Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, featured on RT satellite television discussing the political and security situation in the post-Gaddafi North African state of Libya. Azikiwe is a frequent analyst for varioius media outlets worldwide., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Militias Targeted in Benghazi by Pro-U.S. Demonstrations
CIA, Pentagon warned of possible attacks
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
A large militia in Benghazi was set upon by several hundred people on September 21 trashing and burning their headquarters and killing several of its members. The Ansar al-Sharia group had been a close ally of the United States during the war that toppled the former Jamahiriya government led by Col. Muammar Gaddafi.
Ansar al-Sharia, has been blamed for carrying out the attacks on the U.S. Consulate and another compound in Benghazi on September 11 that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and at least three other diplomatic personnel. However, an interview just two days prior to the attacks on the militia group with its leader indicated that they had no involvement in the deaths of the diplomats.
Mohammad Ali al-Zahawi, who described himself as the commander of the Islamist brigade, said that “We formed our brigade after the toppling of Gaddafi…but now there are many brigades with different ideologies.” (BBC, September 24)
He went on to say “It is not the right time we give up our arms because we are in a battle with the liberals, the secularists and the remnants of Gaddafi. Our brave youths will continue their struggle until they impose Sharia.”
The militia leader denied that the brigade was an al-Qaeda affiliate but expressed admiration for actions carried out by the organization. “Al-Qaeda’s strategy is aimed at weakening U.S. hegemony on the Muslim nation,” al-Zahawi said.
Under the guise of bringing all of the armed groups under the control of the U.S.-installed General National Congress government based in Tripoli, President Mohamed Magariafis ordered all militias in the eastern region of the country around the major cities of Benghazi and Darna disbanded. Several locations where Ansar al-Sharia and other militias were based in Benghazi were overrun by crowds encompassing armed elements.
A crowd estimated at 30,000 marched through the streets of Benghazi shouting “No to militias.” (Associated Press, September 21) Signs within the crowd even mourned the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and the other consulate staff saying “The ambassador was Libya’s friend” and that “Libya lost a friend.”
On the same day several thousand Ansar al-Shariah supporters gathered outside their headquarters waving black and white banners. Scuffles between the two groups erupted until the militia members eventually retreated.
The militias have been an integral part of the U.S.-imposed political situation in Libya. These groups were armed, financed and given authority over various sections of the country.
According to the Associated Press “The unprecedented public backlash comes in part in frustration with the interim government, which has been unable to rein in the armed factions. Many say that officials’ attempts to co-opt fighters by paying them have only fueled the growth of militias without bringing them under state control or integrating them into the regular forces.” (September 21)
In Darna, which has been a stronghold of Islamists for many years, the militias operate openly and with impunity. The former government of Gaddafi during 2011 warned that the city, which is located north of Benghazi in the mountains near the Mediterranean coast, would attempt to break away from Libya and form an Islamic state.
On the same day that Stevens was killed in Benghazi, there were reports that in Darna several Catholic nuns and priests were beaten and stabbed. At least 32 people have been killed in the city over the last several months including the security chief.
One Muslim cleric, Ayoub al-Shedwi, said “The killing of the ambassador blew up the situation. It was disastrous.” (Associated Press, September 21)
Al-Shedwi claimed that his life had been threatened because he spoke out against the militias. At the Sahaba Mosque, residents have held a sit-in for more than a week calling for the elders in the community to end the “state of terrorism,” fostered by the militias.
Cover Up of Consulate Attacks Revealed Through Eyewitness Accounts
For several days in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, the Obama administration attempted to link the killing of Stevens and the others to the worldwide demonstrations sparked by the release of an anti-Islam film preview entitled “Innocence of Muslims.” Spokespersons for the administration claimed that the armed attacks and bombings of the consulate and compound were largely spontaneous and that the targeted militia group took advantage of a chaotic situation.
However, during the following week, the state department was forced to change its line. Evidence emerged that there was no demonstrations at the location and that the consulate was attacked by over 125 armed men without warning.
Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said “I have seen no information that shows that there was a protest going on as you have seen around any other embassy at the time. It was clearly designed to be an attack.” (The Jerusalem Post, September 24)
Also CBS News reported that several eyewitnesses to the incident noted “there was never an anti-American protest outside the consulate.” The report then concluded that these observations are “in direct contradiction to the administration’s account of the incident and what is clear is that the public won’t get a detailed account of what happened until after the election.” (Jerusalem Post)
Later the CNN media corporation revealed that a diary belonging to Stevens was recovered from the destroyed locations indicating that the ambassador was concerned about his own safety. Stevens, who had been in Benghazi since the early days of the revolt against the Gaddafi government in 2011, was considered the U.S. government’s point man in the center of the regime-change efforts against Libya.
In addition to concerns expressed by Stevens, Gen. Carter Ham, the head of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), had also warned of possible attacks on diplomatic and intelligence personnel. “We see some worrying indicators that al Qaeda and others are seeking to establish a presence in Libya.” (CNN Security Blog, September 24)
Gen. Ham raised a series of questions related to “How do you use those organizations to the benefit of the people? How do you transform some of them into border police, into national police, into maritime police and other areas of government where they can continue to be valuable contributors to overall Libyan security?”
Consequently the U.S. strategy in Libya of reforming the militias into disciplined supporters of Washington’s policy through following the dictates of the GNC regime in Tripoli is proving to be an absolute failure. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the consulate, the administration ordered at least 50 marines into the country and the deployment of warships and drones.
Attacks Prove to be A Major Blow to the C.I.A.
Even the New York Times reported on September 23 that the destruction of the U.S. base of operations in Benghazi and the killing of Stevens and the other personnel was a major blow to the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.). Many diplomatic personnel throughout the world are in fact operatives and officers of the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies.
The Times reported that “Among the more than two dozen American personnel evacuated from the city after the assault on the American mission and a nearby annex were about a dozen C.I.A. operatives and contractors, who played a crucial role in conducting surveillance and collecting information on an array of armed militant groups in and around the city.” (NYT, September 23)
This same article goes on to say of the U.S. Consulate and annex that “From these buildings, the C.I.A personnel carried out their secret missions. The New York Times agreed to withhold locations and details of these operations at the request of Obama administration officials, who said that disclosing such information could jeopardize future sensitive government activities and put at risk American personnel working in dangerous settings.”
U.S. Foreign Policy Failures Mount
These recent developments in Libya and the massive anti-U.S. demonstrations around the world including Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, illustrates clearly that there is tremendous opposition to Washington’s foreign policy. These demonstrations and attacks come amid the worst economic crisis since the 1930s which hampers the ability of the ruling class inside the U.S. and Western Europe to sell their false promises to various governments and social groups around the globe.
Even organizations which the U.S. has supported to achieve its short-term objectives, for example the overthrow of the government in Libya during 2011 and the current efforts to do the same in Syria, cannot be relied on by Washington in implementing its long-term objectives of imperialist hegemony. The situation in Afghanistan provides further proof that many of the formally allied Islamist forces and puppet security personnel will eventually turn against U.S. control.
In Afghanistan, dozens of U.S. and NATO troops have been killed by the same elements which they have trained and armed. Recent announcements by the NATO forces indicate that the joint patrols between so-called Afghan security forces and western troops will be scaled back.