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Massacres expose bankruptcy of Gaddafi’s crumbling regime

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According to Muammar al-Gadaffi “order reigns in Tripoli!” This is confirmed by foreign correspondents who add that the streets are largely deserted except for pro-Gaddafi thugs armed with Kalashnikovs.

“Partisans of the regime have attacked unarmed demonstrators with their machine guns and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades)” a witness told the AFP news agency.

The numbers killed are likely to be well in excess of a thousand and hospitals report the collection and disposal of bodies from the morgues by Gaddafi’s militiamen.

According to the veteran UK reporter on the Arab world, Robert Fisk, “in the suburbs of the city, especially in the Noufreen district, militias fought for 24 hours on Sunday with machine guns and pistols, a battle the Gaddafi forces won.”

Clashes between pro- and anti-Gaddafi supporters are reported in the cities of Sabha in the south and in Sabratha, near Tripoli. Reuters reported fierce fighting in Az Zawiya in the west and a bloody massacre by troops surrounding demonstrators.

In contrast, in the east of Libya, and along the coast, the forces of the democratic revolution have triumphed. The cities of Tobruk, Benghazi, Cyrenaica, Misurata, Derna and Bayda have been liberated. Whole sections of the army have gone over to the people. Major-General Suleiman Mahmoud, the commander of the armed forces in Tobruk, told Al Jazeera, "We are on the side of the people."

The Libyan army, never really trusted by Gaddafi, only makes up one third of the forces of repression in the country. Gaddafi has created a veritable praetorian guard of militias and special regiments, tied to him by assorted tribal and family links but, above all, by privileges stolen from Libya’s national oil revenues. These people have everything to lose and it is on them that the Butcher of Tripoli relies to, “fight to the last bullet” for him, his sons and their entourage. The repressive forces, some 120,000, are huge for a country of only six million people.

Moreover, the native Libyan working class is very small. With the support of the big oil multinationals, Gaddafi recruited foreign workers to run the economy. There are thought to be upwards of 1.5 million Egyptians working in Libya, 50,000 Bangladeshis. 15,000 Indians and huge numbers of Pakistanis. Similarly, 30,000 Turks make up the bulk of the Libyan construction and engineering industry.

In this respect, Libya is like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf petro-monarchies where the oil royalties are used to buy and arm a huge repressive apparatus and a large part of the working class, the most dangerous social force for all tyrants, consists of non-citizens who can be expelled at will.

This has not stopped Gaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, blaming Egyptians for fomenting the uprising and virtually inciting pogroms against them.

Nevertheless, despite these more extensive social props of the regime, which account for the full-scale civil war, it is evident from the massive character of the uprisings that a great majority of Libyans are excluded from the largesse of the tyrant.

Now they have risen up and, although the revolution may involve a protracted and bloody struggle, unlike those in Egypt and Tunisia, it can nevertheless triumph. Workers and all progressive forces around the world must hope that it does and do everything possible to aid the Libyan uprising.

The popular forces who have mobilised against Gaddafi should create councils of recallable delegates to run the liberated cities and, together with the rebel soldiers, use the arms they have won to form a popular militia.

When Gaddafi is overthrown, a provisional government, based on the councils of the risen people and the workers (including the Egyptian and other “foreign” workers) must summon a sovereign constituent assembly.

The workers and revolutionary youth must take the lead in making the revolution permanent, that is, they should not stop until the Libyan millionaires and the foreign multinationals are expropriated and the economy is planned to create a decent life for all who live in the country, indeed, in the entire region. In order to achieve this, they need to form a revolutionary workers party, armed with a programme which can give a lead to the revolution in Libya just as the revolutionary forces need to do across the entire region.

Such a party needs to be built in the course of the struggle against sections of the state apparatus, the bourgeoisie and the tribal chiefs, no doubt backed by the imperialist powers, who will do everything in their power to obstruct even the achievement of a fully democratic regime so that they can take control themselves.

Every attempt to "restore order" by demobilising the masses, disarming the popular committees and reinstating the old state forces, if under new commanders, must be resisted.

Instead, those who have sacrificed so much to overthrow Gaddafi must extend and coordinate their own organisations and their control over the territory they have won.

Only thus can they ensure that the successful overthrow of the dictator is not followed by a new "transitional regime" - as in Egypt or Tunisia - where the army and sections of the old élite retain control and thwart the demands of the workers and popular masses, thwarting the revolution from fully achieving even its democratic objectives .

The spread of revolution and the eruption of class struggle in Europe and the USA too indicates what a burning necessity it is to build a new party of world revolution – a Fifth International.

Gaddafi’s bolthole in Tripoli and the far west cannot long survive being cut off from the rest of the country. The gloomy order that he has restored in the city is built on sand. Again Fisk comments, “The oil, chemical and uranium fields of Libya lie to the south of "liberated" Benghazi. Gaddafi's hungry capital controls only water resources, so a temporary division of Libya, which may have entered Gaddafi's mind, would not be sustainable.”

However, a terrible danger would be the temptation for Libyans fighting the dictator to rely on the sympathetic words of the European and American imperialists or to call on them to invade the country. France, Britain and the USA are now claiming to support democracy and returning to the abuse and condemnation of Gaddafi they habitually used in the 1980s and 1990s. Only weeks ago they were shipping him arms and equipment for his repressive apparatus!

Over the last five years, Britain and France have flattered and fawned on him in order to get bigger chunks of the oil wealth of the country for their multinationals; BP and ELF. British Labour’s Gordon Brown visited Gaddafi’s Bedouin tent and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy invited him to pitch it in Paris. Now he is a monster again.

The governments of the European Union and the European Commission, whilst protesting at the wholesale violation of human rights, are more sincerely afraid of workers and youth fleeing the massacres and seeking entry into the EU. Thus their first practical response is a racist sealing of the European borders - once done by the Libyan army, now to exercised by European battleships and a strengthened border police (FRONTEX).

However a “humanitarian” military intervention by US, EU or “United Nations” forces would be a catastrophe. Its real purpose would be to “restore order,” smother the living forces of the revolution and defend the “rights” of the western multinationals to control the country’s oil wealth. In the end, it could cast the country into the hell-like consequences of those other “humanitarian” and “democratic” invasions, Iraq or Afghanistan. In those conditions, Gaddafi’s thugs might even be able to pose as national liberation fighters.

Thus, the League for the Fifth International supports the Libyan uprising and hails the demonstrations in solidarity with it in Egypt and Tunisia.

Workers around the world – including those in Wisconsin or Athens fighting to defend their living standards or their trade union rights - should do likewise and express this solidarity with the movement, by organizing material support for their struggle. They should organise a workers' boycott against oil exports from Libya too in order to cut off the Gaddafi regime from its oil revenues.

Now, heroic young fighters for democracy across the Arab world and in Iran, should spread the Middle Eastern revolution - till everyone of the dicatatorships fall!

• Victory to the Libyan revolution- down with the Butcher of Tripoli!
• Workers and youth in Libya: Take control of the country through delegate councils and militias!
• Spread the revolution to Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Iran and the Gulf monarchies!
• Open the frontiers of Europe to refugees from Gaddafi’s terror.
• Break the blockade of Gaza and the West Bank!
• For a Socialist United States of the Middle East and North Africa!