Support the Libyan people! No imperialist intervention in Libya! Left solidarity with the Libyan people's uprising

March 9, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- International left organisations continue to express their solidarity with the Libyan people as they struggle to throw off the Western-backed dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi. At the same time, they are rejecting moves by Western imperialism for military intervention to hypocritically take adavantage of the situation and try to reestablish a bridgehead in the oil-rich region. Below are statements by the Labour Party Pakistan, the US-based Kasama Project, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Municipal Workers Union. See also the statements by the Socialist Party of Malaysia and the Socialist Alliance in Australia. More will be posted as they come to hand.

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Support the Libyan people! No imperialist intervention in Libya!

Labour Party Pakistan statement on Libya

March 8, 2011 -- The shock waves of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions continue to spread throughout the Arab world and beyond. For several days, it has been Libya which is at the centre of the revolutionary upheaval. Events are evolving from day to day, from hour to hour, but everything depends today on the extraordinary mobilisation of the Libyan people.

Hundreds of thousands of Libyans have risen up to attack the dictatorship of Gaddafi, often with their bare hands. Whole cities and regions have fallen into to the hands of the insurgent people. The answer of the dictatorship has been ruthless: pitiless repression, massacres, bombardment of populations with heavy arms and air strikes.

Today, it is a fight to the death between the people and the dictatorship. One of the characteristics of the Libyan revolution, compared to the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, is the splintering of the police and military apparatuses. There are confrontations within the army itself, a territorial division, with confrontation between regions and cities controlled by the insurgents and the area of Tripoli based on the military force of the dictatorship. The Libyan dictatorship represents too many social and democratic injustices and, too much repression, too many attacks on elementary liberties and rights. It must be driven out.

The Libyan revolution is part of a whole process which covers the whole Arab world, and beyond, in Iran and China. The revolutionary processes in Tunisia and Egypt are radicalising. In Tunisia, governments fall one after the other. Youth and the workers’ movement are pushing their movement still further. All the forms of continuity with the old regime are called into question. The demand for a constituent assembly, opposed to all the rescue operations of the regime, is becoming increasingly strong.

In both countries, Tunisia and Egypt, the workers’ movement is reorganising itself in the fire of a wave of strikes for the satisfaction of vital social demands. This revolutionary rise takes forms that are particular and unequal, according to the countries: violent confrontations in Yemen and Bahrain, demonstrations in Jordan, Morocco and Algeria. Iran is also once again affected by an outbreak of struggles and demonstrations against the regime of Ahmadinejad and for democracy.

It is in this context that the situation in Libya takes on strategic importance. This new rise already carries within it historical changes, but its development may depend on the battle of Libya. If Gaddafi takes control of the situation again, with thousands of deaths, the process will be slowed down, contained or even blocked. If Gaddafi is overthrown, the whole movement will as a result be stimulated and amplified. For this reason, all the ruling classes, all the governments, all the reactionary regimes of the Arab world are more or less supporting the Libyan dictatorship.

It is also in this context that US imperialism, the European Union and NATO are multiplying operations to try to control the process that is underway. The revolutions that are in progress weaken, over and above what the imperialists say in their speeches, the positions of the Western imperialist powers. So, as is often the case, imperialism uses the pretext of a “situation of chaos”, as it calls it, or of “humanitarian catastrophe” to prepare an intervention and to take control of the situation again. We are totally against any military or other interventions by the Imperialist forces in Libya.

No one should be fooled about the aims of the NATO powers: they want to confiscate the revolutions in progress from the peoples of the region, and even to take advantage of the situation to occupy new positions, in particular concerning control of the oil regions. It is for this fundamental reason that it is necessary to reject any military intervention by American imperialism. It is up to the Libyan people, who have begun the job, to finish it, with the support of the peoples of the region, and all progressive forces on the international level must contribute to that by their solidarity and their support.

There is a lot of confusion among the activists in Pakistan on the question of Libya.Gaddafi was seen as one of the progressive leaders of the Arab world and who was opposed to US imperialism. He had many followers in Pakistan. One of them was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, father of Benazir Bhutto, who named one of the main support stadiums of Pakistan as Qazafi [Gaddafi] Stadium. Gaddafi was not seen the same as Hosni Mubarak, Ben Ali and others. Now the threat of NATO intervention is also creating some confusion among the progressive activists.

You do not oppose imperialism by supporting dictators who massacre their people who are making a revolution. That can only reinforce imperialism. The fundamental task of the revolutionary movement on an international level is to defend these revolutions and to oppose imperialism by supporting these revolutions, not the dictators.

We are on the side of the Libyan people and the Arab revolutions that are in progress. We must express our unconditional solidarity, for the civil, democratic and social rights which are emerging in this revolution. One of the priorities consists of supporting all aid to the Libyan people -- medical aid coming from Egypt or Tunisia, the food aid which is needed, demanding the cancellation of all commercial contracts with Libya and the suspension of all delivery of arms. We have to prevent the massacre of the Libyan people.

Solidarity with the Arab revolutions!

Support the Libyan people!

No imperialist intervention in Libya!

Hands off Libya!

