Gaddafi and Decolonising Libya

Moammar Gadhafi, Gamal Abdel Nasser




Gaddafi was Swift, Determined and Successful in Expelling the Imperialists.

Liberation means expelling the white imperialists, not inviting them back to bomb and occupy you

by Sukant Chandan – Sons of Malcolm

Jonathan Bearman’s book published in 1986 on Libya is the best book on the subject that I have come across. All the other books either omit vast facts of history, such as those books by Robert Bruce St John (probably ‘the; authority on Libya from any writer in the ‘west’) which white washes the usa, brits and french role in Libya.

There is a spat of books that talk of Libya more recently, especially sine the fall of the Jamahirya, it’s a shame that brother Vijay Prasad’s book on Libya is also full of all kinds of omissions and distortions of what has taken place in Libya especially in the rapprochement period (post 1999) and since February 2011, quite a shame from someone who has made large part of his career in generally good book on the history of the Non-Aligned Movement and the anti-imperialist movement post second world war. I’ll endeavour to review more of brother Prasad’s book in the coming period.

The below extract from Bearman’s book shows how the Libyan Revolution of 1st September 1969 led by Muammar Gaddafi (spelt ‘Qadhafi’ in the book) achieved concrete anti-strides within the first months and one or two years of the revolution, fulfilling the greatest Libyan patriot’s mission – Omar Al-Mukhtar – to expel the colonialists from Libya.

This was achieved by the leadership of the Revolutionary Command Council, the leading body of the revolution with Gaddafi at its helm, it had a ideology of ‘third world’ nationalism/internationalism, Arab Nationalism and social justice, and was in many ways closely allied to and a protégé of neighbouring Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, with Gaddafi naming the airbase in al-Adem and Tobruk after this great African and Arab after expelling the brits from their bases, which by the by was where the sas first operated in their existence.

The sas made a return to Libya in Febuary 2011 thanks to all those agents of the mi6, cia and French intelligence who went on to form their death squads, wrongly named ‘rebels’ who have with the help and facilitation of the brits, yanks and french and other nato powers turned Libya from a once most prosperous, peaceful and developed African state, into a torture states conducive for lunching Black people and patriots, destroying the peace between the tribes under Gaddafi into a mob state of 400 militias. We all know that the sas were operating with the rebels since the first days of the rebellion pointing to a much longer plan for regime change.

The below extract shows how the historic gains of the 1st Sepember al-Fatah Revolution of Gaddafi has been totally reversed. The hope remains that North Africans and Libyans will revisit the experience of the Revolution, see the many gains it made for the Libyan people and resistant-oppressed peoples across the world, and pursue a path of recapturing that strategy in new circumstances and new challenges.

Today the resistant town of Bani Walid is currently facing the full onslaught of these death squads and their nato masters, and are showing the world how a proud and defiant people stand tall for their tribe, land, families and dignity. Those who choose to justify what is happening to them and the Libyan people, and those who justify it are the enemies of the peoples, the enemy of Omar Al-Mukhtar, and God and the Ancestors will deliver the appropriate justice to them.

‘The Expulsion of the Bases’
Qadhafi’s Libya, Jonathan Bearman, 1986, Zed Books, pages 76-79 

For Libya’s strategic patrons, Britain and the United States, the anti-colonial discourse embarked on by the new authorities had its most immediate and devastating impact in the elimination of their military bases. These were of no minor significance. The British and American military facilities in Libya added an extra dimension to the Western, NATO alliance, particularly regarding possible intervention in the region. The ranges around Wheelus Field and al-Adem were unrivalled in the scope they offered for military exercises. Whilst the RAF and USAF benefited from near perfect conditions for low level flying runs with live ammunition, in Cyrenaica the British retained access to terrain ideal for large scale practice manoeuvres. British and American resistance to the new regime’s stated intention of expelling the foreign military presence was expected. For the United States in particular, the closure of Wheelus Field would be a strategic loss, affecting their military capacity in the region at a time when the Soviet presence in Egypt was growing.

The threat to the bases was the main concern in London and Washington after the sudden deposition of the monarchy. Indeed, the British and the Americans, in eschewing precipitous action in support of the Idris regime, had hoped to safeguard the future of their facilities in a fresh agreement with the new authorities. There was no guarantee, one the RCC’s official position had become clear, that either country would comply without the exercise of force. Despite the pro forma denials of the British Foreign Office, it was common knowledge in the Arab world that the British had a contingency plan for intervention in Libya. As part of the 1953 Anglo-Libya treaty, a secret protocol was attached providing for the invasion of Libya in case of an emergency. Details of the plan, code named Operation Radford were obtained by the Egyptians in 1965 from an archivist at the British Ministry of Defence. Published in full in Al-Ahram, the plan called for the movement of British troops from Germany, Malta and Cyprus n order the defend the King and restore order. According to Mohammed Heikal, Al-Ahram’s editor, the contingency scheme was intended precisely for the situation which had occurred in Libya. What deterred the British was the speed and decisiveness with which the Free Officers acted. Had a prolonged struggle ensued, Britain and the United States would have been handed a pretext for intervention.

