Libya: West wants more war; Africa wants peace

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

TRIPOLI was pounded again this week as the imperialist powers escalate their military action against the Gaddafi government in renewed efforts to break the deadlock in the Libyan civil war.

Britain and France are preparing to deploy helicopter gunships to help the imperialist-backed rebels, who have failed to make any significant gains beyond the eastern province of Benghazi that they seized when the revolt began last February and a western enclave around Misrata.

US President Barack Obama held talks with David Cameron in London amid reports that Britain was urging the Americans to throw their weight fully behind the Anglo-French attempt to impose regime change on Libya. And African Union leaders are holding a special summit in Addis Ababa to discuss renewed efforts to bring an end to the fighting.

Tripoli suffered its heaviest air-raids to date on Tuesday with over 20 overnight air-strikes on the Libyan capital triggering massive explosions. Nineteen civilians were killed and over 150 wounded in the Nato attacks.

civilians

A Libyan government spokesperson, Moussa Ibrahim, said the strikes had targeted the barracks of a volunteer unit of a tribal-based militia, but most of the casualties were civilians living in the vicinity because the Popular Guards compound had been already evacuated in anticipation of an attack.

Once again confirming that Muammar Gaddafi was still alive, Ibrahim said: “We’ve never had such a number of people injured?this is another night of bombing and killing by Nato.”

While the heads of Anglo-American imperialism conferred in London, African leaders were travelling to Ethiopia for an extraordinary African Union summit on the crisis, called despite attempts to prevent a quorum by some of imperialism’s client states in the continent. But the AU’s deliberative assembly mustered the requisite numbers last week, paving the way for the summit called by Uganda and welcomed by the Gaddafi government.

South African President Jacob Zuma will travel to Tripoli on Monday for talks with the Libyan leadership in renewed efforts to broker a truce between the rebels and the Libyan government. Zuma, representing the African Union, held talks with Gaddafi in April which led to a peace plan that was rejected by the rebels, who insisted that there could be no deal unless the Libyan leader stepped down.

Reports in the South African media suggest that this time Zuma will be pushing for Gaddafi to resign as part of a plan drawn up by his government and Turkey. But the South African ambassador to Libya refused to confirm reports that Zuma’s mission would be to seek an exit strategy for the Gaddafi family. Mohammed Dangor said this “megaphone” diplomacy which publicly announced the intentions of the mission before it had arrived could jeopardise it altogether.

Though South Africa initially voted for the UN Security Council resolution authorising the “no-fly zone”, which is the pretext for Nato’s aggression, it has since criticised Nato’s bombing campaign and stated that it does not support regime change in Libya.