U.S./NATO war creates humanitarian crisis in Libya: Depleted uranium weapons used while imperialists plot oil theft
Apr 20, 2011
The U.S./NATO war against Libya’s people and government reveals every day that there is no such thing as a humanitarian war carried out by imperialist states against post-colonial countries.
Even United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate ceasefire in the North African state of Libya. Western-backed rebels and the combined military forces of the United States and NATO have engaged in a sabotage and bombing campaign designed to topple the government of Moammar Gadhafi.
In the western city of Misrata, an ongoing battle for control of the area resulted in the deaths of 17 people on April 17. In the eastern city of Ajdabiya, Libyan military forces routed rebel units, whom people saw fleeing back towards their stronghold in Bengazi.
Both U.N. and Libyan governmental officials said on April 18 that they had reached an agreement to allow aid workers to travel safely to Misrata. It was also announced that a U.N. humanitarian presence would be established in the capital city of Tripoli. (VOA, April 18)
Ironically, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 provided the political and legal rationale for U.S./NATO bombing operations over Libya since March 19. In that time thousands of civilians have been killed, and many more have been injured.
NATO countries and their client allies involved in the war against Libya have held meetings in London, Berlin, Doha, Qatar and Cairo, Egypt, all demanding that the Libyan government be overthrown. Some NATO countries — Germany, Turkey and Spain — have voiced skepticism about finding a military solution.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a statement April 16 charging that the Libyan armed forces had used cluster bombs in Misrata. The Libyan government immediately denied the charges and challenged HRW to prove them. (AFP, April 17) No casualties from cluster bombs have been confirmed in Misrata.
The U.S. produced and used cluster bombs during the war against Vietnam, and also in Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan from the 1990s through the early years of the 2000s. The Israeli Defense Forces used cluster bombs while bombing Lebanon in 2006. Neither the U.S. nor Libya has signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, adopted in Dublin, Ireland, in 2008 and signed by 108 countries.
Getting less publicity in the corporate media or from human-rights organizations is the U.S. use of depleted uranium weapons in Libya. The Pentagon’s denial of reports of U.S. use of DU weapons has been met with skepticism, especially considering U.S. use of the A-10 Tankbuster aircraft there. Kate Hudson, the general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “We continue to seek a cast-iron guarantee that depleted uranium has not been used and will not be used in Libya. The U.S. has a long history of only admitting to deploying this radioactive material months or years after it has been used.” (Herald Scotland, April 3)
Experts on the usage of DU weapons have insisted that based upon news video footage of U.S./NATO strikes on Libyan tank columns, one can see that these materials are being used in the war. The U.S. has launched shells, bombs and cruise missiles containing DU in the past. These easily penetrate and burn through heavy armor and fortifications. In addition, water and soil are contaminated with the use of DU weapons.
It has been well-documented that the health and environmental impact of DU weapons are devastating.
The use of DU weapons when the U.S. destroyed the city of Fallujah in Iraq reveals that there have been horrendous health conditions resulting from the U.S. military deployment of these materials. Fallujah represented a stronghold of resistance to the U.S. military invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003-2004. High rates of infections, birth defects and cancers have been reported that are the direct result of the use of DU weapons.
Economic basis of the war
Libya has the largest known oil reserves on the African continent and substantial reserves of natural gas and other strategic resources.
From the early days of the rebel attacks on the Libyan government, the Western imperialist states froze assets of tens of billions of dollars belonging to Tripoli. In addition, the imperialists have established mechanisms for the theft of Libyan oil from areas being contested by the rebels and governmental forces.
A rebel official, Wahid Bughaigis, has been appointed as the “oil minister” for the so-called Transitional National Council, which seeks to replace the Libyan government. As a result of battlefield damage, two major oilfields in the east of the country, at Messla and Sarir, have been largely out of operation for several weeks.
The rebels accused Libyan military forces of deliberately disabling the operations of the oil fields. However, the Libyan government has blamed U.S./NATO air strikes for the damage done to the oil fields, which have a production capacity of 400,000 barrels per day.
During early April the Gulf state of Qatar, which is participating in the U.S./NATO war against Libya, facilitated the sale of 1 million barrels of crude that reportedly brought in $120 million for the rebel forces. Consequently, the theft of Libyan oil is well underway, illustrating one of the real objectives behind the U.S./NATO war against the North African state.
As the war against Libya continues, the opposition within the region and inside the imperialist states is escalating. Since the national demonstrations in New York and San Francisco on April 9-10, which opposed the current war against Libya as well as all other U.S. military occupations and proxy wars around the world, demonstrations have continued throughout the country and the world.
On April 16 the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice in Detroit held a community speakout against the U.S./NATO war on Libya. Representatives from various organizations condemned the war and pointed to the failure of the U.S. and the U.N. to take any action to halt the atrocities being committed against civilian populations in Palestine, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, all of which are Western-backed states.
The wars of occupation and the support for the repression and exploitation of peoples throughout the world represent the desperation of the Western imperialist states, which are facing the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. These wars will only be ended by the mass, organized opposition of workers, youth and other oppressed peoples uniting across various nations and regions throughout the globe.