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| One of the world's many|
|Systems and types|
|Not as dysfunctional as the Middle East|
Bored? Why not count the number of different spellings of Gadafi used in this article.
Libya is an Arab
country region in northern Africa, with a great deal of oil that is currently being fought over by various Islamist nutjobs, extra nutty Islamist nutjobs, nationalist nutjobs of various stripes, oppressed ethnic minorities,[note 1] who knows who else, much like another country, but since the Libyan refugees aren't fleeing to Europe in large quantities the media is busy elsewhere.
Libyans enjoyed 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.
Libya's flag as of 2011 is a red-black-green tricolor with a star and crescent on the black portion. Previously, the Ghaddafi government 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 government and renounced terrorism. Under Dubya and the early Obama administration, US relations with Libya improved greatly, including a renewal of diplomatic relations.  Then it all went straight to hell when people suddenly found out that Ghaddafi was a lunatic dictator who gave speeches that went nowhere and seemed to genuinely believe people actually liked him.
Although now a desert, coastal Libya was once the fertile breadbasket of the Roman world, as the great ruins of Leptis Magna 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, the last of which flattened three of their colonies and merged the remains into Libya. 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. And then it all went to hell.
Civil War Part One
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 an army with guns, warplanes and warships. 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. Black people were routinely accused of being mercenaries and were often executed, though the mercenary part was unlikely; Libya has/had a large number of poor migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa which the locals disliked because DEY TERK ARE JARRBS!, so any excuse would do. Illegal imprisonment and torture by rebels continued after the fall of the Gaddafi government.
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.
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 Council 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. 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 (illegally) responded with a series of air and naval attacks on Libyan targets, and began simultaneously enforcing a no-fly zone and attacking Kaddafi soldiers 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.
After the war but before the peace
Following the first election of the General National Congress, peace 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. 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.
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.
Civil War 2: Islamist Boogaloo
And now, Libya is in the midst of its second civil war between the deposed GNC in Tripoli and the new government in Tobruk. The Tobruk government was regarded as more secular and authoritarian, with GNC supporters branding it as a second coming of the evil regime. The GNC was regarded as being Islamist and too close to terrorists by the Tobruk supporters.
A peace deal and roadmap for a new unity government was signed in December 2015, paving the way for a united, free Libya...well, not exactly. You see, an old troublemaker, ISIS, decided to sneak in and set up shop. They seized the city of Derna in 2014, but their hold on it was tenuous, and they lost it to a popular uprising of Islamists in 2015. ISIS is still camped out on the southern countryside near the city. Then, ISIS seized Sirte, a central city on the coast. The country was still divided at that time, and ISIS slowly advanced along the coast while no one noticed. Today they hold 50 kilometers (31 miles) of coastline directly south of Italy, and a total territory of over 30,000 km2 (20,000 mi2). They have attacked several oil terminals because why not. This has been enough to prompt airstrikes from Western countries. Makes you wonder what their motive is.
In May 2016, anti-ISIS forces, mainly Misratan militias, announced a counteroffensive against ISIS after the latter came dangerously close to reaching Misrata. The offensive was a success, and the main ISIS base, Sirte, was put under a months-long siege. After half a year of brutal fighting and over 2,500 killed, the last blocks of the city were liberated from ISIS.
- Berbers, who happen to be the original inhabitants of Libya
- African Economic Outlook: Libya
- Libya protests: More than 100 killed as army fires on unarmed demonstrators by Jo Adetunji, Peter Beaumont and Martin Chulov The Guardian
- Libya protests: 140 'massacred' as Gaddafi sends in snipers to crush dissent by Nick Meo. Daily Telegraph
- I played basketball for Gaddafi, BBC
- Tripoli airport briefly seized by disgruntled militia
- Militia blamed for killing US ambassador forced out of Libya and Libyan authorities give Islamist militia two days to leave their bases