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‘Despite the neocolonialist excuses of humanitarian motives, the real motivations’ for Gaddafi’s assassination ‘keep popping up’, writes Nana Akyea Mensah. But 'where is the international outrage and condemnation'?

Mr Kwesi Pratt, Jnr, a leading member of the Socialist Forum and managing editor of the Insight newspaper, was certainly not amused at hearing the news concerning the death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. News reports from Ghana read, ‘On Multi TV’s PM: Express programme on Thursday evening, Kwesi Pratt described the NATO-backed war against Gaddafi as a disgrace to the continent.’ On the same programme he said, ‘killing any head of state, whether he is a dictator or a democrat, is wrong, and what NATO has done is appalling, it’s disgraceful and needs to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. This is an assassination, this is illegal and this is an act of terrorism…’[1]

‘Touching on the memory of Gaddafi, Kwesi Pratt intimated that “Gaddafi was an enigmatic figure. He was full of contradictions. He opposed the monarchy; he overthrew the monarchy, and gained respect for that: and then he sought to become a [monarch">,” adding, “Gaddafi will also be remembered as a person who worked hard to uplift the living standards of the Libyan people.” He said the creation of a man-made river and other social interventions have changed the lives of Libyans and these are can be attributed to Gaddafi’s hard work.’

A key observation Kwesi Pratt also made which is the focus of this article, was that, ‘without the intervention of NATO, no force in Libya could have overthrown Gaddafi, let alone assassinate him. The rebels have been successful primarily because of the support they have received from NATO and that says something about the support that he has within Libya…’

As the facts begin to emerge, we learn that it has ‘been alleged that one of the security firms who provided mercenaries for the mission may have acted as a “double agent”, helping Nato to pinpoint Gaddafi’s convoy for attack, and that the dictator’s escape was “meant to fail’. In a post titledThe Dangers of Hiring BAE’s Mercenaries, emptywheel writes: ‘it is confirmed that the strike that resulted in the death of Gaddhafy was initiated, organized, coordinated and led by NATO and SAS forces. The attack began when Gaddafi was fleeing Sirte in a convoy of 75 vehicles. Drone pilots at Creech Air Force base in Nevada launched a round of Hellfire missiles from a Predator drone aircraft, destroying the lead vehicle and prompting a French bomber to release two laser-guided 500 pound bombs into the centre of the convoy. British SAS troops, meanwhile, coordinated the ground forces that eventually captured Gaddafi.’[2]

David Williams gives a more detailed account here:

‘From the clear skies over Sirte, aerial surveillance which included RAF Tornado planes saw the large convoy emerging from Neighbourhood Two. Officials knew it was a high-value target because it was so big and they could detect command and control was active with it – giving them the right to attack it. First, a U.S. drone strike was called in with hellfire missiles and then French warplanes launched a second strike on the convoy as it sped west along the coastal highway. Last night 15 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns lay burnt out, smashed and smouldering next to an electricity sub station 20 yards from the main road, about two miles west of Sirte. They had clearly been hit by a force far beyond anything the motley army the former rebels have assembled during eight months of revolt to overthrow the once feared leader. Inside the trucks, still in their seats, were the charred skeletal remains of drivers and passengers killed instantly by the strike.’

‘Others lay mutilated and contorted strewn in the grass.’ The report continues, ‘There were some 50 bodies in all. Rebel commander Adel Busamir said those Gaddafi loyalists who remained alive had realised there was no escape and turned back. A wounded Gaddafi limped through some trees, fighters said, and sought shelter in a storm drain. Several bodyguards were with him. “At first we fired at them with anti-aircraft guns, but it was no use,” said rebel commander Salem Bakeer. “Then we went in on foot. One of Gaddafi’s men came out waving his rifle in the air and shouting surrender, but as soon as he saw my face he started shooting at me. Then I think Gaddafi must have told him to stop. ‘My master is here, my master is here’, he said. ‘Muammar Gaddafi is here and he is wounded’.”’

