Libya & Gaddafi

African politics and terror threat analysis.

Libya & Gaddafi

Joined: 07 May 2006, 23:31

19 Dec 2006, 12:45 #1

Libya's Return on Intelligence ... guage_id=1

n December 2003, Libya came in from the cold. Months of discussions with British, and later American, officials led to Libya's public declaration that it would abandon its nuclear and chemical weapons programs. Washington and London hoped to use Tripoli's announcement as an example of the benefits of publicly ending chemical and nuclear weapons programs in other states. North Korea and Iran, however, were not convinced. [See: "Libya Welcomes Weapons Inspectors in Return for Normalized Relations"]

The timing of Libya's thawing could not have been better for Tripoli. The increased energy demand from the emerging Asian economies, geopolitical uncertainty in other oil-producing states, and the approaching maturity of Middle Eastern oil reserves have increased the value of Libya's untapped energy reserves. [See: "The Increasing Importance of African Oil"]

Nevertheless, Libya's re-entry into the West's arms does not guarantee its path to stability. Domestic politics and the centrally-planned economy may still prevent Libya from taking full advantage of its deal with London and Washington.

The Oil that Came in from the Cold

After the Reagan administration's 1986 bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya began to abandon the Arab nationalist and Palestinian causes in favor of regional and economic concerns. This began the slow drift back to the West that culminated in March of 2003, when Libya's chief of intelligence, Musa Kussa, contacted the British government and signaled Libya's willingness to publicly abandon its programs on weapons of mass destruction in return for concessions from the United States.

Months of negotiations, sometimes including meetings between the C.I.A. and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, led to the December 2003 announcement of Libya's nascent nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs. Tripoli also agreed to spot inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) and to destroy any missiles with a range beyond 300 kilometers, some of which it had purchased from North Korea.

Washington and London hoped that Libya's example would encourage North Korea and Iran to also abandon their nuclear programs. While this did not pan out, Tripoli played a major role in the outing of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan's nuclear black market. [See: "U.S. Attempts to Make an Example Out of Libya Will Fail"]

Libya's declaration of its weapons programs, as well as the US$2.7 billion in compensation it agreed to pay for the victims of the 1998 Lockerbie plane crash, led to the lifting of most of the sanctions imposed by the West. In April 2004, the U.S. suspended its trade embargo on Libya; in June, the U.S. resumed diplomatic relations with Tripoli; by September, Washington officially ended all sanctions on Libya and unfroze $1.3 billion in assets held in the U.S. The E.U. followed a similar path, and it also lifted its sanctions on Libya in September 2004. Libya had threatened to cancel half of its Lockerbie compensation payments if the sanctions were not lifted by April 2004 -- an example of Tripoli's sophistication in geopolitical negotiations.

Boom Times in Libya

Libya hopes that the lifting of the sanctions will attract $7 billion in oil exploration from foreign firms during the next ten years in order to add 20 billion barrels to its proven reserves of nearly 40 billion barrels. Its goal is to raise oil production from 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2005 to three million bpd over this time period.

The competition to invest in Libya has been steep. Asia's growing energy demands, instability in the Middle East, and the attractiveness of Libya's light, sweet crude helped ensure that Libya was able to extract favorable terms during the two exploration licensing rounds held in 2005. Fifty companies lined up for 23 of 26 exploration blocks offered -- each required large signing bonuses to be paid to Tripoli and a relatively small portion of future oil production to be taken by the winning firm. The Japan Petroleum Exploration Company went as low as to take only a 6.8 percent stake in future production rights from its block. ExxonMobil and China National Petroleum Corporation fared somewhat better with 28 percent stakes. Libya is also expected to demand contributions from foreign investors to its downstream refining capacity, and it is likely to see its request granted.

Adding to Libya's prospects are its $45 billion foreign-exchange holdings, annual oil sales running about $20 billion, and an agreement with France to cooperate on nuclear power for civilian usage.

However, even with foreign investors lining up for contracts in Libya's energy sector, the country's future is still uncertain. Approximately 70 percent of the work force is employed by the state, yet state wages remain frozen at their 1981 levels ($3,000 per year). Instead of providing raises, subsidies for water, electricity, and gas help to compensate. The wage freezes and subsidies have led to the peculiar situation in which 20 percent of citizens are unemployed while two million foreign workers sweat.

