Members of the Libyan Tribal Council meeting in Tripoli
On 30 July, the day before this 97.5 percent muslim country began the holy month of Ramadan, Nato spokesperson Roland Lavoie has been lamely attempting to explain to the press at the Rixos Hotel and internationally why Nato was forced to bomb three Tripoli TV towers at the Libyan Broadcasting Authority, killing three journalists/technicians and wounding 15 others.
Like most people currently in central Tripoli, this observer was awakened at 1:50am by the first of a series of nine blasts, three of which I watched from my balcony as they happened, and which seemed to be about 800 yards away as I saw one TV tower being blown apart. On the four lanes’ divided highway, adjacent to my hotel and below my balcony, that runs along the sea front, I could see two cars frantically swerving left and right as they sped along, presumably trying to avoid a Nato rocket, and fearing they themselves might be targeted.
According to Nato spokesperson Lavoie, allowing Libya’s population to watch government TV, and, by implication, to hear ‘terrorist’ public-service announcements concerning subjects such as gasoline availability, food distribution for Ramadan, updates on areas to be avoided due to recent Nato bombing, prayers and lectures by sheiks on moral and religious subjects during Ramadan or see the prayer times chart posted on government TV, during this month of fasting, plus children’s programmes and normal programming, had to stop immediately.
The reason for bombing Libyan government TV, according to Nato, is that Libyan leader Gaddafi has been giving interviews and speeches following repeated Nato bombings that recently have targeted hospitals, Ramadan food storage warehouses, the nation’s main water distribution infrastructure, private homes, and more than 1,600 other civilian sites.
Nato asserts that preventing Gaddafi’s use of Libya’s public airwaves by bombing transmission towers is within UN resolutions 1970 and 1973, the scope of which are being expanded beyond all recognition from their original intent. Nato spokesperson Lavoie claims that Libya’s leadership is using TV broadcast facilities to thwart Nato’s “humanitarian mission” and, yet again are, “putting civilian lives at risk”.
Government officials admit using the media for communication with the population, including to urge tribal unity, to dialogue with those based in Benghazi referred to here as “Nato rebels”, to argue for an immediate ceasefire and yes, even to call for all Libyans to resist what many here, including Colonel Gaddafi, call “the Nato crusader aggressors”.
In western Libya, and even among many in the east, according to recent rebel defectors who daily arrive on the western side, Nato has lost the respect of this country, Africa, the Middle East and, increasingly, the international community. The reasons are well known here and include the serial false premises and descriptions of what happened in February in the Benghazi and Misrata areas.
In addition, Nato daily bombing strikes have increased approximately 20 percent since 25 July, and will continue to increase according to French defence minister Gerard Longuet, who, along with UK defence minister Liam Fox, while publicly saying Nato must continue the bombing, is privately expressing his frustration with the killing of rebel military commander Abdul Fatah Younnis.
This assassination, according to Libyan officials, was very likely carried out by Younnis’ rebel leaders or Al-Qaeda. Both are said to feel that the rebel leadership in Benghazi is collapsing. So do many Nato leaders and the Obama Administration.
A former senior member of Britain’s Liberal Democratic Party, Sir Menzies Campbell, has just urged the UK government to rethink its involvement in the war on Libya. Campbell said Britain must undertake a “wholesale re-examination and review” of its involvement in the Nato conflict in Libya after the murder of the opposition figure, and Britain “must think about the end-game of the conflict in Libya”.
One Libyan government supporter, who just arrived here in Tripoli, claims he spent the past two months on the ground in Benghazi “undercover” as a liaison between the rebels and Nato. He told his rapt audience at a Tripoli hotel this week many details of what he claims is Nato’s frustration with the deterioration, the corruption and incompetence of their ‘team’ in the east, and the CIA view that “Al Qaeda will eat Mahmoud Jibril and the entire rebel leadership for Iftar during one of the Ramadan feasts during August. They are just waiting for the right opportunity to make a dramatic move and take control.”
Only the zealots of ‘humanitarian intervention’ could seriously have contemplated the kind of protracted, bloody land war in Libya that would have been necessary to win. So the bet on an alliance with Nato now appears to have been doomed from the start, even on its own terms.
The force that is rapidly entering into this conflict is the leadership of Libya’s more than 2,000 tribes. In a series of meetings in Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere, the Tribal Council is speaking out forcefully and forging a political block that is demanding an end to Libyans killing Libyans.
Generally considered Libya’s largest tribe are the Obeidis, to which the Younnis family belongs. Some of the tribal leaders and members have vowed revenge against rebel leaders, and as they carried the coffins of Abdul Fatah and his two companions they chanted, under the gaze of security forces, “the blood of martyrs will not go in vain”.
Libya’s Tribal Council has issued a manifesto which makes clear that it intends to end this conflict, help expel “the Nato crusaders”, and achieve reforms while supporting the Gaddafi, Tripoli-based government. Before Ramadan is over, it intends to end Libya’s crisis, even if it needs to rally its hundreds of thousands of active members to march on Benghazi.
Nato, according to various academics at Al Nasser and Al Fatah University, and Libya’s tribal leadership, appears surprisingly ignorant and even contemptuous of this country’s tribes and their historic roles during times of crises and foreign aggression and occupation. One tribal leader well known to Italy was Omar Muktar.
As Nato and its backers contemplate their end game they may want to consider some excerpts from the Libyan Tribal Council’s manifesto, issued on 26 July. Speaking for Libya’s 2,000 tribes, the council issued a proclamation signed by scores of tribal leaders from eastern Libya.
“What is called the Transitional Council in Benghazi was imposed by Nato on us and we completely reject it. Is it democracy to impose people with armed power on the people of Benghazi, many of whose leaders are not even Libyan or from Libyan tribes but come from Tunisia and other countries ..?
“The Trial Council assures its continuing cooperation with the African Union in its suggestions aimed at helping to prevent the aggression on the Libyan people …
“The Tribal Council condemns the crusader aggression on the Great Jamahiriya executed by the Nato and the Arabic regressive forces, which is a grave threat to Libyan civilians as it continues to kill them as Nato bombs civilian targets …
“We do not and will not accept any authority other than the authority that we chose with our free will, which is the People’s Congress and Peoples Committees, and the popular social leadership, and will oppose with all available means the Nato rebels and their slaughter, violence and maiming of cadavers. We intend to oppose with all the means available to us the Nato crusader aggressors and their appointed lackeys.”
According to one representative of the Libyan Supreme Tribal Council, “The tribes of Libya have until today not fully joined in repelling the Nato aggressors. As we do, we serve notice to Nato that we shall not desist until they have left our country and we will ensure that they never return.”
Franklin Lamb is in Libya and is reachable at email@example.com
Via Pravda, 28 May 2011
“We plead with all honest, good will people in the West and East to support our appeal to STOP WAR AGAINST LIBYA.” Please share this eye-witness account and appeal, signed by more than 100 foreign medics in Libya, as far and wide as you can. It may save many lives and a World War III.
We plead with all honest, good will people in the West and East to support our appeal to STOP WAR AGAINST LIBYA.
We have not had internet connection in Libya for about two months. It took us a week to find a possibility to email our appeal, but we do not know when we get access to the internet again. That is why we ask people themselves to spread this letter everywhere possible - to internet sites, news agencies, human rights and other international and national organisations, even to one’s own friends.
