Gaddafi’s gone—but West now wants to rule

The 42-year old Gaddafi dictatorship is over. Rebel forces have seized Tripoli, the capital of Libya and Gaddafi’s stronghold. The end of Gaddafi himself, the perpetrator of brutal repression, is welcome. But there is an uphill battle ahead for those wanting real economic and political liberation in Libya.

The rebels’ military victory was secured by the backing of major Western powers in the form of NATO. NATO has conducted more than 8,500 bombing raids since March 19. Special forces worked on the ground to train rebel fighters and direct operations. Drones have bombed and collected intelligence from the skies.

The nature of the post-Gaddafi regime will now be decided by the West. Western leaders were all-too-happy to back Gaddafi before the uprising against him began in February.

Gaddafi's regime is finally finished in Libya, but the revolution has been hijacked by the WestThe history of Western imperialism in the Middle East does not bode well for ordinary people in Libya. In Iraq, the US propped up Saddam Hussein when it was in their interests, but then waged a war in Iraq against Hussein, murdering one million civilians in the process.

The West has backed the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the major representative body. In the early stages of the uprising it was dominated by local rebel commanders. But the West has pushed to increase the influence of former Gaddafi loyalists that it regards as reliable. The TNC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil was minister of justice in Gaddafi’s regime from 2007 to 2011.

As the move on Tripoli began, TNC leaders were engaged in talks with US assistant secretary of state Jeffrey Feltman, who had traveled to Benghazi to discuss how to ensure “a stable, democratic transition”.

Yet this body is in disarray. Last month Jalil sacked the entire executive body after the head of its military forces was killed by other rebels.

Its authority across the country is also unclear. Rebel fighters from Misrata told The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn that the TNC did not represent them.

The West will attempt to shore up a regime in Libya that maintains law and order rather than addressing the concerns of ordinary people.

NATO is interested in Libya as a way to impose its agenda on the revolutions across the Arab world and because of Libya’s oil resources. They saw a chance to intervene in Libya and put a compliant regime in place.

In exchange for NATO support, the TNC was forced to agree to recognise oil deals and the agreement to police migration to Europe signed by the Gaddafi regime. They now talk of “recognising” that support if they are to rule Libya.

Popular revolt
Any victory in winning the initial demands of the movement against Gaddafi required a continuation and spreading of the initial popular uprising.

Instead, small groups of rebels undertook a military battle against Gaddafi that tied the movement with major imperialist powers.

The possibility for a genuine transformation of Libyan society was severely weakened when rebels called for the NATO “no fly zone” in March this year. This was seen as a way of preventing Gaddafi’s armed forces from crushing the initial uprising.

But it meant that instead of uniting with the working class and poor in Western Libya, including the two million-strong population of Tripoli, the rebels called for bombing. This meant supporting the bombing of ordinary people across the West.

It strangled the possibility of uniting against Gaddafi in a mass popular movement. Instead Gaddafi was able to use anti-Western rhetoric to galvanise support against NATO and rebel forces.

The key strategy for the Libyan movement should have been to split Gaddafi’s army by uniting ordinary fighters across Libya against Gaddafi.

Instead the rebel alliance with NATO has led to worsening sectarian attacks against ordinary people. This emerged in recent revenge attacks by rebels on civilians with links to Gaddafi.

The end of Gaddafi’s regime will be used by the West to rehabilitate the idea of “humanitarian intervention”. We can’t let them. The path of the Libyan revolution is a warning against the left backing “support” from the US and Saudi Arabia in Syria.

Saudi Arabia crushed the revolution in Bahrain with the tacit support of the US. These are no friends of democracy.

The political struggle in Libya depends on the continuing revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia that have a basis in uniting a movement of the working class and poor.

Feiyi Zhang


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