[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