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Independence of Libya

 An event that took place in the spring first according to the Hijri calendar, which is Libya's declaration as an independent state in 1371 Hijri (1951)

Libya occupies an important part of the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and its shores are not far from the southern coast of Europe, which is seen by the West with great interest, as a strategic point of power for those who control it, and this is why the succession of foreign forces of this country.

In the modern era, Italy was keen to occupy Libya, and was considering making it an extension from the south. When the Second World War was lost and the Italian troops left Libya, the victorious forces of the war (Britain and the United States) filled the vacuum, but did not repeat the mistake of the Italians by penetrating deep into Libya and remaining on the shores until Libya was able to declare its independence in (1951)


Location: North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean to the north, Tunisia and Algeria to the west, Niger and Chad to the south, Sudan and Egypt to the east.

Total area: 1.759.540 km 2.

Climate: Mediterranean climate along the coast, dry and desert at home.

The most important natural resources: oil, natural gas, gypsum.

Population: 6,461,454 inhabitants (2010).

Population Growth Rate: 2.18% (2010).

Ethnic groups: Arabs and Amazigh (97%), the rest Tuareg, Toubou, Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians.

Language: Arabic, English.

Religion: Islam (97%).

Proportion of births per thousand: 24.58 (2010).

Mortality rate per thousand: 3.40 (2010).

Infant mortality rate per thousand: 20.78 (2010).

Average Age: 77.47 (2010).

Education: 82.6% (2003).

Governance and Administration

Full name: State of Libya.

Short Name: Libya.

Capital: Tripoli.

Date of Independence: 24/12/1951.

Political system: Government of national consensus (temporary).


Gross domestic product: $ 77.91 billion (2010).

GDP per capita: $ 12,062 thousand (2010).

Inflation: 4.5% (2010).

Manpower: 1.73 million (2010).

Unemployment rate: 30% (2004).

Growth rate: 2.1% (2009).

Strengths: oil and gas reserves, tourist attractions.


Muammar Gaddafi, former leader of Libya.

Muammar Gaddafi

Became the de facto leader of Libya on 1 September 1969 after leading a group of young Libyan military officers against King Idris I in a bloodless coup d'état. After the king had fled the country, the Libyan Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) headed by Gaddafi abolished the monarchy and the old constitution and established the Libyan Arab Republic, with the motto "freedom, socialism, and unity.

Coup d'etat: 1969.

People of Libya! In response to your own will, fulfilling your most heartfelt wishes, answering your most incessant demands for change and regeneration, and your longing to strive towards these ends: listening to your incitement to rebel, your armed forces have undertaken the overthrow of the corrupt regime, the stench of which has sickened and horrified us all. at a single blow our gallant army has toppled these idols and has destroyed their images. By a single stroke it has lightened the long dark night in which the Turkish domination was followed first by Italian rule, then by this reactionary and decadent regime which was no more than a hotbed of extortion, faction, treachery and reason.
Idris' government was increasingly unpopular by the latter 1960s, it had exacerbated Libya's traditional regional and tribal divisions by centralising the country's federal system in order to take advantage of the country's oil wealth, while corruption and entrenched systems of patronage were widespread throughout the oil industry. Arab nationalism was increasingly popular, and protests flared up following Egypt's 1967 defeat in the Six-Day War with Israel, allied to the Western powers, Idris' administration was seen as pro-Israeli. Anti-Western riots broke out in Tripoli and Benghazi, while Libyan workers shut down oil terminals in solidarity with Egypt. By 1969, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was expecting segments of Libya's armed forces to launch a coup. Although claims have been made that they knew of Gaddafi's Free Officers Movement, they have since claimed ignorance, stating that they were monitoring Abdul Aziz Shalhi's Black Boots revolutionary group.

In mid-1969, Idris travelled abroad to spend the summer in Turkey and Greece. Gaddafi's Free Officers recognised this as their chance to overthrow the monarchy, initiating "Operation Jerusalem". On 1 September, they occupied airports, police depots, radio stations and government offices in Tripoli and Benghazi. Gaddafi took control of the Berka barracks in Benghazi, while Omar Meheisha occupied Tripoli barracks and Jalloud seized the city's anti-aircraft batteries. Khweldi Hameidi was sent to arrest crown prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi, and force him to relinquish his claim to the throne. They met no serious resistance, and wielded little violence against the monarchists.

Once Gaddafi removed the monarchical government, he announced the foundation of the Libyan Arab Republic. Addressing the populace by radio, he proclaimed an end to the "reactionary and corrupt" regime, "the stench of which has sickened and horrified us all. Due to the coup's bloodless nature, it was initially labelled the "White Revolution", although was later renamed the "One September Revolution" after the date on which it occurred. Gaddafi insisted that the Free Officers' coup represented a revolution, marking the start of widespread change in the socio-economic and political nature of Libya. He proclaimed that the revolution meant "freedom, socialism, and unity", and over the coming years implemented measures to achieve this.

