|Originally Posted: 3/16/2008|
Libya is the fourth country in our online journey with a remarkable history based on its location on the continent. Earlier our journey took us to Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
Libya is a country that many in America are familiar with as a result of our government's action. I recall when President Ronald Reagan unloaded missiles on Qadhafi's residence ... and I see where President George W. Bush embraced Muammar Qaddafi as an ally because of their mutual support of the so-called 'war on terrorism'. As such, I was curious to learn more abut the country.
Libya became one of the main battlegrounds of North Africa after Italy entered World War II in June, 1940. After the Allied victory over the Axis in N Africa (1943), Libya was placed under an Anglo-French military government. The United Nations was given (1949) jurisdiction and decided that Libya should become independent, which it did on Dec. 24, 1951, as the United Kingdom of Libya. It was ruled by King Idris I, head of the Sanusi brotherhood. Libya joined the Arab League, and in 1955 it was admitted into the United Nations.
The 1950s in Libya were characterized by great poverty. In 1958, petroleum was discovered in the country, and by the early 1960s Libya was taking in growing revenues from the exploitation of that resource. In Sept., 1969, a group of army officers led by 27-year-old Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi ousted King Idris in a coup. The 1951 constitution was abrogated, and government was placed in the hands of a 12-member Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) headed by Qaddafi, who became prime minister. In mid-1972, Qaddafi turned the post of prime minister over to Abdul Salam Jallud, but he remained the RCC's president, the country's most important political and military office.
One of the most interesting things about Qaddafi is the multiple ways that folks tend to spell his name. Anyhow, Qaddafi's regime pursued a policy of Arab nationalism and strict adherence to Islamic law. He was particularly concerned with reducing Western influences; as part of that effort, the British were forced (1970) to evacuate their remaining bases in Libya, and the United States was required to abandon Wheelus Field, a U.S. air force base located near Tripoli. Libya's foreign policy was generally reoriented away from Northern Africa and toward the heart of the Middle East. Close ties were established with Egypt, and in 1971 Libya joined with Egypt and Syria to form a loose alliance called the Federation of Arab Republics. A "cultural revolution" launched in 1973 sought to make life in the country more closely approximate Qaddafi's socialist and Muslim principles.
An implacable foe of Israel, Libya contributed men and aircraft to the Arab side in the Arab-Israeli war of Oct 1973. After the war, Libya was a strong advocate of reducing sales of petroleum to nations that had supported Israel and was also a leading force in increasing the price of crude petroleum. Qaddafi was severely critical of Egypt for negotiating a cease-fire with Israel, and relations between the two countries declined steadily after 1973 when Qaddafi failed to push through a merger with Egypt.
By the mid-1970s, Qaddafi had survived numerous coup attempts, and in 1980 he began ordering the assassination of Libyan dissidents who were living in exile in Europe. In 1981, two Libyan fighter planes attacked U.S. forces on maneuvers in the Gulf of Sidra (which Libya claims as national waters) and were shot down. Libya's relations with the United States became even more hostile when it began to support international terrorist organizations. The United States placed a ban on Libyan oil imports in 1982. In 1986, in an apparent attempt to kill Qaddafi, U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered air strikes against Tripoli and Benghazi in retaliation for the Libyan-sponsored terrorist attack in West Berlin that had killed two American servicemen. Libya's attempts in the mid-1980s to form a union with Algeria and Tunisia, while not successful, resulted (1989) in the Arab Maghreb Union.
Beginning in the late 1990s Libya embarked on a series of moves designed to end its estrangement from Western nations. In Dec., 1999, Qaddafi pledged not to aid or protect terrorists. In 2003, after negotiations with the United States and Great Britain, the government renounced the production and use of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and agreed to submit to unannounced international inspections. In March 2004, the United States lifted most sanctions and resumed diplomatic relations with Libya, although it continued to list Libya as a state sponsor of terrorism until mid-2006.
I found this post about Qaddafi to be very enlightening.