Muammar Gaddafi’s bedroom after a NATO bombing. Two other rooms in the building were also destroyed, those of his son and grandchildren all of whom were killed. The Leader himself was absent.
© Voltaire Network

As the Libyan bombing campaign entered the 100th day, NATO announced its imminent success. However, since the aims of the war were never clearly defined, it is difficult to know what is meant by success. Simultaneously, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the Libyan regime’s intelligence chief Abjullah al-Sanoussi for "crimes against humanity."

According to the terms of Security Council Resolution 1973, the aim of the Coalition of the willing was to establish a no-fly zone to prevent the tyrant from murdering his own people. However, the initial reports of Libya mobilizing its air force against its own people have as yet to be corroborated, despite the ICC’s acceptance of their authenticity. Whatever the case, NATO operations have largely exceeded the establishment of a no-fly zone, morphing into a systematic destruction campaign of all national armed forces - air, land and sea.

NATO’s objectives must evidently lie elsewhere. Accordingly, the heads of the Alliance have repeatedly called for the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s "regime", including the "Brother Leader"’s physical elimination. At the same time, the western media periodically evoke the "massive defections" of Tripoli officials to rally the cause of the Benghazi rebels, while failing to cite any names except for those political leaders already famous for their longstanding sympathies towards Washington, such as Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa.

International public opinion is widely misinformed. Washington had the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat), of which Libya is a shareholder, block the transmission of the Jamahiriya Satellite Channel. It shouldn’t be long before the State Department follows suit with NileSat. In breach of its international obligations, Washington denied a visa to the new Libyan ambassador to the United Nations. He is barred from going to New York to expound his point of view, while his predecessor - who has joined the National Transitional Council - continues to occupy his seat.

With Tripoli’s voice stifled, any lie can easily be spread without risking refutation.

It should come as no surprise if - when seen from Tripoli where this article is written - NATO’s announcements and the injunctions of the ICC seem unreal. Western Libya is peaceful. The sirens unpredictably announce the arrival of bombers or missiles, immediately followed by explosions. It is pointless to scramble towards the shelters; on one hand, time is too short and, on the other hand, there are no shelters.

The bombings are carried out with razor-sharp precision. The guided munitions hit the targeted buildings, then the targeted rooms inside the buildings. Nevertheless, NATO loses control in flight of roughly one guided missile out of every ten. When that occurs, the missile lands haphazardly in the city, sowing indiscriminate death.

While part of NATO’s targets are "military": barracks and bases; the majority are "strategic", that is economic. For example, the Alliance bombarded the Libyan Mint Office building, a civilian administration in charge of manufacturing dinars. Also, its commandos sabotaged factories that were competing with those of the Coalition. Other targets are said to be "psychological" in that they strike the political and security leaders where it hurts most: the decimation of their families. The missiles are then aimed at their private quarters and, more precisely, their children’s bedrooms.

The capital and the coast are steeped in a heavy atmosphere. But the population is united. The Libyans emphasize that none of their internal problems can justify the recourse to war. They voice social claims and regional issues, comparably to certain European countries, but nothing that would prompt families to split up, a situation which the imposed partition of the country is currently generating.

With NATO’s intervention, tens of thousands of wealthy Libyans packed up and moved to neighboring countries, especially Tunisia, leaving the poor with the responsibility to defend the country that made them rich. Many shops have closed down but no one knows whether it’s because of replenishment problems or because the owners have fled.

As is happening in Syria, the majority of political opponents are behind the government, eager to protect their country’s integrity in the face of foreign aggression. Meanwhile, certain Libyans collaborate with NATO under the radar, feeding information on the location of targets. In the past, their parents had welcomed the Italian colonial troops; today, in unison with their Benghazi counterparts they chant "1, 2, 3, Sarkozy is on his way!." Each nation has its share of traitors and quislings.

The abuses committed by Prince Bandar’s mercenaries in Cyrenaica wound up convincing a lot of fence sitters. Television channels broadcast non-stop the doings of Al-Qaeda leaders in Libya, some of whom were sent directly from Guantanamo to fight alongside the United States. Unbearable images display scenes of lynchings and mutilations in cities which have been transformed into Islamic emirates - Afghan or Iraqi style - by individuals dehumanized by inflicted torture and under the influence of potent drugs. It is not necessary to be a longstanding supporter of Gaddafi’s Revolution in order to support it today in the face of the horrors perpetrated by the jihadists in the "zones liberated" by the Alliance [1].

