Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, served as Master of Ceremonies at the Doctors4Detroit public meeting on July 8, 2011. The event was held at the U-M Detroit Center. (Photo: Andrea Egypt), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
UN, NATO War Crimes in Libya Sparks Anger and Continuing Resistance
New alliance of imperialist-led states plot theft and repression
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
In the aftermath of the brutal assassination of Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi and the destruction of his hometown of Sirte, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to end its so-called “No Fly Zone” over this North African state. The Security Council voted during March to impose an arms embargo and the “No Fly Zone” which resulted in a massive naval blockade and aerial bombardment that killed thousands and caused tens of billions in property damage.
After the Security Council adoption of the resolution ending the “No Fly Zone,” the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) announced that it would suspend its bombing campaign over Libya which had exacted 26,000 sorties and nearly 10,000 airstrikes. Russia introduced the resolution within the Security Council to end the bombing even though it did not participate in the carnage.
According to the Voice of Russia, “Foreign Minister Segei Lavrov has called for an international inquiry into the circumstances of Colonel Gaddafi’s death. Gaddafi’s relatives are planning to file a lawsuit against NATO with the International Criminal Court (ICC)….[L]awyer Marcel Secaldi, [said] Colonel Gaddafi was killed during a NATO raid on his convoy. But since NATO’s mandate in Libya did not allow for strikes against civilian targets, the incident could be classified as a war crime.” (Voice of Russia, October 31)
Although Russian legal commentator Boris Dolgov says that “The lawsuit could shed light on the circumstances of Gaddafi’s death and draw international attention to the fact that NATO’s forces had sided with the opposition in Libya’s civil war,” such an action will face formidable obstacles. However, other analysts point out that such an action will be an exercise in futility in light of the prevailing international situation.
Vasily Belozerov, a co-Chairman of the Russian Military Political Analysts Association, said of this bid to seek legal redress for the crimes committed by the UN and NATO before the ICC that “The court’s judgment will be politically motivated. It won’t be directed against ‘the powers that be’, like NATO, or against the current government in Libya.”
This article goes on to state that “The reason is crystal clear. Even though the legitimacy of NATO’s operation in Libya was questionable from the very beginning, the international community kept quiet. They won’t have a chance. They won’t be able to sue anyone since there will be no one to sue. The world’s most powerful military and political alliance had resolved to overthrow a politically stable regime.”
Despite the proclamation by NATO that it ended its bombing campaign over Libya on October 31, the presence of its Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Tripoli on the same day indicates that the imperialists are by no means leaving the country. Several days prior to the visit of Rasmussen it was announced that a new coalition called the “Friends of Libya” would be formed to assist in the further consolidation of the country under neo-colonial rule.
This alliance will be ostensibly be headed by Qatar, the Gulf state with strong ties to the United States. This new configuration, which bares the same name as the round of imperialist-hosted conferences that were held during the height of the bombing campaign, will also include the United States, France and Britain.
The Voice of Russia notes that “it has become clear that other countries had joined NATO in taking sides with the rebels fighting against Gaddafi. Among NTC fighters were hundreds of Qatari servicemen. The commander of Qatar’s army told a Voice of Russia correspondent that Qatari aviation would be safeguarding air space over Libya because Tripoli had no planes left.” (Voice of Russia, October 31)
Rasmussen said while in Libya he discussed the NTC’s “expectations as regards possible NATO assistance in the future.” The Secretary General of the U.S.-led military alliance stated that the war against Libya, dubbed as “Operation Unified Protector,” in his estimation was “one of the most successful in NATO’s history.” (BBC, October 31)
The Destruction of Libya’s Infrastructure and the Theft of Its National Wealth
Despite claims by the United States and NATO that the war against Libya was “successful,” the reality on the ground has proved otherwise. Obviously the war was designed to destroy the accomplishments of the Al-Fateh Revolution beginning in 1969 and to remove the government of Muammar Gaddafi.