Foreign Direct Investment (F.D.I.) has been largely limited to the hydrocarbons sector because of red tape and the past sanctions regime. Still, the country's infrastructure has been largely frozen since the 1980s. Most of the country's oil fields are in need of maintenance and most power plants still run on diesel. Economic liberalization has not spread to the judiciary, nor does Gadhafi seem inclined to relinquish any of his power -- which contributes to the slow pace of finalizing F.D.I. deals as each needs the leader's approval.

While the U.S. is still attempting to use Libya as an example to other states with nuclear weapons programs, it is still cautious in its relations with Tripoli. Washington has decided not to remove Libya from its list of state sponsors of terrorism this year, according to Reuters. "It's a question of confidence and time," Henry Crumpton, the U.S. State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, told the news agency. This is aimed at giving Washington some leverage to force further economic reforms, but as the intelligence relationship matures between Tripoli and Washington, it can be expected that Libya will be removed from the list in a future review.


Recent events indicate that Libya is open to a reformist path that would allow it to better take advantage of the F.D.I that followed its declaration of its weapons programs. Saif al-Islam, Gadhafi's son, and others in the government gave Harvard Business School economist Michael Porter's 200-page blueprint for reforming Libya's economy a warm reception. The report recommends making the necessary investments to increase oil production to three million bpd, diversifying the economy by investing in tourism, agriculture, and construction, but "while retaining the unique character of the Libyan" republic.

Which steps Gadhafi takes to open Libya's economy and what he does to maintain his grip on power will determine the country's future. Shukri Ghanem's dismissal as prime minister earlier this month seems to indicate that Gadhafi may be willing to sacrifice some reforms for a tighter grip on power. Libya still faces a long, hard march in from the cold; it seems certain that there will be disruptions along the way.

Report Drafted By:
Adam Wolfe

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

24 Sep 2009, 00:07 #2

Gaddafi attacks leading powers at UN debut

By Harvey Morris

Published: September 23 2009 18:51 | Last updated: September 23 2009 18:51

Muammer Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, gave a marathon speech at the United Nations on Wednesday in which he accused its leading powers of giving the world “terror and sanctions” rather than security.

Making up for it being his first visit to the UN General Assembly since taking power 40 years ago, Colonel Gaddafi occupied the podium for 94 minutes – almost three times as long as the speaker who preceded him, Barack Obama. Colonel Gaddafi, dressed in a brown robe embroidered with a map of Africa, spoke ex tempore with the aid of notes hand-written on a yellow legal pad.

For the first hour and a half, Ali Treiki, the assembly president, made no attempt to cut him short before finally passing him a note, although the length of the speech slowed the schedule for Wednesday’s morning session. Mr Treiki is a former Libyan foreign minister.

The Libyan leader’s first visit to the UN has been clouded in controversy since he last month welcomed home Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber freed by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds. The US and other governments condemned the Tripoli celebrations.

Relatives of those who died aboard the Pan-Am aircraft over Lockerbie were outside the UN on Wednesday to protest Colonel Gaddafi’s presence. A group of bow-tied Nation of Islam members were nearby to welcome him to the US.

In a wide-ranging speech, Colonel Gaddafi speculated that “swine flu might be the product of military laboratories, that Arabs had historically protected the Jews and that the UN was as effective as London’s Speaker’s Corner, where everyone spoke but no one listened to them.

As head of the African Union, he said the continent was proud to have a “son of Africa” as US president and would be happy to see him hold the post for ever.

As a former target of sanctions by the UN Security Council, he said the veto powers of its five permanent members should be scrapped. “The Security Council did not provide us with security but with terror and sanctions,’’ he said.

Libya is presently a temporary member of the 15-member body, which will entitle Colonel Gaddafi to attend a session on Thursday on nuclear proliferation.

Colonel Gaddafi was staying at the Libyan diplomatic mission, almost opposite the UN, after two suburban communities in New York and New Jersey moved to ban him from occupying a tent on neighbourhood lawns.

In upstate Bedford, lawyers threatened legal action if the Libyan leader occupied a tent set up on land the Libyan mission rented.

How Gaddafi upstaged Obama
September 23, 2009 9:41pm

Approaching the UN today, I came across pro and anti-Gaddafi demonstrators. The “pros” were American members of the Nation of Islam, in their trademark suits and bow ties, who seemed to regard Gaddafi as “the leader of Africa”. The opposition was provided by real Libyans, protesting about human-rights abuses.

