On the ground in Tripoli and western Libya, Cynthia McKinney reports that the current NATO-led war looks nothing like the mainstream media would have us believe: ‘The situation on the ground in Tripoli … could not more different from what is being portrayed by Western news networks and newspapers.’
DAY ONE: On Libyan–Tunisian border, it's back to the future with refugees
3–4 June 2011 – Djerba, Tunisia
During the last air sanctions against Libya, imposed by the United Nations in 1992 over alleged Libyan involvement in the bombings of PanAm 103 and UTA 772, many Libyans travelling to and from Tripoli were forced to fly through Tunisia, travelling overland to and from the Tunisian border to their homes in Libya. With European Union sanctions now imposed on Libya, the old travel regime is back in force.
However, there is a new dimension to the air embargo on Libya. Attracted to the Libyan–Tunisian border by refugees, most African guest workers from sub-Sahara and pan-Sahel African nations, fleeing the fighting in their country, find that scores of international aid workers now occupy the tourist hotels of Djerba, the once popular Tunisian resort that has fallen on hard times after tour operators cancelled excursions following the Tunisian revolution earlier this year.
Today, prior to crossing into Libya, this reporter is witnessing representatives of the ‘misery industry’, young international aid workers with groups like the International Committee of the Red Cross, EU and International Organisation for Migration, lounging around the tourist hotels mingling with German and French pensioners eager to take advantage of the special travel packages being offered by a depressed Tunisian tourist industry.
Not only is war good for the weapons industry but refugee crises brought about by Western-implemented wars, fattening the wallets of NGOs anxious to cash in on the human misery created by Pentagon and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) overt and covert military operations. Meanwhile, here in Djerba, near the Libyan frontier, it's pool-side and cold Heinekens for the NGO community here to ‘save’ the Libyan refugees.
DAY TWO: Western Libya portrait is not what is being painted by the Western media
4–5 June 2011 – Tripoli, Libya
Western media reports continue to indicate that Libyan rebels trying to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from power, backed by daily NATO airstrikes, are gaining ground in western Libya. During a six-hour drive from the Tunisian border to Tripoli, the Libyan capital, this reporter saw no signs of Libyan rebel successes in western Libya. In fact, I witnessed a spontaneous pro-Gaddafi demonstration on the main Tunisia–Tripoli highway in a town about one and a half hours west of Tripoli.
The green flag of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya not only adorn flag poles in towns from Tripoli to the Tunisian border, but a number of private residences are flying the green flag from their rooftops, on flag poles and even from outside of top-floor windows in medium-size and small towns alike along the main highway.
There are some telltale signs of previous fighting in the western part of the country – bullet holes in the walls of some buildings and even some more extensive structural damage – but there are no signs that the rebels, backed by the United States, NATO and the European Union, have any substantial support in western Libya.
The one major sign of the Libyan civil war lies not in western Libya but across the Tunisian border, where several refugee tent cities have been set up to accommodate thousands of refugees, most of them black African guest workers from sub-Sahara and Sahel nations who were set upon by rebels who said the workers were ‘mercenaries’ brought to Libya by Gaddafi to fight on his behalf. In fact, there is a strong anti-black racialist element within the Libyan rebel movement that used the mercenary meme to justify heinous war crimes by rebel units against blacks from other African nations, as well as native Libyan blacks.
While many of the refugee camps on the Tunisian side of the Libyan frontier are sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross, one is funded by the United Arab Emirates, one of the nations participating in President Obama's ‘coalition of the willing’ that is waging a war on behalf of the Libyan rebels. From our hotel on the Mediterranean coast, we expect to see and hear the attacks conducted against military and some civilian targets a further few miles inland in downtown Tripoli.
The EU and NATO sanctions on Libya are being severely felt by Libya's civilians. Petrol stations are rationing gasoline and long lines of cars sit waiting for gasoline to be delivered to the pumps. The NATO, EU and US policy of ‘collective punishment’ of the western Libya's civilian population is being compared to Israel's collective punishment of the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank. In fact, many Libyans believe that Obama's crippling sanctions on western Libya were crafted by Israel's lobby in Washington, which pressured the Obama administration into adopting them.
NATO has conducted nightly airstrikes against western Libya, including downtown Tripoli, since 19 March. The attacks begin around 12 midnight local time and at the time of this report we are expecting another NATO bombing of Tripoli in a little less than an hour.
DAY THREE: NATO war crimes in Libya exposed
5–6 June 2011 – Tripoli, Libya
In the current NATO war on Libya, the citizens of European and North American NATO countries are being treated to the largest propaganda blitz by their governments in cahoots with corporate media outlets since the US-led invasions and occupation of Iraq. The situation on the ground in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, could not more different from what is being portrayed by Western news networks and newspapers.
The NATO missile attack that killed Muammar Gaddafi's son Seif al-Arab Gaddafi on 30 April was an attempt to kill Muammar Gaddafi himself. This editor visited the devastated home where Seif was killed, along with his friend and three of Muammar Gaddafi's grandchildren. The only reason why Muammar Gaddafi survived the blast was that he was away from the main residence tending to some animals, including two gazelles, kept in a small petting zoo maintained for his grandchildren. Muammar Gaddafi escaped the fate of his son and grandchildren by only about 500 feet. The residence was hit by bunker buster bombs fired from a US warplane. One of the warheads did not detonate and was later removed from what remained of a bedroom in the home. Libyan authorities do not have the technical capabilities to determine if the warhead contained depleted uranium.
NATO and the Pentagon claimed the residence was a military compound, yet there is no evidence that any military assets were located in the residence that was flanked by the homes of a Libyan doctor and businessmen. The Gaddafi residence actually is owned by Gaddafi's wife. The neighbours’ homes were also badly damaged in the US air attack and are uninhabitable. Only a few hundred yards away from the Gaddafi compound sits the embassy of Cote d'Ivoire.
The presence of a foosball table and swing set in the yard of the Gaddafi compound belies the charge by the Pentagon that the home was a military target. However, considering that Gaddafi was present in the compound during the attack, it is clear that President Obama violated international law and three executive orders signed by three past presidents – Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan – in trying to assassinate the Libyan head of state. In fact, while Obama's order to kill Gaddafi was being carried out, the president of the United States was preparing to yuck it up with Washington's illuminati and Hollywood's glitterati at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington.
Obama's order to kill Gaddafi is reminiscent of George W. Bush's order to kill Saddam Hussein at the outset of the US war against Iraq, an assassination order that was also a violation of international and US law.
VIDEO FOOTAGE FROM TRIPOLI
Cynthia McKinney and her delegation visit victims of the US/NATO war at a hospital in Tripoli: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYoXwH5bu0E
* Cynthia McKinney is a former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate.
* These updates were published by the Wayne Madsen Report.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.