By THOMAS C. MOUNTAIN at counterpunch newsletter
After some 8,000 bombing raids, with estimates of 4 bombs used per attack NATO has already dropped over 30,000 bombs on Libya. That’s almost 200 bombs per day for 6 months, some tens of thousands of tons of high explosives. With an estimated 2 Libyans killed per bomb and without a single NATO casualty the Western regimes have massacred over 60,000 Libyans in the past half year with the rebels themselves having said there have been 50,000 Libyan deaths. One hell of a humanitarian intervention isn’t it?
How the “civil war” in Libya has proceeded can best be described in light of the events of August 21. On that Sunday afternoon a BBC film crew showed a rebel column fleeing the approaches to Zawiya outside of Tripoli. With their tales between their legs, glancing fearfully over their shoulders as they fled wildly back down the road from whence they came, even the BBC presstitute on the scene could not contain his disgust at the sight. Once again the rebels had run into stiff resistance and had shown their true mettle by fleeing the fight.
The next morning a France24 reporter recounted how later that Sunday night she had accompanied these same rebels as they drove almost unopposed through Zawiya into Green Square in the heart of Tripoli, this time passing row upon row of bombed out still burning buildings.
This has been NATO’s war and while the world may not understand this, the Libyan rebels certainly do.
A major problem for NATO and its Libyan Quisling League a.k.a the National Transitional Council (NTC) is that most of rebel military is now under the leadership the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a self described affiliate of Al Queda in the Maghreb (North Africa). The “general” in command of the mainly ethnic Berber rebel fighters that have captured the Libyan capital, known as the Tripoli Military Council, is the head of the LIFG. One of his top commanders is head of the Benghazi based rebel army. With the recent murder of “General” Younnis, former head of the Libyan secret police and once considered the most feared man in the country, the LIFG has now taken over leadership of almost all of the most effective fighting forces of the Libyan rebellion.
Quite an accomplishment and Al Queda in the Maghreb’s sincere thanks must go to the USA and its allies in NATO.
As the former LIFG terrorists turned “freedom fighters” go house to house arresting and executing “Gaddafi supporters” and “African mercenaries” in Tripoli life for the ordinary people of the city has become one of survival. Without water for almost two weeks now, without cooking gas or fuel for their cars and with food in short supply the future for the people of Tripoli remains uncertain.
Some reports in the international media have claimed that the Great Man Made River (GMMR), the irrigation system that supplies northern Libya with almost all its water was bombed by NATO. Other reports claim that “Gaddafi loyalists” still control the southern water wells and have shut off the water supply. If the later is true then even Benghazi’s water supply is in jeopardy. In any case, Tripoli is going to be dependent on imported water for quite some time and how a city of almost 2 million is to survive using water imported via water trucks is a question the western media has stopped talking about.
The “Transitional National Council” now recognized as “the legitimate government of Libya” by NATO governments and their allies is made up of many former high ranking Libyan Government officials and is increasingly caught in a tough spot. With the African Union trying to block the release of Libyan Government funds held in western banks there is little time to spare if this NTC’s control is to remain in place.
South African President Jacob Zuma has condemned the NTC leaders as embezzlers and demanded they return the tens of millions of dollars the NTC top leaderships is charged with stealing during their days in office in the Libyan government before the AU lifts its opposition to Gaddafi government funds being released to the NTC.
NATO leaders are having to scramble to keep the NTC afloat. Images of pallets stacked 6 feet high with 200 million Libyan Dinars flown in from London show just how touch and go it has become for the NTC’s attempts to maintain its influence. While NATO’s “Friends of LIbya” circus held in Paris promises the release of Libya’s $billions held ransom by the west, implementing these promises is another matter all together. Corruption and incompetence mark the NTC leadership’s past and is will come as no surprise to hear reports of massive embezzlement of these funds in the future
How much longer the LIFG/Al Queda lead rebel armies will stand by and allow their former bitter enemies in the TNC to remain in power is the $60 billion question. Already the rebel “government” in the port city of Misrata has announced they do not recognize the authority of the TNC and rally’s demanding the removal of the former Libyan government officials in the TNC have been reported taking place on an almost daily basis there.
In the mean time the vast reaches of the southern Libyan desert has not been conquered by NATO and almost all of Libya’s water and much of its oil remains outside of the control of the NTC.
With hundreds of villages and small towns scattered across an immense area Col. Gaddafi and his supporters still have a vast area at their disposal. With Algeria fighting Al Queda in the Maghreb their border on Libya’s western flank remains open and allows opponents of the NATO backed rebels a safe haven. The NTC has already raised the alarm about a nasty long term insurrection based in southern Libya using Algeria as base.
So far the Al Queda lead rebel fighters and the west’s bully boys in the NTC have yet to begin to eat each other though it seems almost inevitable that internal warfare amongst the rebels will take place. We may yet see NATO warplanes bombing its erstwhile allies in the Libyan rebellion.
The one thing that is clear is that the Libyan Tragedy has just begun and that the capture of most of northern Libya by the NATO backed rebels is just its first phase. 30,000 bombs over Libya killing some 60,000 Libyans marks the beginning rather than the end of this disaster.
Thomas C. Mountain was a member of the 1st US Peace Delegation to Libya in 1987 and is the only independent western journalist in the Horn of Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain at yahoo dot com.