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As the 'no-fly zone' becomes hour by hour an actual war by the big
powers against Libya, as illustrated by the attacks on government
forces that are not actually threatening civilians, and the US, French
and British goverments barely bother to veil their calls for regime
change, is not the debate over whether socialists should support a
'no-fly zone' rapidly becoming an historical argument, and should not
the focus of the debate move towards how one deals with an imperialist
attack upon a small country, and how the big powers are hijacking the
Libyan rebellion for their own purposes?
It seems to me that the ever-increasing involvement of the imperialist
powers in Libya has shifted the conflict between the contending forces
within the country from being a justifiable uprising against a
repressive regime into a civil war between a repressive regime and a
group of pretenders for Gadaffi's crown, the latter of which are
increasingly acting as proxies for the imperialists. One key factor
here is the Libyan National Council's appointment of Khalifa Hifter as
its military head. Hifter is a former Gadaffi military enforcer and a
long-time CIA collaborator. This, more than anything, signifies the
direction in which the imperialists would like the Libyan rebels to
go, and in which, it appears, many of them wish to go.
In this situation, what democratic elements there are in the rebel
camp are likely to be swamped by an unholy alliance of ex-Gadaffi
thugs, Islamists and chancers, all trying to ingratiate themselves
with the big powers and get a cut from the oil revenues when the
latter eventually force Gadaffi out of power. Whether the war ends
with a carve-up between the remnants of Gadaffi’s regime and the
rebels, or with the latter’s victory, the scene is being set for an
Iraq-style post-Gadaffi blow-out amongst the winners, whilst the big
powers jockey amongst themselves to control Libya’s oil revenues. Like
any democratic forces in Iraq, those in Libya will be squashed by
reactionary forces, be they old or more recent renegades from
Gadaffi’s regime, Islamist thugs (recall that Libya provided bin Laden
with a disproportionately large number of cadres) and other riff-raff,
whilst the imperialist occupation forces look on.
This is what happened in Iraq, where local power is shared amongst
Shi'a and Sunni militias and Kurdish gangsters, and overseen by the
Pro-interventionists hailed the big-power attacks on Gadaffi on the
basis that it provided a breathing-space for the rebels. What is
certain is that the alliance between opportunist elements amongst the
rebels and the imperialists is rapidly leading to the situation in
which the rebellion against Gadaffi is becoming subsumed into the
imperialists' campaign to install their own proxies in Gadaffi's seat.
This is bound to have a deleterious effect upon militant uprisings
throughout the Middle East.