By Bill Van Auken in the USA:
UN vote clears way for US-NATO attack on Libya
18 March 2011
The United Nations Security Council Thursday night approved a resolution that paves the way for the United States and other major imperialist powers to conduct a direct military intervention in Libya under the pretense of a “humanitarian” mission to protect civilian lives.
The resolution, sponsored by the US, France, Britain and Lebanon, goes far beyond earlier proposals for a no-fly zone, authorizing the use of military force including “all necessary measures … to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack.” These “areas” include Benghazi, the city of one million which remains the sole stronghold of the revolt that began against the Gaddafi dictatorship one month ago. The sole limitation placed by the resolution is its exclusion of “a foreign occupation force on any part of Libyan territory.”
The vote sets the stage for a bombardment of Libya by US, French and British warplanes. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told France-2 Television that military action could begin within hours of the resolution’s approval. And the Associated Press cited an unnamed member of the British Parliament as saying, “British forces were on stand by for air strikes and could be mobilized as soon as Thursday night.”
American military officials have already warned that even the imposition of a no-fly zone entails the prior destruction of Libya’s air defense capabilities, meaning a major bombing campaign against Libya that will undoubtedly entail “collateral damage” measured in the killing and maiming of Libyan civilians.
The Wall Street Journal quoted Pentagon officials as saying, “Options included using cruise missiles to take out fixed Libyan military sites and air-defense systems … Manned and unmanned aircraft could also be used against Col. Gaddafi’s tanks, personnel carriers and infantry positions, with sorties being flown out of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization bases in the southern Mediterranean.”
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, Gen. Norton Schwartz, the chief of the US Air Force, said that a no-fly zone would take “upwards of a week” to prepare, signaling a sustained bombing campaign. He also warned that in addition to US warplanes based in the US and Europe, aircraft would also have to be diverted from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Like others military officials, Schwartz said that the imposition of the no-fly zone would “not be sufficient” to halt the advance of forces loyal to the dictatorship of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, which have swept steadily eastward toward Benghazi over the past 10 days. Clearly, what is being prepared are air strikes against Gaddafi’s ground forces. The prospect of carrying out a bombing raid aimed at assassinating Gaddafi has also been broached.
These plans for war are motivated not by any desire to protect the Libyan people or further the cause of democracy, as its proponents within the UN Security Council proclaimed. The impending intervention in the oil-rich North African country is driven by profit interests and geopolitical imperatives that have nothing to do with the “humanitarian” pretenses of the major powers. The aim is to exploit the civil war in Libya to impose a regime that is even more subordinate to these powers and to the major Western oil conglomerates intent on exploiting the country’s resources.
The gross hypocrisy and cynicism of the imperialist powers backing the intervention was underscored by the choice of French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé to motivate the UN resolution. Juppé, who invoked the “Arab spring” as one of the “great revolutions that change the course of history,” recently assumed his post after his predecessor, Michèle Alliot-Marie, was forced to resign over a scandal involving her close political and private relations with the ousted Tunisian dictator Ben Ali. Juppé’s government was in the process of shipping anti-riot gear to its former colony when the mass protest forced the dictator to flee.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who had worked to insert the “all necessary measures” language allowing for an open-ended military assault on Libya, praised the passage of the resolution, declaring, “The future of Libya should be decided by the people of Libya.”
This is unquestionably the case. The task of overthrowing the right-wing dictatorship of the Gaddafi clique is that of the workers and oppressed of Libya, who had begun to carry it out. The aim of the US-backed intervention, however, is precisely to abort any genuine revolution and ensure that any regime that replaces Gaddafi serves not the interests of the Libyan people, but rather the demands of Washington and Big Oil. The US hopes to use Libya, moreover, as a base of operations for suppressing revolutionary movements of workers throughout the region.
The Security Council vote was 10 in favor and five abstentions. The countries abstaining included Russia, China, Germany, Brazil and India. While, as permanent members of the council, both Russia and China had the power to defeat the resolution by casting “no” votes, they chose not to do so, ensuring that the UN continued to fulfill its function as a rubber stamp for the demands of the major imperialist powers.
In their statements explaining their abstentions, however, the ambassadors of the five countries made clear that the impending attack on Libya has nothing to do with any consensus by the “world community” to protect the Libyan people, but rather is the outcome of a conspiracy worked out in secret between Washington, London and Paris.
Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that the measure “opens the door to large scale military intervention” and stressed that questions had been raised in the prior discussions of the resolution as to how it would be enforced, by what military forces and under what rules of engagement, but there had been “no answers.”
