The Libyan War of 2011

Libya War 2011

Libyan rebels hoisting the pre-Gadhafi Libyan flag





Libyan Dictator, Colonel Muamar Gadhafi, before his fall from power


Khadafi death

Colonel Muamar Gadhafi, killed after his fall from power

The Libyan War (also referred to as the 1st Libyan Civil War or the February 19 Revolution) began as a protest movement against long-time Libyan leader Colonel Muamar Gadhafi and quickly escalated into a full-scale civil war. As the Libyan government forces increased their use of deadly force on the rebels, the United Nations imposed a "No-Fly Zone" over Libya in order to "protect Libyan civilians." The Libyan No-Fly Zone's enforcement was undertaken by a coalition of European nations and the United States. The Libyan No-Fly Zone was begun with airstrikes and ship-borne missile strikes at Libyan air-defense installations as well as Libyan ground forces.


The coalition enforcing the No-Fly Zone includes (as of March 31, 2011), the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, and Spain.

From March 19 to March 31, the foreign military operation was under American command. On March 31, the United States turned over command of the operation to NATO. President Obama cited this hand-over in his televised speech to the American public on March 29 as a significant downsizing of American involvement in the Libya War. As many analysts and commentators rightly pointed out, this claim was somewhat obsequious, as any NATO operation has significant American military, diplomatic, and political involvement, as the U.S. is NATO's most powerful member.

In addition to air and naval firepower in open aid to the rebels, it was disclosed on March 31, that the American Central Intelligence Agency was on the ground aiding the rebels.

Throughout April, 2011, NATO airstrikes continued to pound Libyan military positions and units, while the ground war between Gadhafi's forces and the rebels took on a see-saw effect, as several towns and positions changed hands between them. Many outside analysts saw the war grinding into a stalemate, with Gadhafi's forces controlling most of western Libya, while the rebels held most of eastern Libya.

In the last week of April, the United States announced the introduction of its unmanned Predator drones to the war.

On April 30, 2011, the Libyan government announced that a NATO airstrike killed Gadhafi's youngest son, Saif al Arab Gadhafi, aged 29, and three of Gadhafi's grandchildren. In the rebel capital of Benghazi, celebratory gunfire erupted upon word that the younger Gadhafi's death. The Libyan spokesman who announced Said Gadhafi's death also claimed that the NATO strike was a failed attempt to kill the Libyan leader himself, implying that Muamar Gadhafi himself was in the house at the time of the attack.

By mid-August, 2011, the rebel advance had placed Tripoli in a siege. NATO airstrikes continued to aid the rebels, and speculation continued as to whether Gadhafi would flee Libya or make a bloody last stand in Tripoli. Amid that speculation, though, the Gadhafi regime fell in a spectacular military collapse August 21, 2011, as rebels advanced almost unopposed into Tripoli. The night before, rebel cells within the capital city rose up against Gadhafi's forces, seizing control of several neighborhoods. As of the evening of August 21, some reports indicate that Saif al-Islam, Gadhafi's son and one-time heir, had been captured.

After the liberation of Tripoli, the rebels besieged the two remaining Gadhafi strongholds of Bani Walid, and Sirte, which was the hometown of the fallen dictator. In October, 2011, forces of the new Libyan government overcame Gadhafi loyalist opposition, and captured the two towns. On October 20, after a U.S. Predator drone destroyed the first vehicle in a convoy fleeing Sirted, a French airstrike devastated a the convoy, forcing the survivors of the attack to flee on foot. Muamar Gadhafi and some of his bodyguards survived and attempted to hide in a concrete drainage ditch. They were found, and Gadhafi was reportedly captured alive, though he was soon shot dead. Photos of Gadhafi's body were shown on televisions and internet devices around the world.

Libya's new government, the Interim Transitional Council (NTC), announced that October 23, 2011 would mark Libya's Libertion Day. NATO announce that the military mission would conclude at the end of October.

In the chaotic aftermath of Gahafi's fall, the various rebel factions began fighting among themselves for control of Libya and her oil in what became the Second Libyan Civil War. Foreign intervention continued as each Libyan militia gained outside sponsors. Al-Qaida and the Islamic State (ISIS) also gained footholds, prompting further American and British involvement.

Names of the Conflict:

The Libyan War of 2011

Libyan No-Fly Zone War

Libyan Uprising of 2011

Libyan Civil War

Operational Names of Nations Intervening in Libya:

Operation Odyssey Dawn (United States)

Operation Ellamy (United Kingdom)

Opération Harmattan (France)

Operation Mobile (Canada)

Operation Unified Protector (NATO)



BEGAN: February 15, 2011--Protests against the Libyan government began

Foreign Intervention Began: March 19, 2011

ENDED: October 23, 2011


Gadhafi Death Photo

A photo of Gadhafi after his death

Libya War

Libyan Rebels in a battlefield of the Libyan War of 2011

President Obama's March 29, 2011 Speech on Libya


 Libyan War Sources and Links:

Gaddafi's final hours: Nato and the SAS helped rebels drive hunted leader into endgame in a desert drain --The Telegraph, Oct. 22, 2011, by Ben Farmer


Libya Uprising 2011--Wikipedia article

The Libyan War of 2011-Stratfor

Bombers Over Libya --Air Force Magazine, July, 2011--Interesting article on a vital bombing mission over Libya by two USAF B-1 bombers.

2011 military intervention in Libya--Wikipedia article

NATO strike kills Kadafi son, Libyan official says--LA Times, April 30, 2011

Qaddafi Survives Airstrike That Kills Son--New York Times, April 30, 2011

Ten Libyan rebels killed in coalition air strike --Jerusalem Post, April 2, 2011

Is it lawful to kill Gadhafi? --MSNBC.com, April 2, 2011

A defiant Gaddafi digs in --National Post, April 2, 2011

Initial Costs of Libyan Intervention on Low End of Analysts’ Estimates--New York Times, March 25, 2011

White House: Libya fight is not war, it's 'kinetic military action'--Washington Examiner, March 23, 2011

What's in a Name? 'Odyssey Dawn' Is Pentagon-Crafted Nonsense--Wired, March 21, 2011

Is It a War? Libya Terminology Is Tangled--Wall Street Journal



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