Berbers have inhabited central north Africa since ancient times, but the region has been settled and ruled by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Vandals. In the the 7th century, Islam spread through the region; in the mid-16th century, Ottoman rule began. The Italians supplanted the Ottoman Turks in the area around Tripoli in 1911 and did not relinquish their hold until 1943 when they were defeated in World War II. Libya then passed to UN administration and achieved independence in 1951. Following a 1969 military coup, Col. Muammar al-QADHAFI assumed leadership and began to espouse his political system at home, which was a combination of socialism and Islam. During the 1970s, QADHAFI used oil revenues to promote his ideology outside Libya, supporting subversive and terrorist activities that included the downing of two airliners - one over Scotland, another in Northern Africa - and a discotheque bombing in Berlin. UN sanctions in 1992 isolated QADHAFI politically and economically following the attacks; sanctions were lifted in 2003 following Libyan acceptance of responsibility for the bombings and agreement to claimant compensation. QADHAFI also agreed to end Libya's program to develop weapons of mass destruction, and he made significant strides in normalizing relations with Western nations.
Unrest that began in several Middle Eastern and North African countries in late 2010 erupted in Libyan cities in early 2011. QADHAFI's brutal crackdown on protesters spawned an eight-month civil war that saw the emergence of a National Transitional Council (NTC), UN authorization of air and naval intervention by the international community, and the toppling of the QADHAFI regime. In 2012, the NTC handed power to an elected parliament, the General National Congress (GNC). Voters chose a new parliament to replace the GNC in June 2014 - the House of Representatives (HoR) - which relocated to the eastern city of Tobruk after fighting broke out in Tripoli and Benghazi in July 2014.
In December 2015, the UN brokered an agreement among a broad array of Libyan political parties and social groups - known as the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) - establishing an interim executive body, the Government of National Accord (GNA). However, the HoR and defunct-GNC-affiliated political hardliners continued to oppose the GNA and hamper the LPA’s implementation, leaving Libya with eastern and western-based rival governments. In September 2017, UN Special Representative Ghassan SALAME announced a new roadmap for national political reconciliation. In November 2018, the international community supported SALAME’s recalibrated Action Plan for Libya that aimed to break the political deadlock by holding a National Conference in early 2019. These plans, however, were derailed when the eastern-based self-described Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive to seize Tripoli in April 2019. Several countries sent armed personnel and advanced military equipment into Libya. The LNA's offensive collapsed in June 2020, and a subsequent UN-sponsored cease-fire in October 2020 helped formalize the pause in fighting between rival camps, although some foreign forces, fighters, and mercenaries that aided eastern and western factions during the fighting remain in Libya.
In early 2021, the UN-facilitated Libyan Political Dialogue Forum selected a new prime minister for an interim government, the Government of National Unity (GNU), and a new presidential council charged with preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2021 and uniting the country’s state institutions. The HoR approved the GNU and its cabinet in March 2021, providing Libya with its first unified government since 2014. On 22 December 2021, Libya's parliament postponed the first round of the presidential election to an undetermined date in the future. In March 2022, Libya's HoR voted to replace the GNU's interim Prime Minister, Abdul Hamid DUBAYBAH, with a government led by Fathi BASHAGHA. GNU allegations of an illegitimate HoR vote have allowed Prime Minister DUBAYBAH to remain in office and rebuff BASHAGHA's attempts to seat his government in Tripoli. In late February 2023, Special Representative of the UN Security-General to Libya and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Abdoulaye BATHILY, announced a plan to enable Libyan presidential and legislative elections by the end of 2023.
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NOTE: The information regarding Libya on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Libya 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Libya 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
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