As it happens the UN General Assembly is currently being chaired by a Libyan diplomat, Ali Treki. He had insisted that all heads of state speak for no longer than 15 minutes. But he did not apply this to Gaddafi, who he introduced in neutral style as “king of kings and leader of the revolution.” The Libyan leader rambled on for some 96 minutes, reading off scraps of paper, and throwing the UN schedule into chaos.

Now clearly Gaddafi is going to get bad reviews in the morning papers here in the US. But I have to say that some of what he had to say made perfect sense. It is entirely true that the structure of the UN Security Council is anomalous and outdated (although it was perhaps a bit harsh to call it “the terror council”). Gaddafi’s analysis of why it is so hard to reform the council was also bang on the money - each time you suggest one country, you trigger a demand from the next one in the queue. (So if you suggest Germany, Italy jumps up and down.) And his proposed solution - a Security Council of regional organisations such as the EU, Asean, the African Union - sounded like an elegant way out. Gaddafi was even quite witty. I liked his comparison of the UN General Assembly to Speakers Corner in London; you can speak as much as you like, it is just that you will be ignored.  It must be admitted that there were also some pretty eccentric statements. Obama could probably have done without being called “our son Obama” by the colonel. (Is he still a colonel?) It was an odd forum in which to call for a fresh inquiry into the Kennedy assassination. And I’m not sure how many people will agree that the H1N1 flu virus is a military weapon.

But that’s the thing. Many of Gaddafi’s statements, which will be scorned in the West, actually probably resonate in the developing world. His views on the Security Council are widely shared. President Lula of Brazil said something not too dissimilair.

Still, there is no denying that Gaddafi makes a weird impression. He looks strangely youthful for a man who seized power in 1969 - but youthful in an eerie, articifical way that reminded me a bit of the late  Michael Jackson. He’s definitely had “work” done. But then that is true of a lot of people in New York.

�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti

Joined: 25 Nov 2005, 11:41

24 Sep 2009, 00:37 #3

Officials dismantle Muammar Gaddafi's tent
    * Paul Harris in Bedford and Helen Pidd
    * The Guardian, Thursday 24 September 2009

It had been pitched for less than 24 hours, but Colonel Gaddafi's Bedouin tent was on the move again in New York state last night, its pegs pulled up because it violated building laws.

The grand structure, replete with rugs and wall hangings, had been erected on land owned by the property developer Donald Trump on Tuesday.

The tent is used by the Libyan leader on his foreign travels, most often for receiving guests and holding parties. It is intended as a symbol of humble Bedouin origins, but also guarantees him media attention.

Gaddafi had initially wanted to pitch up in Central Park, but was turned down and set up camp instead in Bedford, an exclusive community nestling in pretty wooded hills 30 miles north of Manhattan.

Last night workers dismantled the tent amid threats of criminal action by local authorities.

"The tent is coming down, and he's not staying here tonight," said Donna Greene, spokeswoman for the Westchester county executive, Andrew Spano. "That's subject to change," she added. "You just never know what's going on with this guy."

Many of Bedford's well-heeled residents took umbrage when they saw the tent pitched amid their mansions, horse stables and country lanes.

"I think it stinks. I know it is because he is at the UN, but that is another place he shouldn't be," fumed one shopper walking by Bedford's village green, who declined to give her name.

Local Democratic congressman John Hall condemned the idea of Gaddafi visiting his district. "This sponsor of terror is not welcome here," he said.

Bedford businessman Greg Raue said the town shunned the spotlight, priding itself on a discreet attitude to wealth and the famous.

"If you have a lot of money and want to show off, you don't come to Bedford. People in this town keep things to themselves," he said. "You can walk down the street and see Glenn Close. Most people here don't like all this fuss being made. They don't really care."

But one person certainly did care. The owner of one of the businesses on Bedford's shopping street is a Libyan exile who said her family had been forced to leave the country because of Gaddafi's rule.

"This is a beautiful town and we don't want the likes of him around. What is he doing here? I had to leave my country because of him and now he wants to come here. I don't want him anywhere near me," she said.

The Trump Organisation confirmed last night it had asked "the tenant" occupying its land to remove the tent. "Additionally, Mr Gaddafi will not be going to the property," the organisation assured locals in a statement.
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

24 Sep 2009, 09:48 #4

�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

24 Sep 2009, 11:10 #5

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Muammar Qaddafi says Israeli Mossad was behind JFK assassination

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, in his extemporaneous remarks before the General Assembly on September 23 said that Lee Harvey Oswald assassin Jack Ruby (aka Jacob Rubinstein) was an Israeli intelligence agent who was involved on the behalf of Israel to assassinate President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Qaddafi claimed that Kennedy was prepared to expose Israel's nuclear weapons development facility at Dimona in the Negev Desert and Israel ordered Kennedy's assassination.

