Workers'Weekly On-Line
Volume 41 Number 6, March 5, 2011 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

No Intervention in Libya!

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

No Intervention in Libya!

Opposition to Plans to Invade Libya:
Discussion in South Tyneside
Statement by Cuba's Minister of Foreign Affairs to the UN Human Rights Council
March 12 Day of Action

March for the Alternative:
Defend the Right to Protest!

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No Intervention in Libya!

The British government has been stepping up its interference in Libya (officially the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya ). Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his government had not ruled out the use of “military assets”, in other words a direct military attack on Libya, in order to bring about the regime change that is so obviously desired by Anglo-American imperialism and many of its NATO allies.

The Prime Minister, other members of the government and the mass media are attempting to present Libya as in many ways no different from Tunisia, Egypt and other countries in North Africa and the wider region where popular uprisings have taken place over recent weeks. However, most other countries in the region have been dominated for many years by reactionary governments that have been propped up by the US, Britain and the other big powers, and which have forced the people of these countries to suffer under the economic diktat of the IMF and World Bank. The same cannot be said of Libya, which has developed its own unique political system of direct democracy, until recently implemented its own economic policy, and generally pursued an independent foreign policy. In this regard, for example, it was at forefront of efforts to create the African Union, which it viewed as a bulwark against neo-liberal globalisation. Libya has also been subject to military attacks by Anglo-American imperialism before, most notably in 1986, when US bombing that killed many civilians was strongly condemned in the UN General Assembly. This was to be followed by US and then UN economic sanctions. The latter, imposed in 1992 in order to force Libya to accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, were not fully lifted until 2004. In recent years the US, Britain and the other big powers have sought to come to terms with the government of Libya, largely to pursue their own economic and geo-political interests in the country. Libya has Africa’s largest proven oil reserves in Africa and is Europe’s single largest oil supplier.

It is clear that there is a significant opposition movement in Libya, although its precise origins and motivation are far from clear. It seems that many of the leaders of the opposition are also former members of the Libyan government, such as former Justice Minister Jalil and General Obidi, the former Interior Minister and head of Special Forces, who had talks with William Hague earlier this week. The constant raising of the flag of the monarchy, which ruled Libya from 1951 until 1969, certainly suggests that some look back with fondness to a time when Libya was firmly in the grip of Anglo-American imperialism and British and US military bases were established on Libyan soil. However, the Libyan people must be the decision makers about the future direction and government of their country without the external intervention that is being organised by the Anglo-Americans and their allies.

The governments of Britain, the US and others have openly declared that they desire regime change and have been sending warships to Libya and taking other measures that have already, or will in the future, violate the sovereignty of the country. The British government has boasted that it is at the forefront of organising both UN and EU imposed economic sanctions and taking other measures designed to bully the Libyan government. David Cameron, who claimed that his government had broken with the military intervention which so characterised the previous Labour governments, has been the most vociferous sabre-rattler and has demanded that a “no-fly zone” should by imposed on Libya, an act which as recent history has shown is a declaration of war. This warmongering has been justified by a wide-scale campaign of disinformation about the actual situation within Libya and on its borders to which has been added the alleged concern of the British government about what it terms a “humanitarian disaster”.

However, as the government has again made clear this week, it sees unrest in Libya and the wider region as a great opportunity not to be missed in order to further advance the geo-political and economic interests of the big monopolies and financial institutions it represents. By this is meant not only greater control of oil and gas supplies but a base from which to exert even greater pressure on the Palestinians and on Iran. Both the Prime Minister and other senior members of the British government have spoken of the need for North Africa to adopt the European model, and embrace the so-called universal values of the Paris Charter. It is now clear that as in Iraq and Afghanistan, the British government and its allies are ready and willing to impose the values of neo-liberal globalisation and representative democracy on Libya by military might.

Some of the other big powers, notably Russia and China, have opposed the open warmongering of the Anglo-Americans, and opposition has also been voiced by the African Union and the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and other countries. But there can be no illusions about the real danger of imperialism carrying out its military plans, whether under the name of “humanitarian intervention” or, as happened with Iraq it should not be forgotten, as getting rid of some demonised “dictator”. There can be no conciliation with these plans in whatever shape or form. All democratic people must take a stand and demand an end to the war plans of Anglo-American imperialism and its allies as a priority.

