In ancient times, Libye was the name of the Greeks for the residential area of the Libyans west of Egypt, then for all of North Africa west of Egypt, and finally for all of Africa known at the time. The Romans restricted the name “Libya” (Libya) to Cyrenaica.
According to oxfordastronomy, the development of the area of today’s Libya was v. a. shaped in ancient times by the historical landscapes of Cyrenaica, Fessan and Tripolitania.
Since the Arab conquest of North Africa around 650 AD, Libya, previously partly Byzantine (Cyrenaica and Tripolitania), belonged to the Islamic world of states and was until the conquest by the Ottomans in the 16th century, who ruled Tripoli for the entire Libyan area established, ruled by various Arab and Berber dynasties. In 1711 the Karamanli dynasty succeeded in freeing itself from Ottoman rule (until 1835) and helped the country to an economic upswing, especially through piracy. Since 1843 v. a. in eastern Libya the Muslim brotherhood of the Senussi founded in Meccaand expanded their sphere of influence along the Bedouin caravan routes into the interior and south (numerous mission centers in the oases). In fact, they ruled alongside the Ottoman governors. In the war against the Ottoman Empire (1911/12) Italy won rule over Libya (Peace of Lausanne 1912). The Senussi held their own against colonial rule, especially in the interior of Cyrenaica, and drove the Italians out of almost all of Libya during the First World War. In several campaigns (between 1922 and 1932) Italy broke the Senussi resistance; their military leader, Omar al-Mukhtar (* 1862, † 1931), was captured and executed in 1931. 1934 united Italy under the governor I. Balbo Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and the Fessan to the colony “Libia”; it was extended to the south (Tibesti) by the Italo-French colonial agreement (January 7, 1935). 1940-43 the country was a theater of war and was occupied by British (Cyrenaica and Tripolitania) and French troops (Fessan) in 1943.
After Italy renounced Libya in the Peace of Paris (February 10, 1947), Libya was granted state independence on December 24, 1951 as a federal kingdom under King Idris as-Senussi. The extraction of oil (since 1959) quickly ushered in an economic and financial upswing. In 1963 the areas of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fessan were combined to form the United Kingdom of Libya. In its foreign policy, the kingdom (member of the Arab League since 1953, the UNO since 1955 and the Organization of African Unity [OAU] since 1963) was pro-Western (1953 conclusion of an assistance pact with Great Britain; American air force base near Tripoli).
On September 1, 1969, the army led by Colonel M. al-Gaddhafi overthrew King Idris al-Senussi and proclaimed the Arab Republic of Libya.
As the “leader of the revolution”, Gaddhafi determines the country’s political development in an authoritarian manner. In 1970/71 the government nationalized banks, trading companies, insurance companies and oil production companies and expropriated all Italian assets; Gradual privatization of the economy began in 1992. Gaddhafi proclaimed a “cultural revolution” (“third universal theory” between capitalism and communism)1973 Islam became the sole basis of popular political life. Through the constitution of 1977 he sought to implement a socialist people’s republic on the basis of the »Green Book« he had written, a manual for the third universal theory. Opponents of this concept of state and society were suppressed. Since the 1990s, there have been repeated clashes between the police and opposition activists, as well as cautious protests within the country’s political and military leadership. For example, a military revolt was put down in October 1993, and several assassinations on Gaddhafi failed in the following years.
Against the background of the political upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt, a protest movement against Gaddhafi’s rule emerged in Libya in February 2011. The regime’s security forces and mercenary militias used gun violence against the demonstrators. In the period that followed, the disputes intensified. On February 26, 2011, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the Gaddhafi regime (including arms embargo, travel restrictions) in order to curb the escalation of violence and massive human rights violations. The EU states also imposed sanctions. A National Transitional Council of Gaddhafi opponents was set up in Benghafi, which in March 2011 set up an interim executive. At first Gaddhafi’s troops pressed on the rebels in the east of the country continued to decline. Tens of thousands of Libyans fled to neighboring countries. In view of the dramatic development, the UN Security Council authorized the international community to establish a no-fly zone and to take all necessary measures to protect the civilian population. Thereupon the Libyan government declared an immediate ceasefire, which was not respected. In order to enforce the UN resolution, allied units (mainly British, French and US-American units) carried out heavy attacks against Libyan military installations from the air and from the sea. The leadership of the operation passed on March 26, 2011 from the USA to NATO. From May 2011, the military pressure on the regime increased. Under the protection of the massive NATO interventions, the rebels were able to turn the military situation in their favor. The capital Tripoli was captured at the end of August. The National Transitional Council moved there. Units of the submerged despot Gaddhafi were only able to assert themselves in a few places in the country, but in a militarily hopeless situation. During the capture of Sirte, Gaddhafi was killed on October 20, 2011. After the fighting ended, on October 31, 2011, the Transitional Council elected Abdel Rahim al-Kib (* 1950) to succeed Mahmud Jibril (* 1952), who has been in office since March 2011, as head of government.
