Libya: Sirte and Bani Walid hold on

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

US SECRETARY of State Hillary Clinton made an unannounced visit to Libya for talks with the puppet regime this week. The American foreign minister may have hoped to be greeted with news of the fall of Sirte to the imperialist-backed rebels.

If so she would have been disappointed. Sirte and Bani Walid are still in the hands of Colonel Gaddafi despite repeated rebel claims that the towns had been, or were on the verge of falling to the rebel militias and their Nato advisers.

Loyalists continue to hold the centre of Sirte, Colonel Gaddafi’s home town, and a symbol of his Green revolution. They’ve paid a heavy price for their resistance. Most of the civilians have fled and almost every building and house in Sirte has been hit by Nato bombs, bullets, rockets or artillery shells.

The imperialists tell us that Gaddafi is finished and that the war is all over bar the shouting. But Colonel Gaddafi’s forces still control virtually all of southern Libya and they have effectively shut down much of the oil production that the imperialists covet. And though the puppet “National Transitional Council” (NTC) has been recognised by much of the international community there is increasing unease at the way the imperialists have used the United Nations to accomplish regime change in Libya.

As Gaddafi himself asked: “The NTC, who gave them legitimacy? How did they obtain legitimacy? Did the Libyan people elect them? Did the Libyan people appoint them? And if only the power of Nato bombs and fleets grants legitimacy, then let all rulers in the Third World beware, for the same fate awaits you. To those who recognise this council as legitimate, beware. There will be transitional councils created everywhere and imposed upon you and one by one you shall fall.”

The Libyan leader’s call for mass protests against Nato and their Libyan collaborators last week prompted mass demonstrations across all the coastal towns occupied by the puppet NTC militias. And in the capital, Tripoli, protests turned violent when NTC gunmen and Nato helicopter gunships opened fire to disperse the crowds. Green Resistance partisan units launched attacks on the Rixos Hotel, Military Camp 77 and Green Square driving the rebels out of large parts of the capital before withdrawing overnight.

On 13th October, the United Nations Support Mission to Libya, which is headed by Ian Martin, delivered a report to the Security Council where he noted that the situation in Libya is by no means settled. Martin said that “The situation is far from stable”.

“There are many security concerns,” Martin said. “The fighting is still on.

Violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been registered.”

Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin called the briefing “open and sobering,” adding: “The Libyan authorities clearly need support, an effective UN mission, and this is where the Security Council will concentrate its efforts in the next few months”

Loyalists, in fact, are Libya’s only authority, not Nato or TNC puppet officials. UN action to halt terror bombing and rebel cutthroats is crucial.