The ship is 333 meters long and 40 meters wide and has on board 6,000 personnel, 56 aircraft (which can take off at 20-second intervals) and 15 helicopters, and is equipped with sophisticated electronic warfare systems."
In the event of a ground invasion, the fighting inside of Libya will intensify. With a purported "humanitarian" landing of European and U.S. troops, the war will enter a new and even more dangerous phase. Consequently, the anti-war and anti-imperialist forces in the U.S. and Europe must escalate their opposition to yet another war of occupation.