Monday, November 7, 2011

Libya Reunited Under Rebels

Country Name (official): Libya (English), Lībyā (Arabic)
News Category: Divided Countries
Summary: Libya's civil war came to an end two weeks ago, as rebels under the National Transitional Council (NTC) completed their two-month campaign to flush out the last forces loyal to dictator Muammar Gaddafi. After taking the capital city of Tripoli in August, the NTC had already assumed Libya's seat in the United Nations, the African Union, and the Arab League, with formal recognition from 100 U.N. member states. With the end of the war, the air-based foreign military intervention that helped bring victory to the rebels has also now come to a close.
The NTC's last campaigns to reunite Libya. Gaddafi-held cities (green) and
rebel-held cities (black) as of 2 Sep. Rebel movements and capture dates
in red. My own work based on public domain map from Wikipedia (source).

Full Story
Libya's participation in the "Arab Spring" movement happening across the Middle East and North Africa began as a series of protests in February, and quickly transformed into an armed uprising after national leader Muammar Gaddafi responded with violent crackdowns. Soon the country's territory was divided between Gaddafi's government and rebel forces under the National Transitional Council (NTC), with the latter dominating the eastern half of the country as well as the western mountains near Tripoli, the national capital. A near-stalemate held for about five months, as a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone and NATO-led bombing campaign kept Gaddafi's forces at bay. Then, in late August, the rebels suddenly stormed into Tripoli, taking the national capital and many of the surrounding areas. The Gaddafi government only remained in control of a few scattered cities and desert outposts.

See Also: Political Geography Now: Libyan Rebels Take Capital

The NTC's official flag of Libya (bottom) has replaced that
of Gaddafi (top). Public domain, from this Wikipedia page.
For two months following the takeover of Tripoli, the NTC mounted a campaign to drive out the last bastions of Gaddafi loyalist control and reunite the country under their own banner. The first area to fall was the southwestern Fezzan, a desert region with Sabha as its major city, in mid-to-late September. Then came Tripoli's neighbor Bani Walid on 17 October, and finally Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte three days later. As Sirte fell to the rebels, Gaddafi himself was finally captured, and soon died under mysterious circumstances. NTC Chair Mustafa Abdul Jalil declared the war officially over on 23 October. NATO's enforcement and bombing mission ended one week later, following the U.N. Security Council's withdrawal of its authorization for a no-fly zone and military protection of civilians. The rebel victory also brings an end to the dispute over the country's flag (see illustration at left) and its official name, now just "Libya" rather than Gaddafi's inventive "Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya."

Wikipedia: 2011 Libyan Civil War

As the NTC rebels expanded their control over the country and Libyan diplomats abroad defected by the dozen, many countries around the world made the gesture of recognizing the NTC as the legitimate government of Libya. One hundred U.N. member states and four non-member states have declared their recognition of the new government, though the point is largely moot now that the NTC officially represents Libya in the United Nations itself. On 16 September, the U.N. General Assembly voted by a majority to hand over the country's seat to the NTC, with 114 countries in favor and only 17 countries from Africa and Latin America voting against (a number of other delegations abstained or were absent). The African Union, within which Muammar Gaddafi was until recently a prominent figure, had declined to fully support the rebels during the war, but finally authorized the NTC to hold Libya's seat in the organization on 20 October. Libya is also a member of the Arab League, which handed representation over to the NTC after the fall of Tripoli in August. Prior to that, Libya's Arab League membership had been suspended in support of the rebels.

Countries officially recognizing the NTC during the war in dark blue, and countries officially opposing it in dark red. Libya in yellow. Countries in lighter colors unofficially acknowledged or opposed the NTC through diplomatic activities or votes in the U.N. General Assembly. Slightly modified from public domain Wikimedia map (source).
Wikipedia: International Recognition of the National Transitional Council