Only if the truth about situation in Libya is widely known, it will be possible to force American, British and Nato war hawks to stop aggression against the people of Libya and save innocent people from being killed by US and Nato bombs and missiles.
Thank you for your help!
We wish all of us success in the anti-war struggle - especially in the Victory Day over the fascists of the 20th century. Let us stop the fascists of the 21st century!
- Russian, Ukrainian, CIS and Bulgarian medics working in Libya
OPEN LETTER to:
* the Secretary-General of UN
* Members of Security Council of UN
* UN Member States Representatives & Personnel
* International Criminal Court & future Hague Tribunal on War Crimes against Libya
* And all people of good will
from medics from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and other CIS and East European countries, working and living in Libya
1 May 2011, Tripoli, Libya
Mr Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General
Mr Joseph Deiss, President of the General Assembly,
Mr Li Baodong, Permanent Representative and Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the UN
Dr Peter Wittig, Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN and Chairman of the UN Peacebuilding Commission
Permanent Representatives of the Member States of the Security Council
Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
We would like to address the UN Secretary-General personally, as the head of the most important international organisation of UN, and other members of this organisation first of all; members of the Security Council, especially the most righteous and sober China, as well as current members of the Security Council. We also address the people of USA, UK, France and Italy, deceived by their governments in respect of the situation in Libya.
We are pleading with all of you to join your efforts to SAVE THE PEOPLE OF LIBYA FROM GENOCIDE currently committed by USA and Nato armies and to stop the criminal war against sovereign Libya!!!
A month ago we sent an appeal to the leaders of Russia, but we see now, after six weeks of continuing war against Libya, that the efforts of Russia alone are still insufficient to stop this criminal war waged to control Libyan oil. Only the joint efforts of the UN, and especially the Secretary-General and reasonable members of the Security Council, together with all people of good will all around the world, can stop this terrible US and Nato aggression against Libya.
At the end of March, after our letter to the Russian leaders had been published, and the Papal vicar in Libya, Catholic bishop of Tripoli Giovanni Martinelli, had raised his voice against bombing and killing civilian population in Tripoli, US and Nato troops stopped bombing the city of Tripoli. They realised that not all foreigners had left Libya, so it would be impossible for them to hide their atrocities from the international public opinion. (Several hundreds of eye witnesses are working in hospitals all around the country - this is something that no propaganda machine could possibly eliminate.)
However, by the end of April, after US-Nato commanders had realised the futility of their attempts to dismiss Gaddafi and make Libya capitulate by shelling Libyan troops and regional centers, they RESUMED THEIR BOMBING OF TRIPOLI - first of all, Gaddafi’s residential compound of Bab al-Aziziya, and the TV Centre of Tripoli - thus killing and wounding more civilian people.
As medics working in hospitals we can testify that, in one day of such air strikes, the bombs and missiles of the anti-Libyan coalition are killing and wounding more people in Tripoli than in course of all unrests in the west of Libya in February and March, which USA and France used as a pretext for their intervention.
The US-Nato officials are telling us lies about military objects being the target of their bombing. Was the TV station such a ‘military object’, when it was heavily bombarded at the night of 26 April in a new unsuccessful attempt to kill the Libyan leader in time of his speech on TV? Are the people working on TV station ‘military’? Besides, Tripoli TV station is located in the very centre of the city, in a heavily populated residential area.
Next door to the TV station, just few meters away, four secondary schools are located; and finally, it is only 250m from the Children’s Hospital of al-Jala and an obstetric hospital some 50m further to the west. Fortunately, this time American humanitarian missiles did not hit these hospitals immediately, but the tomahawk missiles and bomb explosions in the TV station area were so strong that the walls of the hospitals and nearby buildings, where our medics are living, were shaken and windows glass was clinking, some even cracked.
Everybody woke up in horror (we have already got used to ordinary bombardments, and most of us have even learned to sleep in the course of them). Suckling babies and children in the hospital woke up too and cried with fear. Are the children of Libya the main ‘military target’ for the coalition?
In any case, if the Libyan people do not want to sell their freedom and keep defending their land against foreign US-Nato intervention - does it mean they all, including children and women, are bound to die now?
Today US-Nato military efforts ’successfully’ culminated in destroying Gaddafi’s family compound in the residential area of Tripoli and killing three babies: six-month-old Mastura, the daughter of Gaddafi’s daughter Aisha; two-year-old Carthage, son of Gaddafi’s son Hannibal; and two-year-old Seif Mohammed, son of Gaddafi’s elder son Mohammed; and an adult - 29-year-old Gaddafi’s younger son Seif al-Arab, a civilian student of Munich University in Germany, with no relation to military neither power matters in Libya.
This ‘victory’ was joyfully celebrated by USA and Nato rebel allies in Missurata and Benghazi, which speaks volumes about the personality and moral niveau of those people.
In fact, even the very idea of killing an independent state’s leader as a way of solving political problems is an arguable goal in international politics, but trying to accomplish such a thing by air strikes is far beyond any human reason.
This air strikes method was already well known to the US leaders as a way to kill children and civilians only: the USA already attempted to assassinate Gaddafi in 1986 by bombing and shelling Tripoli, which led to the killing of a number of civilians - along with Gaddafi’s 18-month-old adopted daughter Hanna, and wounding some members of his family, including his youngest son Khamis (Seif al-Arab, his second youngest son, survived that day only to die today).
How could US-Nato commanders possibly expect other results now?! USA leaders’ obsession with killing the Libyan Leader, however good or bad he is, is not a sound reason to kill dozens and wound hundreds of INNOCENT people in Tripoli! What is their crime?!
The famous Russian writer, Fedor Dostoyevsky, taught us that no great and just goal, even creating happiness for the whole humankind, could justify a child’s teardrop! He could not even imagine then that somebody would dare to pave his way to some ‘humanitarian’ goals with children’s bodies.
But killing and terrifying children and innocent people in Libya is only one side of US and Nato activities in the area. The USA are also helping and encouraging Libyan rebels in Benghazi and Missurata to fight against government, thus bringing fuel to the fire of civil war, which would soon have withered away without western ‘help’.
The rebels receive arms and ammunition from Nato, they are being trained by western military instructors. Numerous mercenaries from Egypt and Tunis, well paid by ‘unknown’ donors, provide them with manpower, while US-Nato aircraft and fleet support them from air and sea, destroying Libyan troops by air strikes.
Thus, having the whole American and Nato military machine behind them, the rebels’ leaders refuse to negotiate with Libyan government, leading to more and more casualties from both sides.
On the eve of American attack in March, the Libyan army entered the western suburbs of Benghazi, and the rebels (their numbers are quite small in comparison to the ordinary people who want nothing but peace) were ready to surrender in exchange for a pardon, while a few of the most irreconcilable were packing their cars to flee - the road to Egypt was deliberately left open for them.
But what was the most important - this pacifying of the East had happened almost without casualties from both sides. Only a few wounded people were brought to the hospitals in the East during those days - while on the very day when US and Nato air strikes started, the number of wounded and killed people increased dozens of times. What a strange way of ‘protecting the civilian population’ - by killing them!
