Libya war exposes U.S./NATO crimes against humanity
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
For almost five months, the combined military forces of the United States and NATO have pounded Libyan cities, towns, villages and ports in an effort to overthrow the government of Moammar Gadhafi.
These bombing operations, now numbering more than 16,000 sorties and 6,100 strikes, have been combined with a naval blockade that includes 17 warships. NATO warships in the Mediterranean have hailed 1,907 vessels, boarded 183 and diverted nine. (Reuters, July 24)
Repeatedly the Pentagon and NATO have claimed that the war on the North African nation of Libya is designed to “protect” civilians from the government in Tripoli, which, in reality, is fighting to crush an imperialist-backed insurgency. Yet many reports indicate that the war, which was launched by the U.S. and several western European countries on March 19, is a systematic campaign to terrorize and subjugate the Libyan people.
On July 25 NATO forces bombed a hospital in the western city of Zlitan, killing seven people, including three physicians. (Associated Press, July 25) Air assaults damaged food warehouses in that city.
Just hours prior to the bombings in Zlitan, NATO carried out a series of air raids on the capital of Tripoli. Bombs hit a government compound, which NATO claimed was a command and control center for the Libyan military.
British military forces took credit for the July 25 air strikes on Tripoli. Major General Nick Pope, the defense staff’s chief communications officer, stated that the Royal Air Force struck the perimeter walls of the Bab al-Aziziyah complex, which has been described as a headquarters for Libyan leader Gadhafi. However, no casualties were reported in that strike on Tripoli.
On July 24 NATO bombed what it described as a military storage facility near the oil port town of al-Brega, a tank and multiple rocket launchers near Gharyan, and a surface-to-air missile launcher and tank in Tripoli. NATO forces also hit other cities and towns, including Waddan and Zintan, where they claimed to have struck military targets.
Contrary to NATO claims, the Libyan government said that a water storage facility was hit in al-Brega killing six security guards. Additional casualties were reported when groups fighting for the Transitional National Council suffered at least 50 deaths when they attempted to attack areas around al-Brega and Misrata during the week of July 18.
Amid the bombing escalations, the Pentagon and NATO have requested additional predator drones to carry out further strikes against Libya. President Barack Obama is considering the deployment of more of these weapons, which have been operational in this North African state for several months.
The Los Angeles Times quoted a NATO officer who said, “It’s getting more difficult to find stuff to blow up. Predators really enable you to study things and to develop a picture of what is going on.” (July 21)
He indicated that in order to deploy more drones in Libya it would be necessary to transfer them from existing theaters of war in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other so-called “counter-terrorism” operations around the world. An unnamed Pentagon official allegedly said, “We are looking at all the possibilities. The reason why this is hard is that everything we have is currently committed elsewhere.”
Although piloted aircraft from the U.S., France, Britain and other NATO countries have carried out most of the bombing operations, Washington’s predator drones have launched 64 strikes against Libya since April.
Libyan war follows similar pattern
The Pentagon and NATO war against Libya is by no means isolated. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the U.S./NATO war has escalated over the last two years since the Obama administration took power.
In December 2009 Obama announced the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. While the war has spread to neighboring Pakistan, civilian deaths from drone attacks have accelerated and consequently worsened relations between Islamabad and Washington.
Since the beginning of the U.S. and allied states’ invasion and occupation of Iraq, there have been large-scale Iraqi deaths. The war’s pretexts were unjustified since the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein and the Arab Baath Socialist Party had not attacked U.S. territory or harmed its citizens or residents.
The Iraqi people’s ongoing resistance has prevented the withdrawal of U.S. forces that are scheduled to leave by the end of 2011. Resistance organizations inside Iraq have killed more than two dozen U.S. soldiers in recent months.
Journalist Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey cites violations of the Statute of The Hague International Penal Court to provide a legal rationale for charging Washington and NATO countries with war crimes in Libya. He notes that Article 3 of the Statute reads: “Attack or bombardment, by whatever means, against undefended cities, towns, villages, buildings or houses” violates international law. “NATO’s continuous use of civilian targets for military purposes, a scenario which this military organization wantonly and callously calls ‘collateral damage,’ fits this clause exactly and would be the cornerstone of a case accusing this organization of being guilty of war crimes.” (prava.ru, July 25)
The article also points to a clause on “Massive destruction of cities, towns or villages or destruction not justified by military necessity.” The author stresses, “The attack on Libya’s water supply network on July 22 and the attack on the factory making pipes for the supply system on July 23 in al-Brega were not covered under ‘military necessity’ in which case, under Article 3, this was an act of wanton destruction of civilian structures with military hardware.”
Other violations include use of chemical weapons in al-Brega, support for an armed insurgency against a U.N.-member state, and failure to work toward a negotiated settlement to resolve conflict within a particular country.
The U.S./NATO alliance and their surrogates in Libya have rejected numerous efforts by the African Union to broker a ceasefire inside the country. The arming of TNC forces and their recognition by the NATO states further impedes these peace efforts.
Anti-war opposition spreads across U.S.
Despite the corporate media’s virtual silence on the widespread opposition to the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya, protests have occurred throughout the country. The International Action Center’s national tour has brought out hundreds of people in each of the cities to hear former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney. She visited Libya earlier this year and witnessed firsthand Pentagon and NATO destruction.
Major efforts are underway in Detroit to build an Aug. 27 rally featuring McKinney at the University of Michigan Detroit Center. Co-sponsors include the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, the National Conference of Black Lawyers Michigan Chapter, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Workers World Party.
MECAWI activists plan to do massive outreach for the event and in defense of Libya at an Eastside community speak-out on Aug. 13 and at the African World Festival the following week.