If there is something striking about the case of Libya, it is the coincidence of the opposition to Gaddafi by the extreme left, certain sectors of global justice and reformism. While some attack the Libyan leader from a leftist stance, favoring his armed opponents in the developing civil war, the United States and the reformist governments from conservative Europe apply sanctions against Libya, taking sides in that war to block the acquisition of arms and ammunition by the Libyan government, freezing their accounts and threatening a no-fly zone and possible armed attack against the country.
It is one thing, to be from the left and to disagree with certain policies and theories of Gaddafi, and yet another, to join the chorus of world reaction against him; in this case, that means being part of the imperialist, monarchist, Islamic fundamentalist pack attacking the Libyan regime. From the standpoint of the left, you can criticize Gaddafi all you want, but that is not why his opponents have taken up arms. On the contrary, they have have risen up against all that would be commendable in the Libyan leader and the regime he leads — from a leftist viewpoint. Some people say they are against Gaddafi, therefore, in favor of the armed opposition, but against foreign intervention. The fact is that this opposition is inconsistent: calling for intervention, condemning foreign intervention in Libya, and closing ranks with auditors taking sides in favor of Gaddafi opponents.
One could rationalize or comprehend why someone on the left does not sympathize with Gaddafi and does not defend him. What is not justifiable, under any criterion, is the euphoria with which some “leftists” are attached to the reactionary and imperialist encirclement against the Libyan regime, choosing — in concert with imperialism and its acolytes worldwide — the time to attack Gaddafi. Maybe the opposition to Gaddafi is not drugged, but those on the left who attack Gaddafi at a time like this, appear to be.
Against what has the opposition to the Libyan regime rebelled — that opposition raising the flag of the monarchy, among whom one sees leading cadres of al-Qaida, of whom many recently escaped from prison and, in other cases, were released by the Libyan government? Incidentally, this is the only case, since the war in Afghanistan in the ’80s, that al-Qaida has been on the same side of an issue as the U.S., now publicly supporting armed revolt against Gaddafi. In addition, a “crown prince” has already appeared: a Libyan exile (Mohamed Al Sanusi), who supports the “heroes of the popular uprising” (his exact words, as quoted in an AFP wire).
Libya is the country with the highest per capita income in Africa (with much oil and few inhabitants) and the most fairly distributed wealth in the Arab world, comparable only to Syria, and to some extent, to Iran — What a coincidence! The enemies of the United States in that region of the world. Libya has had a social justice system since the triumph of the revolution of 1969, under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi, who has been a staunch advocate of the secular state. Libya is the Islamic country where women are better off, where they are respected and treated like human beings. Gaddafi has nothing to renounce; he has said he agrees with the desired regional formation of councils of government, but that he would never support the division of Libya.
One difference from what happened in Tunisia and Egypt, is that in Libya, there are no social demands. The three most prominent demands, which contradict each other, are: the introduction of Western democracy, the restoration of the monarchy, and the proclamation of a theocratic and/or fundamentalist Islamic regime. But there are more differences between the situations in Libya and the other two countries.
In Tunisia and Egypt, a civic — therefore, unarmed — opposition surged, which failed to prevent hundreds of deaths in both cases, yet those regimes did not receive condemnation from the “international community” (i.e., the imperialist powers). Nor was the army takeover questioned in Egypt (Yes, after their politically wise decision not to continue attacking the demonstrators). In Libya, by contrast, there is an armed opposition. Even in the images on television and graphic reports, in general, opponents appear with guns and even tanks, while protesters who support Gaddafi in Tripoli appear unarmed. In Libya, there is civil war, unlike what happened and continues to happen in Tunisia and Egypt. As in any war, there are deaths on both sides, which, in this case, are reported by the media as government massacres and bombing of the civilian population.
Nor have the alleged massacres and the aforementioned bombing of civilians been verified by anyone. Gaddafi, who has strongly denied such reports, has invited the U.N. to form an investigatve committee to visit Libya. In addition, the only people truly proved dead are military, and an interesting question made by Gaddafi is this: Who killed them? Another major difference between the two countries.
An amazing case of media manipulation has been the alleged escape and asylum of Gaddafi. First, they said he had gone to Venezuela, and the Libyan leader not only denied the affair, but has said time and again that he will not leave Libya, whatever happens. Yet, the media now is inventing a future asylum in Nicaragua.
One line of the current media war is to project the image of a cornered and defeated Gaddafi. So it is said that the armed opposition is in control of the production and export of Libyan oil, which is a big lie. Oil companies operate in the distant and desert southern part of the country, and 90 percent of Libyan oil leaves through the port of Tripoli, Gaddafi’s stronghold, where a third of the total population of Libya lives. What it has produced is the exodus of foreign oil company officials and a 50 percent decrease in production, which is more dangerous for the rest of the world than for Libya, itself. But Gaddafi has said that if this situation persists, the current European oil investors could be replaced by those of other countries.
In contrast to everything that has been done, what is evident is the willingness of the Libyan leader and the government not to make excessive use of force, an attitude that is clearly the only possible reason for the capture of several towns by the opposition who are using weapons. But be aware that any military action by the Libyan government against the armed opposition groups will be reported as attacks on the civilian population, as massacres, as bombings — all a pretext for imperialist military intervention in this country, for being one of the world’s largest oil producers. However, the Libyan government has no choice but to militarily crush those who have confronted it in this way.
Some say, in order to justify their unjustifiable support for the counter-revolutionary pro-monarchy, fundamentalist opposition in Libya, that Gaddafi handed over the oil wealth to foreigners, as if this were the reason for the armed uprising (from the ranks, possibly mentioned by mistake). If this claim against the Libyan leader were true, how would one explain the interest of the imperialist powers in seizing Libya?
On the contrary, the clear expectation of these powers is that if Gaddafi would be overthrown, [foreigners] would gain control and profit for themselves from oil production in the Arab country. They currently have only 10 percent of the shares of the established oil companies, which has allowed Libya to be able to dramatically increase its oil production; therefore, citizens have gained, because oil wealth is used for their benefit, contrary to what happens within the absolute monarchies in the Arab. There, where no one interferes, most of the profits from oil exports go to the royal families and their relatives, while citizens are said to live in abject poverty; this is not the case in Libya, where imperialist domination met its end with the triumph of the revolution in 1969. One of its most notable achievements was the establishment of the rule of the people, the Great Jamahiriya [state of the masses, a term coined by Muammar Gaddafi] in the seventies.
The current situation leaves no doubt that the Libyan revolutionary leadership must have made significant errors in the political management of this process, but the problems of the revolutionaries will not be solved by the counter-revolutionaries, those who are nostalgic for absolute monarchy; the terrorists and religious fundamentalists of al-Qaida; and even less, by imperialist powers, which have always regarded Libya as a territory to conquer.
By Carlos Fonseca Terán, El Nuevo Diario, Nicaragua