Libyan resistance movement

Not to be confused with Anti-Gaddafi forces.
Libyan resistance movement (1923-1943)
LocationItalian Libya, Egypt, Sudan
  • Suppression of the rebellion by the Italians
  • Omar Mukhtar executed
  • Allied occupation of Libya and eventually Libyan independence in 1951

 Kingdom of Italy

 British Empire (from 1942)
 France (from 1942)
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Italy Rodolfo Graziani

Emir Idris of Cyrenaica

Omar Mukhtar  
~856,000 soldiers Thousands
Casualties and losses

40,000[1]-70,000 dead[2] (battles, deportation, starvation etc.).

250,000-300,000 total loss (migration of indigenous) [3]

The Libyan resistance movement was the resistance movement against the Italian colonization of Libya.


Second Italo-Senussi War (1923-1932)

The Libyan resistance was initially led by Omar Mukhtar (Arabic عمر المختار ‘Umar Al-Mukhtār) (1862 - 16 September 1931), who was from the tribe of Mnifa, born in a small village called Janzour located in the eastern part of Barqa. He was the leader for almost ten years starting in 1923.

Later King Idris and his Senussi tribe in the provinces of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania started to become opposed to the Italian colonization after 1929, when Italy changed its political promises of moderate "protectorate" to the Senussi (done in 1911) and - because of Benito Mussolini - started to take complete colonial control of Libya.

Resistance was totally crushed by General Rodolfo Graziani in the 1930s and the country was fully controlled by the Italians with the help of Arab fascists, to the point that many Libyan colonial troops fought on the side of Italy between 1940 and 1943: two divisions of Libyan colonial troops were created in the late 1930s and 30,000 native Libyans fought for Italy during World War II.

World War II (1940-1943)

15,000 Chadian soldiers fought for Free France during World War II, which included several campaigns in the Fezzan[4]

In 1940 the Libyans in the coastal areas were granted Italian citizenship as part of the fascist efforts to create the Imperial Italy in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. This reduced the appeal of the Libyan resistance movement to a few Arab/Berbers populations of the Fezzan area only, but this was practically non-existent until the arrival of French troops in the area in 1942. The Fezzan was occupied by the Free French in 1943. At the close of World War II the British and French collaborated with the small new resistance. France and the United Kingdom decided to make King Idris the Emir of an independent Libya in 1951.

See also


  1. Mohamed Fekini and the Fight to Free Libya - Angelo Del Boca,Antony Shugaar
  2. A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures - Prem Poddar,Rajeev Shridhar Patke,Lars Jensen
  3. John L. Wright, Libya, a Modern History, Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 42.
  4. S. Decalo, 53
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