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article imageOp-Ed: NTC propaganda reported as news in Libya

By Katerina Nikolas     Oct 5, 2011 in World
The continued use of propaganda by Libya's new rulers, the National Transitional Council, has the backing of the West. Yet its lies are being more frequently exposed.
Anyone following the mainstream news reports emanating from Libya will view a pretty cut and dried take on events. Noble freedom fighters throw off the oppression of government suppression to fight against the evil regime of Colonel Gaddafi, enjoying the support of the West who comes to their aid with a full blown bombing campaign.
From the beginning of the conflict the Gaddafi regime was accused of making false claims regarding civilian casualties, whilst only reported rebel casualties were given credence. Each rebel casualty produced a martyr whilst pro-Gaddafi casualties were always reported as exaggerated.
Then there were Gaddafi’s long held fears regarding Islamic terrorist groups. Gaddafi warned of terrorist involvement in the rebel ranks but his words were dismissed as propaganda. On March 1 the Guardian wrote that Gaddafi’s claims of Al-Qaeda influence on the uprisings “has been dismissed at home and abroad as propaganda. But Gaddafi's preoccupation with the jihadi group is genuine and reflects years of repression and counter-terrorist co-operation, which has enhanced his value to the US and other western governments.” His claims proved to be well founded as Abdel Hakim Belhadj, founder of the now outlawed terrorist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, takes the helm as commander of the NTC forces in Tripoli.
The NTC announced the capture of Saif al Islam Gaddafi as Tripoli fell, unperturbed by the obvious falsehood of the statement as Saif appeared free in Tripoli the next day. Deciding to repeat the propaganda experiment they claimed that Gaddafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim had not only been captured fleeing Sirte but was allegedly dressed as a woman, implying cowardice. Their lies were once again exposed as Ibrahim gave an interview discounting the claims.
One of the biggest propaganda coups the rebel forces have pulled off though is the claim that a mass grave was uncovered close to Abu Salim prison. The BBC reported “up to 1,700 bodies may be buried there, killed by Col Gaddafi's regime during an attempted 1996 uprising.” As this information was spread, far less attention was given to the news that the French paper Liberation had exposed that the grave actually contained camel bones, rather than human bones.
Amnesty International claimed that there was no evidence of the Viagra induced rapes that Gaddafi fighters had supposedly been ordered to inflict. Rebel atrocities have been described as one off events not supported by the NTC, but they nevertheless continue as rebel fighters imprison and torture black Africans and those suspected of being pro-Gaddafi.
Another anomaly which the West appears to support is the double standard engaged in by the NTC which proclaims no Libyan citizens will be handed over to another country. Having stated this position it demands that other countries extradite members of the Gaddafi family and regime, and return them to Libya.
The war of words can have a profound influence as real wars unfold, giving justification to the destruction of a country in the name of fighting tyranny. As the infighting amongst the fighting groups that came together to oust Gaddafi intensifies, it will be interesting to see how they employ propaganda against each other
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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