“We are against any foreign intervention or military intervention in our internal affairs,” said Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga in Libya’s second city Benghazi last Sunday.
“This revolution will be completed by our people with the liberation of the rest of Libyan territory.”
He was speaking at a press conference to explain how the national revolutionary council is attempting to co-ordinate the rebel cities and administrate daily life.
The revolution looks close to defeating a dictatorship that had until recently appeared unstoppable. Colonel Gaddafi’s 41-year old regime now only controls the area around the capital Tripoli.
Gaddafi’s response has been brutal. The regime has opened fire on unarmed demonstrations with machine guns and rockets.
It has used fighter jets against protests. Thousands may have died in the attempted crackdown.
Western intervention would be a disaster. The rebels still have the initiative, and they need to keep it.
All the major cities and towns, apart from the capital, are run by revolutionary councils—from Benghazi in the east, to Misrata, in the industrial heartlands of western Libya. These councils are growing in strength—on one day last week alone some eight towns set up these councils and declared for the revolution.
All observers speak of the efficiency and energy of the councils and the relaxed air of “freedom” in the areas under their control.
In Benghazi, despite food shortages, the poor speak of howthey are eating better now than before the revolution. Food and other services are organised on the basis of need.
Many factories and key installations are under the control of their workforces. Others are controlled by employers who are sympathetic to the revolution, or even actively supporting it.
The revolutionaries’ military strategy has not been to call for Western airpower, but to convince the soldiers sent to crush them to change sides.
Time and again lightly armed or unarmed rebels have won over conscripts.
This happened most recently when regime forces attempted to retake the key city of Zawiya, 30 miles west of the capital on Monday.
The soldiers sent in to attack switched sides or surrendered, handing over their weapons to the revolutionaries.
Elsewhere military forces have declared for the revolution after receiving delegations of students and youth groups.
Western intervention never delivers what it promises.
Even last week, as the United Nations (UN) debated the Libyan situation, US diplomats unsuccessfully tried to add a call to use “all means necessary to protect civilians and installations”. In UN resolution terminology, this generally serves as a code for military action.
By “installations” they mean oil facilities. But revolutionary forces currently control 80 percent of the country’s oil fields—they are not under threat.
The US is using “humanitarian” fears to try and grab these key facilities.
Many people can see what a disaster British or US troops on the streets of Tripoli would be—but still call for the imposition of a no fly zone or sanctions.
This will reawaken memories for people across the globe. These were both used against Iraq before the 2003 invasion. The no fly zone entrenched the idea that only external military force could liberate the Iraqi people. And more than half a million Iraqi children and many more adults died under ten years of the sanctions regime before the invasion.
The governments that want to intervene now are the same ones who have been happy to sell Gaddafi the weapons he’s been using to attack the resistance.
Western intervention of any form would not help—in fact it would be devastating.
It would give Gaddafi a chance to regain support in Libya by posing as an anti-imperialist.
We have to let the Libyan people make their own revolution.