India’s ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri noted that while the UN Security Council had appointed a special envoy on the situation in Libya, it had received “no report on the situation on the ground” and was acting despite having “little credible information.” He said that there had been no explanation as to how the resolution was to be enforced, “by whom and with what measures.” He expressed concern over the fate of Libya’s “sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.”
Singh also voiced reservations about a range of new economic sanctions, which target, among other entities, Libya’s national oil company. He said that the measures could disrupt trade and investment by member states.
Germany’s ambassador, Peter Wittig, warned that the authorization of the use of military force increased the “the likelihood of large-scale loss of life” and said that Germany’s armed forces would take no part in the intervention.
China’s ambassador Li Baodong, the acting president of the Security Council also voiced reservations, but then justified Beijing’s failure to veto the measure by invoking the vote last weekend of the Arab League calling on the UN to implement a no-fly zone.
NATO has also claimed this vote as somehow legitimizing intervention by demonstrating “regional support.” The reality is that the Arab League is itself composed of a collection of dictatorships, monarchies and emirates that in no way represent the desires or interests of the Arab people. Many of them are actively engaged in the violent suppression of popular upheavals.
While Washington has stressed that any intervention against Libya should include direct participation by the Arab countries, it appears that their involvement will be minimal. Following the visit to Cairo by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a spokeswoman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry told Reuters: “Egypt will not be among those Arab states. We will not be involved in any military intervention. No intervention, period.”
On Thursday, the Arab League could name only two countries prepared to join the US-NATO assault: Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Both ruled by royal dynasties, the two emirates are direct participants in Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Bahrain to suppress the mass movement against the ruling monarchy. While security forces have shot protesters dead in the streets, invaded hospitals and carried out a reign of terror in Shia villages, none of the supposed champions of democracy in Libya are proposing any UN intervention in Bahrain, the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet.
Meanwhile, the Rightist minority government in the Netherlands has said that it wants to participate in war on Libya; see also here. Participating in the bloody war in Afghanistan does not seem to be enough for them.
One “good” thing about the United Nations resolution is that it excludes foreign ground troops in Libya. However, yesterday evening, before the resolution was voted, a reporter of Dutch NOS TV in eastern Libya said foreign soldiers were already present in that part of Libya though they tried to look inconspicuous. Earlier, Libyan rebels had arrested and expelled British SAS soldiers.
Libya declared an immediate ceasefire and halted military operations against rebels today in a bid to prevent Western air strikes after the UN authorised a no-fly zone over the country: here.
Campaigners staged a mass demonstration outside Downing Street last night in opposition to Britain’s pursuit of military intervention in Libya.
Robert Naiman, Truthout: “It’s a great thing that the Obama administration has resisted calls for unilateral US military action in Libya, and instead is working through the United Nations Security Council, as it is required to do by the United Nations Charter. Now, the administration needs to follow through on this commitment to international law by ensuring that foreign military intervention remains within the four corners of what the UN Security Council has approved. If it does not, and instead Western powers take the view that we now have a blank check to do whatever we want, the certain consequence will be that it will be much more difficult to achieve Security Council action in a similar situation in the future, and those who complain that the Security Council is too cautious will have only themselves to blame”: here.
The Arab Revolutions: Guiding Principles for Peace and Justice Organizations in the US
March 15th, 2011
“We call for a united movement in support of the Arab revolutions for freedom. We oppose all military and economic measures taken by the US and European governments against Arab nations.”
We, the undersigned, support the guiding principles and demands listed in this statement. We call on groups who want to express solidarity with the Arab revolutions to join our growing movement by signing this statement or keeping with the demands put forward herewith.
The long-awaited Arab revolution has come. Like a geologic event with the reverberations of an earthquake, the timing and circumstances were unpredictable. In one Arab country after another, people are taking to the street demanding the fall of monarchies established during European colonial times. They are also calling to bring down dictatorships supported and manifested by neo-colonial policies. Although some of these autocratic regimes rose to power with popular support, the subsequent division and subjugation of the Arab World led to a uniform repressive political order across the region. The Arab masses in different Arab countries are therefore raising a uniform demand: The People Want to Topple the Regimes!
For the past two decades, the Arab people witnessed the invasion and occupation of Iraq with millions killed under blockade and occupation, Palestinians massacred with the aim to crush the anti-Zionist resistance, and Lebanon repeatedly invaded with the purposeful targeting of civilians. These actions all served to crush resistance movements longing for freedom, development, and self-determination. Meanwhile, despotic dictatorships, some going back 50 years, entrenched themselves by building police states, or fighting wars on behalf of imperialist interests.
