By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published Sep 18, 2011 10:32 PM
Resistance by the loyalist forces in Libya has escalated with major clashes between supporters of the Gadhafi government and the U.S.-NATO financed rebel National Transitional Council. For over two weeks the Western-backed leadership along with the imperialists have been pressuring the people of Bani Walid to surrender and allow the seizure of their city of 100,000 people in the western region of this oil-producing North African state.
After failing to convince the city’s leadership to give in to the neocolonial aims of the NTC and their backers, several attempts by the rebels and NATO to attack Bani Walid and its environs have been repelled by the armed organization of the people. In these recent skirmishes, it was revealed that the Libyan military still maintains the capability to engage in both offensive and defensive operations.
Prior to the attempt to enter Bani Walid, the armed forces of Libya shelled with grad rockets the positions of the NTC rebels outside the city. When rebel units approached the northern entrance of the town, they were hit by additional mortar rounds and sniper fire.
After the withdrawal from the areas approaching Bani Walid, the NTC rebels set out to reinforce their units in the approach to Sirte, the western coastal city that is a strong area of support to President Gadhafi. The effort to approach Sirte was also met with stiff resistance by the loyalist forces, prompting the rebels to retreat 125 kilometers from the city.
The prevention of the rebels from entering these areas exposes the falsehood that the Libyan government does not have continuing support inside the country. Prior to the invasion of Tripoli, demonstrations of millions of people came out in support of the government and in opposition to the U.S.-NATO war.
NATO escalated its bombing operations over both Bani Walid and Sirte in the days leading up to the expiration of the deadline given to the people to surrender. There were reports that NATO advised the rebels to withdraw pending additional air strikes against the loyalists in these cities still under government control.
Additional offensive operations by the loyalists against the U.S.-NATO war in the country included the Sept. 12 bold attack on the oil port at Ras Lanuf, a major focal point of the war over the last seven months. It was reported that 17 NTC rebels were killed in the attack that came after the workers set fire to sections of the refinery as an act of sabotage against the imperialist plan to steal vast amounts of oil from the state that prior to the war produced 1.5 million barrels per day of high grade crude.
On the same day, there were attacks against rebel NTC forces at the airport outside Tripoli where explosions were heard in the distance. During this same time period there was an escalation in sniper fire against NTC elements throughout Tripoli.
Even the New York Times admitted that “Abdulrahman Busin, a spokesman for the council’s military operations, said the attack on Ras Lanuf was apparently a response to news that the council had taken steps to restart oil production, which had been one of the country’s major contributors of income before the conflict. He said that forces allied with the council were still fighting loyalists to bring an industrial area in Ras Lanuf back under control.” (Sept. 12)
U.S. admits greater role amid NATO continuation of war
As the war in Libya escalated following the beginning of the rebel attacks on Feb. 17 in Benghazi and other areas in the east of the country, it has been revealed that the U.S. and the NATO countries have organized, financed and coordinated the actions and movements of the rebel NTC. The White House dispatched Central Intelligence Agency operatives to Libya to provide assistance to the counterrevolution.
It was reported during this same period earlier on in the war that British MI-6 agents and Special Forces were involved in the fighting as well as Special Forces units from the U.S.-backed military in neighboring Egypt as well as Qatar in the Gulf. This direct ground intervention by the imperialist states and their allies illustrated the degree of importance that the ruling classes in these various Western countries placed on the efforts to seize control of Libya, its waterways, national treasury and natural resources.
Moreover, further claims gave additional proof of the deployment on the ground of U.S. military units. Despite consistent reports that U.S. forces had been spotted in the theater of war, the Pentagon has repeatedly denied these allegations.
However: “The Defense Department says it has four troops in Libya — only the second time since the U.S. became involved there that it has acknowledged having any military personnel on the ground. The first time was in March when Marines rescued an Air Force pilot who had ejected over eastern Libya.” (Associated Press, Sept. 12)
Although Navy Capt. John Kirby, a spokesperson for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated that the military personnel were only in Libya to investigate the possibility of the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, in all likelihood this is part of a much broader strategy for greater Pentagon deployment inside the country. Why should the Libyan people or the international community accept these denials by Washington when the Business Insider noted, “[This] admission contradicts the Obama administration’s repeated assertions at the outset of the Libyan military intervention that no U.S. forces would be deployed to the North African nation”? (Sept. 12)
This same publication later commented, “American officials have previously acknowledged the presence of some CIA agents on the ground in Libya who were reportedly helping coordinate NATO air strikes.” The Pentagon and the CIA also supplied the predator drones which were utilized to identify targets and to hit Libyan positions on the ground.
