The Fall of Bani Walid and Libya’s Counter-Revolution

by Clay Claiborne on November 17, 2012

The failure to form what could be considered a proper government, in Weber’s sense of a “monopoly on violence,” has been the complaint raised most often about the Libyan Revolution in the year that has passed since the killing of Muammar Qaddafi. We hear that the country is awash with weapons and ruled by armed militias. The central government, as represented by the National Transitional Council, is weak and unrepresentative, plagued by divisions, and lacks popular respect. The national police force and national army,  also newly formed, are weak and lack firepower as compared to some of the better-armed revolutionary brigades and militias.

In short, the most informed of the critics have been quick to point out that the revolutionary Libyan government does not yet fulfill that most fundamental requirement in the definition of a state: It did not yet possess a monopoly on violence within its territory.

This criticism had a lot of currency. And Bani Walid was the proof.

Bani Walid as center of counter-revolution

Bani Walid had a long history of support for the Qaddafi regime and it isn’t surprising that it should become its last stronghold.

Over a year ago, just a week after Mummar Qaddafi was killed, Reuters wrote on October 26, 2011:

The war is not yet over for Libya’s new rulers in the desert town of Bani Walid where Gaddafi loyalists vow to fight on for their fallen leader and other residents are angry over violence and looting. Enraged by what they see as acts of retribution by forces loyal to Libya’s new government, tribesmen say their men are already trying to regroup into a new insurgency movement in and around the strategic desert town south of the capital.

This January the pro-Qaddafi forces were successful in pushing the revolutionaries out and recapturing the town. As Nick Meo and Hassan Morajea wrote in The Telegraph on January 28, 2012:

Bani Walid, about 100 miles south-east of the capital Tripoli, was a Gaddafi stronghold, fighting defiantly to the bitter end under the direction of his son Saif al-Islam. The town only surrendered after dozens of its young men were killed by rocket barrages which smashed buildings to pieces.

Since its fall in October it has been a place of simmering resentment and occasional violent flare-ups. Then last Monday its tough inhabitants staged an uprising. They overran guards at the main prison, where growing numbers of their friends had been detained, and ejected pro-government forces from the town, killing at least four of them.

Since that counter-revolutionary takeover, it had become the center of pro-Qaddafi activity in Libya, attracting supporters of the fallen regime from all across the country and developing a reputation as the one place that government forces wouldn’t go.

Still, remnants aside, the civil war had already been fought out to a decisive conclusion and the Qaddafi regime had lost. While its remaining forces have been able to carry out assassinations and cause trouble, they don’t have the support to do more than that. Even Bani Walid is split on support for Qaddafi and totals only about 1% of the Libyan population. This little island of the old Qaddafi regime could not be allowed to stand indefinitely in the new Libya.

Libyans build a government

Meanwhile, the Libyan people had bigger fish to fry in getting their country back on its feet. Industry, schools and local government all had to be reconstituted and restarted.

In the all important sphere of national government, the National Transitional Council founded the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC) which registered voters, candidates, and parties, and organized national elections which took place on July 8, and saw 1.6 million Libyan voters elect a new representative government: the General National Council (GNC). The GNC selected a president and a prime minister. The organs of state power, the army, and police were also starting to shape up.

Many of the revolutionary brigades had vowed to stay together and stay armed until they were sure they were getting the government they had fought for. With the GNC established, some were beginning to disband and others were being brought under government control. In the wake of the nationwide mass protests against the militias following the Benghazi consulate attack, that process of disbanding or integration was greatly accelerated as protesters forced some militias to flee from their bases.

Meanwhile, the problem of the Qaddafi holdouts in Bani Walid continued to fester. Still, there remained time for a peaceful solution. In the nine months of civil war, the revolutionary forces had grown from a rag-tag collection into a strong and seasoned fighting force ruling nearly all of Libya, while the Qaddafi forces had been reduced from a modern mechanized army to a rag-tag bunch of fugitives and criminals. There has never been any real question about which side would prevail in a final military confrontation.

While there was never any serious doubt that the Libyan government would prevail, the costs of an all-out assault were uncertain. For instance, Qaddafi forces had shown many times that they were not above using human shields. Thus, from January the demand that Bani Walid submit was pursued by largely peaceful means.

For example, in the beginning of October the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General visited Bani Walid to urge tribal elders to seize an opportunity for reconciliation with the newly elected National Congress. Still, kidnappings and other criminal activities continued to be carried out by old regime forces in Bani Walid.

What changed about Bani Walid?

The Libya Herald described the situation this way on the eve of the current fighting:

The catalyst for the current standoff was the death of Omran Shaban, the Misratan revolutionary credited with first discovering Muammar Qaddafi last October, who died in a hospital in Paris on 25 September. Together with a colleague, he was captured in Bani Walid in July and held for two months before being released on 13 September following mediation efforts led by National Congress President Mohamed Magarief.

It is known that he was shot in the spine, reportedly after the vehicle in which he was travelling failed to stop at a checkpoint and then rolled over. There have also been widespread allegations that Shaban was tortured whilst in custody, although this is vehemently denied by Bani Walid leaders who say that he was treated in hospital and visited by the Red Cross.

Today, a Red Cross spokeswoman currently visiting Bani Walid to distribute humanitarian supplies refused to offer any comment on whether evidence of torture against Shaban had been found or not.

Nevertheless, Shaban’s death prompted a resolution [Law no.7] from the National Congress giving Bani Walid ten days to surrender those suspected of involvement in the case and authorising the ministries of defence and interior to use force if the town did not comply.

That deadline was subsequently pushed back to 10 October, today, following a request by Magarief to allow more time for negotiations. Libya’s military commanders have said that should the deadline pass without a resolution then an attack remains a possibility.

After that, the forces authorized by Law No. 7 to enforce the arrest of the suspects began to apply military muscle. Two weeks later one of Libya’s most important clerics spoke in favor of the operation, as reported by The Libya Herald:

Grand Mufti Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ghariani has reaffirmed his support for the recent military action against Bani Walid, arguing that it is consistent with the “application of Resolution No. 7 of the National Congress, which represents the highest authority within the state”.In a statement released by his office, the cleric warned that “bloodshed will not cease as long as those wanted for justice, those outlaws, those accused of killing innocent people remain at large.”

Earlier today, government spokesman Nasser Al-Manaa claimed that more than 100 people had been arrested from Bani Walid, out of a total wanted-list said to be some 1,000 names long.

“Resolution [No. 7] demands the handover of those in Bani Walid wanted for justice”, Ghariani said, “even through the use of force if need be.”

“Thus, the government, the national army, the chief of staff directorate and all revolutionaries are under an obligation to implement this resolution.”

There are those that raised questions about the way Resolution No. 7 was passed. “I feel that the congress has sort of followed this intense lobbying attack by the Misratans and by groups of Bani Walid revolutionaries who were kicked out of Bani Walid,” Claudia Gazzini of the International Crisis Group complained. There has also been a problem with Misrata militiamen using the operation against Bani Walid as cover for revenge against those regarded as pro-Qaddafi.

While Misrata fighters have complained at what they call Bani Walid’s continued defiance and its alleged harbouring of former Gaddafi loyalists, townsfolk there say they have been unfairly tarred with the “pro-Gaddafi” brush. “Bani Walid became a centre for those who were wanted for justice to escape,” government spokesman Nasser el-Manee told a news conference. “We can say that they kidnapped the city.”

The grand mufti also echoed this view:

The mufti said he recognised that many Bani Walid residents were victims of events beyond their control, reiterating a statement made recently by National Congress President Mohamed Magarief that the town had, to a great extent, been taken hostage by pro-Qaddafi elements and other “criminals”. Nevertheless, he said, “if Bani Walid… is not outside of the state’s authority, as claimed by those who are against the implementation of the GNC resolution, why then are state assigned forces prevented from arresting those wanted for justice? How can Bani-Walid be under stated legitimacy and yet the state is prevented from entering the town!”

Ultimately, the operation against the pro-Qaddafi militias in Bani Walid could not avoid the ugliness and tragedy that comes with any military assault in an urban center. On October 24, the day revolutionary government forces took the center of Bani Walid, Human Rights Watch published:

The number of victims from the fighting and indiscriminate shelling in Bani Walid remains unclear. Doctors at the hospital there told Human Rights Watch that at least seven people not associated with any armed group had been killed and 60 wounded between the start of the siege in late September and October 18. That number rose as the attacking forces began a major assault on October 19, causing thousands of Bani Walid residents to flee.

The Tripoli Post reported that there were demonstrations in Tripoli opposing the government assault:

Meanwhile, about 500 protesters broke into the grounds of Libya’s parliament building on Sunday to demand an end to violence in Bani Walid that has been shelled by militias from Misurata who have aligned with the Defence Ministry, for several days. State news agency LANA said on Sunday that 22 people had been killed and 200 wounded in the fighting.

“We are here to demand the government find a peaceful solution for the tribal war that is happening in Bani Walid,” a protester was quoted saying.

On 21 October 2012 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued an official statement of concern that recognized both sides of the equation and the contradictory nature of the Libyan government’s role:

The Secretary-General is alarmed by the fighting in and around the Libyan city of Bani Walid, and in particular the reports indicating growing civilian casualties due to indiscriminate shelling. The Secretary-General reminds all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law and calls on all the Libyan authorities and those in Bani Walid to begin immediately a process to resolve the Bani Walid stand-off peacefully. The Secretary-General is of the firm conviction that the Libyan authorities must be able to extend Libyan sovereignty and state control and services throughout the territory of Libya. In their historic July elections, the Libyan people put their trust in the Libyan State, and the Secretary-General urges all Libyans to work together to strengthen the legitimacy and effectiveness of State institutions across the country. The State and those militias acting in its name also have a responsibility to the people of Libya to act fully in accordance with international law, in particular international human rights law. All those involved in the fighting in and around Bani Walid should be aware that the international community is closely monitoring the situation.

The Secretary-General believes that the situation in Bani Walid can be resolved in a peaceful manner that preserves the rights of all Libyan citizens and permits the state to exercise its responsibilities there. The Secretary-General notes that his Special Representative in Libya is actively engaged in helping to defuse and resolve the Bani Walid stand-off.

The UN Secretary-General cautions the Libyan government to avoid civilian causalities but at the same time, having been fairly elected, he recognizes the right of the Libyan government to rule Libya.

The Russian Draft

The next day, Russia puts forward a Security Council Draft Press Statement on Bani Walid, a statement that carries no real weight of enforcement. The Secretary General had already represented the position of the UN and every committee of the UN could issue its own statement and none of them would change the facts on the ground in Libya. It’s not like the Russians rush to the Security Council with a draft statement of concern every time a few dozen people are killed in a conflict. Two days later, when the Syrian Army killed 20 people in an Aleppo bakery, Russia didn’t rush to the Security Council with a draft resolution condemning it.

In fact, the Russian resolution, and most of the coverage of the fighting in Bani Walid by the Russian media and its minions, can only be properly understood in the context of the political struggle around Syria.

Russia Today (RT) and most of its followers did not break the story that “Russia has made a draft statement.” Nor was the Secretary-General’s statement reported. Rather, the first story was “US blocks Russian resolution on Bani Walid,” followed by outrage and complaints of a double standard – as if a two week military assault on one town that cost 22 lives should be equated to Assad’s murderous eighteen month assault on a country costing more that 30,000 lives.

After that, all the pro-Assad, pro-Qaddafi coverage of Bani Walid by RT and its minions seemed designed to exaggerate Bani Walid to Syria-like proportions in order to undermine the Libyan Revolution, downplay the crimes of Assad, and charge supporters of the Syrian opposition with hypocrisy.