Most Arab regimes systematically destroyed the social fabric of civil society, stifled social development, repressed all forms of political dissent and democratic expression, mortgaged their countries’ wealth to foreign interests and enriched themselves and their cronies at the expense of impoverishing their populations. After pushing the Arab people to the brink, populations erupted.
The spark began in Tunisia where a police officer slapped and spat on Mohammad Bou Azizi, flipping over his produce cart for not delivering a bribe on time. Unable to have his complaint heard, he self-immolated in protest, igniting the conscience of the Tunisian people and that of 300 million Arabs. In less than a month, the dictator, Zine El Abedine Ben Ali, was forced into exile by a Tunisian revolution. On its way out, the regime sealed its legacy by shooting at unarmed protestors and burning detention centers filled with political prisoners. Ben Ali was supported by the US and Europe in the fight against Islamic forces and organized labor.
Hosni Mubarak’s brutal dictatorship fell less than a month after Tunisia’s. The revolution erupted at a time when one half of the Egyptian population was living on less than $2/day while Mubarak’s family amassed billions of dollars. The largest population recorded in Egyptian history was living in graveyards and raising their children among the dead while transportation and residential infrastructure was crumbling. Natural gas was supplied to Israel at 15% of the market price while the Rafah border was closed with an underground steel wall to complete the suffocation of the Palestinians in Gaza. Those who were deemed a threat swiftly met the fate of Khalid Said. 350 martyrs fell and 2,000 people were injured.
After Egypt and Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan exploded in protest. Some governments quickly reshuffled faces and ranks without any tangible change. Some, like Bahrain and Yemen, sent out their security forces to massacre civilians. The Yemeni regime used US-made chemical weapons on protestors, at the same time it opened fire on unarmed civilians. Oman and Yemen represent strategic assets for the US as they are situated on the straits of Hormuz and Aden, respectively. Bahrain is an oil country that hosts a US military base, situated in the Persian Gulf. A new round of US funded blood-letting of Arab civilians has begun!
Libyan dictator Qaddafi did not prove to be an exception. He historically took anti-imperialist positions for a united Arab World and worked for an African Union. He later transformed his regime to a subservient state and opened Libya to British Petroleum and Italian interests, working diligently on privatization and political repression. He amassed more wealth than that of Mubarak. In the face of the Libyan revolution, Qaddafi exceeded the brutality of Ben Ali, Mubarak and Ali Abdullah Saleh, blind-folding and executing opponents, surrounding cities with tanks, and bombing his own country. Death toll is expected to be in the thousands.
Qaddafi’s history makes Libya an easy target for imperialist interests. The Obama administration followed the Iraq cookbook by freezing Libyan assets amounting to 30% of the annual GDP. The White House, with the help of European governments, rapidly implemented sanctions and called for no-fly zones. These positions were precipitated shortly after the US vetoed a resolution condemning the illegal Israeli colonization of the West Bank. Special operations personnel from the UK were captured by the revolutionary commanders in Ben Ghazi and sent back.
We call for a united movement in support of the Arab revolutions for freedom. We oppose all military and economic measures taken by the US and European governments against Arab nations.
Demands of the Solidarity Movement with Arab Revolutions
1. We condemn the atrocities committed by the dictatorships’ security forces against unarmed civilians in an attempt to pull the protest movements into a state of civil war.
2. We demand a stop to US support, financing and trade with Arab dictatorships. We oppose US policy that has favored Israeli expansionism, war, US oil interest and strategic shipping routes at the expense of Arab people’s freedom and dignified living.
3. We support the Arab people’s right to sovereignty and self-determination. We demand that the US government stop its interference in the internal affairs of all Arab countries and end subsidies to wars and occupation.
4. We support the Arab people’s demands for political, civil and economic rights. The Arab people’s movement is calling for:
a. Deposing the unelected regimes and all of their institutional remnants
b. Constitutional reform guaranteeing freedom of organizing, speech and press
c. Free and fair elections
d. Independent judiciary
e. National self-determination.
5. We oppose all forms of US and European military intervention with or without the legitimacy of the UN. Standing in solidarity with the revolution against Qaddafi, or any other dictator, does not equate to supporting direct or indirect colonization of an Arab country, its oil or its people. We therefore call for:
a. Absolute rejection of military blockades, no-fly zones and interventions.
b. Lifting all economic sanctions placed against Libya and allowing for the formation of an independent judiciary to prosecute Qaddafi and deposed dictators for their crimes.
c. Immediately withdrawing the US and NATO troops from the Arab region.