Revolutionary Committees and furthering socialism: 1978–80

"If socialism is defined as a redistribution of wealth and resources, a socialist revolution clearly occurred in Libya after 1969 and most especially in the second half of the 1970s. The management of the economy was increasingly socialist in intent and effect with wealth in housing, capital and land significantly redistributed or in the process of redistribution. Private enterprise was virtually eliminated, largely replaced by a centrally controlled economy."
Libyan Studies scholar Ronald St Bruce.

In December 1978, Gaddafi stepped down as Secretary-General of the GPC, announcing his new focus on revolutionary rather than governmental activities; this was part of his new emphasis on separating the apparatus of the revolution from the government. Although no longer in a formal governmental post, he adopted the title of "Leader of the Revolution" and continued as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The historian Dirk Vandewalle stated that despite the Jamahariya's claims to being a direct democracy, Libya remained "an exclusionary political system whose decision-making process" was "restricted to a small cadre of advisors and confidantes" surrounding Gaddafi.

Libya began to turn towards socialism. In March 1978, the government issued guidelines for housing redistribution, attempting to ensure the population that every adult Libyan owned his own home and that nobody was enslaved to paying their rent. Most families were banned from owning more than one house, while former rental properties were expropriated by the state and sold to the tenants at a heavily subsidised price. In September, Gaddafi called for the People's Committees to eliminate the "bureaucracy of the public sector" and the "dictatorship of the private sector,the People's Committees took control of several hundred companies, converting them into worker cooperatives run by elected representatives.

On 2 March 1979, the GPC announced the separation of government and revolution, the latter being represented by new Revolutionary Committees, who operated in tandem with the People's Committees in schools, universities, unions, the police force and the military. Dominated by revolutionary zealots, most of whom were youths, the Revolutionary Committees were led by Mohammad Maghgoub and a Central Coordinating Office based in Tripoli, and met with Gaddafi annually. According to Bearman, the revolutionary committee system became "a key—if not the main—mechanism through which [Gaddafi] exercises political control in Libya". Publishing a weekly magazine The Green March (al-Zahf al-Akhdar), in October 1980 they took control of the press. Responsible for perpetuating revolutionary fervour, they performed ideological surveillance, later adopting a significant security role, making arrests and putting people on trial according to the law of the revolution. With no legal code or safeguards, the administration of revolutionary justice was largely arbitrary and resulted in widespread abuses and the suppression of civil liberties: the "Green Terror. In 1979, the committees began the redistribution of land in the Jefara plain, continuing through 1981. In May 1980, measures to redistribute and equalise wealth were implemented; anyone with over 1000 dinar in their bank account saw that extra money expropriated. The following year, the GPC announced that the government would take control of all import, export and distribution functions, with state supermarkets replacing privately owned businesses; this led to a decline in the availability of consumer goods and the development of a thriving black market. Gaddafi was also frustrated by the slow pace of social reform on women's issues, and in 1979 launched a Revolutionary Women's Formation to replace the more gradualist Libyan General Women's Federation. In 1978 he had established a Women's Military Academy in Tripoli, encouraging all women to enlist for training. The measure was hugely controversial, and voted down by the GPC in February 1983. Gaddafi remained adamant, and when it was again voted down by the GPC in March 1984, he refused to abide by the decision, declaring that "he who opposes the training and emancipation of women is an agent of imperialism, whether he likes it or not.

National Transitional Council

The NTC governed Libya for a period of ten months after the end of the war, holding elections to a General National Congress on 7 July 2012, and handing power to the newly elected assembly on 8 August



King Idris El Sonosi

King of Libya: 1951–1969

On 24 December 1951 Idris announced the establishment of the United Kingdom of Libya from the al-Manar Palace in Benghazi.The country had a population of approximately one million, the majority of whom were Arabs, but with Berber, Tebu, Sephardi Jewish, Greek, Turkish, and Italian minorities. The newly established state faced serious problems; in 1951, Libya was one of the world's poorest countries. Much of its infrastructure had been destroyed by war, it had very little trade and high unemployment, and both a 40% infant mortality rate and a 94% illiteracy rate. Only 1% of Libya's land mass was arable, with another 3–4% being used for pastoral farming. Although the three provinces had been united, they shared little common aspiration.