Thus, after American intervention, a REAL WAR STARTED in the east of Libya - not mock battles performed by ‘rebels’ for western cameramen as it used to be in February and earlier in March.
Then, almost pacified by then, Missurata revolted and turned into major center of military conflict, backed by troops, weaponry and ammunition brought there by sea from Benghazi - with the help of coalition fleets.
As a result, all hospitals in nearby cities (Zliten, Beni Walid, Tawarga) were filled up with wounded military - from both sides - as well as civilians, while our colleagues in Missurata had to work all day and night to cure people injured in the city.
We are medics, so for us there is no difference whom to treat; we do not care about our patients’ political affiliation. The Libyans from both sides are really nice people, their attitude to us is nothing but very good: all of them are thankful to those who are helping them in such a difficult situation.
As medics we have to heal people, but perhaps even more important is to STOP PEOPLE BEEN KILLED. We feel it our duty to make everything possible to HALT this WAR, provoked from abroad and involving, in the first place, naïve and easily deceived youngsters from the east of Libya and Missurata.
But peace is definitely impossible while foreign intervention continues. Let Libyans settle their home problems THEMSELVES! Many tribal leaders and elders have been desperately trying to interfere as mediators, but rebels’ leaders refused accept their efforts - being sure that ‘America’ will bring them to Tripoli and set them to rule over the whole country.
But this attitude means only one thing - more death and more patients in the hospitals. And also more danger for us, as our colleagues are being shelled and bombed in Missurata and Adjdabiya, while we are under constant US-Nato air strikes in Tripoli and other cities in the west of Libya.
On 20 April, our colleague Dr Anatoliy A Nagayko, a good and brave person, was killed by a shell in Missurata, while nurse Olga Kozina was heavily wounded in both legs. They, together with a number of other Ukrainian medics, had refused to evacuate from the city as they just could not leave their patients unattended; they knew that nobody would replace them now.
So they made their difficult decision to stay with Libyan people - not only in the happiness of the previous wonderful years, but also in trouble and sorrow (this is, in fact, the major reason why many of our colleagues have decided to stay in Libya).
For us, who survived, it does not matter which bomb killed our colleague - American, British, or French; does it come from rebels, or from the Libyan army - as the responsibility for his death, as well as for deaths of other people in Missurata, lies fully on those who brought war to Libyan soil, ie, on the military leaders of the US-Nato coalition.
We understand perfectly well that most Americans and Europeans - including the grass-level military contingent of western aggressors - are deceived by American and European mass-media propaganda against Libya. (The so-called ‘Arabian’ TV channel of Al-Jazeera is only nominally Arabic; in fact, it was established by British staff of the former Arabic service of the BBC, while Qatar is the first USA ally in the Gulf States.)
But still, the military must learn the truth, as it has to be remembered that performing criminal orders makes one a criminal too, as the Nuremberg trial of the fascists’ war crimes proved.
At that time, fascist officers tried to whitewash themselves by blaming their leaders for war crimes, saying that they were merely “performing orders”. Nevertheless, most of them were sentenced by the Nuremberg Tribunal. The war crimes tribunal on Libya is to be established soon - thus the coalition military personnel will have to answer for their deeds, together with their military commanders and their states’ leaders!
On the other hand, however safe the coalition military may feel in the course of killing people from a secure height (no real Libyan air defense exists anymore as it was destroyed in the first days of the invasion), the situation could be reversed if a land invasion starts. Even many of the rebels would join efforts to defend their ancestors’ land from foreign invaders (in fact, during the last two weeks a number anti-war demonstrations have already been held even in Benghazi, though suppressed by rebel commanders there).
Thus our intention is to save not only Libyans (and ourselves too), but also the lives of American and European soldiers who could be in danger in the course of this unjust criminal war. Is it a good idea for free people of America and Europe to die for western monopolies desire to control Libyan oil?
Honest people of America, your ancestors were the first to become really free people, they threw off the yoke of the British empire, proclaimed their independence and freedom, and started living in accordance to the people’s will. So, why is it that now your leaders do not allow other peoples to have freedom and independence, and to choose their own way of life?
Before the war, Libya was a paradise for its people and for foreigners worked there; everyone felt himself safe and happy. Yes, this paradise was rather different from the American one, but is that a sound reason to destroy it? Please, try to understand this, and stop your leaders from killing innocent people, even if they have ventured to have some other idea about life than that of the USA!
People of Great Britain, how do you allow your leaders to mock openly at you all? On the day of the royal wedding the war hawks were planning to kill another country’s Leader. Did they think that such a murder would be the best wedding present to the offspring of their sovereign? Maybe your prime minister considers the royal couple akin to King Herod and Herodias so as to bring them the head of Gaddafi?
In fact, his plan failed, and thus the slaughter of innocents in Tripoli by these modern Herods turned out to be his main - and one would say rather insulting and arrogant - gift to the newly-married couple. How can so proud a people as the British bear such shameful behavior by their leaders?!
We plead with all honest, good will people in the West and East to support our appeal to STOP WAR AGAINST LIBYA. We ask people to spread this letter everywhere possible - to news agencies, human rights and other international and national organisations, even to one’s own friends - in order to force American, British and Nato war hawks and satan’s disciples to STOP AGGRESSION AGAINST PEOPLE OF LIBYA !
(More than one hundred signatures)
Prepared for publication by Lisa Karpova, Pravda.Ru
Via JohnPilger.com, 26 May 2011
When Britain lost control of Egypt in 1956, Prime Minister Anthony Eden said he wanted the nationalist president Gamal Abdel Nasser “destroyed … murdered … I don’t give a damn if there’s anarchy and chaos in Egypt”. Those insolent Arabs, Winston Churchill had urged in 1951, should be driven “into the gutter from which they should never have emerged”.
The language of colonialism may have been modified; the spirit and the hypocrisy are unchanged. A new imperial phase is unfolding in direct response to the Arab uprising that began in January and has shocked Washington and Europe, causing an Eden-style panic.
The loss of the Egyptian tyrant Mubarak was grievous, though not irretrievable; an American-backed counter-revolution is under way as the military regime in Cairo is seduced with new bribes and power shifting from the street to political groups that did not initiate the revolution. The western aim, as ever, is to stop authentic democracy and reclaim control.
Libya is the immediate opportunity. The Nato attack on Libya, with the UN Security Council assigned to mandate a bogus ‘no-fly zone’ to ‘protect civilians’, is strikingly similar to the final destruction of Yugoslavia in 1999. There was no UN cover for the bombing of Serbia and the ‘rescue’ of Kosovo, yet the propaganda echoes today.
Like Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Gaddafi is a ‘new Hitler’, plotting ‘genocide’ against his people. There is no evidence of this, as there was no genocide in Kosovo. In Libya there is a tribal civil war; and the armed uprising against Gaddafi has long been appropriated by the Americans, French and British, their planes attacking residential Tripoli with uranium-tipped missiles and the submarine HMS Triumph firing Tomahawk missiles, a repeat of the ’shock and awe’ in Iraq that left thousands of civilians dead and maimed. As in Iraq, the victims, which include countless incinerated Libyan army conscripts, are media unpeople.
