[Those who were encouraged by the Arab Spring extending from country to country early this year–including into Libya, against the corrupt and brutal Gaddafi regime–have been sobered by the apparent suppression of the most democratic and revolutionary currents among the rebels, and the growing power of former Gaddafi officials, gangs, and neo-compradors in leading ranks of the rebel military fighters. We can hope the revolutionary forces driven underground will surface again, and soon, and struggle to put Libya on course for truly revolutionary transformations. But today, our hearts go out to the vast numbers who have suffered untold tragedies at the hands of vindictive, non-democratic, and non-revolutionary forces. — Frontlines ed.]
Oct 27 2011
by Seumas Milne
As the most hopeful offshoot of the “Arab spring” so far flowered this week in successful elections in Tunisia, its ugliest underside has been laid bare in Libya. That’s not only, or even mainly, about the YouTube lynching of Qaddafi, courtesy of a NATO attack on his convoy.
The grisly killing of the Libyan despot after his captors had sodomised him with a knife, was certainly a war crime. But many inside and outside Libya doubtless also felt it was an understandable act of revenge after years of regime violence. Perhaps that was Hillary Clinton’s reaction, when she joked about it on camera, until global revulsion pushed the US to call for an investigation.
As the reality of what western media have hailed as Libya’s “liberation” becomes clearer, however, the butchering of Qaddafi has been revealed as only a reflection of a much bigger picture. On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch reported the discovery of 53 bodies, military and civilian, in Qaddafi’s last stronghold of Sirte, apparently executed – with their hands tied – by former rebel militia.
Its investigator in Libya, Peter Bouckaert, told me yesterday that more bodies are continuing to be discovered in Sirte, where evidence suggests about 500 people, civilians and fighters, have been killed in the last 10 days alone by shooting, shelling and Nato bombing. Continue reading →
David Cameron’s statement regarding the killing of Moammar al-Gaddafi will go down as another piece of brash hypocrisy, which would be breathtaking if it was not so expected from the British premier. He mentioned that he was “proud of the role that Britain has played” in the uprising – intending of course the support given by NATO once it was clear that the Libyan people had risen up against the man en masse.
However he neglected to mention some of the other roles that Britain previously played with the Gaddafi regime which have undoubtedly had an effect on the events:
· Many of the weapons used by Libyan dictator’s regime were in fact purchased from Britain. According to the AP: “Britain sold Libya about $55 million worth of military and paramilitary equipment in the year ending Sept. 30, 2010, according to Foreign Office statistics. Among the items: sniper rifles, bulletproof vehicles, crowd control ammunition, and tear gas”
· Not only did the British arm the forces of the Gaddafi regime, they also trained them. The Khamis brigade troops were also trained by the SAS as well as being armed by British companies.
Cameron also stated that today was “a day to remember all of Colonel Gaddafi’s victims”. However, he neglected to mention those victims who were kidnapped and rendered to the Gaddafi regime by the British intelligence service such as Sami al Saadi who is now suing the British government for not only being complicit in his rendition and torture, but actually actively organizing it as highlighted by documents unearthed in Libya. Continue reading →
[It is important to note that former Gaddafi-regime officials, now in the NTC, are urging the NATO forces to continue. These same officials, and others in the Gaddafi regime, had maintained the friendly and collaborative US-Gaddafi relationship in recent years until the emerging revolt six months ago crippled Gaddafi’s dependability as a deal-maker with the US, then the US turned its attention to controlling the rebel forces instead. Some of the Gaddafi officials who had kept the regime’s relations with the US, jumped off the sinking Gaddafi ship and joined the rebel forces, often in commanding positions. — Frontlines ed.]
Dissent in Libya against NTC nominations
AlJazeeraEnglish on Aug 28, 2011
The NTC has been nominating members for a new government, but there is public resistance to the appointments. Libyans have held protests within the country accusing the NTC of not being transparent enough.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from a protest in Misrata, said: “They [the protesters] say the old guard of the Gaddafi regime are far too prominent in the list of people issued so far.
“They are also insisting there should be new faces for a new Libya.”
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons reporting from Misrata.
[Documents released by Wikileaks have revealed that, since 2003, the US had high hopes for Gaddafi’s collaboration with US/EU economic and military power and designs. These hopes were based on expectations that Gaddafi’s control of Libya was entrenched and unshakable–but this was sharply challenged and undermined by the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired revolt among the Libyan people. As a result, imperialism sought to preserve its position by cutting the now-unreliable US-Gaddafi relationship, and sought to influence, buy, and usurp control of the rebel forces, as the way to keep Libya as a dependable resource for the imperialist world. — Frontlines ed.
An excerpt from the following document: “Nothing in the leaked documents reviewed here suggests that the NATO-backed removal of the Gaddafi regime was premeditated. On the contrary, the documents show that the United States was more enthusiastic about working with Gaddafi than perhaps Gaddafi was with the Americans – though clearly both stood to gain…..The Americans sought to expand their military presence in Africa and Gaddafi wanted to secure his regime against external threats….
…The documents support the view that the decision to go to war against Gaddafi – in the name of “protecting civilians” was more opportunistic – riding on the back of the “Arab Spring.”……It is likely that after the toppling of the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents by popular uprisings in January and February respectively, top American and NATO decision makers believed that once protests started against it, the Gaddafi regime would be too unstable and unreliable to deal with….
….But just as the Americans were happy to work with Gaddafi, they will be as keen to work with his successors, who now owe their positions to foreign intervention……]
former US Secretary of State Rice and Muammar Gaddafi
by Ali Abunima, Electronic Intifada, August 26, 2011
The US administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were set on developing deep “military to military” ties with the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi, classified US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks on 24 August reveal.
The United States was keen to integrate Libya as much as possible into “AFRICOM,” the American military command for Africa which seeks to establish bases and station military forces permanently on the continent.
“We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi,” Senator Joseph Lieberman (Ind.-CT) said during an August 2009 meeting, which also included Senators John McCain and Susan Collins.
John McCain promising US weapons to Gaddafi in a time of collaboration
The records confirm that McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, strongly supported US arms sales to Libya and personally pledged to Muammar Gaddafi (also spelled “al-Qadhafi”) and his son Muatassim that he would push to get such transfers approved by Congress. McCain also revealed that the United States was training officers in Gaddafi’s army.
While the Americans pursued the relationship vigorously, they met with a cautious and sometimes “mercurial” response from the Libyans. In particular, the mistrustful Libyans wanted security guarantees that the Americans appeared reluctant to give.
“We can get [equipment] from Russia or China,” Muatassim told the visiting senators, “but
UK's Prime Minister Tony Blair played a major role sealing the 2003 relations with Gaddafi
we want to get it from you as a symbol of faith from the United States.”
In hindsight, given the US support for the NATO war against the Gaddafi regime, it is not difficult to understand why the Libyans wanted these guarantees.
Nevertheless, Gaddafi received high praise for his “counterterrorism” credentials from US officials.
The documents also reveal that the United States was keen to court Gaddafi’s sons, flying them to the United States for high level visits.
And, notably, none of the cables regarding high level meetings quoted in this post made any mention of American concerns about “human rights” in Libya. The issue never appeared on the bilateral agenda.
Does the removal of the Gaddafi regime now clear the way for the United States to pursue the plans for integrating Libya into AFRICOM under what the Americans must hope will be a pliable regime? Continue reading →