Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Libya to fall apart like Yugoslavia

John Boaler (Write Back, August 29) is right to draw our attention to the amazing fact that Colonel Gaddafi ruled Libya for 42 years. In this he is rather similar to Marshall Tito, who did much the same for Yugoslavia.

This comparison is highly apt, since both countries were established under similar conditions after the Second World War as part of the break-up of the old supra-national empires.

What most people do not realise is that Libya is an artificial creation; essentially a conglomeration of what was left of the Ottoman Empire in north Africa after the French took control of the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) and the British took over Egypt.

Its components have little in common: Tripolitania is essentially part of the Maghreb, whereas Behghazi and Cyrenaica is more within the Egyptian cultural sphere.

This division goes back to antiquity, when the former was part of the Western (Latin) Roman Empire, whereas the latter was Byzantine (Greek).

In this, Libya is very similar to Yugoslavia and we can expect it to fall apart with similarly horrific ethnic conflicts.

MARTIN D STERN

Salford, Greater Manchester

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