In the ‘rebel’ east, the terrorising and killing of black African immigrants is not news. On 22 May, a rare piece in the Washington Post described the repression, lawlessness and death squads in the ‘liberated zones’ just as visiting EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, declared she had found only “great aspirations” and “leadership qualities”.
In demonstrating these qualities, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the ‘rebel leader’ and Gaddafi’s justice minister until February, pledged, “Our friends … will have the best opportunity in future contracts with Libya.”
The east holds most of Libya’s oil, the greatest reserves in Africa. In March the rebels, with expert foreign guidance, “transferred” to Benghazi the Libyan Central Bank, a wholly owned state institution. This is unprecedented. Meanwhile, the US and the EU “froze” almost US$100 billion in Libyan funds, “the largest sum ever blocked”, according to official statements. It is the biggest bank robbery in history.
The French elite are enthusiastic robbers and bombers. Nicholas Sarkozy’s imperial design is for a French-dominated Mediterranean Union (UM), which would allow France to ‘return’ to its former colonies in North Africa and profit from privileged investment and cheap labour.
Gaddafi described the Sarkozy plan as “an insult” that was “taking us for fools”. The Merkel government in Berlin agreed, fearing its old foe would diminish Germany in the EU, and abstained in the Security Council vote on Libya.
Like the attack on Yugoslavia and the charade of Milosevic’s trial, the International Criminal Court is being used by the US, France and Britain to prosecute Gaddafi while his repeated offers of a ceasefire are ignored.
Gaddafi is a Bad Arab. David Cameron’s government and its verbose top general want to eliminate this Bad Arab, like the Obama administration killed a famously Bad Arab in Pakistan recently.
The crown prince of Bahrain, on the other hand, is a Good Arab. On 19 May, he was warmly welcomed to Britain by Cameron with a photo-call on the steps of 10 Downing Street. In March, the same crown prince slaughtered unarmed protestors and allowed Saudi forces to crush his country’s democracy movement.
The Obama administration has rewarded Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive regimes on earth, with a $US60 billion arms deal, the biggest in US history. The Saudis have the most oil. They are the Best Arabs.
The assault on Libya, a crime under the Nuremberg standard, is Britain’s 46th military ‘intervention’ in the Middle East since 1945. Like its imperial partners, Britain’s goal is to control Africa’s oil.
Cameron is not Anthony Eden, but almost. Same school. Same values. In the media-pack, the words colonialism and imperialism are no longer used, so that the cynical and the credulous can celebrate state violence in its more palatable form.
And as ‘Mr Hopey Changey’ (the name that Ted Rall, the great American cartoonist, gives Barack Obama), is fawned upon by the British elite and launches another insufferable presidential campaign, the Anglo-American reign of terror proceeds in Afghanistan and elsewhere, with the murder of people by unmanned drones - a US/Israel innovation, embraced by Obama.
For the record, on a scorecard of imposed misery, from secret trials and prisons and the hounding of whistleblowers and the criminalising of dissent to the incarceration and impoverishment of his own people, mostly black people, Obama is as bad as George W Bush.
The Palestinians understand all this. As their young people courageously face the violence of Israel’s blood-racism, carrying the keys of their grandparents’ stolen homes, they are not even included in Mr Hopey Changey’s list of peoples in the Middle East whose liberation is long overdue.
What the oppressed need, he said on 19 May, is a dose of “America’s interests [that] are essential to them”. He insults us all.
By Manlio Dinucci, via GlobalResearch.ca
The objective of the war against Libya is not just its oil reserves (now estimated at 60bn barrels), which are the greatest in Africa and whose extraction costs are among the lowest in the world, nor the natural gas reserves, of which there are estimated to be about 1,500bn cubic meters. In the crosshairs of the ‘willing’ of operation ‘Unified Protector’ there are also sovereign wealth funds, capital that the Libyan state has invested abroad.
The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) manages sovereign wealth funds estimated at about $70bn, rising to more than $150bn if you include foreign investments of the Central Bank and other bodies. But it might be more. Even if they are lower than those of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, Libyan sovereign wealth funds have been characterised by their rapid growth.
When the LIA was established in 2006, it had $40bn at its disposal. In just five years, the LIA has invested over one hundred companies in North Africa, Asia, Europe, the US and South America: holding, banking, real estate, industries, oil companies and others.
In Italy, the main Libyan investments are those in UniCredit Bank (of which the LIA and the Libyan Central Bank hold 7.5 percent), Finmeccanica (2 percent) and ENI (1 percent), these and other investments (including 7.5 percent of the Juventus Football Club) have a significance not as much economically (they amount to some $5.4bn) as politically.
Libya, after Washington removed it from the blacklist of ‘rogue states’, has sought to carve out a space at the international level focusing on “diplomacy of sovereign wealth funds”. Once the US and the EU lifted the embargo in 2004 and the big oil companies returned to the country, Tripoli was able to maintain a trade surplus of about $30bn per year, which was used largely to make foreign investments.
The management of sovereign funds has, however, created a new mechanism of power and corruption in the hands of ministers and senior officials, which probably in part escaped the control of Gaddafi himself: This is confirmed by the fact that, in 2009, he proposed that the $30bn in oil revenues go “directly to the Libyan people”. This aggravated the fractures within the Libyan government.
US and European ruling circles focused on these funds, so that before carrying out a military attack on Libya to get their hands on its energy wealth, they took over the Libyan sovereign wealth funds. Facilitating this operation is the representative of the Libyan Investment Authority, Mohamed Layas himself: as revealed in a cable published by WikiLeaks.
On 20 January Layas informed the US ambassador in Tripoli that the LIA had deposited $32bn in US banks. Five weeks later, on 28 February, the US Treasury ‘froze’ these accounts. According to official statements, this is “the largest sum ever blocked in the United States”, which Washington held “in trust for the future of Libya”.
It will in fact serve as an injection of capital into the US economy, which is more and more in debt. A few days later, the EU ‘froze’ around €45bn of Libyan funds.
The assault on the Libyan sovereign wealth funds will have a particularly strong impact in Africa. There, the Libyan Arab African Investment Company had invested in over 25 countries, 22 of them in sub-Saharan Africa, and was planning to increase the investments over the next five years, especially in mining, manufacturing, tourism and telecommunications.
The Libyan investments have been crucial in the implementation of the first telecommunications satellite Rascom (Regional African Satellite Communications Organization), which entered into orbit in August 2010, allowing African countries to begin to become independent from the US and European satellite networks, with annual savings of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Even more important were the Libyan investment in the implementation of three financial institutions launched by the African Union: the African Investment Bank, based in Tripoli, the African Monetary Fund, based in Yaoundé (Cameroon), and the African Central Bank, based in Abuja (Nigeria).
The development of these bodies would enable African countries to escape the control of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, tools of neo-colonial domination, and would mark the end of the CFA franc, the currency that 14 former French colonies are forced to use. Freezing Libyan funds deals a strong blow to the entire project. The weapons used by ‘the willing’ are not only those in the military action called ‘Unified Protector’.
Il Manifesto, 22 April 2011
Translated from the Italian by John Catalinotto
Muammar al Gaddafi
Via Information Clearing House. Translated by Professor Sam Hamod.
5 April 2011
For 40 years, or was it longer, I can’t remember, I did all I could to give people houses, hospitals, schools, and when they were hungry, I gave them food. I even made Benghazi into farmland from the desert.
