The Libyan People Reclaim Bani Walid, Driving Out US-NATO Mercenaries

Attacks mount against imperialist-backed NTC rebel regime

Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

A series of attacks have been launched against the United States and NATO-installed National Transitional Council in Libya. The most significant events occurred on January 23 when local forces still loyal to the former government of slain leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi retook the city of Bani Walid located 200 k (120 miles) south-east of Tripoli.

During the battles to reclaim the city four people were killed and 20 others were injured. Reports indicate that heavy weaponry was used by several hundred Libyan loyalists including 106 mm anti-tank launchers.

The liberation of Bani Walid took place after a gun battle with the NTC rebels that lasted only a few hours. Immediately green flags were hoisted, a symbol of the Jamahiriya government that was driven from power by a seven-month bombing campaign carried out by the U.S.-NATO forces.

A witness to the events on January 23 told Reuters that “They (the loyalists) control the town now. They are roaming the town.” (Reuters, January 23)

NTC rebels that were patrolling Bani Walid had recently arrested supporters of the former government prompting outrage among the population. The city had been one of the last to fall during the war against Libya which lasted for eight months and resulted in the wholesale destruction of the country’s infrastructure and the theft of its national wealth.

After holding out for many months against the U.S.-NATO forces and the NTC rebels, the local loyalist forces agreed to allow the western-backed gunmen to enter the city. However, tensions have remained extremely high.

Just last November gun fights erupted when NTC rebels entered the city in an attempt to arrest pro-Gaddafi supporters. On January 23, loyalist forces attacked a NTC militia garrison killing several guards before moving to occupy the center of the city.

According to Reuters, it may be very difficult for the NTC to make any attempts to exercise authority over Bani Walid. Sentiments against the western-backed rebels have not subsided.

Journalist Taha Zargoun wrote that “Taking back control of the town will be challenging because it has natural defenses. Anyone approaching from the north has to descend into a deep valley and then climb up the other side, giving defenders an advantage.” (Reuters, January 23)

Bani Walid Liberation Part of Broader Unrest

In various regions of Libya the NTC has been rapidly losing any semblance of control of the country. Other attacks by loyalist forces took place in the eastern city of Benghazi, the base of the counter-revolution and in Tripoli, the capital.

In Benghazi, pro-Gaddafi fighters mounted offensives against NTC rebels killing at least three gunmen. In the capital of Tripoli, guerrilla units loyal to the former government of Gaddafi launched attacks against NTC personnel in several neighborhoods across the city.

Overall dissatisfaction with the imperialist-backed rebel regime is increasing by the day. Even elements that supported the counter-revolution have rapidly grown disillusioned with the NTC regime which has failed to reign in the militia groups that roam areas of the capital and other cities committing atrocities against the people.

Even the Associated Press had to admit that “The bold attacks are the latest breakdown in security, three months after Gaddafi’s capture and killing. Protests have surged in recent weeks, with people demanding that the interim leaders deliver on promises of transparency and compensation for those injured in the civil war.” (Associated Press, January 23)

There have also been reports of attacks launched by loyalist forces in the western Nafusa mountains. This has prompted the NTC rebel regime to heighten security in Misrata, setting up check points in order to secure entrance points into the city.

After the fall of Tripoli in August, many loyalist units took refuge in Bani Walid and other areas in the west of the country. Reports of clashes have been consistent from the area.

Imperialists Ignore Human Rights Violations in Libya

Since the beginning of the rebellion against the Gaddafi government last February, there have been gross human rights violations against people inside the country. Foreign nationals, Black Libyans and loyalist forces were subjected to harassment, beatings, illegal imprisonment, torture and death at the hands of the NTC rebels and their imperialist backers.

During the course of the bombing campaign between March 19 and October 20, 26,000 sorties were carried out and 10,000 airstrikes. Estimates of deaths during this period range from 50,000-100,000.

At least 7,000 people remain imprisoned inside the country including the son and heir apparent to Muammar Gaddafi, Seif al-Islam. Seif was captured by the NTC rebels in south of the country late last year and has been held incommunicado since then.

Seif al-Islam has had one of his hand severed and reportedly is not allowed to seek legal counsel. The International Criminal Court (ICC), which had indicted Muammar Gaddafi and Seif al-Islam for alleged war crimes during the bombing of the country, has now said that the son can be tried on Libya soil under the purported laws of the NTC rebels.

In a report released in January by several human rights organizations, there are still widespread abuses, unjustified imprisonment and torture being conducted by the NTC rebel regime. The document entitled: “Report of the Independent Civil Society Fact-finding Mission to Libya,” reveals that victims of NATO and NTC war crimes reside in numerous areas throughout the country including Tripoli, Sibrata, Khoms, Zilten, Misrata, Tawergha and Sirte.

The authors of the report include the Arab Organization for Human Rights, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and the International Legal Assistance Consortium. The document further confirms the deliberate targeting of civilians during the bombing campaign between March and October of 2011.

Journalist Farirai Chubvu wrote of the findings that “The report exposes the human rights and democratic pretexts employed by the U.S., France, Britain and their NATO accomplices to carry out a colonial-style war of conquest. It makes clear that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, imposing a ‘no-fly zone’ and arms embargo on Libya supposedly to protect civilians from repressive actions by Muammar Gaddafi, was in fact used to carry out a ruthless air war waged in coordination with ‘rebel’ forces on the ground.”

Consequently, the imperialist states cannot be relied upon to protect the basic human rights of peoples within countries where they are carrying out wars. When President Barack Obama boasted during his state of the union address recently that the government of Gaddafi had been overthrown, no mention was ever made of the horrendous crimes committed by his government and NATO against the people of Libya.

Anti-war, peace and social justice organizations in the U.S. and other western countries must continue to speak out against imperialist wars being waged against oppressed peoples. Despite the false claims of concern for human rights and civil rights both inside the U.S. and abroad, it is the western states that are the main purveyors of violations of fundamental rights throughout the world.

Abayomi Azikiwe
is the editor of Pan-African News Wire , an international electronic press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world. The press agency was founded in January of 1998 and has published thousands of articles and dispatches in newspapers, magazines, journals, research reports, blogs and websites throughout the world. The PANW represents the only daily international news source on pan-african and global affairs. To contact him, click on this link >> Email