Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, was interviewed on Press TV News Analysis program on Aug. 23, 2011. Azikiwe emphasized the central role of the US and NATO in the war against the North African state of Libya., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
US/NATO War Against Libya Increases Regional Instability
Niger, Mali, Algeria impacted by imperialist drive to re-colonize Africa
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Since the beginning of the U.S.-NATO-engineered war against the North African state of Libya one year ago, the insecurity throughout this geo-political region has increased. When the Pentagon and their NATO allies began bombing Libya on March 19, 2011, the stage was set for the new push to re-colonize Africa through the machinations of various intelligence agencies, special forces and surrogate militias armed and trained by the imperialists.
Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced inside Libya and throughout the region as a result of the war. Approximately two million immigrant workers were in Libya at the beginning of the war employed in construction, medical, service and oil industry jobs.
The war in Libya resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people as well as the assassination of many top officials of the government of martyred leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi. Several members of the Gaddafi family were killed inside the country and others have fled to neighboring states including Niger and Algeria.
Recently the son of Muammar Gaddafi, Al-Saadi Gaddafi, granted an interview with the Al-Arabiya satellite television station. Speaking from neighboring Niger, Saadi took note of the widespread disaffection and anger prevailing inside Libya resulting from the overthrow of the Jamahiriya government and the subsequent worsening conditions of the majority of people inside the country.
Saadi acknowledged the ongoing resistance by loyalist forces in Libya and predicted that there would be a general uprising soon that would seek the complete overthrow of the U.S.-NATO-backed rebel regime of the so-called National Transitional Council (NTC). Loyalist forces seized control of Bani Walid in January and have been launching attacks in various parts of the country including the Nafusa Mountains, Benghazi as well as the capital of Tripoli.
Saadi told Al-Arabiya that “First of all, it is not going to be an uprising limited to some areas. It will cover all the regions of the Jamahiriya. I am following and witnessing this as it grows bigger by the day.” (Al-Arabiya, Feb. 13)
The Libyan leader said that “There will be a great uprising in the south, in the east, in the center and in the west. All the regions of Libya will witness this new popular uprising.”
Reflecting on the conditions facing Libyans one year after the western-backed rebellion started, he pointed out that “The Libyan people should revolt against the deteriorating situation. The NTC is not a legitimate body and is not in control of the militias.”
Continuing on this same theme of widespread dissatisfaction, Saadi stressed that “I have daily communications with Libya from Niger to follow up on the status of our tribes, our relatives and the people. I can confirm that more than 70 percent of those who are in Libya now, whether they support the February 17th rebellion or not, all are not satisfied with the situation and are ready to co-operate to change it.”
As a result of the presence of Saadi and other Libyans in Niger, the NTC rebel regime has demanded his extradition backed to Tripoli to stand trial. The Niger government has refused to honor this request from the rebels and as result, relations between the two countries have worsened in recent months.
Niger government spokesman Marou Amadou told a recent news conference that “We will hand over Saadi Gaddafi to a government which has an independent and impartial justice system. But we cannot hand over someone to a place where he could face the death penalty or where he is not likely to have a trial worthy of the name.” (The Africa Report, February 13)
Mali: Tuareg People Challenge Western-backed Government
In neighboring Mali, the Tuareg-led forces that fought alongside the Jamahiriya during the first phase of the anti-imperialist war in Libya have returned to Mali and opened up a front against the government in Bamako. On January 18, the Tuareg fighters surrounded a local army base in the northern town of Aguelhoc and overran the garrison after cutting of water supplies, and ambushing resupply convoys.
A Malian government soldier told Reuters press agency that “They had the advantage of being more numerous, being better armed and having better logistics, including satellite phones. It is the sad truth.” (Reuters, February 10)
This same Reuters report asserted that “The flood of weapons and fighters out of Libya has now added to an arc of insecurity across West Africa, stretching from Boko Haram Islamists behind a spate of lethal bombings in Nigeria to al-Qaeda allies who have targeted Westerners and armed forces in the Sahel all the way to Mauritania in the north. A Malian army official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, indicated that the Tuareg fighters were armed with SA-7, SA-24 and Milan portable missile systems, “just like Libya’s army.”
According to Jeremy Keenan, who has studied the Tuareg and their ongoing struggle in West Africa, “These guys back from Libya have heavier arms and they know how to use them. The group has formed what they call the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).
The MNLA seeks the creation of an independent state within Mali and other countries in the region. The Malian government has rejected these demands but may be forced to open up negotiations with the MNLA.
Gaddafi’s Daughter Speaks From Algeria
Aisha Gaddafi, the daughter of the slain leader of Libya, fled along with her mother to neighboring Algeria during the final days prior to the collapse of the loyalist forces in the southwest of the country. In a recent letter to the United Nations sent through her lawyer, Aisha demanded an international investigation into the circumstances surrounding her father’s and brother Mo’tassim’s deaths.
The letter read in part that “These murders were witnessed by the whole world and have been roundly condemned by those who champion the rule of law. It is inconceivable, therefore, that the commission of inquiry should refuse to investigate these matters.”
Aisha Gaddafi, a lawyer by profession herself, was part of a defense team that sought justice for the slain leader of Iraq, President Saddam Hussein. She has also requested an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into Gaddafi’s death, but this appeal has been rejected by the ICC in The Hague.
Human Rights Violations Continue Inside Libya
Aisha Gaddafi has attempted as well to submit information to the ICC related to the condition of her brother Seif al-Islam who is being held illegally by the rebel NTC regime in Libya. Seif has had several fingers severed and is not being allowed to see defense attorneys hired by the Gaddafi family.
In a recent statement by the NTC rebel leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Seif al-Islam will be moved to a prison in Tripoli in order to stand trial. Jalil stated that “At this moment he is being interrogated and his trial will begin as soon as the prison facility is ready. I can’t give an exact timeframe in terms of weeks or months but it will not be more than two months.” (Reuters, February 12)
Nonetheless, there is no viable legal system established in Libya in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Gaddafi government. The NTC does not even have control over its own officials and militias who are fighting each other on a consistent basis.
Rebels have detained over 8,000 people in prisons, many of whom are Black Libyans and Africans from other countries on the continent. Human Rights Watch has reported that the Misrata rebels have looted and burned homes of the Tawergha people, who are dark-skinned Libyans that were driven from their villages in the central region into Tripoli where they are under constant attack by the western-backed rebels.
Despite the repeated claims by the Obama administration that the Libyan people have been “liberated” by the imperialist-backed war, the conditions for the majority of the population grows dimmer every day. The war has done nothing except create greater turmoil and suffering not only inside Libya but throughout various countries in West and North Africa.
The lessons of the Libya war portends much for the current situation inside Syria where U.S.-backed rebels are heavily armed in an effort aimed at regime change. Imperialism and its allies have never brought peace and security to the oppressed nations, the only salvation for the post-colonial states is the total recognition of their independence and sovereignty as free and liberated zones.