I stood up to attacks from that cowboy Reagan. When he killed my adopted orphaned daughter, he was trying to kill me; instead he killed that poor innocent child.
Then I helped my brothers and sisters from Africa with money for the African Union, did all I could to help people understand the concept of real democracy, where people’s committees ran our country.
But that was never enough, as some told me. Even people who had 10-room homes, new suits and furniture, were never satisfied. As selfish as they were they wanted more, and they told Americans and other visitors, they needed ‘democracy’, and ‘freedom’, never realising it was a cut-throat system, where the biggest dog eats the rest.
They were enchanted with those words, never realising that in America, there was no free medicine, no free hospitals, no free housing, no free education and no free food, except when people had to beg or go to long lines to get soup.
No, no matter what I did, it was never enough for some. But for others, they knew I was the son of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the only true Arab and muslim leader we’ve had since Salah ad-Din. When Nasser claimed the Suez Canal for his people, as I claimed Libya for my people, it was in his footsteps I tried to follow, to keep my people free from colonial domination - from thieves who would steal from us …
Now, I am under attack by the biggest force in military history. My little African son Obama wants to kill me, to take away the freedom of our country: to take away our free housing, our free medicine, our free education, our free food, and replace it with American-style thievery, called ‘capitalism’.
But all of us in the Third World know what that means. It means corporations run the countries, run the world, and the people suffer.
So there is no alternative for me; I must make my stand, and if Allah wishes, I shall die by following his path - the path that has made our country rich with farmland, with food and health, and even allowed us to help our African and Arab brothers and sisters to work here with us, in the Libyan Jamahiriya.
I do not wish to die, but if it comes to that, to save this land, my people, all the thousands who are all my children, then so be it.
Let this testament be my voice to the world: that I stood up to crusader attacks of Nato, stood up to cruelty, stood up to betrayal, stood up the West and its colonialist ambitions. And that I stood with my African brothers, my true Arab and muslim brothers, as a beacon of light.
When others were building castles, I lived in a modest house, and in a tent. I never forgot my youth in Sirte. I did not spend our national treasury foolishly, and like Salah ad-Din, our great muslim leader, who rescued Jerusalem for Islam, I took little for myself …
In the West, some have called me ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’. They know the truth but continue to lie. They know that our land is independent and free, not in the colonial grip; that my vision, my path, is and has been clear and for my people, and that I will fight to my last breath to keep us free. May Allah almighty help us to remain faithful and free.
By Felicity Arbuthnot, via Global Research
5 April 2011
“America is not - and never will be - at war with Islam.” (President Barack Hussein Obama, Al-Azar University, Cairo, 4 June 2009)
George W Bush embarked on the casual snuffing out of uncounted, unique, human lives in majority muslim populations, chillingly called it a “crusade”. President Barack Hussein Nobel Obama did not go that far, he left that to the French Minister of the Interior, Claude Gueant who, on 21 March, praised President Nicholas Sarkozy for having: “headed the crusade”.
For the “change we can believe in” president, reducing another ancient land of eye-watering archeological gems, massive oil and water resources and a population of six million - little more than Scotland - it is, reportedly, a “turd sandwich”.
Humanity is not “at the crossroads”. It is on the Cross, scourged, nailed (in all senses) and utterly inconsequential, in face of murdering, marauding, looting Empire.
When President Obama “updated the American people on the international effort we have led in Libya” on 29 March, he stated that: “we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges” and referred to “our interests” being “at stake”. Reluctance would be a first. America’s bombing for “interests” would be an encylopaedia.
Colonel Gaddafi, had, of course, stated the president: “denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorised innocent people around the world”. Busy man. Heaven forbid ‘Nato’s’ blitzkrieg should send the occasional shiver down a spine.
However, interestingly, at the end of March, a report was due to be presented by the UN Human Rights Council leading to a resolution commending Libya’s progress in a wide aspect of human rights. Numerous quotes from UN diplomatic delegations of many countries commented. Citations included: “achieving a high school enrolment rate and improvements in the education of women“, Libya’s: “serious commitment to, and interaction with, the Human Rights Council … enhanced development of human rights … while respecting cultural and religious traditions“.
Also mentioned was: “ … establishment of the national independent institution entrusted with promoting human rights, which had many of the competencies set out in the Paris Principles“. The country had: “become party to many human rights conventions and had equipped itself with a number of institutions, national, governmental and non governmental tasked with promoting human rights …”
The country was commended: “for the progress made in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, namely universal primary education [and] firm commitment [to] health care“. There was praise for “cooperation with international organisations in combating human trafficking and corruption” and for cooperation with the International Organization for Migration.
“Progress in enjoyment of economic and social rights, including in the areas of education, health care, poverty reduction and social welfare” with “measures taken to promote transparency“, were also cited. Malaysia “Commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for being party to a significant number of international and regional human rights instruments.” Promotion “of the rights of persons with disabilities” and praise for “measures taken with regard to low income families” were cited.
In May 2010, Libya had also been voted on to the UN Human Rights Council by a veritable landslide, 155 of 192 UN General Assembly votes. As noted previously (i), Libya comes top in Africa on the Human Development Index, which measures longevity (the longest) infant mortality (the lowest) education, health services, well being. (ii)
All that said, before this publication is flooded with complaints about the writer’s naivety, ‘propagandist flights of fancy’ (an orchestrated old favourite) or whatever, some of the countries making positive recommendations regarding Libya did not have the most shining human rights records. But then the US, UK and Nato member countries pontificate from the high moral molehills of the mass graves of the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, overtly, and Yemen, Somalia and other countries, covertly. And of course there are Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, rendition flights and secret torture programmes and prisons across the globe for US/UK convenience. (iii)
Further, in a train wreck of factual inaccuracies in President Obama’s speech, a (possibly) Freudian slip crept in. “Benghazi”, he said, was “a city nearly the size of Charlotte” in danger of suffering “a massacre (staining) the conscience of the world”.
A quick check shows that Charlotte, North Carolina “has a major base of energy orientated organisations and has become known as ‘Charlotte, USA - The New Energy Capital’. In the region there are 240+ companies directly tied to the energy sector … Major players are AREVA, Babcock and Wilcox, Duke Energy, Electric Power Research Institute, Fluor, Metso Power, Piedemont Natural Gas, Siemens Energy, Shaw Group, Toshiba, URS Corp and Westinghouse.The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has a reputation in energy education and research and its ‘Energy Production and Infrastructure Center’ trains energy engineers and conducts research.” (Wikipedia)
Whilst many respected oil experts have argued that since so many western energy companies operate in Libya, this is not about oil, there are some points worth pondering. All companies operating in Libya must have Libyan partners, entitled to 35 percent of profits. (iv) Trading is via the Libyan Central Bank, in the Libyan Dinar, not US$. The Libyan Central Bank is also independently outside the IMF and the World Bank.
There are only five nations without a Rothschild model central bank: North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Cuba and Libya.
There were two others: Afghanistan and Iraq, but they were gobbled up by the international banking system within a heartbeat of the invasions.
