Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

Syrian Mess, Libya Today, USA And Israel Cooperate In Cyber War On Iran

Friday, June 1st, 2012

I have deliberately avoided the whole Syrian situation. After seeing what happened in Libya, I can see that country did not particularly benefit from overthrowing Gaddafi. It turned into a mess that the media has quietly swept under the rug. Nobody hears about Libya anymore. So I will look up a bit about Libya and I found something from Reuters, an article about Latin American states worried about a Libyan style outcome in Syria if the west keeps pushing for regime change. There is more, but essentially my opinion is that the Syrian situation is complex, there are abuses, but it is very unclear which side is right. Why, if the western media is so sure that the rebels are right, then do they not get confirmed reports? Where are the brave reporters who will expose the abuses of the Syrian government. We get lots of cell phone footage that is claimed to support the views of the rebels, but we see nothing that is verifiable even with UN monitors. People are being killed, but I am not convinced that this rebel group is offering the Syrian people an option that is any better than what they have. Perhaps one group will replace another, in a see-saw sort of eye for an eye type of justice that seems to be the case in Libya. The Russians may be simply exercising good common sense. Certainly the opposition should at least become an effective force and not simply a debating society. This is no socialist insurrection, it is a hodge-podge of ethnic minorities and political groups, without a common agenda. They are no more legitimate than the Libyan council was and is.

Besides that there is this report about cyber warfare against Iran. As one commentator noted, whats good for the goose is good for the gander. Just as American use of torture, lowered the worlds standards of appropriate behavior regarding the treatment of prisoners, American behavior in attacking other countries in undeclared wars with cyber technology, opens the door for others to act in the same manner against the USA.

From Reuters

Latin American leftists fear Libya-style endgame in Syria

By Andrew Cawthorne
CARACAS | Fri Jun 1, 2012 1:17pm EDT
(Reuters) - A bloc of left-wing Latin American governments accused Western nations on Friday of planning to intervene in Syria as they did in Libya and praised President Bashar al-Assad’s government despite widespread global condemnation.

The driving force behind the bloc, known as the ALBA group, is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a virulent critic of the United States who has been vocal in his support for Assad.

“We are worried that the same process of interference that foreign powers applied in Libya will be repeated,” the eight-nation group said in a statement released at U.N. negotiations over Syria in Geneva and also sent to media in Venezuela.

Western-led air strikes last year helped bring an end to Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in Libya.

But there has been no such international consensus for armed intervention in Syria despite 14 months of violence including last week’s massacre of more than 100 civilians, many of them children. The government and rebels blamed each other.

“We value the Syrian government’s steps in attending to the legitimate demands of those who have protested peacefully … and the program of reforms carried out, as well as its willingness to implement the peace plan of (mediator) Kofi Annan,” the ALBA statement added in praise that contrasted with a chorus of disgust against Assad elsewhere round the world.

The bloc was opposing a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva condemning Syria for the massacre in Houla.

“The resolution reflects the desires to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs, without contributing to dialogue nor to the search for peace,” the statement said.

Founded by Chavez and Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro in 2004, the ALBA bloc did, however, condemn the Houla massacre and call on all sides in the Syria conflict to cease violence.

Critics of Chavez, who is seeking re-election in October despite battling cancer, say his support of Syria - like his past backing for Gaddafi - show his own dictatorial tendencies.

OPEC member Venezuela has been sending diesel to Syria despite Western sanctions on the Assad government.

“Once again, we see the name of our country next to the most abject dictatorships in the world, and how our oil helps in the repression of our Syrian brothers,” Venezuela’s opposition Democratic Unity coalition said in a statement.

Though Venezuela and Cuba are the loudest voices in ALBA, it also includes Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and St. Vincente and the Grenadines, with a combined population of 75 million people.

(Editing by Eduardo Garcia and Vicki Allen)


From Al Aram Weekly

Libya: the ongoing disaster

NATO’s destruction of Libya as an independent regional power has paved the way for the military re-conquest of Africa,writes Dan Glazebrook*
The scale of the ongoing tragedy visited on Libya by NATO and its allies is becoming horribly clearer with each passing day. Estimates of those killed so far vary, but 50,000 seems to be a low estimate. Indeed, the British Ministry of Defence was boasting that the onslaught had killed 35,000 as early as last May, and this number is constantly growing, as the destruction of Libyan state forces by the British, French and American blitzkrieg has left the country in a state of total anarchy.

Having nothing to unite them other than their former willingness to act as NATO’s foot soldiers, Libya’s former “rebels” are now turning on each other. 147 people were killed in in-fighting in southern Libya in a single week earlier this year, and in recent weeks government buildings including the prime ministerial compound have come under fire from rebels demanding cash payment for their services.

$1.4 billion has already been paid out, demonstrating that it was the forces of NATO colonialism, and not former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who were reliant on “mercenaries”. However, these payments were suspended last month due to widespread nepotism. Corruption is becoming endemic in Libya, with a further $2.5 billion in oil revenues that was supposed to have been transferred to the national treasury remaining unaccounted for.