The kingdom was established along federal lines, something that Cyrenaica and Fezzan had insisted upon, fearing that they would otherwise be dominated by Tripolitania, where two-thirds of the Libyan population lived. Conversely, the Tripolitanians had largely favoured a unitary state, believing that it would allow the government to act more effectively in the national interest and fearing that a federal system would result in further British and French domination of Libya. The three provinces had their own legislative authorities; while that of Fezzan was composed entirely of elected officials, those of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania contained a mix of elected and non-elected representatives. This constitutional framework left Libya with a weak central government and strong provincial autonomy. The governments of successive Prime Ministers tried to push through economic policies but found them hampered by the differing provinces. There remained a persistent distrust between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. Benghazi and Tripoli were appointed as joint capital cities, with the country's parliament moving between the two. The city of Bayda also became a de facto summer capital as Idris moved there.

King Idris I announced Libya's independence on 24 December 1951, and was King until the 1969 coup that overthrew his government.

Abdurrahim El-Keib

On November 1, 2011, Abdurrahim El-Keib was named the interim Prime Minister of Libya after garnering 26 out 51 votes from the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC). Despite repeated clashes with the NTC, his Cabinet stayed in office through the national elections, which it held successfully in a transparent, free, and democratic manner.

Foreign policy

While serving as Prime Minister, El-Keib's time has been dedicated in large part to foreign policy. Libya has restored relationships with the United States, United Kingdom and other countries. El-Keib collaborated well on the UN and the European Union on issues of interest to Libya during that time, and has also sought to collaborate with the Arab and Islamic world. In addition, he also exerted serious effort to ensure the members of the African Union and other countries such as Russia, China and other southeastern Asia of Libya's interest to maintain mutually beneficial political, security, and economic relationships and collaboration that are based on mutual respect and respect for national sovereignty and interests. His government called for and held a security conference that involved the ministers of defense and the security in the neighboring countries including Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Algeria, Tunis, Morocco, Mauritania, and Mali. He also addressed the African Union, the International Human Rights Organization, and the UN security Council and visited several important countries and received many foreign leaders in Tripoli to assure all that Libya was on the right track and was making progress to hold that national elections, Libya's first after almost fifty years including 42 years of dictatorship and following a bloody revolution. His efforts was also useful in obtaining what was needed to increase the country's oil production, which reached a level of 1.6 million barrel per day (bpd) from about 200,000 bpd and also the release of Libyan frozen funds.

Ali Zeidan

Ali Zeidan served as a diplomat for Libya during the 1970s, serving in India under Ambassador Mohammed Magariaf.Both men defected in 1980 and went on to form the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. Zeidan spent nearly three decades in exile in Geneva after the defection. During the revolution, Zeidan served as the National Transitional Council's Europe envoy, and is credited for playing a key role in persuading French President Nicolas Sarkozy to support the anti-Gaddafi forces.


On 7 July 2012, Zeidan was elected as an independent congressman for Jufra in the 2012 Congressional election. He ran for the position of Speaker of the Congress, but ultimately lost out to his former opposition colleague Mohammed Magariaf, obtaining 85 votes. On 10 October 2012, Zeidan resigned his seat in Congress.

Prime Minister

Following Mustafa Abushagur's unsuccessful attempt to form a government, Zeidan resigned his seat in Congress and ran for the position of Prime Minister against the Justice and Construction Party's favoured candidate, Mohammed Al-Harari. Zeidan was elected Prime Minister-designate by a vote of 93 to 85, with two weeks to submit his proposed new government for approval by Congress. Zeidan was reported to have been supported by members of Congress belonging to the generally liberal National Forces Alliance (organized by Mahmoud Jibril), as well as by certain independents informally affiliated as the Workers group (with 20 members) and the Southern group (with 31).

Zeidan's cabinet was approved by Congress on 31 October 2012, although six of its members were referred for investigation into alleged links to the former Gaddafi regime.All six were subsequently cleared of the charges and Zeidan's government was sworn in on 14 November. Zeidan's cabinet avowedly aimed at geographical as well as political balance, including ministers from the National Forces Alliance, the Justice and Construction Party, and independents.

Zeidan was quoted as promising at his swearing-in that his government would abide by the Constitutional Declaration and "give its utmost best to the nation based on the rule of law, human rights, democracy, rights, and the belief in God, His Prophet and a state based on.

Fayez al-Sarraj

Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj

Born 1960) is the Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya and prime minister  of the Government of National Accord of Libya that was formed as a result of the Libyan Political Agreement signed on 17 December 2015. He has been a member of the Parliament of Tripoli. Sarraj comes from a prominent family of the city. His father was a government minister during the Libyan Monarchy and was one of the founders of modern Libya. Trained as an architect, during the Gaddafi era he worked in the Housing Ministry. In 2014, he served as the Minister of Housing and Utilities in the Maiteeq Cabinet of the GNC. Some critics "regard Sarraj as a politician imposed by foreign powers. At the time of his appointment "Guma el-Gamaty, a member of Libya Dialogue, the UN-chaired body that created the new government, said Sarraj was expected to ask for help to combat Isis and train Libyan units.

