What Is the National Front for the Salvation of Libya?

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by Yoshie Furuhashi
February 24, 2011

In his blog Lenin’s Tomb, Richard Seymour asserts confidently:

Because the trouble for the US and UK governments in this revolt is that they really, really don’t want Gadaffi to fall. Gadaffi is someone with whom they can do business. By contrast, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, long a leading element in the resistance, is less likely to be so pliable.

Not so fast. All three components of his observation — what the US and UK governments want, whether the National Front for the Salvation of Libya is really “a leading element in the resistance,” and whether the NFSL is less pliable than Gaddafi — are open to dispute.

1. Is it true that the US and UK governments “really, really don’t want Gadaffi to fall”? I doubt it. The great powers are playing in Libya, in my view, the same game as they have in Tunisia and Egypt: at first, at a loss as to what to do, they back the regimes in power exactly as they are, since they have been good to them (Berlusconi’s first response to the Libyan uprising is the most emblematic of this initial Western reaction); then, seeing no way back to the status quo ante, they seek to manage the transition already underway whether they like it or not (they have long cultivated assets among the oppositions, too, precisely for this kind of eventuality). So, the imperialists’ Plan A was to see if Gaddafi could quell the uprising, as he had managed to put down many previous challenges to his rule. Now that Plan A is up in smokes, though, it’s time for them to shift to Plan B: try to find collaborators and to begin a new beautiful relationship. Some of the collaborators may be found in the elements of the ancien régime (e.g., the armies in the cases of Tunisia and Egypt); others may be found in the former opposition (e.g., the likes of the Egyptian Google executive Wael Ghonim, one of whose first tweets after the fall of Mubarak was to tell the striking workers who are seeking to establish a new just social order to go back to work and “work like never before”).

In Tunisia and Egypt, the continuing vigor of working-class protests, including industrial actions, has so far prevented Plan B from working as well as the empire hoped. (No doubt the Western power elites are working day and night now to come up with Plan C.) In Libya, however, the empire may get lucky, especially if it succeeds in passing off its assets as “leading members of the opposition” fit to rule post-Gaddafi Libya. That leads to the next question.

2. Is the National Front for the Salvation of Libya really “a leading element in the resistance”? How do we know? Ian Black, for instance, observes: “Exiled groups such as the National Front for the Salvation of Libya are thought to enjoy little support among the country’s 6.5 million people.” To be sure, much of the media are not only heavily relying on “information” from the NFSL but also presenting its leading members as credible alternative leaders as well as political experts, but that is all the more reasons to be skeptical. Recall the efforts to spin the Egyptian revolution first and foremost as a Facebook revolution engineered, behind the scenes, by Gene Sharp-reading, Otpor-emulating young professionals schooled in the Academy of Change in Qatar. That is a kind of performative speech: it’s not that those in charge of the MSM necessarily think the Egyptian revolution was really made by such characters — they must know that the coup de grâce was delivered by workers who, relying on tight bonds forged through “many years of meetings and joint struggle,” went on strike en masse, especially in strategic sectors such as the Suez Canal; rather it’s that the power elites of the West want them, rather than the organic intellectuals of the working class, to be the leaders of the post-Mubarak order and steer it into “a retrenchment of neoliberalism.” So, from the point of view of the propagandists looking to shape post-Gaddafi Libya in a way that furthers rather than damages the interests of capitalists and imperialists, what’s to like about the NFSL? That segues into the last question.

3. Is “the National Front for the Salvation of Libya . . . less likely to be so pliable” than Gaddafi? I’m afraid the NFSL will be even more pliable than the autocratic colonel that it has long sought to supplant. According to Richard Keeble, Jeffrey Richelson, and Joseph T. Stanik among other sources, the NFSL was an outfit funded by the CIA and Saudi Arabia during the Cold War. While more recent funding sources of the NFSL remain unknown, the young Libyans who are desperate to join the Great 21st-century Arab Revolt, when they do succeed in overthrowing the Gaddafi family, surely deserve a better leadership than the spooky specter apparently raised from the dustbin of the last century.

Gaddafi is finished. First rejected by the axis of resistance, now he is about to be abandoned by the West as well. That means it is all the more important to help the Libyan people defend their victory from would-be thieves of the spoils of blood shed for freedom.

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About B.J. Murphy

I'm a young socialist and Transhumanist activist within the East Coast region, who writes for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), India Future Society, and Serious Wonder. I'm also the Social Media Manager for Serious Wonder, an Advisory Board Member for the Lifeboat Foundation, and a Co-Editor for Fight Back! News.

11 responses »

  1. The West has never forgiven Gadhafi for nationalizing the oil fields.

    http://www.iraq-war.ru/article/243276

    Of all the struggles going on in North Africa and the Middle East right now, the most difficult to unravel is the one in Libya.

    What is the character of the opposition to the Gadhafi regime, which reportedly now controls the eastern city of Benghazi?

    Is it just coincidence that the rebellion started in Benghazi, which is north of Libya’s richest oil fields as well as close to most of its oil and gas pipelines, refineries and its LNG port? Is there a plan to partition the country?

    What is the risk of imperialist military intervention, which poses the gravest danger for the people of the entire region?

