by our Arab Affairs correspondent

THE ITALIAN government called for an immediate halt to the bombing of Libya this week in a surprise move that could lead to an end to the imperialist offensive against the defiant Arab country.

And at the United Nations the imperialists suffered a further blow when they were forced to abandon a draft Libya-style Security Council resolution against Syria, when faced with vetoes from Russia and China who were backed by India, Brazil, South Africa and Lebanon.

But the bombing of Libya continues relentlessly while loyalist troops and the imperialist-backed rebels skirmish around Misrata and along the road to Benghazi.

Libyan officials say that 15 civilians were killed in the latest attack on the capital, Tripoli, and Libyan state television has aired footage of what it claimed was a Nato helicopter gunship shot down in the area of Majr in Zliten, 180 km east of Tripoli.

The Libyans claim to have shot down five Nato aircraft over the past four months. Nato denies losing any warplanes or gunships but admits that an unmanned drone reconnaissance helicopter was downed this week.


Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called for a suspension of hostilities in Libya on Monday to allow humanitarian aid to be brought to the war-torn country. Frattini also said Nato must provide data on results of its bombing campaign and guidelines on targeting errors following widespread anger in Italy at the growing civilian casualties and grave doubts at the wisdom of continuing the costly campaign within the ruling right-wing coalition.

Silvio Berlusconi’s government, enmeshed in corruption scandals and rocked by losses in provincial elections, has been challenged by its Northern League allies who are threatening to pull out of the government if Italy continues to contribute to the Nato war in Libya.

And this was echoed by the Secretary-General of the Arab League, who also called for a ceasefire this week. Amr Moussa, the Egyptian diplomat who’s fronted the League for over a decade, worked hand in glove with the feudal Arab oil princes to win Arab League support for the Libyan rebels and the UN resolution that paved the way for the Nato intervention. Now he’s had second thoughts.


“When I see children being killed, I have misgivings. You can’t have a decisive end. We must now reach a political solution, starting with a ceasefire,” he told the media this week.

Moussa is stepping down to run for president in the Egyptian elections later in the year and he’s clearly got his eye on opinion on the Egyptian street that increasingly sees the Nato campaign as yet another imperialist drive to divide the Arabs and get their hands on more Arab oil.

He’s also well aware of growing frustration in Africa over the repeated sidelining of all their diplomatic efforts to end the fighting. And it will once again head the agenda at this week’s African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea amid speculation that the African Union will threaten to pull out of the United Nations unless Nato stops bombing fellow AU member Libya.

African Union mediators, headed by South African President Jacob Zuma, have charted a road-map that would end the civil war in Libya and prepare the ground-work for national reconciliation between the Muammar Gaddafi government and the rebels.

But the imperialists have simply ignored them and pressed on with their own agenda, which is simply to get their greedy hands on Libyan oil and has nothing to do with “human rights” or any sympathy for the “Arab Spring”.