With the victory of the NATO-backed rebels and the National Transitional Council, Libya has been colonized once again. Moammar Gaddafi, the leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, has been killed according to the country’s rebel government on October 20th, 2011. Gaddafi was murdered in his hometown of Sirte, a stronghold for his supporters.
From 1911 to 1943, Italy ruled Libya as a protectorate. Under the reign of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, the colonialists ruthlessly crushed any national resistance to fascism that would threaten Italy’s imperial interests over this oil-rich country. Now, in 2011, the country is once again under the control of foreign powers. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has states that the war against Libya is “over,” declaring the domination of Libya complete. Libya’s rich natural resources and enormous oil wealth, estimated to be among the greatest on earth, is once again to be siphoned by imperialism.
Gaddafi was executed on the spot in a brutal and arbitrary way, which raises questions about what sort of regime the Libyan “rebels” are going to build, as if the ethnic cleansing of black Libyans and foreign migrants from cities under their control, as well as their cozy relationship with the Western powers and NATO didn’t raise enough already.
Gruesome images of Gaddafi’s bloody corpse have been telecast with glee by TV channels all over the world. The circumstances for his death are reprehensible – he had attempted to flee the bombing assault on Sirte in a military convoy when NATO hit two of the vehicles with a Hellfire missile. The rebel forces allegedly found him hiding in a drain pipe near Sirte. Badly wounded in both legs from the bombs, Gaddafi was captured and executed by rebels.
Photos and cell phone video footage of the event, released shortly after the story of the capture broke, show a wounded and injured Gaddafi with his face and shoulders awash in blood. He appeared to have a wound on his head.
The rebel forces that captured him then began their assault, dragging him from his hiding place and beating the former Libyan leader. Video footage clearly shows Gaddafi grimacing in pain, being humiliated, shoved, beaten and bludgeoned. A dazed Gaddafi is then paraded around in the streets of the city to the sound of the baying mob of rebels, shortly before being shot several times in the head and stomach. Some claim he was shouting, “Don’t shoot!” before he was killed, but no one has verified that claim.
Images from Al-Jazeera show his body being dragged on the ground and paraded through the streets before being taken to a morgue, where rebels flocked to take photographs of the body. Afterwards, his body was taken to Misrata, a rebel stronghold, to be displayed in a freezer. Most reports say he was shot in the head with a 9mm while helpless after being captured and severely beaten. News sources are now changing their story, saying Gaddafi was shot while trying to flee.
Gaddafi’s son Mutassim was given a similar treatment by the “freedom fighters” of Libya. The news is now claiming he was killed in a “firefight” in Sirte, but pictures and video have already emerged of Mutassim lying on a sofa, injured and bloodied after his capture but still alive. Pictures of his executed corpse emerged hours later. Gaddafi’s Defense Minister Abu Bakr Jaber Younes was also killed during the capture, as was Abdullah Senussi and about fifty others.
Mohammed el-Bibi, a 20-year-old rebel fighter who is reportedly the one who pulled the trigger, has been hailed as a “hero,” brandishing a gold-plated gun said to have been owned by Gaddafi. Fittingly, he also donned a baseball cap with the New York Yankees logo. After the shooting, he was hoisted up by rebels, who fired volleys of bullets into the air and loudly chanted, “Allah Akbar.”
The barbaric condition of Gaddafi’s death is symbolic, showing the nature of the rebels and giving indications of what life for the Libyan people will be like under their regime. Widespread destruction, poverty, dependence and humiliation, not “freedom” or “democracy,” will be the result of this aggressive attack and occupation of Libya.
Lies & Propaganda in the Attack on Libya
Much like other wars the United States and NATO have waged, particularly the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the war on Libya began with lies. Much like the media told us the war on Iraq was because Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction and was going to attack the U.S., they have insisted this is a war to protect innocent civilians. In fact, recent events have shown that the Libyan rebels are not nonviolent, unarmed civilians, and many of the stories of Gaddafi’s atrocities were highly exaggerated.