Libya’s resources are now being jointly plundered by the oil multinationals and a handful of chosen families from among the country’s new elites: this is a case of a classic neo-colonial stitch-up. The use of these resources for giant infrastructure projects such as the Great Manmade River project, and the massive raising of living standards over the past four decades that came about as a result — Libyan life expectancy rose from 51 to 77 after Gaddafi came to power in 1969 — sadly look to have become things of the past.

However, woe betide anyone who mentions that now. It was decided long ago that no supporters of Gaddafi would be allowed to stand in the upcoming Libyan elections, but recent changes have gone even further. Law 37, passed by the NATO-imposed Libyan government last month, has created a new crime of “glorifying” the former government or its leader, subject to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Would this include a passing comment that things were better under Gaddafi? The law is deliberately vague enough to be open to interpretation. It is also a recipe for institutionalised political persecution.

Even more indicative of the contempt for the rule of law amongst the members of the new government — a government, remember, which has yet to receive any semblance of popular mandate and whose only power base remains foreign armed forces — is Law 38. This guarantees immunity from prosecution for anyone who committed crimes aimed at “promoting or protecting the revolution”.

As a result, those responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the town of Tawergha — such as the self-proclaimed “brigade for the purging of black skins” — can continue hunting down refugees in the full knowledge that they have the new law on their side. Those responsible for the massacres in the town of Sirte and elsewhere also have nothing to fear. Those involved in the widespread torture of detainees can continue to do so without any repercussions — so long as their torture is aimed at “protecting the revolution” — i.e. maintaining the NATO-Libyan Transitional National Council dictatorship.

This is the reality of the new Libya: civil war, squandered resources, and societal collapse, where voicing a preference for the days when Libya was prosperous and at peace is a crime, but lynching and torture are not only permitted, but also encouraged.

Nor has the disaster remained a national one. Libya’s destabilisation has already spread to Mali, prompting a coup, and huge numbers of refugees, especially amongst Libya’s large black migrant population, have fled to neighbouring countries in a desperate attempt to escape both aerial destruction and lynch mob rampage, putting pressure on resources and stoking tensions elsewhere. Many Libyan fighters, their work done in Libya, have now been shipped to Syria to spread their sectarian violence there also.

Most worrying for the African continent, however, is the forward march of AFRICOM — the US military’s African command — in the wake of the aggression against Libya. It is no coincidence that barely a month after the fall of Tripoli, and in the same month that Gaddafi was murdered in October 2011, the US announced it was sending troops to no fewer than four more African countries — the Central African Republic, Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. AFRICOM has now announced the unprecedented number of 14 major joint military exercises in African countries for 2012. The military re-conquest of Africa is rolling steadily on.

None of this would have been possible when Gaddafi was still in power. As founder of the African Union, its biggest donor, and its one-time elected chairman, Gaddafi wielded major influence on the continent. It was partly thanks to him that the US was forced to establish AFRICOM’s HQ in Stuttgart in Germany when it was established in February 2008, rather than in Africa itself, as Gaddafi offered cash and investment to African governments that rejected US requests for bases.

Libya under Gaddafi’s leadership made an estimated $150 billion of investments in Africa, and the Libyan proposal, backed with £30 billion in cash, for an African Union Development Bank would have seriously reduced African financial dependence on the West. In short, Gaddafi’s Libya was the single biggest obstacle to AFRICOM penetration of the continent.

Now that Gaddafi has gone, AFRICOM is stepping up its work. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan showed the West that wars in which its own citizens get killed are not popular. AFRICOM is designed to ensure that in the coming colonial wars against Africa, it will be Africans who do the fighting and dying, not westerners. The forces of the African Union are to become integrated into AFRICOM under a US-led chain of command. Gaddafi would never have allowed this, which is why he had to go.

If you want a vision of Africa under AFRICOM tutelage, look no further than Libya, NATO’s model of an African state. This has now been condemned to decades of violence and trauma and has been made incapable either of providing for its people, or of contributing to regional or continental independence. This new military colonialism should not be given another inch of African support.

* The writer is a political analyst.


From RT News

US ready to act on Syria outside UN?