COSATU deplores Libyan slaughter

February 28, 2011 -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions strongly condemns the massacre of more than 1000 protesters by the government of Libya and demands that people be allowed to exercise their basic human right to demonstrate peacefully against the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

COSATU appreciates that Libya, which produces 1.6 million barrels of oil a day (nearly 2% of the world's production), has a far better record in promoting prosperity among its 6.6 million people than other North African countries where there have been popular revolts.

It has the lowest infant mortality rate in Africa -- 18 per thousand, compared to South Africa's 44 per thousand, and the highest life expectancy in Africa -- 74 years compared to South Africa's 49 years. The literacy rate is 90%. Less than 5% of the population is undernourished, and in response to the rising food prices around the world, the government of Libya abolished all taxes on food on January 12, 2011.

Libya has the highest gross domestic product at purchasing power parity per capita of all of African countries -- around US$13,000 relative to South Africa's $10,000. A lower percentage of people (7%) live below the poverty line than in the Netherlands. The South African figure is about 50%.

COSATU does not accept however that these achievements in any way excuse the slaughter of those protesting against the oppressive dictatorship of Colonel Gaddafi and reaffirms its support for democracy and human rights in Libya and throughout the continent.

Patrick Craven (national spokesperson), Congress of South African Trade Unions

Libya: Local bloodsucker weakens, global bloodsuckers gather

By Mike Ely, Kasama Project

March 1, 2011 -- Over the last days there have been building threats of intervention by the US and European powers in the affairs and events of northern Africa. It is  being announced (as usual) in the name of helping democracy — but, in fact, the deployment of weapons and planes would involve an inevitable power grab, an attempt to influence (read: control) who emerges with power in Libya, and an attempt to justify the right of imperialist power to continuous and future intervention in the Middle East and Africa.

We should not assume that the US plans some full invasion. They are currently tied up in two losing wars already — Gates just quipped that those who advocate US land wars “should have their heads examined”.

The US is likely to threaten “power projection” — by air, by arms supply, perhaps by dropping an electronic curtain over Libya. It will certainly support actions by its partners in crime, like Britain or France (or even  various African puppet forces they have cultivated and trained).

One of the most ugly features of US political life is the casual chit-chat about “the best use of our power” — where both liberal and conservative pundits, politicians, talk show commentators (Rachel Maddow!) and even assholes drinking coffee in your neighbourhood greasy spoon debate their ugly views on how the US “should”  pound distant people — running down Pentagon “options” like they are participants in some global war room. The right of imperialism is assumed. The sense of superiority is overwhelming. You can’t help imagining the blood dripping off their lips and down their chins.

Just as we should not be confused by the US bullshit about “helping democracy” so we should not be confused by their claims of restrained and cost-free bullying.

Even a “no-fly zone” is an outrage. Just the movement of their navy toward Libya is an aggressive provocation. Every threat they now make is a precedent for more and coming interventions around the world.

We urge everyone to help expose and oppose these imperialist moves — especially the actions of the United States government.

For those unclear on the sinister nature of these moves — we urge you too look closely at the lives and faces of people in Afghanistan and Iraq, where US invasion has led to massive suffering, permanent counter-insurgency, deepened ethnic fragmentation and the rise of utterly corrupt political forces. Worst of all: where the gun goes, power follows. The intrusion of Western military power will never produce liberated people — it will be an attempt to shape turmoil into new regimes of running dogs.

Like a kaleidoscope, the US justifications for “power extension” vary. One minute, under Bush, it is “war on terror” on a string of Muslim countries and with the next administration it now becomes  “protecting” Arab people and enabling their “democracy”. But the forms of democracy the US would promote and the political forces it would anoint will never serve the people (as a century of US imperialism has shown, over and over and over.)

In Egypt, the US has long and carefully financed a reactionary army that it could urge to take power (away from the people in the streets, in the name of the people in the streets, Mubarak without Mubarak). In Libya, it is seeking to expand US power by intervening at a pivotal movement — to portray itself as the guardian of peoples, not their exploiter. A few planes to prevent Libyan government advances, a few arms to bolster the rebel forces of eastern Libya, an approaching nuclear navy to convince Gaddafi to flee (or his inner circle to kill him). In the hopes, that the US will emerge (after months of revolt against its brutal allies) with the false sheen of liberator.

As if people have no eyes to see, no minds to think, no mouths to speak, and no memories at all — and as if they don’t have their own hands to win victory.

Libya is a major oil producer — its pipelines run to the sea, and from there to Italy and Europe. US and British threats have nothing to do with any sympathy or self-determination for Arab people (witness their relentless support for the brutal Mubarak regime and others in the region!) It is about exerting US power to consolidate US domination. It is not about saving Libyan lives in an emerging civil war, but exploiting Libyans for the rest of their lives.

US get out of the Middle East! Navies out! Troops out!

Reflections on crisis unfolding in North Africa and Arab states

South African Municipal Workers Union statement

February 23, 2011 -- The crisis that is unfolding in North Africa and in many Arab-speaking states at this time requires very careful reflection. It is perhaps too early to be able to say why this is happening at this time, and what has caused it, but there are a few important pointers emerging.