What was so unique about this Russian draft that RT felt compelled to promote it? Well, here is the text:

The members of the Security Council expressed their grave concern about the escalation of violence in and around the city of Bani Walid, in particular reports of growing civilian casualties, including children.

The members of the Security Council called on the Libyan authorities to take urgent steps to resolve the conflict by peaceful means and to preserve the rights of all Libyan citizens.

The members of the Security Council stressed the need to promote national reconciliation and inclusive political dialogue in Libya.

At first glance, this seems an unobjectionable statement, yet viewed in comparison to the Secretary-General’s statement we can see certain significant differences. Both statements express concern for civilian casualties, except the Russian statement makes specific references to children. As we’ll see later, this plays into specific propaganda claims. Further, whereas the Secretary-General’s statement recognizes the right of the Libyan state to use force if necessary (“the Libyan authorities must be able to extend Libyan sovereignty and state control and services throughout the territory of Libya”) the Russian statement aims to limit them to “peaceful means.” I doubt that Putin would have the Russian state limited to “peaceful means” in dealing with non-violent protesters in Moscow, let alone Chechen rebels. The Russians sound like they believe the Libyan state should be opening negotiations over power sharing with the Qaddafi forces holed up in Bani Walid.

Of course, the Russians completely fail to recognize the “national reconciliation and inclusive political dialogue” that has taken place in the past year. This reconciliation has led to free elections, in which even pro-Qaddafi forces could campaign and protest.

The Russian statement deserved to be blocked if for no other reason than it was less complete and accurate than that of the Secretary-General. However, I suspect that it was designed to be blocked so that Russians could point a finger at American hypocrisy over Syria and Libya. For RT reports paint a very different picture of Bani Walid than that of the Libyan government or other media. They speak of “massacres” and “genocide” and paint a picture of slaughter that is a far cry from the claim of 22 killed in 2 weeks of fighting.

Under the headline “Massacre in Bali Walid”, RT quotes a man in Egypt, not Libya (let alone Bani Walid), who claims via contact with relatives in Bani Walid:

“the city has been exposed to genocide from Misrata militias that are cooperating with Al-Qaeda groups. They attack the city and are using heavy machinery to demolish the houses,” Faraj said.“They are using internationally banned toxic gases against civilian people and they bombard the population with tanks.”

Government-affiliated militias are under the orders “to kill all protesters,” he said. “The city is blocked from all sides; there has been no medicine, no food, and no humanitarian aid. There is nothing inside the city.”

“There is bloodshed in Bani Walid and nobody can hear the people inside the city. [The] militias’ guns come from the outside including from Sarkozy and Obama’s administrations.”

Russia Today takes all this on as the truth about Bani Walid without any verification. The next day RT runs the headline “600 killed in Bani Walid fighting in one day”:

Alwarfally also claimed that at least hundreds of people were killed during the 20-day siege.

“The number is really big,” he said. “On the first day that [the militia] came, there were about 70 bodies from the fighting. Yesterday night there was 600.”

“The number of people in the hospitals is over 1000,” he added.

That is a truly dramatic news and a very different picture from claims that put the number killed in the overall operation in the dozens range. That would amount to killing nearly 1% of the population of the town in a single day. That would be twice the number killed in all of Syria even on a very bad day. That is worth repeating and indeed it was repeated by all the Russian minions like Information Clearinghouse and Global Research. A RT corespondent even brought it up at a U.S. State Department press briefing:

MS. NULAND: Is there a question here, or is this a political statement that you’re making here in the briefing room?QUESTION: No, no, just a – I wondering, 600 people, local resident, were allegedly killed yesterday –

RT correspondent in Lebanon, Paula Slier exclaims: [YouTube @ 03:30 ]

More and more people are saying that no one really cares about what is happening in Bani Walid and you compare this to the almost mass hysteria in the mainstream Western media and the international community today in terms of what is happening today in Syria.

(Incidentally, given that roughly two hundred people are being slaughtered daily in Syria, I am not sure how you could characterize the very slight coverage those deaths receive in the mainstream media as “mass hysteria.”)

Then US journalist and author Neil Clark went on RT to tell us that things are worse now than when Qaddafi was in power:

…we were told Colonel Gaddafi’s forces were killing lots of people, there were dangers of a massive massacre in Benghazi, and because of that we went to war…that was the reason for war. And today, the situation is much worse. We’ve got a humanitarian catastrophe taking place. The number of people killed since NATO intervened has gone up by ten to twenty times. We’ve got massacres going on at the moment and there’s complete silence here in the U.K. and in the U.S.

RT: Quality Check

So what is the quality of this dramatic information? How does RT know to trust these sources? They don’t need to. All they need to know is that they are hearing what they want to hear about Bani Walid. The claim by these men that they have communicated with relatives in Bani Walid is rendered even more remarkable because we are told by RT: “Communications were deliberately cut in order for these gangsters to prevent any person from communicating what is really happening.”

You think they would have better sources than these before they ran to the United Nations with a draft statement on Bani Walid. And you’d think they’d know that the NTC was no longer in charge before they set about criticizing the current Libyan government.

These sources sound decidedly pro-Qaddafi, and the Qaddafi regime was well exposed for faking such causalities during the Libyan civil war. Consider, for example, this conversation in which Qaddafi PM Baghdadi Mahmudi is caught plotting with an unknown caller “to take three dead children from a hospital, plant them at a known site, and have the government spokesman, Musa Ibrahim, report from there using the children as casualties to further their propaganda.”

Given this history of fabrication, why the rush to print dramatic claims without verification by more credible sources? What kind of journalism is this? Taking casualty reports from people like these is like taking wildlife reports from the boy who cried wolf.

Further, consistent with their portray of a Libya at the mercy of armed gangs and jihadists, RT reports implied that the Bani Walid assault was waged by renegade militias without government authority (YouTube 3:57). RT then reported  Neil Clark’s claims that “demonstrations are banned throughout the country.” Tell that to these “Demonstrators condemning attack on Libya Al-Hurra” or these “Protesters demanding return of NOC to Benghazi”.

It seemed like RT knew no limits in how far they would go to tar the Libyan revolution and the Libyan government’s operation against these holdouts from the regime they had so long supported. As if charging them with massacres and genocide wasn’t enough, they charged them with using banned chemical weapons. Neil Clark on RT:

anytime there is any hint that the Syrian government has got chemical weapons, it’s front page news on all the western news channels. But RT is about the only channel that’s taking up this story about chemical weapons being used at the moment in Libya.

The Russia Today reports on the conflict around Bani Walid began to be filled with charges of “toxic gas poisoning” and “poisonous gas” exposure which quickly morphed into “reports of chemical weapons being used.” The basis for this charge is a fax, purportedly from doctors in Bani Walid: (YouTube @ 10:30)

We have noticed that 26 injured civilians that are suffering from difficulties in breathing, frothy secretions and an increase in heart rate, with impairment of level of consciousness, also blurring of vision and muscle spasm,

So far, not a single person is reported to have died from this “poisonous gas” or “chemical weapons” attack. However, RT was on to something. The Libya Herald conducted a much more thorough on-site investigation and report:

Government forces stationed at Bir Dufan have been accused of using gas on civilians from Bani Walid during an attack that took place on Monday. Following two visits to the town, The Libya Herald learned that 26 patients had been admitted to hospital with symptoms including hallucinations, foaming at the mouth, muscle spasms, coughing, eye irritations, dizziness, breathing difficulties and loss of consciousness.

This is the town that RT has told us is cut off from the media. The Libya Herald continues:

It remains a possibility that residents were exposed to emissions from a facility that may have been hit during the bombardment as opposed to directly from the munitions themselves. “I heard an explosion, my eyes became irritated and my mouth dried up”, said Ramadan Sahad Ramadan, one of the patients said to have been exposed to the gas, who also showed signs of breathing problems.

“I saw many tanks, I heard a big explosion and then I woke up in the hospital”, said Abubaker Sudani, another patient, who had no external injuries resulting from the blast. “I have difficulty breathing, I cannot see properly and I have thrown-up”.

Responding to the allegations, Colonel Ali Sheikhi, a spokesman for Chief of Staff General Yusuf Mangoush, denied that any gas had been deployed against the town.

“No gas has been used against Bani Walid”, he said. “We do not possess any such weapon”.

It remains unknown what affected these 26 people, but charges that chemical weapons are being used would seem a bit premature. Is this designed to be a preemptive charge against the possibility that Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons in Syria?

In RT’s most recent report, they went with the headline “Siege of Bani Walid: Foreign fighters, phosphorus bombs and nerve gas – RT sources.” These certainly are extremely alarming charges worthy of the world’s attention. And the “RT sources?” “A man who claimed his relatives are trapped inside the besieged city spoke with RT.” This source, who we are later told “is currently in Egypt” says of Bani Walid: “there is no communication or Internet so people are not able to connect with each other.” But somehow he has all the details of what exactly is going on!

“They use foreign snipers, I think from Qatar or Turkey, with Qatar covering all the costs,” he said. He claimed that a ship with weapons and other equipment recently docked in the port city of Misrata, where the assault on Bani Walid is allegedly being directed.

He knows all of this how? It doesn’t matter so long as RT has a source. Then all its minions can cite RT as their source. That’s how the game of supporting dictators is played.

The claim of nerve gas and white phosphorus is also based on the word of one person:

“I can confirm that pro-government militias used internationally prohibited weapons. They used phosphorus bombs and nerve gas. We have documented all this in videos, we recorded the missiles they used and the white phosphorus raining down from these missiles,” Bani Walid-based activist and lawyer Afaf Yusef told RT.

Three days earlier she had been used by RT to confirm their view that the assault was done without government authority. What can one say about these reports? I would find it helpful to know if this “Bani Walid-based activist and lawyer” was more aligned with the revolutionaries that had been kicked out of Bani Walid or the pro-Qaddafi militias that had taken over. Because, frankly, the pro-Qaddafi people do not have a strong record of telling the truth.

The best thing that could be said is that these claims should require collaboration before they become headlines. RT and its minions don’t see it that way. This is the story they want to tell and they do not rely on solid sources so much as on repetition.

Conclusion: Today in Bani Walid

According to The Tripoli Post, Italy is monitoring the situation in Bani Walid and “the toll of the clashes there stands at approximately 25 dead, over 400 wounded and more than 25,000 displaced.”

The Red Cross made its most recent report on October 26:

The humanitarian situation remains difficult for the people of Bani Walid in Libya. To help those who fled the city after heavy clashes this week, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working with the Libyan Red Crescent to distribute food, drinking water, medicine and other essential items to more than 10,000 people in the nearby cities of Tarhuna and Orban.

But they didn’t mention anything about nerve gas or white phosphorous being used.

  • James

    Distasteful trash.

    The whole article is shamelessly justifying and glorifying the death and destruction inflicted on the residents of Bani Walid, home to the largest tribe in Libya.

    ‘Rebels’ from Misrata cut off water, food and medicine to Bani Walid for four weeks as they indiscriminately shelled the city. After entering Bani Walid ‘Rebel’ forces undertook a policy of shelling, burning and looting homes, businesses and public buildings including hospitals. The city is now in complete and utter ruins with many residents unable to return. It’s not hard to find evidence for this devastation if you had looked beyond your strange obsession with Russia Today.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejXncx2rE5Q

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yczYf-VuUlw

    Racism was prevalent in Libya particularly in the East of the country. In Dec 2000 anti-black pogroms which started in Benghazi led to the deaths of 100 migrant workers. The whole NATO-backed rebellion in Libya was characterised by a relentless racist campaign of ethnic cleansing, lynching, torture and incarceration of black Libyans and migrant workers which began within days of the rebellion and continues today. Misrata was home to a particularly heinous brigade who were self-titled ‘The Brigade for Purging Black Skin, Slaves’ Misrata forces ethnically cleansed the entire town of Tawergha of its 30,000 inhabitants.

