Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, in 1999 when he was the host of the Pan-African Journal radio program on WHPR in Highland Park. (Photo: Dale Rich)., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Targeted Assassinations: NATO Kills Libyan Leader’s Son, Grandchildren
Western embassies attacked in Tripoli amid intensification of fighting
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
NATO airstrikes carried out against the residence of the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, resulted in the deaths of Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, 29, and three of his close relatives. The attacks took place on April 30 amid a dramatic escalation in fighting between Libyan governmental forces and the western-backed rebels in various parts of the North African state.
It was reported that the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his wife Safiyah were at the residence at the time of the bombing but were not injured. This airstrike follows three previous attacks on the life of the former Chairperson of the African Union since the bombing of the country began by U.S. and NATO forces on March 19.
In a statement made by Libyan governmental spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim, “The house of Mr. Saif al-Arab Gaddafi was attacked tonight (April 30) will full power. The leader with his wife was there in the house with other friends and relatives.” (Al Jazeera)
This statement continued pointing out that “The leader himself is in good health, he wasn’t harmed. This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country. This is not permitted by international law. It is not permitted by any moral code or principle.”
According to Ibrahim, “What we have now is the law of the jungle. We think now it is clear to everyone that what is happening in Libya has nothing to do with the protection of civilians. “(Al Jazeera)
NATO rejected the claim by the Libyan government that the airstrikes were part of a plan to assassinate the political leadership of the country. In a statement issued by the military alliance headed by the United States, the Canadian Commander of the Libyan war dubbed “Operation Unified Protector,” Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, said that “NATO continued its precision strikes against the Qaddafi regime’s military installations in Tripoli overnight, including striking a known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighborhood shortly after 1800 GMT Saturday evening.”
The statement went on to assert that “All NATO’s targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the regime’s systematic attacks on the Libyan population and populated areas. We do not target individuals,” Bouchard claimed.
Yet the Libyan spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim said in response to the NATO claims of strictly targeting military installations, that “It seems there was intelligence that was leaked. They knew about something. They expected him for some reason.”
Ibrahim continued saying “the target was very clear, very, very clear. And the neighborhood, yes of course, because the leader’s family has a place there, you could expect of course it would be guarded, but it is a normal neighborhood, Normal Libyans live there.”
The governmental spokesperson noted that Saif al-Arab Gaddafi is the least known of the leader’s children. Ibrahim emphasized that “He’s one of the low-profile children and has been largely invisible since the conflict began. He hasn’t been visible in any significant form. He hasn’t appeared on TV or made any speeches, he hasn’t been in any crowd-rallying marches.”
Ibrahim pointed out that Saif al-Arab Gaddafi was a civilian and a student in Germany. The government took journalists on a tour of the home in the immediate aftermath of the NATO attack.
Responses to the NATO Escalation of the War on Libya
International criticism and condemnation followed the announcement of the assassinations of Gaddafi’s son and grandchildren. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference on April 30 that the military actions carried out by NATO will lead to a ground invasion and occupation of the North African state. (Russian Television)
Lavrov said that “The information we have from our channels shows that both NATO and the EU are working on similar plans. “ The foreign minister said the understanding of the Russian government is that the ground operations against Libya will also be carried out under the guise of a humanitarian mission.
The Russian official called for the United Nations Security Council to address this issue prior to any invasion of Libya. “If anybody wants to ask for this idea for carrying out a ground campaign to the UN Security Council, then we will discuss it there and try to understand what is being planned on the ground.”
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said during the previous week that the military campaign against Libya goes far beyond the mandate of the UN Security Council when it passed Resolution 1973 on March 16. Russia abstained during the Security Council vote that was utilized to start an imperialist war against Libya.
Putin asked in an interview with Novosti newswire in Moscow: “What kind of no-fly zone is this if they are striking palaces every night? What do they need to bomb palaces for, to drive out mice? Putin said that the real objective behind the war against Libya was the West’s desire to take control of the oil resources inside the country, which are the largest known reserves on the African continent.
Anna Alwes, a research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs, told the Xinhua press agency that the western powers began their bombing operation against Libya under false pretenses and that these actions cannot be justified in light of the deaths of thousands of civilians.
Alwes concurs with other analysts throughout the world that the western intervention into the conflict in Libya will result in a prolonged war that will have long term international ramifications. She said that “I see no immediate solution to the conflict between NATO forces and the Libyan rebels on one side, and Muammar Gaddafi on the other. The ongoing civil war is fated to become an internal cancer that will destroy territorial unity and lead to a partition.” (Xinhua, April 30)
The South African analyst continued pointing out that “Whether Gaddafi stays or goes, the turmoil-wracked country is likely to be in for more of a rough time. Whichever way this goes, I think there’s going to be a good amount of chaos.”
