Oppose U.S./NATO Crimes
The U.S. has continued its aggression against Libya, while also utilizing its military bloc NATO to conduct most of the bombing raids and contribute to paying for this war of aggression. From the beginning the U.S. attempted to paint this war as a “humanitarian mission.” Yet the U.S/NATO actions are war crimes, bombing civilian infrastructure, targeting hospitals and schools, ports and oil resources. More than 1,000 civilians have been killed and close to 5,000 injured by the U.S/NATO bombing raids.
Now the U.S. has officially announced what has been its aim all along, which is to violently remove Muammar Qaddafi from office and secure a government to its liking. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at a meeting of the Libya Contact Group in Turkey July 15, announced that "Until an interim authority is in place, the United States will recognize the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the legitimate governing authority for Libya, and we will deal with it on that basis. In contrast, the United States views the Qaddafi regime as no longer having legitimate authority in Libya.” She went on to say that the U.S. will now hand over the funds of the Libyan people currently frozen in U.S. banks to these “rebel” forces.
On what basis is the U.S. deciding who is and is not legitimate in Libya? And how can recognition of a group backed and funded by the U.S. and NATO powers be considered an expression of the self-determination of the Libyan people? The funds belong to the people of Libya, not a group backed and funded by the imperialist powers.
The U.S., having wrecked international rule of law, is using violence and military might to put in place arrangements whereby the U.S. openly decides which governments are and are not legitimate. While constantly saying, as Clinton did, that “ultimately” it is up to the Libyan people, or Syrian, or Iraqi people to “chart their own course,” the actual content is that only the course decided by the U.S. not only for who constitutes the government and what kind of government but also which political forces inside a given country are “legitimate” and which “terrorist” is permitted. Inciting civil war, assassinations, drone attacks, raids by Special Forces (no longer even considered black ops) are all to be accepted. Broad impunity to use violence and aggression as the weapons of choice is being imposed, against the firm stand of the peoples that aggression is a crime against the peace, the worst of the war crimes as it sanctions aggression and threatens potential world war.
NATO is being used as an instrument of U.S. aggression and a mechanism for the U.S. to conduct wars while not having a “single soldier on the ground,” as Obama put it. It is a relic of the Cold War that should be dismantled Now! Dismantling NATO and ending all U.S. wars and aggression is what contributes to world peace and security. Bringing All U.S. Troops Home Now! and ending all U.S. and NATO interference contributes to defending the rights of the peoples abroad and at home, including the right to determine their own affairs free of foreign interference!
U.S. Out of Libya Now! Dismantle NATO
On July 1, a massive rally in the symbolic Green Square of Tripoli, Libya denounced the NATO aggression against the country, with estimates of a million and more people participating. With a population of about 6.5 million, even modest estimates by pro-war media outlets of tens of thousands constitute a substantial percentage of the Libyan population and specifically Tripoli's population of approximately 1.7 million people. Since then, demonstration after demonstration has taken place in the Green Square and other areas, including Sabha on July 8. Many of these anti-NATO gatherings have run late into the night, and featured lively crowds affirming the right of the Libyan people to decide their own affairs. Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi and government representatives have addressed these rallies despite foreign propaganda that the so-called rebels are poised to take the city. Vivid pictures of a sea of people waving the green Libyan flag or wrapped in that color have appeared around the world and belie all efforts of NATO and its propaganda machine to paint its aggression in the garb of legitimacy.
Recently, the monopoly-owned media and various pundits have begun to liken the situation in Libya to that of Iraq and Afghanistan, indicating that as in those countries, imperialist aggression has failed to establish the rule of a foreign dictate. While the NATO propaganda machine daily claims success in Libya, the facts on the ground are far less favorable. What was supposed to be a brief military mission that, according to Obama, would topple the Libyan government within days and see so-called rebel action supported by an uprising of the Libyan people has failed to realize any of these results. The government, far from being toppled, is becoming a rallying point for Libyans opposed to the foreign interference in the country and is harnessing the nationalist, anti-imperialist sentiment of a people who did not hesitate to sacrifice their lives against the Italian colonialists in the early 1900s and through World War II.
The Green Square is the symbol of the heroic resistance of the Libyan people to the Italian colonialists. Omar Al-Mokhtar, a hero of the Libyan nationalist struggle for nearly twenty years, was executed there in 1931 by the Italian fascists who hoped to quash the aspiration of the Libyan people to affirm their right to self-determination. Rather than accomplishing this aim, however, the Libyan people succeeded in their resistance and the Square to this day is a powerful symbol of Libyan independence. It is uncanny that, like NATO today, the Italian colonialists also claimed humanitarian reasons for their interference in the country; they supposedly wanted to "liberate" its people from Ottoman rule.
