2006 was a turning point for the Law of Muammar Gaddafi (Mu῾ammar al-Qadhdhāfī), which was removed from the US list of countries supporting terrorism and was thus able to re-enter the official circles of international diplomacy, abandoning that status of pariah that had characterized its foreign policy since the 1970s. The openings of the international community were – at least officially – conditioned by a series of progressive economic and social reforms, aimed at transforming the country from a rentier state – a state that based its revenues almost exclusively on the sale of natural resources abroad – as an actor in the market economy, as well as mitigating the authoritarian nature of the Ǧamāhīriyya (“regime of the masses”) regime, the Gaddafi political doctrine.
If since 2006 bilateral relations with the United States and the major European powers were officially re-established, among which Great Britain and France – until then among the most hostile countries to Gaddafi – as well as new extra-European partners such as Russia and China, it also seemed take on new forms the privileged relationship that the country had maintained with Italy in the previous forty years. Italy had benefited from the opening of the Libya to international markets. Tripoli remained the first supplier of oil to Italy and the third of gas (in 2004 Greenstream, the gas pipeline connecting with Sicily, was inaugurated). The third Berlusconi government, in particular, had concluded the Italo-Libyan friendship treaty in 2008, with which he undertook to compensate Tripoli for the colonial period with 250 million dollars in twenty years. This was joined by the 25 billion dollars of new investments planned by ENI for the following years, and the heavy contracts closed by Finmeccanica in 2009 with the Libyan sovereign wealth funds.
Even though the Gaddafi regime was opening up to growing political and commercial relations with the United States, the EU, China and Russia, the Tripoli establishment nevertheless proceeded slowly in the field of economic and political reforms. Despite the reform drive of Gaddafi’s second son, Sayf al-Islām, the authoritarian nature and the repressive apparatus of the regime remained substantially unaffected, as did the endemic corruption, the inefficiency of the public administration and some social problems of the country. which had their roots in the tribal nature of Libya, as well as the danger of extremism of an Islamic nature, which saw in Cyrenaica the area most at risk. Above all, little changed in the fundamental structure of the Libyan state, that of a rentier was founded on a social pact that ‘corrupted’ the citizen by paying public money and guaranteeing primary goods and services in exchange for political compliance.
All this contributed to exposing Libya to the risk of internal instability when North Africa was hit by the insurrectionist wave of the so-called Arab Spring. Following the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, in February 2011 the first clashes broke out between the regime and opponents, who quickly managed to take over Benghazi (the second largest city in the country) and Cyrenaica, transforming the revolt into a civil war. In March, following the very harsh military response of the Tripoli regime, under Franco-British pressure, the UN Security Council approved Resolution 1973, which allowed ‘all necessary measures’ to be taken to protect the civilian population and translated in the establishment of a no fly zone. The escalation which followed led to the military intervention of an alliance led by France, Great Britain and the United States and placed under NATO command (which Italy also later took part in). After several months of violent fighting and reversals, the rebels – with the air and logistical support of the international coalition – prevailed and, in August 2011, launched the final offensive that led them to Tripoli in the following September. Gaddafi, on the run, was captured and summarily executed the following month. For Libya 2002, please check commit4fitness.com.
The process of building the new Libyan state that followed the civil conflict of 2011, which began under the auspices of the general euphoria of the country and the international community, soon found itself dealing with unsolved problems. Following the vote for the National General Congress (GNC) on July 7, 2012, the first Democrat of the new Libya, the new government failed to impose its authority on the entire country. The instability caused by the civil war progressively led Libya into chaos, increasing the divisions between the central government and the numerous militias that had strengthened precisely following the weakening of central authority (as well as the flow of armaments during and after the war). In 2013 and 2014 kidnappings, targeted attacks and clashes between parties multiplied and armed militias. Added to this was the forceful re-emergence of jihadist terrorism (the US ambassador lost his life in the attack on the Benghazi consulate in September 2012), particularly active in Derna, in Cyrenaica, the first city outside Syrian-Iraqi territory to be declared under IS control in October 2014. Following the elections of June 2014, a political and military polarization led to the creation of two governments and two parliaments (in Tobruk those recognized by the international community and the others in Tripoli); the United Nations tried to remedy this conflict with a long attempt at mediation led by special envoy Bernardino León.