First, it is quite clear that in each of the countries where an uprising has taken place, or is underway, there is a chronic polarisation of wealth and opportunity. The vast majority of citizens face insecurity and impoverishment, while ruling elites spend ever more recklessly on maintaining their opulent lifestyles. In each of the countries where uprisings are taking place, it has been the young people who have rushed to the front lines, perhaps because their futures are so unsure.

Second, there is what can only be described as a "crisis of representation", in other words, the political systems in place are incapable of ensuring that the interests of the poor majority are safeguarded or that the issues which are affecting them are taken seriously and acted upon. Whether it’s the distortion of Mubarak’s parliamentary democracy, or Gadaffi’s Peoples Committees, there has been a failure to ensure that there is a representative government.

Third there has been the uncovering of substantial levels of corruption and nepotism, linked no doubt to the uninterrupted periods of office that have been occupied by leaders in the region. In the case of Egypt and Libya, this has been reinforced by attempts to create a ruling dynasty with the handover of power and influence to family members.

Fourth, in each case, the murky hand of US imperialism can be seen to be playing a role. Libya is a case in point. Once regarded as Terrorist Location No 1, Colonel Gadaffi  is now treated as royalty by British prime ministers and US presidents alike, all no doubt due to his willingness to employ major US and European oil companies to extract Libya’s vast oil supplies, and to take a hefty cut in the process.

Of course all progressive forces must condemn the machinations of US imperialism, and expose its corrupting influences, but that does not mean to say that we can also ignore the abuses of human and civil rights which takes place in those countries targeted by imperialism for either attack or cooption.

From Cairo to Tripoli the masses are in the process of asserting fundamental rights that have been denied to them. Without democratic rights, attempts to address the unequal distribution of wealth will remain unfulfilled. Without the right to organise, form independent trade unions and political organisations, or to be able to gather with others to publicly criticise the government that is supposed to be representing your interests, then nothing will change.

For these reasons, we believe that the reaction of Mubarak and now Gadaffi is part of the problem not the solution. If leaders will not address the demands of the masses, will not concede to them the right for free expression, will not respond other than to increase repression and bloodshed, they whoever they are, whatever their past credentials, they have to go, and quickly, before they do more harm. The people will govern, but first they have to take back the power that has been stolen from them.

SAMWU sends its solidarity to all those fighting for democratic rights, and especially the new emerging workers' organisations arising from the uprisings. Yours is the future, grasp it while you can!

We also send our condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones in the struggle for a better life for all.

For further comment, contact Steve Faulkner, SAMWU’s International and Equality Officer on 0828175455.
Issued by Tahir Sema, South African Municipal Workers' Union of COSATU, national media and publicity officer.

Todd Chretien examines the attitude of the Workers World Party and Party for Liberation and Socialism toward Muammar el-Qaddafi's dictatorship in Libya.

February 28, 2011

"Of all the struggles going on in North Africa and the Middle East right now, the most difficult to unravel is the one in Libya."
-- Workers World Party, February 23, 2011 [1]

"At present, the revolt has not produced any organizational form or leader that would make it possible to characterize it politically."
-- Party for Socialism and Liberation, February 24, 2011 [2]

THOSE WERE the statements last week from two well-known U.S. socialist groups active in anti-imperialist movements. As madman Muammar el-Qaddafi ranted in his bunker about al-Qaeda slipping hallucinogens into young people's coffee in order to make them rebel, the Workers World Party (WWP) and Party for Liberation and Socialism (PSL) refused to take a stand with the Libyan people against a dictator.

These two organizations, part of the same group until 2004, have long accepted the Libyan dictatorship's claim to be progressive and anti-imperialist in spite of the corruption of the country's tiny elite around Qaddafi and the savagery of the regime's police-state repression and violence--now on sickening display for all the world to see.

As recently as 2009, the WWP, for example, published an article that spoke highly of the Qaddafi regime [3] as it celebrated the 40th anniversary of Libya's "revolution."

The article said the anniversary "has been acknowledged by governments throughout the African continent and the world"--with Zimbabwe's dictatorial President Robert Mugabe as example number one. The WWP even saluted Qaddafi's close relationship with the right-wing Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi, noting that Italy would "honor the 40th anniversary celebration [of Qaddafi's rule] with a display by its Air Force aerobatics team."

In its recent statement [4], PSL noted that "developments in the last decade have greatly and understandably diminished [Qaddafi's] credibility among progressive and anti-imperialist forces in the region, almost all of which have declared their solidarity with the Libyan revolt."

That's a huge understatement. Qaddafi has gone to great lengths to reverse his once-hostile relationship to Western governments.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Libya purchased large amounts of military equipment from the former USSR and Eastern Bloc countries, which were used to go to war with neighboring Chad and construct a vast police state. While the Cold War was still on, the U.S. considered Libya an enemy, and Ronald Reagan targeted the country in the 1980s, including an attempt to assassinate Qaddafi by bombing one of his residences (which killed his 15-month-old daughter).