    Libya has transformed from a stable country with by far the highest standard of living in Africa (despite decades of crippling sanctions) into a failed state ravaged by insecurity, death squads and human rights abuses on an unprecedented scale.

    http://globalciviliansforpeace.com/2011/11/22/rebel-racism-compilation-of-articles-and-videos/

    • Joe Vaughan

      Bani Walid had a long history of support for the Qaddafi regime and it isn’t surprising that it should become its last stronghold.

      This is unexceptionable as far as it goes and so is a big chunk of the material that supports and extends this idea here. One does not have to be a fan of Claiborne’s or Proyect’s politics–to the extent that the two of them have defined a generally coherent political position at all–to a) support the overthrow of Qaddafi, b) therefore (incidentally) approve of the exploitation by Libyan revolutionaries of “Western” air support in their fight against this tyrant, and c) accept at least the idea that if Qaddafi’s supporters are making a stand in Bani Walid, the enemies of Qaddafi are obliged to defeat them there or risk losing the larger fight altogether.

      No compromise with Democrats, imperialism, or anti-socialism is required.

      Moreover, unless you are in some sense pro-Qaddafi, it is difficult to see why you would want to reject these very basic points. It’s fair to say that Qaddafi “did some good things”–Hitler famously built the Autobahn and fathered the Vokswagen, and there are even a few of Albert Speer’s streetlamps still standing in Berlin–but it’s ridiculous to treat Muammar as some sort of Glorious Hero of the People’s Glorious Revolution. At the end he went so far as to rub shoulders with the repellent Tony Blair, and played footsie with the loathsome Condoleeza Rice. And murdered and stole back nearly all of his “gifts” to Libya–and who was this tyrant to bestow as gifts on the Libyan people what was theirs by right anyway?

      The real problem with this piece lies not in its defense of the fight against Qaddafi, but with the lessons to be drawn for the post-Occupy Left in the U.S.

      If Claiborne means–and admittedly it isn’t easy to tell from this piece what his ultimate political position is –that the Libyan revolution is in some sense, let’s say, the Permanent Revolution–and that one must be demonstrably and unwaveringly loyal to it and everything that brought it about, including the U.S. policy of military intervention from the air (which must be applied uncritically in Syria) then he has not made much of a case, no matter who ends up being smeared as a counter-revolutionary.

      The misquotation from Weber–that deity of “legitimate” (and non-Marxist) Harvard “political science”–says it all.

      Weber’s actual phrase was “the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force,” not the “monopoly of violence.” The German phrase is “das Monopol legitimen physischen Zwanges’ (Weber, Max. Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (1921). p. 29.)

      Changing the words makes it seem as if there were some revolutionary virtue in the Libyan non-government’s having failed to become a government (is C. an anarchist now? a pacifist? who knew?). And yet the burden of the argument is that it is precisely a monopoly “of the legitimate use of physical force” that the Libyan government must achieve at all costs in Bani Walid. Otherwise the “counter-revolutionaries” win.

      As written this is completely illogical and self contradictory. What direction is intended for the 99% in this country? More thinking is required.

      • http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Clay%20Claiborne/ Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

        The reference to Weber was added by the editor and not by me. I didn’t quote Weber and as a matter of fact I think his addition of the word “legitimate” just makes a muddle of his phrase. That’s why I dropped it.

        I mean, what does that mean?

        Joe Vaughan seems to talk like he gets to decide if its legitimate or not or as though there was some objective “legitimate” to measure governments by.

        I just clear my trespassing arrest from last 17 November’s BofA vs. Occupy LA action. I never considered that arrest “legitimate.” Didn’t matter. The City Attorney’s office considered it “legitimate” and they had the power to compel me to appear and take away by freedom. They have the power of the gun so it is their, entirely subjective, definition of legitimate that rules.

        Legitimacy is determined by political power, and as we already know, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, so applying “legitimate” as a qualifier of state violence makes no sense from a materialist perspective.

        Weber, may think there is some ideal “legitimacy” out there that will allow him to pass judgment on this or that state violence but then, as Joe points out, he’s not a Marxist.

    • http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Clay%20Claiborne/ Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

      As I responded in Bani Walid Revisited:

      Since this gratuitous and distasteful charge that the whole anti-Qaddafi opposition is racists was, and often is, thrown in for good measure, I will address it first. I have already spoken to his points in greater detail elsewhere, I would refer the reader especially to Racism in Libya and Helter-Skelter: Qaddafi’s African Adventure for more on the history of racism in Libya and Qaddafi’s contributions to it.

      The commenter is absolutely correct to point out that racism was prevalent in Libya after more than 30 years of Mummar Gaddafi’s rule. but he is wrong to imply that it is a disease of Eastern Libya and I believe he has his dates wrong because the racist pogrom against blacks in Libya in 2000 took place in September not December and involved the whole country AFAIK.

      This piece post 12 October 2000 in The Economist gives us a picture of the times:

      PLANELOADS of bodies, dead and alive, flew back to West Africa from Tripoli this week, after Libya’s worst outbreak of anti-foreigner violence since the expulsion of Italians and Jews in Muammar Qaddafi’s coup in 1969. Survivors told of pogroms.

      Emeka Nwanko, a 26-year-old Nigerian welder, was one of hundreds of thousands of black victims of the Libyan mob. He fled as gangs trashed his workshop. His friend was blinded, as Libyan gangs wielding machetes roamed the African townships. Bodies were hacked and dumped on motorways. A Chadian diplomat was lynched and Niger’s embassy put to the torch. Some Nigerians attacked their own embassy after it refused refuge to nationals without proper papers—the vast majority.

      Libyans sheltering Africans were warned that their homes would be next. Some of Libya’s indigenous 1m black citizens were mistaken for migrants, and dragged from taxis. In parts of Benghazi, blacks were barred from public transport and hospitals. Pitched battles erupted in Zawiya, a town near Tripoli that is ringed with migrant shantytowns. Diplomats said that at least 150 people were killed, 16 of them Libyans. The all-powerful security forces intervened by shooting into the air.

      Later, when the regime itself was the target, these same forces would not hesitate at shooting into the crowds.

      African migrants, unfairly blamed for the disaster, were detained en masse. They once numbered over 1m but diplomats say that they have now mostly disappeared from the streets, and are in hiding or in camps pending expulsion. Over the past fortnight, hundreds of thousands of black migrants have been herded into trucks and buses, driven in convoy towards the border with Niger and Chad, 1,600km (1,000 miles) south of Tripoli, and dumped in the desert.

      This was Mummar Qaddafi’s policy, his government organized the rounding up, transport and dumping of hundreds of thousands of African immigrants in the desert.

      Migrants from countries without land links to Libya, including 5,000 Nigerians and nearly the same number of Ghanaians, are being airlifted out. Hundreds more are languishing in three scrubland camps ringing Tripoli airport waiting for flights. There is no medical care for the black Africans, many of whom have broken limbs or stab wounds.

      This article also gives us more on background:

      Anti-black violence had been simmering for months, fired by an economic crisis. Colonel Qaddafi heads Africa’s richest state in terms of income per person. This year oil will earn him $11 billion. But Libyans, feeding their families on monthly salaries of $170, see the money squandered on foreign adventures, the latest of which is the colonel’s pan-Africa policy. As billions flowed out in aid, and visa-less migrants flowed in, Libyans feared they were being turned into a minority in their own land. Church attendance soared in this Muslim state. So did crime, drugs, prostitution and reports of AIDS.

      A history of racism fanned the flames. Libyans were slave-trading until the 1930s and, under Italian colonial rule, they saw themselves as Mediterranean, calling Africans chocalatinos. Black-bashing has become a popular afternoon sport for Libya’s unemployed youths. The rumour that a Nigerian had raped a Libyan girl in Zawiya was enough to spark a spree of ethnic cleansing. More…

      And all this happened more than a dozen years ago, under Colonel Mummar Qaddafi’s leadership.

      Some “leftists” use historic Libyan racism as a weapon against the revolution, I see the revolution as a weapon against racism #Libya #Feb17— Clay Claiborne (@clayclai) September 10, 2011

      So racism is not a new problem in Libya. It did not arise with the movement to overthrow Qaddafi, nor will it be vanquished overnight. I aim my writings on this subject at the Libyan revolutionaries with an eye to contributing towards a solution.

      Not so these anti-interventionists turned counter-revolutionaries. They see in Libyan racism, a chance to attack the revolution so they go to great lengths to paint a picture of racism whenever they can. For example, it is an unfortunate feature of Arabic that the word for Black[the race] and the word for slave are the same, so the name of this brigade, as translated by someone looking to make a point, might be misleading.

      And while it is true that almost everyone was run out of Tawergha, a town of 30,000 that played a particularly cruel role in the months long bloody siege of Misrata, I don’t think it fair to call it ethnic cleansing or to attribute the targeting of people from Tawergha to racism and not revenge. Black townships generally have not been targeted and Tawergha itself was not ethnically cleansed, everyone was run out, Black and Arabic alike.

      • Aaron Aarons

        The first thing to notice is that the comments about the Libyan economy, about pan-Africanism, and in explanation/quasi-justification of Arab Libyan hostility towards Black migrants are what would be expected from a right-wing imperialist-capitalist rag like The Economist.

        I find it interesting that neither side of the debate about imperialist intervention saw fit to go into this issue much, if at all, while the war for Libya was going on. But, if this portrayal of Arab Libyan anti-African racism just a dozen years ago is at all accurate, it only reinforces my position that what the majority of Libyans may have wanted should not have been a major consideration for internationalist anti-imperialists in deciding on how to react to the conflict. In fact, it might have been a good thing if Benghazi had been destroyed, regardless of whether Gaddafi had been overthrown or not.

        • http://linuxbeach.net Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

          it might have been a good thing if Benghazi had been destroyed
          Then you must be really tickled about what is happening in Syria today. Comments like yours and this one I just receive in response to an email about the Syria blackout show how bankrupt the Left is.

          They don’t need your help who is being a servant of the Imperialist and the Zionist to destroy Syria.

          As long as opinions like these aren’t casted out of the Left, the Left has no future.

          And BTW, the bulk of the racists violence in Libra in Sept. 2000 took place in Tripoli not Benghazi. It was in Tripoli that 100 Blacks were murdered.

          You want to nuke all of Libya now?

          BTW, I’ve had to live with racism all my life. What’s the basis for your irrational “outrage”?

          • Aaron Aarons

            (1) I don’t see much similarity between Syria and Libya. In particular, the working-class of Syria is almost all Syrian, while in Libya the heart of the proletariat has been foreign workers, Black as well as Arab and others, while the white Libyan population has been, to a great extent, rentiers. (And, therefore, much or even most of the proletariat of Libya, even more so than in the United Snakes, can’t vote in their ‘democracy’!)

            (2) I take back my hasty remark about Benghazi and, no, I don’t want to nuke anybody. (I do think, though, that a small nuke on the right spot in each of Arlington and Langley might do more good than harm, overall. ;-) )

            (3) Unlike Barack Obama, Susan Rice, Eric Holder, Condoleezza Rice, Alan West, and thousands of ANC frontmen for South African capital, I haven’t “had to live with racism all my life.” Does that mean I should defer to them in my reactions to white supremacy?

            (4) I’m not sure what the quote from an anonymous email you received shows about “the Left”. But if “the Left” were a coherent-enough entity to “cast out” any opinions, then it certainly would long ago have cast out those of posters ‘Arthur’ and Patrick Muldowney (“patrickm”), and perhaps yours and those of Louis Proyect, Pham Binh, et al.. As it is, the anti-imperialist left and the “humanitarian”-interventionist pseudo-left will both proclaim themselves to be “the Left” and neither can stop the other from doing so.