After Libya's 2014 elections, Libyan government was split between the Islamist-dominated New General National Congress in Tripoli and the internationally recognized legislature of the House of Representatives in Tobruk.


In early October 2015, the United Nations envoy to Libya, Bernardino León, proposed a national unity government for Libya, led by a prime minister (Fayez al-Sarraj), three deputies from the country's east, west, and south regions, and two ministers to complete a presidential council. However, this national unity government was rejected by the internationally recognized legislature in Tobruk and the rival government in Tripoli.

Fayez al-Sarraj, and six other members of the Presidential Council and proposed cabinet arrived in Tripoli on 30 March 2016. The following day, it was reported that the GNA has taken control of the prime ministerial offices and that the GNC appointed prime minister Khalifa al-Ghawi had fled to Misrata.

On 14 October 2016, forces loyal to GNC took over the building of the High Council of State and announced the comeback of Ghawil cabinet Then, fighting occurred between Sarraj loyalists and Ghawil forces.


  • Libya country profile
    13 July 2017 Libya, a mostly desert and oil-rich country with an ancient history, has more recently been known for the 42-year rule of the mercurial Col Muammar Gaddafi - and the chaos that followed his departure. Libya was under foreign rule for centuries until it gained independence in 1951. Soon after oil was discovered and earned the country immense wealth. Col Gaddafi seized power in 1969 and ruled for four decades until he was toppled in 2011 following an armed rebellion assisted by Western military intervention. In recent years the country has been a key springboard for migrants heading for Europe. Concerns have also been raised over the rise of Islamist militancy there. See more country profiles - Profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring FACTS State of Libya Capital: Tripoli Population 6.4 million Area 1.77 million sq km (685,524 sq miles) Major language Arabic Major religion Islam Life expectancy 73 years (men), 78 years (women) (UN) Currency Libyan dinar UN, World Bank Getty Images LEADERS Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Libya has been beset by instability since the ouster of long-term leader Muammar Gaddafi The toppling of long-term leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 led to a power vacuum and instability, with no authority in full control. The National Transitional Council (NTC), a rebel leadership council which had fought to oust the Gaddafi government, declared Libya ''liberated'' in October 2011 and took over the running of the country. However, it struggled to impose order on the many armed militia that had become active in the months leading up to the ouster of Gaddafi. In August 2012 the NTC handed power to the General National Congress (GNC), an elected parliament which went on to select an interim head of state. Voters chose a new parliament to replace the GNC in June 2014 - the Council of Representatives (CoR), which relocated to the eastern city of Tobruk, leaving Tripoli controlled by powerful militia groups. The Islamic State extremist militia took advantage of the conflict between forces loyal to the outgoing GNC and the new parliament to gain control of several coastal cities, including Derna and Sirte. Late in 2015, the UN brokered an agreement to form a new "unity" government - the Presidency Council, headed by unity Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj - but both Tripoli and Tobruk administrations were reluctant to acknowledge its authority. Mr Sarraj and some of his deputies finally arrived in Tripoli in March 2016 and set up their headquarters in a heavily-guarded naval base. MEDIA Libya's media environment is highly-polarised and virtually unregulated, reflecting the country's political instability. Some key dates in Libya's history: Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Muammar Gaddafi seized power as a young officer and became increasingly eccentric during his four decades in power 7th century BC - Phoenicians settle in Tripolitania in western Libya, which was hitherto populated by Berbers. 4th century BC - Greeks colonise Cyrenaica in the east of the country, which they call Libya. 74 BC - Romans conquer Libya. AD 643 - Arabs conquer Libya and spread Islam. 16th century - Libya becomes part of the Ottoman Empire, which joins the three provinces of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan into one regency in Tripoli. 1911-12 - Italy seizes Libya from the Ottomans. Omar al-Mukhtar begins 20-year insurgency against Italian rule. 1942 - Allies oust Italians from Libya, which is then divided between the French and the British. 1951 - Libya becomes independent under King Idris al-Sanusi. 1969 - Col Muammar Gaddafi, aged 27, deposes the king in a bloodless military coup. 1992 - UN imposes sanctions on Libya over the bombing of a PanAm airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988. 2011 - Violent protests break out in Benghazi and spread to other cities. This leads to civil war, foreign intervention and eventually the ouster and killing of Gaddafi. 2016 - Following years of conflict, a new UN-backed "unity" government is installed in a naval base in Tripoli. It faces opposition from two rival governments and a host of militias.
  • Early Libya
