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5. Italian Libya (1911-1951)

 

Crisis Phase (October 4, 1911-March 11, 1912): Italian government troops invaded Libya on October 4, 1911, and captured Tripoli from Turkish troops on October 5, 1911. Italy formally annexed Tripoli on November 5, 1911.

Conflict Phase (March 12, 1912-April 17, 1917): Senussi tribesmen rebelled against the Italian government beginning on March 12, 1912. Government troops and Senussi tribesmen clashed near Ras al-Laban on September 17, 1912, resulting in the deaths of some 200 government soldiers and 1,200 Senussi tribesmen. Italian and Turkish representatives signed the Treaty of Lausanne on October 17, 1912, which provided for Turkish recognition of Italian sovereignty over Libyan territory. Government troops suppressed an Arab rebellion in the Tripolitanian region on March 23, 1913, and government troops occupied the Tripolitanian region. Government troops attacked Senussi tribesmen near Banna on April 13, 1913, resulting in the deaths of some 200 tribesmen. Government troops attacked Arab tribesmen near Sidi ‘Aziz on May 16, 1913, resulting in the deaths of 70 Italian soldiers. Some 3,000 Arab tribesmen led by Sheikh Suf al-Mahmudi and Sheikh Harb al-Naili fled to French Tunisia in 1913. Some 600 Arab tribesmen led by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah al-Busayfi fled to the Fezzan region, but Sheikh al-Busayfi was killed by government troops near Mahrugah on December 24, 1913. Government troops and Senussi tribesmen clashed in the Benghazi region in February 1914, resulting in the deaths of some 280 tribesmen and 35 government soldiers. Government troops commanded by Colonel Antonio Miani occupied Ghat in the Fezzan region on August 12, 1914. Arab tribesmen rebelled against government troops in the Fezzan and Jabal regions beginning on September 28, 1914. Arab tribesmen led by Salim Abd al-Nabi al-Zintani defeated government troops near Sabha on November 27, 1914. Arab tribesmen captured Murzaq from government troops on December 6, 1914, and captured Ghat from government troops on December 23, 1914. Colonel Miani and government troops fled to Misurata in the Syrtica (Syrte) region on December 25, 1914. Government troops commanded by Colonel Miani were defeated by Arab tribesmen near al-Gardabiyya (Qasr bu Hadi) on April 28-29, 1915, resulting in the deaths of some 735 Italian/Libyan soldiers. Colonel Miani ordered the execution of some 700 Arab civilians in retaliation for the defeat near Gardabiyya. Colonel Milo Talbot of Britain facilitated negotiations between representatives of Italy and the Senussi tribe in al-Zuwaitina and Marmarica beginning on July 25, 1916. The Italian government and the Senussi tribe exchanged prisoners on March 27, 1917. Government and Senussi tribe representatives signed a formal ceasefire agreement (Akrama Agreement) on April 17, 1917. Some 16,000 individuals, including some 3,000 Italian government soldiers, were killed during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (April 18, 1917-May 21, 1922): Italian and Tripolitanian Arabs signed a peace treaty (al-Qanun al-Asasi) in Khalat al-Zaytunah on April 18, 1919. Italian and Senussi tribe representatives signed the Accord of al-Rajma in Rome on October 25, 1920, which provided for Italian recognition of Sayyid Muhammad Idris of Cyrenaica as head of the autonomous administration of the oases of Jaghbub, Aujila, Jalu, and Kufra. Italian troops occupied Misurata in the Syrtica (Syrte) region on January 26, 1922.

Conflict Phase (May 22, 1922-January 24, 1932): Italian troops launched a military offensive against Senussi tribesmen led by Sheikh ‘Umar al-Mukhtar in eastern Libya beginning on May 22, 1922. Sayyid Muhammad Idris (Idris al-Senussi) fled into exile in Egypt on December 21, 1922. Italian troops occupied the Tripolitanian region in 1923. Italian troops seized the Senussi camp near Khawalan on March 6, 1923. Italian troops captured the village of Ajadabiya from Senussi tribesmen commanded by Qajja bin ‘Abdalla on April 21, 1923. General Luigi Bongiovanni, Italian governor of the Libyan colony, proclaimed null and void the previous agreements with the Senussi tribe on May 1, 1923. Some 800 Senussi tribesmen were killed by Italian troops between March 6 and September 3, 1923. Italian troops captured the oasis of Jaghbub on February 7, 1926. Senussi tribesmen defeated Italian troops near al-Rahaiba on March 28, 1927, resulting in the deaths of some 320 Italian/Libyan soldiers. Italian troops suppressed the Senussi rebellion in eastern Libya on January 3, 1928. Italian troops and Senussi tribesmen clashed near Tagrifit on March 24, 1928 and ‘Afiya on October 31, 1928. The Italian government administratively merged the Tripolitanian and Cyrenaican regions on January 24, 1929. Italian troops and Senussi tribesmen led by Sayyid al-Hasan clashed on January 8, 1930, resulting in the deaths of 80 tribesmen. Italian troops occupied the Fezzan region in 1930. Italian troops commanded by General Rodolfo Graziani defeated Senussi tribesmen near the oasis of al-Hawari on January 19, 1931, and Italian troops occupied Kufra on February 20, 1931. Italian troops detained some 100,000 members of the Senussi tribe in concentrations camps in the Syrtica desert. Sheikh ‘Umar al-Mukhtar, leader of Senussi tribesmen in the Cyrenaica region, was captured by Italian troops on September 12, 1931, and he was executed on September 16, 1931. Italian troops suppressed the Senussi rebellion in eastern Libya on January 24, 1932. Some 80,000 individuals, including 5,000 Italian government soldiers, died during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (January 25, 1932-December 24, 1951): Italy divided Libya into four provinces (Tripoli, Misurata, Benghazi, Derna) on January 1, 1934. British troops captured Benghazi from Italian troops on November 20, 1942, and captured Tripoli from Italian troops on January 23, 1943. Libyan nationalists began a movement for independence from Italy on November 30, 1946. The League of Arab States (LAS) Council expressed support for Libyan independence on March 24, 1947, October 9, 1947, and February 22, 1948. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly approved a resolution on November 21, 1949, which called for the independence of Libya by January 1, 1952. Emir Sayyid Mohammed Idris was proclaimed King of Libya on December 4, 1950. The LAS expressed support for Libyan independence on February 2, 1951 and October 13, 1951. The National Assembly approved a constitution on October 7, 1951. Libya formally achieved its independence from Italy on December 24, 1951.

[Sources: Ahmida, 1994, 103-140; Brogan, 1992, 45-52; Butterworth, 1976, 134-135; Clodfelter, 1992, 640-641; Evans-Pritchard, 1949, 104-190; Jessup, 1998, 426-430; Langer, 1972, 1079-1081, 1292-1293; Pelt, 1970, 3-57.]