        • Brian S.

          @AaronAarons et al:. I was not familiar with the 2000 events in Libya, and acknowledge that it heightens concerns about some events during the revolution.
          I accept that there may have been a current of racism in the treatment of black people during the revolution, but a number of things should be noted:
          – the main area where the accusation of racism has been raised is the treatment of African migrant workers in the early weeks of the revolution. There is no doubt that there was a “moral panic”, in eastern Libya in particular, over “African mercenaries” that led to a large number of innocent migrant workers being detained in harsh conditions. This was exposed very early on by Human Rights Watch and AI, both of whom indicated that these detainees were released once they had intervened, and that there was no loss of life involved. There is some indication that a smaller number of migrant workers may still be caught up in this situation – but again no evidence that loss of life is involved.
          – The attempt by opponents of the revolution to turn this into a general “racist” narrative has one big flaw: the large number of black (ie people “of African appearance”) who were active participants (sometime in leading roles) in the rebel forces. If you look through the tv/video records of rebels in action, you will find it difficult to locate one in which there are not black revolutionaries.
          – The strongest evidence for a “racist” side to the revolutionary forces is the treatment of Tawergha. This is an undeniable blemish on the revolution and should be unconditionally condemned: but it is a very specific situation that arises from the protracted siege of Misrata, in which Gaddafi forces used Tawergha as base to shell and launch punitive attacks on the city , and some Tawergha residents were involved. It is quite wrong for the Misratans to impose “collective guilt” on Tawergha’s inhabitants as a whole (although I note it is the same principle you seem to apply to Benaghazi) but it is not a general feature of the Libyan revolution.

          • http://linuxbeach.net Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

            With regards to Tawargha, this is part of what I wrote in Amnesty International on Libya again

            Because most people from Tawargha are black, much has been made of these revenge attacks by some in the pro-Qaddafi and anti-interventionists camps. They see them as racists attacks, pure and simple, and display them as proof that the revolution is “not progressive in anyway.”

            While racism by Arabs against black Africans in Libya is a problem of long standing which I have examined elsewhere, most notably in Racism in Libya, there is reason to believe that the suppression of Tawargha and its people has much less to do with racism than these people think and more to do with simple revenge. Certainly, there is enough reason in the realities of the war immediately past to understand the animosity between these two groups without falling back on any color difference. The descriptions of the abuses in the Amnesty document don’t look like racism, in fact many can be read the other way entirely. For example, they describe the abuse a 45-year-old army officer from Tripoli of Tawargha origin while he was being held at a militia’s detention facility in Tripoli:

            [He said] “They also subjected me to electric shocks through live wires while I was lying on the floor. They put the electricity to different parts of my body including my wrists and toes. At one point I fainted and they threw water at me to wake me up.

            He said that he believes that the only reason he was detained was that a colleague reported him to the militia for being of Tawargha origin.

            Another way to say that is to say that he wasn’t detained because he was black, they already knew he was black, he was detained and tortured after they found out that he was from Tawargha.

            I am in no way trying to justify the mistreatment of Libyans from Tawargha. That has to end and that town eventually has to be restored. I only point this out because so many people on the left are only too happy to brand this treatment racist and use it to condemn the whole revolution.

  • Louis Proyect

    While in Rome Gaddafi advised Europeans to convert to Islam and sought to bolster his claim for billions from Europe by warning that millions of Africans were seeking to migrate to the EU.

    “We don’t know what will be the reaction of the white and Christian Europeans faced with this influx of starving and ignorant Africans,” the Libyan leader told a Rome meeting attended by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister. “We don’t know if Europe will remain an advanced and united continent or if it will be destroyed, as happened with the barbarian invasions.”

    Relations between Berlusconi and Gaddafi are strong, based on booming business ties and repression of immigrants. Under a much-criticised deal struck two years ago, Italian border patrols in the Mediterranean are turning back thousands of migrants at sea. They are returned to Libya without being screened for legitimate political asylum cases.

    “Europe needs to finally get a migration policy, giving plenty of funds to the migrants’ countries of origin and helping transit countries facing a huge burden,” Frattini said.

    The Rome-Tripoli accord has decreased the numbers of illegal migrants coming into the EU. According to one set of EU figures, the number of illegal immigrants last year fell by more than three quarters to 7,300.

    full: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/qaddafi-demands-5-billion-euros-to-keep-europe-white/

  • Brian S.

    Clay’s acccount is, I think, broadly correct, but oversimplifies the problems involved in the Bani Walid operation. Bani Walid was treated fairly generously after its surrender to NTC forces in September 2011. The negotiated surrender meant that armed pro-Gaddafi militias were left intact in the city, and an unstable conflict continued to simmer throughout the subsequent months, culminating in a serious clash in January of this year. Most of these conflicts were resolved by mediation, and the January conflict resolved by an agreement to allow a council of local tribal elders to take over from the former pro-NTC council. (There is a reasonable, if not always accurate, account on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Bani_Walid_uprising)
    But this seems to have encouraged the pro-Gaddafi groups to continue violent actions. culminating in the kidnap in July of a group of Misratan tv journalists and as, Clay’s account describes, of Omran Shabaan, one of the Misratan rebel fighters involved in the capture of Gaddafi, who subsequently died of his injuries.
    Its clear that government authority needed to be asserted over Bani Walid, and the perpetrators of these acts brought to justice. But there are questions about how well this was handled. There are indications that attempts at finding a mediated resolution were cut short by impatient elements in Misrata (although it could be argued that the previous failure of mediated settlements gave grounds for this). The lines of command and responsibility of the military operation were very unclear in the opening days; it was ill-advised to have the Misratan militia take up the initial leading role, given that they had a clear grudge agenda; and while there was an opportunity offered to residents of the city to leave before the assault began (apparently obstructed by pro-Gaddafi groups who blocked people leaving) once operations started they appear to involve considerable indiscriminate shelling.
    James’ comments, it must be said are very wide of the mark. The Bani Walid operation, whatever errors were associated with it, is evidence that Libya is not a “failed state” – a “failed state” could not have been able to assert its authority in this way. Libya is a WEAK state, emerging from a difficult period of conflict, and just starting to build new institutions. It has had successes, failures, and some serious stains on its record (like the treatment of the Tawerghans – although this is a event that is usually oversimplified) . To claim that it has seen “human rights abuses on an unprecedented scale” is nonsense. What similar “precedents” have produced fewer human rights abuses in their train? None that I can think of.
    Polls (and other evidence)indicate that about 20% of the population are hostile to the revolution – a clear minority but a significant one. So there is a lot of national reconciliation work to be done alongside physical reconstruction, and it appears that ordinary Libyans are beginning to suffer from significant “political fatigue”. So the future remains uncertain – but not without considerable hope.

  • Aaron Aarons

    Regardless of the merits and demerits of the former Libyan government, and there were both, or the accuracy of RT reporting, repeatedly calling the armed supporters of the present, pro-Western, Libyan government “revolutionaries” and those who are resisting them “counter-revolutionary” is obscene.

    Is any real leftist, as opposed to a pro-imperialist pseudo-leftist, supposed to be influenced (except perhaps in a direction opposite to that intended) by the fact that “Grand Mufti Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ghariani has reaffirmed his support for the recent military action against Bani Walid, […]” or that the Secretary General of the United Nations, who holds his job thanks to U.S. support “[…] is of the firm conviction that the Libyan authorities must be able to extend Libyan sovereignty and state control and services throughout the territory of Libya”?

    And regarding the “nationwide mass protests against the militias following the Benghazi consulate attack”, shouldn’t any real leftist rejoice over the destruction of what has been revealed to be a major center of CIA operations in the region?

    • Brian S.

      Where there are revolutions there are counter-revolutions, so I don’t see what is wrong with calling something by its proper name, although one shouldn’t lump the entire population of Bani Walid into te same category. same bush. I know from previous posts that you are quite happy to see “left” policies imposed on people by force, so I can see why you might find soulmates in the Libyan counter-revolutionaries.But others will have more respect for the democratic choices of a society, even when we may disagree with them.

      • who are the brain police

        The policies of the democrat are forced upon the minority by the majority. How is this different than subjected socialism? Liberty is achieved through self governance, and capitalism provides the means to maintain this freedom and care for the needy. Bani Walid made local political decisions that were beneficial to their community. National government, more likely Misrata militia had scores to settle and democracy was not going to get in the way. So much for the independent liberty of Bani Walid.

        • Brian S.

          @who are the brain police. Democracy (bourgeois or otherwise) is one way of making collective decisions and regulating the relationship between minorities and majorities. True, it obliges minorities to go along with majority decisions in many circumstances, but in its better forms it includes extensive rights for minorities, including often local autonomy over certain decisions. As both Clay and I pointed out, Bani Walid was given considerable autonomy of this sort after the revolution, despite many of its inhabitants having supported Gaddafi, including the recognition of their own form of local government. I don’t have sufficient information to determine whether this body “made local political decisions that were beneficial to their community.” If you do, I’d be very interested to hear more about it. But what they did do was provide protection for elements in the city who were mounting violent actions against supporters of the revolution elsewhere. This went far beyond any definition of “local autonomy” and doesn’t seem to me to have been beneficial to anyone.

    • http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Clay%20Claiborne/ Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

      I quoted those sources because I agree with what they said in those quotes and they do have influence among many people. Remember this was first published in the Daily Kos and meant to influence a much wider audience than the “left.”

      And since any US consulate or embassy any where in the world can be regarded as “a major center of CIA operations in the region”, I don’t run with “real leftist” that would celebrate terrorist attacks on those buildings on general principal and without regards to the concrete conditions.

      • Aaron Aarons

        Perhaps, Clay, you are familiar with the old riddle that has circulated on the left for decades:

        Q: Why will there be no military coup in the United States:
        A: Because there is no U.S. embassy there.

        Regardless of whether one thinks such an attack is appropriate or useful in any particular situation, an attack on such an imperialist establishment as any U.S. embassy, consulate or ‘diplomatic post’ (the official description of the place where the U.S. ambassador was killed), is not a “terrorist” action, but an act of asymmetric warfare. However, there is NO controversy over the fact that the second location attacked that night was, in fact, a CIA operations center, and one can be reasonably certain that its work was coordinated with the open ‘diplomatic’ activity at the first location.

  • James

    It baffles me western leftists are still under the impression that the events in Libya were anything other than a reactionary imperialist backed coup from start to finish. Britain-US-France-Qatar-Saudi Arabia are not in the business of supporting progressive revolutions.

    The ‘rebels’ were made up of the most reactionary elements of Libyans inside the country and exiled community who had a long history of western intelligence support and undertaking western-backed rebellions through the 80’s and 90’s.

    The NATO led opposition was largely made up of; Neo-liberal imperialist backed exiled groups such as The National front for the Salvation of Libya, reactionary neo-liberal elements of the Libyan government, pro-western monarchist tribes still reeling from their loss of ruling class status after the overthrow of King Idris and Wahhabi/Salafi Islamist groups such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who opposed Libya’s secularism and saw Gaddafi as an apostate for rejecting parts of the Qaran.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/who-are-real-libyan-opposition-277421

    Both the NFSL and LIFG undertook a number of imperialist backed rebellions through the 80’s and 90’s.
    The CIA backed National Front for the Salvation of Libya were instrumental in leading the 2011 rebellion. This group along with other western exiled groups called for the ‘day of rage’ on the 17th Feb 2011 and then requested that NATO bomb their own country. NFSL were based in London and Washington and undertook several CIA supported rebellions against the Libyan government in the 80’s and 90’s. The founder of NFSL, Mohammed Magariaf has spent the last few decades in the US and is now the effective head of the Libyan state. NFSL general Khalifa Hafter was parachuted into Libya from the US at the start of the conflict to lead the rebellion and is now the commander of the Libyan National Army.