Published: 31 May, 2012, 08:24

The US has hinted at taking actions against the Syrian regime bypassing the authority of the UN Security Council. This comes as pressure is piling up on Damascus following massacre in Houla that claimed over 100 lives.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has said that if the council does not take swift action to pressure Syrian authorities to end 14-month crackdown on the anti-government uprising, the Security Council members may have no choice but to consider acting outside the UN.
“Members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they are prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this council,” Rice said on Wednesday after the 15-member council met in a closed door session to discuss last week’s massacre.
The United Nations is conducting its own investigation of who exactly is responsible for the bloodshed in the town of Houla. However the US and its allies seem to have come to their own conclusion, saying that the Assad government is solely responsible for the violence.
Rice did not specify what “actions” she meant. However the US and European countries had earlier imposed their own sanction on Syria outside the UN. So there are fears that her words could mean the threat of military action.
The US envoy said the worst but most probable scenario in Syria is a failure of Annan’s peace plan and a spreading conflict that could create a major crisis not only in Syria but also in the entire region.
“The Syrian government has made commitments. It has blatantly violated those commitments, and, I think it’s quite clear, as we have said for many weeks if they continue to do so there should be consequences,” Rice said.
Meanwhile, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari has stated Wednesday that the massacre in the town of Houla was carried out by “professional terrorists” who were seeking to ignite a sectarian conflict in the country.
“Many Syrian innocents got killed because of this misbehavior of these outsiders. The Syrian people need one clear-cut message that the international community, if there is an international community, is there to help settling the conflict in Syria,” he said referring to last Friday’s violence.
Russia’s envoy tot the UN Vitaly Churkin stated that both the authorities and opposition leaders should understand that the current situation in Syria is unacceptable.
Kosovo pattern in Syria?
Susan Rice’s comment became a disturbing reminder of what happened in 1999 when the US and NATO intervened in the former Yugoslavia without a UN Security Council mandate.
“The precedent is already there – we’ve mentioned Kosovo. It’s exactly what happened – you had an allegation of a massacre, which was the village of Racak; you had a UN decree that was severely bullied by the US ambassador who was leading the observation mission on the ground; you had claims that it was brutal unprovoked massacre of innocent civilians by government troops. Serbia was blamed, presented with the ultimatum and then bombed,” historian and author Nebojsa Malic told RT.
“We have the same pattern repeating itself in Syria.”
Blogger Rick Rozoff believes that the US has warned Russia and China that it will push forward military action no matter what.
“Ambassador Rice is basically telling Russia and China and other members of the Security Council that if they do not go along with Western plans for more stringent sanctions and other actions against Syria, the US and its NATO allies reserve a right to act outside the Security Council as they did with Yugoslavia 13 years ago and launch military actions against Syria,” Rozoff told RT.


From Middle East Online

Libya’s Future: National Consensus, Justice and Fairness are Key to Libya’s Stability and Democratic Transition

The debate for federalism or constitutional decentralization was not allowed to mature, as both anti-federalists and pro-federalists emptied the debate from any meaningful arguments that really matter to Libyans and matter for a better future for Libya, says Mohamed Eljarh.

Middle East Online

With Libya’s first general post-revolution elections looming, political debate in the country is even more diverse with multi-variable complex issues to be outlined and solved in a manner by which all parties involved are somewhat happy. Many in Libya count on the upcoming elections to solve most if not all of the underlying issues of 42 years of oppressive dictatorship, and 9 months of armed conflict.

During his rule, Gaddafi ensured that government institutions are weak with wide spread corruption, and a culture of favouritism, nepotism and intentional marginalization. There is also some sense of mistrust between the different factions, cities and regions in the new Libya, and this mistrust stems from historical fissures, as well as, tensions that arose during Gaddafi’s rule and most recently during the armed revolution to oust Gaddafi’s regime.

The sense of mistrust within the different factions, cities, ethnicities and regions in Libya has been evident in the occurrence of bloody armed clashes in different parts of the country. In Al-Kufra town in the south east of Libya clashes erupted between Arab tribes and Tabu tribes that led to deaths and injuries of hundreds. There have also been clashes in western Libya between the towns of Jmail/Ragdalin and Zuwara, and some considered these to be clashes between Gaddafi loyalists and pro-revolution fighters, some other claimed that the clashes had some ethnic background to them.

Another important debate that stems from mistrust and historical fissures is whether Libya should opt for federalism as a governing system or not. The on-going issue of federalism in Libya resulted in the formation of the Barga Regional Council when around three thousands of tribal and political leaders met in Benghazi in March to announce the formation of their regional council and asking for the activation of Libya’s 1951 constitution, which they called the legitimate constitution for the country with the appropriate changes made to it. Their calls for federalism have been faced with mobilization of the public and media against the calls for federalism by the central government in Tripoli.

The debate for federalism in Libya has been prevented from maturing and taking the appropriate path, so that Libyans are well informed about the goods and evils of federalism. Instead, the Barga Council leaders chose to announce their council unilaterally in a move that led to fears that the country is heading toward breaking up and partition. The pro-federalism camp have since dismissed all these allegations and said that the unity of Libya isn’t up for questioning and insisted that Libya is a united country with one president, one army, one constitution and one foreign ministry. However, they called for greater autonomy in running the internal affairs of their region with less control from the central government in Tripoli.

Furthermore, the pro-federalism camp has been calling for the 200 National Assembly seats to be distributed equally between the three old provinces, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan. Again their calls have been refused and not even considered by the NTC that draw up the law by which the seats were allocated as 109 seats for Tripolitania, 60 for Cyrenaica and 31 for Fezzan.

This formation doesn’t give any one single region the majority to pass a law on its own, but only Tripolitania would have the power to veto any law with 54.5% share of the votes.

The debate for federalism or constitutional decentralization was not allowed to mature, as both anti-federalists and pro-federalists emptied the debate from any meaningful arguments that really matter to Libyans and matter for a better future for Libya. Pro-federalists are being accused by anti-federalists of trying to break up the country and control the oil rich region of Cyrenaica, a claim that is strongly denied by the pro-federalists. Also, anti-federalists are being accused of attempts to marginalize other regions in Libya, and continue the exhausting centralization of the country’s affairs and all its wealth in one region.