Qaddafi's remarks in a one and a half our-long speech are the talk of the hallways, cafeterias, and smoking areas at UN headquarters. Qaddafi's speech has outweighed President Obama's maiden speech on the delegates' interest meters.

Those who were hoping for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to engage in polemics over "Holocaust denial" were sorely disappointed. In his remarks, punctuated with Islamic religious references, Ahmadinejad had a message for the United States and its allies vis a vis the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan: "It is no longer possible to bring a country under military occupation in the name of fight against terrorism and drug trafficking while the production of illicit drugs has multiplied, terrorism has widened its dimensions and has tightened its grips, thousands of innocent people have been killed, injured or displaced, infrastructures have been destroyed and regional security has been seriously jeopardized; and those who have created the current disastrous situation continue to blame others. How you can talk about friendship and solidarity with other nations while you expand your military bases in different parts of the world including in Latin America. This situation cannot continue. It is all the more impossible to advance expansionistic and inhuman policies on the basis of militaristic logic."

Ahmadinejad added, "By the grace of God, Marxism is gone. It is now history. The expansionist Capitalism will certainly have the same fate." Ahmadinejad's remarks came just before the G20 industrial countries' leaders meet in Pittsburgh.

To repeat from UN headquarters, while Obama's speech was received well by most of the delegates and media, it is Qaddafi who is the star of this show. As one Iraqi reporter told this editor, "it's the first time the UN heard a speech from a leader who didn't feed them bullshit but the unvarnished truth."

�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

25 Sep 2009, 11:45 #6

From The Times
September 25, 2009

Colonel Gaddafi boycotts meeting of UN 'Terror Council'

James Bone in New York

A day after losing his tent and complaining of jet leg, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi yesterday skipped a summit meeting of the UN body he has dubbed the “Terror Council”.

The Libyan leader was the only one of the 15 Security Council statesmen to miss the meeting, which was chaired by President Obama. His no-show came as a relief to Mr Obama and Gordon Brown, who were spared having to shake his hand.

A diplomatic source said that the notoriously unpredictable “Brother Leader of the Libyan Revolution” had decided on Wednesday to give the Security Council a miss after he delivered a long speech to the 192-nation General Assembly, in which he complained of jet lag. He did reappear last night at the Council on Foreign Relations, a high-powered American foreign policy association. In his address he denied that Libya ever had a hand in the Lockerbie bombing.

Colonel Gaddafi has had trouble finding somewhere to stay in New York because of the outcry sparked by the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi.

Libyan officials were forced to take down a Beduin tent put up for him on an estate that had been rented from the mogul Donald Trump.

A Libyan-owned estate in New Jersey where Mr Gaddafi considered staying was vandalised with burning debris dumped on the lawn.

Mr Gaddafi is now staying at the Libyan diplomatic mission, a high-rise building on Manhattan's East 48th Street that is almost entirely empty because New York authorities have barred Libya from renting out extra space.

The Libyan leader met the Swiss President there on Wednesday evening to try to calm a row between the two countries.

Switzerland arrested Mr Gaddafi's son Hannibal and his wife in 2008 after servants complained that they had been mistreated. The complaint was dropped, but Libya retaliated by withdrawing Libyan assets from Swiss banks and barring two Swiss businessmen from leaving Libya.

Mr Gaddafi reemerged tonight to appear at the Council on Foreign Relations, a high-powered American foreign policy association
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

20 Mar 2011, 11:04 #7

A good article on the background to the Imperialist intervention in Libya and why the so-called 'rebels' should not be supported:
Libya, Getting it Right: A Revolutionary Pan-African Perspective

Posted on March 5, 2011
Gerald A. Perreira

Thousands of Indians, Egyptians, Chinese, Filipinos, Turks, Germans, English, Italians, Malaysians, Koreans and a host of other nationalities are lining up at the borders and the airport to leave Libya. It begs the question: What were they doing in Libya in the first place? Unemployment figures, according to the Western media and Al Jazeera, are at 30%. If this is so, then why all these foreign workers?