    • Brian S.

      @James. You obviously like amalgams, James. You refer to “western leftists” as if they were an homogenous block. If you knew anything about the “western left” you would know that most organised far-left currents have views similar to your own. You just happen to have landed on one of the sites that tends to favour a different view.
      Your treatment of Libya displays a similar confusion. The article that you posted a link to doesn’t back up any of your claims. It simply provides “a glimpse into some of the major Libyan opposition outfits that have been fighting Gaddafi overtly or covertly in the last three decades”. It doesn’t claim that these were behind the 2011 revolt, and certainly doesn’t try to turn them into a single heady amalgam of “reaction” as you do
      In fact, most of the groups it describes had become more or less dormant by 2011, although some individuals returned to political life and took part in the uprising. But the main driving force behind the revolution was a popular revolt, particularly of politically and socially frustrated young people from the urban areas (working class and middle class), supported by defecting officers and soldiers from Gaddafi’s army, and some small, semi-organised Islamist groups.
      I think you misunderstand the terms of the debate here over Libya. Its not that any of us are under the illusion that the revolution was led by “left” forces (although it was certainly led by popular ones) – its just that we know a bankrupt repressive dictatorship when we see one; and we regard its overthrow by popular forces and a move to a situation in which the Libyan people have basic democratic rights as “progressive” by definition. How exactly Libya will evolve politically is an open question – but I am fairly confident that the Libyan people will make their voices heard in this process, now that they have the means to do so.
      A factual point: Khalifa Hifter never “led the rebelllion”: he held a senior military position with the National Transitional Council (which had little influence on the ground) for a couple of months but was soon sidelined by Abdel Fatah Younis (leading to much disappointment among western conspiracy theorists). He is NOT the commander of the Libyan army – that is Yousef Mangoush. Haftar was last seen in public almost a year ago, when he was being shot at by the Zintani militia guarding Tripoli Airport.

      • Joe Vaughan

        Britain-US-France-Qatar-Saudi Arabia are not in the business of supporting progressive revolutions.

        Since when do people “in … business”–any business–always act with such flawless logic that nobody can use their initiatives against them, or at least exploit those initiatives in some unintended fashion?

        And why should a revolution be expected to emerge from civil war without any contradictions or cross-currents, when the evidence of history suggests that most revolutions are full of such things, and never more than at such a time?

        Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, for example, in welcoming Senators Graham, McCain et al in September 2011 was either playing a very deep game or reflected a tendency in the “transitional regime” that merits suspicion. One can’t imagine the Libyan people benefiting in the long run from the “assistance” of such people, or from the predations of “Western” banksters against Libya’s sovereign wealth funds. Did this tendency in Libya disappear with the end of the NTC? It hardly seems likely.

        But these and other legitimate concerns are still no reason to suppose that Qaddafi–the murdering, thieving tyrant, incoherent ideologue, and dear friend of Tony Blair and Condoleeza Rice–must therefore have been the People’s Glorious Hero and that all enemies of Qaddafi are necessarily imperialist dupes.

  • Louis Proyect

    @James: The ‘rebels’ were made up of the most reactionary elements of Libyans inside the country and exiled community who had a long history of western intelligence support and undertaking western-backed rebellions through the 80’s and 90’s.

    In fact the core of the resistance to Qaddafi were men who fought to oust US imperialism from Iraq.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/04/19/destination-martyrdom.html

    Late last year American soldiers raided an insurgent headquarters in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar. Inside they found a document—perhaps an application form that Abd al-Salam had filled out on his way into the country—on the letterhead of the “Mujahedin Shura Council.” The document listed little beyond Abd al-Salam’s birthday, his brother’s phone number and his hometown. Yet as they analyzed the papers, American investigators were struck by one thing. Of the 606 militants cataloged in the Sinjar records, almost 19 percent had come to Iraq from Libya. Previous intelligence estimates had always held that the bulk of Iraq’s foreign fighters come from Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the largest number of militants in the Sinjar records—244 of them—were Saudi nationals. But in per capita terms, Libyans represented a much higher percentage. Perhaps the most startling detail: of 112 Libyan fighters named in the papers, an astoundingly large number—52—had come from a single town of 50,000 people along the Mediterranean coast, called Darnah.

    That, naturally, is what led to Qaddafi doing yeoman service for the “war on terror”:

    http://publicintelligence.net/documents-detail-cia-mi6-relationship-with-qaddafi/

    • Aaron Aarons

      Louis writes: “In fact the core of the resistance to Qaddafi were men who fought to oust US imperialism from Iraq.”

      To the extent they did that, they were doing a good thing for, in general, bad reasons. But it’s likely that such people were also responsible for much of the sectarian violence against Shia in Iraq as well, so their overall contribution to the struggle in Iraq was very possibly negative from just about any ‘left’ point of view. In any case, in Libya they were working WITH Western imperialism, so the good side of their actions in Iraq didn’t carry over to their actions in Libya.

      • Brian S.

        @Aaron Well, this is all a bit speculative. And in Libya they weren’t working “with western imperialism” – western imperialism was” working with them” (and whatever the logicians may tell you those two propositions are not equivalent )

      • Arthur

        Wow! Even Aaron Aarons thinks the mass murder attacks on Shia was a “very possibly negative” contribution while Louis Proyect hails them as “the core of the resistance to Qaddafi” and Brian S waffles.

        The people who fought in Iraq were primarily fighting the Iraqi people not US imperialism. They are a significant problem in Libya (being dealt with following the consulate attack) and an even more significant problem in Syria (not yet dealt with). They are far worse fascists than even the Assad regime and it is pure slander of the Libyan and Syrian revolutions to pretend that these mass murderers are the core of the resistance rather than opportunists infiltrating the resistance.

        • Brian S.

          @Arthur. I wasn’t “waffling”, I was keeping on topic (if admittedly, rather minimalistically) – which if you look at the thread is LIBYA..

          • Brian S.

            If I can “reply” to myself (really a PS)- the reason I described Aaron’s remarks as “speculative” is that its not clear who exactly we are talking about and therefore exactly what it was they were involved in in Iraq. This may not be a problem for Arthur and co. because they can casually equate the US forces in Iraq with “the Iraqi people” (something the real “Iraqi people” did not do).
            Louis may have overstated the role of Islamist forces in the Libyan revolution – but it was certainly significant and this is a very unclear area. They certainly weren’t “opportunists infiltrating the resistance” – they were important enough for Islamist militias to be able to hold on to influence in Eastern Libya until the recent popular backlash with protection from other political forces.

            • Arthur

              Islamists are obviously at the core in Libya, Syria and Iraq (and Egypt and Tunisia).

              Jihadis who went to Iraq to fight the “Persians” (ie Iraqi Shia) are a different matter. They are present but not the core and not to be welcomed.

              • Brian S.

                @Arthur. But was this the motivation or actions of the Libyans who went to Iraq ?

              • Louis Proyect

                Arthur, you are a very silly thing and as much of a troll as Aaron Aarons.

                • Arthur

                  Louis, thanks for the impressive follow up to your briliant analysis that mass murdering fascists are the core of the revolutionary forces.

        • Aaron Aarons

          Arthur wrote: ‘Even Aaron Aarons thinks the mass murder attacks on Shia was a “very possibly negative” contribution […]’

          I was not in any way equivocal about sectarian violence against Shia being a bad thing. What I characterized as only “very possibly negative” was the overall contribution of an informal group of people who, as a totality, were involved in both anti-imperialist actions and sectarian violence against Shia. Without actually knowing how much sectarian violence those people were responsible for versus how much they fought against imperialist occupation forces, I can only make the inconclusive statement I actually made.

  • James

    Firstly, despite reports, Bani Walid did not surrender; tribal leaders from Bani Walid signed a truce after resisting the largest imperialist coalition air force ever assembled for 9 months. ‘Rebels’ began harassing the residents of Bani Walid and were thrown out in February 2012 as a result.

    The Libyan government, in a climate of competing tribes were reluctant to intervene through fear of upsetting the Werfalla Tribe who are by far the largest tribe in Libya numbering 1-2 million Libyans across the country (and were overwhelmingly opposed to the NATO-backed rebellion).

    Bani Walid was in fact an example of successful autonomy and self governance. The city provided refuge for many Tawerghans escaping racist persecution elsewhere in the country and militias were prevented from looting and burning homes…

    http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=54870

    The tribes in Misrata and the Werfalla Tribe based in Bani Walid have a rivalry going back a century. What happened recently in Bani Walid was not the ‘state’ asserting ‘its authority’, but heavily armed groups largely from Misrata using the opportunity of chaos in Libya to attack their long term rivals – after the militia entered Bani Walid homes, businesses and public buildings were looted, shelled and burnt.

    In 1920 Misratan strongman Ramadan Suwahli, under the advice colonial Italy attacked Bani Walid in a bid to gain a larger influence over Libya. He was killed in the battle. When Misratan ‘rebels’ recently entered Bani Walid they held aloft pictures of Ramadan Suwahli – this conflict clearly has deeper roots than you’re alluding to.

    Libyan Defence Minister “The chief of staff has no control over the town and therefore armed men are able to prevent families from coming back,” Osama al-Jueili told journalists in Tripoli, adding that “gunmen” hold a checkpoint leading to the town.
    “The town is completely empty except for a small number of people who are living in tragic conditions; there is no activity; the impact of shelling is visible everywhere,” the minister said.
    http://www.france24.com/en/20121030-libya-army-has-no-control-bani-walid-defence-minister?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    Doesn’t seem like the state had any ‘authority’ over the events in Bani Walid…

    ‘’Polls (and other evidence)indicate that about 20% of the population are hostile to the revolution – a clear minority but a significant one.’’

    I’m not sure polls taken in a climate where Libya has the highest incarceration rate without trial in the world and torture is utilised on a widespread systematic scale are much use.

    One thing is certain; there was huge opposition to NATO and their ‘rebels’ from Libyans in the West and South of the country.

  • Brian S.

    I won’t quibble over whether Bani Walid’s capitulation to NTC forces in October 2011 was a “surrender” or not: its true, as I pointed out, that they were left considerable autonomy to run their own affairs. I don’t have first hand information that would allow me to judge the quality of Bani Walid’s internal governance under the tribal council. You have your version (based on what you don’t tell us) but there are certainly other stories to be told – http://www.libyaherald.com/2012/10/27/bani-walid-operation-a-necessary-evil/
    You do have a taste for hyperbole: “after resisting the largest imperialist coalition air force ever assembled for 9 months” . The battle for Bani Walid took place over 40 DAYS.
    Its true that there is an historic conflict between Bani Walid and Misrata, dating back to the Tripoli Republic of 1918-22 (again there are other versions of this history) but its debatable whether this historic conflict played a significant role in recent events – the Misratans had much more contemporary issues on their minds; and the forces involved in the siege of the city were not just drawn from Misrata.
    The continued detention of people without trial is a serious issue, and one that the Libyan government needs to recitfy urgently: but its not that exceptional in a conflict situation like this.For example, the proportion of detainees in Libya is similar pro rata to the proportion held by Allied occupation forces in Germany after 1945 (and for a similar period)
    You cite the demonstrations held in Tripoli(and elsewhere) in July 2011 as evidence of “huge opposition” to the revolution. What strikes me is that in six months of conflict the regime was unable (or, more likely, too afraid) to mount any mass mobilisations until this final hour. Its true that the Tripoli demonstration was very large: but is it so surprising that a regime which had monopolised political life for 40 years, which had the only significant organisational network in the country, which could command the support of the large state bureaucracy, and which had a pervasive security apparatus, should be able to turn out a large crowd? To me this looks like passive support, which would rapidly melt away once the regime’s instruments of power had collapsed. Its thus not inconsistent with the polls.