6. We support Iraq’s right to sovereignty and self determination and call on the US to immediately withdraw all occupation personnel from Iraq.
7. We recognize that the borders separating Arab nations were imposed on the Arab people by the colonial agreements of Sykes-Picot and the Berlin Conference on Africa. As such, we support the anti-Zionist nature of this revolution in its call for:
a. Ending the siege and starvation of the Palestinian people in Gaza
b. Supporting the right of the Palestinian people to choose their own representation, independent of Israeli and US dictates
c. Supporting the Palestinian right to return
d. Supporting the right of the Lebanese people to defend their country from Israeli violations and their call to end vestiges of the colonial constitution constructed on the basis of sectarian representation
e. Supporting the right of the Jordanian people to rid themselves of their repressive monarchy
f. Ending all US aid to Israel.
Al-Awda (The Palestine Right to Return Coalition), Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), Bay Area United Against War (Bauaw.org), International Socialist Organization (ISO), Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), Palestinian Youth Network (PYN), United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), Nada Khader, ED WESPAC Foundation, Michael Letwin, Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; Labor for Palestine
Published on Friday, March 18, 2011 by CommonDreams.org
Libya, Hypocrisy and Betrayal by the United Nations
by Felicity Arbuthnot
‘When it comes to dealing with the usual “liberators”, be careful what you wish for. In six months or so, most Libyans, whatever the failings of the last forty years rule, will be ruing the day.’
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever. – George Orwell.
The bombing of Libya will begin on or nearly to the day, of the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the destruction of Iraq, 19th March, in Europe. Libya too will be destroyed – its schools, education system, water, infrastructure, hospitals, municipal buildings. There will be numerous “tragic mistakes”, “collateral damage”, mothers, fathers, children, babies, grandparents, blind and deaf schools and on and on. And the wonders of the Roman remains and earlier, largely enduring and revered in all history’s turmoils as Iraq, the nation’s history – and humanity’s, again as Iraq and Afghanistan, will be gone, for ever.
The infrastructure will be destroyed. The embargo will remain in place, thus rebuilding will be impossible. Britain, France and the US., will decide the country needs “stabilising”, “help with reconstruction.” They will move in, secure the oil installations and oil fields, the Libyan people will be an incidental inconvenience and quickly become “the enemy”, “insurgents”, be shot, imprisoned, tortured, abused – and a US friendly puppet “government” will be installed.
The invaders will award their companies rebuilding contracts, the money – likely taken from Libya’s frozen assets without accounting – will vanish and the country will remain largely in ruins.
And the loudest cheerleaders for this, as Iraq, will be running round tv and radio stations in London, Europe and the US, then returning to their safe apartments and their UK/US/Europe paid tenures, in the knowledge that no bombs will be dropping on them. Their children will not be shaking uncontrollably and soiling themselves with terror at the sound of approaching planes.
And this Libyan “Shock and Awe”? Shame on France, shame on Britain and the US and a UN avowed: “… to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” Every shattered body, every child maimed or blown to bits, every widow, widower, orphan, will have their name of those countries, and the UN., written in their blood in their place of death.
And the public of these murderous, marauding Western ram raiders, will be told that we were bringing democracy, liberating Libya from a tyrant, from the “new Hitler”, the “Butcher of Bengazi.”
The countries who have ganged together these last days to overthrow a sovereign government have, again, arguably, conspired in Nuremberg’s: ” … supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”, and yet again, plotted to overthrow a sovereign government, with a fig leaf of “legality” from an arm twisted UN. We have seen it all before.
Ironically, as I write, here in the UK., on the day Prime Minister Cameron is to make an announcement in Parliament on the proposed attack on Libya, it is Red Nose Day, founded in 1988, out of 1985’s Comic Relief – which came from a refugee camp in Sudan, which borders Libya – to raise money for the children in need, in Africa. This red nose day, we plan to bomb them.
In time, it will emerge, who was stirring, bribing, de-stabilizing – and likely few will be surprised at the findings. But by then, Libya will be long broken and its people, fleeing, displaced, distraught.
When it comes to dealing with the usual “liberators”, be careful what you wish for. In six months or so, most Libyans, whatever the failings of the last forty years rule, will be ruing the day.
Felicity Arbuthnot is a freelance journalist specializing in social and environmental issues with a special knowledge of Iraq.
