Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, appearing on RT satellite television on August 27, 2012. Azikiwe is a frequent contributor to various media outlets internationally., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Chemical Gas Reportedly Used in Siege of Bani Walid
Residents of Gaddafi stronghold shelled for three weeks
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Hundreds of supporters of the people of Bani Walid demonstrated outside the General National Congress parliament in Tripoli on October 21. Protesters attempted to enter the building but were dispersed by police.
The demonstration called for a halt to the siege of this town of 80,000 people, a bastion of support for the former Jamahiriya government led by the martyred Col. Muammar Gaddafi. For three weeks the rebel militias that are financed through the United States-backed regime in Tripoli, have blockaded the city denying food, medicine and other essential goods to enter the area.
Eyewitness accounts and videos posted on YouTube show constant shelling and large amounts of smoke emanating from the targeted sites inside the city. Hospitals are reporting that people are being treated for chemical poisoning and the loss of limbs.
According to RT satellite television, “Plumes of white and black smoke can be seen rising all over the town and sporadic gunfire can be heard in one of the videos dated October 19. Shells hit civilian buildings. Inside one such house there are patches of blood across what appears to be the living room, while the whole house is strewn with rubble and dust, gaping holes in the walls.” (RT.com, October 22)
A young man interviewed by RT who said that his family was inside Bani Walid reported that he had spoken with his relatives and they reported that “The situation in Bani Walid is really bad. We don’t have a lot of medicine. We don’t have enough places for wounded civilians. Right now the hospital is keeping wounded people outside.”
This same person, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, also reported that people inside the city say that shells with poisonous gas are bombarding the city. Photos of gas masks have been e-mailed to RT and shown over their network which is seen worldwide.
“Actually we found gas masks and the hospitals reports very clearly say that civilians in Bani Walid have been bombed with gas. Moreover, when we took over the positions the militias of Misrata had been taking before being kicked out, the people of Bani Walid found gas masks there,” the reports on RT said.
The GNC regime has stated that the existence of the resistance forces in Bani Walid is a threat to the pro-U.S. government in Tripoli. Interim GNC President Mohammed Magarief claims that loyalist forces have “infiltrated the organs of the state, maybe even its leadership, and are plotting against the (counter) revolution with the help of others who are abroad.”
Magarief denied allegations that the attacks against Bani Walid were based on tribal conflicts since the Warfalla are the predominate group in the area. The interim leader said that the siege is “not genocide or ethnic cleansing as erroneously claimed by some. It is a campaign to restore legitimacy.” (Newsweek/Deaily Beast, October 21)
However, the existence of instability and ongoing conflict throughout Libya indicates that there is no legitimacy for the U.S.-backed regime among many people inside the country as well as internationally. From the eastern regions around Benghazi to the capital of Tripoli and the southern regions, fighting continues with no end in sight.
The destabilization brought about as a result of the imperialist-backed war beginning in February 2011 has spilled over into neighboring Mali where the country has been partitioned between the north and the south. Mali is currently facing the possibility of foreign intervention from the European Union and a regional force backed by the U.S. and NATO.
Reports of the Capture of Former Gaddafi Spokesman and the Death of Khamis Gaddafi
Other reports have been circulating about the purported arrest of former Libyan governmental spokesman Moussa Ibrahim. Ibrahim was the public face of the government during the intense U.S. and NATO bombing between March 19 and October 31, 2011.
These reports of the detention of Ibrahim have been denied from both inside the GNC government and the pro-Gaddafi forces. An audio recording said to be the voice of Ibrahim has been circulating on the internet including Facebook.
Also other reports have surfaced that Khamis Gaddafi, the son of the late Libyan leader, has been killed in clashes between loyalists and the rebel forces in Bani Walid. This is not the first time that Khamis Gaddafi was said to have been killed in fighting.
Earlier reports related to the death of Khamis were made during the height of the bombing on August 29, 2011. These reports were not verified at the time.
In relationship to the recent claims of the death of Khamis Gaddafi, the General National Congress regime reported that he was killed in Bani Walid and his body was taken to Misrata.
Nonetheless, many journalists have met these reports of the death of Khamis with skepticism.
One Year After the Martyrdom of Gaddafi the Struggle Intensifies
With the overthrow of the Jamahiriya in Libya and the brutal assassination of Gaddafi on October 20, 2011, the situation inside this North African state is by no means stable. The very fact that the area which is perceived as a stronghold of the supporters of the Gaddafi government has been placed under siege clearly illustrates that the major fear of the U.S. and its surrogates is that the resistance to the GNC regime will escalate and take on an anti-imperialist character.
The GNC regime has not been able to reign in the militias which terrorize the population and engage in all types of corruption.
Unemployment and poverty is escalating and the imperialist states which instigated and financed the overthrow of Gaddafi and the destruction of the state are primarily concerned with the theft of oil from Libya, which has the largest known reserves on the continent.
These developments in Libya confirm that U.S. imperialism and its NATO allies cannot bring stability to any country in which they intervene. In fact Libya was one of the most stable countries in Africa and the Middle East until the Western governments and their allies took control.
This pattern has been consistent over the last two decades. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Somalia, Yemen and Syria, the situations have worsened with the involvement of Washington.
The only solution to the crisis in Libya and all other countries occupied by the imperialists is the overthrow of western foreign rule and the establishment of governments that represent the interests of the majority of people within these societies. Anti-war activists in the imperialist countries must support and defend the right of oppressed peoples to self-determination and sovereignty.