But in the late 1990s, Qaddafi began to make peace with his former adversaries. And after 9/11, Qaddafi offered Libyan support for the U.S. government's "war on terror" under George W. Bush. The regime restored diplomatic relations with the U.S., leading ExxonMobil, Chevron and other American corporations to rush into lucrative exploration and production deals.

Libya also reestablished ties to Western Europe, especially Berlusconi in Italy, which was once the colonial ruler of Libya. The Qaddafi-Berlusconi partnership is particularly close, ranging from multibillion-dollar oil deals to a shared affinity for young Italian fashion models.

But neither the lucrative business deals with the West nor revenues from Libya's vast oil resources have trickled down to the majority of people in the country. Despite Libya's small population of 6 million, unemployment has remained high (roughly 25 percent) and wages low (around $250 a month). Meanwhile, Qaddafi's immediate inner circle has squirreled away fortunes in foreign banks and overseas investments.

This is the regime that the WWP and PSL have supported as "progressive" for years--and which they now refuse to condemn for its savage assault on people demanding democracy.

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SO WHY can't the PSL and WWP join "almost all progressive and anti-imperialist forces in the region"--and, I would add, around the world, with the notable exceptions of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez--in openly supporting the Libyan people in their rebellion against the dictatorship?

The answer lies in these groups' view of social revolution.

The Workers World Party was founded in 1959 by Sam Marcy and other members of the Socialist Workers Party in the U.S. The SWP aligned itself with exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his struggle against the Stalinist counterrevolution. Thus, when workers in Hungary rose up in 1956 against the so-called "Communist" police state that ruled over them, the SWP organized in solidarity with the workers.

Marcy and the founders of WWP did a somersault, calling the movement in Hungary a "full-scale, nationwide counterrevolution" and siding with the invading Russian tanks sent to suppress the rebellion. (V. Grey, "The Class Character of the Hungarian Uprising," SWP Discussion Bulletin, Vol. 18, No. 1, January 1957)

Since then, the WWP and the newer PSL (which broke away from the WWP organizationally in 2004, but maintained identical political beliefs) have consistently sided with Stalinist or "anti-imperialist" states against social struggles from below.

In 1968, for example, Marcy cheered on Russian tanks when they were sent into Eastern Europe again, this time to smash a workers and student uprising in Czechoslovakia. As Marcy wrote [5], "We support the Warsaw Pact intervention under present circumstances."

In 1989, the WWP praised the suppression of the protests in Tiananmen Square. In response to a article commemorating the 20th anniversary [6] of the Tiananmen rebellion, Richard Becker, a leading member of PSL, criticized the International Socialist Organization, writing [7], "Do they not recognize that the victory of the Tiananmen protesters and their supporters...would have made U.S. imperialism's victory in 1989-91 even more complete?"

In 1991, top bureaucrats, generals and KGB chiefs launched a military coup in a last-ditch effort to preserve their rule in the former USSR. They were defeated by massive demonstrations in the streets of Moscow. Marcy criticized the coup leaders for their failure, writing [8], "A coalition of military officers, party officials and security forces has made an ill-fated attempt to halt the process of capitalist restoration in the USSR."

The WWP's and PSL's enthusiasm for crackdowns has not diminished with the passage of time. Incredibly, they continue to defend the Chinese Communist Party as an "anti-imperialist" force. In 2008, PSL leader Brian Becker explained [9] that the group must "offer militant political defense of the Chinese government" in the face of mass movements which are hostile to the Communist Party.

In addition to their admiration for the rulers of China, the WWP and PSL extend their support of what might be called "regime socialism" to various less powerful governments, such as North Korea, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Iraq (under Saddam Hussein), Libya, Syria, and even to states they deem to be "anti-imperialist," such as Iran.

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THE MAIN justification for this characterization is that these governments are (or at least have been) targets of U.S. imperialism.

All genuine socialists in the U.S. must unequivocally oppose all forms of intervention in these countries, whatever the character of their governments. Socialists never support their "own" government in its wars for power and profit. That's why we call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. military, mercenary and intelligence forces from Iraq and Afghanistan; the end of all aid to Israel, Egypt, Colombia and Saudi Arabia; and the lifting of sanctions against Cuba, to name a few important anti-imperialist positions.

But genuine socialism and anti-imperialism requires more than a simple "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" approach. It requires organizing to link the interests of workers, students, the poor and the oppressed across the world, including to their brothers and sisters in the United States.

This necessitates organizing against the U.S. government's military attacks on other nations and exposing the hypocrisy of its racist propaganda conducted against political leaders and peoples it decides to demonize. Thus, even though we in the ISO believed that Saddam Hussein of Iraq was a tyrant, we were 100 percent against both U.S. wars against Iraq under George Bush Sr. and Jr., and against Bill Clinton's deadly sanctions regime.

However, opposing imperialist war and supporting the right of national self-determination does not mean that socialists should give, as Brian Becker puts it, "militant political defense" to every government the U.S. government declares to be its foe.

Instead, while we oppose U.S. (or European or Chinese or Russian) intervention, we also support the right of workers, students and poor people in these countries to rebel, to build social movements, to fight for their democratic rights like freedom of speech, religion and assembly, and to struggle for union rights, women's and racial equality, and more.