Nothing anywhere in the West of the country is reminiscent of a rebellion or a civil war. There are no barricades, nor armored vehicles in the streets. Along every road, the authorities set up a check-point every two kilometers. The drivers patiently bide their time, themselves on the look out for elements infiltrated by NATO.

Colonel Gaddafi has armed the population. Approximately two million machine guns have already been distributed to the civilians. The idea is that each adult, man or women, should be in a position to defend his or her home. The Libyans learned the Iraqi lesson. Saddam Hussein had rested his power on the Ba’ath ruling party and the army, excluding the people from political life. When the party was decapitated and several generals defected, the State suddenly collapsed leaving the country with no resistance and floundering in chaos. Libya instead follows an original system of participative democracy, similar to the grassroots assemblies in Vermont. People are used to being consulted and assuming responsibilities. Hence, it is easy to mobilize them en masse.

Unexpectedly, women are more determined than men to carry arms. This could be explained by their higher rate of participation in the popular assemblies in recent years. It could also be a reflection of the flightiness that has affected certain officials in this socialist country where they enjoy a high standard of living.

Everyone is aware that the decisive moment will come when NATO will deploy its ground troops, if it dares to venture it. The defense strategy has been entirely conceived in terms of dissuading the penetration of ground troops by mobilizing the population. Here, U.S., French and British soldiers will not be received as liberators, but as colonial invaders. Endless urban guerrilla combats will await them.

Libyans are perplexed about the real motives behind NATO’s military operation. I was surprised to learn that it was often through the articles published by Voltaire Network, translated and relayed by numerous other Internet sites and printed newspapers, that they were informed of what was at stake. Here, like everywhere else, there is an information deficit when it comes to the international scene. People are aware and proud of their government’s initiatives and achievements in favor of African unity and the development of the Third World, but they are oblivious to certain aspects of international politics and under-estimate the destructive capacity of the Empire. War always seems remote, until the predator picks you as his prey.

So, what is the success heralded by NATO? For the time being, the country is fractured in two. Cyrenaica has been proclaimed an independent republic - although preparations are under way to restore the monarchy - and has been recognized by several States, starting with France. This new entity is governed de facto by NATO, but officially by a mysterious non-elected National Transitional Council whose members, if they exist, are undercover to avoid having to answer for their acts. A portion of Libyan assets has been frozen and currently administered to their greatest benefit by western governments. Part of the oil production is marketed at unbeatable conditions in favor of western companies, which are going hog wild. Perhaps this is the success that NATO is talking about: colonial pillaging.

By issuing an international arrest warrant against Muammar Gaddafi, his son and his intelligence chief, the International Criminal Court aims to exert pressure on the Libyan diplomats to get them to resign. Should Jamahiriya fall, each one is threatened to be charged with "complicity in crimes against humanity." Those who resign will leave a vacant post behind them, without being replaced. The arrest warrants are clearly linked to a policy of isolating the country.

The ICC also engages in war communication. It qualifies Seif al-Islam as a "de facto Prime Minister", which he is decidedly not, but it conveys the impression of a family regime. We are before an example of the reversal-of-values principle which is typical of US propaganda. While the Benghazi rebels brandish the flag of the Senussi monarchy and that the heir to the throne sits impatiently in London, it is the system of participative democracy which is being portrayed as a family dynasty.

At the end of the first hundred days of war, disappointment is seeping through NATO’s communiqués. With the exception of Cyrenaica, the Libyans did not rise up against the "regime." No military solution is in sight. The only exit allowing NATO not to loose too much face is the division of the country. Benghazi would thus become the equivalent of Camp Bondsteel, the largest US military base in Europe, which acceded to the status of an independent state by the name of Kosovo. Cyrenaica would serve as the permanent base that Africom requires for the better control of the black continent.

[1Some readers may find such remarks surprising. Voltaire Network will revisit them in more detail in forthcoming articles.