Libya and North Africa


Muammar Gaddafi






North Africa


Libya became independent in 1959 under a king chosen by the occupying powers. Muammar Gaddafi seized power in 1969 and ruled it until 2011. He claimed to be promoting a curious kind of direct democracy, described in his "Green Book". This seems to be derived from the Italian fascism of the former colonial power. In practice the direct democracy did not exist and he ruled as a deluded dictator. His human rights record was as bad as any modern dictator.

In March 2011 inspired by the revolutions in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt people demonstrated in the streets, proving that they did not "love him" as he believed. His reaction was to turn his troops on the demonstrators.

The demonstrators prevailed in Benghazi and towns to the east as far as the Egyptian border. Gaddafi retained or regained control in most of the west. There were reports that many of his troops were hired soldiers from Chad and Niger - people with no sympathy for the ordinary people of Libya.

An Interim Provisional Government (Transitional National Council) was formed in Benghhazi, recognised by France and a few other states and later by many states.

France, Britain and other NATO powers obtained a resolution 1973 from the UN Security Council to intervene in the developing civil war "to protect civilians". NATO planes have destroyed much of Gaddafi's air force and tanks.

Civil war

The civil war seemed to be coming to an end as the rebels entered Tripoli (22 August 2011). However, Gaddafi was not captured and killed until 20 October 2011 when rebel forces finally captured Sirte, after great destruction of his home town. Presumably this is the end of the war.

North Africa
From February 2011 a wave of protests has occurred in all the north African states. However, only in Tunisia and Egypt did the long standing dictators resign. Will the result be democratic regimes in these countries? It is too soon to say.

In Algeria there were protests but so far no free elections have been promised. In Morocco the king conceded a new constitution but it is too soon to know what effects it will have on his power. The protests continued in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. In all of these there seems likely to be bloodshed. In Bahrain the result was a takeover by Saudi forces, a regime that fears democracy anywhere near. .

Last revised 21/10/11


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Since 18/04/11

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