Libya. The country’s proximity to the outside world continued. Libya was reported in January to have ratified an agreement with the British oil company BP on oil and gas extraction worth $ 900 million. The ratification was said to have been made only after Britain proposed that Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a former intelligence agent who was sentenced to at least 27 years in prison for the 2001 attack on a passenger plane over Scottish Lockerbie in 1988, should be moved to Libyan prison. The plan sparked protests in Scotland.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Libya on April 16-17 and agreed to write off Libyan debt equivalent to $ 4.5 billion. During the visit, several business deals were also signed. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visited Libya twice during the year. In June, he held talks with leader Muammar al-Khadaffi about the thousands of African refugees who pass through Libya each year on their way to Europe. In August, Berlusconi pledged $ 5 billion in damages to Libya for the 32 years under Italian colonial rule.
On August 14, the United States and Libya agreed on damages to the victims of the bomb attacks the countries carried out against each other. This was the case with American victims of the Lockerbie attack and the attack on a disco in West Berlin in 1986, as well as Libyan victims of American airstrikes against Tripoli and Benghazi the same year. The agreement paved the way for the countries to establish full diplomatic relations. Libya repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with the US military organization AFRICOM (US Africa Command) established for military relations with 53 African countries.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Click to see the meanings of 2-letter acronym and abbreviation of LY in general and in geography as Libya in particular.
About 90 imprisoned members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) militia group were reported to have been released in April after mediating by al-Khadaffi’s son Seif al-Islam.
The first sacrifice in any war is the truth. The same was true of the war against Libya. War propaganda characterized the media in the colonial states, with Denmark as a particularly egregious example. It was therefore no coincidence that while 75% of Danes supported the war, only 45% of those surveyed in the United States applied. While Gadaffi closed the international media and launched its propaganda machine, the colonial powers closed the Libyan media – including the Libyan state line – to prevent the outside world from becoming aware of the civilian victims of the colonial bombing. Information on the civilian casualties of the bombings therefore only slowly escaped from the country. The Vatican’s representative in Tripoli could report bombings of civilians in the capital. Al Jazeera who previously provided the most nuanced coverage of conditions in the Arab world – and which is therefore banned in the United States – unexpectedly chose the side of the conflict in favor of the rebels. The deeper reason was that Al Jazeera never criticized the emir of Qatar funding the TV station, and the emir already stood on the insurgents’ side in February.
In late April, the colonial powers focused on the fighting in Misrata west of Tripoli. Much of the civilian population had already fled, but for the colonial powers, the remaining civilians were an argument for the UN to allow a land-based invasion. However, Russia and China made it clear that they would veto such a decision in the Security Council, and Britain quickly became the only country to invade Libya despite a clear ban on it in Resolution 1973. Most countries in the world, as well as the United Nations, saw it humanitarian situation in Misrata as an indication that a ceasefire should be implemented, but the opposite of the colonial powers. It was war – not civil protection. This was confirmed in early May, when it emerged that at the end of March, NATO had on several occasions ignored emergency signals from a refugee ship with Libyan refugees in the Mediterranean. 66 refugees died.
In late April, Denmark announced its «strategy» for the war against Libya. The “strategy” talked openly about a regime change – contrary to Resolution 1973 – and that an “inclusive” democratic society should be built. However, without the participation of the trends and clans behind Gadaffi.
The rebellion in Libya began in the same way as in other countries during the Arab Spring, but took a completely different direction when the civil war broke out and the international community decided to intervene with military force. Although rebellion in several parts of the region led to a regime change, it was only in Libya, and later in Syria, that the rebellion led to full war.
The start of the uprising was linked to protests from survivors of killed political prisoners. In parts of the country, especially in the east, broad strata of the population were mobilized with demands for political freedom. Members of various groups joined the uprising, which was mostly organized through local governing councils and militias. It is estimated that there may have been thousands of militia groups; most associated with a city or area. Islamist organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood, were weak in Libya and played a modest role in the uprising, but strengthened their position after the regime change and state dissolution. However, Islamists played a central role in various parts of the uprising. The National Transitional Council (NTC), established in Benghazi, in practice became a rebel government.
The Libyan regime has long resisted the rebellion, although it gradually disintegrated as central people transitioned to the rebels. Muammar al-Gaddafi largely ruled with the help of his family and key employees.