From Al Jazeera TV

The NYTimes report on operation Olympic Games, code name for Israeli-US hacking of Iranian computers to take out Iranian centrifuges, has been publicly admitted to being a reality according to Al Jazeera. President Obama approved the plan to destroy Iranian infrastructure. The Trojan “Flame” was discovered in Iran. It is probably going to be a problem for all of us, but it was developed by the US or Israel according to Al Jazeera.



Private Sector Implications of Operation Olympic Games
June 1, 2012 By admin

The New York Times revealed today what many experts had already asserted regarding the United States role in the Stuxnet attack.

While speculation of U.S. involvement complicated international relations on cyber conflict, an acknowledgement of U.S. involvement in a forum such as the New York Times heralds in a brave new world of cyber conflict.

Targeting of critical infrastructure during conventional conflict has been the status quo for decades, with cyber attack legitimized in a traditional conflict context emerging over the past 15 years. What changes with the Stuxnet revelation is the targeting of critical infrastructure as a component of international strategic objectives.

Operation Olympic Games formally acknowledges, through actual offensive state sponsored action, that critical infrastructure is a legitimate target for cyber attack during times of peace.

If the United States includes critical infrastructure as a legitimate target of attack, can we not assume that other nations can target our infrastructure if it meets their criteria or strategic objectives? Is this not Unrestricted Warfare manifesting itself not within China policy, but U.S. policy?

Private infrastructure owners have just been put on notice that overt state sponsored attacks are the new reality. Who will be targeting you?


From the NYTimes

Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran
Published: June 1, 2012 344 Comments
WASHINGTON — From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.

At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.

“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.

Told it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the code, and offered evidence that it was still causing havoc, Mr. Obama decided that the cyberattacks should proceed. In the following weeks, the Natanz plant was hit by a newer version of the computer worm, and then another after that. The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium.

This account of the American and Israeli effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts. None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.


I think that the USA needs to participate as one of several players in the UN, and admit that it is operating out of its vested interests. There is no superior nation. If anything, the UN should be superior to any nation. As long as the USA insists that is is superior to the rest of the world, the rest of the world will have an excuse to not cooperate in the United Nations, the USA will always be an example of a nation that thinks it is above the laws on international relations.

Wealth, Libya, & Illusions.

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

What if this is all an illusion? Many times on psychotropic substances I have watched the universe dissolve and reemerge out of seeming nowhere. I have seen reality become reduced to my self, and this self the only reality left. Scared that this was it, that I was going to be stuck with nothing but the self knocking around an empty universe when my fortune would change and some bird of paradise would come by and remind me that, yes there is a world outside of the imagination (these were usually late night ventures exploring the inner realms in a room without companions).

Mostly I realize it’s just me. My motor is running down.

I spent all morning working on a story. Rewriting, getting into it. Not questioning its validity until I got done, and then I thought of another completely different way to handle the tale. I let it sit. Second guessing myself always gets me in trouble. The best thing is to let it gel for a day and then come back and if it still seems like a good idea, then go for it.

But now my brain is tired and the computer is hot and uncomfortable in my lap. I read somewhere that letting the computer sit on your flesh for too long causes burns and sterility.

This link to an article about the subject is a bit dated but it is interesting.

So where is Gaddafi? Today I read that the Guardian is reporting that British, French and Qatar and other special services troops were in Libya and had planned several successful actions by the rebels. They also had improved contacts between the rebel troops and the NATO planes to insure better ground-air target coordination. This does not sound in the least like it was meant to solely protect citizens. This was covert warfare not very well hidden. It would have been nice if the Guardian had released this information before the commitment of force.

There is not even a hint of irony in the reporting.

It is the same old story, they lie, say oh no, we won’t do that, and then it turns out they did. In this case they are covering it up with an all is well that ends well sort of brief. Has it ended well? Depends on how you define a happy ending.
Personally if the Libyan people want to get rid of a dictator, I say more power to them. Whether you like Gaddafi or not, he was in power for a long time and forty years is probably too long for anyone to be in office. Too bad he didn’t go voluntarily. It seems he couldn’t comprehend that some of the Libyan people, perhaps even the majority simply don’t want him around anymore.
That is why we need periodic elections and recall processes in place. Even with our electoral process in place here in the USA we have big problems that are not getting resolved because of bottle necks at the top where money, well placed can hold up needed reforms or change for decades. Largely because the system was designed for a much smaller republic with a population one 100th of what it is now. It needs to be revised for modern conditions to counteract the influence of big money, but it won’t happen as long as big money has its fingers throttling the neck of the electorate i.e. Congress.
Democracy may not be the best form of government. The Chinese have something of a benevolent dictatorship. Rule by a party that claims to rule in the name of the people’s interest. Compared to India, China is a lot more efficient. But both countries have masses of poor people and large areas where peasant farmers are the rule. Both countries are taking a risk allowing a moneyed class to develop and enjoy ostentatious wealth while millions get by on little or nothing. They are playing with fire, as they gamble that they can develop fast enough to keep these millions occupied and at least give them the hope of a chance for a piece of the capitalist pie. It is an old carrot and stick game. People keep falling for it.
It’s anybody’s bet if we will be able to satisfy those millions before we run out of resources. Another way to deal with the problems would be to decide to distribute it all equitably and see what kind of a standard of living we would all have if that were done. The rich hate this idea.