    At first Libya was inhabited by Berber tribes. After 1,000 BC a people from Lebanon called the Phoenicians settled in Tripolitania (western Libya). They founded Tripoli. Later the ancient Greeks settled in Cyrenaica (eastern Libya). Later both areas of Libya became part of the Roman Empire. A Roman Emperor called Septimus Severus (193-211) was a native of the great city of Leptis Magna in Roman Libya. Unfortunately Leptis Magna was severely damaged by an earthquake in 365. Then in the 4th century the Roman Empire split in two. Cyrenaica became part of the eastern Roman Empire while Tripolitania was part of the Western Empire. In 431 a Germanic people called the Vandals captured Libya but Justinian, emperor of the Eastern Empire forced them out in 533. Then in 642-44 the Arabs conquered Libya. During the 16th century Libya became part of the Turkish Empire. It remained part of the Turkish Empire for centuries although it was a haven for pirates. However in 1911 the Italians invaded Libya. Modern Libya The Turks surrendered Libya to Italy in 1912. However resistance from the people of Libya continued for many years. Until 1922 the Italians only controlled the coastal region. However the Fascist regime in Italy was determined to subdue all of Libya and by 1932 it was in control of the whole country. The conquest of Libya by Fascist Italy was extremely brutal and many Libyans died as a result. Mussolini, the Italian dictator encouraged Italians to emigrate to Libya and by 1939 there were 150,000 of them living in the country. In 1940 Italy joined the Second World War on Germany's side and Italian forces based in Libya fought the British in Egypt. However in 1943 the British took Libya. After the war Libya was controlled by the British and French. By a peace treaty of 1947 Italy gave up all claim to Libya. Then in 1949 the UN decreed Libya must become independent by 1 January 1952. A constitution was for Libya was drawn up and Muhammad Idris al Sanusi was chosen as king. King Idris I declared Libya independent on 24 December 1951. At first Libya was an impoverished country. However Libya was changed forever in 1959 when oil was discovered. Oil brought new wealth to the country and by the mid-1960s Libya was one of the most important oil producing countries in the world. However on 1 September 1969 a group of army officers led by Muammar Gaddafi staged a coup in Libya. The monarchy was abolished. Gadaffi became the dictator of Libya and remained in power for 42 years. In 1984 the UK broke off diplomatic relations with Libya after a policewoman was killed outside the Libyan embassy in London. In 1986 a bomb exploded in a German nightclub. The USA believed Libyans were involved so they bombed Libya. In 1992 and 1993 the UN imposed sanctions on Libya because of its involvement in destroying a passenger plane over Lockerbie in 1988. In 1999 Gaddafi finally surrendered 2 men suspected of involvement. The UN sanctions were suspended but they were not formally lifted until 2003. Meanwhile in 1999 the Italian government apologized for the brutal conquest of Libya decades earlier. However in 2011 there was a revolution in Libya and Gaddafi was killed. In the early 21st century Libya was still dependent on oil. Libya still has very large reserves of oil. However Libya suffered high unemployment. Today the population of Libya is 6.5 million
  • Libyan History: Italian Colonization (1911-42)
    Italy seized Libya after a brief war with the Ottomans (1912). The Libyans resisted. Fighting broke out, but the British brokered a truce after Italy joined the Allies in World War I (1915). After the War, fighting broke out again leading to a prolonged colonial war. Italy continued efforts to colonize Libya. Mussolini with his dreams of reconstituting the Roman Empire would wage a merciless campaign to end Libyan resistance to Italian rule. The Italians seized control of the coast cities, but have great difficulty maintaining control of the interior. The Italians unified Tripolitania and Cyrenaica as the colony of Libya (1929). Mussolini employing brutal tactics, including poison gas, finally suceeded in crushing Libyan resistance. Mussolini saw Libya as offering the possibility of colonization by Italy's burgoning population. The Sanusis finally surrender to the Italians (1931). One of the goals of Italian colonism was the concern with over population. Italy called Libya "The Fourt Shore" and promoted Italian settlement there. Several projects with Italian colonists were launched. Scramble for Africa Italy did not become a unified state until after the mid-19th century (1860). Without a sizeable navy, Italy was unable to participate in the "scramble for Africa" in which Europe essentially partitioned Africa. Italy had largely missed out on the 19th cenury European effort to stake out overseas colonies. They did obtain some small, very poor colonies in East Africa. What they wanted, however, was Tunisia. Italians were outraged when France seized Tunisia and coverted it into a protectorate. Tunisia was only a few miles from Sicily and which many Italian nationalists had coveted. The location of Tunisia close to Italy convinced many Italians that Italy and not France had a right to Tunisia. Italian Interest in Libya Denied Tunisia, Italians began looking at Libya--the only bit of North Africa left. Libya was still nominally under the control of the Ottoman Turks. Libya until the early 20th century was nominally an Ottomon province, but the Ottomon's exerted only limited control. Italy saw Libya located as it was close to home as the ideal colony with a Mediterranean coast. The concept at the time was that every important European nation had colonies. Italy expanded already existing commercial interests in Libya. They also initiated a diplomatic campaign in Europe to win Great Power recognition that Libya was within the Italian sphere of influence. Italy proceeded to create a crisis, claining that the Turks were arming the Arabs and demanded the right to occupy Libya (The Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica) to protect Italian interests (September 1911). When the Ottomans did not reply, Italy declared war. Italian-Turkish War (1911-12) Italy began the final assault on the Ottoman Empire by declaring war in this case to secure a new colony in North Africa--Libya. The Italo-Turkish War (1911-12) while fought outside the Balkans, weaked the Ottoman Army in the years just before World War I. The Italian Navy bombrded the major ports. They seized Tripoli (October 3). There was only minimal resistance. The Italians proceeded to occupy Tobruk, Al Khums, Darnah, and Benghazi. The Italian expeditionary force of about 35,000 troops did not moved beyond the coasual ports they seized. The Italians became the first country to drop ordinance from an airplane in warfare. They tossed grenades from a German-built monoplane. The small Ottoman force of about 5,000 troops withdrew inland. Commanders like Enver Pasha and Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) resisted the Italians, in part by arming the Arab tribes. They used the unifying force of Islam to motivate the Arabs to resist the Italians. This proved effective in creating a deadlock. The Ottomons, however, faced a more important war in the Balkans and thus decided to yield Libya. Under the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne (October 1912). The Ottomon Sultan granted independence to the provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. The Ottomons largely ceeded to Italian demands because of the worsening situation in the Balkans, an area of much greater importance to them. The Ottomons were unwilling to make a major military commitment to defending Libya. The Ottomons were, however, then further humiliated in the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912-13). The Sanusis had to resist Italian encroachments without Ottomon assistance. Italy immediately annexed both provinces. The Treaty permitted the Sultan who insisted on the position of caliph (leader of Islam) to have religious jurisdiction. The Sultan continued to appoint the qadi of Tripoli who was responsible for Islamic sharia courts. The Italians had agreed to this with fully understanding that these courts not only had authority over religious, but civil maters as well. This afforded the Ottomons continued influence in Libya. World War I (1914-18) Italy in years before World War I was a member of the Central Powers, but did not go to war with Austria and Germany. Italy joined the Allies in World War I (1915). The Ottomans who did join the Central Powers in the War allacked the British in Suez from Palestine, but were beaten back. The British who were then Italian allies attempted to mediate between the Sanusis and Italians. Libyan nationalists were torn during World War I. Some were pro-British, but since the Italians which were turning Italy into a colony joined the Allies, some were now more favorably disposed toward the Ottomons, their former colonial masters. The result was the First Italo-Sanusi War. Senussi tribesmen supported by the Ottmons staged an uprising against the Italians (November 1915). The uprising was a relatively limited action. It did, however, cause the deployment of a substantial Allied force--some 110,000 British, French and Italian troops. Peace or more accurately truce terms were reached (April 1917). First Italo-Sanusi War (1914-17) Italy found a very complicated political situation in Libya with the departure of the Ottomons. The Bedouin tribesmen in the interior were fired with Islam and not at all reconciled to Italian rule. Some Turks stayed on in Libya to assist Arab resistance. Thus the Italians found it difficult to extend their authority beyond the major coastal cities. Arab nationalism at the time was a largely urban movement, but the nationalists were badly divided, especially between Tripolitania and Cyrenaica and there were major splits within these two areas, especially in Tripolitania. Sanusi units led by under Ahmad ash Sharif effectively resisted the Italians in Cyrenaica as well as Fezzan and southern Tripolitania. There was no group like the Sanusis in northern Tripolitania was thus the Italians were more effective in establishing their authority. In addition tribal rivalries made effective resistance to the Italians impossible. When both the Ottomons and Italians entered World War I these complicated divisions became a part of the War. Sansui resistance broke out into the First Italo-Sanusi War (1914-17). The Sansuis scorded some notable victories and manged to obtain Italian arms from defeated units. Turkey had joined the Central Powers (October 1914). Italy which had been a member of the Central Powers subsequently joined the Allies (1915). Thus the Italo-Sanusi War was folded into the larger World War. Germany and Turkey delvered small quantities of arms and advisers to Ahmad, who thus aligned the Sanusis with the Central Powers. The principal interest of the Central Powers was Suez. Ottomon officers convinced the Sanusis to strike into Egypt (1916). When they were defeated by the British, Ahmad turned over leadership of the Sanusi political and military leadership to Idris and escaped to Turkey on a German U-boat. This radically changed the political situation. Idris was more interested in fighting the Italians and in saw the British as a potential ally. He began negotiations with the Allies on behalf of Cyrenaica (1917). The negotiations ended in a truce. Neither the Italians nor the Sanusis entered unto a peace or compromised their claims. Britain and Italy recognized Idris as amir of interior Cyrenaica. Idris agreed to end Sanusi attacks on the coastal towns controlled by Italy and any future attacks into Egypt cease. The