People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 14

April  03, 2011




Libya: End This Cynical Intervention


EXACTLY a hundred years ago, the world witnessed the first instance of an aerial bombardment, ie, of a plane dropping bombs on targets on the ground.  On October 26, 1911, Italian planes dropped bombs near Tripoli on Turkish troops. Libya was then part of the Ottoman Empire. Italy subsequently colonised Libya.  The Libyan people fought the Italian colonisers valiantly.  In the 1920s, Mussolini’s Italy used airplanes to strafe and kill thousands of tribal fighters on horseback.  A hundred years later, Libya was subjected to a massive aerial bombardment by planes and ships belonging to the United States, France and Britain. Italy did not join in, as that would have raised the spectre of its barbarous colonial history, but many of the allied planes took off from an air base in Italy.  The cynical claim of the Western powers is that these air strikes are meant to protect civilians in Libya when precisely hundreds have died in this bombardment.


The assault on Libya began on March 19.  The UN Security Council resolution 1973 provided the cover for this aggression against a sovereign country. The resolution had called for a no-fly zone to be imposed over Libya.  The resolution was so worded as to provide the pretext for an outright intervention when it talked about taking other necessary measures to protect civilians.  Seizing this opportunity, all military installations in Libya have been bombarded; from imposing the so-called no-fly zone, the next step was air strikes against Gaddafi’s armed forces on the ground.  By this, the military might of NATO has been thrown behind the rebels.


France and Britain were in the lead in calling for a war on Libya.  For them, the UN Security Council resolution meant a license to go all out to remove Gaddafi.  British government officials have said that the killing of the Libyan leader would be legal, if it prevented civilian deaths as laid out in the UN resolution.  Given the different interpretations of the aim of the military intervention and growing misgivings among some of the NATO allies themselves, finally it was decided to handover the control of the operations to the NATO.  What Fidel Castro warned at the outset has come true: NATO committed aggression on Libya. 


While NATO continues its military strikes in Libya to “protect civilians”, the despotic regimes in Yemen and Bahrain are allowed to kill and maim its peoples. The president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is a valued ally of the West and Bahrain hosts the Fifth Fleet of the United States.  Their civilians are, therefore, expandable. 


If the West’s double standards are so visible, the hypocrisy of president Obama is truly breathtaking. Invested with the Nobel Peace prize, Obama is desperately trying to hide his warmongering.  In a recent speech, he declared: “We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supply of cash, assist the opposition and work with other nations to hasten the day when Gaddafi leaves power”.  In the same breath, he said: “If we try to overthrow Gaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter”. 


The differences in the coalition on this “humanitarian intervention” have also surfaced.  With the NATO taking charge, Germany has pulled out its two naval frigates and AWACS surveillance planes.  Germany was one of the five countries in the Security Council which abstained on the resolution on Libya.  Turkey, another partner in the NATO, has disapproved of the military intervention going beyond the no-fly zone  and has announced that it will not commit its forces in Libya.


At the recently-held conference on Libya in London, though it was claimed that the Arab League was represented, neither its secretary general nor many of the Arab countries, including  Egypt and Algeria, participated. It is only the client States like UAE and Qatar which spoke for the Arab countries.


The US and Britain have started talking about supplying arms to the rebels.  At the same time, the NATO commander has indicated that Islamic fundamentalists and Al Qaeda may be present in the ranks of the rebels.  NATO has also the job to create a pro-Western alternative government. 


The NATO intervention is a calculated and cynical move to reverse the popular uprisings taking place in the Arab world and to hijack it in the name of a humanitarian intervention against an authoritarian regime.  The Gaddafi regime which had made up with the West in 2003 and become a favourite of the Britain and other Western countries and who had laid out the red carpet for the oil multinationals is now being demonised, just as Saddam Hussein was in Iraq.


The West is fuelling a civil war.  Libya is being forced down a path of destruction.  In India, the military intervention by NATO has been condemned by all sections in parliament.  The UPA government did right in abstaining on the UN Security Council resolution. But that is not enough. Along with the four other countries – Russia, China, Germany and Brazil – India should demand an urgent review of how the Security Council resolution is being implemented.  The US and NATO cannot hijack the United Nations mandate in this manner. 

(March 30, 2011)