From Wikipedia. Read it and weep.

A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at United Nations University reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. The bottom half of the world adult population owned 1% of global wealth.[10] Moreover, another study found that the richest 2% own more than half of global household assets.

The current GDP is about $65 Trillion dollars a year. There are almost 7 billion humans or about $9286 each. The IMF says the average income was about $10,886. Right between the average for Costa Rica and Iran according to their figures. With adustments for local costs of living I wonder if we could manage on that?

Blogging, Libya And Truth Seeking

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

I have to admit, when I get comments on my blog I am happy. It makes my day. Positive or negative, they make a big difference. The problem is that most of them are simply compliments, not really comments. I would like more critiques of the subject matter, or perhaps opposing viewpoints.

For instance recently I wrote about Libya. I am suspicious of the nature of the rebellion. The media is making Gaddafi look like a maniac and there is little or no information about the ideology of the opposition. This is not simply a situation of protestors and oppressors. Gaddafi has a base of support, but it is very hard to tell from media reports what the different sides represent. I understand that Gaddafi implemented a socialist revolution in Libya over the last 30-40 years and that that a lot of the professional classes left the country because of the egalitarian nature of the changes, and perhaps because of the manner in which they were treated by the newly empowered classes. But that was something that occurred in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I also understand there were rebellions in the 1990’s and that Gaddafi seemingly has gutted the regular military and beefed up special units that were more reliable after that.

The question becomes one of what is going on there. I can see that Gaddafi might be using tactics that are inappropriate for use against civil rights protestors, but are appropriate in a civil war. The media has until now steered clear from calling this a civil war because of the implications that now they are dealing with combatants and not simply protestors like in Egypt. But Libya is not Egypt. For one thing Libya has oil. Egypt has millions of mouths to feed, Libya has very few, only some 6 million in a vast territory. It would be relatively easy for NATO to move in, especially after the infrastructure has been devastated by a civil war.

We must never forget that the US has interests in maintaining the supply of oil. Italy gets 25% of its oil from Libya and held it as a colony as recently as 60 years ago.

There are reasons why Chavez and Castro have not condemned Gaddafi, the problem for us is that we are kept in a fog of misinformation, getting detailed pictures of people in the streets with no explanation as to what the behind the scenes and in depth meaning of it all is. I don’t have the resources to find out the truth, if I did I would tell all. As it is all I can do is sift through the media reports and surmise.

Below are some articles on Libya, one from Castro directly, two media reports on Ortega and Chavez that must be taken with a grain of salt. Also there is an analysis from a not unbiased, but at least an academic source.


From London School of Economics & Political Science

Crisis in Libya and the Latin American Left: the reaction from Cuba and Venezuela

By Guy Burton

The crisis in Libya appears to have brought out the worst of the Latin American Left. This is apparent in the nature of the statements so far made by Libya’s arguably closest allies in the region: Cuba and Venezuela. Following the deaths of protesters by the Libyan government, it appears beyond the capacity of Latin America’s two most notable socialist leaderships to commit themselves to greater solidarity with the Libyan people. Instead Fidel Castro in Cuba and the Venezuelan government have limited their statements mainly to the role of foreign powers in the country and the Middle East more generally.

Parallels between Cuba and Libya? Castro’s comments on the Libyan situation are present in his latest reflections in the government mouthpiece, La Granma. Castro alleges that the US is unconcerned with peace in Libya and is prepared to use NATO to invade the country, presumably to secure its oil fields.
Castro’s focus on the US pays little regard to the domestic origins of the protests themselves. Could this be due to the parallels that exist between his regime and that of Gaddafi’s? If so, it would be entirely understandable if Castro wanted to deflect attention away from the internal opposition to Gaddafi and what this might mean for Cuba. After all, both countries are dominated by regimes that have become largely disconnected with their societies. Politically, in both countries the government has tended to clamp down on dissent and imposed various laws and regulations which made the operation of independent organisations subject to close government scrutiny and control. Potential rivals were removed, whether through the Libyan revolutionary committees or through periods when exiles left Cuba after the 1959 revolution.

At the same time, these political constraints were arguably offset by an extensive social security system in both countries. Both Cuba and Libya introduced measures that provided cradle-to-grave benefits and entitlements to their populations, which helped maintain tacit acceptance of the regimes.

However, both countries have struggled economically to sustain the social pact. In Libya the economy has been dominated by the oil and gas sector, which makes up half of GDP and almost all exports. Lower oil prices prior to 2005 put pressure on the government’s ability to finance its social security system. Although oil prices began to rise after 2005, the greater wealth failed to filter downwards. Around a third of Libyans are estimated to be in poverty and many others face greater job and income uncertainty in the informal sector. In Cuba the economy has become heavily dependent on tourism and its foreign exchange since the 1990s and the end of Cold War. Generally, the Cuban economy has been relatively too small and underdeveloped to generate the sufficient domestic capital to spur greater growth and finance the state’s redistributive policies. Consequently at the end of 2010, the government under Raul Castro (Fidel’s brother) has introduced changes that will reduce public sector employment and open up various, small-scale activities to the market.

