The debt ceiling “debate” has successfully kept us from pondering the fate of Libya, where NATO still drops bombs, killing civilians in attacks that increasingly target Libya’s infrastructure, rather than military installations, in an attempt to frighten the people of Libya into turning against Ghaddafi. The “kinetic humanitarian intervention” quickly descended into an attempt to simply assassinate the leader of a sovereign nation. That attempt has so far failed, although the NATO forces did manage to slaughter one of Ghaddafi’s sons and three of his grandchildren in an air attack several months ago on a home in a clearly civilian area. The casualties caused by the NATO nations to impose a simple “no-fly” zone so far: Libyan soldiers killed – hundreds to thousands (the numbers are very inexact on military deaths); Libyan civilians – 1108 dead and 4500 wounded. These are people killed by the NATO forces.
The NATO regime change operation – let’s not bother with the pretense that this is a “humanitarian intervention” any longer – has so far cost several hundred million dollars. NATO has brought into Libya special forces, mercenaries, and intelligence operatives; none of which, oddly, the press considers “boots on the ground”. France has illegally air-dropped weapons to the rebels. This week, NATO’s targets included a flu clinic and a food storage depot in the town of Zlitan, which has already had a school and a mosque destroyed by NATO bombing. While viewing the destruction with a CNN interviewer, a local official from the town said, “It [NATO] is waging wide-scale war on the people. They are destroying everything.”
The “rebels”, as various reports have proven over the past couple of months, are a mixture of former Gaddafi ministers, CIA operatives and pro-Al Qaeda Islamic fundamentalists.
The US is now discussing how best to give the assets it seized from the Libya National Bank (which belongs to Libya’s people) to these rebels.
On July 10, the Libyan Prime Minister al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi asked for UN intervention to stop NATO military attacks against Libya, saying that the intensive airstrikes have caused a great number of civilian casualties, in violation of the UN resolutions on Libya.
In a statement which clearly flies in the face of international law, the US simply announced two weeks ago that it recognizes the rebel forces (the TNC) as the “government” of Libya. Other NATO nations agreed that they would “deal with” (i.e., bargain with, do business with) the TNC in preference to the actual and current government of Libya. [See my previous post on the questions of international law and the recognition of the rebel forces.]
Yesterday, the UK formally recognized the rebels as the “government” of Libya, a move that the UK seems to think legitimizes the unfreezing of UK-held assets in the Libyan national oil reserve fund to the rebels. (The UK has frozen these funds in the same manner the US has frozen the funds in the Libyan National Bank.) Further, the UK is expelling all Libyan diplomats loyal to Ghaddafi from London and asking for members of the TNC – the rebel group – to take over the Libyan embassy building in London.
The decision to recognise the NTC as sole governmental authority led to the unfreezing of £91m in UK assets belonging to the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, a Libyan oil firm under the NTC’s control.
Foreign Office sources said the assets were unfrozen after the NTC gave assurances that the funds would be used to purchase fuel and not arms, which would be illegal under UN security council resolutions.
Hague also announced at his press conference that:
…• No deadline has been set for the military campaign against the Gaddafi regime. British military chiefs have advised ministers they can continue with the bombing indefinitely….
The renewed diplomatic offensive comes as British aircraft stepped up the bombing against Gaddafi’s security and intelligence apparatus before the start of Ramadan on 1 August.
Currently, the governments of the US, the UK, and France are discussing the possibility of “settlement” with Ghaddafi. A representative from each government made public announcements that Ghaddaf’s fate was “a question for the Libyan people to decide”, yet the “deal” NATO is talking about is for Libya to set up a “power sharing plan” where Ghaddafi would be allowed to remain in his own country, but only under the condition that he not retain his current position. The Russian government has proposed a five-man “interim regime”, consisting of two Ghaddafi loyalists, two members of the rebel’s TNC group, and a fifth person appointed on the basis of mutual agreement. This is, obviously, still regime change. It also sends a clear signal to Ghaddafi’s inner circle: work with NATO in overthrowing Ghaddafi and you might get to keep some of your power and wealth in this deal. The power sharing plan would be brokered by the NATO forces (mainly the US and UK) and thus install a colonized puppet government more likely to give lucrative oil deals to western companies and take away the nationalized oil revenue from the Libyan people. (All Libyans currently share in the profits from oil revenue generated by their natural resources – this is under Ghaddafi’s rule.) It would further end any plans Ghaddafi had for working out an African currency and oil market with other African nations based on gold, and de-nationalize Libya’s National Bank.
In none of these talks, deals, and proposed bargains have the Libyan people been asked for their opinion. No suggestion has been made that the Libyans actually vote for any member of the “5 man interim regime”.