By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published Feb 5, 2012 10:27 PM
A series of attacks have been launched against the U.S.- and NATO-installed National Transitional Council in Libya. The most significant events occurred on Jan. 23 when local forces still loyal to the former government of slain leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi retook the city of Bani Walid, located 120 miles southeast of Tripoli.
During the battles to reclaim the city, four people were reportedly killed and 20 others injured. Reports indicate that heavy weaponry was used by several hundred Libyan loyalists, including 106 mm anti-tank launchers.
The liberation of Bani Walid took place after a gun battle with the NTC rebels that lasted only a few hours. Immediately, green flags were hoisted. These flags are a symbol of the Jamahiriya government that was driven from power by a seven-month bombing campaign carried out by the U.S.-NATO forces.
NTC soldiers patrolling Bani Walid had recently arrested supporters of the former government, prompting outrage among the population. The city had been one of the last to fall during the war against Libya, which lasted for eight months and resulted in the wholesale destruction of the country’s infrastructure and the theft of its national wealth.
After holding out for many months against the U.S.-NATO forces and the NTC rebels, the local loyalist forces agreed to allow the Western-backed gunmen to enter the city. However, tensions have remained extremely high.
Just last November, gun fights erupted when NTC rebels entered the city in an attempt to arrest pro-Gadhafi supporters. On Jan. 23, loyalist forces attacked an NTC militia garrison, killing several guards before moving to occupy the center of the city.
Reports say it may be very difficult for the NTC to exercise authority over Bani Walid. Sentiments against the Western-backed “rebels” have not subsided.
Journalist Taha Zargoun wrote: “Taking back control of the town will be challenging because it has natural defenses. Anyone approaching from the north has to descend into a deep valley and then climb up the other side, giving defenders an advantage.” (Reuters, Jan. 23)
Bani Walid liberation
part of broader unrest
In various regions of Libya the NTC has been rapidly losing any semblance of control. Other attacks by loyalist forces have taken place in the eastern city of Benghazi, the base of the counterrevolution, and in Tripoli, the capital.
In Benghazi, pro-Gadhafi fighters mounted offensives against NTC rebels, killing at least three. In the capital of Tripoli, guerrilla units loyal to the former government launched attacks against NTC personnel in several neighborhoods across the city.
Overall dissatisfaction with the imperialist-backed regime is increasing daily. Even elements that supported the counterrevolution have rapidly grown disillusioned with the NTC regime, which has failed to rein in the militia groups that roam areas of the capital and other cities, committing atrocities against the people.
The Associated Press wrote on Jan. 23: “The bold attacks are the latest breakdown in security, three months after Gadhafi’s capture and killing. Protests have surged in recent weeks, with people demanding that the interim leaders deliver on promises of transparency and compensation for those injured in the civil war.”
There have also been reports of attacks launched by loyalist forces in the western Nafusa mountains. This has prompted the NTC rebel regime to heighten security in Misrata, setting up checkpoints in order to secure entrance into the city.
After the fall of Tripoli in August, many loyalist units took refuge in Bani Walid and other areas in the west of the country. Reports of clashes have been consistent from the area.
Imperialist media ignored
human rights violations
Since the beginning of the rebellion against the Gadhafi government last February, there have been gross human rights violations against people in Libya. Foreign nationals, Black Libyans and loyalist forces were subjected to harassment, beatings, illegal imprisonment, torture and deaths at the hands of the NTC rebels and their imperialist backers.
During the course of last year’s bombing campaign, 26,000 sorties and 10,000 air strikes were carried out between March 19 and Oct. 20. Estimates of deaths during this period range from 50,000 to 100,000.
At least 7,000 people remain imprisoned inside the country, including the son and heir-apparent to Gadhafi, Seif al-Islam. He was captured by the NTC in the south of the country late last year and has been held incommunicado since then.
Seif al-Islam reportedly had a hand severed and is not allowed to seek legal counsel. The International Criminal Court, which had indicted Gadhafi and Seif al-Islam for alleged war crimes during the bombing of the country, has now said that the son can be tried on Libyan soil under the purported laws of the NTC rebels.
A January report released by several human rights organizations says there are still widespread abuses, unjustified imprisonment and torture being conducted by the NTC rebel regime. The document, entitled “Report of the Independent Civil Society Fact-finding Mission to Libya,” reveals that there are victims of NATO and NTC war crimes in numerous areas throughout the country, including Tripoli, Sibrata, Khoms, ZIlten, Misrata, Tawergha and Sirte.
The authors of the report include the Arab Organization for Human Rights, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and the International Legal Assistance Consortium. The document further confirms the deliberate targeting of civilians during the bombing campaign between March and October 2011.
Farirai Chubvu wrote of the findings: “The report exposes the human rights and democratic pretexts employed by the U.S., France, Britain and their NATO accomplices to carry out a colonial-style war of conquest. It makes clear that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, imposing a ‘no-fly zone’ and arms embargo on Libya supposedly to protect civilians from repressive actions by Moammar Gadhafi, was in fact used to carry out a ruthless air war waged in coordination with ‘rebel’ forces on the ground.” (The Herald Online, Jan. 27)
Imperialist states cannot be relied upon to protect the basic human rights of peoples within countries where they are carrying out wars. When President Barack Obama boasted during his State of the Union address recently that the government of Gadhafi had been overthrown, no mention was ever made of the horrendous crimes committed by the U.S. and NATO against the people of Libya.
Anti-war, peace and social justice organizations in the U.S. and other Western countries must continue to speak out and organize against imperialist wars being waged against oppressed peoples. Despite their false claims of concern for human rights and civil rights, it is the Western states that are the main purveyors of violations of fundamental rights throughout the world.