future satus of Cyrenaica was postponed until after the World war was concluded. Colonial War: The Second Italo-Sanusi War (1923-31) Italy after World War had only nominal authority away from the coast, except for areas of Tripolitania. Some in Italy were pressing for a major military campaign to pacify the Arabs. Idris somewhat against his better judgement accepted the amirate of all Libya (November 1922). He knew the Italians would consider this to be a provocative action. Mussolini and the Fascists seized control of the Italian Government (October 1922). Mussolini in his Socialist phase had criticised colonialism. As Italy new Fasist leader, he became a strong proponent of military pacification and accepted the assessment of army commanders in the field. The Treaty of Lausanne finalized the the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire (1923). This removed any international opposition to Italian annexation. The Italian Army moved to occupy Sanusi territory in the Benghazi area (early 1923) thus launching the Second Italo-Sanusi War. The Italians encountered severe resistance in Cyrenaica. They were more sucessful in northern Tripolitania (1923) and gradually in Fezzan. With Idris in Egypt, resistance to the Italians fell on Umar al Mukhtar whose limited forces suppoted by tribal groups mastered desert war. He would use small units to attack isolated Italian outposts and and coluns, thus cutting Italian supply lines. The war dragged on with no resolution. Mukhtar refused an large scale battles with the Italians. Mussolini placed a new comander in charge--Rudolfo Graziani (1929). Much of Graziani's force was composed of Eritreans. (Eritrea was a former German colony awarded Italy as part of the World war I settlement. Graziani intensified the counter insurgency campaign. He conducted search-and-destroy missions with armored vehicles and air support targeting the oases and tribal camps from which Mukhtar drew support. Graziani targeted the Beduins, setting up concentration camps. He destroyed oasis wells and slaughtered livestock. Graziani oversaw the construction of a barbed-wire barrier 9 meters wide and 1.5 meters high 320 kilometers along the border with Egypt. Mukhtar had been using Egypt as a sanctuary and to obtain supplies. The Italians patrolled their barrier with both armor columns and aircraft. Any one found along the barrier was attacked. Gradually the superior Italian military force ground down , was designated a free-fire zone. The Italians' superior manpower and technology Mukhtar's never very substantial forces. The last Sanusi position was Al Kufrah which the Italians took (1931). The Italians finally captured Mukhtar (September 1931). He was sentenced to death by a military court. The Italians assembled 20,000 Arabs to witness his hanging. The Italians succeeded in wiping out open Sanusi resistance and pacifing Libya. Mukhtar became, however, a symbol of Arab resistance to colonial rule. Colonial Libya: The Fourth Shore Libya under Ottomon rule was an extremly backward area without schools and modern hospitals. Italian anextation did not bring the modern rule to Libya as the Sanusi Wars has absorbed the Italians. With the elimination of Mukhtar and pacification, Fascist Italy began remaking Libya. Mussolini dispatched the flamboyant Italo Balbo to be the govenor of ibya. Many saw Balbo as Mussolini's successor. Mussolini saw him as a rival. Thus the appointment was a kind of ecile. Balbo brought great prestige to the post and ruled Libya almost as his own kingdom. This was not difficult because he agreed with Missolini on most issues. Mussolini began calling Libya "the Fourth Shore". Roman Emperor Diocletian had referred to the area as Libya. Italy reorganized its new colony as Libya with four provinces--Tripoli, Misratah, Benghazi, and Darnah (1934). Fezzan was renamed South Tripolitania and remained a military territory. The governor general was given the title of first consul--another allusion to the Roman Empire. He was advised by the General Consultative Council which included Arabs representation, but traditional tribal councils were disbanded. The governor general or first consul appointed officials, including local officials. Government positions were filled by Italians. Border disputes with the British and French colonies of Sudan and Chad were settled. The Italians made major investsments in Libya, in both the economy and transportation infrastructure. These included improvements in the road, railway, and port infrastructure. Other improvements were made in irrigation. Two economic sectors developed. One was the traditional Arab village agricultural economy. The other was the Italian dominated modern sector to extract raw materials. A primary goal of Italian colonization was to use Libya to aleviate overpopulation and unemployment in Italy. Thus Italian settlement was a major element of Italian colonial policy. Mussolini and his Fascists planned to turn Libya into an Italian colony both politically and ethnically. This was, however, only possible after Libya had been passified. The first settlers only began to arrive only 1 year before the outbreak of World War II. Libya's governor, Italo Balbo, organized the beginning of this effort. A huge convoy was organized which brough 20,000 settlers to Libya. These colonists were called the ventimilli--meaning the 20,000 (October 1938). More Italian settlers followed. The Italians reported that there were 110,000 settlers (1940). The tootal after only 2 years was 15 percent of the population. The goal was 500,000 by the 1960s. The settlers were attracted by the offer of land. Italy at the time had a substantial peasant population thant hungered for land. This was especially the case