Libya Between 1949 and 1957

The creation of an independent Libyan state came only six years after the end of the war, as the conclusion of a long political and diplomatic skirmish. The total ousting of Italy was accomplished when the UN assembly rejected the Bevin-Sforza compromise in 1949 which provided for an Italian trustee administration in Tripolitania, alongside an English one for Cyrenaica and a French one for Fezzàn. Having instead recommended the creation of an independent and sovereign state, Libya was ruled between 1949 and 1951 by a UN commissioner; in October 1951 a constituent assembly drew up a federal constitution (not without sharp opposition from those who instead advocated a unitary state), and the federal monarchy of Libya was proclaimed on December 24, 1951.

The new kingdom immediately revealed itself in need of military and financial assistance, which the states that had most contributed to its formation provided with a series of agreements: with the agreements of 1951 and 1954 the USA, and with those of 1953, Great Britain undertook, in exchange for air and naval bases, for twenty-year contributions to a public works and agricultural development program; while France for the agreements of 1955 cleared the Fezzàn. Relations with Italy, after long negotiations, resulted in the agreement of 2 October 1956, which liquidated the pending occupation and war, recognizing the private property of the Italians in Tripolitania (Cyrenaica remained and is still inaccessible as a rule to Italians), and thus closing the heavy aftermath of the war and lost colony on the Italian side as best it could. Once the political influence has been eliminated, and the economic one reduced to a very modest level, there remains above all the possibility of a cultural influence from Italy in Libya: cultural influence that the present ruling class recognizes and fully manifests, but which without adequate foresight is uncertain how much it can to remain in the future, in the cultural “reorientation” of the new generations, who naturally feel and cultivate in the first place the links with the rest of the Arab world. The Libyan University of Benghazi, founded in 1956, and the middle and elementary education of the whole kingdom, in fact draws a large part of the foreign staff from Egypt and other Arab countries, and to a minimum part from European states. For Libya 2011, please check

Libya was welcomed into the Arab League in 1953, and between the UN in 1956. Its policy within the Arab bloc was one of support for all pan-Arab solidarity, and at the same time of balance between the dynamism of neighboring Egypt, then RAU, and the bonds on the other side with Maghrib, especially with Tunisia with which in 1957 it concluded a treaty of friendship.

Literature. – Poetry, for many centuries entrusted to an oral tradition, is the most popular literary genre. During the last period of the Turkish domination (1835-1911), alongside poets belonging to the Order of the Senussi, such as ῾Abd al-Raḥīm al-Maġbūb and Aḥmad al-Faqīh Ḥasan (d. 1887), we find Muṣṭafa Ibn Zikrī (1853-1918), who introduced important innovations in love poetry; Muḥammad ῾Abd Allāh al-Sunnī (1860-1929) and Sulaymān al-Bārūnī (1870-1940) who, in addition to forms and contents of classical Arabic poetry, deal with contemporary themes, such as nationalism, liberation from foreigners and the rebirth of Arab world.

These arguments persist, although assuming a more modern color, in the period of the Italian occupation. We recall, among others, Muḥammad Aḥmad al-Šarīf (1864-1959), in whose works also mystical contents appear; Aḥmad Rafīq al-Mahdawī (1898-1961), poet of exile; Aḥmad Aḥmad Qanāba (1898-1968) and Ibrāhīm al-Usṭā ῾Umar (1908-1950), in which symbolism and realism, despair and drive to fight merge.

In 1943 the cultural association ῾Umar al-Muẖtār was founded and in 1955 the Libyan university: these factors, with the changing political situation, influenced the new and numerous generation of poets, among which we remember ῾Alī Ṣidqī ῾Abd al-Qādir (b.1924), who introduced the free verse, Muḥammad al-Mahdī (b.1943) and ῾Alī Muḥammad al-Ruqay῾ī (1934-1966).

Fiction spread after World War II in the wake of translations and adaptations of Western literary works. ῾Abd Allāh al-Quwayrī (b.1930), Kāmil Ḥasan al-Maqhūr (b.1935), ῾Alī Muṣṭafa al-Miṣratī (b.1926), H̱alīfa al-Takbālī (1938-1966), Bašīr alHāšimī (b. 1936) and Yūsuf al-Šarīf (b.1938) adopt canons and stylistic features of realism to describe contradictions and problems of the political situation, industrialization, neo-colonialism and family relationships. Realistic is also the first Libyan novel Bayna al-qalbayni (“Between Two Hearts”, 1967) by Muḥammad ῾Abd al-Kāfī. Writer, but also critic and Italianist, is H̱alīfa al-Tillīsī (b. 1930).

The theater appeared from the end of the 1950s with performances, in both literary and dialectal Arabic, which exalt the struggle against foreign occupation, while works not liked by the regime were and are being censored. Among the playwrights, the aforementioned ῾Abd Allāh al-Quwayrī, ῾Abd al-Ḥamīd al-Maġribī and Muḥammad Ṣālih al-Qammūdi should be mentioned.

With the 1969 revolution, literary production increased, but ideologization made the contents uniform, significantly limiting the multiplicity of voices and cultural freedom.

independent Libyan state