In Qadhafi, the British and Americans were faced with a new leader who would brook no compromise. N his keynote speech in Tripoli on 16 October, Qadhafi boldly pledged that he would turn the country into a ‘battlefield’ if the British and Americans failed to withdraw by ‘reasonable means’. Two weeks later, on 29 October, the RCC made its formal approach to Britain on the subject, demanded the prompt evacuation of British forces from Libyan territory. The British, under Defence Minister Denis Healey, assessed he situation carefully. Loss of the training grounds in Cyrenaica was considered damaging, but there seemed no alternative to acquiescence. The experience of Suez and the Algerian civil war, warned against further colonial adventures. The Wilson government responded with a call for talks; these lasted for two sessions –  a total of six hours. At the first meeting on 8 December, the British Ambassador Donald Maitland, was instructed to concede the principle of withdrawal. After than, it was simply a question of working out the details. At the second session, a week later, Maitland announced a departure deadline of 31 March 1970. Even before the talks had commenced, the British had reduced their presence at al-Adem and Tobruk from 2,000 in October to 1,000 in December.

In forcing the issue, the Libyans had adeptly deployed a number of powerful bargaining counters. The most important was their ability – particularly injurious in a rising oil power – to threaten the withdrawal of their sterling balances, standing at £384 million. If that proved insufficient, they could also initiate the reversion of the dispensable contracts, and nationalise BP and other British interests in Libya. The British, on the other hand, were in a relatively weak position; they could only counter Libya with a threat to suspend the contract for the supply of 200 Chieftain tanks, ordered by the previous regime to boost the Libyan armed forces’ ground capacity. It was a defiant gesture unlikely to be effective. At the time, British overseas commitment were under general review as the Labour government began Britain’s retreat from east of Suez. The British were simply disinclined for an entanglement with another nationalist government. Maitland’s mission, as far as Whitehall was concerned, was to urge on the Libyans a joint communiqué emphasising the mutual benefits of further Anglo-Libyan co-operation. For London it was a question of damage control, chiefly to protect extensive British economic interests.

Flushed with success, the RCC turned its attention to the evacuation of the American air base at Wheelus Field. Talks commenced in December, soon after the British had conceded, but not without much disquiet at the prospect of handling over the sophisticated base – the regional headquarters of USAF – to a ‘radical Arab regime’. Indeed, had it seemed probable that the Libyans would hand over the facilities to the Soviet Union, the Nixon administration may have baulked at withdrawal. But Qadhafi was insistent that Libyan would not open the facilities to other foreign powers. ‘Revolutionary Libya will never substitute a foreigner for another foreigner or an intruder for another intruder’, he was quoted as saying in the Libyan Mail in May 1970. In any event, Britain’s decision to withdraw had already pulled the rug from under the Americans, so Washington submitted. On 24 December, the day after the British announced their withdrawal, a joint Libyan-American statement tersely announced that the United States would follow suit on June 30. In fact, the American evacuation, like the British, was finally carried out before the deadline, and with a minimum of fuss. The British finally left Libya on 28 March, and the Americans completed their withdrawal on 11 June. It was a historic achievement. Celebrating a ‘victory over imperialism’, the revolutionary authorities renamed al-Adem Airbase, Gamal Abdul Nasser Airbase, and Wheelus Field, Okba bin Nafi Airbase, after one of the original Arab conquerors of Libya.

Any hope that either country had of maintaining some military influence in Libya, through supply and training arrangements, was soon dissipated. On 29 December, following up their initial success, the RCC cancelled the former regime’s contract with the British Aircraft Corporation … In November, the first tentative approached were made to the French government as an alternative arms supplier [..] The French saw in it a means to extend their influence in North Africa at the expense of the British and Americans. In January 1970, the conclusion of the deal was announced: France agreed to sell Libya an initial 50 Mirage V aircraft, 15 to be delivered by 1971.

The Libyans wanted these highly coveted French warplanes to rebuild the Arab arsenal in the confrontation with Israel. Nasser viewed Libya as a conduit for arms that were otherwise blocked by the Western arms embargo. While the negotiation was still taking place he told Qadhafi: “If you can get Phantoms or Mirages, this will be a colossal addition to Arab strength.”

[The final French deal with Libya] on 31 January totalled 110 warplanes […] No conditions were attached to their use in the Middle East conflict, other than that they just be ‘based’ and ‘maintained’ in Libya. The only real restrictions applied to their use in a clash French client states in Africa.

The deal was another triumph for the revolutionary authorities. Not only had the RCC expelled the foreign bases, it had dramatically ended its military dependence on Britain and the United States; Britain had lost its place as the leading supplier of the Libyan Army and Navy, and the United States had been ousted from its role as the man contractor for the Libya air force. The switch in arms purchase to France permitted the RCC greater room to manoeuvre in pursuit of its nationalist objectives [..] The revolutionary authorities succeeded in their most important goal: the British and American military stranglehold on Libya was broken.



by Sukant Chandan – Sons of Malcolm Network reloaded at




4 responses to “Gaddafi and Decolonising Libya

  1. Pingback: Gaddafi and Decolonising #Libya | Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. |


  3. Pingback: Gaddafi and Decolonising Libya | Global politics |

  4. Thank You for this article and historic analysis . The Sad part is that the reason for the Al Fateh Revolution had been forgotten by the Jamhiriya . The revolutionaries were removed and replaecd by INTERLOPERS and SCYHOPHANTS . And their “vision” of Islamic Disneyland .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s