Libya During World Wars

By | December 24, 2021

Claims of the Libyans. Political parties. – During and after the First World War a nationalist party had already formed in Tripolitania which followed in 1919-22 and lost all importance with the reconquest of the territory which continued until 1930 (occupation of Fezzan). Among those who kept the Libyan national demands movement alive, supported not so much by Libyans as by pan-Islamic and pan-Arab organizations abroad, is Beshīr es-Sa‛dāwī, who settled in Damascus and repeatedly published appeals for the liberation of Libya. The refugees spoke in the name of the oppressed people of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica and demanded the implementation of the reforms promised in 1919 (the fundamental statute) or they certainly claimed independence under their own Muslim leader, with a treaty to regulate relations between the Italian state and the future independent state of Libya. The activity of the Libyan exiles increased in 1930-31 in connection with the occupation and reconquest operations and took place especially in Egypt, where Moḥammed Idrīs es-Senūsī, head of the Senussite brotherhood, was in voluntary exile since 1923 and where the leaders of Libyan nationalism found support from local elements, especially through ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān‛ Azzām, who in 1919-22 had collaborated in Libya with the insurgents and nationalists and in Syria. In the following years the wave of unrest calmed down and voices of recognition of the goodness of the civil action carried out by the Italy in Libya; the gesture of handing over the “sword of Islam” to Mussolini in March 1937 in Tripoli was of doubtful value.

Already in October 1939 some Libyan refugees in Egypt had formulated a program for the designation of Moḥammed Idrīs es-Senūsī as Emir of Libya. But these maneuvers would not have had great echo in Libya without Italy’s participation in the Second World War with the very serious consequences relating to Libya. In August 1940, Moḥammed Idrīs es-Senūsī made contact with the British authorities in Egypt and formed an Arab-Libyan body that placed itself at the service of the British. Then came (January 8, 1942) the well-known declaration of the English government in favor of the Senussi. For Libya 1999, please check

Meanwhile, the continuing uncertainty about the fate of Libya and the English occupation on the coast and the French occupation in Fezzan, together with the strengthening of the propaganda and political activity of the Arab countries (‛Abd ar-Raḥmān‛ Azzām is secretary general of the Arab League, v. Araba, Lega, in this second App., I, p. 224), favored the formation in Cyrenaica (v. Cyrenaica, in this App.) and in Tripolitania of political parties that aim to resolve the question of Libya and in part they interpret local aspirations, in large part they are instruments of external ambitions.

In Tripolitania there were five parties in 1947: the Nationalist Party (alḥ izb alwa ṭ an ī) which is linked to the 1919-22 namesake and is chaired by Muṣṭafà Mīzrān; the Liberal Nationalist Bloc (al-kutlah alwa ṭ aniyyah alḥ urrah) headed by ‛Alī el-Faqīh Ḥasan, supporter of absolute independence, with a republican tendency; the union Party Tripoli-Egyptian (ḥ izb toict Hã d a tt ar ā bulus ī tomi ṣ r ī), for the union of Tripolitania with Egypt, possibly with viceroy the Senusso: the Nationalist Front (al giabhah alwa ṭ aniyyah) directed by Salīm el-Muntaṣer; the party of liberals (alA ḥ r ā r).

In Egypt a committee for the defense of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica was set up, chaired by the Egyptian ‛Abd Allāh Lamlūm pashaà who demanded the union of Libya under the Senussian emir and the accession of the new state to the Arab League. Also in Egypt, under the influence of the Arab League, a Committee for the Liberation of Libya (hai’at ta ḥ r ī r L ī by ā) directed by the aforementioned Beshīr es-Sa‛dāwī, who works to bring together the various parties in asking for the independence and union of all Libya: Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica. In this situation, the tendency of those who would gladly see the return of Italy and the continuation of its work of civilization under a trustee regime has had the opportunity to publicly manifest itself.

Peace negotiations until December 1948. – In the peace negotiations of 1946 and 1947 various tendencies arose: England referred to the commitment to the Senussi for Cyrenaica, while public opinion was informed that the position of Cyrenaica acquired great strategic importance following the withdrawal British troops from Egypt and Palestine; Russia asked for the trusteeship of Tripolitania, then showed itself in favor of the return of Libya to Italy proposed by France; the United States seemed in favor of a trust administration over Libya to be entrusted to Italy or to several United Nations; Egypt was asking for some border adjustments, the independence of Libya or, at least, the administration entrusted to Egypt itself. In the Treaty of Paris of February 10, 1947, which went into effect on September 15 of the same year, Italy was forced to renounce the colonies, remaining established that the foreign ministers of the major four powers (SU, France, England, USSR) tried to come to an agreement on their final fate within one year from the entry into force of the treaty and, in case of disagreement, the matter was referred to the general assembly of the UN A Conference of the substitutes of the four foreign ministers began the negotiations on the former Italian colonies by sending an investigative commission to visit Eritrea, Somalia and Libya to get to know the wishes of the people concerned on the spot. The commission arrived in Tripoli on 8 March 1948 and listened to the district leaders, the heads of political parties, the city bodies, the tribes of the interior; among other things, it received the representative committee of the Italians of Tripolitania which presented exhaustive reports on the work carried out by Italy; he then visited the Fezzan and, in early May, the Cyrenaica; in July 1948 he presented the report, which was not published; however, we know that it recognizes the immaturity of the countries visited, including Libya, to immediate independence.

The Italian government, for its part, in a declaration at the conference of substitutes in London on November 19, 1947, requested, referring to the principles enshrined in the San Francisco charter of 1945, the trusteeship on Libya, Eritrea and Somalia, believing that this solution “is in conformity with the interests of those territories and all their populations and that it serves world peace, constituting a new practical affirmation of the only ideals that must now guide the peoples in the their collaboration on every continent “. With a subsequent note of March 9, 1948, the Italian government set out more particularly, with regard to Libya, the reasons that support its request for trusteeship over all of Libya (Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan) to prepare “the necessary conditions for the Libya becomes, as soon as possible and with the guarantee of the United Nations, a fully independent state and takes, in the harmonious collaboration of all the elements that make up its population,

On 30 July 1948 in London, when the work of the substitutes for foreign ministers resumed after the presentation of the reports of the Commission of Inquiry, the Italian government, comforted by the unanimous public opinion, renewed the request for trusteeship on all the former colonies Italian. As the foreign ministers did not find a solution to the problem of the Italian colonies by 15 September 1948, the question was referred to the UN General Assembly, which briefly examined it in the Paris session (September-December 1948) to decide (December 8) that it be postponed to the next session scheduled for April 1949.

Libya During World Wars