To begin with, the media ceaselessly compared the Gaddafi government’s actions to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, where ethnic Hutu militia murdered hundreds of thousands of Tutsis. Since then they have accused Gaddafi of “genocide.” As if that was not enough, accusations of “war rape” and “mass rape” by troops loyal to Gaddafi were spread by mainstream news, backed up by frivolous stories of Gaddafi distributing Viagra to his soldiers to encourage them to rape women.
Months into the civil war and NATO’s campaign, no evidence of a governmentally-sanctioned campaign of genocide or mass rape has been found. In fact, Time Magazine printed a retraction of the Viagra story soon after, and many other news sources admitted there was no evidence of such an action – it was pure warmongering propaganda.
The imperialist coalition of NATO has violated all international laws by waging aggressive and destructive war for their own economic self-interests in the name of “humanitarianism,” as they did in Yugoslavia, as they did in Afghanistan and as they did in Iraq.
Libya and the Arab Spring
Western leaders have tried to say that the revolt in Libya is exactly like the ones happening across the Middle East, including the successful popular revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, seamlessly integrating the events in Libya into the “Arab Spring” of revolutions and uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
The uprisings of the “Arab Spring” began in Tunisia, where protests led to the overthrow of pro-US dictator Ben Ali after twenty-four years in power. In neighboring Algeria, the people also flared up in resistance. Soon after, protests erupted in Egypt against the autocratic neo-liberal Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted from office by the revolution. After these events, the “Arab Spring” expanded in the region, and none of the ruling governments could stop them. In this context, Gaddafi took an opportunist position, claiming that the revolts in Egypt were led by Mossad, the Zionist secret service, and announcing that if he were in Tunisia at the time of the revolt, he would have supported Ben Ali. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen and many others have since been the scene of protests and riots by opposition groups.
In contrast to the various revolts however, it has become obvious since the NATO intervention that the revolt in Libya is not a popular revolution or progressive. It is primarily an attack by racist and reactionary elements of Libyan society against the government of the Libyan Jamahiriya. This uprising might have been legitimate at one point, but it has been hijacked by reactionary pro-imperialist factions.
The Gaddafi regime, before its destruction by the rebels, did promote such privatization and neo-liberal policies to the detriment of its people. However, the NTC has not arisen to combat this turn to the right, but to make Libya even more right-wing. Libya has one of the highest GDP per capita in Africa, as well as the highest Human Development Index. Libya under Gaddafi also had free education, as well as free studies abroad, free medical care, free water, almost free electricity and homes funded by the state. Libya under Gaddafi was the most developed nation in Africa and much of the Middle East.
The anti-Gaddafi forces formed a committee named the “National Transitional Council” on the 27th of February, consisting of defecting interior ministers, various neo-liberals and former justice minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who under the Gaddafi regime oversaw and promoted privatization and liberalization policies.
What really reveals the rebels as puppets of foreign powers however, is that they were completely unable to secure victory without the help of NATO. Up until March 7th of this year, the forces of Gaddafi held the rebellion at bay. On March 10th to March 19th, at the request of NTC leaders and with the approval of the Security Council of the United Nations, the imperialist powers imposed a “no-fly-zone” on Libya. As early as March 17th, the United Kingdom and France recognized the NTC as the legitimate government of Libya.
The events came to a head on March 22nd, when the United States, France and Britain deployed a major bombing force to attack pro-Gaddafi targets, afterwards involving all of NATO in the brutal bombing campaign. Since then, the Libyan “rebels” have shown themselves to be a dangerous, crazed hodgepodge of a mob at best, and a ruthless band of killers at worst. They have lynched black Libyans for their skin color and have ethnically cleansed entire cities, all the while waving monarchist flags. Recent reports have even suggested they are rounding up black Libyans and placing them in concentration camps, where widespread rape and executions have been reported.
