Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, speaking at the Dr. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on April 5, 2008. The event commemorated the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
U.S.-NATO War in Libya Meets Ongoing Resistance
NTC rebels attack Tripoli, Bani Walid populations amid pro-loyalist demonstrations
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
On October 17 there was another barrage of corporate media reports that the NATO-led National Transitional Council (NTC) rebels had taken “most” of the city of Bani Walid. The battle for this area has been raging for over a month with the loyalist troops forcing the retreat of the opposition units on several occasions.
A similar series of reports have been publicized about the military situation in the coastal city of Sirte where NTC forces have suffered numerous casualties. NATO air operations against the civilian population in Bani Walid and Sirte have created a severe humanitarian crisis in both cities.
In cities and towns where the NATO-led forces are in apparent control there have been gross violations of both civil and human rights of civilians. Thousands of people have been detained by the NTC security units with allegations of beatings, torture and extra-judicial executions.
Even the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) has expressed grave concerns over the present situation in Libya. In regard to the number of political prisoners, Mona Rishmawi, a senior UNHCR official, said that “It could be up to 7,000. At this stage, there is no police infrastructure, there are no prison authorities. Right now, the Justice Ministry is not fully functional.” (CNN, October 17)
Finally the U.S. State Department has been compelled to address the deliberate targeting of Black Libyans and Africans from other countries by the NTC rebels. Victoria Nuland, a State Department official said that prisoners are “being detained apparently on their skin color on the assumption that they have supported Gaddafi.”
Nuland continued saying “We (the U.S. government) urge the NTC to honor its stated commitment to the rule of law and respect for the universal human rights of all people in Libya.” However, the war against Libya that is financed, coordinated and politically supported by the imperialist states and their allies has systematically violated the basic rights of millions of people inside the country for over eight months.
On October 13, the United Nations Support Mission to Libya, which is headed by Ian Martin, delivered a report to the Security Council where he noted that the situation in Libya is by no means settled. Martin said that “The situation is far from stable. There are many security concerns.” (Mathaba.net, October 17)
Martin continued noting “There are many security concerns. The fighting is still on. Violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been registered.”
In an October 9 report over RT.com it stressed that “NATO exposed its hypocrisy toward protecting civilian lives, letting (NTC fighters) shell loyalist cities and assault them despite great losses among the civilian population. We know what this war was about. It was about regime change…. NATO does not care about civilians.” (RT.com)
Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blower website, WikiLeaks, told RT television that “The lesson of Libya is that there are only two superpowers, the U.S. and the European Union (EU). They attacked Libya lawlessly. It shows that there is no effective rule of law as far as the United Nations is concerned.” (October 9)
Attempts to Crush Anti-NATO Resistance
In Tripoli on October 15, the NTC forces shot indiscriminately into working class districts that remain loyal to the government of Muammar Gaddafi. There were reports of widespread fighting, sniper fire against the rebel units patrolling the city and many people hoisting the Green Flag of the Jamahiriya.
On the same day in Zuwara people rose up and attacked NTC units burning their local offices and forcing many to flee the city. According to Mathaba.net, “Elsewhere across Libya, early morning hours were marked by demonstrations.” (Mathaba.net, October 17)
This same report continues noting “On October 15 overnight, loyalists attacked the Rixos Hotel, Military Camp 77 and Green Square. Bodies there provided evidence of a NATO/NTC massacre. Heavy fighting continued overnight through early morning.”
A Reuters news report illustrates clearly the terror inflicted upon the Libyan population by the NTC rebels and their NATO supporters. Interviews with Black Libyans reveal a pattern of racist violence and displacement.
Brian Rohan wrote that “After weeks on the run, thousands of Black Libyans driven from their homes during the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi have resurfaced across the country, finding refuge in a squalid camp they hope is only temporary. Once residents of Gaddafi’s stronghold of Tawergha, the families now wander a dusty compound ringed with garbage and staffed by a handful of volunteers from the city of Benghazi struggling to prevent the spread of disease as numbers swell.” (Reuters, October 17)
One woman who had lived in Tawergha told Reuters that the NTC rebels came to inflict pain and suffering on the population. “They came to kill Black people. We were scared to go outside, so we hid in different houses for seven weeks then came here.”
U.S. Military Intervention Escalates in Africa
The Pentagon-NATO war against the people of Libya is part of a broader strategy to enhance political, economic and military control over the African continent. Since early October the White House has announced the deployment of drones in Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
On October 14 the Obama administration announced that 100 military advisors and Special Forces commandos were being dispatched to four countries in Central Africa to ostensibly capture or kill the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) that is based in northern Uganda. Mathaba.net reported on October 17 that “The United States of America has indicated interest in expanding military and defense co-operation with Nigeria in order to tackle the emerging security challenges in the country and the West African sub-region.” (Mathaba.net)
The articles goes on saying “This was disclosed Saturday (October 15) in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, by the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa, Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, when she paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of State Erelu Olusola Obada in her office. Huddleston said she was in the Defense Ministry because of the meeting President Barack Obama and President Goodluck Jonathan recently held on a number of issues, including security.”
These issues must be taken up by the anti-war movement inside the United States. With the ongoing anti-capitalist demonstrations across the U.S. and the world, the role of the Pentagon budget in the overall economic crisis must be highlighted.
The U.S. has a larger military budget than all other nations around the world combined. These resources taken from working people and the poor could be utilized to provide and guarantee jobs, housing, health care, education and public services to everyone.