Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The New Rulers of Libya

US imperialism has triumphed in Libya once more
As National Transitional Council (NTC) troops overran Muammar Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli yesterday, cameras caught a man attacking a statue meant to symbolise Libyan resistance to US bombers. And little wonder; it was US and NATO bombers who had acted as the unofficial air force of the 'rebel' NTC. Without them, there is no doubt that Gaddafi would still be in control of Libya. But now the dictator has fled, who are the new rulers of Libya? And what are their policy agendas for the country?

The head of the NTC, Mahmoud Jibril is an American-educated economist, who served as Gaddafi's National Economic Development Board chair from 2007 up to the point where he fled the sinking ship. In that post, he crafted privatisation policies designed to open up the economy to international capital. A large contingent of former Gaddafi loyalists also includes Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the former interior minister who helped shape the repression of protests during the early days of the 'Arab Spring', before he too joined the other side.

Another key figure is Mohammed Busidra, who was billed as "Libya's post-Gadhafi political kingmaker" by Canada’s Globe and Mail, when they interviewed him earlier this month. Previously "Gadhafi's most notorious political prisoner", Busidra has supposedly "brought together Libya’s disparate moderate Islamist leaders into the country’s only united political force. He has written a constitution that they have agreed upon, and is organizing Libya’s mosques into a political machine."

Under the Islamists' blueprint constitution, homosexuality and the drinking of alcohol would be illegal, alongside "the praise of any religion other than Islam". As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Busidra might seem an unlikely ally of the United States, were it not for the fact that he promises to "remain favorable toward the West and its governments and oil companies."

Back in February, even before the 'no-fly zone' excuse for bombing was put before the United Nations, I wrote that:
"If some combination of western forces are unleashed on Libya, it will be to guarantee that the oil keeps flowing to Europe. Though it would no doubt be dressed up as a humanitarian intervention, humanitarian concerns would be an irrelevance compared to the dollar, and attempts to maintain US hegemony in the area."
Busidra's comments and Washington's blind eye to his Islamism would seem to confirm this analysis, as would the involvement of CIA assets within the NTC. On 17th March, just days before the NATO bombing campaign began, Khalifa Haftar was appointed as head of the 'rebel' military. Haftar's background passed without comment in the corporate media for some weeks, until it was revealed that the one-time Gaddafi ally had been a CIA asset. After setting up the Al-Qaeda-linked Libyan National Army with CIA and Saudi backing in the 1980s, he had apparently lived quietly somewhere in Virginia for the last twenty years, until he was suddenly made head of the Libyan paramilitary effort to displace Gaddafi. The CIA has a long and bloodsoaked history of overthrowing and murdering leading politicians who have fallen foul of the US ruling class, and their operations are routinely shielded from any public accountability.

The British ruling class tradition of imperialist looting continues, even as Cameron denounces working class 'looters'
Though the US has of course led the NATO aggression in Libya, it has many other partners, including the UK, France, and Libya's former colonial master Italy. At various times, the relationship between these governmental gangsters has also been fraught. This is hardly surprising - at the end of the day each government wants the biggest cut of oil profits for its own favoured oil companies. But overall, Gaddafi's removal has been a success for western ruling classes - hence the stock market rebound when Tripoli started to fall on Tuesday. No doubt, the western allies have stolen a march on China, Russia and Brazil, all of which opposed the NATO bombing, and had significant oil deals under Gaddafi. As a spokesman for the NTC-created oil company stated on Monday: "We don't have a problem with western countries like Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil."

This morning, Jody McIntyre posted that: "Almost 1300 people have been killed in Libya in the past 24 hours; almost equal to the death toll of the brutal, three-week Israeli Operation Cast Lead massacre in Gaza [...] This is not a revolution; it is a western-backed, NATO-sanctioned, colonialist regime change in a sovereign African nation."

Though many Libyans will be celebrating the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi, his replacements will be just as graspingly draconian. Aspirations for food, clothes and shelter - never mind democracy - will not be realised until Libyan toilers unite against all would-be rulers, whether they be Islamist, apparently secular, western-backed or 'anti-imperialist'. Just like their neighbours in Egypt and Tunisia, they need to build a real, working class revolution.
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