Jewish Property Claims and Post-Qaddafi Libya

by Michael R. Fischbach
published in MER263

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Libya's Lessons

by Chris Toensing | published March 5, 2012

Libya is commonly counted as a success story among the ongoing Arab uprisings. NATO bombing, the story goes, saved thousands of lives and allowed Libyans to overthrow the absurd and murderous Muammar Qaddafi. The intervention proves that the West has aligned its interests in the Arab world with its values -- and may even be a measure of redemption for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the deeper colonial past.

Not much of this comforting tale rings true.

New Insights into Libyan History

by Jason Pack
published in MER261

Anna Baldinetti, The Origins of the Libyan Nation: Colonial Legacy, Exile and the Emergence of a New Nation-State (Oxford: Routledge, 2010).

With the fall of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011, his paranoid and largely successful attempts to close off contemporary Libyan history to academic inquiry have presumably also come to an end. Over the next several years, there is every reason to anticipate a flowering of scholarship utilizing Libya’s untapped archival resources. The authors of these yet-to-be-written studies would be wise to root themselves in the work of the few Western scholars who were productively operating in Libya prior to the collapse of Qaddafi’s regime.

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Was the Libya Intervention Necessary?

by Claudia Gazzini
published in MER261

The death of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi has become one of the most contested moments of Libya’s eight-month war. The exact circumstances of the colonel’s demise on October 20 are unclear, but evidence is mounting that Libya’s former ruler was killed -- extra-judicially executed -- by the band of young gunmen who captured him.

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The Middle Powers Amid the Arab Revolts

by Imad Mansour | published September 29, 2011

The UN Security Council has been a key arbiter of international action regarding the upheavals in the Arab world in 2011. In late February, the Council issued Resolution 1970 calling for an “immediate end to the violence” in Libya, imposing sanctions and an arms embargo, and asking the International Criminal Court to investigate the regime of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. Less than a month later, on March 17, the Council passed Resolution 1973 authorizing NATO “to take all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians, leading to Qaddafi’s eventual fall from power. In late September, the Security Council will also take up the request of Palestinian leader Mahmoud ‘Abbas for full UN membership for a state of Palestine.

Libya, the Colonel's Yoke Lifted

by Nicolas Pelham | published September 7, 2011

Half an hour’s drive east of Tripoli, a solitary interim government soldier peers through binoculars, scouring Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s hunting ranch -- known as the farms -- for signs of life. Detritus of war litters the savannah, the remains of recent fighting as Qaddafi’s forces fled east from the Libyan capital to their strongholds in the center of the country. Flies swarm around parts of bodies dismembered when a NATO bomb flattened the colonel’s Moorish villa, replete with its nests for hawks. Wooden cases are strewn amidst the olive trees; all the boxes are empty, save two that house unused heat-seeking missiles six feet long. The cages of the predatory animals raised for hunting lie open, and the anti-Qaddafi fighter seems as concerned by their escape as their owner’s.

Letting the Colonel In from the Cold

by Dennis Sammut
published in MER184

On the last day of May 1993, some 200 Libyan pilgrims alighted from buses that had just crossed from Egypt into the Israeli-occupied Gaza. Strip on the way to Jerusalem. None of the rhetoric in the statement the pilgrims issued at the end of their stay, duly broadcast by the Libyan “Voice of the Great Arab Homeland,” could alter the fact that the visit constituted a de facto Libyan recognition of the state of Israel, and an implicit message to the region and the world that the regime of Muammar Qaddafi no longer threatened to disrupt any eventual political settlement between Israel and its Arab neighbors. [1]

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The Colonel, the Rebels and the Heavenly Arbiter

by Nicolas Pelham | published April 20, 2011

To the average American, the NATO intervention in Libya may look like another Iraq: another US-led adventure aiming to dislodge a would-be totalitarian Middle Eastern state with lots of oil and sand. The topography of the two countries is similar: The land is flat and parched, and the architecture dun and unloved. Even the terminology sounds the same, with the “no-fly zone” subject to “mission creep” that is rapidly turning its goal into “regime change.”

Of Principle and Peril

by The Editors | published March 22, 2011

Reasonable, principled people can disagree about whether, in an ideal world, Western military intervention in Libya’s internal war would be a moral imperative. With Saddam Hussein dead and gone, there is arguably no more capricious and overbearing dictator in the Arab world than Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. The uprising of the Libyan people against him, beginning on February 17, was courageous beyond measure. It seems certain that, absent outside help, the subsequent armed insurrection would have been doomed to sputter amidst the colonel’s bloody reprisals. 

Libya in the Balance

by Nicolas Pelham | published March 15, 2011

Since the rule of Col. Muammar Qaddafi had been even more gruesome than that of neighboring dictators, the Libyan people’s release from captivity by the February 17 uprising pulsated with an unparalleled hope. Freed from a ban on public assembly of four or more persons, rebel-held towns across Libya thronged with celebrants late into the night. Benghazi, Libya’s second city, which the colonel had stripped of its museums, cinemas and cultural symbols, including the mausoleum of its anti-colonial hero, ‘Umar Mukhtar, buzzed with impromptu memorials to Qaddafi’s victims, political theater, songs and art, and mass open-air prayers. And after four decades in which one man had appropriated the right to speak on behalf of a country, Libyans in their hundreds of thousands recovered their voice. “Your place, Muammar,” scrawl protesters on upturned rubbish bins.