Today the Libyan people are in the midst of a revolution to overthrow Colonel Muammar Qaddafi. Qaddafi has ruled since 1969, making his state one of the longest-lived dictatorships in the world.
A Struggle with Imperialism
During the first half of the 20th century, Libya was an Italian colony. During this time many Italian companies such as Fiat automobiles used Libyans for cheap labor.
The Discovery of Oil
During World War II Italy was defeated, and Britain took over the Italy’s Libyan colony. The British were no different than the Italians, brutally exploiting Libya. But this time they found a more valuable resource – Oil. Most of that wealth went to British and American oil companies.
The Rise of Qaddafi
In 1969 a military coup was led by army officers under the leadership of the future ruler – Muammar Qaddafi. Qaddafi took control of the oil fields, putting the wealth of Libya directly into the hands of this new elite of military rulers.
In the 1970s Libya become very wealthy and very repressive. The Libyan state used thousands of police, secret agents and informers to control the people. Qaddafi and the military benefited as heads of the new state. Since his rise to power in 1969 Qaddafi has gathered a $60 billion personal fortune.
The Uprising Against Qaddafi
This year, with the overthrow of 30-year dictator Husni Mubarak in Egypt, every oppressive regime in the Middle East is under threat. The poor and working class people are tired of exploitation, whether it is imposed by the United States, Europe, or their own home-grown oppressors like Qaddafi.
On February 15th, protests began in Libya, in the capitol of Tripoli and in the city of Benghazi. Protesters were met by intense repression, with 200 protesters killed in the first days of protest.
The Military Refuses Orders
On the 21st of February, protesters broke into police stations and army barracks, arming themselves. Qaddafi ordered military helicopters and warplanes to fire on the protesters. Thousands were killed, but throughout Libya the military began to refuse orders and come over to the side of the people.
Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, the Libyan army has been split apart by Qaddafi’s orders to repress the rebellious people. The soldiers refused to fire on friends, family and fellow citizens.
The U.S. And Europe Prepare to Intervene
The United States and Europe are counting on the military in countries like Egypt to take control and impose a new regime of exploitation on the people. This won’t be as likely in Tunisia since the military has been split by the people’s movement.
On Monday, Obama ordered warships to the coast of Libya. In addition, U.S., French, and British military personnel have begun training rebels in Eastern Libya against Qaddafi. The question will be, after these forces defeat Qaddafi who will they listen to? The Libyan people or their trainers in the U.S. and Europe? And whose idea is this? A recent letter calling for intervention in Libya was signed by Paul Wolfowitz and Elliot Abrams, key officials under George W. Bush and architects of the 2003 war on Iraq.
The Libyans Best Allies – Us!
The struggle in Libya is not far away anymore. The United States military and the military forces of Europe are already involved. The revolutions of the Middle East have inspired people to revolt from Libya to as far away as Wisconsin. No wonder governments in the U.S. and Europe are preparing their military forces to control the course of events. We have to stand against this deadly manipulation and demand that the U.S. keep its hands off of Libya!