In fact, we think U.S. imperialism is best opposed not by the continuing state power of decrepit, corrupt, bureaucratic rulers, but by rebellion from below.

U.S. imperialism can deal with losing a dictator or two in the Middle East and North Africa. What it can't handle is a region-wide social revolution that threatens its economic, political and military interests.

This is precisely what is happening across the region, and the workers, students and poor of North Africa and the Middle East don't care if the WWP and PSL have anointed the regime they happen to live under as "progressive" or not.

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IF the WWP and PSL issued mealy-mouthed statements about Libya that give the feeling they hope Qaddafi somehow hangs on to power, the two organizations continue to promote their loud and proud support of the Iranian regime's brutal crackdown on dissent. As PSL's Mazda Majidi wrote [10]:

[T]here is one obvious difference between the revolutionary movement in Egypt and the Green opposition in Iran. In Egypt, the movement encompasses millions of people from different classes against the U.S. client Mubarak dictatorship. The dictatorship has very little social base left. There were no pro-Mubarak demonstrations, except for the few hundred hired thugs and policemen out of uniform that tried unsuccessfully to quash the protests. In contrast, in Iran, on many occasions, millions of predominantly working-class people have demonstrated in support of the Islamic Republic.

This is an incredible statement from beginning to end. Majidi dramatically underestimates the social base of the Egyptian regime, reducing it to a "few hundred hired thugs." In fact, tens of thousands of thugs were unleashed on Tahrir Square, resulting in many deaths, and tens of thousands more--the Mubarak regime's police and security service personnel numbered 1.7 million--launched attacks throughout the country. It was only through a heroic mass struggle that these forces were defeated.

Despite what Majidi claims, the "obvious difference" between Egypt and Iran was that the regime lost in Egypt, while the Iranian government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has so far managed to repress the opposition.

But the simple fact is that the same underlying conditions of poverty, oppression and repression which drove millions to the streets in Iran in 2009 also sparked the revolution in Tunisia, the revolution in Egypt and the rebellion that will hopefully soon overthrow Qaddafi in Libya. The revolutionary wave is sure to continue--and it is bound to make its way back to Tehran, as evidenced by a series of demonstrations over the past month.

Why did it take more than a week for the WWP and PSL to make a statement about the Libyan revolution? Only now that the revolt has achieved mass proportions are these organizations beginning to hedge their bets in case Qaddafi falls, with some vague qualifications of their support for the regime.

Nevertheless, instead of standing forthrightly with the revolution spreading through the Arab world, these groups want to pick and choose which revolutions are "good" and which are "bad." Concretely, under PSL's influence, the ANSWER coalition in San Francisco refused to endorse a rally on February 26 in solidarity with the Libyan uprising. This allegiance to police states may make some sense in the minds of the WWP and PSL theoreticians, but it has no place in the fight for social justice.

The leaderships of the WWP and PSL have had decades to reconsider their "militant" defense of Stalinism and supposedly "anti-imperialist" police states--and they have sided with the tanks every time.

That is their right. Everyone is free to think what they want. Fortunately, the workers, students and poor of North Africa and the Middle East are demonstrating a clearer understanding of the class struggle.

Of course, socialists and radicals of all stripes must continue to work together to oppose U.S. military intervention and the racist scapegoating that justifies it, despite our disagreements.

But this debate should not be papered over. For several generations, the dominant position among those who called themselves socialists was support for the kind of Stalinist regimes that the WWP and PSL back to this day. It is high time to clear away these distorted theories and recognize that Karl Marx's commitment to revolution "from below" means supporting the mass struggles spreading from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya and beyond.

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Submitted by Gary (not verified) on Thu, 03/10/2011 - 06:00


You should fact-check Mr. Chretien's analysis before posting it. If you look over his sources, you will note that he dishonestly misrepresents their views. Neither has expressed even the slightest political support for Gadaffi, although they have noted the worrisome aspects of the revolt's leadership, and warned from the beginning of foreign intervention.

*Venezuela and Libya: it is not an April 11 coup, it is a February 27

Jorge Martín, International Marxist

There has been a lot of discussion in Latin America about the events
unfolding in Libya. This article explains the position of the IMT, which is
one of support for the uprising of the Libyan people, while at the same time
condemns any imperialist intervention. We also critically examine the
position adopted by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

The governments of Venezuela and Cuba have correctly stood up in
international institutions to oppose any imperialist intervention in Libya.
They have criticised the hypocrisy of those countries who raise a hue and
cry over human rights violations in Libya while at the same time having
participated in murderous imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and
supported the brutal repression of the Palestinian people by the state of

The Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, Jorge Valero, explained it this way:

“Who pays for the more than one million dead in Iraq? Who pays for the
permanent massacre against the Palestinian people? Why is it that those
responsible for these crimes of war, genocide and against humanity – who are
known to all and publicly recognise their deed – are not taken to the
International Court of Justice? What does the Security Council do faced with
these horrible massacres that take place?”

