Twenty days after pro-government militias first encircled Bani Walid, forces say they’ve seized the former Gaddafi stronghold.
The chaos engulfing the city one year after the fall of Gaddafi has largely been attributed to Libya’s lack of a unified government.
Freelance journalist Morris Herman says the weak government is a product of the West, which is still sending weapons to the rival town of Misrata. And as the city rests on the brink of a humanitarian crisis, Herman says residents of Bani Walid want help – but not from NATO.
The people have been asking for international intervention and assistance, but they don’t want NATO coming back. It's hard to tell which international organizations can be trusted anymore, he said, to uphold human rights or defend the needy.
Herman spoke to RT about the ongoing violence and conflicting reports surrounding Bani Walid.
RT: You've spoken to doctors in Bani Walid and gotten their accounts of chemical weapons. The General National Congress – on this channel tonight – categorically insisted that they are not being used, and there is still no properly-verified evidence. What do you think's really happening?
Morris Herman: Doctors certainly gave accounts of symptoms that reflect lung and breathing problems that you’d find with gas inhalation. I don’t know if the GNC really represents the Misrata militias that are actually doing the fighting, so the situation is a bit more anarchic. I don’t know that there’s anyone who would really own up to such a thing. Zintan brigades in the past – this year – have been accused of using gas, so it’s not the first time.
RT: If the medical evidence is substantiated, what kind of international response do you expect? In fact, why are they still quiet, three weeks in to the siege?
MH: The people of Bani Walid have been asking for international intervention and assistance, but it’s a very blurry line because they don’t want NATO coming back, and how many of these organizations are just spokespeople for NATO, acting on behalf of NATO? So the human rights is used discriminately – the issue of human rights. I don’ t know who can be trusted. The West is still supplying weapons to Misrata, from the reports I’m reading. So I don’t know which international institutions can be trusted anymore to uphold human rights or defend the needy.
RT:Why aren’t the people in this besieged city being heard? Why aren’t their calls being listened to?
MH: There’s just been Twittter and YouTube channels… and RT has been quite good, but there’s very little news. The West and the world has wanted Gaddafi overthrown for some reason. Too many vested interests have wished to see the downfall of any of his supporters, and this may well just be a continuing revenge.
RT: The tension around Bani Walid underlines the challenges in bringing peace to Libya – how much power do the authorities really have? How do you assess their role in the country's security?
MH: Well they have very little power. It’s mostly militias. They’re still being supplied with weapons via ship, from NATO, and Turkey is being named. There is no unified control or authority, and I think this is by intention. The whole intention of Western intervention was to have a failed state, like we see in Somalia. This is the intention they wanted to continue. They will spread it throughout Africa, and this is a modus operandi for NATO forces and their masters – to keep people fighting. Particularly Muslims. Particularly Arabs. Black Africans as well. [The West] wants chaos.
RT: Why isn’t the world community getting more enraged by what’s going on in Bani Walid?
MH: We have to reappraise our political systems, because they are obviously ineffective and useless and highly corrupt… we need an enlightenment. One wonders if people are actually being dumbed down chemically. One recalls the Vietnam riots, when people got upset and angry about things. Those days are gone. Protests hardly appear unless maybe you’re in Greece and things are absolutely desperate.