Friday, July 15, 2011

History of Libya

Out of my concern about the current military action by members of NATO on Libya, I decided to check out and learn about its history. I went to Wikipedia for my source. I didn’t go back to the beginning of the world. I started in 1921 when Italy declared war on Libya and the Ottoman Empire (Turks) which at that time was in control of the coastal areas. The Treaty of Ouchey of 1923 included the withdrawal of all the Ottomans from Libya.
During WWI the Italians had to bring back their forces. During this period they lost control of all but the coast. In the 1920’s under General Pietro Badoglio a bloody war was waged to pacify the natives. This continued until 1931 when the Arab leader was captured and hanged. The resistance then just petered out. Italy controlled Libya until 1943 when the North African Campaign conquered the country. Italy formally rescinded control in the Peace Treaty after WWII.
Beginning in 1945, anti Jewish violence commenced. Many Jews were murdered; synagogues, homes and businesses were burned. When the State of Israel was recognized 30,972 Jews left for Israel between 1948 and 1951. By 1970 there were no Jews remaining.
In 1952 the United Nations granted independence. Oil was discovered in 1959. Exports began in 1963. Twenty eight year old Muammar al-Gaddafi staged a coup in 1969. He created a new Libya Arab Republic. The US vacated their last military base in 1970. In 1971 he nationalized the petroleum industry of British Petroleum. By 1972 he took control of all other petroleum companies up to 70%. He had to leave the rest as he needed their expertise to operate. He strongly supported the creation of OPEC in 1973.
His philosophy was neither communism nor capitalism. He created his own concept. He took ownership away from businesses and landowners who had more than they needed, in his opinion. On the positive side he did start two five year programs using oil revenue. The first was from 1976-80. The primary goal was to be food independent. The second from 1981-85 was to create industry. These were largely successful. He did increase the welfare of the people. By the 1980’s they enjoyed improved housing, education, social services and general standards of health, the highest in North Africa.
He openly supported terrorism around the globe until 1986 when President Reagan bombed Libya bases and palaces. He stopped and as a result improved relations with the West by the early 2000’s. In 2006 the US rescinded the designation of terrorist State. By 2007 Libya was elected to a non permanent seat in the UN.
All of this brings us to this year. In Feb. 2011 anti-government rallies sprang up in Benghazi. On March 10, France recognized the National Council as the sole representative of Libya. Shortly thereafter a no fly zone was declared by NATO and air strikes began to punish Gaddafi’s forces still loyal to him. Since then the air war has been expanded to striking military targets, Gaddafi’s palaces or places he might be. It is obvious that his death is the goal. The coalition is breaking up. Italy has pulled out. Norway will end their participation August I, 2011. Gaddafi is still in power. The Army and much of the population still gives him their support, probably out of gratitude for what he has accomplished improving their lifestyles. In the review of recent history there was mention that he had cracked down hard on the hard core Muslims who require Sharia law as the only lawful government. Perhaps these are the ones who have broken away. In all the reporting to date their identity and objectives have not been revealed, at least not to my knowledge. What if the end result is plunging this country into chaos like the Taliban did in Afghanistan? The thought that these might be the people we are supporting is scary to me.
Rather than bomb Libya back to the Stone Age, if killing Gaddafi is the goal, then why not have another Seal operation. Kill him and then keep close watch on what happens next. Libya has suffered for 90 years starting in 1921 if you do not consider the ages prior to that date. Enough already.

Jack B. Walters
July 15, 2011

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