Quite correctly, the Venezuelan representatives denounced the real aims of
the intervention of imperialism in the region:

“Those who promote the use of military force against Libya, do not seek to
defend human rights, but to establish a protectorate in order to violate
them, as is always the case, in a country which is one of the most important
sources of oil and energy in the Middle East”.

The people of Iraq are a testimony to this fact. Washington made up an
excuse (so-called “weapons of mass destruction”) in order to attack Iraq so
that they could reassert their power and regain direct control over crucial
oil resources. The aim of the invasion was not to “establish democracy” and
certainly there is very little democracy in Iraq now under the Maliki
government. Thousands of Iraqis marched last month demanding electricity,
water, jobs and bread and they were met with the brutal repression of
government forces, leading to deaths, injuries, arrests and kidnappings. And
yet no one is suggesting taking the government of Iraq to the International

The United Nations is in fact a farce. It is a body that merely reflects the
domination of US imperialism. When the US are able to get resolutions passed
in order to justify their actions, they use the UN as a fig leaf. When, for
whatever reason, they are not able to get their aims endorsed by the UN,
they ignore the UN and carry them out regardless. And, finally, when
resolutions are passed against their imperialist aims (for instance against
the blockade on Cuba or condemning Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian
people), they simply ignore them, and they are never enforced. In the recent
case of the resolution on Israeli settlements on Palestinian Territory, the
US sued its veto to block resolution. So much for justice and human rights.

In the last few days there has been a lot of noise and some concrete actions
on the part of imperialist nations regarding Libya. The US has now moved two
amphibious warships, the USS Ponce and the USS Kearsarge, carrying
helicopters and fighter jets, into the Mediterranean. Under the cover of
so-called “humanitarian intervention”, imperialist powers (including the US,
UK, France and Italy) amongst others, are discussing what action they can
take to secure their own interests. European countries are mainly worried
about the possible arrival of a mass of refugees on their shores. Another
worry is control over oil resources and above all the impact of the
revolutionary tide sweeping the Arab world on oil prices and the knock on
effect this could have on the capitalist economy as a whole.

The most discussed option is a “no-fly zone”, which has been advocated
amongst others by both Republican senator John McCain and Democratic senator
John Kerry. For his own reasons, British Prime Minister David Cameron, has
also made belligerent noises, attempting to puff up a role in world politics
for Britain that it can no longer really play.

However, the truth is that even a limited intervention in the form of a no
fly-zone would be risky and complicated to implement. US Defense Secretary
Robert Gates complained that “there’s a lot of, frankly, loose talk about
some of these military options.” He warned of the implications of such an
action: “Let’s just call a spade a spade: a no-fly zone begins with an
attack on Libya, to destroy the air defences. That’s the way you do a no-fly
zone... It also requires more airplanes than you would find on a single
aircraft carrier. So it is a big operation in a big country.”

The US military is already overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, as he
stressed: “If we move additional assets, what are the consequences of that
for Afghanistan, for the Persian Gulf?” he said. “And what other allies are
prepared to work with us in some of these things?”

However, the main worry imperialist planners have regarding intervention in
Libya is the backlash this would generate throughout the region. The masses
are sick and tired of imperialism and the revolutionary wave which is
sweeping the Arab world is directly aimed at US-sponsored regimes. Gates
showed that the US ruling class is aware of this when he said: “We also have
to think about, frankly, the use of the US military in another country in
the Middle East.”

These considerations, of course, do not rule out imperialist intervention in
Libya or anywhere else, if their vital interests come under threat. However,
they do underline the fact that the US has been caught unawares by the
present revolutionary wave and has been unable to intervene decisively to
steer the course of events in their favour.

In the face of imperialism’s manoeuvres, and also the inconsistent manner in
which they deal with the matter of “human rights” and “crimes against
humanity”, Venezuela and Cuba are correct in exposing the hypocrisy of
imperialism and agitating against any foreign powers intervening in Libya.

However, the case that is being made by both countries, and most prominently
by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, is undermined by the fact that they are
perceived as being supportive of Gaddafi, instead of supporting the masses
of the Libyan people who have risen up against his regime.

It is true that Venezuelan ambassador to the UN said in his speech that
Venezuela “greets the Arab peoples who are in a process of peaceful and
justice seeking rebellion, and looking for a better future through peaceful
roads”. But at the same time Fidel Castro has argued that the problems faced
by Libya are different to those faced by Tunisia and Egypt. He has added
that while “there is no doubt that the faces of those protesting in Benghazi
expressed real indignation”, there has been a “colossal campaign of lies,
unleashed by the mass media, which led to great confusion on the part of the
world’s public opinion”.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has also said that he “refuses to condemn
Gaddafi” who has been “a long-time friend of Venezuela” because apparently
there is not enough information on the situation. He has used the example of
April 11, 2002, when the world’s media accused Chavez of having ordered the
army to fire on unarmed demonstrators in order to justify the coup against
him. As we all know, it was later on proven that it had all been a set up,
with hired snipers firing on opposition and revolutionary demonstrators

However, in the case of Libya, the situation is completely different. In
Venezuela what we had was a reactionary movement against a democratically
elected government attempting to implement progressive reforms and standing
up against imperialism. In Libya we have a popular uprising against an
oppressive regime which had made all sorts of deals with imperialism.

