"U.S.-NATO escalate war crimes in Libya: Imperialists use ‘rebels’ to further plunder Africa" (Abayomi Azikiwe, Workers World):
While the United States and the other NATO countries express their satisfaction over the destruction of the North African state of Libya that they are engineering, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the assault on Tripoli and other parts of the country since Aug. 20.
So-called rebel units operating under the banner of the Transitional National Council, after being transported into the capital of Tripoli, are engaging in widespread abuse that includes looting, the destruction of public property and the killing of government loyalists and civilians.
On Aug. 23, the Bab al-Aziziyah compound formerly inhabited by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his family was bombed again by NATO forces. After severe damage to the massive structure and its surroundings, the TNC rebels entered the area. They were filmed by international media outlets breaking up and destroying everything in sight and later carting away ornaments, consumer goods, furniture and art work.
This orgy of destruction and theft was portrayed in the West as symbolic of the fall of the Libyan government. The compound had been bombed for months by U.S. and NATO warplanes. It was the scene of numerous assassination attempts against Gadhafi and other government officials.
The war has been characterized by large-scale air strikes since March 19. These criminal acts have been carried out jointly by NATO fighter jets, special forces and intelligence units from the U.S., Britain, France, Canada and Qatar, as well as the Western-backed rebels.
Humanitarian crisis spreads
Since March 19, U.S. and NATO forces have executed more than 20,000 sorties over the country, resulting in at least 7,500 air strikes. This coupled with sabotage, theft and murder by the rebels, beginning on Feb. 17, has made the humanitarian situation in Libya and its neighbors reach critical proportions.
The country’s oil industry, factories, water supply systems, food storage facilities, communication installations and hospitals were targeted during the ongoing war, which has lasted more than six months. As a result the country has suffered growing shortages of medicines, food, technical supplies and potable water.
The Middle East North Africa Financial Network said the war has created the worst social conditions in Libya since the revolution of 1969. Ali Hamed, a supporter of the attacks against the government, nevertheless revealed that in Tripoli: “For nearly four days, we have no water, no electricity, no petrol. ... We worry especially about the water.” (menafn.com, Aug. 29)
The article goes on to admit: “The few open stores here have mostly bare shelves. People stand in line for bread, pay greatly inflated prices for black-market fuel and scrounge for water to drink or bathe. They still hear daily bursts of gunfire.”
Many residents of the capital fear the city could be completely without water in a few days. Many neighborhoods in and around Tripoli already have no water or electricity. The sickness and deaths are reaching critical proportions.
The rebel forces were trained by NATO to seize the city, not run it. A TNC official said: “We don’t know the electricity problem, we don’t know the water problem, we don’t know the communication problem. In the next few days we will have answers.” (Guardian [Britain], Aug. 27)
One of the most gruesome scenes resulting from the NATO bombing and the TNC rebel onslaught on Tripoli was the discovery of hundreds of bodies at a hospital that had been attacked by the invading opposition forces.
The British air force played a major role in the bombing of Tripoli. The state-owned British Broadcasting Corp. reported on the mass deaths at the hospital: “More than 200 decomposing bodies have been found abandoned at a hospital in a district of the Libyan capital Tripoli that has seen fierce fighting. A BBC correspondent found corpses of men, women and children on beds and in the corridors of Abu Salim’s hospital. ...
“Our correspondent says the stench was appalling. People were trying to clean up some of the mess and return the hospital to normality, but that was an impossible task because of the sheer number of bodies, he adds.” (BBC, Aug. 26)
Reports are surfacing of other massacres throughout the country. The TNC forces and NATO are trying to blame the supporters of the Libyan government, but these claims remain largely unsubstantiated.
However, what is clear is the central role of the U.S. and NATO in the destruction of Libya, a country that had enjoyed the highest standard of living in Africa and had achieved tremendous gains in the technical and scientific fields over the last four decades. Today it has been tremendously set back by Western-imposed sanctions, a naval blockade, blanket bombings and media vilification.
Fighting continues for control of country
Although the TNC rebels and their NATO backers have been proclaiming victory over the government and people of Libya since Aug. 21, fighting still rages on throughout the country. In Tripoli, the security situation remains unsettled as loyalist forces remain in defensive postures against the rebel units.
The rebels are facing formidable resistance in their efforts to advance on the city of Sirte, Gadhafi’s hometown. TNC officials said they were forced to retreat from positions near Sirte amid a barrage of rockets fired by the Libyan military operating in the region.
Even the BBC admitted that TNC chair Mustafa Abdul Jalil and other leaders are remaining in the east of the country due to continued resistance by loyalist forces in Tripoli and the west.
A British paper reported: “Guerrilla fighters from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya have been advancing towards [Sirte] in recent days, but have so far got only as far as the edge of Bin Jawad, a town around 100 miles away. Fawzi Bukatif, a rebel commander, said attempts to persuade the Sirte loyalists to surrender had so far been fruitless. ‘We are waiting for people in Sirte to come out and talk but we’ve got no answer up to now.’” (Telegraph, Aug. 29)
The Western-backed rebels are still unable to reopen the main highway between Tripoli and neighboring Tunisia — an essential supply route for oil and food.
The rebels have again called upon NATO to intensify its bombing operations over Sirte so they can advance toward the city.
In the port city of Misrata, which has seen heavy fighting for several months, there have been demonstrations against the TNC rebels over their appointment as security administrator of a former Libyan governmental official who defected from Gadhafi. The TNC is by no means a cohesive alliance. Without the backing of the U.S. and NATO, its poorly trained units would have been defeated early on.
Further evidence of the total reliance upon NATO by the TNC rebels was revealed when their chairman, Abdel Jalil, was quoted on August 29 from Qatar as saying, “Even after the fighting ends, we still need logistical and military support from NATO.” Backing up this line of thinking, U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear, who heads the NATO joint operations command, told a news conference in Doha, “We believe the Gaddafi regime is near collapse, and we’re committed to seeing the operation through to its conclusion.” (Financial Times, August 29)
As fighting continues inside Libya, the United Nations Security Council, which is dominated by the same imperialist powers that have attacked and invaded the country, has drawn up plans to intervene with a so-called peacekeeping force. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made it clear that the role of the “peacekeepers” would be to disarm the Libyan people when he commented that the country was “awash with small arms.” The Gadhafi government had given out weapons to the people when the imperialist attack started, showing its confidence in their support.
African Union refuses to recognize rebels
Despite enormous pressure coming from the U.S. and NATO, the 54-member African Union has refused to recognize the rebel TNC forces as the legitimate rulers of Libya. Meeting at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the continental organization is still demanding that a government of national unity be established in Libya that would include loyalists from the Gadhafi government.
The AU since March 11 has called for a ceasefire, the removal of foreign forces from the country, a halt to the bombing by the U.S. and NATO and the holding of internationally supervised elections. The rebels have not been elected by anyone inside of Libya and therefore their presence in the capital is not considered legitimate by the AU.
The U.S.-NATO military alliance and the rebels have rejected all overtures by the AU to mediate in the Libya crisis.
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Elaine usually notes the Libyan War but she's off tonight so I thought I'd grab it. I'm also dead tired.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):