in southern Italy. Italian authorities allocated the most favorable land to the new settlers. The land seized came at the expense of the Beduins. It was their tribal grazing lands. Italian authorities saw thais land as underutilized. It was purchased or confiscated and distributed to Ithe talian settlers. The Libyan Colonization Society (LCS), a Fascist state corportation, oversaw the project and promoted the planting of olive orchards. The LCS helped finance land reclamation and the construction of model villages. The LCS also provided credit to the settlers. Colonial authorities brought modern medical care and sanitation to Libya for the first time. Mussolini often called the Libyans as "Muslim Italians." The Italian investments in Libya, however, were made primarily to extract Libyan natural resources or to promote the settlement effort. Arab Libyans benefitted little. Schools were built, but for the Italian settlers, not for the Arabs. Thus the jobs created by development projects did not develop the Arabs who did not receive modern education. Jews in Colonial Libya Jews in Italy had full civil rights and the small Jewish community at first prospered under Italian colonial rule. Colonial officls saw the Jews as useful in developing the Libyan economy. Officials also gave the Libyan Jewish community the opportunity to develop a modern education system and reform its rabbinate. Military Road Italian dictastor, Benito Mussolini, with Libya fully pacified and with Ethiopia firmly in the Italian Empire, conducted a state visit to Libya (March 1937). The major event amid the elaborate pagentry was opening a highway--the Via Balbia. The new highway ran along the coast the entire length of the colony. It was Libya's first modern highway conecting the major coastal cities. It was essentially a military road. For Mussolini it was a road leading to French-controlled Tunisia and British-cointrolled Egypt, both colonies he coveted for the expanding Italian Empire. The road would play a major role in the World War II North African campasign. But in the end it would be the British that would use the road to conquer Libya. The Axis and Arab Nationalism Mussolini during his 1937 state visit had himself declared protector of Islam. He was presente with a symbolic sword as a symbol of his new role. In the upcoming world war, Islam would be a factor. Islam was an important element in Arab nationalism. Mussolini's while supressing Libyan nationalism initiated a major propaganda campaign against the British and French who had several colonies and various protectorate arrabngements in the Arab world. The goal was thus to promote Arab nationalism (except in Libya) as way of undermining the British and French position in the Arab world. The brutal supression of the Libyan resistance (including the use of poison gas) and the forcible seizure of land from Libyans to make way for Italian settlers was not of course publicized. Thus many Arab Nationalists bought Italian and German propaganda with little thought of what an Axis victory would mean for their countries. Here NAZI anti-Semitism was an important, but difficult to quantify factor. World War II (1939-45) Most of the Middle East was dominated by Britain and France thus the rise of European Fascism in Italy and Germany appealed to many Arab nationalists. Libya was an exception because the colonial power was Italy. As Europe moved toward war, Libyan nationalists began to see that Italian defeat in a war would create an opportunity for independence. After Germany invaded Poland and launched Wotld war II (Seprember 1939), Italian nationalists mets in Alexandria, Egypt (October 1939). Sayid Idris emerged as the most prominent leader, but the nationalist movement was badly divided. The early victories of Italian ally NAZI Germany were, however, not incouraging for the Libyan nationalists. Italy entered the War once the German victory over France was assured (June 1940). At first it seemed that the massive Italian army in Libya would easily overwealm the British in Egypt. Nationalist forces were divided on how they should react. Some (the Cyrenaicans and Idris) supported the British. Others (the Tripolitanians) were more hesitant, fearing that the Axis might win the War. Formal meetings in Cairo with Idris and some of the nationalists resulted in a formal afreement by the nationalists would support the British and the British would support a move toward independence after the WAr (August 1940). The Italians invaded Egypt (September 1940), but were defeated by a small British force which invaded Libya. This suprising British victory surprised the Libyan nationalists and first created the realistic prospect that the Italians would be defeated. The Libyan Arab Force commonly referred to as the Sanusi Army was small, but did assist the British during the campaigns in the Western Desert. German intervention in Libya resulted in a sea-saw battle that was not settled until the decisive Battle of El Alemaine (October 1942). The British 8th Army then proceeded to drive the Afrika Korps out of Egypt and Libya and liked up with the Allied Norces landed in Morocco and Algeria as part of Operation Totch. The German and Italian forces finally surremdered in Tunisia (May 1943). Possession of Cyrenaica (eastern Libya) provided airbases from which targets in NAZI-domicated Europe could be attacked from the south. The first attacks on the vital Ploesti oil fields in Romania came from Libyan bases. After the Allied invasion of Italy (September 1943), Libya became a backwater of the War. The British divide Libya with France. The British assume control of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. The French assume rssonsibility for Fezzan. Sources