  • http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Clay%20Claiborne/ Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

    I just published Bani Walid Revisited at the Daily Kos in which I answer some of the criticisms made here. I quote James comment and speak to it directly. I also draw some lessons from Lenin’s The State and Revolution.

    This afternoon I will be responding to comments there and will be posted a few more here as well.

    • Brian S.

      @Clay / Admin: I wonder if we could get a fresh thread based on this: either a reposting of Clay’s piece or perhaps a summary of it (since its pretty long) or even just a title with a link: this thread is overburdened and we can’t carry the discussion further here efficiently.

      • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

        His piece will be republished here soon but with links to various Marxists texts and some beautiful photos from Libya.

        • Brian S.

          Thanks

  • James

    It would be useful to know whether you supported NATO ‘intervention’ and if so on what grounds. So far the position you’ve taken on Libya could have come straight from the US State Department – any analysis which deviates from this line you dismiss as insignificant or ‘conspiracy theory’

    What is astounding is the glaring omission here of the significant role of imperialism and NATO in the conflict. It’s completely ignored or bizarrely dismissed. If indeed history’s most notable imperialist powers of the US, Britain and France did blitz a country in support of ‘popular forces’ leading to a more ‘progressive’ Libya I’d have to abandon hundreds of years of history and any notion of anti-imperialist politics. However I’m not quite ready to be converted to the idea that NATO play a righteous role in the world just yet.

    The opposition groups I linked to were at the forefront of fomenting the rebellion (NFSL along with other London and Washington based expat groups called for the ‘day of rage’), disseminating propaganda to justify NATO intervention, calling on NATO to bomb Libya and then taking up leadership roles within the NTC.

    If you reject that forces which call on the imperialist powers to bomb their own country then fight alongside NATO Special Forces and under the cover of NATO jets to install a state more beneficial to western capitalist interests (at a time of economic crisis) as ‘reactionary’ then we share no common ground.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

      Imperialism put Lenin on a train in 1917 and made the Russian revolution possible. I guess we should disown that as well.

      The Libyan revolution successfully co-opted imperialism to complete their democratic revolution. Does it matter what Libyans on the ground wanted and demanded? There were huge mass demonstrations in Benghazi calling for a no-fly zone in the lead up to NATO’s military action. That had zero to do with anything with any expat in London wanted.

      • Aaron Aarons

        It wasn’t “imperialism” that “put Lenin on a train in 1917 and made the Russian revolution possible.” It was one imperialist power trying to weaken a rival imperialist bloc with which it was at war. Moreover, by the time Lenin, et al., got on that train, the German-led imperialist bloc was clearly the weaker such alliance, with the U.S. about to enter the war on the side of the British-led bloc. As I have pointed out before, this was a totally different situation from any of the recent conflicts that have pitted the U.S. superpower and some allies against far weaker forces and where any genuine leftist would recognize that the weakening of the U.S. is the most important thing to work for.

        • http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Clay%20Claiborne/ Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

          @AA You say “the weakening of the U.S. is the most important thing to work for.” I disagree – strengthening the revolutionary forces is the most important thing to work for. They are not they same thing – especially in a period of declining US dominance, which is were we are at.

          With regards to the recent NATO intervention in Libya, the only parallel to Lenin making his train is to point out that sometimes individual imperialist actors find it expedient to go against their general class interest and that under these circumstances even the most revolutionary of forces [Lenin] can have alliances with these reactionary forces.

          Beyond that, naturally, the circumstances surrounding Libya are completely different.

          In the case of Libya, I believe that owing to the acute economic crisis in 2011, certain NATO countries couldn’t afford to have Libyan oil off the market for an extended period. The reason for this has to do with the particularly wax free nature of Libyan oil and other reasons that are beyond the scope..

          In any case, because of this, after giving Qaddafi a month to settle it his way, and seeing that the uprising would not be easily crushed, they elected to follow that oldest of capitalist strategies, if you can’t beat it – join it, and support the revolution with air power so that it would succeed quickly.

          In this way, NATO was able to succeed in its primary objective – getting Libyan oil back on line quickly. And it is. Back up to 90% of Qaddafi levels months ago. Imagine the problems for France and Italy [who have refineries engineered only for Libyan oil and play leading roles in NATO efforts coincidently] now if they were still slugging it out in Libya they way they are in Syria.

          Getting the oil flowing ASAP was also a goal of the revolution. Therefore a deal with the devil could be made in this case.

          Fortunately for world history, they were able to see this even if most western leftist couldn’t.

          They were able to bargain for air support and no boots on the ground and little else that gave the imperialist leverage to taint their revolution.

          But, hey, they are getting their oil. So it was a good bargain all round.

          • Aaron Aarons

            I’m still waiting for any evidence that there was/is any liberatory social content to this ‘revolution’. But, just as important is the question of how it has affected the relationship of forces vis-a-vis imperialism and global capitalism. And, while U.S. imperialism may not be as overwhelmingly dominant as it was immediately after the fall of the USSR, it is still the major military and, to a great extent, economic and political bastion of capitalist devastation of the world.

            • http://linuxbeach.net Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

              As to liberatory content, this sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore, from 2011-07-01 Qaddafi’s Million Man March:

              Ahmed went missing in Tripoli near the very beginning of the uprising. His family now believes that he was arrested on February 22 and taken to the notorious Adu Salim prison with many others. At the time they assumed he had been shot dead and disappeared by soldiers, mercenaries or one of Qaddafi’s security services, like so many others.

              So when a member of one Qaddafi’s revolutionary committees told Ahmed’s father, “We have your son, he is being held at Abu Salim prison. If your family does not come out to demonstrate on Friday you will never see your son again.”, they paid him no never-mind and an extended clan of around 50 adult males and family refused to attend the rally. A few hours after the rally Ahmed’s still warm body was dumped outside the family home with two bullets in his head.

              • Aaron Aarons

                Back when this alleged incident was first posted, there might have been reason to not identify the persons making the allegation. But it’s been over a year now since Qaddafi and his supporters were defeated, so there should be thousands of people in Tripoli willing to testify to the bribery and coercion allegedly used to get them or persons they personally know to the pro-government demonstration. Where are the testimonies, formal or informal, to that effect?

            • Brian S.

              @AaronAarons: I don’t know how you define “liberatory social content” but I would imagine that being able tovoice your views and have a good grumble against the powers that be without having to look over your shoulder to see if there are members of the security service around feels fairly “libeating” to those who haven’t been able to do it for several decades.

    • Brian S.

      @James: Its not clear to me if your questions were directed to me (as the last poster to take up your arguments) or the author of the thread. I’ll take it as the former (apologies if I’ve got it wrong)
      I’ll skip all the hot air about ” straight from the US State Department ” (you obviously don’t follow State department deliberations very closely, otherwise you’d realise how uncertain they were at the onset of the Libyan revolt)
      My concern is to establish a basis for serious debate – and that means critically evaluated factual evidence; logical reasoning; and openness to alternative views (when they meet the previous two criteria).
      To take your points sequentially:
      1. “The opposition groups I linked to were at the forefront of fomenting the rebellion”. You didn’t link to any opposition groups – you cited ONE anonymous piece of desk-based journalism from a western source of indeterminate credibility. Even this didn’t confirm most of what you were arguing, apart from the undocumented assertion that the “NCLO was instrumental in organizing the ‘Day of Rage’ in Libya,”. The only problem is, there is no evidence for this. If you look systematically through the various web sources on the NCLO (and its constituents) you will find, as I pointed out , that it was a moribund expat organisation with no influence inside Libya. In the words of Vijay Prashad, “The conference collapsed in 2008.”
      Prashad, an analyst with political views similar to your own and in his time partial to the odd conspiracy theory over Libya, confirms in his recent book Arab Spring, Libyan Winter” that the spark for the February rebellion came from the arrest of the independent civil liberties lawyer Fateh Terbil on 15 February and the brutal repression of the ensuing protests.
      2. You seem to suggest some orchestrated transition from western based expat organisations into the leadership of the rebellion. Its true that some NTC members had a history of involvement in anti-Gaddafi opposition groups; but most ( and the key figures) had a very different background: Jibril; Jalil; Younis were all leading members of the Gaddafi regime until the February events broke out. The most vocal advocate of NATO intervention was Ali El-Assawi, Libya’s ambassador to India until 21 February.
      If you can’t find any sympathy for a people faced with brutal repression by a ruthless and corrupt dictatorship, then you’re right – we share no common ground.

  • http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Clay%20Claiborne/ Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

    Yes, it should be up here soon.

  • James

    @Brian S You’ve managed to avoid discussing NATO and imperialism again. How exactly does your analysis of the Libyan conflict differ from the lines coming out of the imperialist epicentres of London, Washington and Paris?

    How does the 2011 rebellion differ from imperialist backed insurgencies in Libya in the 80’s and 90s other than NATO’s leading political and military role in 2011 and its subsequent success? The same groups who undertook insurgencies backed by the west in the 80’s and 90’s led the 2011 rebellion and were eventually bombed into power… Figures from the government and military defected in the previous rebellions (and found refuge in the US/UK after failure along with NFSL, LIFG members).

    How do you justify describing those fighting imperialist NATO-led blitzkrieg as ‘counter-revolutionaries’?

    It is not true that the rebellion spontaneously started on the 15th of February 2011 in response to the arrest of Fathi Terbil (who was released the next day). It is also not true that the NCLO permanently disbanded in 2008. http://www.libya-nclo.com/

    The initial calls for a ‘day of rage’ came from expats outside Libya. Prominent imperialist backed NFSL members (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2trKXaWnsY) as well as the NCLO led the campaign for a ‘Day of Rage’ to take place on 17th February as early as 8th February 2011 with LIFG factions endorsing the calls.

    9th February 2011, Alsharq alawsat (London based Saudi propaganda outlet)
    ‘ Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has dealt with the calls being issued by the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition [NCLO] and Libyan [political] activists for a Libyan “Day of Rage” to take place on 17 February’ http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=1&id=24095

    It is important to note that many NFSL figures are Muslim Brotherhood supporters and much of the Libyan opposition was made up of Islamists. The 17th of February was chosen as it was the 5th anniversary of the Italian consulate riot which left 11 people dead. In February 2006 Islamists from the East of Libya armed with knifes and firebombs tried to storm the Italian Consulate in Benghazi after a right-wing Italian politician wore a t-shirt depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Security forces opened fire and killed 11 people.

    At the start of the rebellion NFSL Colonel Khalifa Hafter arrived from the US to take up a prominent role within the rebellion. NFSL founder Mohammed Magarief is now the effective head of the Libyan state. It’s not credible to undermine NFSL links to western intelligence agencies and dismiss NFSL influence throughout the rebellion.

    Groups such as the expat Libyan League for human rights (part of NCLO) provided the UN Human Rights Council the information for which NATO intervention was based on. The info was accepted without question. LLHR exaggerated the death toll and made unfounded claims that the Libyan government were using ‘African mercenaries’ to suppress the revolt and Libyan Air Force were indiscriminately bombing civilian areas. It was later exposed that their only source of info was Jalil. LLHR disbanded and members took up position in the NTC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU9IzXsALwo

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

      The question is why did so many Libyans in Libya respond to these calls? And where are all the pro-Ghadafi demonstrations now if his regime had such massive popular support?

