Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney after the Detroit mass meeting opposing the US-NATO war against Libya. The event was held on August 27, 2011. (Photo: Andrea Egypt), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
The US-NATO War Against Libya and Its Implications for Africa and the World
Resource theft and imperialist domination at root of invasion
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Note: The following talk was delivered in Detroit on August 27, 2011 at a mass meeting held under the theme "Stop the US-NATO War Against Libya." The meeting was sponsored by the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) and featured presentations by other co-sponsors Atty. Mark Fancher of the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), Maureen Taylor, Chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO), Fred Vitale of the Detroit and Michigan Green Party and a statement of solidarity from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). The meeting was chaired by Debbie Johnson of MECAWI. A cultural presenation was delivered by the Detroit band Siaire Reign and Black Reign.
At the time of our meeting today the struggle for Libya rages on in various parts of the country. Despite claims nearly a week ago that the loyalist forces were not going to resist the invasion of Tripoli by the western-backed counter-revolutionary rebels, fighting has intensified since August 21.
First of all we must understand that the assault on Tripoli, known by the code name "Operation Mermaid Dawn," had been planned for at least 10 weeks. The entering of Tripoli was facilitated, as the overall war in general, by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), British MI6 and special forces, French special forces and the combined air and sea power of the U.S. Pentagon and NATO.
A ship carrying rebels unloaded on the evening of August 20 while the NATO warplanes intensified their bombing operations over Tripoli and in at least three areas leading into the capital. Attacks by the imperialist forces on the communications infrastructure of the Libyan government escalated amid targeted assaults on conventional military units in Tripoli.
Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of the invasion of Libya as a whole and more importantly the capital on August 20-21, is the psychological warfare being waged by the western states and their media outlets inside the industrialized states and their allies around the world. The purpose of the media reports that are largely based on pronouncements by the imperialists and their agents inside Libya and other regions of the world is to drain the willingness on the part of the people to resist the onslaught, to convince the people inside the country, in Africa and around the world that the triumph of imperialism is inevitable, a fait accompli and the right thing to do.
What we are doing here today is a direct form of resistance to the imperialist war against Africa. We are saying that we reject this onslaught and that the war is illegal along with all the other invasions, occupations and destablization efforts being carried out against the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Yemen, Bahrain, Pakistan as well as other countries throughout world.
The struggles of oppressed and working people in other parts of the world are also our struggle here in the United States. We are under attack here with the massive and concerted theft of our jobs, homes, pension funds, health care programs, schools and right to vote.
All we have to do is to simply open our eyes and look around us. Look at the streets, the schools, the neighborhoods destroyed by the banks, the police who patrol our neighborhoods targeting our youth for arrest, prosecution and imprisonment. The unjust courts which send African American, Latino/a and working class youth to prison while coddling the bankers and the transnational corporations and their agents in law-enforcement shielding them from prosecution for the enormous crimes against humanity that the commit on a daily basis.
A Long History of Destabilization Against Libya and the African Revolution
Libya was colonized by the Italian imperialism beginning in 1911. The people fought back vigorously against the imposition of foreign control over their country.
The anti-colonial struggle lasted for at least two decades before the fascist government of Mussolinni subdued the territory and its anti-colonial leadership. In 1923, the Italian colonialists built a military base inside the country east of the capital of Tripoli.
In the aftermath of World War II, when the Italian fascist were defeated by the allies forces, the British took over the military base. Later it fell under the control of the United States and was renamed Wheelus air force base. The US labelled the base as "little America."
This base played an important role in the US-UN war against the people of Korea during the early 1950s. This was during the cold war when the ruling class inside the US had identified the socialist countries and the national liberation movements around the world as the principle enemy of western imperialism.
During the cold war progressive forces inside the United States also came under attack for opposing the expansion of the influence of Washington and Wall Street throughout the world. In addition to the propaganda and military provocations against the former Soviet Union, China, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Vietnam, etc. as well as the rising independence struggles in Africa, Asia and Latin America, organizations inside this country were targeted for liquidation.
Individial activists such as Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois, Shirley Graham DuBois, Claudia Jones, William Alphaeus Hunton and others were targeted for political persecution, vilification and in some cases imprisonment. Yet these desperate acts on the part of the ruling class inside the U.S. could not stop the tide of national liberation, socialism and the civil rights and Black Power movements that swept the world during the period.
In Sudan in 1956, Ghana in 1957, Guinea in 1958, Cuba in 1959, Congo in 1960 the masses of people rose up and demanded their right to self-determination free of colonialism, racism, national oppression and imperialism.
Inside the United States the rising tide of the struggle for civil rights beginning in 1955 in Montgomery exposed the contradictions of the cold war where despite the false claims of liberty within the imperialist camp, the legacy of slavery was still very much apart of the post World War II political culture. By 1960, the students had entered the civil rights movement which took on a more determined and militant character.
By 1964 the African American movement would become more internationalist when Malcolm X sought to take the plight of oppressed African people in the U.S. to the United Nations as was done during the early 1950s by Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois and William Patterson. In 1966 the cry for Black Power coupled with the urban rebellions brought the African American liberation movement in full alliance with the oppressed peoples throughout the world.
In Libya after nearly two decades of neo-colonial rule under the monarchy which was granted nominal independence in 1951, the Revolutionary Command Council led by a 27-year-old Col. Muammar Gaddafi took power in Tripoli on September 1, 1969. Gaddafi immediately set out to nationalize the oil industry and shut down Wheelus air force base.