No to armed intervention in Libya!
No to all foreign intervention in North Africa!
Let the people decide their own future!

Article Index


Opposition to Plans to Invade Libya:

Discussion in South Tyneside

A recent meeting of South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition reviewed the events of the last week in the Stop the War movement. It particularly discussed the important statement of the Stop the War Coalition opposing the continued intervention of the Anglo-US powers in the Middle East, and discussed in some detail the Anglo-US plan to focus on Libya and Iran. Examining the thesis of US and British officials that Gaddafi was "mad", participants pointed out that if anything could be said to be “mad”, it was the US bombing of Libya in the 1980s from bases in Britain, which had killed his adopted daughter, and that Gaddafi's pronouncements should be examined dispassionately. Examining the way the monopoly-controlled media operate by labelling Gaddafi as the worst dictator in the Middle East, the meeting discussed the Eurocentric view of democracy as a multi-party state with a capitalist global monopoly economy. From this standpoint, every other system is labelled undemocratic and to be dismissed out of hand and its leaders labelled as dictators, simply because it does not conform to the multi-party system and the Paris Charter definition of democracy. With this narrative that Gaddafi is the worse dictator, the rendition and torturing of the dictators groomed in Cairo and elsewhere is forgotten, but even they pale against Bush and Blair, the biggest criminals of this millennium, who are responsible for the deaths of millions.

The other important point in the discussion was the reaffirming that the only regime that the people of Britain and the Stop the War movement had the right to deal with was its own. The focus should be against the dictator Cameron who was a crook who peddled arms in the Middle East whilst the uprisings raged. Also, in relation to this question, it was pointed out that the crisis of political representation was so deep in Britain that they could no longer tolerate any country that provided an alternative model for the people, because this general political crisis posed the question of renovating democracy with new and modern direct systems of democracy. The fact that Libya had such a system, regardless of whether it worked well or not, Cameron and the media definitely did not want to discuss. Rather, it is simply dismissed as a dictatorship or totalitarianism because any discussion on alternative systems threatened their exploitative system which is a dictatorship of the monopolies over the people’s wellbeing and needs. The meeting also considered the necessity for a modern definition of a political party which is not an electoral machine but a powerful political arrangement at the base to bring the people to power, and the need for the renovation of the whole political superstructure from top to bottom.

Article Index


Statement by Cuba's Minister of Foreign Affairs to the UN Human Rights Council

March 1, 2011, Geneva

Cuba categorically rejects any attempt whatsoever to take advantage of the tragic situation created in order to occupy Libya and control its oil

Mr President:

Humanity's conscience is repulsed by the deaths of innocent people under any circumstances, anyplace. Cuba fully shares the worldwide concern for the loss of civilian lives in Libya and hopes that its people are able to reach a peaceful and sovereign solution to the civil war occurring there, with no foreign interference, and can guarantee the integrity of that nation.

Most certainly the Libyan people oppose any foreign military intervention, which would delay an agreement even further and cause thousands of deaths, displacement and enormous injury to the population.

Cuba categorically rejects any attempt whatsoever to take advantage of the tragic situation created in order to occupy Libya and control its oil.

It is noteworthy that the voracity for oil, not peace or the protection of Libyan lives, is the motivation inciting the political forces, primarily conservative, which today, in the United States and some European countries, are calling for a NATO military intervention in Libyan territory. Nor does it appear that objectivity, accuracy or a commitment to the truth are prevailing in part of the press, reports being used by media giants to fan the flames.

Given the magnitude of what is taking place in Libya and the Arab world, in the context of a global economic crisis, responsibility and a long-term vision should prevail on the part of governments in the developed countries. Although the goodwill of some could be exploited, it is clear that a military intervention would lead to a war with serious consequences for human lives, especially the millions of poor who comprise four fifths of humanity.

Despite the paucity of some facts and information, the reality is that the origins of the situation in North Africa and the Middle East are to be found within the crisis of the rapacious policy imposed by the United States and its NATO allies in the region. The price of food has tripled, water is scarce, the desert is growing, poverty is on the rise and with it, repugnant social inequality and exclusion in the distribution of the opulent wealth garnered from oil in the region.

The fundamental human right is the right to life, which is not worth living without human dignity.

