Press TV talks with Lizzie Phelan, journalist and political activist in London who has been to Libya and says that Western media is complicit in war crimes in the North African country through omission of fact and that the vast majority of the population are in support of the Libyan government. Following is a transcript of the interview.
Press TV: NATO have issued an apology for a strike so about this publicized NATO strike that has killed civilians, they have blamed ‘technical error’. The conclusion we can draw from that is if that happens it may happen again, which relates to the risk of more civilian casualties. Concerning this air campaign – Do you think it has actually gone too far when it is not saving lives?
Phelan: Yet again we are seeing what the US and Europe shamefully call collateral damage in the form of human lives like we have seen previously in Iraq and Afghanistan and in many other parts of the world.
This apology by NATO is an absolute joke. It’s the first apology we’ve had from them in the three months despite the fact that civilians have been dying at the hands of NATO air strikes everyday in the past three months there have been thousands of strikes on the country so they made the apology yesterday on Sunday. But again at 2am in the morning there was another attack on the city of Sorman, 130km west of Tripoli where a further fifteen civilians were killed and a further three children were killed.
In previous weeks we have seen the bombing of al-Nasr university in Tripoli in the daytime where civilians were killed and so these are the military targets that we’re seeing them bomb – we’re seeing them bomb universities; we’re seeing them bomb Friday market street in Tripoli where there is no military site in the area. Friday market street – I’ve been there – it begins with a GPO post office and ends with a primary school and they bombed four buildings and killed nine civilians including a toddler of four months old.
So, we are seeing what ‘humanitarian intervention’ and the ‘protection of civilians’ al-a-NATO means – it means the killing of children as we are seeing.
The real crime here is the crime of the media. Where has the media been? The media has picked up on this now because NATO has made their apology, but we’ve been seeing civilians dying every day for the past three months; we have a swarm of western journalists based in Tripoli…
Press TV: The NATO apology concerns it’s responsibility for the deaths of 9 civilians and 18 injured in an early morning strike at an apartment building. In terms of what NATO is exercising it does put into question the goals of what NATO has on the ground… and this comes when there are CIA officers and covert operators as has been reported that are on the ground in touch with the revolutionaries.
Phelan: I wouldn’t call anybody who is inviting NATO or the CIA or intelligence services into their country revolutionaries, they are in fact counter-revolutionaries.
The purpose is clear and that is to curb the Arab spring, but it goes back further than that since the revolution (military coup) of 1969-70, when Gaddafi kicked out the British and the Americans and closed their military bases and nationalized the oil. The West has had an agenda since then to get back into Libya and take complete control of the oil resources. Yes they’ve had a period of reproachment with Libya whereby they have been able to make some good deals with Libya, but they haven’t had any where near the kind of control that they would like to have – like they have in Saudi Arabia or Qatar or the other Gulf states where these are effectively client regimes.
So the agenda is clear to completely violate international law and assassinate Gaddafi against the will of the Libyan people without actually every asking them what the Libyan people want.
Press TV: Since you have visited Libya, what is the support that Muammar Gaddafi has and what is going on in terms of the tribal allegiance that exists there? Because as we understand there has been a split along traditional tribal lines – animosity has existed; and also based on some research done this has indeed been funded by the West.
Phelan: Exactly. Just on Friday there was a complete blackout in the media except for one CNN report about a march of one million Libyans in a country of six million people in Tripoli towards Green Square in support of the government and also in support of the people of Benghazi and Misrata who are being harassed and persecuted by what I call counter-revolutionaries, which is what others call rebels – in particular black Libyans who because of the really shameful story that al-Jazeera has pumped out about Gaddafi hiring African mercenaries, black Libyans in places like Misrata and Benghazi – I’ve met refugees from these areas who are victims of these atrocities – black Libyans being lynched publicly and the most unspeakable atrocities are being committed against them by pro-NATO counter revolutionaries.
In terms of the tribes in Libya – from my sources I have information that 90% of the tribes in Libya are supportive of the government including the largest tribe in Libya.
Of course, before the uprising there were frustrations In Libya as there are within every singly country, but the Libyan people are an extremely non-confrontational people that will go to the ends of the earth to resolve in a non-confrontational way.
And that is also reflected in the government in the way in which the government has tried over the decades and bent backwards to accommodate opposition forces within the government, which in a sense has backfired as we saw from the people who defected from the government and who sold out because they were in the pockets of the CIA andMI6 and the other Western intelligence services.
So, from my experience in Libya the support for the government is absolutely widespread. There was a Guardian journalist in Libya who thankfully was deported from Libya for reporting that the reason why there is no opposition in Tripoli is because there are informers everywhere. A million people marched through the streets of Tripoli so the people have spoken for themselves.
Press TV: When will a political solution be discussed? Is NATO going to be ready to face the fact that there has to be a political solution in Libya? Many officials in the US have talked about having a political solution in Afghanistan and have conceded that for any war this is the best way forward…So why is this (military bombing) continuing in Libya?
Phelan: I have no faith in NATO to ever have the humility to suggest that what is needed and what was needed from the outset is a political solution.
It’s clear that NATO have no way at the moment to get out. They have gone into this war and they can’t lose face now.
I want to quickly mention something that has not been or rarely gets mentioned and that is the sanctions imposed on Libya have led now to a crisis in the country whereby people have to queue for six days for food and fuel and we’ve seen the impact from that in Iraq; sanctions are one of the greatest killers, sometimes more so than outright military war; it killed millions of people in Iraq.
…Coming back to your question, I would say that the UN has been acting as an extension of NATO and has done so in Libya.
Press TV: I have said that NATO is the armed wing of the UN in which the UN is used and then of course NATO comes in and of course we see how that gets exercised when it comes to various countries.
Phelan: I would say it the other way round that the UN is essentially a wing of NATO in the sense that it gives legitimacy to what NATO’s agenda is. And I have no faith in either of these institutions to deliver any kind of political solution in the country. The UN has proved itself a failure since the war on terror began and even before then…