Libya: imperialist confidence shaken

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

THOUGH Muslim holy month of Ramadan began this week there’s been no let up in the fighting in Libya. Nato warplanes continued to pound Tripoli and cover rebels fleeing from positions seized in the strategic western Nafusa mountains early last week.

But imperialist confidence in the rebels’ reliability has been shaken by the murder of their military chief by gunmen, while gun-battles between underground loyalist forces and rebel militias erupt in the heart of the rebel-held provincial capital of Benghazi.

General Abdel Fattah Younis was a Gaddafi turncoat who defected to the rebels at the beginning of the imperialist inspired revolt in February. Younis, a former Libyan interior minister and a member of the powerful Obaida tribe was immediately made commander-in-chief of all rebel forces.

But his authority was constantly challenged by fellow turncoat Mahmoud Jibril, the American educated academic who fronts the puppet regime they call the “National Transitional Council”.

No one knows how Younis and two of his bodyguards were slain on the road to Benghazi apart from those who did it and those who gave the killers their orders. Jabril knew that they’d been shot even before the bodies were found and initially claimed that they had been ambushed by loyalist troops.

When the Libyan government issued a statement in Tripoli claiming Younis had been killed by rebels loyal to Al Qaida, Jabril changed his tune. Now he says Younis was killed by Islamic fundamentalists but claims that the rebel leadership had nothing to do with it. That may or not be the case.

Some believe that Younis and Jabril fell out over the money they hoped to get from their imperialist backers. Significantly Younis’s death came shortly after the formal recognition by Anglo-American and French imperialism of the rebels as the “legitimate government,” together with promises to pump millions of dollars, taken from overseas Libyan assets, into the rebel regime.

Younis was given full honours at his funeral in Benghazi last Friday. But at the graveside his son broke down as they lowered the body into the ground crying for an end to the fighting and victory for Muammar Gaddafi. “We want Muammar to come back! We want the Green Flag back!” he shouted at the crowd.

that same day

That same day underground loyalist forces raided two Benghazi jails freeing hundreds of Libyan army prisoners and civilian supporters of the Gaddafi government. Two days later rebel militias were battling with loyalist forces for control of a roadside factory which the rebels claim was the centre for a loyalist underground network in the heart of the rebel capital.

Meanwhile Libya’s Tribal Council has issued a manifesto calling for the expulsion of the “Nato crusaders” and an end to the civil war. The tribal council has been for many years the main policy-making body in the Gaddafi government and while they support reform they want to achieve this through the existing leadership. Before Ramadan is over, they intend to end Libya’s crisis even if it needs to rally its hundreds of thousands of active members to march on Benghazi.

When the conflict began British and French imperialism clearly believed that the Gaddafi government would be a pushover and that their stooges would win in a few days with the help of Nato aviation.

US imperialism’s chosen method is partition. They hoped to break Libya up into at least three weak statelets, all under chosen puppets and all under the dubious protection of imperialist guns.

Now it is beginning to dawn on the movers and shakers in Washington and the European Union that these options are no longer viable and that the prospect of an outright loyalist victory could end up be the only exit strategy they’re ever going to get.