STOP THE U.S. WAR AGAINST LIBYA AND BAHRAIN!
The International Action Center calls on all anti-war and social justice activists to call Emergency Response STOP THE U.S. WAR AGAINST LIBYA AND BAHRAIN actions in their areas on Friday, March 18 or Saturday, Marcy 19, or to mobilize support for any already existing anti-war demonstrations called to mark the anniversary of the Iraq War, with this statement and signs to STOP THE U.S. WAR AGAINST LIBYA AND BAHRAIN, as well as to intensify the mobilization for the April 9th and 10th Anti-War demonstrations in New York and San Francisco called by the United National Antiwar Committee.
On March 17, 2011, Washington showed its true intentions by pushing through a U.N. Security Council resolution that amounts to a declaration of war on the government and people of Libya.
A U.S. attack is the worst possible thing that could happen to the people of Libya. It also puts the unfolding Arab revolutions, which have inspired people across North Africa and Western Asia, in the gravest danger.
The resolution goes beyond a no-fly zone. It includes language saying U.N. member states could “take all necessary measures” … “by halting attacks by air, land and sea forces under the control of the Gadhafi regime.”(CNN.com, Mar 17)
The new resolution not only calls for attacks on Libyan aircraft and air defenses, but authorizes the strafing and bombing of ground forces as well. The U.S. and French governments immediately announced that they were ready to go. Britain and Italy are aiding. In essence the former colonial powers have begun an armed attack on the Libyan government and its people, backing one side of a civil war.
No matter how one feels about Libya today and the role of the Gadhafi government; regardless of how one evaluates the Libyan opposition, a U.S.-led war or intervention in Libya is a disaster for the Libyan people, and for peace and progress around the world.
BAHRAIN EXPOSES THE LIE ABOUT “PREVENTING ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS”
The U.S. and its allies are repeating over and over the lie that they are trying to “prevent attacks on civilians” and are acting from humanitarian motives. But nobody should be fooled. Consider these humanitarians and how they react to Bahrain.
The U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, which is an absolute monarchy. Its people have been valiantly trying to change their government for weeks. They had some initial success. The king responded with deadly repression and later with hints at reform.
On March 14, however, hours after Secretary of Defense Gates visited Bahrain, the Bahraini government commenced a brutal crackdown, backed up by Saudi Arabian troops. Helicopters, tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition were used, killing and injuring many people. Nearly all of Bahrain’s security forces are foreign mercenaries.
Unlike the Libyan rebels, the Bahraini people have absolutely no arms. But there has been no talk of a no-fly zone over Bahrain, let alone attacks on the murderous Bahraini and Saudi armies.
NO BLOOD FOR OIL
This is because the real motivation for the U.S. and its allies in both Bahrain and Libya, and indeed the whole region, is to control the OIL! It is Washingtons main strategic interest and a primary financial interest for U.S. big business.
This is true even though the U.S. is not directly dependent on imported oil from Libya. Oil is a worldwide commodity, and any country which imports oil must deal with a world market, no matter from which individual country or countries they import the oil.
Of even more importance to the U.S. and Europeans is who controls the flow of oil. A military presence or a reliable puppet in Libya would give Washington –and to a lesser extent the European imperialists — control of the oil spigot to Europe and also establish a military presence in North Africa from which to influence or prevent the development of the revolutions, especially in Egypt and Tunisia.
ARAB LEAGUE “VOTE” FRAUD
Not only a demonization campaign against the Libyan leader, but every form of fraud and propaganda is being used to push for this intervention, including a supposed “vote” by the Arab League supporting the latest U.N. resolution. Left unsaid is the fact that only 11 of the 22 members of the League even attended the meeting, which was held behind closed doors. Two of these 11 attending members, Syria and Algeria, made clear that they were completely opposed to military intervention in Libya.
Meanwhile the corporate media has ignored a resolution by the African Union, representing 53 countries, which adamantly rejected a no-fly zone or other intervention.
WHAT ABOUT GAZA?
The U. S. blocked any UN action, even a toothless resolution, during the massive Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2008 and also during the Israeli bombing and attempted invasion of Lebanon in 2006, as well as the continued bombardment of Gaza as recently as this week!.
It is important that peace-loving and progressive people around the world develop a consistent approach opposing ALL U.S. intervention. This is the only way to avoid becoming just an echo of the U.S. State Department and Pentagon.
U.S., French, British, Italian hands off Libya!
NO to the U.S. supported attack on the people’s movement of Bahrain!
U.S. Out of Arab and African Lands!
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