“It has always been about gaining control of the central banking system in Libya. Oil is just a profitable side issue like every other state asset that is waiting in Libya to be privatised and sold off to multinational corporations like Bechtel, GE, and Goldman Sachs. Oil is important and it is certainly a target but it isn’t the driving force behind these global wars for profit. Banking is.” (v)
That said, as President Obama was busy being inaugurated, Colonel Gaddafi (January 2009) was mooting nationalising “US oil companies, as well of those of UK, Germany, Spain, Norway Canada and Italy”. “Oil should be owned by the state at this time, so we could better control prices by the increase or decrease in production”, stated the Colonel. (vi)
So how does the all tie together? Libya, in March, being praised by the majority of the UN for human rights progress across the board, to today being the latest, bombarded international pariah? A nation’s destruction enshrined in a UN resolution?
The answer lies in part with the Geneva based UN Watch. (vii) UN Watch is “a non-governmental organisation whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations“. With consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council, with ties to the UN Department of Public Information, “UN Watch is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee” (AJC).
Among those involved in UN Watch are Co-Chair, AJC’s David A Harris. Core values: “AJC has long believed that the development of a comprehensive US energy programme is essential to the economic and social well-being of our country.” AJC’s website is an exceptionally instructive listen and read. (viii)
Ambassador Alfred Moses, former US Ambassador to Romania, heads UN Watch. His company, Secure Energy’s mission: “Improving US energy security“, “Securing America’s energy future“. (ix)
Board Member Ruth Wedgwood is “an international law expert … at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) a former member of Donald Rumsfeld’s Defence Policy Board (formerly headed by Richard Perle.)“, closely associated with “a number of neo-conservative and rightist pro-Israeli groups - including Freedom House, UN Watch and Benador Associates - a neo-con dominated public relations firm“. She “has been a vocal advocate of the war on terror … strong defender of the Patriot Act and decision to invade Iraq“. (x)
Executive Director Hillel Neuer has served as law clerk to the Supreme Court of Israel, is a Graduate Fellow at the Shalem Center think tank and holds a host of law degrees. In addition to extensive human rights legal advocacies and testimonies, as associate in the international law firm of Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison llp (New York), “He was associate in the legal team that successfully represented Raytheon Company in various claims against Hughes Electronics Corporation.” Neuer was also instrumental in achieving victory for the California Public Utilitites Commission in: “various disputes with Pacific Gas and Electric Company“. (xi)
Speakers at events hosted by the company have included Hillary “I met the rebel leader in Paris” Clinton (xii) and Vernon Jordan, former political advisor to Bill “I would be inclined to arm the rebels” Clinton. (xiii)
UN Watch’s relentless campaign “to remove Libya from the Human Rights Council” began in May 2010, “working closely with Libyan dissident Mohamed Eljahmi“. (vii) Mr Eljahmi is “a Libyan/American human rights activist. He is a co-founder and former Communication Officer of American Libyan Freedom Alliance. ALFA was founded 2003 to help educate and inform US government and media about Libya. Mr Eljahmi actively educates and informs US government, national and international media and NGOs about Libyan affairs.” (xiv)
An aspect of especial ire for UN Watch has been Libya’s place on the five-member investigation by the Human Rights Council into the use of mercenaries. Given their woeful excesses from Blackwater’s (now Xe) shoot-ups to CACI’s man-management at Abu Ghraib (then there’s Paravant, an Xe subsiduary at Bagram; Guantanamo and KBR), it is a supreme irony that UN Watch’s cry of “foul” over Libya has won out, while the US’s place on the council is unsullied. (Libya was suspended from the Human Rights Council on 25 February this year.) And did Libya employ ‘black African mercenaries’, to fight the rebels? In the fog of disinformation, certainties are scarce, but it is a story which would seem to be unravelling.
Then there is the water. Gaddafi’s project to make Libya’s vast desert bloom has been dubbed by some “The eighth wonder of the world.” A succinct overview cites: “the large quantities of water in Libya deep beneath the desert … Libya’s Great Man-Made River Project. A project worth 33 billion dollars. The value of the small reservoirs is about 70,000,000,000,000 dollars.” (xv) When the project was announced in September 1991, London and Washington were reported to be “ballistic“. At a ceremony attended by Arab and African heads of state, foreign diplomats and delegations, including President Mubarak of Egypt, King Hassan of Morocco, Gaddafi called it a gift to the Third World. He also said: “American threats against Libya will double.” (xvi)
Looking at the all, it is impossible not to think the truth of an attack of over thirty nations on a country of six million is buried deeper than Libya’s aquifers. ‘Operation Odyssey Dawn’ was well named. An odyssey indeed. Odysseus’s tortured journey lasted ten years.
Libyan rebels in Benghazi said they have created a new national oil company to replace the corporation controlled by leader Muammar Gaddafi, whose assets were frozen by the United Nations Security Council.
The Transitional National Council released a statement announcing the decision made at a 19 March meeting to establish the “Libyan Oil Company as supervisory authority on oil production and policies in the country, based temporarily in Benghazi, and the appointment of an interim director general” of the company.
The council also said it “designated the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and the appointment of a governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi“.
And of course, given Israel’s chronic water shortage, Libya’s abundant underground blessings, and the close geographical proximity of the two countries, there might be other regional advantages mooted in regime change.
vii. Full chronology of the Campaign against Libya: http://www.unwatch.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=bdKKISNqEmG&b=1316871&ct=9142899
See also: http://blog.unwatch.org/index.php/category/libya/
See also: http://www.paulweiss.com/
ALFA, about which not a lot can be found: http://www.alfa-online.net/
See also: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24096
Via What’s Left
By Stephen Gowans
In a previous article I pointed to three factors to explain the West’s decision to intervene militarily in Libya to prevent the government there from putting down an armed rebellion while it tacitly approves the Gulf Cooperation Council’s military intervention in Bahrain to put down a peaceful rebellion there. The double-standard, I argued, reflects dramatic differences between Libya and Bahrain in their relationship with the United States and its dominant investor and corporate class.
Bahrain is the home of the US Fifth Fleet, has long-standing warm relations with Washington, and strongly caters to western corporate and investor interests. Since the Khalifa regime supports US corporate profit-making and military interests, and a new regime might not do the same to the same degree, Washington is prepared to allow Saudi and other GCC troops and tanks to assist Bahraini authorities in violently quelling a peaceful rebellion.
Libya, I pointed out, doesn’t provide bases for the US or other western militaries, hasn’t had long-standing warm relations with Washington, and isn’t particularly accommodating of western corporate and investor interests. From a neo-colonialist standpoint, western powers could do better in Libya.
Some readers objected, arguing that in recent years Libya has sought to open itself to western corporations and investors and has struck a number of deals with western oil companies. It cannot be concluded, they continued, that the West’s decision to intervene military in Libya was motivated by western profit-making considerations, for Libya is already catering to western business interests.
To be sure, Libya has opened itself to the West, but doing deals with western corporations is not the same as engineering a wholesale subordination of domestic interests to those of foreign bankers and corporations — typically, what corporate-and investor-oriented western governments look for in third-world ‘partners’. For the wealthy scouring the globe for investment opportunities and corporations seeking export markets, an opening door in Libya doesn’t necessarily mean that Libya’s business climate is fully conducive to maximising profits.