NATO, which began its aerial bombing of the country on March 19, had to extend its 90-day mission for another 90 days. For all the talk of its defeat in days, not weeks, the Libyan government has withstood almost four months of attack by the most powerful military bloc in the world. Meanwhile, despite the United Nations arms embargo against Libya, member states of NATO, such as France, were sending arms to the anti-government forces in a desperate bid to prop up their allies against the formidable military action of the government while NATO was providing aerial support for the "rebels" to advance on Tripoli.
According to the imperialist dictate, so long as Qaddafi remained, there would be no negotiations. The Harper government and the U.S. continuously rejected negotiations, choosing violence, civilian deaths and large-scale wrecking of Libya's basic infrastructure. Yet their bravado and claims of success were belied after the Libya Contact Group meeting in Turkey yesterday where, among others, the U.S. agreed to begin negotiating a ceasefire with the Libyan government. That meeting of the Libya Contact Group, which Russia and China declined to attend, also recognized the so-called rebels as the “sole legitimate authority” in Libya and promised to funnel Libyan government assets frozen in Euro-American banks to them.
Only time will show exactly what is taking place in Libya, given the often contradictory reports. What is clear, however, is that the Libyan people are not interested in playing ball with the likes of NATO. They will not for one second conciliate on the national question, nor will they permit that foreign powers decide their future. Whether Qaddafi stays or the Libyan government changes must be decided by the Libyan people themselves, without any foreign interference in the form of NATO military action or support for the so-called rebels.
(TML Weekly Information Project, cpcml.ca)
On March 17, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1973 by a vote of 10 in favor to none against, with 5 abstentions (Brazil, China, Germany, India and the Russian Federation). This resolution authorized member states "to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory — requesting them to immediately inform the Secretary-General of such measures." The resolution supposedly legalized the imposition by member states of a “no-fly zone” over Libya and an arms embargo against the country.
Almost immediately, the U.S. began the military aggression and soon after handed over the mission to NATO with Canada in command. Indeed, even before the resolution had been passed, U.S. and Canadian warships and other NATO military forces had made their way to Libya. Since the resolution was self-servingly passed by a Security Council composed of the very countries wanting to militarily intervene in Libya, the situation in the country has quickly unfolded as a foreign-engineered civil war with one side, the so-called rebels or opposition, backed by the major imperialist powers against the Libyan government. Under the guise of protecting civilians from government repression, the imperialist NATO alliance has caused untold damage and killed more than 1000 civilians and wounded thousands more in its efforts to dominate Libya with its rich oil resources and geopolitical significance. Since air strikes began in March, NATO has flown more than 14,931 missions, some 5,623 of which involved airstrikes.
On July 8, news outlets reported that NATO had bombed Libyan oil facilities for the first time since the aggression began in March. As the fighting intensified between the Libyan government and the foreign-backed opposition, the airstrikes hit the highly lucrative, government-controlled complex at Brega, one of the countries' biggest petrochemical complexes and port for export. Control of Brega and the adjoining city of Ras Lanuf has changed hands several times since the fighting began, while Tripoli remains un-breached. As of July 15, it has been reported that the rebels are trying to recapture Brega, again with NATO aerial support. The use of military power to support the rebels is outside the mandate established by the relevant Security Council resolution.
According to NATO, this targeting of infrastructure and the economic assets of the Libyan people was designed to prevent government troops from mounting a defense against the "rebels." NATO had explained the targeting of hospitals with similar hollow arguments. In the Libyan capital, Deputy Foreign Minister, Khaled Kaim pointed out that NATO's increased bombings represented the "final phase" of the air campaign which aims not at protecting civilians but rather to clear a path for the opposition's military action on the ground to succeed against the government. Indeed, as of July 7, while the foreign-backed "rebels" advanced on Tripoli, NATO intensified its aerial bombing of the area clearly in an effort to provide aerial support for the ground advance.
Meanwhile, on July 7, news outlets carried announcements by France that it had delivered arms and ammunition to the rebels in the Nafusa Mountains in early June. This was another clear instance of foreign interference in a civil war to back one party against another. It is also directly in violation of Security Council Resolution 1973 which established an arms embargo against all parties in Libya. The African Union, Russia, China and others condemned this move.
