On February 22, Kadhafi made a speech on state television. He denounced “16 and 17-year-old youths as drunkards and drug-fueled (…) who assault train stations”.
He asserted that the rebels, tribal and bourgeoisie leaders of the eastern region who encourage them are the spearhead of a U.S. attempt to dominate the country again as they did before he came to power in 1969. Kadhafi called “the people (…) who loves Kadhafi (…) to go out the streets” to confront the rebels and defend the country independence and its leader. It is indeed a call to civil war against the insurgents.
Just to illustrate, it was Kadhafi who allowed the return of oil companies and other multinational companies to the country and has long ceased to be an anti-imperialist leader. On the other hand, what is seen now in Libya amid blood and fire are not drug-fueled boys, but a revolution that releases regions as it advances and faces a massacre perpetrated by Kadhafi’s troops to stop the rebellion.
In face of the repression, the masses were forced to organize “popular committees” and to be armed with fire weapons – in many cases the masses joined together officers and soldiers who have defected with arms and ammunition, in order to continue fighting for the regime fall, for democratic freedoms, for answers to hunger, unemployment and low wages.
In Tripoli the struggle continues
The Spanish newspaper El País on February 21 described the unrest in Tripoli: “Several agencies reported that some government buildings in the Libyan capital were on fire this morning and that state television and radio headquarters have been looted and burned by an angry mass last night. ‘The House of the People (Parliament) is in flames, the firefighters extinguish the fire “, said one witness quoted by Reuters. The Al Jazeera television reports that the headquarters of the Libyan Government and the building that houses the Ministry of Justice in Tripoli were also torched ‘.
El País also describes the repression: “what we’ve been seeing today is unthinkable. Military planes and helicopters are bombing a neighborhood after another, “assured Adel Mohamed Saleh, a man who claims to be an activist anti-Kadhafi. According to Saleh, to whom Reuters phoned, the bombing attacks happen ‘each every 20 minutes and are producing too many deaths’ (at least 250 people died according to Al Jazeera)”. Reports afterwards amounted to over 600 deaths.
In the rest of the country, armed popular committees liberate cities
According to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera (February, 22), “the rebels are in control of Benghazi (the second city in the country), Sirte, Torbruk, Misrata, Khoms, Tarhouinah, Zenteno, Al-zawiya and Zouara. (…) The regime only controls Tripoli, where the fighting continues.”
The CNN correspondent, Ben Wedeman, who managed to enter Libya through the border with Egypt, said: “Groups of civilian men, with weapons ranging from shotguns to machine guns, guarded the streets in eastern Libya on Monday (February, 21), where the opposition leaders set strong control on most parts of the region. Opposition groups have formed ‘popular committees’ in order to maintain the order after expelling loyal troops. “
According to El País, “Testimonies of Benghazi’s dissidents ensure that the protesters also took tanks and large quantities of arms and ammunition from the Army as acknowledged, in his own way, Gadhafi’s son. ‘The criminals also circulate aboard armored vehicles’, he said.”
The CNN continues: “Someone from eastern Libya has told us that hundreds of sub-Saharan African mercenaries were killed or captured while fighting for Kadhafi. Opposition leaders say they are concerned that pro-Kadhafi soldiers may try to retake the area, so the men remain armed in the streets”.
Meanwhile, rebel forces ensured the functioning of electricity power and the return to some normalcy, with some businesses open in the towns liberated by the revolution. However, the roads were still deserted except for thousands of Egyptian workers who wanted to flee from his country.
A dissident, Omran Mohamed Omran, told the Spanish press that “instead of the mayors of Kadhafi, the judges were running and managing the revolutionary villages because they conquered the respect of the people”.
Resignation of officers, division and desertions in the military forces
As the revolution progresses, the regime senior officials resign. First, it was the Minister of Interior and General of Army, Abdel Fattah Younes al Abidi who has resigned; next, the ministers of Justice and Emigration have also resigned.
Omran assures that “the division in the Army is a real fact and many military officers joined the protest. (…) The Chief of Libyan Army, Yunas Abubaker, who participated in the coup that brought Kadhafi to power in 1969 (…) is under house arrest. (…) Yunas asked Gaddafi to put himself out of power in order to meet the people demands, but Kadhafi said that before leaving he would burn the land he himself once made flourish”. Meanwhile, according to Wedeman from CNN “a man identified as a resistance leader said he met with Libyan military commanders in the region and that a large part of the army has joined the antigovernment forces”.
Two Libyan bomber pilots defected in Malta with their Mirage F1, on Monday, February, 21. A source from the Maltese government said the pilots defected because they would not follow Kadhafi’s orders to bomb civilians.
Popular uprising with advanced elements of dual power in the liberated areas
There is, in this process, a very broad unity of action against the dictatorship, in which employees, rank and file sectors participate, including the adhesion of bourgeois sectors, officers and troops who are deserting from the Army. Furthermore high officials of the regime are joining the movement. It is clear that it is necessary a wide unity of action with all sectors, including those bourgeoisies who are away from the regime, to stop this genocidal dictatorship.
The fact that the only response given by Kadhafi is to bomb the protesters with the air force and send mercenaries to attack the rebels and also stating that he is “ready to die,” show his desperation in face of the growing opposition bloc.
We do not know how long the confrontation will take or what its outcome will be, though this time the balance is clearly leaning in favor of the masses. With an insurrection in which the growing evidence of dual power is strengthened, including liberated zones covering not only the ten cities, especially on the eastern side, but also several centers of production and distribution of oil and gas.
It is crystal clear that the crucial task of the revolution now is to defeat the dictatorship forces in Tripoli and overthrow Kadhafi. And for that, it is essential to unite all social, political and military forces to support the fight.
This does not mean, however, that all those involved in the struggle have the same interest or think on the same measures to be taken after the fall of Kadhafi, when a new power for a new Libya is built. To defend their interests, workers need an organization independent of the bourgeoisie and of its own direction.
We, the IWL-FI (International Worker League – Fourth International), believe that this worker-run direction should adopt as a strategy the establishment of a Government comprised by the workers and the people bodies, supported by the armed population, in order to allocate resources to meet the country’s most urgent needs and to regain the country’s independence, expelling the multinational companies that Kadhafi allowed to return to Libya. These tasks can only be met with the unity of workers and people throughout the region.
The Libyan people have learned from the revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt. Now it’s time the Libyan uprising to take the lead of the Arab revolution.