The Libyan Opposition on Foreign Intervention


Is the “Provisional Transitional National Council of Libya” the kind of leadership for whom self-respecting Libyans would want to carry assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, Manpads, and so on?  IMHO, a resounding NO, but, dear reader, draw your own conclusion. — Ed.

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Excerpt from Eric Ruder, “No U.S. intervention in Libya,”, 4 March 2011

In Benghazi’s main square, demonstrators have hung a banner that reads in English, “No foreign intervention; Libyan people can manage it alone.”  In Benghazi, journalist Jihan Hafiz reported widespread opposition to U.S. intervention.  “The entire Libyan population is insisting against U.S. intervention or any involvement of foreign powers within Libya,” one Libyan pro-democracy protester told Hafiz. . . .

Other sections of the opposition are calling for the U.S. to act.  The options range from U.S. strikes on the regime’s mercenary forces to a “no-fly zone” that would constrain Qaddafi’s ability to use air power against a popular uprising.  For some, these calls are a cynical calculation to build a relationship with imperialism.  For others, they merely seem the best way to stop Qaddafi’s savage violence.

Thus, one Libyan blogger — whose friend was shot and killed in the demonstrations in Tripoli — wrote an article for the Guardian that rejects intervention by Western ground forces. . . .  But this same writer supports a Western-imposed no-fly zone:

I, like most Libyans, believe that imposing a no-fly zone would be a good way to deal the regime a hard blow on many levels; it would cut the route of the mercenary convoys summoned from Africa, it would prevent Gaddafi from smuggling money and other assets, and most importantly, it would stop the regime from bombing weapons arsenals that many eyewitnesses have maintained contain chemical weapons; something that would unleash an unimaginable catastrophe, not to mention that his planes might actually carry such weapons.

But there can be no doubt that a no-fly zone is a form of “military intervention.”  Even Pentagon officials warn that a no-fly zone would require the use of force, with a substantial risk of casualties.

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Excerpt from Anthony Shadid and Kareem Fahim, “Opposition in Libya Struggles to Form a United Front,” New York Times, 8 March 2011

The political leadership has virtually begged the international community to recognize it, but it has yet to marshal opposition forces abroad or impose its authority in regions it nominally controls. . . .  “We require support, whether it’s military or otherwise, we require help,” Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, the deputy leader of the provisional leadership, told a news conference in Benghazi.  “The international community has to assume its duty at this point.” . . .

At the front, three and a half hours away, rebels sought to recover from a government offensive that forced them from Bin Jawwad and sent them reeling toward Ras Lanuf, a strategic refinery town.  The government also appeared to deal setbacks to the rebels in Zawiyah, a rebel-held town near Tripoli, and Misratah, a strategic coastal city.  With momentum seeming to shift, the rebels face the prospect of being outgunned and outnumbered in what increasingly looks like a mismatched civil war. . . .

. . . [R]esidents [in eastern Libya] set up what they call local councils of varying numbers of representatives — three in Darnah, six in Bayda.  Theoretically, each is supposed to send a representative to Benghazi, where the opposition has set up a group called the Provisional Transitional National Council of Libya, a kind of state in waiting.  Composed of 30 representatives, it is led by Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, a former justice minister. . . .  Its authority remains tentative, a point acknowledged by those involved. “We didn’t have any authority, of course; we just gave ourselves authority,” said Iman Bugaighis, a spokeswoman for the council. . . .

The council has pleaded for a no-flight zone, still being debated by the West, but rebel leaders in Darnah warned that they would oppose any foreign interference with arms.

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Excerpt from Simon Assaf, “Libyans Can Beat Colonel Gaddafi,” Socialist Worker 2242, 12 March 2011

The ad hoc revolutionary leadership that grew out of the insurrection has established a Transitional National Council (TNC), with delegates drawn from across Libya.

But among its leaders are former stalwarts of the regime.  The council has already compromised.

One of its first declarations was to honour all international contracts signed by Gaddafi’s regime.

If the revolution allies itself with Western imperialism it will lose credibility among Libyans and the rest of the Arab world.

Cf. “France became the first country to formally recognize the Libyan opposition — the Interim Transitional National Council — as legitimate representatives of the Libyan people on Thursday, pledging to exchange ambassadors with the country’s newly created transitional council in a major diplomatic victory for the Libyan opposition. . . .  The recognition comes as European Union foreign ministers meet in Brussels Thursday and defense ministers of NATO’s 28 member states also gathered in the Belgian capital to consider the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya.  Ahead of the Brussels meeting, AFP reported that Sarkozy would propose ‘targeted airstrikes’ in Libya as a way to end the violence.  Reacting to the news of France’s diplomatic recognition, Imane Boughaighis, media organizer for Libya’s Interim Transitional National Council, said the Libyan people were ‘very grateful’ to the French government” (“France Formally Recognises Libyan Rebels’ Authority,” France24, 10 March 2011); “‘The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) demands that the UN Security Council take all necessary measures to protect civilians, including enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya,’ foreign ministers of the six-nation bloc said in a statement read out by outgoing Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah.  Meanwhile, the Arab League also threw its backing for a no-fly zone, French officials said on Monday, quoting the League’s Secretary-General Amr Mousa” (Samir Salama, “GCC Backs No-fly Zone to Protect Civilians in Libya,” Gulf News, 9 March 2011); “‘The Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf considers the current Libyan regime illegal and urges to set up relations with the [opposition] National Council,’ GCC’s ministers said in a statement” (“Gulf Cooperation Council Calls Gaddafi Regime Illegitimate,” RIA Novosti, 10 March 2011); “The Council stressed in the final statement of the meeting held in Riyadh: ‘Any damage to the security of any member state is damage to the security of all its member states and will be confronted immediately and without any hesitation.’  On the other hand, the Gulf states announced Thursday that it will establish a development fund worth $20 billion, to help Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman, the two members of the Cooperation Council which have experienced popular protests” (, 10 March 2011).

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