Libya. According to
Countryaah.com, the opposition in Libya made itself known during a
football match in July in Tripoli by shouting slogans
against the country's leader Muammar al-Khadaffi. About 20
people were shot to death by the bodyguard of al-Khadaffi's
sons who visited the match.
In August, Muslim militants attacked the Benghazi
military base, killing 25 militants. The military responded
with a bomb attack against Muslim bases, killing 150.
The US-Libya conflict continued during the year, and in
May the US government threatened to bomb a site where,
according to US sources, a chemical weapons plant was being
built. A spokesman for the US Department of Defense
announced that there were detailed plans to attack military
targets in Libya unless Muammar al-Khadaffi gave way to
international opinion and stopped the project. Libyan
sources rejected the allegations, claiming the facility was
a training ground for workers participating in a project
aimed at "building" a river through the desert.
The US maintained its position with continued trade and
aircrew boycotts against Libya. The attitude was strongly
criticized by the EU. At a G7 meeting in Brussels in early
July, EU Commission President Jacques Santer declared that
US economic sanctions legislation against Cuba and similar
legislative proposals against Iran and Libya violated World
Trade Organization rules on world trade. During the meeting,
President Bill Clinton acknowledged that the laws could
create trade policy barriers.
The European Commission decided later in July to prepare
trade policy measures against the United States. Since the
US government in August passed the so-called d'Amato law -
which prohibits investment in gas and oil projects in Iran
and Libya - the Commission has filed a formal protest with
the United States.
The US government sought to prevent Louis Farrakhan, the
leader of the African-American activist organization Nation
of Islam, from visiting Tripoli to receive al-Khadaffi's
prize for human rights efforts and a $ 1 billion donation.
Farrakhan stated that the donation was $ 250,000, money he
received in Tripoli in August.
Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan visited Tripoli
in the fall and promised increased trade between Libya and
Turkey if Libya paid its debts. Erbakan came to the Tripoli
country road as the international aviation boycott against
Libya continued throughout 1996. His visit was heavily
criticized by political opponents in his home country.
The Middle Ages
Parallel to the weakening of the Byzantine Empire, an
Arab expansion began, driven by the spread of the new
religion of Islam from the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabs
entered, and conquered, Kyrenaika in 642 without significant
Byzantine resistance. Tripoli was then taken in the
following year, and control of Tripolitania quickly
established. Fezzan was first invaded in 663. After some
resistance from the Berber tribes, the Arabs in 670 had
subjugated all Roman possession in North Africa. The area
was under the Caliphate of Damascus; then, from 750, under
the Caliphate in Baghdad. After a rebellion against the
Baghdad caliphate, Libya from the year 800 was ruled from
Qairawan (Tunisia) - with extensive autonomy, to be subject
to the Fatimids from the 10th century caliphate in Cairo;
the Fatimids took control of Tripoli in 910. From the 1100s
to the 1500s, Tripolitania and Fezzan were subject to the
rulers of Tunisia; Kyrenaika was located under Cairo. This
was a downturn for Libya, where agriculture was decaying and
the cities - with the exception of Tripoli - were relocated.
Islam spread rapidly, displacing Christianity, which in
practice disappeared. While the population embraced Islam,
the cultural Arabization - with the introduction of Arabic
language - took longer. Arab ethnic dominance also took a
long time to develop, but it was gradually strengthened
through increased relations between Arabs and Berbers,
including through marriage. Inland, the Berber maintained
its culture and way of life.
Arab control over the coast was hardly challenged in the
Middle Ages. One exception was the conquest of Tripoli,
carried out by Normans from Sicily in 1146, led by Georg of
Antioch, after in 1087 they had recaptured Sicily from the
Arabs, and then taken Malta. The Norman leader Roger 2 took
the title King of Africa and controlled the coast from
Tripoli to Algeria. His successor lost control of the Muslim
almohads from Morocco, who were welcomed as liberators in
1160, after Tripoli's revolt against the European Christian
rulers in 1158.
Kyrenaika was still ruled by the Fatimids in Egypt, then
the Seldom, while Fezzan was more or less self-governing.
Trade was maintained with both Europe and Africa, and the
city of Genoa established a trading monopoly in Kyrenaika in
the 13th century. Venice set up trade routes to Tripoli. The
Genovese stormed Tripoli in 1335, while North African
pirates carried looting on the coast of Italy and against
ship traffic in the Mediterranean.
In the 15th century, the area was invaded from the
Iberian Peninsula, and a Spanish force landed at Tripoli in
1510. It defeated the Arab resistance, and the destroyed
city was then ruled from Spanish Sicily and used as a naval
base. The Johannite order in Malta was given control of
Tripoli in 1530, in order to defend it on behalf of
Christianity - as a bastion against the advancing Muslim
Turks. Unlike Spain, which failed to create any North
African kingdom, the Turkish Ottomans advanced and conquered
ever larger areas, including Egypt in 1517 - and from there