The way in which the right to life is being violated should arouse concern. According to various sources, more than 111 million people have perished in armed conflicts during modern wars. It cannot be forgotten in this room that, if in World War I civilian deaths amounted to 5% of total casualties, in the subsequent wars of conquest after 1990, basically in Iraq, with more than one million, and Afghanistan with more than 70,000, the deaths of innocents stand at 90%. The proportion of children in these figures is horrific and unprecedented.

The concept of "collateral damage”, an offense to human nature, has been accepted in the military doctrine of NATO and the very powerful nations.

In the last decade, humanitarian international law has been trampled, as is occurring on the US Guantánamo Naval Base, which usurps Cuban territory.

As a consequence of those wars, global refugee figures have increased by 34%, to more than 26 million people.

Military spending increased by 49% in the decade, to reach $1.5 trillion, more than half of that figure in the United States alone. The industrial-military complex continues producing wars.

Every year, 740,000 human beings die, not only on account of conflicts, but as victims of violent acts associated with organised crime.

In one European country, a woman dies every five days as a result of domestic violence. In the countries of the South, half a million mothers die in childbirth every year.

Every day, 29,000 children die of hunger and preventable diseases. In the minutes that I have been speaking, no less than 120 children have died. Four million perish in their first month of life. In total, 11 million children die every year.

There are 100,000 deaths a day from causes related to malnutrition, adding up to 35 million a year.

In Hurricane Katrina alone, in the most developed country in the world, 1,836 people died, almost all of them African Americans of few resources. In the last two years, 470,000 people died throughout the world as a result of natural disasters, 97% of them of low income.

In the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti alone, more than 250,000 people died, almost all of them resident in very poor homes. The same thing occurred with homes swept away by excessive rainfall in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil.

If the developing countries had infant and maternal mortality rates like those of Cuba, 8.4 million children and 500,000 mothers would be saved annually. In the cholera epidemic in Haiti, Cuban doctors are treating almost half of the patients, with a mortality rate five times lower than those being treated by physicians from other countries. Cuban international medical cooperation has made it possible to save more than 4.4 million lives in dozens of countries in four continents.

Human dignity is a human right. Today, 1.4 billion people are living in extreme poverty. There are 1.2 billion hungry people, and a further two billion are suffering from malnutrition. There are 759 million illiterate adults.

Mr President:

The Council has demonstrated its capacity for approaching human rights situations in the world, including those of an urgent nature which require attention and action on the part of the international community. The usefulness of the Universal Periodic Review, as a means of sustaining international cooperation, of evaluating the undertakings of all countries without distinction in this context has been confirmed.

The spirit which animated our actions during the review process of this body was to preserve, improve and strengthen this Council in its function of effectively promoting and protecting all human rights for everyone.

The results of this exercise express a recognition of the Council's important achievements in its short existence. While it is true that the agreements reached are insufficient in the light of the demands of developing countries, the body has been preserved from those whose aim was to reform it to their convenience in order to satisfy hegemonic appetites and to resuscitate the past of confrontation, double standards, selectivity and imposition.

It is to be hoped from the debates of the last few days that this Human Rights Council will continue constructing and advancing its institutionalism toward the full exercise of its mandate.

It would be very negative if, on the pretext of reviewing the Council's institutional construction and in abuse of the dramatic juncture which is being discussed, it should be manipulated and pressured in an opportunist way in order to establish precedents and modify agreements.

If the essential human right is the right to life, will the Council be ready to suspend the membership of states that unleash a war?

Is the Council proposing to make some substantial contribution to eliminating the principal threat to the life of the human species which is the existence of enormous arsenals of nuclear weapons, an infinitesimal part of which, or the explosion of 100 warheads, would provoke a nuclear winter, according to irrefutable scientific evidence?

Will it establish a thematic procedure on the impact of climate change in the exercise of human rights and proclaim the right to a healthy atmosphere?

Will it suspend states which finance and supply military aid utilised by recipient states for mass, flagrant and systematic violations of human rights and for attacks on the civilian population, like those taking place in Palestine?

Will it apply that measure against powerful countries which are perpetrating extra-judicial executions in the territory of other states with the use of high technology, such as smart bombs and drone aircraft?

What will happen to states which accept secret illegal prisons in their territories, facilitate the transit of secret flights with kidnapped persons aboard, or participate in acts of torture?