‘“We went in and brought Gaddafi out. He was saying, ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong? What’s going on?’.” At the time of capture, Gaddafi was already wounded with gunshots to his leg and to his back, Bakeer said. He was then dragged 50 yards to a black Jeep and thrown on to the bonnet. Several rebel fighters surrounded him, beating him about the face, before he was shot in the stomach and head.’[3]

Gaddafi was deliberately and illegally targeted for assassination:

‘On the 29th of April, 2011 at 11:15 AM, the attention of the Facebook Rally of the Coalition Against Foreign Intervention in Africa was drawn to a story posted on the web by Kirill Svetitskiy, in which he makes the claim that it has been “reported by anonymous official of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service that the special divisions and army units of France, Great Britain and USA will take part in the special operation aimed to assassinate informal Libyan leader before coming Monday, May 2, 2011.”’

I did not know what to make of it, so I sent the link to Crossed Crocodiles, a very knowledgeable Pan-Africanist analyst with a simple question: ‘Hi Xcroc, What do you make of this?’ His response was: ‘I have some questions in my mind about the site. It looks to me like an ad hoc site used to plant stories. But I’m not certain, and don’t know why or who. It will be interesting to watch what happens in Italy this week. I doubt we can find a trustworthy story about what is going on in Benghazi. But I’m trying to see if I can find out more.’[4]

We were thus wondering what to make of it when we heard of a NATO attack on Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli in which his son, Saif al-Arab Gaddafi and three of Gaddafi’s grandchildren were killed. Foreign reporters were shown widespread damage to the building, and Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said ‘The leader with his wife was there in the house with other friends and relatives. The leader himself is in good health.’ Gaddafi’s wife was also unharmed, he said. ‘This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country,’ the spokesman added.[5]

This came within hours of another bombing raid earlier at a radio station during what appeared to be a live broadcast by Gaddafi. The BBC’s Christian Fraser in Tripoli says that unusually the alliance issued its statement within hours of the strike, well aware of the political implications.[6] The statement said: ‘NAPLES — NATO continued its precision strikes against Qadhafi regime military installations in Tripoli overnight, including striking a known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighbourhood shortly after 1800 GMT Saturday evening. “All NATO’s targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the Qadhafi regime’s systematic attacks on the Libyan population and populated areas. We do not target individuals,” said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Commander of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.’[7]

‘Assassination of a head of state is illegal under international law, and forbidden by various US presidential orders. On the other hand, the targeted killing of those woven into the enemy chain of command is shrouded in legal ambiguity.

‘Given the personalistic nature of the regime, and the “all means necessary” clause in UN Resolution 1973, it might be argued that killing Col Muammar Gaddafi and certain members of his family – such as his son Khamis, commander of an elite military brigade – would be permissible, even if it posed a risk to those non-combatants around the regime. Legality, though, indicates neither legitimacy nor prudence. This strike, and the death of Saif al-Arab, have produced little military result at the greatest diplomatic and symbolic cost to Nato.’[8]

‘Needless to say that this western effort at assassination and regime change is clearly illegal, in violation of international law, and of the UN resolution 1973. It once again raises the question about the International Criminal Court. Was the ICC created only to try Africans and Arabs? Posted by: ben | May 1, 2011 2:39:41 PM | 13: “Thanks all for the links. They provide food for thought. What is crystal clear here is this….The Global ruling elite have decided Mr. Q must go, & they will have their way. Truth, Law & Justice be dammed. Conspiracy? Nope, just the end result of too much power in too few hands.”’[9]

Despite the neocolonialist excuses of humanitarian motives, the real motivations for the assassination keep popping up:

Wikileaks: Al-Qadhafi perceives himself as “a superman of history” and is not able to admit fault or weakness. Cosmetic attempts at economic reform are acceptable and help advance al-Qadhafi’s goal of reingratiating Libya with the West, but the shared assessment of Ghanem and el-Meyet is that meaningful economic and political reform will not occur while al-Qadhafi is alive. - Reference id aka Wikileaks id #161860, Subject: National Oil Corporation Chairman Shukri Ghanem May Seek To Resign Soon, Origin: Embassy Tripoli (Libya) Cable timeSun, 13 Jul 2008 14:47 UTC,[10]

