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Libya: one year after the revolution

Kevin Brice

February 27, 2012

On February 17 Libyans celebrated the one-year anniversary of the revolution that removed Muammar Gadhafi from power after 42 years. On the surface these celebrations seem justified, but under the surface discontent is brewing as many of the aspirations of the revolution have still not been met.

Like the rest of the Arab Spring, the Libyan revolution emerged to challenge repression and neoliberalism, but NATO hijacked the revolution to narrow its aims to the removal of Gaddafi (who it had armed for years). Not only did “humanitarian intervention” result in up to 30,000 deaths, but it promoted former Gaddafi figures to the leadership of the National Transition Council (NTC)—like Mahmoud Jibril (former head of the National Economic Development Board, which promoted privatization) and Mustafa Abdul-Jalil (former “justice” minister).

As a result, the “new” regime in Libya is continuing the same old policies. The central bank governor, Saddeq Omar Elkaber, recently announced that “we are working on amending laws to stimulate the private sector”, while the NTC has used torture to maintain control.

With the revolution reduced to a military adventure, rival militias who once fought beside each other are fighting amongst themselves, raising the threat of civil war. In the city of Bani Walid this has taken the appearance of a loyalist uprising that has dislodged the city from the NTC. Along the border with Mali, brigades once loyal to Gadhafi continue to launch raids against towns and villages.

There will be no peace in Libya until there is justice and the revolution has won its initial aims—which means real regime change and an end to Western military and corporate control. In the meantime, we need to stop Harper from joining NATO in bringing this “model intervention” of militarism and neoliberalism to Syria and Iran.

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