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

      I hope you are aware that the call to “Occupy Wall Street” came from the Canadian group, AdBusters. Canadian imperialists apparently are pretty slick…

  • James

    Clay Claiborne ‘In the case of Libya, I believe that owing to the acute economic crisis in 2011, certain NATO countries couldn’t afford to have Libyan oil off the market for an extended period. The reason for this has to do with the particularly wax free nature of Libyan oil and other reasons that are beyond the scope..
    In any case, because of this, after giving Qaddafi a month to settle it his way, and seeing that the uprising would not be easily crushed, they elected to follow that oldest of capitalist strategies, if you can’t beat it – join it, and support the revolution with air power so that it would succeed quickly.’

    The West and their gulf allies launched an intense propaganda campaign through February and March to facilitate intervention. NATO deliberately undermined peace efforts from the Libyan government and the African Union in favour of military action to depose the Jamahariyan government. The ‘rebels’ were on the verge of defeat in mid march after the Libyan Army launched an offensive to take back rebel controlled areas. NATO intervened to stop their sponsored rebellion from being crushed. Surely NATO would’ve intervened on the side of the Libyan government if their intervention was aimed at securing the constant flow of oil? This clearly wasn’t the aim though. Despite Libya’s erratic character they have been a thorn in the side of imperialism for decades. As a result they’ve faced sanctions, coups and threats of war over the last 40 years. During the rapprochement period Libya opened up its economy to western investment however still maintained some nationalistic policies and consistently irked foreign investors with renegotiation of deals, constant threats of nationalisation and suggestions that they were on the verge of ditching the West in favour of Russia and China.

    Libya had recently made foreign oil firms agree to a much lower share of crude oil production (50% down to 27%); it had refused to sign the US military charter for Africa; no foreign firm could undertake business in Libya without at least a 35% share owned by a Libyan individual or company; plans were underway to introduce the gold dinar (single currency for Africa) and establish the African Monetary fund challenging IMF’s domination of Africa.

    Multinational companies were on the verge of pulling out of Libya before the NATO-backed rebellion.

    http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/22/libya-gaddafi-oil-biz-energy-cx_ch_0122libya.html

    http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Report-From-Libya-Oil-Majors-Were-Ready-To-Walk-Before-Trouble-Started.html

    NATO intervention was aimed at installing a pliant state that was more reliable and beneficial to western economic interests at a time of economic crisis whilst combating and isolating China and Russia from African markets.

    • Louis Proyect

      @James: it had refused to sign the US military charter for Africa

      The Qaddafi regime took IMET (International Military Education and Training) funding from the US in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and has other special training programs.

      Also the US General in charge of AFRICOM met with the so called “Great Leader” twice.

      http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=3080

      U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell Arrives in Tubruq, Libya
      Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U..S. Naval Forces Africa

      To read more about the Libyan delegation’s visit to U.S. Africa Command, visit http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=3486&lang=0.

      U.S. Africa Command waited to publish the transcript until the article appeared in Al Musellh magazine.

      The Arabic version of the transcript is posted at: http://www.africom.mil/file.asp?pdfID=20091215182659.

      The complete English transcript of the interview is available below:

      COL. MOHAMED: First thing I would like to ask you about: During your last visit to Libya, you have met with our leader al-Qaddafi. We would like to ask about, what’s your impression of the leader Muammar al-Qaddafi? How was your meeting with him? And what are the results of that visit?

      GEN. WILLIAM E. WARD: Okay, well, during my last visit to Tripoli I had a very good meeting with the Leader. He and I were able to talk about my command; we were able to give him some thoughts on the United States Africa Command and what the command is about. And I think because of that, we gave him additional information that enabled him to have a better understanding of the command.

      It was explained to him that we were there not to threaten the sovereignty of any nation; that we were there to work in close cooperation but only among those things that the nations wanted us to do. And to all of those purposes, it was about trying to enhance the stability and the security of the nations that we work with — North Africa, as well as the entire continent of Africa.

      I think the Leader was happy to hear that; I think he had a greater understanding following our conversation and he appreciated the information that I gave him about the command. And I think we also discussed issues that concern security matters in Africa and how we look forward to working together in ways that help us achieve those common objectives for peace and stability. And I think the leader was appreciate of that as well, and I told him that I was committing myself to working as closely as we could where our foreign policy permitted those relationships; working with the nations, working with the regions, working with the African Union. And the leader was appreciative of that, as well.

      So we had a very good meeting. It was a cordial meeting, it was a friendly meeting and it was one that I certainly appreciated very well to have the opportunity to spend time with him to talk about those things that were important to both of us in the cause of peace.

      COL. MOHAMED: Okay, because we see a deep understanding. Do you expect another visit to be done in the near future or something like that?

      GEN. WARD: Well, I don’t know. In the last six months I’ve already had two visits to Libya, and you are here, and so I think that as we continue to move forward we will have the opportunity for more visits to be sure.

      Source: AFRICOM Public Affairs
      ——————————
      IMET Program 2008 US Africa Command- Libya in article
      http://www.africom.mil/fetchBinary.asp?pdfID=20091019124205

  • Louis Proyect

    The ‘rebels’ were on the verge of defeat in mid march after the Libyan Army launched an offensive to take back rebel controlled areas.

    Of course the more relevant point is how the militias swept across every city in Libya and was on the verge of taking Tripoli when Qaddafi unleashed his air force. Bombing lightly armed rebels from a mile high is not exactly a sign of revolutionary fiber but if that is what helps a crypto-Stalinist like James make it through the night, who am I to quibble?

    • James

      It’s an interesting conundrum. The ‘rebels’ were about to take Tripoli overthrow the government in Feb/March 2011 yet couldn’t make significant gains for months or take Tripoli when NATO warplanes, warships, special forces etc were directly aiding the ‘rebels’ and bombarding Libyan forces and infrastructure. Sounds like the start of a good conspiracy theory.

      Isn’t your whole premise of supporting NATO imperialism that the NATO sponsored rebellion was about to be defeated?

      Regardless, the idea that NATO intervened to maintain a constant supply of oil is utter nonsense.

      • James

        @Brian S ‘You cite the demonstrations held in Tripoli(and elsewhere) in July 2011 as evidence of “huge opposition” to the revolution. What strikes me is that in six months of conflict the regime was unable (or, more likely, too afraid) to mount any mass mobilisations until this final hour. Its true that the Tripoli demonstration was very large: but is it so surprising that a regime which had monopolised political life for 40 years, which had the only significant organisational network in the country, which could command the support of the large state bureaucracy, and which had a pervasive security apparatus, should be able to turn out a large crowd? To me this looks like passive support’
        ______________________________________________________

        You seem to suggest that Libyans had no significant reason to oppose an imperialist campaign and rebellion made up of sectarian Islamists. You dismiss pro-Gaddafi support as ‘passive’ and insignificant. People tend to oppose imperialist powers; bombing their infrastructure and homes, bombing water and food supplies, killing their family members, enforcing a crippling blockade and siege etc. It’s to be expected that populations rally round leadership offering resistance to imperialist blitzkrieg.

        As it became clear NATO were about to wage war, the Libyan government opened up weapons depots to Libyans in late February. That’s not the response you’d expect from a government with no support facing an armed rebellion.

        Spontaneous demonstrations in opposition to the ‘rebels’ and NATO and in support of the government were held on a daily basis in cities in the West and South of Libya and more organised protests were initiated after Friday prayers. I’m happy to provide you with many examples if necessary. But you’re right these demonstrations were not on the massive, unprecedented scale we saw in July across the west and south of Libya which were shamefully ignored by the western media.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UEMb4m3eU8

        The Libyan army was small, poorly equipped and out of date. The fact they failed to inflict any damage whatsoever on NATO warships, jets and drones is testament to this. After the first few weeks of NATO intervention Libya had no air force, air defense capability, tanks, ships, heavy artillery etc. Libya’s desert terrain made the Libyan army sitting ducks to NATO warplanes. Much of the Libyan Army were massacred in the first months of the conflict. There were plans from the US in the 80’s to take out Libya purely using air force power – They instead opted for a targeted assassination on Gaddafi which failed. It’s important to remember Libya had a small population of 5-6 million and were facing the largest imperialist coalition air force ever assembled, warships, Special Forces, ex-special forces mercenaries, battled hardened islamists and a crippling blockade.

        Barely six weeks into the NATO onslaught, British officials were already boasting that NATO had massacred 35,000 Libyan soldiers(in the usual euphemistic way, of course – “We estimate that [Gaddafi] has around 30 per cent of his ground forces capability remaining,” is how one British official put it, after estimating an initial ‘capability’ of 50,000).

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8498817/Libya-Osama-bin-Ladens-death-is-warning-to-Gaddafi.html

        It begs the question as to how the Libyan government managed to resist NATO’s onslaught for so long. I’m of the opinion that NATO considered Libya’s army pitiful and therefore planned to win the war within a matter of weeks or a few months at most. The ‘rebels’ throughout the conflict hid under skirts of NATO. NATO bombed a path for them, they’d hold the territory for a day then the pro-Gaddafi forces would retake it. They made no major gains for months. Far from Gaddafi’s support being ‘passive’ thousands of Libyans took up arms to defend their country from NATO and their sponsored ‘rebels’. Such was the popularity and sustained ferocity of the resistance, members of the NATO coalition began to withdraw from the conflict

        http://www.defensenews.com/article/20110811/DEFSECT01/108110302/Norway-Withdraws-F-16s-from-Libya-Ops

        http://www.defensenews.com/article/20110707/DEFSECT05/107070311/Italy-Removes-Aircraft-Carrier-from-Libya-Campaign

        The US, Britain and France shortly after went into talks with the Libyan government as to how to end the conflict. France and Britain (reiterated by their puppets in the NTC) suggested Gaddafi could stay in Libya. Libya from their perceived position of strength naively rejected all pre-conditions and the conflict continued – the bombing campaign finally took its toll and the Libyan state crumbled. The working class district of Abu Salim, Tripoli resisted NATO and ‘rebel’ forces for weeks after the ‘fall of Tripoli’ – It’s still a no go area for ‘rebels’ now. The population of Sirte despite siege and relentless NATO bombardment for weeks put up resistance unmatched in modern African history.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8660912/Libya-Britain-admits-Col-Gaddafi-could-stay-on.html

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/france-gaddafi-could-stay-in-libya-2317496.html

        NATO successfully installed the NTC and draconian measures were introduced to suppress the widespread opposition. Thousands were imprisoned, tortured and executed. Laws were put forward banning the ‘denigration of the revolution’ and the ‘glorification of Gaddafi’ a crime initially carrying a life sentence. The NTC introduced measures allowing them to hand pick candidates for the election etc

        • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

          “Thousands were imprisoned, tortured and executed.”

          Proof?

          “Laws were put forward banning the ‘denigration of the revolution’ and the ‘glorification of Gaddafi’ a crime initially carrying a life sentence.”

          Laws the Libyan supreme court struck down, as is customary in bourgeois-democratic states with the “rule of law”: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/06/14/libya-law-restricting-speech-ruled-unconstitutional

          “The NTC introduced measures allowing them to hand pick candidates for the election etc”

          Obviously. Their job was to manage the transition, which they did. Free and fair elections were held and they ceded power to a 200-member national legislature. I guess it would have been more fair of Ghadafi’s family had been in charge of the process?