For those of us who have lived and worked in Libya, there are many complexities to the current situation that have been completely overlooked by the Western media and ‘Westoxicated’ analysts, who have nothing other than a Eurocentric perspective to draw on. Let us be clear – there is no possibility of understanding what is happening in Libya within a Eurocentric framework. Westerners are incapable of understanding a system unless the system emanates from or is attached in some way to the West. Libya’s system and the battle now taking place on its soil, stands completely outside of the Western imagination.

News coverage by the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera has been oversimplified and misleading. An array of anti-Qaddafi spokespersons, most living outside Libya, have been paraded in front of us – each one clearly a counter-revolutionary and less credible than the last. Despite the clear and irrefutable evidence from the beginning of these protests that Muammar Qaddafi had considerable support both inside Libya and internationally, not one pro-Qaddafi voice has been allowed to air. The media and their selected commentators have done their best to manufacture an opinion that Libya is essentially the same as Egypt and Tunisia and that Qaddafi is just another tyrant amassing large sums of money in Swiss bank accounts. But no matter how hard they try, they cannot make Qaddafi into a Mubarak or Libya into Egypt.

The first question is: Is the revolt taking place in Libya fuelled by a concern over economic issues such as poverty and unemployment as the media would have us believe? Let us examine the facts.

Under the revolutionary leadership of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya has attained the highest standard of living in Africa. In 2007, in an article which appeared in the African Executive Magazine, Norah Owaraga noted that Libya, “unlike other oil producing countries such as Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, utilized the revenue from its oil to develop its country. The standard of living of the people of Libya is one of the highest in Africa, falling in the category of countries with a GNP per capita of between USD 2,200 and 6,000.”

This is all the more remarkable when we consider that in 1951 Libya was officially the poorest country in the world. According to the World Bank, the per capita income was less than $50 a year – even lower than India. Today, all Libyans own their own homes and cars. Two Fleet Street journalists, David Blundy and Andrew Lycett, who are by no means supporters of the Libyan revolution, had this to say:

“The young people are well dressed, well fed and well educated. Libyans now earn more per capita than the British. The disparity in annual incomes… is smaller than in most countries. Libya’s wealth has been fairly spread throughout society. Every Libyan gets free, and often excellent, education, medical and health services. New colleges and hospitals are impressive by any international standard. All Libyans have a house or a flat, a car and most have televisions, video recorders and telephones. Compared with most citizens of the Third World countries, and with many in the First World, Libyans have it very good indeed.”1

Large scale housing construction has taken place right across the country. Every citizen has been given a decent house or apartment to live in rent-free. In Qaddafi’s Green Book it states: “The house is a basic need of both the individual and the family, therefore it should not be owned by others.” This dictum has now become a reality for the Libyan people.

Large scale agricultural projects have been implemented in an effort to “make the desert bloom” and achieve self-sufficiency in food production. Any Libyan who wants to become a farmer is given free use of land, a house, farm equipment, some livestock and seed.

Today, Libya can boast one of the finest health care systems in the Arab and African World. All people have access to doctors, hospitals, clinics and medicines, completely free of all charges. The fact is that the Libyan revolution has achieved such a high standard of living for its people that they import labor from other parts of the world to do the jobs that the unemployed Libyans refuse to do. Libya has been called by many observers inside and out, “a nation of shop keepers.” It is part of the Libyan Arab psyche to own your own small business and this type of small scale private enterprise flourishes in Libya. We can draw on many examples of Libyans with young sons who expressed the idea that it would be shameful for the family if these same young men were to seek menial work and instead preferred for them to remain at home supported by the extended family.

No system is perfect, and Libya is no exception. They suffered nine years of economic sanctions and this caused huge problems for the Libyan economy. Also, there is nowhere on planet earth that has escaped the monumental crisis of neo-liberal capitalism. It has impacted everywhere – even on post revolutionary societies that have rejected “free market” capitalism. However, what we are saying is that severe economic injustice is not at the heart of this conflict. So then, what is?

A Battle for Africa

The battle that is being waged in Libya is fundamentally a battle between Pan-African forces on the one hand, who are dedicated to the realization of Qaddafi’s vision of a united Africa, and reactionary racist Libyan Arab forces who reject Qaddafi’s vision of Libya as part of a united Africa and want to ally themselves instead with the EU and look toward Europe and the Arab World for Libya’s future.

One of Muammar Qaddafi’s most controversial and difficult moves in the eyes of many Libyans was his championing of Africa and his determined drive to unite Africa with one currency, one army and a shared vision regarding the true independence and liberation of the entire continent. He has contributed large amounts of his time and energy and large sums of money to this project and like Kwame Nkrumah, he has paid a high price.

