No to NATO intervention

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

LIBYAN government forces went on the offensive this week in a renewed effort to crush rebels who are increasingly looking towards the imperialists to bail them out. Loyalist troops have driven the rebels out of several towns seized at the beginning of the revolt and fighting continues in Misurata, Al Zawiya and around the important oil port of Ras Lanuf.

The “National Libyan Council”, which is dominated by the CIA-funded National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), the Muslim Brotherhood and tribal leaders linked to the former royal family, still control most of the oil-rich eastern province of Cyrenaica. But rebel attempts to provoke Cairo-style anti-government protests in the capital, Tripoli, have failed dismally.

Now they claim that Gaddafi had offered to go into exile in return for an amnesty for himself and his family — a report the Libyan leader dismissed as “rubbish” this week.

In America and the European Union the bourgeois media is preparing the public for Nato action to help the rebels, either in the form of military aid or by using their air superiority to hasten Gaddafi on his way. The imperialist leaders mask their ambitions with weasel words claiming “humanitarian” aims while cloaking their proposed air attacks in the name of “no-fly zones”.

But Obama and Cameron know from the bitter experience of Iraq, which ultimately destroyed the reputations of Tony Blair and George W Bush, that the public won’t wear it without some sort of international endorsement.

All they’ve got so far has been support for the “no-fly zone” from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). But even they are saying that any action must have the support of the United Nations.

And at the UN HQ in New York British, French and American efforts to get Security Council support for military intervention against the Muammar Gaddafi government are being opposed by Russia, amid rumours that the Americans have already begun airlifting weapons via Saudi Arabia to the rebels in eastern Libya.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was against any form of military intervention in Libya. “We do not consider foreign and especially military intervention a means to resolve the crisis in Libya. The Libyans must resolve their problems themselves,” he declared.

Last week Venezuelan UN Ambassador Jorge Valero called on the international community to condemn, “the warmongering mobilisation of the US Air Force and Navy in the Mediterranean Sea”. Valero insisted that the UN Security Council resolution that imposed sanctions on Libya last week was not an authorisation for military intervention.

“Those who promote the use of military force against Libya,” said Valero, “do not seek to defend human rights, but to establish a protectorate to violate them in one of the most important sources of oil and energy in the Middle East.”

The imperialists, with their greedy eyes on Libya’s vast oil reserves, cheered the rebels on from the start. The imperialists clearly expected the Gaddafi government to collapse under the weight of the revolt and they expected a stampede from the Gaddafi camp to the rebels once economic sanctions were re-imposed by the UN Security Council.

They clearly underestimated the support Gaddafi still had in the western and southern provinces that has been bolstered by mass rallies and large cash hand-outs to all workers. The trickle of defections has dried up and Gaddafi’s emissaries are now trying to woo the tribal elders in the east back to the government side.

Meanwhile Hugo Chávez’ mediation plan to end the crisis is now being considered by the Gaddafi government and the Arab League.

The Venezuelan proposal is for the establishment of an International Peace Commission that would facilitate talks between the Gaddafi government and the rebels to end the fighting on the basis of respect of national sovereignty and the Libyan people’s right to self-determination.