Can the Council adopt a declaration on the right of peoples to peace?

Will it adopt an action programme that includes concrete commitments guaranteeing the right to nourishment in a moment of food crisis, spiralling food prices and the utilisation of cereal crops to produce biofuels?

Mr President; Distinguished Ministers and Delegates:

What measures will this Council adopt against a member state which is committing acts that are causing grave suffering and seriously endangering physical or mental integrity, such as the blockade of Cuba, typified as genocide in Article 2, Paragraphs B and C, of the 1948 Geneva Convention?

Thank you very much.

Article Index


March 12 Day of Action

Stop the War Coalition

* No Intervention in the Middle East

We are asking all our groups to combine the call for troops out of Afghanistan with a demand for no intervention in Libya and the Middle East on our day of action on March 12.

The Western powers are looking for opportunities to use the crisis to intervene in Libya. Although so far more cautious voices have prevailed, there are clearly many in Washington and Whitehall who are pushing for military action.

The fact that until just weeks ago the West was happily backing Gaddafi and the other dictators in the region shows that the West is not concerned about freedom, democracy and progress for people there. Any action would be taken for purely cynical reasons, not least to try and maintain control over oil.

As the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan has proved to all but the most extreme hawks, military intervention is likely to increase violence and drag Libya further in to war.

Stop the War has made a good start in putting the argument against intervention, first on the United We Stand demonstration to Downing Street last Friday and similar protests round the country, and then at the excellent rally in Conway Hall on Wednesday.

We now need to step up our campaign.  We are organising a delegation to Downing Street next week to demand no intervention from the government.

We are asking all our groups to combine the call for troops out of Afghanistan with a demand for no intervention in Libya and the Middle East on our day of action on March 12.

* Bring the Troops Home Now

The extent of establishment disenchantment with the war in Afghanistan was revealed this week when the The Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Committee called on the US to start talks with the Taliban and to recognise that there is no military solution in Afghanistan. 

Meanwhile, the civilian death rate in Afghanistan is at its highest since the invasion. Nine children were killed in one US airstrike two days ago.  Support is ebbing away from the war effort because of the strengthening resistance in the country, and the fighting season starts in a few weeks time. 

Next Saturday March 12, we are asking all our groups to take to the streets and organise protests and street stalls calling for Troops Out of Afghanistan and Hands Off the Middle East. A petition is available to be downloaded on the Stop the War website ( resources petitions Hands off the Middle East).

We should also use these events to publicise the March 26 demonstration. Please let us know details of your local event so we can publicise it.

Article Index


March for the Alternative:

Defend the Right to Protest!

It appears that the government is out to disrupt the TUC March for the Alternative on March 26. This is despite Cameron’s harping on about the "right to peaceful protest" in Egypt and other Middle East countries. A whole programme of containment is being put forward including "kettling" and even a "kettling manager".

The state is creating an opportunity to intimidate people. In previous demonstrations, police cut off very young students and prevented them from obtaining food and drink and using toilets. Some people were injured in crushes caused by containments.

Protesters are being bussed from the north only as far as Wembley if Boris Johnson gets his way, and will take prescribed tube routes to the meeting point at Embankment. Many will not arrive or get back to their coaches after the march. Normally coaches and buses are allowed to park and wait for passengers at Embankment. If this goes ahead, it will prevent many older and disabled people from attending if they have to travel to the outskirts and then have to get further transport in. These arrangements should not be allowed. Even on the biggest marches, the normal arrangements have been the best and safest and there has been no problem in organising it in the past.

The attempts are being made to sabotage mass protest and undermine dissent. The tactics are sly and underhand. The Con/Dem government does not want the people to express their opinions against the austerity measures they are bringing in through cuts to public services including the health service. This particular protest will represent the first major challenge against a government that is carrying out measures without any mandate or agreement from the public. The government is trying to spin the notion that protests in Britain are not like other countries but are sedate and reserved. But the contrary is the case. People are very angry about the banks, the cuts to public services, privatisation and war plans. The attitude of British people is no different from those abroad – in the US (centred around Wisconsin at present), Canada, Greece, Spain, France, and other countries in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Attempts to suppress dissent will not succeed and will force people to adopt new tactics in organising for their rights and the repercussions against the government will be greater.

Article Index


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