In a statement issued by the New York-based International Action Center in direct response to the assassinations of the Libyan leader’s family members, the longtime anti-war organization noted that “These wars and occupations have nothing to do with alleged misdeeds of the national leaders, be they Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, the Taliban or Gadhafi. (IAC Statement, April 30)
The IAC went on to say of the attacks on Libya that “They are nothing but the imperialists’ attempt to re-conquer and re-colonize strategic regions. They are doing it with the resources stolen from workers and the poor at home. It’s time we put a stop to them.”
Western Embassies Attacked in Libya
Inside Libya the embassies of several western imperialist states were attacked and burned in response to the assassinations of the Gaddafi family members. On May 1 diplomatic outposts of the United States, Britain and Italy were targeted by crowds of Libyans outraged over the airstrikes that killed Saif al-Arab Gaddafi and three of the leader’s grandchildren.
Britain responded to the attacks on their embassy by expelling Libya’s ambassador to London. The United Nations announced on May 2 that it was withdrawing the 12 officials from Tripoli sending them to Tunisia as a result of the attacks. The UN said the removal of personnel was for security reasons in the aftermath of an attack on their building in Tripoli on May 1.
No one was injured in the attacks on the diplomatic missions in Tripoli since most of the personnel were removed weeks ago as the war against Libya has intensified. Demonstrations involving thousands of Libyans took place on May 1 where anti-U.S./NATO slogans were chanted and American flags set alight.
The funeral of Saif al-Arab Gaddafi took place on May 2 and was attended by thousands of Libyans who marched through the streets of the capital in defiance of the U.S. and NATO.
War Intensifies and Spreads to Tunisian Border
In the hotly-contested western port city of Misrata, the Libyan military forces continued to shell the city in an effort re-take the area which has become a base for the channeling of arms and other military supplies from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Rebel spokespersons say that Misrata is being used to transport injured civilians for medical treatment in Benghazi.
Also on the border crossing between Libya and Tunisia at Dehiba-Wazin, the governmental troops have attacked rebel positions. In addition, the Libyan military forces are fighting to dislodge rebel units from the western Nafusah mountain range where fighting has spilled over into Tunisia.
In Zintan, south-west of the capital of Tripoli, Libyan governmental forces are fighting to dislodge rebel units operating in the area. NATO reportedly carried out airstrikes outside Zintan in order to provide military cover for the rebels seeking to maintain a base in the town. The Libyan military has mounted an offensive in an attempt to enter the town from the east, southeast and northeast. (Reuters, May 2)
The New York Times reported on April 28 that “Rebels in the region, now calling themselves the United Forces of the Mountains of Nafusah, control the cities of Nalut, Jadu and Zintan. But Colonel Gaddafi’s forces have surrounded the cities of Yafran, Gala’a and Kiklah and began advancing on them, with ground forces and tanks surrounding the hospital at the edge of Yafran.” (NYT, April 28)
The escalation in the fighting has prompted the fleeing of thousands of refugees across the border into Tunisia. One of the residents near the border, Saleh Aouni, from the town of Yafran, told Reuters press agency that “We can no longer live there…Not an hour goes by without shelling.”
Tunisian military forces have set up six checkpoints along the way into Dehiba in order to monitor the situation on the border. Shells have landed inside of Tunisia and there are reports that several Libyan military vehicles have pursued the western-backed rebels into the area.
NATO airstrikes have also killed anti-government rebels who are being supported by the imperialist states. On April 27, 12 rebels were killed in a NATO bombing operation near the embattled city of Misrata, the country’s third largest with a population of 300,000.
Economic Crisis Behind the Escalation of Imperialist Aggression
The targeted assassinations of Saif al-Arab Gaddafi and his relatives took place one day prior to the announcement that the Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. military and intelligence commando raid in Pakistan. The assassinations in Libya and Pakistan are being utilized as war propaganda by the U.S. and NATO in order to deflect attention away from the growing criticism of military policy within these various imperialist states as well as internationally.
The U.S. and NATO have suffered severe setbacks in the ongoing wars of occupation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. A sharp increase in the number of U.S. and NATO casualties were reported during the month of April.
These military setbacks are also taking place in conjunction with the fierce resistance being waged by the Libyan military against the western-backed rebels and the imperialist states that are launching attacks on a daily basis. Increasing condemnation of the US/NATO war in Libya has eroded the political support for the Obama administration as well as the governments of Britain, France and Italy.
At the same time the economic crisis in the western capitalist states is escalating. The war in Libya has prompted the rise in fuel prices which negatively impacts consumer confidence in the capitalist states.
With the announced assassination of Osama bin Laden, the ruling class inside the U.S. and Western Europe were hoping for a rise in the stock markets. Yet the drastic attacks on workers and their trade unions in the capitalist states have sparked mass demonstrations as well as the intensification of the class consciousness of the people struggling to survive the imposition of austerity measures in the industrialized countries in Europe and North America.
The burgeoning working class struggle must link the Pentagon budget and the war drive against various geo-political regions throughout the world with the worsening conditions of the masses within the capitalist states. These attacks on the oppressed nations will not deflect attention away from the true source of the economic crisis which is the western-based financial institutions and their backers within the imperialist states.