Renewed Intervention Threatened After Pro-Gaddafi Forces Seize Areas in Southern Libya
French military official says situation warrants imperialist involvement
Fighting has flared up again in southern and western Libya as clashes between pro-Gaddafi forces and rebel militias have resulted in the seizure of several towns and an airbase by the loyalists. These developments prompted French Admiral Edouard Guillard to appeal for a renewed imperialist intervention in Libya claiming that developments on the southern border could lead to a “terrorist threat.” (Washington Post, January 27)
Guillard noted that any intervention would require the consent of the neo-colonial regime in Tripoli headed by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and the General National Congress (GNC). Yet nearly three years ago the United Nations Security Council passed two resolutions imposing an arms embargo on the Gaddafi government and “authorizing” a so-called “no fly zone”, a code word for a massive bombing campaign that last for seven months.
Since mid-January the forces that remain allied with the former Jamahiriya political and economic system under the rule of Col. Muammar Gaddafi, who was overthrown and brutally murdered in October 2011 amid the Pentagon-NATO bombing campaign, took control of several cities and towns in the South. Sebha, a city in the area, has been the scene of fighting between two ethnic groups the Tebu and the Awlad Sulaiman.
Other areas impacted by the fighting include Wirshefana south, Ajilat, Zawia and territory west of Zahra. Clashes have also been reported around the capital of Tripoli where loyalist forces have fought pitched battles with militias and military forces that are backed by the GNC regime. (Libya Herald, January 20)
The Tebu, who are dark-skinned Africans, are in conflict over control of resources with the Awlad Sulaiman. Their withdrawal from the airbase at Tamenhint created the conditions for the seizure of this important location by pro-Gaddafi forces on January 21.
According to a report published by the Saudi Gazette, “The Tamenhint airbase 30 km north-east of Sebha is reported to be back in pro-Gaddafi hands after Tebu forces from Murzuk who were guarding it withdrew. They unilaterally pulled out Monday evening (Jan. 20) claiming that the government was deliberately exploiting clashes in Sebha between Tebus and Awlad Sulaiman in order to divert attention from moves to replace it with a new administration.” (January 22)
These events have sent shockwaves through the GNC and its weak and vacillating prime minister who is allied with the United States and other imperialist states that were responsible for installing the current regime in power during the counter-revolutionary uprising of 2011. The situation in Libya has clearly shown that the current regime has failed to stabilize the country where militias engage in criminal activity in open defiance of Zeidan and other “authorities” in Tripoli.
The oil industry, which is the major export of the North African state, has been largely shutdown after workers and militias at several drilling facilities and ports have taken control of production and are threatening to engage in trade with foreign firms without the consent of Tripoli. Zeidan has limited support within the GNC and the Islamic Justice and Construction Party (JCP) recently resigned from the government over political differences with the prime minister.
Nonetheless it is the events in the South where the green flag of the Jamahiriya is being openly flown in defiance of the western-backed regime that is causing panic inside the country. A new law banning satellite television networks that are now broadcasting pro-Gaddafi news and commentaries is a direct result of the unstable status of the GNC.
Draconian Laws Enacted
AllAfrica.com reported that “Decree 5/2014, ‘Concerning the Cessation and Ban on the Broadcasting of Certain Satellite Channels,’ passed by Libya’s parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), on January 22, instructs the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Communications, and [Mass] Media to ‘take necessary steps required’ to halt the transmission of all satellite television stations that are ‘hostile to the February 17 revolution and whose purpose is the destabilization of the country or creating divisions among Libyans.’ It further instructs the government to ‘take all measures’ against states or businesses in territories from where the channels are broadcast if they do not block the transmission of these stations.” (January 26)
This legal ban appears intended to block those satellite stations that have taken a pro-Gaddafi position in their editorial content. These stations include the al-Khadra Channel, and al-Jamahiriyah.
Dissatisfaction is growing among the Libyan population with the current situation. Once the most prosperous nation in Africa, with a standard of living that exceeded several states in Europe, the conditions inside the country have drastically deteriorated since the 2011 counter-revolution.
This decline in living standards, the failure of the regime to reign in the militias which terrorize the population, the collapse of the oil industry and widespread corruption has drawn broad criticism even among the favored elites. Another decree was issued in January which prohibits scholarship students and public employees from speaking out in opposition to the conditions prevailing in Libya.
In the same article published by AllAfrica.com, it points out that “Libya’s government passed Resolution 13/2014 on January 24, discontinuing scholarships to students studying abroad and salaries and bonuses to Libyan employees, for ‘taking part in activities inimical to the February 17 revolution,’ which is widely understood to encompass statements and protests against the current government. It calls on Libyan embassies abroad and others to draw up lists of names and refer them to the Prosecutor General for prosecution.”
Imperialism in Crisis
These events in Libya demonstrate that there is no benefit for the masses in oppressed nations where U.S. and other imperialist states have overthrown governments and installed puppet regimes. The situation in Libya is also mirrored in Iraq where people are dying every day from internecine conflict and the overall horrendous conditions prevailing among the majority of the population.
In Syria, over 100,000 people have died over the last three years since the U.S. has supported a counter-revolutionary assault on the population. The current Geneva II talks in Switzerland are ostensibly designed to reach a political solution although the U.S. and its allies are continuing to finance and coordinate those seeking the overthrow of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Anti-war and anti-imperialist groups in the Western states should oppose this military and political interference into the internal affairs of African, Middle Eastern and Asian states such as Afghanistan, where after twelve years the Pentagon-NATO forces are no closer to victory today than in 2001. The U.S. and NATO must be forced to withdraw their forces from foreign states and to shut down its military bases.
The resources utilized to maintain these occupations should be redirected to rebuild the cities and towns that are facing an unprecedented economic crisis through austerity and massive poverty. Those oppressed nations that are under imperialist occupation should be paidreparations for the destruction carried out by the western military forces.
Mr. Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire, is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.