    Libya is not like Egypt. Its leader, Moammar al-Gadhafi, has not been an imperialist puppet like Hosni Mubarak. For many years, Gadhafi was allied to countries and movements fighting imperialism. On taking power in 1969 through a military coup, he nationalized Libya’s oil and used much of that money to develop the Libyan economy. Conditions of life improved dramatically for the people.

    For that, the imperialists were determined to grind Libya down. The U.S. actually launched air strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986 that killed 60 people, including Gadhafi’s infant daughter – which is rarely mentioned by the corporate media. Devastating sanctions were imposed by both the U.S. and the U.N. to wreck the Libyan economy.

    After the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 and leveled much of Baghdad with a bombing campaign that the Pentagon exultantly called “shock and awe,” Gadhafi tried to ward off further threatened aggression on Libya by making big political and economic concessions to the imperialists. He opened the economy to foreign banks and corporations; he agreed to IMF demands for “structural adjustment,” privatizing many state-owned enterprises and cutting state subsidies on necessities like food and fuel.

    The Libyan people are suffering from the same high prices and unemployment that underlie the rebellions elsewhere and that flow from the worldwide capitalist economic crisis.
    There can be no doubt that the struggle sweeping the Arab world for political freedom and economic justice has also struck a chord in Libya. There can be no doubt that discontent with the Gadhafi regime is motivating a significant section of the population.

    However, it is important for progressives to know that many of the people being promoted in the West as leaders of the opposition are long-time agents of imperialism. The BBC on Feb. 22 showed footage of crowds in Benghazi pulling down the green flag of the republic and replacing it with the flag of the overthrown monarch King Idris – who had been a puppet of U.S. and British imperialism.

    The Western media are basing a great deal of their reporting on supposed facts provided by the exile group National Front for the Salvation of Libya, which was trained and financed by the U.S. CIA. Google the front’s name plus CIA and you will find hundreds of references.

    The Wall Street Journal in a Feb. 23 editorial wrote that “The U.S. and Europe should help Libyans overthrow the Gadhafi regime.” There is no talk in the board rooms or the corridors of Washington about intervening to help the people of Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or Bahrain overthrow their dictatorial rulers. Even with all the lip service being paid to the mass struggles rocking the region right now, that would be unthinkable. As for Egypt and Tunisia, the imperialists are pulling every string they can to get the masses off the streets.
    There was no talk of U.S. intervention to help the Palestinian people of Gaza when thousands died from being blockaded, bombed and invaded by Israel. Just the opposite. The U.S. intervened to prevent condemnation of the Zionist settler state.

    Imperialism’s interest in Libya is not hard to find. Bloomberg.com wrote on Feb. 22 that while Libya is Africa’s third-largest producer of oil, it has the continent’s largest proven reserves – 44.3 billion barrels. It is a country with a relatively small population but the potential to produce huge profits for the giant oil companies. That’s how the super-rich look at it, and that’s what underlies their professed concern for the people’s democratic rights in Libya.

    Getting concessions out of Gadhafi is not enough for the imperialist oil barons. They want a government that they can own outright, lock, stock and barrel. They have never forgiven Gadhafi for overthrowing the monarchy and nationalizing the oil. Fidel Castro of Cuba in his column “Reflections” takes note of imperialism’s hunger for oil and warns that the U.S. is laying the basis for military intervention in Libya.

    In the U.S., some forces are trying to mobilize a street-level campaign promoting such U.S. intervention. We should oppose this outright and remind any well-intentioned people of the millions killed and displaced by U.S. intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Sara Flounders is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Sara Flounders

  2. Pingback: Libya: Five Reasons Not to Intervene « Arab Revolt | الثورة العربية

  3. Pingback: Why leave Libya antiwar article | ikners.com

  4. Pingback: FIVE REASONS WHY WE SHOULDN’T BE INVOLVED IN LIBYA « The Burning Platform

  5. Richard Seymour, the blogger behind Lenin’s Tomb, writes well, but he is a very dubious individual. I suspect he blogs clandestinely for the UK.GOV. He boasts that he is public school educated and grew up in the counties occupied by British troops in the north of Ireland. His father, he says, is a “civil servant” working for the British Occupation Government in Ireland. I got the impression that this employment is in a military/intelligence capacity. I found Seymour to be unduly aggressive when he was challenged over his earlier claims. He clearly spends a long time perfecting his writing, but he’s not someone whose opinion I rate very highly.

  6. Pingback: France, U.S., and Arab intelligence services "cold-war" on Libya

  7. I am Ali from Banghazi -Libya
    Describing NFSL as the ” spooky specter apparently raised from the dustbin of the last century” is so ridiculous and shows a lack of a concrete political analysis !

  8. people are fed information by govs as for oil its another myth the old hippy everyones invaded for oil what about afghanistan in fact iraq was invaded to set up sham pro US ISREAL gov in place of saddam this plan was called securing the realm devised by neocons and Netanyahou in 1998 they also wanted to cut ties with Saudi Arabia Thea lgerian fighting group was also in afghanistan and did not fly under al qeida banner until 2007 It is doughtfulany group was funded by Govs conspiracy theries about alqeida uS west govs secret aligances always happening I remember plainly Royallists being promanant at beginning of war then disappearing also some high up member tnc dissident seen outside libya embassy LONDON in1980s when police woman shot

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