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.