International Organizations Concerned by Growing Humanitarian Crisis
In related news, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed its alarm at the humanitarian situation in Libya. On Tuesday, July 5, the ICRC informed that health care and food supplies are deteriorating in Libya. According to the ICRC, medicine and equipment for treating patients with chronic diseases like diabetes or cancer are increasingly in short supply and many facilities require spare parts. Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that Libya's system for procuring life-saving medicines and vaccines has broken down, and supplies are dwindling on both sides. Both the ICRC and WHO expressed concern at the humanitarian consequences of NATO-backed opposition forces extending the fighting into Tripoli as that would only worsen the situation for all Libyans. "We haven't identified a food crisis in government-controlled areas. [...] Every family receives food subsidies [from the Libyan government], which are of great value, for a month," WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters, adding that, "Government wages are still paid, including to those who are displaced, through the banking system. This still works." He also explained that, "There has been a huge psychological impact on the whole population which never thought they would see their country at war." Clearly, the collapse of the Libyan government is of huge concern for the ICRC, WHO and other international aid organizations due to the food, healthcare and financial crisis that would hit Libyans dependent on the food rations and wages still guaranteed by the government.
Meanwhile, reports are emerging of the human rights abuses being committed by the so-called rebels. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that in four towns captured by rebels in the Nafusa Mountains over the past month they had damaged property, burned homes, looted hospitals, homes and shops, and beaten people suspected of supporting the government. The latest reports appear to confirm concerns expressed by an Amnesty researcher who visited rebel-held areas in May. Donatella Rovera reported that rebels had formed death squads in Benghazi to dispatch alleged employees of Libya's Internal Security Agency and that at least three men had been killed in "chilling summary-execution style attacks." Ms. Rovera said that "many" migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa had suffered the same fate.
Political Efforts to Resolve the Crisis
The African Union's calls for negotiations and a ceasefire not aggression to resolve the situation in Libya has been oft reiterated and oft rejected by NATO countries. Russia and China have added their voice in support of negotiations and for a ceasefire, with officials from both countries in discussions with their Libyan government counterparts. In the past week, some negotiations have in fact started. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been in discussions with Libyan government officials, including with Prime Minister Al Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoud to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation and for a transition toward peace in Libya. Ban urged support for UN Special Envoy for Libya Abdul Ilah Al-Khatib, who is in consultations with the government in Tripoli. Reports had also trickled in that negotiations had been taking place between France and the Libyan government.
In this context, the Libya Contact Group met on Friday, July 15 in Istanbul. This group was established in London on March 29 to coordinate the efforts of various players on the situation in Libya. It includes NATO member countries, the United Nations, the Arab League, the Libyan rebels and the European Union. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the meeting.
Following this meeting, this self-appointed group held a press conference where it issued a statement recognizing the opposition’s National Transitional Council (NTC) as the sole and legitimate authority in Libya. The UN Special Envoy to Libya, Abdelilah Al-Khatib, has been authorized as the sole representative to communicate with the Libyan government. The group also called for the formation of an interim government once a ceasefire is realized. Al-Khatib is apparently mandated by the group to negotiate with the Libyan government the terms of such a ceasefire. This highlights the difficulties NATO and its allies are facing in defeating the Libyan government, since the previously established condition of Qaddafi leaving government before any negotiations take place has now apparently been waived even by hard-liners such as U.S. Secretary of State Clinton.
Franco Frattini, Italian Foreign Minister, said, "Only one group will negotiate and the group is led by Mr. Al-Khatib. Member states decided — all the member states — that we pass the same message to Tripoli, in case there are further attempts to have confidential mediations, or negotiation." In this manner, efforts of the Libyan government to reach out to various NATO and European countries by sending messages and officials to communicate directly with each government are to be blocked through this so-called member consensus. The basis for membership in this group is of course arbitrary, and does not include the many sectors of the international community opposed to the imperialist agenda for Libya.
The statement issued after the meeting also encouraged the theft of Libyan government assets, held in the banks of various Contact Group member countries, in order to funnel the money to the National Transitional Council. In this way, the rebels are now to be directly funded by the imperialist powers with the Libyan people’s money as collateral for new debts that will be issued or as a direct source of the funds. Now, Washington can help fund the NTC with some of the more than $30 billion in assets from the Libyan government currently frozen in U.S. banks. In this manner, the imperialist powers are to further interfere in the sovereign affairs of Libya by redirecting the people’s money to one party in the civil war.
