After days of bombs and missiles raining down on Muammar Gaddafi’s air defences and tank columns, it is clear the imperialists are settling in for a long war. With the legal cover of a UN resolution designed supposedly to protect the rebel population under attack, the USA, France and Britain have taken the lead in starting a war whose aims are to remove Gaddafi and make Libya safe for western oil interests.

Nobody should believe the smokescreen thrown up by the likes of David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and President Obama that they are intervening on humanitarian grounds.

In Bahrain the Saudi Arabian army is helping the police to put down the democratic protests in the most vicious manner, without a peep out of these same humanitarians.

In Yemen, their long-term ally in the war on terror, President Saleh, is shooting down peaceful demonstrators on the streets – 52 killed last week. No humanitarian intervention planned here.

The difference is oil and gas – plenty of it, and under Libyan soil.

Support the Libyan revolution

The mass revolt against Gaddafi’s dictatorship should have the support of every progressive and socialist. In many towns and cities like Benghazi, the masses, with enormous bravery, took on and defeated Gaddafi’s security apparatus at great cost in death and injuries. But in Tripoli they were driven off the streets and subject to the most brutal repression, the only reason Gaddafi survives today.

While the democratic forces thought at first they could advance from the east and liberate the country themselves, Gaddafi fought back with his militias and personal guards. Tanks, jets and artillery out-gunned the rebels and Gaddafi threatened to massacre the opposition.

It is little wonder, with his tanks at the gates of Benghazi, that the population turned in desperation to the imperialist powers for help – initially they had hoisted banners against any foreign intervention.

The imperialist powers had played a cynical game. The international community could have supplied the rebels with the arms necessary to throw back Gaddafi’s forces attacks, primarily anti-tank weapons and shoulder-held anti aircraft missiles.

They could have opened up the borders on the east and allowed volunteers fighters to join the ranks of the anti- Gaddafi forces.

They chose not to quite deliberately. Instead they waited to use their own jets and tomahawk missiles, military hardware that allows them to control the outcome and ensure the rebels become dependent on imperialism for protection.

The results of intervention

While the imperialist attack might have halted Gaddafi’s offensive for the time being, it has also rallied sections of the population around his fake anti-imperialist rhetoric. It will quite likely drive a wedge between the areas under his control, subject to the fierce western bombing campaign, and the democratic opposition. This in turn will make the rebels more dependent on the imperialists for support and this is exactly what the new coalition of the willing want.

It is unlikely that the bombing campaign will result in the sudden collapse of the Gaddafi regime; as Saddam Hussain did in Iraq, he is digging in for a long blockade. The imperialists will respond as they did in Iraq – they cannot afford a valuable country like Libya becoming divided and paralysed as an oil producer.

They will move in the military advisors and special forces to train up the rebel army – Cameron has already said as much. If they can assassinate Gaddafi so much the better; this is a matter of life or death for imperialist profits.

If they cannot bring about internal regime change, then a few years down the line some combination of the NATO powers will launch an operation Libyan Freedom to remove him. Libya will become like Iraq, an imperialist protectorate with a corrupt government that delivers oil to the multi-nationals.

Hands off the Libyan revolution!

Socialists should absolutely oppose the imperialist intervention and protest against the bombing campaign on the streets. At present there is a division between many expatriate Libyans protesting outside embassies, who support the military air-strikes, though not ground troops, and the majority of the anti-war movement. The anti-war movement must stand firm – unlike the warmongering MPs in London – and through solidarity action convince the anti-Gaddafi Libyans to shed their backing for NATO intervention.

At the same time we should give no support whatsoever to Gaddafi or his armed forces under some misguided anti imperialist motive. Gaddafi is murderous dictator who deserves to be hung from a Tripoli lamppost, but that is for the Libyan masses to do not the imperialists.

Down with Gaddafi! Victory to the Libyan revolution!

No to NATO intervention! No to an imperialist imposed No-Fly Zone!