Many of the Libyan people did not approve of this move. They wanted their leader to look towards Europe. Of course, Libya has extensive investments and commercial ties with Europe but the Libyans know that Qaddafi’s heart is in Africa.

Many years ago, Qaddafi told a large gathering, which included Libyans and revolutionaries from many parts of the world, that the Black Africans were the true owners of Libya long before the Arab incursion into North Africa, and that Libyans need to acknowledge and pay tribute to their ancient African roots. He ended by saying, as is proclaimed in his Green Book, that “the Black race shall prevail throughout the world.” This is not what many Libyans wanted to hear. As with all fair skinned Arabs, prejudice against Black Africans is endemic.

Brother Leader, Guide of the Revolution and King of Kings are some of the titles that have been bestowed on Qaddafi by Africans. Only last month Qaddafi called for the creation of a Secretariat of traditional African Chiefs and Kings, with whom he has excellent ties, to co-ordinate efforts to build African unity at the grassroots level throughout the continent, a bottom up approach, as opposed to trying to build unity at the government/state level, an approach which has failed the African unification project since the days of Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Toure. This bottom up approach is widely supported by many Pan Africanists worldwide.

African Mercenaries or Freedom Fighters?

In the past week, the phrase “African mercenaries” has been repeated over and over by the media and the selected Libyan citizens they choose to speak to have, as one commentator put it, “spat the word ‘African’ with a venomous hatred.”

The media has assumed, without any research or understanding of the situation because they are refusing to give any air time to pro-Qaddafi forces, that the many Africans in military uniform fighting alongside the pro-Qaddafi Libyan forces are mercenaries. However, it is a myth that the Africans fighting to defend the Jamahiriya and Muammar Qaddafi are mercenaries being paid a few dollars and this assumption is based solely on the usual racist and contemptuous view of Black Africans.

Actually, in truth, there are people all over Africa and the African Diaspora who support and respect Muammar Qaddafi as a result of his invaluable contribution to the worldwide struggle for African emancipation.

Over the past two decades, thousands of Africans from all over the continent were provided with education, work and military training – many of them coming from liberation movements. As a result of Libya’s support for liberation movements throughout Africa and the world, international battalions were formed. These battalions saw themselves as a part of the Libyan revolution, and took it upon themselves to defend the revolution against attacks from within its borders or outside.

These are the Africans who are fighting to defend Qaddafi and the gains of the Libyan revolution to their death if need be. It is not unlike what happened when internationalist battalions came to the aid of the revolutionary forces against Franco’s fascist forces in Spain.

Malian political analyst, Adam Thiam, notes that “thousands of Tuaregs who were enrolled in the Islamic Legion established by the Libyan revolution remained in Libya and they are enrolled in the Libyan security forces.”

African Migrants under Attack

As African fighters from Chad, Niger, Mali, Ghana, Kenya and Southern Sudan (it should be noted that Libya supported the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army under John Garang in their war of liberation against Arab hegemonists in Khartoum, while all other Arab leaders backed the Khartoum regime) fight to defend this African revolution, a million African refugees and thousands of African migrant workers stand the risk of being murdered as a result of their perceived support for Qaddafi.

One Turkish construction worker described a massacre: “We had 70-80 people from Chad working for our company. They were cut dead with pruning shears and axes, attackers saying: ‘You are providing troops for Qaddafi. The Sudanese were also massacred. We saw it for ourselves.”

This is a far cry from what is being portrayed in the media as “peaceful protesters” being set upon by pro-Qaddafi forces. In fact, footage of the Benghazi revolt shows men with machetes, AK 47s and RPGs. In the Green Book, Qaddafi argues for the transfer of all power, wealth and arms directly into the hands of the people themselves. No one can deny that the Libyan populace is heavily armed. This is part of Qaddafi’s philosophy of arms not being monopolised by any section of the society, including the armed forces. It must be said that it is not usual practice for tyrants and dictators to arm their population.

Qaddafi has also been very vocal regarding the plight of Africans who migrate to Europe, where they are met with racism, more poverty, violence at the hands of extreme right wing groups and in many cases death, when the un-seaworthy boats they travel in sink.

Moved by their plight, a conference was held in Libya in January this year, to address their needs and concerns. More than 500 delegates and speakers from around the world attended the conference titled “A Decent Life in Europe or a Welcome Return to Africa.”

