February 23, 2011

Our Alkebulan Journey: Libya

Originally Posted: 3/16/2008
Our journey to learn more about Alkebulan continues with an exploration of Al-Jamahiriya Al-Arabiya Al-Libiyah Ash-Shabiya Al-Ishtrakia ... more commonly known as Libya. Earlier this year, I promised to share some basic information on all 49 African countries. If you have insights or experiences or knowledge to share on this journey ... please do so!

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.
Throughout most of its history the territory that constitutes modern Libya has been held by foreign powers. The Ottomans gained control of most of northern Africa in the 16th century. In 1711 Ahmad Karamanli became the Libyan leader. The country's leadership remained in the Karamanli family until 1835. During the Italian-Turkish War of 1912, Italy conquered Tripoli and occupied much of the country. Under Italo Balbo, who was governor-general during the 1930s, the country's infrastucture was developed as roads, civic buildings, schools, and hospitals were constructed. About 40,000 colonists were sent from Italy to the plateau regions of Libya at the end of the 1930s. Libya was made an integral part of Italy in 1939, and the Muslim population was granted a limited form of citizenship.

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.

Libya Fact Sheet

  • Language: Arabic

  • Population: 5.9 million

  • Area: 685,520 square miles, over 90% of which is desert.

  • Capital City: Tripoli

  • Currency: 1 US Dollar = 1.23 Libyan Dinar (as of 3/15/08)

  • Entry Requirements: A passport is required. The Libyan government imposes other requirements, such as having the passport translated into Arabic and need for travelor to have at least $1,000 when they enter Libya.

    • Well, Villagers, I still hope to receive some feedback. Please let me know if there are Libyan bloggers out there that we can reach out to for more information. Anyhow, we have 45 more countries in Alkebulan to go. What can I add, delete or change in future posts to make this more useful for you? In the meantime, what say u about Libya?


      catch up said...

      Villager, this idea is great! I hereby officially join the wagon. No, in Mamaland we only have caravans, so I join the caravan.

      Libya is such a great country, that never wastes a chance to leave drama in its path.

      Gaddaffi does all with gusto and though history may not be to his favour but he is one of the greatest leaders that Mamaland ever had. Pan Aafricanism is him and he is it.

      The intriguing thing is how Libya has been able to hatch back as a clean nation and a darling of the west though it can never be anyone's baby.

      Libya has maybe the lowest povery levels in Africa and even gives monetary aid to other countries in Mamaland.

      The country and its leader, The Guide of Revolution, are great fans of mine.

      Villager said...

      Catch Up - I didn't realize that so much of the country was desert. That impacts on the ability of the country to create a sustainable economy.

      I was also amazed to see how Qaddafi has been able to stay in power for almost 50 years. That shows a remarkable intellecut and political IQ...

      msladydeborah said...

      Home Schooling is great!

      I was wondering when your next installment would be posted. I am glad to discover that it is available.

      I learned a lot from reading the information that you provided. I needed to have some wind down reading this evening and this hit the spot.

      Keep up the tours Villager. I am hanging in there with you.

      Villager said...

      Lady D - Thank you very much for your words of encouragement. I probably shouldn't post the Alkebulan Journey over the weekend because few of us are reading blogs over the weekend. Anyhow, I am committed to working thru all 49 countries. I'm learning something very new each time as I know little about them...

      Kat said...

      Been following your posts about African countries, Villager...glad to see you learning about the diversity of your Home Continent.

      I am learning with you. As for Lybia, remembering dancing in Spain with a Lybian of Italian decent...now I wish I had asked more questions. And now, I understand why he was of Italian decent. :-) Love conquers all.

      Need help researching the other 49 countries?

      Peace, Kat

      Villager said...

      Kat - I appreciate your comments and I'm glad that this journey is providing learnings for all of us. As for your offer of assistance ... mostly, I can use your comments or insights on what types of information should be included in these posts as we move forward. I focus on census information and history of the country. I try to share photos of people and places in the country. What other things should be added as we move forward in your view?

      Grata said...

      Gaddafi is one interesting character. He just openned the largest mosque which he commissioned in Black Africa with a capacity to hold 15,000 people. And in his speech went on about how the bible was doctored. Uganda is majority Chritian with Muslims being a minority. He just left shock waves and people are still scratching their heads and not sure of what to do with the guy.

      And now that relations with the US have normalized its going to be hard for them to stop his influence among black Africans who always sympathised with him.

      Villager said...

      Grata - I appreciate your insights and I hope that many of our villagers will give your blog a look. You have remarkable insights on the African continent...