People's Democracy

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


No. 20

May 15, 2011


An Atrocity in Tripoli


Prakash Karat


ON May 1, the NATO launched a missile attack on a building in a residential locality in Tripoli. It was targeted to assassinate Gaddafi. Instead it killed his youngest son Saif al-Arab aged 29 years and also three of Gaddafi’s grandchildren.  In 1986, a similar missile strike on Gaddafi’s compound had killed his adopted infant daughter. 


The leaders of the Western governments and NATO have made no bones about the real intention of their military intervention in Libya.  It is not to “protect civilians” as posed in the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 but to effect a regime change.  After nearly two months of aerial bombardment and backing the rebels, there is a stalemate in Libya.  Contrary to the expectations of the NATO alliance, the Libyan regime has not collapsed. So assassination of the leader is considered to be the best solution.


The killings of four innocent persons, including three children, have not elicited any regret or remorse among the Western leaders.  In fact, British prime minister David Cameron has justified the attack by stating, “It is about targeting command and control rather than particular individuals”.


This atrocity perpetrated by NATO on young children was clouded over by the killing of Osama bin Laden, the following night.  The international media, controlled by the big business media houses, got the opportunity to conveniently ignore this crime and focused on the killing of bin Laden.   But this does nothing to mitigate the horror and the enormity of the crime committed by those who justified the “humanitarian intervention” in Libya.  The entire build-up for the “humanitarian intervention” in Libya began with the media onslaught about how the Gaddafi regime was killing its own people.   The fact that there is a civil war in which the Western powers are backing the rebels was conveniently ignored.  In a civil war people get killed. But what the NATO intervention has resulted in, is a prolonged civil war with mounting casualties. 


The flimsy pretext for the military attack can be seen from the fact that in Egypt, during the popular uprising, 846 people were killed by the police and security  forces.  In Libya, the numbers were far less when the West decided to get the Security Council sanction to intervene.  Even after the Libyan intervention, we have seen how the Bahrainian regime has crushed the peaceful protest in Bahrain with the help of Saudi Arabia.  Hundreds have died in the ongoing protest movement in Yemen.   In both cases, neither America nor the European powers have thought it fit to intervene.   In the case of Syria, the West hopes that the protests will mount further giving an opportunity for the West to intervene.  The Libyan intervention has nothing to do with the fate of the Libyan people. It is meant to stem the Arab popular uprising and channelise it to meet Western interests.


The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has decided to investigate and arraign three senior Libyan officials for war crimes. By the standards of the West, the killing of the Gaddafi’s son and grandchildren should qualify as a war crime.  The bombardment of government buildings and offices where civilians work would also come under this category. But then, the ICC is primed to go after only those “war criminals” who are inimical to the West.   Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia was the first victim.  Significantly, the ICC mandate is not ratified by the United States of America.   But it is used effectively as an instrument against those who do not align with US interests.   Gaddafi is to be killed or captured and presented before the ICC as a criminal who has committed genocide and war crimes.


The United States will not allow the ICC or any other body to interfere in its affairs.  Its soldiers are immune to prosecution even if it has committed war crimes in Iraq or Afghanistan. But under president Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, the United States is free to violate  the sovereignty of any country, or, order the assassination of any leader.  The killing of Osama bin Laden violating international laws was only a part of this exercise in impunity.


To whom did planes which launched the missiles on the home of Gaddafi’s family belong?  Were they French or British?  Who gave the clearance to target Gaddafi and his family?  Who among Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama is accountable?  These are matters which do not concern the Western champions of human rights and watchdogs of liberty.


The Obama administration continues on the path of trampling national sovereignty and use of military force to advance its interests.   It uses the well-worn tactics to demonise the Libyan regime.  Susan Rice, the US representative to the United Nations, has made the absurd claim that Viagra is being supplied to the Libyan soldiers, so that they can commit mass rapes.


According to NATO, since March 31 to May 7, a total of 5,510 aerial strikes were conducted.   This figure does not include the sorties undertaken from March 19 to 30. Libya is being devastated in front of the eyes of the world – a country which, according to the 2010 UN Human Development Index, ranked first in Africa.  The NATO would not mind Libya carved up and partitioned so that its oil resources come under its control. 


The UN Security Council should realise the folly of having provided sanction to the Western marauders through its Resolution 1973. But will the countries which abstained from supporting the Resolution muster the will to call a halt to this illegal and unjust act of war?