At the same time, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has stressed that the military alliance will continue its operations in Libya for the foreseeable future. During the course of the war against Libya, there have been over 20,000 sorties and approximately 8,000 bombings.
In response to the increased resistance against the U.S.-NATO war policy in Libya, Rasmussen said: “We have seen also during this weekend that remnants of Gadhafi’s regime still constitute a threat to the civilian population. We stand ready to continue our operations as long as necessary.” (Xinhua, Sept. 12) The NATO countries and their allies have hosted several conferences aimed at expropriating the wealth of Libya, with over $120 billion in foreign assets having been frozen over the last several months.
Divisions among rebels and further revelations of atrocities
Already among the rebel forces there are deep divisions that may very well provide a false rationale for a large-scale military intervention by the imperialist states. There were reports that 12 rebels were killed by infighting among disparate units in two towns on the eastern edge of the Nafusa Mountains. (Tripoli Post, Sept. 9)
Other reports indicate fissures between the NTC rebel fighting units and the politicians that are invited to the conferences in Western capitals, where they are hailed as the new leadership of the country. Even among the NTC spokespersons, there are deep differences based on political outlook and distrust between the Islamists, monarchists, government defectors and the longtime CIA-trained groups that have opposed the Gadhafi government since the 1980s.
In addition, there are daily reports of atrocities being committed by the rebels against Black Libyans and Africans from other countries on the continent. Hundreds of Nigerians and Ghanaians are locked up in prisons inside Libya along with dark-skinned nationals who are perceived by the reactionaries and their NATO supporters as loyalists.
Some 20 Nigerian nationals were alleged to have been found executed outside the Gadhafi compound in Tripoli that was overrun by the NTC forces during the first week of the invasion of the capital. These acts of racism and genocide have played a significant part in preventing the African Union from recognizing the NTC as the legitimate government of Libya despite tremendous economic and political pressure from the imperialist states.
Perhaps one of the most shocking stories to come out of Libya was revealed by former U.S. Rep. Walter Fauntroy, a former civil rights activist and aide to the martyred Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Fauntroy, who travelled to Libya during earlier days of the war seeking to mediate a peace agreement between the U.S.-NATO forces and the Gadhafi government, said that he witnessed the beheading of people by Special Forces units from the NATO countries. (mathaba.net, Sept. 9)
Even moderate states in Africa such as Kenya are demanding the withholding of recognition of the NTC by the international community. Kenya’s Embassy was specifically targeted during the invasion of Tripoli and the foreign ministry has stressed that until there is a clear-cut plan for a transition to a representative government in Libya, the NTC should not be given diplomatic standing.
Meanwhile on Sept. 12, amid the escalation of resistance against the U.S.-NATO war against his country, leader Moammar Gadhafi issued a statement over Arrai TV based in Syria. Gadhafi called upon the Libyan people to resist the imposition of NTC rule over Libya and reiterated that the rebels were agents of imperialism.
Oppose war against Libya
It is essential that the anti-war and peace movements inside the U.S. and the other NATO countries openly oppose the imperialist plot to destroy and seize Libya. There is no such thing as a good war of neocolonization and occupation.
The lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq prove clearly that the conditions for the majority of people living under a U.S. occupation will inevitably worsen. The deterioration of the social conditions of people living under imperialist rule, either direct or indirect, will lead to greater military intervention and consequent mass deaths and destruction.
Anti-war forces must demand imperialist hands off the national wealth of the Libyan people. The war against Libya is the first full operational mission of the U.S. Africa Command (Africom), which was established by the Pentagon in 2008 to increase military intervention on the continent. With the reliance of the U.S. ruling class on the oil exports and mineral resources of the African continent, there will be greater calls from the bourgeoisie to engage in efforts aimed at further regime change following the same pattern set in Ivory Coast by France and in Libya by a collective of imperialist states led by the U.S.
Activists concerned with global peace and development should demand the dismantling of Africom and the withdrawal of all U.S. military involvement on the African continent. Africa’s affairs must be the exclusive purview of the African people, bear the brunt of imperialist intervention and occupation.