Venezuelan silence In Venezuela the Libyan crisis has been met with a noticeable silence on the part of the usually loquacious Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. Following the outbreak of the protests there were media reports that suggested that Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela. This prompted Venezuela’s foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro, to reject the claims.

That the Libyan leader was alleged to have sought asylum in Venezuela raised questions as to why Gaddafi would choose Venezuela over any other country. The answer may be clear from the growing closeness of the bilateral relationship between Libya and Venezuela over the past decade. The extent of that relationship was apparent in the statement made by Maduro after the first bi-national, mixed commission between the two countries in Caracas in October 2008. Then Maduro urged that the relationship deepen beyond their mutual interest in energy (with both countries being oil producers and members of OPEC) to other areas, including finance and more social-political activity.

The current Libyan-Venezuelan relationship stems from Chavez’s election in 1998. In Gaddafi, Chavez not only found a peer who had similarly sought power through a military coup (Gaddafi succeeding in 1969 whereas Chavez failed in 1992, prompting him to adopt the electoral route thereafter), the two men also showed a similar desire to realise greater autonomy for their respective countries in the international sphere.

For Gaddafi, his ‘Third Universal Theory’, laid out in his ‘Green Book’, reflected dissatisfaction with the two superpowers at the time: the US and Soviet Union. As Soviet influence declined in the Arab world, his attention became increasingly focused against American power. Libya was implicated in various terrorist actions from the 1970s, including the 1972 Black September killings of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games; the 1984 murder of British police office Yvonne Fletcher; the bombing of a Berlin nightclub in 1986, and the destruction of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. Only in 2004, following Gaddafi’s renunciation of his nuclear ambitions and agreement to pay compensation over the Pan Am bombing, did the US and Europe begin to remove trade sanctions against his regime – including on arms sales.

For Chavez, confrontation with the US has similarly been the hallmark of his foreign policy. He has sought closer political and economic ties with governments also wary of Washington, including Cuba, Iran, Russia and Libya. He has cultivated other member countries in OPEC, pushing for higher oil prices in January 2011, a policy shared by Libya and against the objections of the US-supported Saudi and Gulf states.
To date, the Venezuelan government has limited itself to Maduro’s statement hoping that Libya finds
“a way of solving their problems peacefully without the interference of imperialist states whose interests in the region had been affected.”

As with Castro’s words, the Venezuelan statement similarly reflects a focus (and obsession?) with the role of external forces and a disregard for the demands of the local population.

Similar rhetoric was reflected in Chavez’s only statement in relation to the Arab uprisings on the Internet to date, in relation to the Egyptian revolution. On his Twitter account he also emphasized concern with the threat that “imperial interests” posed for the Egyptian people, before signing off with “Viva Nasser!” He showed no trace of irony, given that the ousted Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, was the inheritor of the regime established by Gamal Nasser following the ‘Free Officers’ coup in 1952.

Hiding behind rhetoric Both the Venezuelan and Cuban responses to the protests in Libya (and Egypt) arguably present a high degree of uncertainty and awkwardness on the part of both Latin American governments. Like everyone else, neither government knows how the current crisis will end. There is presumably some degree of discomfort in Havana and Caracas at the confrontational stance being adopted by Gaddafi and the violent repression of protesters. Neither leadership has made an explicit statement of support for the people or condemned Gaddafi’s regime. Indeed, Peru has been the only Latin American country to break its diplomatic relations with Libya so far.

Instead, both the Cuban and Venezuelan leaderships have opted to play the “foreign” card by playing up the threat of the US in the current crisis. This has accordingly obscured the internal dimension of the protests and their domestic origin, thereby reducing the scope for comparison and apparent similarities between the government’s treatment of the opposition and failure to provide sufficient social security and economic opportunities in Libya and Cuba on one hand and Chavez’s efforts to cultivate a closer relationship with Gaddafi to confront the US on the other.

Yet the US is arguably a straw man in the present conflagration in the Middle East. If anything, the Egyptian revolution only served to show how irrelevant the US has become. Having initially given its backing to Mubarak when the demonstrations began, the US only slowly moved towards greater support for the protesters, only to be caught out by Mubarak’s insistence that he was staying put – after which he was forced out by the army. Similarly, after several decades of tension between the US (and Europe) and Libya before finally reconciling with Gaddafi in 2004, it arguably appears to make little sense now for Washington or Brussels to want to see the crisis and violence escalate.

Caracas’ and Havana’s response to the Libyan crisis – and to a lesser extent, the uprisings in the Arab world more generally – have been largely disingenuous to date. They have failed to acknowledge Arab people’s demands and the level of dissatisfaction they feel with their governments. Instead the Cuban and Venezuelan leaderships have distorted reality and credited the US with disproportionately more influence on recent events than it has had. Consequently, by taking this approach, Castro, Maduro and Chavez may believe they are exposing US ambitions in the region, but they do at the risk of discrediting themselves and the socialist movement of which they claim to be a part. As socialists they claim to believe in popular sovereignty. Is it too much to expect them to condemn the Libyan government’s violence and to give their explicit support – albeit with symbolic rather than practical implications – to the people?