To a certain extent, it can be understood why there is confusion in
Venezuela about the real nature of what is really happening in Libya. The
Venezuelan people no longer trust the capitalist media, completely
discredited by the role they played in the coup in 2002. Furthermore, the
Venezuelan counter-revolutionary opposition is attempting to jump on the
bandwagon of the Arab revolution, saying that “the next dictator to fall
will be Hugo Chavez”.

It is a matter of public record that the Venezuelan counter-revolutionary
opposition receives funding, training and support of all kinds from
Washington. On a number of occasions they have organized their forces on the
streets to make it look as if Chavez were a tyrant facing popular opposition
(in the run up to the April 11, 2002, coup, during the oil lock out in
December 2002, during the guarimba in 2004, the student protests in defence
of RCTV, etc). They will not hesitate in doing it again. However, what we
are seeing in the Arab world is precisely the opposite: a series of
revolutionary uprisings against US backed dictatorial regimes.

It is true that the Libyan regime of Gaddafi came to power at the head of a
movement with large popular support against the rotten monarchy of Kind
Idris in 1969. In the 1970s, influenced by the previous wave of the Arab
revolution, and under the impact of the 1974 worldwide recession, the regime
moved further to the left, expelling imperialism and making deep inroads
against capitalist property. Basing itself on the oil wealth of the country
and the small size of its population, it was able to implement many
progressive reforms and substantially increase the standard of the living of
the overwhelming majority of Libyans.

However, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the regime started making
openings to imperialism. Already in 1993 laws guaranteeing foreign
investment were passed. And it was after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003
that Gaddafi decided to settle affairs with imperialism signing a number of
deals for decommissioning its weapons of mass destruction, paying
reparations to the victims of terrorist bombings, etc. The regime became a
loyal partner of imperialism in the so-called “war on terror” and
collaborated with the European Union in order to strengthen “fortress
Europe” against the entry of sub-Saharan illegal immigrants.

This was accompanied by requesting entry into the WTO, creating Special
Trade Zones, privatizing large parts of the economy, allowing back oil
multinationals into the oil industry and eliminating subsidies on basic
foodstuffs. The aim was to privatise 100% of the economy, according to
Libyan officials. It was precisely the implementation of these policies that
led to increased unemployment (between 20 and 30%), poverty and inequality,
that played a key role in the current uprising.

In his latest article about the situation, Fidel Castro stresses the fact
that, “it is an undeniable fact that the relations between the US and its
NATO allies with Libya in the recent years were excellent,” adding that
Libya “opened up strategic sectors as the production and distribution of oil
to foreign investment” and that, “many state-owned companies were
privatized. The IMF played its role in implementing these policies.” And as
a result “Aznar was full of praise for Gaddafi, and he was followed by
Blair, Berlusconi, Sarkozy, Zapatero, and even my friend the King of Spain,
they all queued up under the mocking smile of the Libyan leader. They were
pleased.” (Cuba Debate)

In his recent interviews with the BBC and ABC news Gaddafi himself explained
how he felt “betrayed” by the Western powers. After having supported them
and followed their policies for a number of years now they are abandoning
him. Even the rhetoric he uses demonstrates that. When accusing the rebels
of being manipulated by Al Qaeda, he is using the same scare-mongering
tactics that Ben Ali and above all Mubarak used earlier on, and in reality
is asking the West for support against the common enemy. The real character
of Gaddafi’s regime can be deduced from his position regarding the
revolutionary uprising in Tunisia, where he came out firmly on the side of
Western ally Ben Ali and criticized the Tunisian workers and youth for
having overthrown him!

As for the truth of what is really happening in Libya, one does not need to
listen to the Western media. Saif al Islam, Gaddafi’s son and right hand
man, himself admitted to the use of the army against unarmed demonstrators
in his speech on February 20:

“Of course there were many deaths, which angered many people in Benghazi,
but why were there people killed? The army was under stress, it is not used
to crowd control so they shot, but I called them. The army said that some
protesters were drunk, others were on hallucinogens or drugs. The army has
to defend its weapons. And the people were angry. So there were deaths, but
in the end Libyans were killed.”

Gaddafi himself has admitted that “a few hundred were killed”, but put it
down to Al Qaeda distributing drugs to the youth!!

The story reported by TeleSUR’s correspondent in Libya, Reed Lindsay (, confirms the reports coming from other sources:
there were popular, peaceful and unarmed demonstrations and the army opened
fire (see for instance this report: Telesur). In a report he sent from Brega
on March 2 (Telesur), he described how there were soldiers that had joined
the rebellion but also “citizens of all kinds, I have spoken to doctors,
engineers, workers from the oil company, here they are all in rebellion,
part of the uprising and armed” adding that “this rebellion started
peacefully, two weeks ago, but now the people are armed to struggle until
they achieve the overthrow of Gaddafi.” He also rejected the notion that
there is a civil war in Libya: “We are not talking about a civil war here…
this started as peaceful demonstrators being attacked by security forces
using heavy gunfire.”(Union Radio)

As part of his reporting, Reed Lindsay, has also confirmed all the reports
that show how the Libyan people who have risen up against Gaddafi are
staunchly against foreign intervention. “They say that if the US troops
arrive here, they will fight them in the same way they are fighting against
the government of Gaddafi.”