  • James

    @Brian S ‘You cite the demonstrations held in Tripoli(and elsewhere) in July 2011 as evidence of “huge opposition” to the revolution. What strikes me is that in six months of conflict the regime was unable (or, more likely, too afraid) to mount any mass mobilisations until this final hour. Its true that the Tripoli demonstration was very large: but is it so surprising that a regime which had monopolised political life for 40 years, which had the only significant organisational network in the country, which could command the support of the large state bureaucracy, and which had a pervasive security apparatus, should be able to turn out a large crowd? To me this looks like passive support’
    ______________________________________________________

    You seem to suggest that Libyans had no significant reason to oppose an imperialist campaign and rebellion made up of sectarian Islamists. You dismiss pro-Gaddafi support as ‘passive’ and insignificant. People tend to oppose imperialist powers; bombing their infrastructure and homes, bombing water and food supplies, killing their family members, enforcing a crippling blockade and siege etc. It’s to be expected that populations rally round leadership offering resistance to imperialist blitzkrieg.

    As it became clear NATO were about to wage war, the Libyan government opened up weapons depots to Libyans in late February. That’s not the response you’d expect from a government with no support facing an armed rebellion.

    Spontaneous demonstrations in opposition to the ‘rebels’ and NATO and in support of the government were held on a daily basis in cities in the West and South of Libya and more organised protests were initiated after Friday prayers. I’m happy to provide you with many examples if necessary. But you’re right these demonstrations were not on the massive, unprecedented scale we saw in July across the west and south of Libya which were shamefully ignored by the western media.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UEMb4m3eU8

    The Libyan army was small, poorly equipped and out of date. The fact they failed to inflict any damage whatsoever on NATO warships, jets and drones is testament to this. After the first few weeks of NATO intervention Libya had no air force, air defense capability, tanks, ships, heavy artillery etc. Libya’s desert terrain made the Libyan army sitting ducks to NATO warplanes. Much of the Libyan Army were massacred in the first months of the conflict. There were plans from the US in the 80’s to take out Libya purely using air force power – They instead opted for a targeted assassination on Gaddafi which failed. It’s important to remember Libya had a small population of 5-6 million and were facing the largest imperialist coalition air force ever assembled, warships, Special Forces, ex-special forces mercenaries, battled hardened islamists and a crippling blockade.

    Barely six weeks into the NATO onslaught, British officials were already boasting that NATO had massacred 35,000 Libyan soldiers(in the usual euphemistic way, of course – “We estimate that [Gaddafi] has around 30 per cent of his ground forces capability remaining,” is how one British official put it, after estimating an initial ‘capability’ of 50,000).

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8498817/Libya-Osama-bin-Ladens-death-is-warning-to-Gaddafi.html

    It begs the question as to how the Libyan government managed to resist NATO’s onslaught for so long. I’m of the opinion that NATO considered Libya’s army pitiful and therefore planned to win the war within a matter of weeks or a few months at most. The ‘rebels’ throughout the conflict hid under skirts of NATO. NATO bombed a path for them, they’d hold the territory for a day then the pro-Gaddafi forces would retake it. They made no major gains for months. Far from Gaddafi’s support being ‘passive’ thousands of Libyans took up arms to defend their country from NATO and their sponsored ‘rebels’. Such was the popularity and sustained ferocity of the resistance, members of the NATO coalition began to withdraw from the conflict

    http://www.defensenews.com/article/20110811/DEFSECT01/108110302/Norway-Withdraws-F-16s-from-Libya-Ops

    http://www.defensenews.com/article/20110707/DEFSECT05/107070311/Italy-Removes-Aircraft-Carrier-from-Libya-Campaign

    The US, Britain and France shortly after went into talks with the Libyan government as to how to end the conflict. France and Britain (reiterated by their puppets in the NTC) suggested Gaddafi could stay in Libya. Libya from their perceived position of strength naively rejected all pre-conditions and the conflict continued – the bombing campaign finally took its toll and the Libyan state crumbled. The working class district of Abu Salim, Tripoli resisted NATO and ‘rebel’ forces for weeks after the ‘fall of Tripoli’ – It’s still a no go area for ‘rebels’ now. The population of Sirte despite siege and relentless NATO bombardment for weeks put up resistance unmatched in modern African history.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8660912/Libya-Britain-admits-Col-Gaddafi-could-stay-on.html

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/france-gaddafi-could-stay-in-libya-2317496.html

    NATO successfully installed the NTC and draconian measures were introduced to suppress the widespread opposition. Thousands were imprisoned, tortured and executed. Laws were put forward banning the ‘denigration of the revolution’ and the ‘glorification of Gaddafi’ a crime initially carrying a life sentence. The NTC introduced measures allowing them to hand pick candidates for the election etc

  • Anthony Abdo

    Clay refers to the US/ Nato made regime change as the ‘Libyan Revolution’. See quote…
    ‘The failure to form what could be considered a proper government, in Weber’s sense of a “monopoly on violence,” has been the complaint raised most often about the Libyan Revolution in the year that has passed since the killing of Muammar Qaddafi. ‘

    However, a revolution is not the same thing as this counter revolution in progress. Putting Libya’s oil resources back into the hand of the colonialists is not going to raise standards of living, promote social reforms, or provide any obstacle to further US and European military interventions on the African continent. Clay in no way even makes an attempt to show that a real ‘revolution’ has taken place by removal of Gaddafi from power.

    The link below goes to the Libya-Business News where it totes the horn of Clay’s supposed ‘Libyan revolution’ as being that Libya is now open for business! This is revolution, Clay? We rather think that it is counter-revolution, and any marxist should be able to readily see that from reading about how the business journals see the Libyan situation themselves.

    ‘Oil-rich Libya, however, has been a hotspot for those seeking new investment as the country rebuilds itself after the fall of Gaddafi. Joly said the group’s Tripoli hotel was doing extremely well, while Marriott’s Fuller described the potential for the hotel industry in Libya as phenomenal.’ from http://www.libya-businessnews.com/2012/03/09/travel-groups-pour-into-open-for-business-africa/

    Also read from the New York Times…
    ‘Chuck Dittrich, executive director of the U.S.-Libya Business Association, said he thought that American business people needed to “just get over there and get a feel for the place,” even if it did not seem immediately productive.

    Mr. Dittrich said that association members were meeting Libyan government officials and business people, and that they were “not so much there to sell, as more developing relationships as they do their planning process and decide where to go now.” He mentioned Libyan trade shows focusing on oil, transportation and infrastructure development, health and education.

    Mr. Dittrich said the Libyan economy had begun to be liberalized in 2005, when Muammar el-Qaddafi, then president, began courting the West. From a business perspective, he said, that means “the glass is more than half full,” adding, “The ingredients are all there for them to pull this off in a very good way.”

    American businesses that wait too long, fearing the risks, could be left behind, he said. Mr. Dittrich said his group visited in April, and “we were the first organized U.S. business organization to go to Tripoli since the conflict.” But, he said, “Turkish and European delegations were there right from the early days.”’ from
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/17/business/global/after-the-arab-spring-a-rush-to-do-business-in-the-middle-east.html?pagewanted=all

    The overthrow of Gaddafi was a counter-revolution that benefited imperialist corporate interests, Clay. You trying to will that that is somehow ‘revolution’ just falls completely short of reality. Marxists should be able to determine revolutions from counter-revolutions. Unfortunately we see that many want to just confuse the two.

    • Brian S.

      @Anthony Abdo. Guess which regime negotiated the construction of the “imperialist” Marriott hotel in Tripoli? Here’s a hint: it opened on 15 February 2011 – does that date ring a bell?
      “Putting Libya’s oil resources back into the hands of the colonialists is not going to raise standards of living”. Probably not – but who is doing that? there has been no change in the ownership or access to Libyan oil since the fall of Gaddafi and no proposals to do so. All the exploration agreements and joint ventures that are currently in place were negotiated under Gaddafi; and at the time of the revolution his regime was trying to persuade the international oil corporations to expand their operations.

      • Anthony Abdo

        I never have made the claim that the Gaddafi government was revolutionary like Clay is making for the current group of imperialist stooges in power in Libya, Brian. I also never called the Marriott hotel ‘imperialist’, now did I? That is an idiotic formation (yours and not mine) and shows how little you really are trying to understand any arguments about whether or not the current government is somehow revolutionary…. or not?

        And as to your assertion that nothing has changed in the outlook for about who will now profit off Libyan oil since the overthrow of Gaddafi, your argument that all is the same is just patently false, and the Western business community knows it and gloats about the coming windfall in profits for themselves, even as you pretend that nothing has changed here.

        Funny, too, it is that you say nothing has changed in one breath from Gaddafi’s previous policies, yet in the other you are backing up Clay’s silly assertion that a ‘revolution’ occurred when the imperialists overthrew Gaddafi’s dictatorial regime. And YES, Gaddafi was a dictator but he at least was independent of total control by the US Empire and its allies.

        You and Clay both seemingly believe that the current group has ‘revolutionary’ independence from the ne0-colonialists, which is about the most doubtful analysis of the current situation imaginable. It is a wonder how confused your doctrinaire (Marxist???) thinking can lead you to get to with your and Clay’s totally doubtful conclusions and evaluations of the current Libyan situation, which has seems to have set the Libyan people horribly back, and not ahead in a ‘revolutionary’ way as both of you imagine it to be.

        • Brian S.

          Tony, I try very hard to understand your arguments, the trouble is there is so little substance to them. In your previous post YOU cited the opening of hotels in Libya as evidence that western business was moving into the country: I pointed out that the Marriott, which is explicitly cited in your link was opened under Gaddafi. (By the way, the Marriott Tripoli is currently closed – so much for taking businessmen’s b.s. at face value). So clearly it doesn’t provide the evidence you claimed it did. The same has been true of every claim you have made about Libya. All of the stuff you post is about how some businessman or other is saying how great things are going to be – not one (with the exception of something about manoeuvres with the French navy) refers to anything tangible that has actually happened. Your naive faith in the foresight of the US business community is touching, but in reality it has no more substance than the Marriott story.
          You talk about my “assertion that nothing has changed in the outlook for about who will now profit off Libyan oil”. But you didn’t talk about the “outlook” – you referred to “Putting Libya’s oil resources back into the hand of the colonialists” – and I replied “there has been no change in the ownership or access to Libyan oil since the fall of Gaddafi and no proposals to do so. Is that a true or false statement? If you consider it false give me some evidence ; if its true, then what on earth are you talking about?
          You claim that I think “the current group has ‘revolutionary’ independence from the ne0-colonialists”; I think nothing of the sort – what I think is that is no more dependent than the regime it overthrew, and I don’t know what the future is going to bring, because there have been no concrete developments so far.
          (Here’s a small present for you in recognition of the season: there is a story emerging that you could claim gives some substance to your arguments. If you can find it and report it back here, I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.)

    • http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Clay%20Claiborne/ Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

      Re: “Putting Libya’s oil resources back into the hand of the colonialists”
      This is a very tricky question. You’ve got to know exactly what you are dealing with. For example, consider how this was routinely done under the Qaddafi regime:

      from my The Left and the Arab Spring

      For example, his son Saadi is said to have spent £170 million a year on private jets, five-star hotels, supercars, lap-dancers, jewels, and designer clothes. Once he spent £500,000 to have the Pussycat Dolls, his girlfriend’s favorite group, play at her birthday party in Cannes in the South of France.

      The Economist had this to say about the Libyan economy under Qaddafi:

      Libya is earning over $10 billion a year from its 1.4m barrels of oil a day. But Libyans see little of it. This year’s budget amounts to far less than its oil receipts; the colonel threw away an earlier budget, prepared by the General People’s Congress, saying oil should not be used for ordinary expenses, like salaries. In this hyper-rich state, a teacher’s salary is about $1,200 a year. Libyans have to go to Tunisia for health care. “Wealth, weapons and power lie with the people,” says the Green Book, the colonel’s revelation to the world. But one man decides which people.

      Most of these shenanigans on the part of the Qaddafi’s put billions of dollars in Libya’s oil resources back into the hands of the colonialists, for example, every time Saadi bought another Porsche, but perhaps that asn’t what you were talking about?

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