In response to the Contact Group statements, another mass rally took place against foreign interference in Zlitan. Qaddafi, still head of the Libyan state, denounced the Contact Group's unilateral declaration of the NTC as the sole legitimate authority in the country. He told the crowd that they can trample such declarations beneath their feet.
African Union Opposes International Criminal Court Mandate
The African Union (AU) strongly rejected the request by chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that arrest warrants for war crimes be issued against Muammar Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and the Head of Libya's Intelligence Service, Abdullah al-Senussi. The AU pointed out that this serves only to confirm the role of the ICC as a useful instrument of imperial aggression, domination and propaganda. The 53-member alliance, representing all the countries of Africa, called into question the legitimacy of the ICC and its arrest warrant. AU official Jean Ping called the ICC "discriminatory" for targeting only Africans while ignoring the crimes committed by the Euro-American states in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The AU has also condemned France for its blatant violation of the already illegitimate Security Council Resolution 1973 by dropping weapons to the so-called Libyan rebels. The African Congress Youth League, among other African institutions, also added its voice to the condemnation.
CARICOM Denounces NATO War Crimes
In recent news, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) condemned the NATO aggression after its 32nd Regular Meeting of the Conference of Caribbean Heads of Government in St. Kitts, held from July 1 to 4. They called for a cease-fire and pointed out that the NATO war crimes have even violated Security Council Resolution 1973 in targeting civilians, their infrastructure and residential areas. The communiqué issued at the end of the conference stated that CARICOM heads of government "deplored the increasing loss of innocent life as the conflict in Libya becomes drawn out [and] called for a ceasefire as well as the early convening of negotiations. In this regard, they expressed support for the African Union in their search for a peaceful resolution of the dispute."
Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica, added that the people of Dominica stand with the Libyan people facing this assault. CARICOM Chair and Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Denzil Llewellyn Douglas also condemned the attacks, pointing out the racist nature of the propaganda against this strategic African country. He linked the attack to wanting to block the pivotal work of the Libyan government to strengthen the African Union, as well as to controlling the country's oil.
On June 28, the International Criminal Court announced its decision to issue an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, his son Saif Al Islam Qaddafi and Abdullah Al Senussi, reported to be the head of Libyan Intelligence Services.
Qaddafi’s is accused of setting up a system that resulted in the death of civilian demonstrators. Second he is accused of persecuting an identifiable group — his political opponents — by jailing them." The charges reflect a double standard, whereby some, disliked by the West, are charged and others, useful to the West, are not. In addition, the U.S., which is pushing for the ICC to act and repeatedly talking of Qaddafi’s “crimes” does not itself recognize the ICC and refuses to submit to its jurisdiction. Further, while the slaughter and destruction of the U.S./NATO aggression is supposedly “humanitarian aid,” Qaddafi’s is said to be a war crime.
Libya has rejected the arrest warrants and jurisdiction of the ICC. Acting legal counsel of Muammar Qaddafi, Saif Al Islam Qaddafi and Abdullah Al Senussi issued a statement explaining why. The text of the statement follows.
1. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya never signed or ratified the international treaty establishing the International Criminal Court, therefore the international treaty and the International Criminal Court do not apply to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. It is clear that the ICC has no jurisdiction on the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and that the immunity of the Head of State, provided by international customary law, applies to Colonel Qaddafi.
2. The UN SC Resolution 1970 (2011) referred the situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The referral is invalid because it violates the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in that the UN SC prescribes to the ICC who to prosecute and who not to prosecute when the Resolution prohibited the ICC from prosecuting "nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a State outside the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which is not party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that State for alleged acts or omissions arising out or related to operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya established or authorized by the Council, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by the State." Therefore, the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction, independence and impartiality have been compromised as it has been caused to discriminate against the State of Libya and its people. In so doing, the ICC has acted in a manner that is forbidden by its governing statute. [Because the U.S. is not a party to the Rome Statute, the upshot of this section of UNSC Resolution 1970 is that war crimes committed in Libya by U.S. personnel can be only prosecuted by the U.S., and not by the ICC — VOR Ed. Note.]
3. There is no doubt that in terms of the ICC Statute the UN SC has the power to refer a "situation" to the ICC, however, that does not entitle the UN SC to arrogate themselves powers that they fancy and to even undermine and violate the ICC Statute. In other words, by issuing the warrants of arrest the ICC has complacently misled the world about its penchant to take the law into its own hands as the ICC has no jurisdiction over Libya and the UN SC does not have the competency to grant the ICC "powers" over Libya as the rule of customary international law states that the Rome Treaty cannot apply to States, such as Libya, that are not signatories thereto.