Conflicts between rival groups were intended to prevent the development of a central power and the stabilization of the country in the period that followed. On July 7, 2012, elections were held for the General National Congress, in which the moderate Alliance of National Forces won 39 of the 80 seats reserved for parties. On August 9, 2012, Mohammed Al Magarief (* 1940; National Front) was elected chairman of parliament and thus interim head of state. The American ambassador was killed on September 11, 2012 in an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. The General National Congress elected Ali Zeidan on October 14, 2012(* 1950) as the new head of government. The swearing-in of his cabinet took place on November 14, 2012. On May 5, 2013, the parliament passed a law by which functionaries of the Gaddhafi regime were excluded from political office without exception. Thereupon Parliament President Mohammed Al Magarief, who was ambassador to India from 1978-80, announced his resignation on May 28, 2013. On June 25, 2013, the parliament elected the independent politician Nuri Ali Abu Sahmein as his successor. Armed conflicts between rival groups became more common. The Cyrenaica region issued a declaration of autonomy in August 2013. After heavy fighting between militias from Tripoli and Misurata and attacks on unarmed demonstrators, a state of emergency was declared in Tripoli in November 2013. Armed groups took control of oil exports in various ports.
On February 20, 2014, elections were held for a 60-member constitutional committee. After an illegally loaded tanker flying the flag of North Korea escaped from a loading station controlled by militias, the General National Congress deposed Prime Minister Ali Zeidan on March 11, 2014 with a motion of no confidence. The previous Minister of Defense, Abdullah al-Thinni (* 1954), was appointed as his successor. The illegally loaded tanker was seized by the US Navy on March 17, 2014. On March 19, 2014, the UN Security Council passed a resolution that adopted measures to prevent illegal oil exports from Libya. Already on April 13, 2014, Abdullah al-Thinni declared his resignation. On May 4, 2014, the General National Congress elected Ahmed Matiq as his successor. The Supreme Court canceled the election on June 9, 2014 and confirmed Abdullah al-Thinni as head of government. At the same time as these events, the military clashes escalated into a nationwide conflict. Parliamentary elections were held on June 25, 2014. The newly elected House of Representatives was not constituted in Benghazi as planned, but in Tobruk in August 2014 due to the ongoing heavy fighting between rival militias. It replaced the General National Congress as the legislative body and elected Aquila Salah Issa (* 1944) as President of Parliament and interim head of state. In Tripoli, members of the previously replaced General National Congress met on August 25, 2014 as a counter-parliament (New General National Congress) and, with the support of the Islamist-dominated militia alliance Fajr Libya, set up a counter-government (“Government of National Salvation”). Abdullah al-Thinni formed in Tobrukin September 2014 a new cabinet that found international recognition. The decision of the Constitutional Court on November 6, 2014 to declare the electoral laws for the newly elected and internationally recognized House of Representatives unconstitutional further exacerbated the situation. Ongoing fighting between units of the rival governments and the gradual advance of Islamic State (IS) militias led to a sharp increase in the number of refugees in the period that followed.
At the beginning of 2015, two rival governments continued to face each other. Tripoli and much of the northwest were under the control of the Fajr Libiya militia alliance, which was dominated by forces from the port city of Misurata. The internationally recognized government under Abdullah al-Thinni acted together with the newly elected parliament, the House of Representatives, in Tobruk in the east of the country in summer 2014. You had inter alia Military units led by General Khalifa Haftar and militias from the city of Zintan are affiliated. It also received military aid from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, while the opposing government was supported by Qatar and Turkey. In early January 2015, the bombed by General Khalifa Haftar air force controlled the port of Misurata. The counter-government also used fighter planes. At the end of March 2015, the Tobruk government troops launched an offensive to recapture Tripoli, but this was unsuccessful. In Benghazi, units of Haftar, who was officially appointed commander in chief of the troops loyal to the Tobruk government at the beginning of March 2015, fought for months against the Salafist Ansar al-Sharia and other militias. In mid-March 2015, IS forces took control of the center of Sirte. In the months that followed, there were repeated attacks and suicide bombings by IS in numerous regions.