American involvement in the 2011 Libyan Civil War

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American involvement in the Libyan Civil War initially consisted of diplomatic initiatives and sanctions. This was followed by the implementation of the UN-mandated no-fly zone, the development of diplomatic relations with the rebels as well as humanitarian aid, bombing missions to destroy Gaddafi's military capabilities, and diplomatic assistance to the rebels.

In March 2011, five United States Air Force bombers (three B-2s and two B-1Bs) dropped bombs on at least 100 targets in Libya.[1][2]

In June 2011, bombers thought to be from France killed nine civilians in Libya, including two toddlers.[3]

Libya did not develop a central government after the military involvement. [4]

Libyan rebels had consistently told American government officials that they did not want overt foreign military assistance in toppling Gaddafi. Instead, covert military assistance was used (including arms shipments to opposition). The plan following Gaddafi's death was to immediately begin flowing humanitarian assistance to eastern Libya and later western Libya, as the symbolism would be critically important. US sources stressed it as important that they would "not allow Turkey, Italy and others to steal a march on it".[5]

Death of Muammar Gaddafi[edit]

Moments after it was reported that Gaddafi was killed, Fox News published an article titled "U.S. Drone Involved in Final Qaddafi Strike, as Obama Heralds Regime's 'End'",[6] noting that a U.S. Predator drone was involved in the airstrike on Gaddafi's convoy in the moments before his death. An anonymous US official subsequently described their policy in hindsight as "lead[ing] from behind".[7]

Development of American relations with the National Transitional Council[edit]

  1. On 10 March 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met anti-Gaddafi opposition leaders during a trip to Egypt and Tunisia.[8] After the meeting between Clinton and representatives of the council, the European Union and the U.S have decided to talk to the council without officially recognising them, in order to seek further information on the group and its goals.[9]
  2. On 17 March, ahead of a U.N vote on a no-fly zone, Under Secretary of State William Burns affirmed U.S support for a no-fly zone, as well as more aggressive measures to restrain Gaddhafi, that the U.S is investigating transferring Gaddafi's frozen assets to the rebels, and that the NTC[who?] may open an embassy in Washington.[10]
  3. On 29 March, the U.S. confirmed at a conference in London that it will send a formal representative to Benghazi.[11] In late April, Ambassador Gene Cretz said the U.S. was continuing to consider formal recognition of the council, but in the meantime, it is providing strong informal support, including reportedly authorizing international oil deals with rebel-held eastern Libya.[12][13]
  4. On 13 May 2011, US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said his government recognized the National Transitional Council as "a legitimate and credible interlocutor of the Libyan people" after meeting with Prime Minister Mahmoud Jebril.[14] White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the U.S. had not yet decided to fully recognize the council as Libya's sole legitimate representative body.
  5. On 24 May, the NTC opened a formal diplomatic office in Washington, D.C. (the U.S. had already had an office in Benghazi with a formal envoy for nearly two months).[11][15]
  6. On 9 June, Clinton said, "The United States views the Transitional National Council as the legitimate interlocutor for the Libyan people during this interim period," but Washington and Benghazi indicated that the U.S. still had not committed to the same level of formal recognition as France and several other countries.[16]
  7. On 15 July, at an international conference on Libya held in Turkey, Clinton stated that the US had decided to formally recognise the NTC as the country's "legitimate authority", allowing the US to divert over $30 billion worth of Gaddafi regime funds frozen in the US to the NTC.[17]


  1. ^ "Bombers Over Libya". Air Force Magazine. July 2011.
  2. ^ David Axe (July 13, 2011). "Two Bombers, 24 Hours, 100 Libyan Targets Destroyed". Wired. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Nato admits civilians died in Tripoli bombing raid". The Telegraph. 19 June 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  4. ^ Becker, Jo; Shane, Scott (2016-02-27). "Hillary Clinton, 'Smart Power' and a Dictator's Fall". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-28.
  5. ^ "WikiLeaks". Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  6. ^ "U.S. Drone Involved in Final Qaddafi Strike, as Obama Heralds Regime's 'End'". Fox News. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Gaddafi killed: A new kind of US foreign policy success". BBC News. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Clinton to meet anti-Gaddafi opposition as world weighs Libya options". Haaretz. 10 March 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  9. ^ Roland Lloyd Parry, G8 shies away from Libya no-fly plan, AFP, 15 March 2011 Archived February 25, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ לוב מאיימת: אם נותקף, נתקוף מטרות אזרחיות וצבאיות [Libya threatens: if we are attacked, we attack civilian and military targets]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Associated Press. 17 March 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2014. בדבריו בפני ועדת החוץ של הסאנט, אמר תת-שרת החוץ האמריקאית, ויליאם ברנס, כי הממשל מבקש לאסור טיסה בשמי לוב, אך גם לאמץ פעולות נוספות מעבר לכך ובהן תקיפות אוויריות נגד מטרות צבאיות. כמו כן, ארה"ב מבקשת לאשר להעביר את נכסיו המוקפאים של קדאפי לידי המורדים כדי שיוכלו להצטייד בתחמושת וכן לחזק את האמברגו על סחר בנשק עם לוב. עוד מסר ברנס כי ייתכן שהמועצה הלאומית של המורדים בלוב תפתח נציגות בוושינגטון. [In his speech before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate, Undersecretary of State William Burns said that the administration seeks to ban flights over Libya, but also adopt additional actions beyond that, including air strikes against military targets. In addition, the United States seeks to approve transfer Gaddafi's frozen assets to the rebels so they can stock up on ammunition and strengthen the embargo on arms trade with Libya. Burns also said that the National Council of the Libyan rebels may open a representative office in Washington.]
  11. ^ a b Mu Xuequan (29 March 2011). "Libya's rebels say US appoints Benghazi envoy". Xinhua. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  12. ^ "US allows oil deals with Libya's TNC". MENAFN. 29 April 2011. Archived from the original on May 2, 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  13. ^ Dougherty, Jill (27 April 2011). "U.S. still not ready to recognize Libyan opposition". CNN. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  14. ^ "U.S. views Libyan opposition as legitimate interlocutor". Xinhua. 13 May 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011.
  15. ^ Diaa Hadid; Michelle Faul (24 May 2011). "US invites Libyan rebels to open office in DC". CNS News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2012-06-16. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  16. ^ Kenner, David (9 June 2011). "Clinton edges toward recognition of Libyan rebels". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
  17. ^ Lee, Matthew. "US recognizes Libyan rebels as Libyan government". Yahoo News. Associated Press. Retrieved 15 July 2011.