That Libya allows some western corporations to operate in the country doesn’t guarantee that investments are safe from expropriation, that performance requirements aren’t imposed on foreign investments, that repatriation of profits isn’t controlled, that taxes aren’t high, or that there is a commitment to labor market ‘flexibility’. In short, the Gaddafi government may, in recent years, have sought to expand western access to investment opportunities in Libya, but that alone doesn’t mean that the conditions of access were regarded by corporations and investors as being as desirable as they could be, or as desirable, for example, as those provided by the government of Bahrain, or a desirable as those a future government might provide.
The Heritage Foundation provides a guide to how accommodating countries are to the profit-making interests of US corporations and investors. Every year the foundation publishes an Index of Economic Freedom, which ranks countries on how open they are to exports and foreign investment, how low their taxes are, how committed they are to protecting property rights, and so on; in short, how strongly a country favors foreign businesses and investors over its own people.
Significantly, governments that are perennially targets of US government regime change efforts rank at or near the bottom of the index. This year’s list identifies the following 10 countries as the least economically free (ie, least accommodating to foreign businesses), in order, from worst to slightly better:
- North Korea
- Democratic Republic of Congo
Seven of the bottom 10 (North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela, Myanmar, Libya and Iran) are the targets of open regime change operations by the United States and its allies, carried out ostensibly because the targeted countries are not protecting human rights, threaten regional stability, or in the case of Libya, because the government is said to be attacking its own people.
That these countries happen to be considered the least accommodating of foreign business profit-making points to an ulterior motive on the part of western governments to bring about regime change, and to use human-rights and humanitarian rhetoric as a cover for pursuing the economic interests of western corporate and investor elites.
Significantly, not one country in the top 10 is a target of western regime change efforts. If regime change were linked to human-rights concerns and not unfavorable investment and export conditions, we might expect to find regime change targets scattered throughout the rankings, rather than bunched up at the bottom.
One counter-explanation is that economically free countries tend to respect human rights, which is why the worst offenders on both counts are found at the bottom of the list. However, this couldn’t possibly be true, for the United States, which has an atrocious human rights record (Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, torture and rendition of prisoners, arrest and detention without charge, extrajudicial assassination, weakening of Miranda rights, spying on its own citizens, restrictions on travel to Cuba, and so on) ranks as the ninth freest country in the world in economic terms, and Saudi Arabia, the least free country in terms of political and civil liberties and perhaps the most contemptuous of human rights, ranks in the top half.
Bahrain, as it turns out, is ranked number 10 of 179 countries on the Heritage Foundation list, next to the United States. Regionally, Bahrain is top ranked in North Africa and West Asia, while Libya, ranked 173 over all countries, falls dead last in regional rankings.
Bahrain’s higher ranking is based on an array of government policies aimed to please foreign businesses. Property ownership is secure and expropriation is unlikely, whereas in Libya foreign companies are vulnerable to expropriation. Bahrain welcomes foreign investment and allows new businesses to be 100 percent foreign owned and controlled, while Libya screens foreign investment, imposes performance requirements on foreign investors that domestic investors are not required to meet, and demands that Libyans have a 35 percent stake in foreign companies that operate in the country. And while Bahrain imposes no restrictions on repatriation of profits, Libya does.
On trade, Bahrain imposes few restrictions on imports, while Libya maintains a variety of tariff and non-tariff barriers to help local firms develop. With the exception of oil companies, businesses that operate in Bahrain pay no corporate tax, while businesses in Libya are subject to a tax rate as high as 40 percent. Personal income tax is extremely low in Bahrain, but can reach as high as 90 percent in Libya. And while Bahrain provides businesses maximum flexibility in dealing with employees, even allowing them to pay desperation-level wages, Libya demands that businesses meet minimum standards on pay and working conditions.
In short, the Bahraini monarchy runs a foreign-investment- and import-friendly regime, while Libya’s economic policies favour local investors and businesses and provide a minimal standard of protection for labor. A government that was more like Bahrain’s, and less like Gaddafi’s, would unquestionably be congenial to foreign business interests.
Heritage Foundation's 2011 evaluation of economic freedom in Bahrain and Libya
Some readers contend that western military intervention in Libya is aimed at preventing the slaughter of Libyan civilians. But a stronger case can be made that western military intervention is aimed at regime change, and that, far from protecting civilians, Nato bombing is only setting the stage for a prolonged civil war by weakening loyalist forces and thereby allowing the rebels to contest for power.
There are a number of reasons why the Nato operation in Libya can be seen as a regime change effort, apart from the motivation of replacing the current government with one more congenial to western profit-making interests, as discussed above.
First, the decision of the French government to recognise the rebel opposition as the legitimate government was a declaration that France, at least, is manoeuvring to install a new government in Libya. (1) Indeed, both France and Britain have acknowledged that they are seeking the ouster of Gaddafi. (2)
Second, US secretary of state Hilary Clinton said “Gaddafi’s ouster was the ultimate goal of the UN resolution” (3), and while US president Barack Obama denied this, he did say that the military “campaign will likely continue as long as Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is in power”. (4) If the intervention’s goal is to protect civilians and not install a new government, how can the aims of France and Britain and the comments of Clinton and Obama be reconciled?
Third, Washington hopes that sanctions “combined with Nato air power, will be enough to turn the tide militarily”. While the UN Security Council resolution authorises the use of military means to protect civilians, it doesn’t authorise the use of military means to aid rebel forces. Yet newspapers on 23 March 2011 were full of stories on how fresh airstrikes were allowing rebel forces to recover lost ground. For example, the Wall Street Journal commented that,
“The hope for the West is that a continuation of military pressure on Col Gaddafi’s forces, even at somewhat lower levels in coming days, combined with continued forward movement by the rebels, will be enough to make the Libyan army either buckle or turn on the Libyan leader. That would produce the outcome the West hopes for – the removal of Col Gaddafi.” (5)
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that “the airstrikes have lifted the rebels back from the brink of defeat in the eastern city of Benghazi and enabled them to rush west along the coast past their farthest gains of the previous peak weeks ago”. (6)
It is clear that the intention of the military intervention, which was authorised when the rebels’ defeat by loyalist forces was imminent, was to weaken the government side to allow the rebels to rally and seize the momentum. This hardly favors a quick resolution of the conflict. The conflict could go on for some time, perhaps taking more lives than would have been lost had the UN sent a fact-finding mission in return for a cease-fire, or had loyalist forces successfully put down the uprising weeks ago.
The potential for the conflict to drag on, fuelled by the aid Nato provides the rebels through its airstrikes, was acknowledged by US secretary of defense Robert Gates. The Pentagon boss said “he couldn’t be sure Nato would have finished its mission by year-end”. (7)
The idea, then, that the UN Security Council authorised military intervention to protect civilians has no substance. Furthermore, the idea that the intervention is protecting civilians, whether that is the real intention of the intervention or not, seems unlikely, since the outcome so far has been to create the conditions for a protracted civil war – one moreover, that will be worsened by civilian deaths caused by Nato bombing on behalf of rebel forces.
If the rebel forces prevail and extend their control to all of Libya, or eventually settle for partition of the country, we can expect the economic policies of the future government to be closer to those of Bahrain, and therefore closer to the profit-making interests of western corporations and investors. In this sense, the UN Security Council, and the military operation it authorises, can be seen as investments in making Libya a more attractive place to do business in.