The other important point that Lindsay has made in his reports is regarding
the attitude of the people, both in Benghazi and Brega, towards Latin
American governments, and particularly those of the ALBA countries. In Brega
many people are asking “why the Venezuelan president and other Latin
American presidents who are in favour of social justice and revolutionary
change are supporting a dictator who is using the Army against his own
people” he said (Union Radio). “They are asking the ALBA countries to break
with Gaddafi and support the revolutionary struggle of the Libyan people” he
reported from Benghazi. According to him, the people in Ajdabiya talk of a
“common struggle with the peoples of Latin America” (Twitter. We are quoting
from Reed Lindsay, because he cannot be accused of being an agent of
imperialism or of distorting the news in order to justify an intervention by

Even the other TeleSUR correspondent, Jordan Rodríguez, who is basically
just reporting what Gaddafi and other officials are saying, without any
comment, had problems when he attempted to report about clashes in
neighbourhoods in Tripoli. His team was detained by police officers for four
hours, beaten up, threatened with guns pointed at them and their footage was
taken away (Telesur). This was the second time they had been arrested and it
happened even though they were travelling in a Venezuelan diplomatic car.

There is a very important point made in these reports. The Venezuelan
revolution and particularly president Chavez are immensely popular in the
Arab world, particularly after his very vocal opposition to Israel’s
invasion of Lebanon. The masses in these countries see Hugo Chavez as the
leader of an oil country who stands up to imperialism and uses the oil money
in order to improve the living conditions of the people. This is in stark
contrast to the rulers of their own countries, who are puppets of US
imperialism, do not open their mouths against Israel’s aggressions and use
the wealth of the country for their own personal enrichment. This is
precisely one of the reasons behind the revolutionary uprising of the Arab
masses. In an opinion poll conducted in 2009 in several Arab countries, the
most popular leader was Hugo Chavez with 36% of support, well ahead of any
others (pdf).

The only base of support on which the Venezuelan revolution can count are
the masses of workers and youth in the Middle East and North Africa, and
throughout the world, who feel sympathy and solidarity with the Bolivarian
revolution because they would like a similar revolution to take place in
their own countries. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution should come
out clearly in favour of the revolutionary wave sweeping the Arab world,
because it is part of the world revolution of which Latin America was for
some years the advanced guard. This includes giving support to the Libyan
people rising up against Gaddafi, while at the same time opposing any
imperialist intervention.

In his attempts to prevent foreign military intervention in Libya, Hugo
Chavez has proposed an international mediation commission to go to Libya.
Latest reports in the media indicate that while Gaddafi is said to have
accepted this, his son Saif al-Islam has firmly rejected the proposal. "We
have to say thank you, but we are able and capable enough to solve our
issues by our own people". Venezuelans, he added, "are our friends, we
respect them, we like them, but they are far away. They have no idea about
Libya. Libya is in the Middle East and North Africa. Venezuela is in Central
America." For Saif’s information, Venezuela is not in Central America, but
now doubt his mind is concentrated on other matters.

On their part, the Libyan rebels have also rejected the mediation, saying
they have not heard about it, but that it is too late for negotiations
anyway, and that too many people have been killed by Gaddafi. If one
understands the real essence of the situation in Libya, one of a government
brutally putting down peaceful demonstrations of his own people, which then
becomes a popular armed uprising with sections of the army and the police
going over to the people, then one can understand why this proposal is
wrong. It is as if in the last days of the Cuban revolution, when the
revolutionary army was about to overthrow Batista, someone had said, “wait a
second, let’s have international mediation so that there can be an
understanding between Batista and the M26J movement.”

The only position a revolutionary can take in a situation like this is one
of support for the revolutionary uprising of the Libyan people. If Hugo
Chavez does not come out clearly in favour of the revolutionary masses of
the Arab world then he would be making a serious mistake, one for which the
Venezuelan revolution can pay dearly. Hugo Chavez is looking at the Libyan
situation through Venezuelan lenses, making the wrong comparisons. The
Libyan rebels cannot be compared to the Venezuelan opposition and the
position that regime of Gaddafi finds itself in cannot in any way be
compared to that facing Chavez.

We must be clear: what we are seeing in Libya and the rest of the Arab world
is not an April 11, 2002 coup justified with media manipulation, but rather
a February 27, 1989, a Caracazo-like uprising, in which the governments are
using the Army against unarmed demonstrators. While opposing imperialist
intervention, we must be clear what side we are on: that of the Libyan
people against the Gaddafi regime.
See also:

- 06/03/2011: Venezuela and Libya: An Interview with Gregory
- 03/03/2011: Chavez Says Gaddafi Accepted Proposal for Goodwill
Commission in Libya [6]
- 03/03/2011: From Latin America to the Arab World – What’s going on in
Libya? [7]

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