DOSSIER – One thousand and one Libyas

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An Italian fabrication in 1911, later inherited by the Allies in ’45, which then organised its independence in ’52 by concocting King Idris’ proWestern monarchy. His reign coincided with the discovery of extensive oil reserves promptly handed over for exploitation to Western companies.

This arrangement was scuppered by the proclamation of the Libyan Arab Republic in ’69 and the institution of a one-party system, the Arab Socialist Union led by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the undisputed leader of the Libyan cluster up until 2011. The geometry of Libyan borders is particularly striking. It stems from the treatises signed by the various colonial settlers. The borders run along parallels and meridians and ignore such natural borders as rivers, valleys and mountains. A vast country, of which over 95% is uninhabited desert looking out over the Mediterranean, is where six million people live and all too often fight each other.

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