LeiLani Dowell of FIST, Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor of the Pan-African News Wire and Monica Moorehead, Managing Editor of Workers World Newspaper, at a study forum on African history in New York City on July 11, 2008. (Photo: John Catalinotto)., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Libya War Exposes US/NATO Crimes Against Humanity
Imperialist forces bomb hospitals, neighborhoods in efforts to topple government
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
For over five months the combined military forces of the United States and NATO have pounded Libyan cities, towns, villages and ports in an effort to overthrow the government of Muammar Gaddafi. These bombing operations, now numbering over 16,000 sorties and 6,100 strikes, have also been combined with a naval blockade that includes 17 warships.
This naval blockade in the Mediterranean has hailed 1,926 vessels with 184 boarded by NATO forces. Just on July 24, 19 incoming vessels were hailed while one was boarded but not diverted. (Reuters, July 25)
Time and again the Pentagon and NATO have claimed that the war on the North African nation of Libya is designed to protect civilians from the government in Tripoli which is fighting to crush an insurgency that is financed and coordinated by the imperialist states. Yet repeated reports indicate that the war which was launched by the U.S. and several western European countries on March 19 is a systematic campaign to terrorize and subjugate the Libyan people.
On July 25 NATO forces bombed a local hospital in Zlitan in the west of the country killing seven people. There were three physicians among the dead at the targeted hospital. (Associated Press, July 25)
Also in the same city, food warehouses were damaged in the air assaults. NATO in response to reports of the bombing said that it would not respond to these eyewitness accounts until the following day.
Several hours prior to the bombing of the hospital and food warehouses in Zlitan, NATO carried out a series of air raids on the capital of Tripoli. Bombs hit a government compound which NATO says was a command and control center for the Libyan military.
British military forces operating over Libya took credit for the air strikes in Tripoli on July 25 when Major General Nick Pope, the chief of the defense staff’s communications office, stated that the Royal Air Force struck the perimeter walls of the Bab al-Aziziyah complex. This building has been described as a headquarters for the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. However, no casualties had been reported in the strike in Tripoli on July 25.
Additional areas bombed in Libya on July 24 included what NATO described as a military storage facility near the oil port town of al-Brega, a tank and multiple rocket launches near Gharyan and a surface-to-air missile launcher and a tank in Tripoli. Other cities and towns hit included Waddan and Zintan where the NATO forces claimed military targets were struck.
Contrary to NATO claims, the Libyan government said that in al-Brega a water storage facility was hit killing six security guards. Additional casualties were reported when rebel groups fighting on behalf of the Transitional National Council (TNC) suffered at least 50 deaths when they attempted to attack areas around al-Brega and Misrata during the week of July 18.
Amid the escalation in the bombing, the Pentagon and NATO have requested additional predator drones to carry out further strikes against Libya. At present President Obama is considering the deployment of more of these weapons which have been operational in this North African state for several months.
In a July 21 Los Angeles Times article a NATO officer was quoted as saying that “It’s getting more difficult to find stuff to blow up. Predators really enable you to study things and to develop a picture of what is going on.”
The NATO official indicated that in order to deploy more drones in Libya it would be necessary to transfer them from existing theaters of war in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other so-called “counter-terrorism” operations in various parts of the world. An unnamed Pentagon official was alleged to have said that “We are looking at all the possibilities. The reason why this is hard is that everything we have is currently committed elsewhere.”
Although most of the bombing operations have been carried out by piloted aircraft from the U.S., France, Britain and other countries that are part of the NATO alliance, Washington’s predator drones have launched 64 strikes against Libya since April.
Libyan War Follows Similar Pattern
The Pentagon and NATO’s war against Libya is by no means isolated in the current period. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the war waged by the US/NATO alliance has escalated over the last two years since the Obama administration took power.
In December 2009, Obama announced the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. While the war has spread to neighboring Pakistan, civilian deaths through the use of drones has accelerated and consequently worsened relations between Islamabad and Washington.
Since the beginning of the U.S. and allied states’ invasion and occupation of Iraq, there have been various estimates of large-scale deaths among the nationals of that Middle Eastern state. The entire pretext for the war was unjustified since the Iraqi government under the former leader Saddam Hussein and the Arab Baath Socialist Party (ABSP) had not attacked U.S. territory or been involved in efforts to harm citizens or residents of the country.
The ongoing resistance of the Iraqi people has prevented the withdrawal of U.S. forces which are scheduled to leave by the end of 2011. Resistance organizations inside of Iraq have killed over two dozen U.S. soldiers in recent months.
A July 25 article written by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey on the character of the war crimes being committed by the US/NATO forces and their allies in Libya, the author cites violations of the Statue of The Hague International Penal Court to provide a legal rationale for charging Washington and NATO countries with war crimes.
Bancroft-Hinchey notes that “Article 3 of the Statute says that “Attack or bombardment, by whatever means, against undefended cities, towns, villages, buildings or houses” is considered a violation of international law. “NATO’s continuous use of civilian targets for military purposes, a scenario which this military organization wantonly and callously calls ‘collateral damage,’ fits this clause exactly and would be the cornerstone of a case accusing this organization of being guilty of war crimes.” (prava.ru, July 25)
This same article also points out that another clause of Article 3 would be applicable in regard to Libya which is the “Massive destruction of cities, towns or villages or destruction not justified by military necessity.” Bancroft-Hinchey stresses that “The attack on Libya’s water supply network on Friday July 22 and the attack on the factory making pipes for the supply system on Saturday July 23 in al-Brega were not covered under ‘military necessity’ in which case, under Article 3, this was an act of wanton destruction of civilian structures with military hardware.”
Other violations would include the use of chemical weapons in al-Brega, the support for an armed insurgency against a United Nations member state and the failure to work toward a negotiated settlement to resolve conflict within a particular country.
Numerous efforts by the African Union to broker a ceasefire inside the country have been rejected by the US/NATO alliance and their surrogates in Libya. These peace efforts are further impeded by the arming of the rebels and their recognition by the NATO states.
Opposition to the Libya War Spreads Across the U.S.
Despite the virtual silence by the corporate media on the widespread opposition to the US/NATO bombing of Libya, rallies and demonstrations have been occurring throughout the country. A tour sponsored by the International Action Center (IAC) has brought out hundreds of people in each major city that has been visited.
The featured speaker at these rallies is former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate for 2008, Cynthia McKinney. McKinney visited Libya earlier this year to witness firsthand the destruction carried out by the Pentagon and NATO.
A recent rally in Atlanta brought out various community organizations to lend their support in the demand for an end to the bombing of Libya. In New York a rally is scheduled for July 30 that will re-emphasize the need to impose a ceasefire.
On August 13 in Harlem, a Million March will take place demanding the end to the bombing of Libya and the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Major efforts are underway in Detroit to build a scheduled Aug. 27 rally at the University of Michigan Detroit Center located in Midtown. Cynthia McKinney will be the featured speaker and the event is co-sponsored by the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI), the National Conference of Black Lawyers Michigan Chapter, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Workers World Party.
MECAWI activists are planning to do massive outreach to publicize the meeting in Detroit. They are hosting a community speak out on the eastside on August 13 and the following week, the African World Festival will be held downtown at Hart Plaza where hundreds of thousands of people will attend.
MECAWI activists will staff a table outside the festival to distribute thousands of leaflets in defense of the North African state of Libya and encourage the participants to attend the Aug. 27 rally at the U-M Center which will be held from 4:00-7:00pm.