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History of Libya

Libya is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Libya faces Egypt to the east, Sudan to the south east, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west.

On November 21, 1949, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution stating that Libya should become independent before January 1, 1952. Idris, the eventual king of Libya, represented Libya in the subsequent UN negotiations. On December 24, 1951, Libya declared its independence as the United Kingdom of Libya, a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris, Libya's first and only monarch.

The discovery of significant oil reserves in 1959 and the subsequent income from petroleum sales enabled one of the world's poorest nations to establish an extremely wealthy state. Although oil drastically improved the Libyan government's finances, resentment among some factions began to build over the increased concentration of the nation's wealth in the hands of King Idris. This discontent mounted with the rise of Nasserism and Arab nationalism throughout North Africa and the Middle East, so while the continued presence of Americans, Italians and British in Libya aided in the increased levels of wealth and tourism following WWII, it was seen by some as a threat.

Gaddafi became de facto leader of Libya on 1 September 1969 when he led a group of young Libyan military officers to stage a coup d'état against King Idris I, who would then be exiled to Egypt. The new administration, headed by the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), abolished the monarchy and the constitution, and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic. Gaddafi renamed the Libyan Arab Republic to Jamahiriya in 1977, a neologism translating to "state of the masses", styling himself "Leader and Guide of the Revolution" and forming "people's committees". He resigned from the position of General Secretary of the General People's Congress of Libya in 1979, but remained in power as de-facto dictator throughout the 1980s to 2000s, running the country a single party police state.

Although there had been attempted coups throughout the 1970s to 1990s, and an assassination attempt on Gaddafi in 1993, the first serious threat to Gaddafi's autocratic rule came in February 2011, with the Libyan uprising.

After popular movements overturned the rulers of Tunisia and Egypt, its immediate neighbours to the west and east, Libya experienced a full-scale revolt beginning in February 2011. Eastern Libya, centered on the second city and vital port of Benghazi, is said to be firmly in the hands of the opposition, while Tripoli and its environs remain in dispute. However, in several public appearances, Gaddafi has threatened to destroy the protest movement, and Al Jazeera and other agencies have reported his government is arming pro-Gaddafi militiamen to kill protesters and defectors against the regime in Tripoli . Organs of the United Nations, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations Human Rights Council, have condemned the crackdown as violating international law, with the latter body expelling Libya outright in an unprecedented action urged by Libya's own delegation to the UN.

The United States imposed economic sanctions against Libya, followed shortly by Australia, Canada and the United Nations Security Council, which also voted to refer Gaddafi and other government officials to the International Criminal Court for investigation.

On 26 February 2011, a national council was established under the stewardship of Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil, Gaddafi's former justice minister, to administer the areas of Libya under rebel control. This marked the first serious effort to organize the broad-based opposition to the Gaddafi regime. While the council is presently based in Benghazi, it claims Tripoli as its capital. On 10 March 2011 , France became the first state to recognise the National Libyan Council as the country's legitimate government.

On 17 March 2011 the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1973 with a 10–0 vote and five abstentions. Resolution 1973 sanctioned the establishment a no-fly zone and the use of "all means necessary" to protect civilians within Libya. Shortly afterwards, Libyan Foreign Minister Mussa Kussa stated that "Libya has decided an immediate ceasefire and an immediate halt to all military operations". However, attacks against insurgent strongholds appear to have continued despite this claim.

Libya obtains independence, with Idris as king
Discovery of abundant oil reserves
Gaddafi stages a coup d’état, gaining power. Libyan Arab Republic formed
Gaddafi renames the Libyan Arab Republic to Jamahiriya, meaning “state of the masses”
Gaddafi resigns as General Secretary of the General People's Congress of Libya, but remains as de-facto leader of Libya throughout the 1980s to 2000s
Feb 2011
Libyan Uprising begins, after influence from Egypt and Tunisia. The leaders of the uprising are Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Chairman of the Transitional National Council, and Mahmoud Jebril, Interim Prime Minister.
Mar 2011
United Nations Security Council passes Resolution 1973, which formally allows them to intervene in Libya.
UN Intervention

On March 19, 2011 a coalition of nations began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which called on UN member nations to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack during the 2011 Libyan uprising . On 19 March, military operations began - with US and British forces firing over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, with the French Air Force and British Royal Air Force undertaking sorties across Libya and a naval blockade by the Royal Navy. Air strikes against Libyan Army tanks and vehicles by French jets have since been confirmed. On 22 March, the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle arrived off the coast to provide military planners with a rapid-response air combat capability. Since the beginning of the war, the initial coalition has expanded to 14 nations, with newer nations mostly enforcing the no-fly zone and naval blockade. The effort is largely led by the United States, with command shared among France and the United Kingdom. NATO took control of the arms embargo on 23 March, named "Operation Unified Protector". An attempt to unify the military command in the air war against Libya (whilst keeping political and strategic control with a small group), failed over objections by the French, German, and Turkish governments.

The resolution, adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter:
  • Demands the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians;
  • Imposes a no-fly zone over Libya;
  • Authorizes all necessary means to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas, except for a "foreign occupation force";
  • Strengthens the arms embargo and particularly action against mercenaries, by allowing for forcible inspections of ships and planes;
  • Imposes a ban on all Libyan-designated flights;
  • Imposes an asset freeze on assets owned by the Libyan authorities, and reaffirms that such assets should be used for the benefit of the Libyan people;
  • Extends the travel ban and assets freeze of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970 to a number of additional individuals and Libyan entities;
  • Establishes a panel of experts to monitor and promote sanctions implementation.
(Please refer to this resolution closely during the debate, as it shows most of the demands and actions taken by the United Nations)

The intervention has been supported and condemned by various countries. In particular, France, United States, and the UK are directly involved in the fighting, while other major countries like Russia and China abstained, claiming that the resolution was not properly backed up by the other nations and questioned the use of force when other avenues were not exhausted.

What are your views? Should military intervention be carried out in this state of affairs?