“We should live in Europe with decency and dignity,” Qaddafi told participants. “We need a good relationship with Europe not a relationship of master and slave. There should be a strong relationship between Africa and Europe. Our presence should be strong, tangible and good. It’s up to you as the Africans in the Diaspora. We have to continue more and more until the unity of Africa is achieved.

From now on, by the will of God, I will assign teams to search, investigate and liaise with the Africans in Europe and to check their situations…this is my duty and role towards the sons of Africa; I am a soldier for Africa. I am here for you and I work for you; therefore, I will not leave you and I will follow up on your conditions.”

Joint committees of African migrants, the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and international organizations present at the conference discussed the need to coordinate the implementation of many of the conference’s recommendations.

Statements are appearing all over the internet from Africans who have a different view to that being perpetuated by those intent on discrediting Qaddafi and the Libyan revolution. One African commented:

When I was growing up I first read a comic book of his revolution at the age of ten. Since then, as dictators came and went, Colonel Qaddafi has made an impression on me as a man who truly loves Africa! Libyans could complain that he spent their wealth on other Africans! But those Africans he helped put in power, built schools and mosques and brought in many forms of development showing that Africans can do for themselves. If those Africans would abandon him to be swallowed by Western Imperialism and their lies and just let him go as a dictator in the name of so-called democracy…if they could do that…they should receive the names and fate that the Western press gives our beloved leader. If there is any one person who was half as generous as he is, let them step forward.

And another African comments:

This man has been accused of many things and listening to the West who just recently were happy to accept his generous hospitality, you will think that he is worse than Hitler. The racism and contemptuous attitudes of Arabs towards Black Africans has made me a natural sceptic of any overtures from them to forge a closer link with Black Africa but Qaddafi was an exception.

Opportunistic Revolt

This counter-revolutionary revolt caught everyone, including the Libyan authorities, by surprise. They knew what the media is not reporting: that unlike Egypt and Tunisia and other countries in the region, where there is tremendous poverty, unemployment and repressive pro-Western regimes, the Libyan dynamic was entirely different. However, an array of opportunistic forces, ranging from so-called Islamists, Arab-Supremacists, including some of those who have recently defected from Qaddafi’s inner circle, have used the events in neighbouring countries as a pretext to stage a coup and to advance their own agenda for the Libyan nation. Many of these former officials were the authors of, and covertly fuelled the anti-African pogrom in Libya a few years ago when many Africans lost their lives in street battles between Africans and Arab Libyans. This was a deliberate attempt to embarrass Qaddafi and to undermine his efforts in Africa.

Qaddafi has long been a thorn in the Islamists side. In his recent address to the Libyan people, broadcast from the ruins of the Bab al-Azizia compound bombed by Reagan in 1986, he asked the “bearded ones” in Benghazi and Jabal al Akhdar where they were when Reagan bombed his compound in Tripoli, killing hundreds of Libyans, including his daughter. He said they were hiding in their homes applauding the US and he vowed that he would never allow the country to be returned to the grip of them and their colonial masters.

Al Qaeda is in the Sahara on his borders and the International Union of Muslim Scholars is calling for him to be tried in a court. One asks why are they calling for Qaddafi’s blood? Why not Mubarak who closed the Rafah Border Crossing while the Israeli’s slaughtered the Palestinians in Gaza. Why not Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair who are responsible for the murder of millions of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan?

“An array of opportunistic forces, ranging from so-called Islamists, Arab-Supremacists, including some of those who have recently defected from Qaddafi’s inner circle, have used the events in neighbouring countries as a pretext to stage a coup.”

The answer is simple – because Qaddafi committed some “cardinal sins.” He dared to challenge their reactionary and feudal notions of Islam. He has upheld the idea that every Muslim is a ruler (Caliph) and does not need the Ulema to interpret the Quran for them. He has questioned the Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda from a Quranic/theological perspective and is one of the few political leaders equipped to do so. Qaddafi has been called a Mujaddid (this term refers to a person who appears to revive Islam and to purge it of alien elements, restoring it to its authentic form) and he comes in the tradition of Jamaludeen Afghani and the late Iranian revolutionary, Ali Shariati.

Libya is a deeply traditional society, plagued with some outmoded and bankrupt ideas that continue to surface to this day. In many ways, Qaddafi has had to struggle against the same reactionary aspects of Arab culture and tradition that the holy prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was struggling against in 7th century Arabia – Arab supremacy/racism, supremacy of family and tribe, historical feuding tribe against tribe and the marginalisation of women. Benghazi has always been at the heart of counter-revolution in Libya, fostering reactionary Islamic movements such as the Wahhabis and Salafists. It is these people who founded the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group based in Benghazi which allies itself with Al Qaeda and who have, over the years, been responsible for the assassination of leading members of the Libyan revolutionary committees.

