Italian Libya

Italian Libya

Infobox Former Subdivision
native_name = "Libia Italiana"
conventional_long_name = Italian Libya
common_name = Libya
continent = Africa
region =
country = Italy
era =
status_text = Colony of Italy
empire = Italy
government_type = Colony
year_start = 1934
year_end = 1943
p1 = Italian Cyrenaica
flag_p1 = Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg
p2 = Italian Tripolitania
flag_p2 = Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg

coa_size =

|thumb|right|300px|Map of Italian East Africa
s1 = Tripolitania
flag_s1 = Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
s2 = Cyrenaica
flag_s2 = Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
s3 = Fezzan
flag_s3 = Flag of France.svg

image_map_caption = Map of Libya as a colony
capital = Tripoli
common_languages = Italian, Arabic
religion = Roman Catholicism, Islam
currency =
leader1 =
year_leader1 =
title_leader =
footnotes =

Italian Libya was a unified colony of Italian North Africa ("Africa Settentrionale Italiana", or ASI) established in 1934 [] in what represents present-day Libya. Italian Libya was formed from the colonies of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania which were taken by Italy from the Ottoman Empire in 1912 after the Italo-Turkish War of 1911 to 1912. Both Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, along with Fezzan, were merged into Italian Libya in 1934. The colony expanded after concessions were made from the British colony of Sudan and a territorial agreement with Egypt. Libya was lost as a colony in 1943 when it was occupied by the Allied powers in World War II.

Colonial Policy under Fascism

Initially the Fascist regime took a hard line against Libyan Arab nationalists who had been fighting a civil war for independence for many years under the leadership of Omar Mukhtar. Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini sent Rodolfo Graziani to lead military forces to crush Mukhtar's resistance. The Arab resistance movement was violently crushed and Mukhtar was executed in 1931. In the aftermath of the violence, Mussolini attempted to improve the image of his government to Libyan Arabs and pursued policies to woo the trust of Arab leaders there. In December 1934, individual freedom, inviolability of home and property, right to join the military or civil administrations, and the right to freely pursue a career or employment were guaranteed to Libyans. [Sarti, p190.] and in a famous trip to Libya in 1937, a propaganda event was created when on March 18 he posed with Arab dignitaries who gave him an honourary "Sword of Islam" (that had actually been made in Florence) which was to symbolize Mussolini as a protector of the Muslim Arab peoples there. [Sarti, p194.] In 1939, laws were passed that allowed Muslims to be permitted to join the National Fascist Party and in particular the Muslim Association of the Lictor ("Associazione Musulmana del Littorio"), and the 1939 reforms allowed the creation of Libyan military units within the Italian army. [Sarti, p196.]

During the Fascism many Italians moved to Libya and colonized the coastal areas. In 1940 the Libyan Italians were nearly 110,000, or 12% of the total population of Libya. The governor Italo Balbo developed the Italian Libya from 1934 to 1940, creating a huge infrastructure (from 4,000 km of roads to 400 km of narrow gauge railways to new industries and to dozen of new agricultural villages).

World War II

A number of major battles took place in Libya during the North African campaign of World War II. In September 1940, the Italian invasion of Egypt was launched from Libya. Starting in December of the same year, the British launched a counterattack called Operation Compass and the Italian forces were pushed back into Libya. After losing all of Cyrenaica and almost all of its Tenth Army, Italy asked for German assistance to aide the failing North African Campaign.

With German support, the lost Libyan territory was regained and by the conclusion of Operation Brevity, German and Italian forces were entering Egypt. The Siege of Tobruk in April 1941, where German General Erwin Rommel's forces were defeated, marked the first failure of Blitzkrieg tactics. Defeat during the Second Battle of El Alamein in Egypt spelled the doom of the Axis forces in Libya and meant the end of the Western Desert Campaign.

In February 1943, retreating German and Italian forces were forced to abandon Libya as they were pushed out of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, thus ending Italian jurisdiction over Libya.


See also

* Italian invasion of Libya
* History of Libya as Italian Colony
* Frontier Wire (Libya)
* Italian North Africa

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