4. The ICC investigation was opened in a very short period of time compared to the other situations. In other situations, even much less complicated, the Prosecutor took much more time to decide whether to open an investigation or not under at.53, ICC Statute:
• Afghanistan, under valuation since 2007;
• Georgia, since 2008;
• Guinea, since 2009;
• Colombia, since 2006.
Regarding the investigations already opened by the ICC Prosecutor,
• Congo, took 2 months;
• Central Africa, 4 months;
• Uganda, 6 months;
• Darfur, 3 months.
Regarding the situation in Libya, the Prosecutor took 3 days to decide to open an investigation (in such time he had to consider all the information he had, the jurisdiction, the admissibility and the interests of justice). In just 5 days the ICC Prosecutor already indicated the names of the persons under investigation.
5. This is extraordinary given that the referral by the UN SC violates the ICC Statute. This goes to show that the ICC Prosecutor is absolutely not independent. The ICC did not show itself to be independent and impartial in this matter. For example, one of the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber I, Mr. Cuno Tarfusser, recently made statements to the Italian media on the situation in Libya which indicated that the ICC is not impartial.
6. Now that the ICC has issued its illegitimate warrants, we expect NATO to stop their bombings and to also abandon its threat to kill Colonel Qaddafi and allow the ICC's disputed process to take its course. Failing which, it would mean that the ICC is not recognized and respected by NATO itself. Furthermore, NATO should immediately announce a ceasefire to guarantee the safety of the legitimate Libyan Leader, Colonel Qaddafi and other representatives and officials of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to exercise their right to defend themselves in a fair tribunal.
7. We have good reasons to believe that the case against our client is founded on the desperation to have access to the rich oil resources and not any legal ground as NATO should account for the destruction of Libyan infrastructure, killing of innocent civilians, women and children as well as the deprivation of access to basic necessities, including baby food.
8. The merit of the facts alleged do not require long comments, they are the result of a campaign conducted through the media. A great deal of information that has been given to the media has already proven to be false. It is the responsibility of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to use all legitimate means, as our clients used, to maintain and re-establish law and order in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and to defend the unity and the territorial integrity of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
Johannesburg and Rome, 27th June 2011
Themba Benedict Langa, South African Lawyer, Counsel to Muammar Qaddafi, Saif Al Islam Qaddafi, Abdullah Al Senussi
Fabio Maria Galiani, Legal Adviser, Member of the Defense Team
The United States, the principal violator of international law, will never appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC), in spite of its policy of aggression, interference and expansionism, stated Nicolás Fernández, member of the Cuban International Law Society, speaking at the 5th International Summer School, Havana 2011 and the 7th Humanitarian International Law Symposium.
Washington has signed 96 agreements with different countries to avoid having its troops involved in conflicts being brought to trial at the ICC, he noted." At present, ways of arresting real criminals are nonexistent, and so we cannot try the former President George W. Bush, or former British Prime Minister Tony Blair," he said. Both politicians were to a large extent responsible for unleashing a military conflict, which cost the lives of thousands of civilians.
Impunity in the world is a given dating back to the very genesis of the United Nations, which was born with genetic flaws and whose functioning has now become complicated, the professor of Public International Law at the University of Havana noted. "Impunity is the same as injustice and thus this negation of justice promotes war criminals, crimes against humanity, genocide and forced disappearances," he added.
All the courts established to address the issue of impunity [lack impartiality] and do not try violations such as interference, thus it is justice of a selective nature, the expert emphasized.
Fernández explained, "In practice, the law of impunity has emerged, which invalidates justice, manifested in amnesties, pardons, due obedience and universal jurisdiction." [Due obedience refers to the discredited defense of justifying war crimes on the basis of "following orders," as epitomized by Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann; universal jurisdiction refers to states claiming criminal jurisdiction over persons whose alleged crimes were committed outside the boundaries of the prosecuting state, regardless of nationality, country of residence, or any other relation with the prosecuting country – VOR Ed. Note.]
"We could add that the International Criminal Court is not impartial, nor independent, that it is directed by the Security Council, which decides what proceedings to initiate and when they will end."
Today there is impunity in the so-called war on terrorism, and an alleged protection of persons and humanitarian missions mask what is interference.