As the US/NATO-led rebel forces assault the Libyan capital of Tripoli, it is important for antiwar and progressive forces to recognize a few key points. The development of events since the popular North African revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt led to some divisions among progressive forces as the imperialist countries maneuvered to take control of the situation and develop contradictions in North Africa in their favor. In Libya the U.S., France, the U.K., and Italy joined together to take advantage of the discontent among certain sections of the Libyan people, and thereby develop an armed rebel movement to topple the Gaddafi government. This criminal action taken by US and NATO forces should be condemned by all people of conscience. The success of the NATO-led rebels would certainly mean an end to an independent Libya.
The Freedom Road Socialist Organization pointed out some of the contradictions at work in a statement on March 17, the day of the UN Security Council vote to intervene in Libya: “Since day one of the crisis in Libya, the corporate media has been in motion, preparing public opinion for war with Libya. Likewise, since the beginning of the crisis, the western, imperialist powers have been maneuvering militarily to take advantage of the situation. Meanwhile, it is clear that the rebels in Libya are not of one mind. Some of their leaders are tied to the old CIA-funded National Front for the Salvation of Libya, which would like to see Libya’s oil industry completely privatized, meaning an end to the current free health care and free education programs enjoyed by the Libyan people. Some are monarchists and others who wish to turn back the clock on Libyan social progress. Undoubtedly, war with Libya will mean the most reactionary forces among the rebels coming to power if Gaddafi’s government is defeated by the guns and bombs of the west.” We are now seeing this nightmare approaching reality.
The reasons behind this war are both economic and geostrategic. On the one hand, the Western powers wish to divide among themselves Libya’s vast oil wealth, the greatest in Africa. “We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil,” Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libyan rebel oil firm AGOCO, told Reuters. The National Transitional Council led by Mustafa Abdel-Jalil has likewise been clear that it wants very much to align itself with the U.S. and the other Western powers. On the other hand, the Western powers want to strengthen their dominance in the region, which is threatened by the political unrest that has swept North Africa and the Middle East since the beginning of the “Arab Spring”. If US/NATO forces are successful in Libya, they will be in a much better position step up their attempts to topple the government of Syria.
To give cover to this war of aggression and domination, they are cynically manipulating the political discontent of a section of the Libyan people, and utilizing bought and paid for puppets. And yet despite the intense attacks, including thousands of bombing raids, drone attacks, commando operations, and global economic sanctions, the patriotic people alongside Gaddafi’s government have resisted heroically and will certainly continue to do so. That they have held on for as long as they have is a tribute to the Libyans’ will to fight, their tenacity in the face of adversity, and the real commitment to maintaining national independence.
This conflict has now sharpened to the utmost degree, and at this point it must be clear that there are but two sides. On one side stand the forces of colonial domination, represented by all the might of the great powers–the U.S., the U.K, France and Italy. On the other side stands all who steadfastly oppose the forces of Empire. Despite whatever strengths of weaknesses the patriotic forces in Libya may have, progressive people everywhere should stand on the side of an independent Libya, for self-determination and against national oppression and domination.