Peter Graff / Reuters & Abayomi Azikiwe / Pan-African News Wire – 2011-06-07 23:36:56
Gaddafi Defiant as NATO Intensifies Tripoli Strikes
Peter Graff / Reuters
TRIPOLI (June 7, 2011) — NATO unleashed its heaviest bombing of the Libyan capital since air strikes began in March, but Muammar Gaddafi vowed to fight to the end.
Sustained attacks continued through Tuesday and into the night after warplanes hit the city several times an hour, hour after hour, in an onslaught the Libyan leader’s government said killed 31 people.
Describing planes overhead and explosions around him, Gaddafi spoke defiantly after strikes on his Bab al-Aziziya compound.
“We only have one choice: we will stay in our land dead or alive,” Gaddafi said in a fiery audio address on state television.
It later showed images of what it said was a meeting between Gaddafi and tribal leaders on Tuesday.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in Washington there was significant progress in the operation and it was “just a matter of time before Gaddafi goes.”
At least 31 people were killed in 60 strikes on the Libyan capital in the raids, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters. His account could not be independently verified.
“How could the world sleep tonight knowing that armies of such evil are willingly and knowingly attacking a peaceful capital with 60 rockets and killing people … while there is a way out of this. To sit down, talk and negotiate,” Ibrahim said.
A British defence official said several operations carried out by fighter aircraft had targeted Gaddafi’s secret police headquarters and a military installation on Tripoli’s southwestern outskirts.
Gaddafi’s troops and the rebels have been deadlocked for weeks, neither able to hold territory on a road between Ajdabiyah in the east, which Gaddafi’s forces shelled on Monday, and the Gaddafi-held oil town of Brega further west.
Rebels control the east of Libya, the western city of Misrata and the range of mountains near the border with Tunisia. They have been unable to advance on the capital against Gaddafi’s better-equipped forces.
Gaddafi forces pulled back to high ground in the Western Mountains outside Yafran, 130 km (80 miles) southwest of Tripoli. The rebels broke a long government siege of the town on Monday.
But a rebel commander in Zintan, in the same region, said Gaddafi’s forces were massing on Tuesday in their biggest numbers in the area since the start of the conflict.
Diplomatic overtures were being made to the rebels by world powers, including Russia and China, despite their misgivings about interference in Libya’s affairs.
A Russian special envoy for Africa said in the rebel capital of Benghazi on Tuesday that Gaddafi could no longer represent Libya and that Russia was ready to help in any way possible.
In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said an Egypt-based Chinese diplomat had visited Benghazi for talks with the rebel-led National Transitional Council.
The Libya contact group of Western and Arab countries agreed in May to provide millions of dollars in non-military aid to help the rebels keep services and the economy running.
They meet on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates to discuss rebel plans and financing for them.
(Writing by John Irish; editing by Andrew Roche)
(c) Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.
African Union Calls for End to NATO Bombing of Libya
Abayomi Azikiwe / Pan-African News Wire
TRIPOLI (June 6, 2011) — South African President Jacob Zuma paid a state visit to Libya on May 30 that proved to be a fruitless effort to bring about a ceasefire in the war launched by Western-backed rebels and NATO forces, which have intensified their bombing of the capital of Tripoli and other areas of the country. Zuma was acting on behalf of the African Union, which held an extraordinary meeting on May 25 aimed at bringing an end to the war against Libya.
Although South Africa was one of the countries whose government voted in favor of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which has served as the pseudo-legal basis for an all-out military onslaught against the North African state, Zuma has spoken out against the bombing and regime-change strategy that was the real motive behind the resolution.
NATO has admitted that since March 19 nearly 4,000 bombing missions have been carried out against the Libyan people by the US, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and other imperialist states and their allies.
The NATO forces, which are providing arms, logistics, economic and political support for the rebel Transitional National Council, have stepped up airstrikes against Tripoli. At the same time the British and French governments have announced the deployment of Tiger and Apache helicopters, which will inevitably kill and injure more civilians.
US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron held a joint press conference in London on May 24 calling for the overthrow of the government of Moammar Gadhafi. Obama at first had said the war against Libya was limited, but he is now demanding immediate regime change. He faces growing opposition to the war inside the United States.
The US Congress is being prodded to vote on whether the Pentagon should continue with the war in North Africa. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is submitting a resolution in the House of Representatives challenging the legality of the war against Libya.
African Union Holds
Special Session on Libya
The extraordinary session of the African Union held on May 25 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, produced a statement calling for an immediate halt to the NATO bombing and the beginning of negotiations to end the war.
On March 11, the AU Peace and Security Council had issued a communiquÃ© opposing foreign intervention in Libya. Numerous efforts by the AU and several Latin American states have been rejected outright by the imperialist states and their rebel allies operating inside eastern Libya.
The AU stressed that in light of the horrendous conditions facing Libyans and African migrant workers, who have been targeted in racist attacks by the counter-revolutionary forces, the NATO bombing should be immediately halted. Point five of the AU statement notes: “The continuation of the NATO-led military operation defeats the very purpose for which it was authorized in the first place, i.e., the protection of the civilian population, and further complicates any transition to a democratic dispensation in Libya.”
The opposition TNC forces that are fighting the Gadhafi government have not been elected by anyone, other than the Western imperialist states. The TNC is largely led by monarchists, defectors from the government, and numerous groups that have opposed the government for decades.
The AU statement addressed the deliberate failure of the rebels and their US/NATO supporters to acknowledge the role of the continentâ€™s leaders in resolving the Libyan war, expressing “surprise and disappointment at the attempts to marginalize the continent in the management of the Libyan conflict” and recalled that “Africa, particularly the countries of the region, are those that bear the greatest impact of the conflict in Libya, both in terms of security and socio-economic consequences.”
The African National Congress Youth League of South Africa pointed out: “The rebels have wounded hundreds of black immigrants from the poorest African countries, who worked mainly as low-wage day laborers in Libya. From fear of being killed, some of them have refrained from going to a doctor. At the time of the outbreak of civil war, about 1.5 million black Africans were employed in Libya as laborers in the oil industry and the construction, agriculture and service sectors.” (ANC Today, May 27)
Conditions for Refugees Worsen
On May 25, a refugee camp in Tunisia housing more than 1,000 African migrant workers was attacked by the military and locals in the area, illustrating the precarious position facing those in border towns who have fled the fighting in Libya.
This camp housed African migrant workers from various countries, including Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Ivory Coast. It was reported that the tents providing shelter for the refugees were set on fire and the belongings of the inhabitants stolen; five Sudanese men were shot. (Guardian, May 25)
These attacks on refugees come amid reports of preparations for a land invasion by the US and other NATO troops.
Manlio Dinucci wrote in Il Manifesto on May 28: “The US has sent a naval attack group led by the most modern and powerful Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier, named George H.W. Bush. The ship is 333 meters long, 40 meters wide and has on board 6,000 personnel, 56 aircraft (which can take off at 20-second intervals) and 15 helicopters, and is equipped with sophisticated electronic warfare systems.” (Il Manifesto, May 28; translated from Italian by WW)
In the event of a ground invasion, the fighting inside Libya will intensify. With a purported “humanitarian” landing of European and US troops, the war will enter a new and even more dangerous phase. Consequently, the anti-war and anti-imperialist forces in the US and Europe must escalate their opposition to yet another war of occupation.
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire.
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