These forces hate Qaddafi’s revolutionary reading of the Quran. They foster an Islam concerned with outward trappings and mere religiosity, in the form of rituals, which at the same time is feudal and repressive, while rejecting the liberatory spirituality of Islam. While these so-called Islamists are opposed to Western occupation of Muslim lands, they have no concrete programmatic platform for meaningful socio-economic and political transformation to advance their societies beyond semi-feudal and capitalist systems which reinforce the most backward and reactionary ideas and traditions. Qaddafi’s political philosophy, as outlined in the Green Book, rejects unfettered capitalism in all its manifestations, including the “State capitalism” of the former communist countries and the neo-liberal capitalist model that has been imposed at a global level. The idea that capitalism is not compatible with Islam and the Quran is not palatable to many Arabs and so-called Islamists because they hold onto the fallacious notion that business and trade is synonymous with capitalism.

Getting it Right

Whatever the mistakes made by Qaddafi and the Libyan revolution, its gains and its huge contribution to the struggle of oppressed peoples worldwide cannot and must not be ignored. Saif Qaddafi, when asked about the position of his father and family, said this battle is not about one man and his family, it is about Libya and the direction it will take.

That direction has always been controversial. In 1982, The World Mathaba was established in Libya. Mathaba means a gathering place for people with a common purpose. The World Mathaba brought together revolutionaries and freedom fighters from every corner of the globe to share ideas and develop their revolutionary knowledge. Many liberation groups throughout the world received education, training and support from Muammar Qaddafi and the Libyan revolution including ANC, AZAPO, PAC and BCM of Azania (South Africa), SWAPO of Namibia, MPLA of Angola, The Sandinistas of Nicaragua, The Polisario of the Sahara, the PLO, The Native American Movements throughout the Americas, The Nation of Islam led by Louis Farrakhan to name but a few. Nelson Mandela called Muammar Qaddafi one of this century’s greatest freedom fighters, and insisted that the eventual collapse of the apartheid system owed much to Qaddafi and Libyan support. Mandela said that in the darkest moments of their struggle, when their backs were to the wall, it was Muammar Qaddafi who stood with them. The late African freedom fighter, Kwame Ture, referred to Qaddafi as “a diamond in a cesspool of African misleaders.”

The hideous notion being perpetuated by the media and reactionary forces, inside and outside of Libya, that this is just another story of a bloated dictatorship that has run its course is mis-information and deliberate distortion. Whatever one’s opinions of Qaddafi the man, no one can deny his invaluable contribution to human emancipation and the universal truths outlined in his Green Book.

Progressive scholars in many parts of the world, including the West, have acclaimed The Green Book as an incisive critique of capitalism and the Western Parliamentary model of multi-party democracy. In addition, there is no denying that the system of direct democracy posited by Qaddafi in The Green Book offers an alternative model and solution for Africa and the Third World, where multi-party so-called democracy has been a dismal failure, resulting in poverty, ethnic and tribal conflict and chaos.

Every revolution, since the beginning of time, has defended itself against those who would want to roll back its gains. Europeans should look back into their own bloody history to see that this includes the American, French and Bolshevik revolutions. Marxists speak of Trotsky and Lenin’s brutal suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion by the Red Army as being a “tragic necessity.”

Let’s get it right: The battle in Libya is not about peaceful protestors versus an armed and hostile State. All sides are heavily armed and hostile. The battle being waged in Libya is essentially a battle between those who want to see a united and liberated Libya and Africa, free of neo-colonialism and neo-liberal capitalism and free to construct their own system of governance compatible with the African and Arab personalities and cultures and those who find this entire notion repugnant. And both sides are willing to pay the ultimate price to defend their positions.

Make no mistake, if Qaddafi and the Libyan revolution are defeated by this opportunistic conglomerate of reactionaries and racists, then progressive forces worldwide and the Pan African project will suffer a huge defeat and set back.

Qaddafi and the Libyan Revolution
Gerald A. Perreira has lived in Libya for many years and was an executive member of the World Mathaba. He can be reached at:

Pan-African News Wire: Libya, Getting it Right: A Revolutionary Pan-African Perspective
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti