Thursday, March 17, 2011

Libyan military routs Western-backed rebels

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published Mar 16, 2011 3:28 PM

March 13 — Libyan government forces have taken several towns both east and west of Tripoli, the capital, driving out rebel groups that have been calling for military intervention by the imperialist states. Morale among the opposition is reportedly declining in Benghazi, which has been the de facto headquarters of the rebels.

The United States and the European powers in NATO have been supporting and trying to coordinate the actions of these groups, but their weakness prompted NATO to hold a strategy meeting on March 10.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has maintained that the rebels are backed by the Western imperialist countries and that they are attempting to divide the country along regional and tribal lines. Since the beginning of the unrest, the corporate media outlets in the U.S. and around the world have given unconditional support to the rebel groups.

All the major imperialist states are lined up against the Libyan government in their demand that Gadhafi and his supporters be overthrown. Nonetheless, these Western countries are divided over the best way to remove the current government and gain control over the oil and natural gas resources inside this North African state.

U.S. forces bogged down

U.S. military forces have already suffered tremendous defeats and setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. Inside Afghanistan the Pentagon has ordered more than a thousand bombing missions per month and deployed more than 100,000 U.S. and NATO troops. Nevertheless, the resistance forces are growing significantly.

The U.S. has no strategy for the decisive defeat of the resistance in Afghanistan or Pakistan, where the war has spread even wider under the Obama administration. Obama dispatched an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in late 2009, but these new units have failed to bring the country under the control of the U.S. military forces. In Pakistan, U.S. and NATO policy has only succeeded in creating more adversaries.

Despite the official U.S. position on Iraq that the “surge” worked and that the combat mission is over, Pentagon forces are still being killed in the country. Invaded in 2003 and occupied by U.S. forces ever since, Iraq today is by no means stable or self-sufficient.

Just recently, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis protested against the horrendous conditions prevalent inside the country, which include poor drinking water, lack of utility services, high unemployment, and soaring food and fuel prices. Dozens of demonstrators were killed by the U.S.-trained security forces in February and March. These demonstrations, and the brutality with which they were treated, garnered virtually no press coverage inside the U.S.

The U.S. and other Western imperialist states claim their concerns in Libya are only related to the burgeoning humanitarian crisis caused by the fighting launched by the rebels. The U.S. has dispatched warships to the region under the guise of evacuating foreigners from the North African state.

The U.S. Africa Command (Africom) has been engaged in “its first operational assignment, helping to evacuate foreigners from Libya and delivering humanitarian supplies to refugees in Tunisia,” said Voice of America on March 9. It added, “The command has also had a key role in preparing what officials call a ‘full range of options’ in case President Barack Obama orders military intervention in Libya.”

However, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned Congress and the Obama administration of the dangers associated with possible aerial bombardments of Libya and the deployment of troops in this North African state. He indicated that the imposition of a so-called “no-fly zone” over Libya would require air strikes against the government’s defensive positions and moving a large-scale naval expedition into the region.

Egypt’s military secretly helps rebels

Egypt receives an estimated $1.5 billion annually from the U.S. to subsidize its military forces. A United Press International dispatch published on March 9 reported: “Egypt, still grappling with a revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February, is reported to be quietly aiding rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. ... While the United States and the international community debate whether to intervene in the civil war raging in Libya to support the ragtag rebel forces holding the east of the country, Egypt apparently has sent around 100 Special Forces troops to help the insurgents.”

Unnamed sources referred to in the UPI report indicate that the “Egyptian commandoes are most likely from Unit 777 of the Egyptian army’s Special Operations Command set up in the late 1970s. Unit 777’s 250-300 personnel trains with Germany’s elite GSC-9 counter-terrorism force, the U.S. Army’s Delta Force and France’s GIGN, special operations arm of the National Gendarmerie.” The conservative government of Nicolas Sarkozy of France was the first of the imperialist states to formally recognize the rebel forces.

NATO’s meeting on March 10 brought together defense ministers, foreign ministers, prime ministers or presidents for a two-day meeting about what to do with regard to Libya. Just prior to the March 10 gathering, NATO said it was engaging in the 24-hour-a-day surveillance of Libyan air space. NATO also admitted that an airborne warning-and-control aircraft has already gone on patrol with a Boeing E3 Sentry maintaining a position over the Mediterranean.

However, although Britain and France pushed for setting up a no-fly zone over Libya, there was no agreement among the imperialists, who referred the matter to the U.N. Security Council.

Turkey, also a member of NATO, opposed intervention. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “Military intervention by NATO in Libya or any other country would be totally counter-productive.” (AFP, March 14)

African Union opposes intervention

The African Union Peace and Security Council, headed by Zimbabwe, after a two-day meeting issued a communiqué on March 11 opposing any foreign military intervention in Libya. The AU meeting, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, went on record as recognizing Libya’s unity and territorial sovereignty. The AU represents 53 member states.

The continental organization concluded: “The current situation in Libya calls for an urgent African action for the immediate cessation of all hostilities, the cooperation of the competent Libyan authorities to facilitate the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy populations, the protection of foreign nationals, including the African migrants living in Libya, and the adoption and implementation of the political reforms necessary for the elimination of the causes of the current crisis.”

Libyan state television on March 13 reported, “The Libyan authorities will take all steps to welcome [AU] members and offer all facilities for the accomplishment of the mission.”

On the same day, Gadhafi met with ambassadors from China, Russia and India and encouraged these states to increase their economic cooperation with Libya. (Jana, March 14)

U.S. hands off Africa!

The U.S. is already heavily involved militarily on the African continent with the growing presence of Africom, as well as joint operations with various states throughout the region. The U.S. military base in Djibouti serves as its forward operational center in the Horn of Africa.

These foreign policy and military maneuvers can lead to a protracted ground conflict involving U.S. and NATO forces in North Africa.

Other states in Africa — namely Sudan, Zimbabwe and Somalia — are now under even more of a threat of direct military intervention from the U.S. and other imperialist countries. In Somalia, the U.S. is already engaged in a proxy war to prevent the seizure of power by an Islamic resistance movement that is hostile to Washington’s objectives in the Horn of Africa.

The people of Libya and North Africa are not the enemies of the working people and the oppressed in the United States. The people in the United States must vigorously oppose the intervention by the Pentagon and NATO in the plot to topple the Libyan government. The resources utilized for war and occupation throughout the world should be rechanneled to provide jobs, housing, healthcare, quality education and public services to the majority of working people and the poor.
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