From Granma

Havana. February 24, 2011

Reflections of Fidel
Cynicism’s danse macabre

(Taken from CubaDebate)

• THE politics of plunder imposed by the United States and its NATO allies in the Middle East is in crisis. This was inevitably unleashed with the high cost of grain, the effects of which are being felt with more force in the Arab nations where, despite their enormous oil resources, the shortage of water, arid areas and generalized poverty of the people contrast with the vast resources derived from oil possessed by the privileged sectors.

While food prices triple, the real estate fortunes and wealth of the aristocratic minority rise to billions of dollars.

The Arab world, with its Islamic culture and beliefs, has seen itself additionally humiliated by the brutal imposition of a state which was not capable of meeting the elemental obligations which brought about its creation, based on the colonial order in existence since the end of World War II, which allowed the victorious powers to create the United Nations and impose world trade and economy.

Thanks to Mubarak’s betrayal at Camp David, the Palestinian Arab State has not come into existence, despite the United Nations agreements of November 1947, and Israel has become a powerful nuclear force allied with the United States and NATO.

The U.S. military-industrial complex supplies tens of billions of dollars every year to Israel and to the very Arab states that it subjugates and humiliates.

The genie is out of the bottle and NATO doesn’t know how to control it. They are going to try and take maximum advantage of the lamentable events in Libya. No one is capable of knowing at this time what is happening there. All of the figures and versions, even the most improbable, have been disseminated by the empire through the mass media, sowing chaos and misinformation.

It is evident that a civil war is developing in Libya. Why and how was this unleashed? Who will suffer the consequences? The Reuters news agency, repeating the opinion of the well-known Nomura Japanese bank, said that the price of oil could surpass all limits:

“‘ If Libya and Algeria were to halt oil production together, prices could peak above US$220/bbl and OPEC spare capacity will be reduced to 2.1mmbbl/d, similar to levels seen during the Gulf war and when prices hit US$147/bbl in 2008,’ the bank stated in a note.”

Who could pay this price today? What will be the consequences for the food crisis?

The principal NATO leaders are exalted. British Prime Minister David Cameron, reported ANSA, “‘admitted in a speech in Kuwait that the Western countries made a mistake in supporting non-democratic governments in the Arab world.’” He should be congratulated for his frankness.

His French colleague Nicolas Sarkozy declared, “The prolonged brutal and bloody repression of the Libyan civilian population is repugnant.”

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini declared “believable” the figure of one thousand dead in Tripoli […] ‘the tragic figure will be a bloodbath.’”

Ban Ki-moon added, “The use of violence in the country is absolutely unacceptable.’”

“…’the Security Council will act in accordance with what the international community decides.’”

What Ban Ki-moon is really waiting for is that Obama give the last word.

The President of the United States spoke Wednesday afternoon and stated that the Secretary of State would leave for Europe in order to reach an agreement with the NATO European allies as to what measures to take. Noticeable on his face was his readiness to take on the right-wing Republican John McCain; Joseph Lieberman, the pro-Israel Senator from Connecticut; and Tea Party leaders, in order to guarantee his nomination by the Democratic Party.

The empire’s mass media have prepared the ground for action. There would be nothing strange about a military intervention in Libya, which would, additionally, guarantee Europe almost two million barrels of light oil a day, if events do not occur beforehand to put an end to the presidency or life of Gaddafi.

In any event, Obama’s role is complicated enough. What would the Arab and Islamic world’s reaction be if much blood is spilt in this country in such an adventure? Would the revolutionary wave unleashed in Egypt stop a NATO intervention?

In Iraq the innocent blood of more than a million Arab citizens was shed when this country was invaded on false pretenses. Mission accomplished, George W. Bush proclaimed.

No one in the world will ever be in favor of the deaths of defenseless civilians in Libya or anywhere else. I ask myself, would the United States and NATO apply that principle to the defenseless civilians killed by yankee drones, and this organization’s soldiers, every day in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

It is cynicism’s danse macabre.

Fidel Castro Ruz
February 23, 2011
7:42 p.m.

Translated by Granma International


From S1fy News

Nicaragua prez call Gaddafi to expresses support

2011-02-22 22:33:00

Nicaragua’s leftist President Daniel Ortega says he has telephoned Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to express his solidarity.

Ortega says he has called several times this week because Gadhafi “is again waging a great battle” to defend the unity of his nation.

Human rights groups say more than 200 people have died as Libyan security forces crack down on protesters.

Ortega has long been an ally of the Libyan leader, based in part on a shared distrust of the United States.

Ortega says that “it’s at difficult times that loyalty and resolve are put to the test.”

Ortega made his comments Monday night at an event commemorating Nicaraguan revolutionary hero Augusto Cesar Sandino.


From CNN

Chavez: U.S. distorting situation in Libya ‘to justify an invasion’By Catherine E. Shoichet,

CNNMarch 1, 2011 — Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)

“Let’s not get carried away by the drums of war,” Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez says
The Venezuelan leader proposes sending a goodwill commission to mediate in Libya
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and Chavez have a close relationship
Chavez claims “a campaign of lies is being woven” about Libya

(CNN) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claims U.S. criticism of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has a clear aim: military invasion.

“Let’s not get carried away by the drums of war, because the United States, I am sure that they are exaggerating and distorting things to justify an invasion,” Chavez said Monday, according to Venezuelan state media.

At a Monday meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was exploring “all possible options,” and that “nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyan citizens.”

Asked at a news conference Monday whether the United States planned an imminent military response in Libya, Clinton said, “No.”

Speaking Monday in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, Chavez proposed sending an international committee to Libya to mediate and help develop a peaceful solution to unrest in the North African country.

“Instead of sending Marines and tanks and planes, why don’t we send a goodwill commission to try to help so that they do not continue killing in Libya? They are our brothers,” he said in a speech televised on the government-run network.

Chavez and Gadhafi have a close relationship, having bonded partly over shared opposition to U.S. global influence.

At a lavish Tripoli celebration commemorating 40 years of Gadhafi’s leadership in 2009, the two leaders sat side by side during a two-hour military parade. That same year, a new football stadium in Benghazi, Libya, was named after the Venezuelan leader.

As rumors swirled about Gadhafi and his whereabouts last week, some suggested that he may be en route to Venezuela. Those reports proved to be false; the Libyan leader later spoke publicly in Tripoli.

But the close ties between the two leaders remain strong. On Monday, Chavez said Gadhafi “has been my friend and our friend for a long time” in remarks broadcast on Venezuelan state television.

“We must be cautious. We know what our policy is: We do not support invasions, or massacres, or anything, no matter who does it. But there is no doubt that, regarding Libya, a campaign of lies is being woven — the same that has been woven about Venezuela for a long time,” he said.

The U.N. Security Council over the weekend voted for tough restrictions and possible war crimes charges against the Libyan regime.

The Security Council measures — which include an arms embargo, an asset freeze and travel bans for Gadhafi and members of his family and associates — also referred the situation unfolding in Libya to the International Criminal Court.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the U.S. government was considering the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.

“Col. Gadhafi and those around him must be held accountable for these acts, which violate international legal obligations and common decency. Through their actions, they have lost the legitimacy to govern,” Clinton said Monday.

“And the people of Libya have made themselves clear: It is time for Gadhafi to go, now, without further violence or delay.”

Libya, Questions Of Theory

Monday, February 28th, 2011

The issue of the correct position regarding Libya is interesting. I have reproduced an article from the Socialist Worker.Org regarding the position of the Workers World Party and Party of Socialism and Liberation, I also included my response to their position. I know, its boring, but I love this shit.


From Socialist Worker.Org

Taking sides about Libya 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
“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
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 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, 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.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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, “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 of the Tiananmen rebellion, Richard Becker, a leading member of PSL, criticized the International Socialist Organization, writing, “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, “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 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.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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:
[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.

This is my response

I am glad to see some analysis of the events in Libya. Gaddafi claims that he has the love of the people and it seems that there are elements of the population who still believe in his rule. There are obviously large numbers of people who are opposed to Gaddafi’s rule. What I have not seen is a clear class analysis of exactly who the people are who are opposed to him. Certainly the bourgeoisie who left the country when the social reforms were enacted back in the 1970’s would be involved with the rebels. But the events in Libya are more like a civil war than civil disobedience. This is not like events in Egypt or Tunisia. Simply painting all the revolts with the same brush is to miss the nuances of difference between the different countries.
I agree that we need to oppose US intervention, but is that a universal position? Are you opposed to intervention for humanitarian purposes such as after the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean or the earthquake in Haiti? Would you oppose an intervention to end genocide?
I am all in favor of supporting mass movements but when the masses are supporting Sarah Palin or listen to Rush Limbaugh; are they no longer the masses? Fortunately the masses that follow such right wing talking heads are not the majority, but they are voters and tend to be wealthier and whiter than the masses supportive of the progressive groupings on the left. I do not believe in supporting mass movements simply because they have a large number of people supporting them.
Taking a line that is in the interest of the masses, as opposed to taking a line that is following the masses, are two different things. If the masses are mostly racist and want to oppress minorities, it is not the correct thing to support that, but in your analysis, it might very well be correct.
My question is what is the nature of the rebellion in Libya and who are the people supporting Gaddafi? Is it breaking down along tribal lines? Is it breaking down along class lines? I can’t tell from media reports. There are plenty of them but there is no analysis of who is who that makes any sense to me, I have done some background research on the Green Revolution and it seems to be quite progressive. But the theory and practice are not always the same thing and the rebellion might simply reflect a rebellion against a corrupt leadership taking advantage of their positions of authority, or it might represent a counterrevolution of the professional classes goading the working classes on to fight.
We shall see when the dust settles and the EU and the USA move in to offer ‘assistance’. The difference between your position and that of the WWP and PSL are not so clear when it comes to these questions of principal. Certainly supporting dictators is not a good revolutionary principal, but when it comes to the dictatorship of the people, who represent the people and who are merely representing themselves and their class of bureaucrats?

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