Since last week, the picture of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron in Benghazi, next to the leaders of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC), has been going around the world. After the September 1 meeting of the “friends of Libya” in Paris, the very imperialist powers that planned and carried out the NATO bombings are now getting ready to decide about the future Libyan regime, that is already going through its first disagreements in trying to form the interim cabinet. After winning support in most countries, another sign of US and European imperialism’s recognition for the NTC has arrived: Libya’s delegation in the UN General Assembly, occupying the seat that dictator Gaddafi was occupying until very recently. Although the NTC had planned to appear in New York with the new government, it was impossible to resolve the crisis that was begun by the appointments. Several discussions have begun: what weight the Islamist organizations will have; what role the former members of the regime have, beginning with the current Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril (a Gaddafi official from 2007 to 2011) or the interim President Mustafa Abdel Jalil (former Justice Minister). The weight of the different regions of the country is also under discussion. These tensions, together with the resistance of Gaddafi’s troops, as in Sirte (whose real potential has not yet been able to be measured), could be the main obstacles to consolidating the new government.
The presence of Cameron and Sarkozy in the re-named “Tahrir Square” in Benghazi, known as the center of the rebellion against Gaddafi’s government, again shows the willingness of France and Great Britain, as well as other countries, to fight for their share in the new Libyan setting. In a cynical set-up, with the Benghazi square flooded with French and British flags, Cameron declared that it was “great to be in a free Libya,” as if Great Britain had not re-established commercial and political relations with the Gaddafi dictatorship years ago. Sarkozy joined in: “You wanted peace, you wanted freedom, you wanted economic progress. France, Great Britain and Europe will be on the side of the Libyan people.” Whoever does not suspect some self-interest on the part of these imperialist vultures is naive, at least. In turn, the NTC leaders were grateful for help from the imperialist coalition: “Victory would never have been possible without the allies’ help,” declared the Prime Minister designate, Mahmoud Jibril, who thus recognizes the role played by NATO much more clearly than those who, since the alleged help to the Libyan people, have justified the NATO intervention (among whom there are, unfortunately, leftist figures and organizations), that included the bombing of several cities. They were also grateful, in advance, for the commitment to reconstruction (France and Great Britain promised to contribute — in reality, to unfreeze a part of the 14 billion euros in confiscated Libyan funds — to rebuild the country). Also, both France and Great Britain reaffirmed their oil deals and agreed on new percentages for running the enormous Libyan reserves (several media reported that France kept the operation of around 35% of the reserves). With a lower profile, the United States was present in Tripoli through Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, who also met with another NTC leader, Mustafa Abdul Jalil.
After the “democratic revolution”
With his visit, Cameron reaffirmed the commitment of the summit of the “friends of Libya,” and asserted that NATO’s mission will stay while there are pro-Gaddafi troops who control areas of the country. What is now impossible to maintain is that NATO’s “humanitarian” mission, with US and European bombings and the military leadership of France and Great Britain, will be able to encourage a democratic future for Libya. Those who celebrated the victorious “democratic revolution” or justified and actively backed the NATO intervention and the bombings in favor of the rebels as the only alternative to repression by the Gaddafi dictatorship, are now facing the bitter reality of imperialist interference in the making of the new Libyan regime. As has been asserted at every step, the same imperialist powers that yesterday benefited from making deals with the dictator Gaddafi, are now seeking, after a pretense of humanitarianism, to win prestige among the masses of the Arab world. Again, we are wondering, as we did in other issues of La Verdad Obrera, what further proofs will be needed for organizations like the LIT, Izquierda Socialista, the French NPA, or intellectuals like Gilbert Achcar, to revise their position, that ends up actively backing imperialism’s “democratic” pose.