Libya: From Colony to Independence

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Libya is a state which, for the majority of its past, has been subjected to foreign rule or influence. Falling prey to empire builders from the ancient Greeks to Mussolini’s Italy, it only became formally independent in 1951. In the past half-century, Libya’s history has been dominated by the figure of Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi, the controversial leader who Nelson Mandela has dubbed one of the revolutionary icons of our time. St John skillfully navigates this lengthy historical period, detailing the struggles the state has had in finding its political and economic position in the world. From the early Greek settlements in the fifth century BC to the infamous Lockerbie bombing, this study is a thoughtful and enlightening introduction to the land which bridges Africa and the Middle East, and which though reviled by the West for decades as a repressive and hostile regime, is starting to seek a political détente. Ronald Bruce St John is an affiliate professor of Middle East Studies at the Institute of International Studies, Bradley University. An analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, he is the author of Qaddafi's World Design: Libyan Foreign Policy, 1969-87.
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Editorial Reviews

Dirk Vandewalle
Of all the books on Libyan history, Bruce St. John's is easily the most comprehensive and approachable for a lay audience.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781851685981
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications
  • Publication date: 7/25/2008
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents


Maps and Illustrations

Note on Transliteration

Select Chronology of Libyan History

1 Early History 1

Historical Setting 2

Phoenician Settlements in Tripolitania 4

Roman Influence in Libya 13

Arab Invasions 18

Fatimids (910-1171) 21

Hilalian Invasion 23

Almoravids, Almohads, and Hafsids in Tripolitania 25

Medieval Cyrenaica and Fezzan 27

Lasting Impressions 28

2 Ottoman Occupation, 1551-1911 29

First Ottoman Occupation (1551-1711) 30

Karamanli Dynasty (1711-1835) 34

Barbary Wars 38

Second Ottoman Occupation (1835-1911) 43

Sanusi Order 47

Foreign Schemes and Initiatives 50

Young Turk Revolution 52

Transformation 54

3 Italian Colonial Era, 1911-43 56

Misplaced Optimism 57

Early Resistance and Collaboration 61

Nascent Political Movements 65

Tripoli Republic, 1918-22 67

Riconquista, 1923-32 71

Italian Colonial Policy 74

Jewish Community 78

Impact of Italian Occupation 80

4 Struggle for Independence, 1943-51 84

Liberation and Occupation 85

Wartime Discussions 87

Great Power Gridlock 90

Regional and Domestic Politics Collide 92

American Strategic Interests 96

United Nations Decides 98

Arab Nationalism, Aid, and Base Rights 102

Conflicting Interests 105

5 United Kingdom of Libya, 1951-69 109

Socioeconomic Inheritance 110

Palace System of Power 111

Alliance Politics 115

Western Dependence 119

Impact of Oil 121

National Identity 125

Rise of Arab Nationalism 126

Monarchy in Perspective 130

The End 132

6 One September Revolution, 1969-73 133

Young Revolutionaries 135

Great Power Denouement 139

Primacy of Oil 145

Socioeconomic Change 148

Freedom, Nationalism, and Unity 150

PopularRevolution 153

Third Universal Theory 157

7 Revolution on the Move, 1973-86 160

The Green Book 161

Direct Popular Authority 165

Rush to Socialism 171

Hydrocarbon Policy 174

Confrontation with the West 177

Arab Disunity 182

Third Circle 184

Declining Influence Abroad 188

Confined to the Libyan Playhouse 191

8 Consolidation and Reform, 1986-98 193

Revolution within the Revolution 194

Great Green Charter on Human Rights in the Era of the Masses 197

Weapons of Mass Destruction 201

Lockerbie 205

European Relations 207

Status Quo in Africa 212

Turn to the Maghrib 216

Rule of International Law 218

Mounting Opposition 221

9 Libya Resurgent 225

Out of Africa 226

Looking East and West 233

European Relations 237

War on Terror 242

Economic Reform 246

Hydrocarbons, the Exception 250

Social Conditions 254

Political Developments 257

Qaddafi's Libya 259

Further Reading 262

Notes 275

Index 283

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