Since this time period the United States has been a sworn enemy of the Libyan government. Gaddafi was demonized by the corporate media and labelled a "state terrorist" for his support of the national liberation movements in Africa, Northern Ireland, the United States and around the world.
In 1981, a firefight between the US Air Force pilots and the Libyan Air Force resulted in the shooting down of that country's jets. In 1986, the US military under Ronald Reagan bombed the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi killing numerous people and causing tremendous property damage in Libya.
The provocations did not stop there with the imposition of economic sanctions and a ban on air travel to and from the North African state. Many Africans defied this travel ban including Nelson Mandela and the late Kwame Ture among many others.
When the US was poised to invade the Middle Eastern nation of Iraq, Libya sought to protect itself by "normalizing" its relations with the U.S., Britain, France and Italy. Libya agreed to the destruction of its own meager weapons systems.
Large scale investments by Libya were established in joint ventures with the capitalist states. By 2009, it appeared as if Libya, on the 40th anniversary of its revolution, was positioned to make significant contributions to plans for effort to further unite Africa politically and economically.
In 2009 Libya was chair of the African Union as well as president of the United Nations General Assembly. Gaddafi was scheduled to travel to New York in order to address the General Assembly meeting as a head-of-state as well as the chair of the AU and president of the UN body. At this time a whole vilification campaign was unleashed.
The only person ever convicted in the Lockerbie bombing of 1988 was released from a Scottish prison after being detained for over a decades. There was serious doubts about the actual outcome of the trial in The Hague where two Libyans were tried for the Lockerbie bombing, one was acquitted while the other was convicted.
Appeals were underway and a negotiated settlement for the release of the other Libyan national were part of the process of normalization of relations with Britain, France, Italy and the United States. US Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice visited Libya toward the end of the Bush administration. Gaddafi had held high-level meeting with Britain, France and Italy, where the former colonial power apologized for its imperial rule of Libya and paid reparations.
Nonetheless, Gaddafi's visit to the UN in September 2009 was the scene of a process of slander and imperialist propaganda. Since this time period relations between Libya and the United States and other imperialist states have worsened to the point of the current invasion of the country.
Implications for Libya, Africa and the World
The US-NATO war against Libya is a war against Africa and all oppressed and exploited people throughout the world. This war was waged in contravention of the desires and political intervention of the African Union which represents 54-member states on the continent.
Just this year we have seen an escalation of provocations, destabilization campaigns and regime-change operations on the African continent. In April, Ivory Coast, the world's largest producer of cocoa, was invaded and the government of Laurent Gbagbo was overthrown by the former colonial power of France. A puppet regime has been installed and the French maintain full control of this West African country with the backing of the US.
In Sudan in July,the largest geographic nation-state in Africa was partitioned leaving it even more vunerable to civil war and economic exploitation. Sudan is one of the emerging oil-producing states with 500,000 barrels being produced per day. The central government is still under threat of further destablization and military intervention.
Sudan has been bombed by the US in 1998 and Israel in 2009 as well as 2011. The country faces further destablization resulting from the civil conflict in Darfur as well as other problems in the east of the country.
In Zimbabwe the ruling ZANU-PF party has withstood over a decade of US, UK and EU sanctions aimed at reversing the land redistribution program and engineering regime-change. Even the Obama administration has renewed sanctions against Zimbabwe despite the fact that they have created a government of national unity.
The war against Libya has resulted in sanctions by the imperialist states, the imposition of a naval blockade, the bombing of the capital and other cities, towns and rural areas throughout the country and the use of depleted uranium weapons that will have long term environmental and public health impacts.
In the war against this oil-rich state the imperialists have bombed food storage facilities, barred medicines from entering the country,attacked its ports and shipping facilities and created a massive public health crisis by shutting down hospitals and clinics.
These developments are occuring in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The world capitalist system is on life support stolen from the resources and labor of people throughout the United States and the world.
The war in Libya derives from the same genocidal policies enacted against people inside the capitalist states including the US. There have been 10 million jobs eliminated in the US since 2007. There is growing poverty among African Americans, Latinos/as, women and working people in general.
Austerity is being imposed on the states, counties and cities of the United States and western Europe. The popular struggles in North Africa and the Middle East are also economic in their nature and require an alliance of oppressed and working people internationally to effectively challenge the aims and objectives of imperialism.
What is required of us here in North America is a well-organized fightback movement to mobilize millions to take on the system of capitalism and imperialism at its root. It was in the United States that the current economic crisis began and it will be here that the crisis will be reversed through mass action and a political program designed for fundamental change.
We need jobs, housing, healthcare, quality education, social security and pensions. We demand that the imperialist wars of occupation and genocide be stopped.
In order for this to take place we must become pro-active and militant in our demands and activities. Together we can turn the tide of history. The only missing link is the people organized into a movement committed to change. This is our task in the current period.
Long Live the People of Libya!
Long Live the Libyan Revolution Against Imperialism!
Down With Neo-Colonialism and Imperialism!
Long Live the African Revolution!
Workers and Oppressed of the World Unite!
Forward to the United States of Africa That Must Be!
Victory to the Peoples Struggle Against Counter-revolution and Reaction!
Together We Shall Win!
A Luta Continua (The Struggle Continues)