Libyans protest Foreign Minister's meeting with Israeli counterpart by burning images of their faces on the Israeli flag. (AP Photo/Yousef Murad)
There are Arab governments going along with the U.S. push to normalize relations with Israel. But people throughout the region are adamantly opposed to such treachery, as the now suspended Foreign Minister of Libya discovered.
Following the destruction of Libya by NATO in 2011, the country has had consecutive governments that were parachuted into the country by the United Nations that serve the interest not of Libyans but of the transnational elite, lobbyists, and corrupt officials. The recent scandal of Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU), spearheaded by Abd Alhamid Dbaiba, was the Foreign Minister of Libya’s meeting with Eli Cohen, the Foreign Minister of Israel (hereafter, “Zionist entity”) last week to seek normalization of relations. This must be seen as part of the US push in the region to launch a series of normalization of states with the Zionist entity, which has occurred with Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan. Yet, this shameful act contradicts what Libya has historically stood up for, and that is the national liberation of Palestine and disposing of the Zionist settler colonialism.
A secret meeting in Italy
On Sunday, August 27, 2023, news broke out Libya’s Foreign Minister, Najla el-Mangoush, a student of the CIA-supported George Mason University, was in Italy and had a meeting that was cheered by the Foreign Minister of the Zionist entity. Given the secret nature of the meeting, el-Mangoush fled to Turkey on a private jet after the news became public. The Ministry’s Facebook page denied that this meeting was intentional and that it happened unplanned. However, this is not the first time where el-Mangoush met with Zionists and sought collaboration.
In 2011, she met with the Zionist French philosopher in Libya, Bernard Henry Levy, who was the mouthpiece for NATO intervention (who also happens to be cheering in Ukraine’s frontlines with Azov and in 2014’s Maidan protests; supported military intervention in Syria). Her committed anti-Libya policies are numerous. She called for the lynching of Black Libyans in 2011 under the pretext that they were “African mercenaries” – as if by the virtue of them being African and mercenaries legitimates such racist attacks, while forgetting that Libya is in Africa. In December 2022, she supported the extradition of a Libyan citizen to the US on the basis of allegations that he played a role in the 1988 Lockerbie Bombing,despite Libya not having an extradition agreement with the US.
Normalizing relations is a multilayered treason
Besides Libya’s law from 1957 that illegalizes the normalization, it is a treacherous act against numerous sacrifices Libyans have committed for Palestine and national liberation:
- Normalizing relations with the Zionist entity is a treason against the thousands of Libyans who sacrificed their lives fighting settler colonialism in Palestine in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973. It is also a treason against Libya’s historic support in arms and logistics to Palestine throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s.
- Normalizing relations is a treason against the Libyan workers who mobilized in 1965 to boycott West Germany’s ships and their products. And given the endless support the US provides the Zionist entity, these workers, alongside dock laborers, held a national strike in June 1967 that targeted American oil companies that resulted in the stoppage of oil export to the US. Making this the first lesson OPEC learned in later years to weaponize oil as a tool for imposing Non-Alignment and contesting US imperialism.
- Normalizing relations is treason against the colonization of Yemen’s Socotra island by the UAE and the Zionists. The archipelago that houses unique nature and plants found nowhere else in the world, is now occupied by Zionist intelligence, further deepening Yemen’s proxy war.
- Normalizing relations is a treason against the Arab cause of sovereignty as it approves of the Zionist frequent bombings of Syria.
- Normalizing relations is treason against Africa and its history. The Zionists support separatists under the guise of Igbo’s Biafra liberation. Furthermore, before 1994, the apartheid regime in South Africa received support from the apartheid regime of the Zionist entity. And now, the Zionist entity is seeking observer status in the African Union (a quest vehemently rejected by Algeria and South Africa).
- And most importantly, normalizing relations is treason against Palestine and its people, because it insinuates that Libya approves of the conditions of apartheid imposed on the Palestinian people.
Despite such an ill-studied geopolitical stunt by the GNU that assumed Libyans are apathetic to the inhumanity of the Zionists, mass protests erupted on Monday, August 28. A clear sign that Libyans are alive and care about Palestine. The protestors attacked the office of the Ministry, burned street tires, blockaded roads, and set ablaze Zionist flags and pictures of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The protests were not confined to the capital city of Tripoli, but the following days saw a furor against such a stunt in other major cities and towns. The government-backed militias cracked down and arrested more than 20 protestors. Considering that these protests are taking place at a time coinciding with the 54th commemoration of 1st September 1969 regime change that toppled the Libyan Monarchy, police physically barricaded popular squares in Tripoli to dissuade Libyans from using the momentum of this stunt to celebrate the 54th anniversary.
To understand imperialism, we must look at Palestine!
We must understand that Palestine, its sovereignty and struggle against settler colonialism is not a single issue. This struggle is entangled with imperialism, led by the US and supported by the functionaries of imperialism across the globe. The US annually provides the Zionists with more than $3.8 billion dollars for military purposes. Whereas the collective West jumps at any opportunity to sanction and isolate any revolutionary regime, they oppose the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement. This double standard makes the so-called rules-based world order a farce. Further, any critiques of the apartheid regime carried out by the Zionists is defined as being anti-Semitic. Yet, sanctions and collective punishment on the people of Gaza goes unnoticed by the rules-based world order. Combining this double standard, sanctions, and blind eye to Zionist crimes is the cornerstone of imperialism. Normalizing relations with the Zionists is normalizing imperialism.
Essam Elkorghli is a Libyan PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He researches Libya’s modern political history and contemporary imperialism in education. He is a labor organizer with the Graduate Employees’ Organization, assistant editor for Middle East Critique Journal, and a member of the Global Pan African Movement.