‘According to geological estimates, the subsurface running from Darfur in what was southern Sudan through Chad into Cameroon is one gigantic oil field in extent perhaps equivalent to a new Saudi Arabia. Controlling southern Sudan as well as Chad and Cameroon is vital to the Pentagon strategy of “strategic denial” to China of their future oil flows. So long as a stable and robust Ghaddafi regime remained in power in Tripoli that control remained a major problem. The simultaneous splitting off of the Republic of South Sudan from Khartoum and the toppling of Ghaddafi in favor of weak rebel bands beholden to Pentagon support was for the Pentagon Full Spectrum Dominance of strategic priority.’[11]

What do the Imperialists want? I think to understand this very well, we have to go back to ‘the first time, the two concepts—“Africa” and “U.S. national security” were “used in the same sentence in Pentagon documents”. Read carefully what Donald Norland, former US Ambassador to Chad told a Congressional subcommittee on this for an explanation from the horse’s own mouth:

‘Aside from the concern with terrorism, Africa’s oil has become an increasing attraction to the United States. In May 2001 the Cheney report warned that the U.S. would grow increasingly dependent upon foreign oil in the years to come and recommended that as a matter of policy the Bush Administration work to increase production and export of oil from regions other than the Middle East, noting that Latin America and West Africa were likely to be the fasting growing sources of future U.S. oil imports.[48"> Africa supplies about 15% of U.S. oil imports, but with African production growing at twice the global rate, it could be supplying the U.S. with as much energy as the Middle East within a decade.[49"> Three months later, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner declared that African oil “has become a national strategic interest.[50">’

This statement is particularly noteworthy in that it uses the language of the Carter Doctrine in the Middle East, in which President Carter went on to declare that the US would intervene by any means necessary to protect its national interest in Middle Eastern oil. In April 2002, Donald Norland, former US Ambassador to Chad told a Congressional subcommittee: ‘It’s been reliably reported that, for the first time, the two concepts— “Africa” and “U.S. national security”—have been used in the same sentence in Pentagon documents.’[51"> Having declared African oil to be of strategic interest to the United States, the Bush Administration has not taken the second step to actually apply the Carter Doctrine to Africa. This has left US policy open to criticism from both sides. The Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on US policy in Africa has criticised it for failing ‘to make a geopolitical shift to pay sufficient attention to West Africa’s energy rich Gulf of Guinea,’[52"> while others see a neo-imperial push unfolding in the sub-region.[12]

There were hints of preparations two months before the Arab Spring began. The issue is not about the Arab Spring and whether or not Gaddafi was a dictator, it is about whether or not the NATO allies seek to gain Full Spectrum Dominance of strategic priority, in their renewed scramble for Africa’s resources with China. Libya became a target of opportunity, but the war is essentially a strategic threat to Africa’s prosperity and influence.

According to US Congressman, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), war had nothing to do with the ‘Arab Spring’ style protests which saw the toppling of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. There is strong evidence that it was probably planned long before the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ began:

‘On November 2, 2010 France and Great Britain signed a mutual defence treaty, which included joint participation in “Southern Mistral”, a series of war games outlined in the bilateral agreement. Southern Mistral involved a long-range conventional air attack, called Southern Storm, against a dictatorship in a fictitious southern country called Southland. The joint military air strike was authorised by a pretend United Nations Security Council Resolution. The “Composite Air Operations” were planned for the period of 21-25 March, 2011. On 20 March, 2011, the United States joined France and Great Britain in an air attack against Gaddafi’s Libya, pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1973.’ [13]

It is astonishing that, despite the gruesome and criminal manner with which it was carried out, Western democracies gloated over Gaddafi’s death.

A very apt reaction I found on the ‘reaction’ to the killing of Gaddafi by the US Secretary of State, was Is’haq Modibbo Kawu: ‘The American Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, on being told that imperialism’s “revolutionaries” organised in the Libyan Transitional Council, NTC, had captured and killed Moammar Gaddafi in Sirte, tried an uneducated re-interpretation of Julius Ceasar’s famous quote: “Veni, vidi, vici”, which translates from Latin to: “I came, I saw, I conquered”. Clinton’s naked gloating over the public lynching of America’s old adversary revealed the depravity of the leading politicians of the imperialist world, while underlining the length they will go to achieve their imperial aims in the contemporary world. It was clear that NATO’s “Operation Unified Protector” was not about implementing UN Resolution 1973, but as Thierry Meyssan, writing for said, was “to overthrow a political system and to kill the leader, even if the assassination of a serving head of state is strictly prohibited by US law and universally condemned.”’[14]

Yet these are the same people who claim to be bombing us into ‘civilization’ and wage wars for peace, democracy, and social progress! They could not even care to remember that they are giving the game away by this jubilation which throws into the air the thinly-veiled cover of promoting democracy, the rule of law, and the respect for fundamental human rights!

