Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, appearing on Press TV to discuss the escalation of US/NATO bombing of the North African state of Libya on July 18, 2011. The imperialists have been at war with the Gaddafi government for ten months., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Libya Remains Unstable After Ten Months of Imperialist War
Defense secretary Panetta’s visit cannot mask genocidal crimes against the people
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
February 17 is the day when the enemies of the Libyan Jamahiriya government began their rebellion against the 42 year rule of Col. Muammar Gaddafi. Immediately the United States, Britain, France and other NATO allies declared that the unrest constituted a democratic uprising and warranted the removal of the system of governance inside this North African state.
Exactly ten months later, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta paid an official visit to Libya to reassure the NATO-installed National Transitional Council (NTC) that Washington would provide full backing to the new regime. Although Panetta told the unelected and undemocratic leadership of the country that they would face formidable challenges, he said that he was “confident that you will succeed.” (Reuters, December 17)
One of the major challenges facing the western-backed government is the failure to reign in the armed militia groups which have terrorized the population for months. One day prior to Panetta’s visit, two sons of the purported commander of the anti-Gaddafi ground forces, Khalifa Haftar, were wounded in an ambush by a rival militia group from Zintan which still controls the airport outside Tripoli.
Just one week ago, Haftar, who had lived in the U.S. state of Virginia for three decades under the sponsorship of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was involved in clashes with militiamen at a checkpoint near the airport. NTC Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib and Defense Minister Osama Al-Juwali have ordered the militias again to vacate the city by December 22.
The militia groups have refused to disarm and leave the capital as well as other areas of the country. Various armed units are saying their fighters will not lay down their weapons and depart the capital of Tripoli until they are given political and economic authority.
These disparate groups of opposition forces were only united around the imperialist-driven aim of regime-change in Libya. There has never been any ideological or political cohesiveness among the NTC interim regime and their supporters.
After ten months of sanctions, a naval blockade, the destruction of the national infrastructure through militia attacks and U.S.-NATO bombing operations, the once prosperous and stable state has been nearly destroyed. Even among the political leadership of the NTC profound differences exist that have prevented the regime from developing a coherent policy to govern the country.
Despite these problems within the western-backed NTC government, the Pentagon chief Panetta stated in Tripoli that “I’m confident they (the interim leaders) are taking the right steps to reach out to all of these groups and bring them together so they will be part of one Libya and one defense system.” Nonetheless, with elections scheduled to take place next year, NTC Prime Minister Keib said that “We know how serious this issue is, we know it’s not just a matter of saying ‘Okay, just put down your arms and go back to work.’” (Reuters, December 19)
Unblocking Stolen Funds
During the course of the imperialist-led war against Libya, the capitalist states not only imposed sanctions but froze over $160 billion of the national wealth of the government and people. There was no justification for the seizure of these resources and such actions were taken as an act of war designed to assist in the overthrow of the Gaddafi government.
On December 16, the United Nations Security Council announced that it would lift sanctions on Libya’s central bank and a subsidiary that will supposedly provide tens of billions of dollars to the rebel regime. In addition to the lifting of UN sanctions, the U.S. has stated that it is releasing $30 billion in funds for use by the NTC.
At present the regime admits that there is a “cash crunch” inside the country. Funds are needed to pay public sector workers and hire contractors to re-build the infrastructure of the country, the most oil-rich on the African continent.
However, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that “Assets in the U.S. of the Gaddafi family and former regime members remain frozen…as are funds tied to the Libyan Investment Authority and entities named as being owned or controlled by it, according to a Treasury Department fact sheet.” (Wall Street Journal, December 19)
John Carney, the White House spokesman for President Barack Obama, boasted about the role the U.S. played in the overthrow of a sovereign African government. He said that the U.S. is “proud of the role” it took on by bombing the country which created the conditions for the capture and brutal assassination of Col. Gaddafi.
UN Attempts to Deflect Criticism of Role in Libya War
It was the United Nations Security Council which passed Resolutions 1970 and 1973 that provided the pseudo-legal rationale for the obliteration of the Libyan government and people. After the passage of these resolutions, the U.S. and NATO bombs began to drop on the people resulting in thousands of deaths and the displacement of at least a million Libyans and foreign nationals inside the country.