Finally, it might be pointed out, as Johnstone has, (8) that the Gaddafi government has invested a considerable part of its oil revenues in sub-Saharan Africa, contrary to the usual practice among Arab oil states of shipping the proceeds of their oil sales to New York investment banks, the London stock exchange, and US arms manufacturers. These practices are more conducive to western business interests than Gaddafi’s investments in Africa, and might be expected to become the standard practice in Libya if the rebel movement succeeds in ousting Gaddafi.
1. ‘Why are they making war on Libya?’ by Diana Johnstone, Counterpunch, 24 March 2011
2. ‘Obama bets on limited engagement’ by Jay Solomon and Carol E Lee, Wall Street Journal, 24 March 2011
3. ‘Allies rally against Gadhafi’ by Keith Johnson, Yaroslav Trofimov and Sam Dagher, Wall Street Journal, 19 March 2011
4. ‘Allies strain to mend split’ by Nathan Hodge, Sam Dagher, Stephen Fidler and Stacy Meichtry, Wall Street Journal, 23 March 2011
5. ‘Fresh airstrikes aid rebels’ by Sam Dagher and Stephen Fiddler, Wall Street Journal, 28 March 2011
6. ‘Libyan rebels march toward Qaddafi stronghold’ by David D Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim, New York Times, 27 March 2011
7. ‘Fresh airstrikes aid rebels’ by Sam Dagher and Stephen Fiddler, Wall Street Journal, 28 March 2011
8. ‘Why are they making war on Libya?’ by Diana Johnstone, Counterpunch, 24 March 2011
The following statement was issued by Dave Roberts of the SLP.
As the West gears up for intervention into Libya, the left in Britain, with a few exceptions, are like rabbits in the proverbial headlights, transfixed by the brilliant glare of western propaganda. Many are either completely ignorant of Gaddafi’s anti-imperialist revolutionary history or prefer that their self-opinionated pseudo-left intellectualism should not be disturbed by the very notion that the people of one of the previously poorest and most backward countries in the world, through their own efforts, can have thrown off imperialism.
Not only that but, within four decades, they have gone on to built an economy and a society which, to the horror of western reactionary circles, is the envy of the revolutionary class-conscious, downtrodden and poor of Africa and the Arab world.
If any had bothered to read even a basic historical text on Libya’s Green Revolution they would be amazed at its achievements, benefits of which include universal suffrage, free lifelong education for all up to post-graduate level, free medical and health care, a guaranteed home for every Libyan and the highest per capita income in the Arab and African world - a per capita income which is a real average income rather than one based on the massive disparities in wealth to be found in western economies.
Unlike their Arab brothers and sisters in Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi or Jordan, at the age of 16 all Libyans are entitled to join and attend their weekly held local people’s committee and participate practically week in week out in the framing and delivery of policies and the allocation of resources that affect their daily lives. No wonder that participation rates in the political process exceed anything the ‘democratic’ west can offer.
A point lost on the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen when he insisted that protesters were “thirsting for democracy”. Gaddafi correctly told him that he clearly knew nothing of the policy and practice of the authority of the people in Libya .
In setting off on the journey to bring Libya into the modern world, Gaddafi has been conciliatory to those elements in society who, for reasons of the privilege or power they had held over the people through the mosques or through their previous patronage by western oil companies, have continued to resist the struggle for democratic and economic development.
He guaranteed participation of the imams in the people’s committees and ensured that the previous comprador class was no worse off as the wealth, education and health of all Libyans was raised to the remarkable levels they enjoy today. It is clearly these restorationist elements who are forming the backbone of the opposition, eyeing a chance for themselves of a ‘better’ future under the local patronage of western oil companies, or of bringing Libya under the pan-islamist resistance and ‘rescuing’ it from what they fear as the westernising modernism and growing secularism of the Green revolution.
Unlike the opposition in Egypt or Tunisia, the Libyan opposition have raised the royalist emblem of the western oil company-imposed puppet King Idris, whilst increasingly calling for western imperialist intervention to secure their counter-revolution. It should therefore be glaringly obvious to all but the politically blind that the struggle in Libya is the complete opposite to the unfolding struggle across the rest of the Arab world.
An understanding that might explain why Hague sent the SAS and MI6 on a secret mission to start discussions to begin arming the opposition in Libya, whilst two weeks earlier Cameron was in Egypt gun running to the military junta.
No calls for western intervention in Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Egypt then? No calls for the Bahraini or Saudi royals to be referred to the War Crimes Tribunal for having invaded sovereign countries and killed unarmed civilians? Unlike most of the British left, British imperialism has a consistent class line: support the junta in Egypt to hold back generalised intifada and destroy the Libyan revolution. Why? Because it has embodied, to date, the best organised and most resilient resistance in the Arab and African world.
Which is why Gaddafi was referred to by Nelson Mandela as one of the “greatest freedom fighters of the century”. Why the first country Mandela visited upon his release from 27 years in an apartheid gaol was Libya, in order to thank Gaddafi for his consistent support for the ANC. Why he is supported by and has supported Cuba, the Sandinistas, Chavez, the Palestinian cause, the Irish national struggle, etc, etc.
It would be a disaster for western oil companies and imperialism generally if any of the Libyan lessons learnt in 40 years of anti-imperialist struggle began to infect the generalised Arab revolt. Which might explain why a country with a population the size of Wales, albeit with better health and wealth indices, is now facing the combined political muscle and potential military threat of the European Union, the United States etc.
It is clearly a bigger ideological than military threat. Particularly at this time, against the background of the continued worldwide economic collapse of capitalism, its drive towards generalised warmongering, and its scramble to secure oil supplies and arms deals.
That any of these truths should get in the way of western warmongering propaganda has led to an unprecedented campaign to put the frighteners on western middle-class intellectuals. For example, the enforced resignation of Sir Howard Davies at the London School of Economics for accepting a donation from Saif Gaddafi’s foundation after the university had awarded him a PhD.
There is hardly a university in the UK that has not taken money from the ‘Gaddafi regime’, but, as the Daily Telegraph pointed out, the real sin was not taking the money but engaging in academic dialogue with the Libyans on the practice of direct democracy in Libya. Saif Gaddafi had been asked to deliver the Ralph Miliband Lecture (the father of the Miliband brothers, who, according to the Daily Telegraph, was, like Gaddafi, seeking his own ‘third way’, which was neither Soviet socialism nor western capitalism).
It should be as clear as crystal who are the reactionaries and who are the anti-reactionaries; who are the imperialists and who are the anti-imperialists in this pivotal struggle.
Of course, all class-conscious, anti-imperialist and progressive movements should stand shoulder to shoulder with the unfolding Arab revolt, but they should also stand for the victory of the Libyan revolution against western counter-revolution; it’s one and the same struggle. Although one doubts that much of the British left will understand that.
Dave Roberts has visited Libya numerous times over the last 15 years, leading European delegations, participating in international roundtable conferences in Tripoli and Benghazi, and facilitating British academics in studying the workings of Libyan direct democracy. He has toured the country extensively, meeting with students, academics, health workers, members of people’s committees and the Revolutionary Committees Movement.