The entire intervention against Libya was driven by potential profits. Pierre Lévy quotes a 2007 speech by French president Nicolas Sarkozy: ‘Europe is today the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization. … America and China have already begun the conquest of Africa. How long will Europe wait to build the Africa of tomorrow? While Europe hesitates, others advance.’

Not wanting to be left behind, Dominique Strauss-Kahn around the same time expressed his desire for a Europe stretching “from the cold ice of the Arctic in the North to the hot sands of the Sahara in the South (. . .) and that Europe, I believe, if it continues to exist, will have reconstituted the Mediterranean as an internal sea, and will have reconquered the space that the Romans, or Napoleon more recently, attempted to consolidate.’ [15]

Where is the international OUTRAGE and CONDEMNATION?

‘The USA has violated every law and convention known to man! How did a No Fly Zone turn into a license to obliterate a country? When did it become OK_ for America to simply invade a sovereign nation, kill thousands of civilians, destroy all its infrastructure, steal its wealth and murder its leader? Where is the international OUTRAGE and CONDEMNATION?’ [16]


* This article first appeared on Pan-Africanist International.
* Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro, is the pen name of one of the founding members of the Pan-Africanist International - a grammar of Pan-Africanism, and its manners of articulation.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


[1] Gaddafi’s death is an act of terrorism and an illegality – Kwesi Pratt, by Derick Romeo Adogla,, Fri, 21 Oct 2011. See also: Gaddafi’s death is an act of terrorism and an illegality – Kwesi Pratt, General News of Friday, 21 October 2011
[2] James Corbett, The Assassination of Gaddafi, GRTV Backgrounder, November 1, 2011
[3] How a NATO air strike finished off Gaddafi, By David Williams , Last updated at 1:30 PM on 21st October 2011.
[4] Is NATO Trying To Kill Gaddafi? By Ali-Masmadi, Pan-Africanist International, May 2, 2011.
[5] Nato strike ‘kills Saif al-Arab Gaddafi’, Libya says, BBC Online, 1 May 2011 Last updated at 12:08 GMT
[6] Nato strike ‘kills Saif al-Arab Gaddafi’, Libya says, , BBC Online, 1 May 2011 Last updated at 12:08 GMT
[7] NATO strikes command and control facility in Tripoli, NAPLES, NATO, 01 May. 2011
[8] Nato strike ‘kills Saif al-Arab Gaddafi’, Libya says, , BBC Online, 1 May 2011 Last updated at 12:08 GMT
[9] The Legal Logic Of Attacking Gaddafi, Moon of Alabama, May 01, 2011,
[10] National Oil Corporation Chairman Shukri Ghanem May Seek To Resign Soon, Wikileaks, id #161860, 08TRIPOLI227, Sun, 13 Jul 2008 14:47 UTC.
[11] F. William Engdahl, NATO’s War on Libya is Directed against China: AFRICOM and the Threat to China’s National Energy Security, Global Research, September 25, 2011
[12] Letitia Lawson, U.S. Africa Policy Since the Cold War, Strategic Insights, Volume VI, Issue 1 (January 2007) US Naval Postgraduate School.
[13] November 2010 War Games: “Southern Mistral” Air Attack against Dictatorship in a Fictitious Country called “Southland” by Rep. Dennis J Kucinich, Global Research, April 15, 2011, The Observer.
[14] ‘We came, we saw, he died’, By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu,, November 3, 2011.
[15] Total Victory In Libya, “The Jewel In The Crown” Is Libyan Oil, By Crossed Crocodiles | October 11, 2011 at 4:47 pm
[16] British Civilians for Peace in Libya,