History of Libya
Libya, a Saharan country located in the heart of North Africa which dared to defy the United States and the European powers, has a fascinating history that is not often reported in the media. The reason being that if they reported on Libya’s past, it would expose how Africa’s right to economic self-determination has continuously been taken away, politically and militarily.
The same NATO countries currently bombing Libya have a history of occupying the country. Libya was a colony of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. After its liberation from Ottoman forces, it became an Italian colony. By 1931, more than 750,000 Libyans had died fighting the Italian occupation. Ironically, both Turkey and Italy are NATO members participating in the attack against Libya.
During World War II, Winston Churchill sought rapprochement with Mussolini, whom he described as a “Roman genius,” claiming that he “rendered a service to the whole world,” calling him “the great law-giver among living men for his anti-Communist stand.”
After the war, the Kingdom of Libya under King Idris the I proclaimed its independence on December 24, 1951. Libya became a pro-US and pro-British monarchy. During the reign of King Idris, the Allied powers of Britain, France and the United States (also current members of NATO) enjoyed de-facto control of Libya. The United States built its first air base in Africa, the Wheelus Air Base, on the outskirts of Tripoli for $100 million. The entire country was devastated by the Second World War, which had obliterated what little infrastructure there was in one of the poorest countries in the world. There was virtually no education system or medical care in the country, no stable government and no administrative services.
In contrast, the West had unhindered access to Libya’s oil and resources. The Wheelus Air Base was used in the Korean War and became a strategic asset for the U.S. Libya was the only source of Middle Eastern oil that wasn’t shut down by the closure of the Suez Canal, and soon the country had hundreds of millions of dollars worth of foreign private investment.
The true nature of the rebellion is shown by the fact that they wave the flag of British and U.S. puppet King Idris the I. After years of poverty under the corrupt monarchy, which sapped the national wealth for the rulers of the Kingdom and not for the people, a bloodless coup was staged by the Free Unionist Officers on September 1, 1969, led by Muammar Gaddafi.
After the coup, the new government assumed full control over oil production and refused to renew licenses for foreign military bases in Libyan territory. 51% of foreign banks and 51% of all oil companies such as Shell, Exxon, Texaco, Socal and Mobil were nationalized by 1973. Oil prices were raised for crude oil when Libya insisted on setting its own prices, and soon agrarian reform and social programs funded by oil revenue helped Libya build itself into the most developed country in Africa. The Western powers have never forgiven the Gaddafi Jamahiriya government for overthrowing their puppet monarchy, and since then Libya has been labeled as one of the “bad Arab states,” with Gaddafi being the lead “bad Arab.”
Where is Libya Heading?
Despite criticisms one might have of the Gaddafi government, NATO has no concern for the Libyan people. Its only mission is the hunger for its world domination.United States Vice President Joe Biden told the press that this invasion will set the stage for future military attacks. “This is more of the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has been in the past,” he said. With this statement, the brutal power of NATO to violate the sovereignty of states anywhere they want, and to make the law everywhere in the world as they see fit, is put plainly for all to see.
The foreign policy of U.S. imperialism for years to come will be shaped by bloody invasions which back reactionary puppet governments and suit the Western power’s economic interests. Powers like the United States use humanitarian justifications like “human rights” and “democracy” to support local rebellions and portray them as democrats even if they are little more than terrorists, thugs, drug traffickers or worse. Foreign imperialist powers do not intervene in oil-rich countries for “humanitarian” reasons, for but self-interest, for territorial conquests, and to gain new access to markets and resources.
The fighters against reaction and domination, who struggle still against leaders backed by imperialism’s ambition, must now keep in mind that NATO is watching and waiting to strike. Imperialism is out for blood, out to restore the hegemony it has built all over the globe that enforcers like Ben Ali and Mubarak pushed onto their people for decades. This is imperialism’s response to cries for liberation.
The death of Gaddafi will no doubt have the West proclaiming its “victory” over the resistance, but the Libyan people’s heroic resistance to imperialist war has not been in vain, because the world has been watching and all the peoples of the world have learned from their example.