All during the course of the bombings, which resulted in 26,000 sorties and 10,000 airstrikes, there were voices of condemnation throughout Africa and around the world. The African Union (AU), a 54-member continental organization composed of sovereign states, developed its own road map for peace that was totally ignored by both the UN and the imperialist countries involved in the airstrikes, sanctions and naval blockade.
In the aftermath of the installation of the NTC in Tripoli, criticism of the UN role continues. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has attempted to deflect these criticisms with false claims of innocence on the part of the UN.
In addition to the AU, the governments of Russia, China, India and Brazil have accused the U.S. and NATO of utilizing the UN resolutions as a cover to destroy Libya and overthrow its government. Ban Ki-moon retorted falsely claiming that “Security Council resolution 1973, I believe, was strictly enforced within the limit, within the mandate.” (Reuters, December 14)
According to Ki-moon, “These changes of regime were done by the people, not by the intervention of any foreign forces, including the United Nations.” However, the reality of the situation in Libya was that the NTC rebels were on the verge of total defeat until the U.S.-NATO began to bomb the country.
In regard to the death of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Libya just two days before his brutal execution by the NATO-backed rebels in Sirte. During this visit Clinton called for Gaddafi to be captured and killed which was done on October 20.
The coastal city had been bombed extensively and a US predator drone along with French fighter planes identified the convoy carrying Gaddafi and other top government officials for liquidation. Gaddafi and his son were killed in the custody of the U.S.-backed rebels.
Despite these blatant crimes, the U.S., the other NATO countries and the UN have all recognized the NTC as the legitimate government in Libya. Now the Secretary General of the UN is calling for similar actions to be taken against Syria.
The ICC Appoints New Prosecutor
A new chief prosecutor for the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court (ICC) has been announced from The Hague. Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of Gambia is slated to take the place of Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina in August.
The ICC is loathed in Africa since it has solely focused on persecuting and capturing government leaders and others from the continent. Just recently the ICC announced that the extra-judicial killing of Muammar Gaddafi would be investigated as a possible war crime.
Yet it was the ICC that played an important role in supporting and propping-up the imperialist war against Libya. The ICC indicted Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam and intelligence head Abdullah al-Senussi. After the killing of Gaddafi, Moreno-Ocampo visited Libya and said that the political situation was conducive to holding a trial to prosecute Seif al-Islam inside the country.
Nonetheless, in Libya there is no sound governmental structures, no legitimate courts and the whereabouts of Seif al-Islam is a mystery to the people in Libya as well as the international community. It is reported that Seif is being held incommunicado and that one of his hands has been severed.
International lawyers hired by the Gaddafi family have been unable to meet with Seif and other political prisoners being held in the thousands inside of Libya. Only 13 African states have recognized the NTC due to the fact that it came to power through an imperialist-imposed war of regime change.
Also there are thousands of Africans from the country and other neighboring states that are imprisoned inside Libya. The NTC rebels maintained a policy of arrests, torture and lynching that specifically targeted dark-skinned people who were accused of being loyalists to the Gaddafi government.
The ICC is in no position to pursue justice in Libya since it has been intimately involved in the imperialist war against this African state. Placing an African woman as chief prosecutor cannot hide the actual crimes committed against the continent’s people by this European institution.
Solidarity With the African People
In these difficult times for the people of Libya it is important that anti-imperialists and anti-war forces throughout the world express their solidarity with the suffering masses. The war against Libya was illegal from the start and was based on false accusations of human rights violations.
The fact of the matter is that Libya had been cited for its advances in the field of human rights by the United Nations Human Rights Council in a glowing report released just one month before the beginning of the U.S.-NATO war. The thousands of people killed since February 17 is the sole responsibility of the imperialist states, their allies and the NTC rebels.
Africa is a focal point for U.S. imperialist intervention with another war now well underway in the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia. The U.S. has sent “military advisers’ and Special Forces units into four countries in Central and East Africa beginning in October.
Military expenditures for the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) have increased under the Obama administration. Drone attacks against Somalia have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians while the CIA maintains a field operations center in Mogadishu.
These efforts on the part of U.S. must be halted in order to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the African people. The tax dollars of American workers must be re-channeled back into the country to provide jobs, housing, healthcare, pensions, social services and public services for the people.