Tribal leaders played a role in the conflict by exerting influence over their groups. Some of them remained far and away loyal to Gaddafi; most, on the other hand, joined the rebels.
Libya is a member of the Arab League (AL) and African Union (AU), both involved in the conflict. The AL supported UN resolutions and contributed to an important political basis for the multinational military intervention. In February, AL excluded Libya from its meetings. The AU established a group of heads of state, led by South African President Jacob Zuma, who sought to find a diplomatic solution – without success.
Several actors outside the region played a key role; first and foremost individual states, then the UN and the EU. The conditions associated with the early role of some countries are not fully known. Among other things, it is pointed out that the United States has long had Libya on a list of countries where the regime was to be ruled, if necessary by military force. It is also alleged that France had made plans for an intervention against Gaddafi before the outbreak broke out, to remove traces of financial support from the Libyan regime. This has been substantiated by the arrest of then President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2018, accused of receiving election campaign funds from Libya.
After a decade of normalizing relations with Libya, France, the United Kingdom and the United States led the political process that led to new sanctions on the Libyan regime; then to the intervention. It was the three countries that started the military operation. France and the United States were the key drivers of Security Council resolutions.
Resolution number 1970 (adopted March 17) introduced an embargo of Libya. There was a ban on the supply of weapons and the transit of mercenaries. Leading members of the regime were banned, and the UN member states were required to freeze financial assets for the Gaddafi family and other regime members.
Resolution number 1973 (adopted February 26) opened to establish a no-fly zone over Libya. The UN authorized the use of necessary funds to defend Libyan civilians threatened by attacks by Libya’s military forces, but banned foreign ground forces from occupying Libyan territory.
The rationale for military intervention was to protect civilians (‘responsibility to protect’ principle, R2P) from attacks by the Libyan government. For several countries, including Norway, this was crucial in supporting military intervention in a civil war.
Critics of the intervention in Libya have pointed out that deliberately sought to create an image of imminent threats of attacks against the civilian population and that the regime deployed aircraft against civilians. The former is debated, and the latter was not the case. In particular, criticism has been that the campaign went further than protecting civilians, and became an unlawful support for regime change, and the killing of the head of state. Some states and organizations have called for an international investigation into NATO’s air operation.
Resolution 1973 did not allow for the invasion and occupation of Libya, nor the removal of Muammar al-Gaddafi and his regime. Nevertheless, several countries deployed special forces as part of their respective military efforts, and in fact coordinated with the UN-sanctioned operation. The military presence violated UN resolution number 1973. Weapons deliveries to the rebels, especially Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, were backed by resolution number 1970.
The NATO-led operation did not formally support the rebellion or rebel forces, but in reality became a crucial support. In some cases, NATO air strikes were coordinated with insurgents in combat. For the outcome of the war, NATO’s intervention was crucial.
Regime change was not part of the UN mandate and it stated the goal of the operation. However, French President Nicolas Sarkozy advocated regime change early. France hosted the international summit that outlined the coalition’s political and military agenda on March 19. This is where Norway undertook to participate in fighter aircraft.
From March 23, the US-led Operation Odyssey Dawn was followed by the NATO-led Operation Unified Protector. Within NATO, there was disagreement about launching an operation, and how it should be led. Germany opposed the intervention and refrained from participating. Turkey was another of the foremost opponents.
The role of Norway
Norway played an active role in the conflict in Libya, both politically and militarily. Norway supported UN resolutions, and contributed early to the multinational force, with six F-16 fighter aircraft and C-130J Hercules transport aircraft. The Norwegian fighter jets flew their first march on March 24; in total, they completed 583 expeditions and released 569 bombs. The air grant was withdrawn on August 1, but Norway still provided staff officers for NATO’s operations management and staffing for AWACS surveillance aircraft.
In August 2011, Norway chose to look at the Transitional Council (NTC) as Libya’s legitimate authority, without formally recognizing it. Norway also participated in the contact group (LCG), and – together with Turkey – led one of the meetings.
Following the initiative of the Storting, in November 2017, the government decided to set up an independent committee to evaluate Norway’s efforts in the Libya operation. The committee’s report was presented in September 2018.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of Libya in 2008 was 6,197,552, ranking number 108 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.340% yearly, and the population density was 3.5223 people per km2.