Libya

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Libya is an Arab country in northern Africa, with a great deal of wealth from its oil production.

Libyans enjoy a rather middle-class lifestyle and low poverty, especially for an African country, which had little to do with former leader Ghaddafi's crank economic ideas and a lot to do with Libya's high oil revenues.[1]

Libya's flag as of 2011 is a red-black-green tricolor with a star and crescent on the black portion. Previously, Ghaddafi's regime preferred a boring solid green flag.

Libya was frequently involved in sponsoring terrorism during the 1980s, prompting Ronald Reagan to declare Ghadafi Public Enemy #1 and to bomb the country in 1986. After 9/11, Libya attempted to kiss and make up with the Bush regime and renounced terrorism. Under Dubya and the early Obama administration, US relations with Libya improved greatly, including a renewal of diplomatic relations. [2] Then it all went straight to hell.

Contents

[edit] History

Although now a desert, coastal Libya was once the fertile breadbasket of the Roman world, as the great ruins of Leptis Magna[wp] demonstrate. Desertification followed and the region became the flat boring bit between Egypt and the Maghreb, (the mountainous farmlands now in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco), ruled from Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, Istanbul and Rome. Independence under King Idris came in 1951, and then little of note happened until Qadhafi took power in 1969. He turned Libya into a huge laboratory for his increasingly bizarre political theories, including something called "supermarket socialism," funded by new-found oil wealth. His overthrow was followed by elections in which the Libyans, after centuries of imperialist, fascist, royalist and despotic rule, surprised the world (but not themselves) by choosing moderates to rule over them.

[edit] 2011 civil war

The 2011 rebellion in Libya was violent, more violent than the popular rebellions in Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain but less so than the one in Syria. Rather than do the decent thing and flee into exile in Venezuela or Zimbabwe with his billions, Qaddafi chose to fight the protests. The government responded to peaceful demonstrations and funeral processions for those killed with systematic shootings, snipers, artillery, helicopter gunships, warplanes, and warships. It was reported that Qadaffi brought in foreign mercenaries to shoot people after some Libyan troops proved unwilling, however this has mostly been proven erroneous by those reporting on Libya.[citation needed] Many people were arrested and faced torture or execution, and media was censored.

There is no disputing, however, that the rebels carried out many massacres on dark-skinned Libyans.[3][4][5][6] Illegal imprisonment and torture by rebels continued after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.[7]

Predictably, the peaceful demonstrators launched a general uprising. Overpowering security forces and seizing arms, they overran the eastern half of the country, and established an interim government in Benghazi. The rebels began advancing across the country towards Tripoli. After suffering some initial defeats, Qaddaffi's forces stopped the rebels and began an advance through rebel-held territory towards Benghazi. The rebels were trained, equipped and supplied by the United States (with their leaders being installed by the CIA) [8] [9], which explains how they managed to push the government forces so far and so quickly in the first round.

Despite resistance from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and others at the Pentagon who worry about over-extension of the U.S. military, the Obama administration as well as the Cameron and Sarkozy governments decided to intervene in the civil war. Resistance to the decision came from the political left (Dennis Kucinich), the libertarian right (Ron Paul) and the segments of the old center-right. Like Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush before him, Obama did not seek congressional approval before intervening in Libya.

On March 5, 2011 the National Transitional Counsel announced that it was the only legitimate government in place. Starting with France on July 11, 2011 many western nations chose to recognize the NTC as the governing body of Libya, and are attempting to do business by and through the NTC. The Libyan Contact Group was formally launched to help Libya deal with the Civil War and any transitions after the August 23, 2011 apparent takeover.

On March 19, 2011 at 16:00 GMT, a No Fly Zone was imposed on Libya by the United Nations as a reaction to Gaddafi's heavy-handed response to the rebellion. The no-fly zone was led by the by the United States, United Kingdom, and France, and also involved Canada, and a coalition of European and Arab states.[10] The No Fly Zone came on the eve of the 8th anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq.

The Libyan government then panicked and declared a cease-fire, but continued its attacks. Government troops even managed to reach Benghazi and attack the city, though they were repulsed.

The international coalition responded with a series of air and naval attacks on Libyan targets, and began simultaneously enforcing a no-fly zone and attacking Kaddafi forces on the ground, including targets in Tripoli. The Libyan air defenses proved worthless, as they were not even able to shoot down or even damage a single plane. The rebels then launched another advance with some success, but were eventually stopped by Khaddafi forces after they adapted to strikes.

On August 21st, the Libyan rebels surprised the world by capturing much of Tripoli in a matter of hours, with little resistance. Apparently, the Rebel Alliance rebel high command organized a multi-pronged assault, including sneaking large quantities of weapons and ammo into Tripoli to arm their supporters in the city.

On October 20 2011, rebels took control of Sirte, Kadaffi's birthplace and the location of his last stronghold, effectively ending the war. Khadaffi was captured and died in rebel hands, ostensibly dying of the many wounds sustained during the gunfight, according to rebel leaders, but much more likely tortured and killed by his captors, according to many unofficial sources.

The rebel leadership established itself as the transitional government of Libya, relatively successfully, although conflicts with Gaddafi loyalist militias have continued or reoccurred in some regions.[11][12]

[edit] After the war but before the peace

Since the first election of the General National Congress, peace has mostly reigned supreme, but with a weak central government often unable to stand up to militias in many areas. At one point, they even lost control of Tripoli Airport for a while.[13] In September 2012, things came to a head when demonstrations against the Innocence of Muslims turned violent and four Americans, including the ambassador, were killed in Benghazi. Moderate Benghazians rebelled against the local militia, Ansar al-Sharia, a move which enabled the government to gain the upper hand and attempt to disband the militias altogether.[14]

The GNC has 200 seats, with 120 of those belonging to independents (and thus giving them the mantle of kingmaker). The Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, was a human rights lawyer picked to head the government, but he admits he has little experience in government, so he's largely at a loss on how to deal with domestic issues. His goal, and that of the GNC, is to restore a sense of stability in a county mired with an ineffectual government, a floundering economy, infighting between the various guerrillas and militias, systematic targeting of government forces by warlords, militarism from the guerrillas and militias, continued detention and human rights abuses of alleged pro-Gaddafi prisoners and foreign migrants, and a general decline in the production of Libyan oil.

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. African Economic Outlook: Libya
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libya%E2%80%93United_States_relations
  3. http://humanrightsinvestigations.org/2011/07/07/libya-ethnic-cleansing/
  4. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/rebels-settle-scores-in-libyan-capital-2344671.html
  5. http://news.firedoglake.com/2011/05/11/benghazi-revenge-killings-reflect-ugly-reality-of-libyan-rebels/
  6. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/08/29/501364/main20098777.shtml
  7. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/24/libya-illegal-detentions-un-report
  8. http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2011/04/liby-a04.html
  9. http://peripheralrevision.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/khalifa-haftar-the-cia-trained-leader-of-libyas-rebels-cnn/
  10. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42164455/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/?gt1=43001
  11. http://edition.cnn.com/2011/11/02/world/africa/libya-infighting/index.html
  12. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/9046372/Militia-chaos-in-Bani-Walid-raises-danger-of-civil-war-in-post-Gaddafi-Libya.html
  13. Tripoli airport briefly seized by disgruntled militia
  14. Militia blamed for killing US ambassador forced out of Libya and Libyan authorities give Islamist militia two days to leave their bases
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