Libya torn

As we foresaw, Libya is being rent apart by internal divisions and outside powers competing for spoils from the NATO-led overthrow of the Gaddafi government. On 21 January 2012 thousands of demonstrators stormed the offices of the National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi, accusing it of corruption, delaying reforms and favouring former Gaddafi loyalists. The following day NTC deputy leader Abdel Hafiz Ghoza resigned. The demonstrators accused Ghoza of being a latecomer to defect from Gaddafi. NTC leader Mustafa Jalil said that Libya risks entering ‘a bottomless pit’, adding that ‘hidden hands’ were behind the demonstrations. Some demonstrators demanded that sharia law be instated. Their protest was matched by an Islamist demonstration in Tripoli.

A new legislature is due to be elected before 2 June 2012. The draft election law restricts women to only 10% of 200 electoral seats and does not indicate how many seats will go to tribal areas. Members of Gaddafi’s government are banned from standing for office. Foreign money, notably from Qatar, whose troops fought with NTC forces, will play a significant role in the election. The Muslim Brotherhood is favoured to win.

Militias are encouraged by the NTC to surrender their weapons and join government forces and job programmes, but refuse to do so. They fight each other to secure strategic locations.

Former government supporters have formed the Libyan Liberation Front. On 23 January forces loyal to Gaddafi fought NTC troops and took control of Bani Walid, 100 miles south east of Tripoli. In Tripoli there are reports of mobilisation among Gaddafi supporters and armed clashes with the NTC forces. Food prices have risen by 18% since the end of the summer.

Médecins Sans Frontières suspended operations in detention centres in Misrata, saying it had treated 115 people with torture-related wounds, only for them to be returned to interrogation centres for further torture.

Resistance to the NTC and imperialism is mobilising and only it can prevent descent into the ‘bottomless pit’.

Trevor Rayne

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 225 February/March 2012

 

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