The U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, and the alliance’s chief operations commander, Admiral James Stavridis, also claimed success in a New York Times editorial on October 31. Despite the pronouncements by President Barack Obama early on in the war against Libya that the U.S. role would be limited, the NATO ambassador and NATO operations commander stressed that the Pentagon “played a leading role in destroying Libya’s air defense system and providing critical resources, including the vast majority of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and the aerial refueling assets.” (Reuters, October 31)
Reuters news agency points out that “fourteen NATO members and four other states provided naval and air forces, but only eight NATO nations took part in combat missions. Daalder and Stavridis said U.S. planes flew a quarter of all sorties over Libya, France and Britain a third of all missions—most of them strike operations—and the remaining participants flew roughly 40 percent.” (Reuters, October 31)
As a result of the war against Libya the country lost 50 percent of its Gross Domestic Product. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted that Libya’s GDP was $71.3 billion in 2010…suggesting eight months of conflict cost the country’s 6.5 million people around $35 billion. Bank payment systems broke down and the country had difficulty financing imports, the IMF said in its assessment of the economic toll.” (Reuters, October 26)
In addition to the impact of the U.S.-NATO bombing and the attacks by the NTC rebels on the ground, the capitalist states froze between $160-170 billion in Libyan assets. Other losses include the theft and destruction of government property that was orchestrated by the imperialists and their rebel allies.
For example in Benghazi, it was reported in the Tripoli Post that “A priceless collection of nearly 8,000 ancient gold, silver and bronze coins much of which dates from the time of Alexander the Great, was stolen by robbers who broke into a bank vault.” Benghazi is the center of the NTC rebellion that began on February 17. (Tripoli Post, October 31)
The source of this theft derived from the drilling through a concrete floor of an underground vault in the National Commercial Bank of Benghazi. Described by an expert as “one of the greatest thefts in archeological history,” the heist involved the removal of untold amounts of wealth from the country.
This same Tripoli Post article says that “The treasure included more than 10,000 pieces, with 7,700 coins dating back to Greek, Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic times, several artifacts, including monuments and figurines of bronze, glass and ivory, as well as jewelry, bracelets, anklets, necklaces, earrings, precious stones, rings, gold armbands and medallions, are also believed to have been stolen by the thieves.”
Anger and Resistance Mounts Against U.S.-NATO War Crimes
Although the imperialists and their allies have brought down massive destruction in Libya, anger is escalating over the attempts to return the country to neo-colonialism. On October 25, five days after the assassination of Gaddafi, a huge explosion at a fuel tanker facility in Sirte is reported to have killed over 100 people.
The NTC rebels were quick to declare this incident as an accident despite the fact that suspicions were that it may have resulted in sabotage. Sirte has been a stronghold of Gaddafi loyalists and residents of the coastal city put up a formidable resistance to the U.S.-NATO bombardment that lasted for months.
Whether the explosion was accidental or intentional, the NTC rebels were unable to adequately respond. One resident outside of Sirte, Ali Faraj, said that “The explosion happened yesterday at around noon. It was very strong. I live 25 kilometers away and I heard it. “(AFP, October 26)
Faraj continued by complaining that there was no emergency response to the explosion saying that “There were no ambulances for the wounded, no trucks for the firefighters, and we couldn’t put out the fire…because the rebels stole all the vehicles.”
In Bani Walid anger among loyalist forces is escalating. Reuters news agency reported that “The war is not yet over for Libya’ new rulers in the desert town of Bani Walid where Gaddafi loyalists vow to fight on for their fallen leader and other residents are angry over violence and looting.” (Reuters, October 26)
This same article continues pointing out that people are “Enraged by what they see as acts of retribution by forces loyal to Libya’s new government,” and that “tribesmen say their men are already trying to regroup into a new insurgency movement in and around the strategic desert town south of the capital, Tripoli.”
The current situation in Libya is representative of the role of U.S. imperialism and its allies in other parts of the world. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, the U.S. military operations in these countries has worsened the conditions for the masses.
The NTC forces attempting to rule the country will be beholden to Washington, London, Paris and Rome for their security and meager resources. Only when the Libyan people are able to rise up a retake control of their land, resources and waterways will there be the potential for genuine independence and development inside this North African state.