By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published May 9, 2011 8:56 PM
NATO airstrikes carried out April 30 against the home of the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi killed three of Gadhafi’s grandchildren as well as his youngest son, Saif al-Arab Gadhafi. The attacks took place amid a dramatic escalation in fighting between Libyan government forces and the Western-backed rebels in various parts of the North African state.
It was reported that the Libyan leader and his spouse Safiyah Gadhafi were at the son’s residence at the time of the bombing but were not injured. This airstrike follows three previous attacks on the former chairperson of the African Union, all since the U.S. and NATO bombing of Libya began on March 19.
In a statement on this attempted assassination of the country’s leader, Libyan government spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim said: “This is not permitted by international law. It is not permitted by any moral code or principle. ... We think now it is clear to everyone that what is happening in Libya has nothing to do with the protection of civilians.” (Al-Jazeera, May 1)
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the NATO commander of the war against Libya, Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, said of the bombing, “All NATO’s targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the regime’s systematic attacks on the Libyan population and populated areas. We do not target individuals.”
The Libyan spokesperson noted that Saif al-Arab Gadhafi was a civilian and a student in Germany. The government took journalists on a tour of his home in the immediate aftermath of the NATO attack.
Responses to NATO escalation
International criticism and condemnation followed the announcement of the assassinations of Gadhafi’s son and three grandchildren. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference on April 30 that NATO is preparing for a ground invasion and occupation of the North African state. Lavrov said, “The information we have from our channels shows that both NATO and the EU are working on similar plans.” He added that the Russian government understands that the ground operations against Libya will also be carried out under the guise of a humanitarian mission. (Russian Television)
The Russian official called for the United Nations Security Council to address this issue prior to any invasion of Libya. “If anybody wants to ask for this idea for carrying out a ground campaign to the U.N. Security Council, then we will discuss it there and try to understand what is being planned on the ground.”
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said during the previous week that the military campaign against Libya goes far beyond the mandate of Resolution 1973 passed by the U.N. Security Council on March 16. Russia and four other countries abstained on the Security Council vote, which was pushed by the U.S., Britain and France and then used to start an imperialist war against Libya.
Putin asked in an interview with Novosti newswire in Moscow, “What kind of no-fly zone is this if they are striking palaces every night?” Putin said that the real objective behind the war against Libya was the West’s desire to take control of the oil resources inside the country, which are the largest known reserves on the African continent.
Anna Alwes, a research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs, told the Xinhua press agency that the Western powers began their bombing operation against Libya under false pretenses and that these actions cannot be justified in light of the deaths of thousands of civilians. South Africa’s representative on the Security Council had voted for the resolution.
Alwes concurs with other analysts throughout the world that the Western intervention into the conflict in Libya will result in a prolonged war that will have long-term international ramifications. She said: “I see no immediate solution to the conflict between NATO forces and the Libyan rebels on one side, and Moammar Gadhafi on the other. The ongoing civil war is fated to become an internal cancer that will destroy territorial unity and lead to a partition.” (Xinhua, April 30)
In a statement issued by the New York-based International Action Center in direct response to the assassinations of the Libyan leader’s family members, the longtime anti-war organization noted that the many U.S. wars and occupations “have nothing to do with alleged misdeeds of the national leaders, be they Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, the Taliban or Gadhafi. ... They are nothing but the imperialists’ attempt to reconquer and recolonize strategic regions. They are doing it with the resources stolen from workers and the poor at home. It’s time we put a stop to them.”
Crowds attack Western embassies in Libya
Thousands of Libyans, outraged by the airstrikes, demonstrated on May 1, chanting anti-U.S./NATO slogans and burning U.S. flags. Some went on to attack the embassies of the U.S., Britain and Italy. Britain responded by expelling Libya’s ambassador to London. The U.N. announced on May 2 that it was withdrawing 12 officials from Tripoli and sending them to Tunisia after its building was also attacked.
No one was injured in the attacks on the diplomatic missions in Tripoli. Most of the personnel had been removed weeks ago as these imperialist governments intensified their war against Libya.
Thousands of Libyans attended the funeral of Saif al-Arab Gadhafi on May 2 and marched through the streets of the capital in defiance of the U.S. and NATO.
War spreads to Tunisia border
Libyan military forces are continuing to shell the hotly contested western port city of Misrata in an effort to retake the area, which has become a base for the channeling of arms and other military supplies from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
Government troops have also attacked rebel positions on the border between Libya and Tunisia at Dehiba-Wazin and are fighting to dislodge rebel units from the western Nafusah mountain range, where fighting has spilled over into Tunisia.
Outside Zintan, southwest of the capital of Tripoli, NATO reportedly carried out airstrikes on Libyan governmental forces fighting to dislodge rebel units operating in the area. (Reuters, May 2)
The escalation in the fighting has prompted thousands of refugees to flee across the border into Tunisia. Saleh Aouni, from the town of Yafran, told Reuters press agency: “We can no longer live there. ... Not an hour goes by without shelling.”
Tunisian military forces have set up six checkpoints along the way into Dehiba in order to monitor the situation on the border. Shells have landed inside Tunisia and several Libyan military vehicles have reportedly pursued the Western-backed rebels into the area.
NATO airstrikes, which the U.S.-dominated military organization claims are carefully targeted, have also killed anti-government rebels supported by the imperialist states. On April 27, 12 rebels were killed in a NATO bombing operation near the embattled city of Misrata, the country’s third largest with a population of 300,000.
The U.S. and NATO have suffered severe setbacks in their ongoing wars of occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq. A sharp increase in the number of U.S. and NATO casualties was reported for the month of April.
These military setbacks are also taking place in conjunction with the fierce resistance being waged by the Libyan military against the Western-backed rebels and the imperialist states. Increasing condemnation of the U.S./NATO war on Libya has eroded political support for the Obama administration as well as for the governments of Britain, France and Italy.
At the same time the war in Libya has prompted a rise in fuel prices and the economic crisis in the Western capitalist states is escalating.
With the announced assassination of Osama bin Laden, the ruling classes inside the U.S. and Western Europe were hoping for a rise in the stock markets. It didn’t happen.
The drastic attacks on workers and their trade unions in the capitalist states have sparked mass demonstrations as well as intensified the class consciousness of workers struggling to survive the imposition of austerity measures in these industrialized countries.
The burgeoning working-class struggle must link the Pentagon budget and the war drive with the worsening conditions of the masses. These attacks by the imperialists on oppressed nations will not alleviate the true source of the economic crisis, which comes from the capitalist system and its constant need to intensify its exploitation of labor and the world’s resources.