Three African nations voted for the UN Security Council resolution that opened the door to the Western military intervention in Libya. Demba Moussa Dembele regrets that South Africa, Gabon and Nigeria provided the votes for the resolution to be passed.
Libya has been subjected to intense bombardment by the US, France and their NATO allies since Saturday,19 March 2011. The leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the armed wing of Western imperialism, claim these attacks are aimed at securing a no-fly zone to 'protect' the Libyan people from Gaddafi's army. In fact, the so-called civilian protection was nothing but a pretext to invade Libya.
THE ROLE OF THE AFRICAN MEMBERS OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
The US and its lackeys needed the fig leaf of the UN Security Council to justify the invasion. Resolution 1973, voted for on 17 March, thus freed the hands of the west to implement their real plan, which has nothing to do with the resolution's mandate. The concerns and criticism from China, Russia and even some members of the Arab League, like its secretary general, the Egyptian Amr Moussa, show that the US and its allies were only looking for a legal cover for a plan that has been a long time in the making.
By endorsing such an imperialist adventure, the UN has once again shown that it is a puppet of the big powers. What is even more shocking about this resolution is the support extended by three African countries – South Africa, Gabon and Nigeria – against Libya. It is even more outrageous when one considers that Germany abstained and that it was thanks to African voices that the resolution was passed.
If even two had abstained, the resolution wouldn't have seen the light of day. His African peers have little sympathy for Gaddafi, but it is nonetheless unacceptable to see African countries supporting the destruction of another African country by western nations. If the two African states most likely to have independent positions can capitulate so easily to western pressure on such a crucial issue, African leadership clearly leaves much to be desired.
At any rate, this augurs ill should either South Africa or Nigeria ever obtain a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. The vote by these two countries was a slap in the face to the African Union (AU) and renders it even weaker. It is deplorable to see two such influential members of the AU ignore the body's appeal for a peaceful solution to the Libyan crisis and vote alongside western countries against another African nation. At least the AU was able to keep its honour intact by condemning the western attacks, calling for an immediate ceasefire and refusing to attend a meeting called by France on 19 March.
THE REAL REASON BEHIND THE INTERVENTION: CONTROL OF LIBYAN RESOURCES
The statements from Obama, Sarkozy and others are nothing but a pack of lies, a cover for the real aims of this imperialist crusade, whose real objective is regime change and control of the country's vast resources – above all its oil. Indeed, one can ask since when did Sarkozy and his like care about the fate of the African people, and especially those of Arab origin? Since when did the US president start caring about what happens to people?
And if these gentlemen had the slightest 'humanitarian' fibre, what were they doing when the Palestinians were being decimated by Zionist cluster bombs? What did they do when Israel imposed its illegal and inhuman blockade against Gaza? In the face of these crimes against humanity, how can Obama, Sarkozy and the others pretend they are acting in defence of the Libyan people?
The truth is that their sole concern is maintaining the hegemony of their economic and political system – imperialism. This is a system that is the sworn enemy of freedom, of the independence and sovereignty of peoples and nations everywhere in the world. It is the main obstacle to the emancipation of people. How could the guarantors of such a system claim to 'protect' the Libyan population?
The only rights that matter in the imperialist system are the rights of a minority of exploiters and criminals, lawless and without conscience. All the rhetoric on human rights is just that, a facade to conceal the true purpose – the conquest, rape and pillage of peoples.
Western countries, and the US in particular, are being strangled by an unprecedented crisis and they see their world hegemony in decline in the face of the rise of southern countries such as China, Brazil and India. All options are open, to if not halt, then at least slow down the process of their inevitable decline and the redistribution of the geopolitical cards globally.
This explains the militarisation of the planet in the name of 'humanitarian intervention' or 'the war against terrorism' to occupy countries rich in natural resources, principally, oil.
The so-called 'protection' of Libya's people is nothing but a pretext to cover up a purely imperialist and destructive mission. Their aim is replace Gaddafi with a regime more amenable to western interests.
The manner in which the military campaign is being conducted speaks volumes – the destruction of the country's infrastructure, the bombing of Gaddafi's compound, the destruction of anything that could be seen as a military target. This savage offensive will have its inevitable corollary of civilian deaths.
SUPPORTING AN AUTHENTIC PEOPLE'S REVOLUTION IN LIBYA
Denouncing the imperialist war must be accompanied by support for an authentic people's revolution against the Gaddafi regime. The aspirations of the Libyan people for liberty, democracy and an end to more than 40 years of one-man rule are legitimate and must be defended. That is why we were completely behind the uprising.
But our enthusiasm waned when we saw the rebels brandishing flags belonging to the monarchy that was abolished by Gaddafi's coup d'Etat. This showed that reactionary forces were trying to hijack legitimate grievances for their own ends. Any further doubts were dispelled when those who claimed to be the leaders of the uprising asked for western help – a message that was quickly understood by the Gulf monarchies and western countries.
Indeed, Sarkozy lost no time before recognising the 'National Council' set up by Gaddafi's opponents. The Arab League followed the lead set by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states and convened an extraordinary session to back the military intervention.
All this clearly shows that forces and countries whose objectives are very distant from the fundamental aspirations of the Libyan people have hijacked the popular uprising in Libya. Western countries and their Arab allies are not in Libya to back the real demands of the people for freedom and democracy.
On the contrary, they are trying to control the movement for their own benefit. While resolutely supporting the legitimate struggle of the true democratic forces of Libya, Africa must continue to denounce this savage imperialist onslaught against a country with the sole aim of controlling its resources to the detriment of its people they claim they are 'protecting'.
Demba Moussa Dembélé is a Senegalese economist.