Libya Culture

Libya Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Libya

According to BUSINESSCARRIERS.COM, Libya is a country located in Africa. The spread of daily newspapers in Libya is very limited (35 newspaper excl. Per 1,000 inv., 2000). The only daily newspaper, al-Fajr al-Jadid (‘The New Dawn’; 40,000 copies), is state-controlled. Press and magazines usually have the state news agency Jamahiriya News Agency (JANA) or the government as a publisher.

Also the radio (founded in 1957) and television (founded in 1968) are under state control. In 1971, radio broadcasts began targeting areas occupied by Israel. There are 339 radio and 189 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to ALLUNITCONVERTERS, as in the rest of North Africa, Libyan culture mixes old Arabic, Berber and Islamic traditions with newer influences from Europe and the rest of the world.

The traditional craftsmanship is characterized by colorful and ornate textiles as well as patterned works in leather and metal. In accordance with a common interpretation of Islam’s commandments, traditionally people’s faces are not depicted.

Arabic and Berber music live on in their old forms but have been challenged by modern, Arabic pop music with Western influences. The latter is represented in the country by musicians such as Nasser al-Mizdawi and Ahmed Fakroun.

Among the authors are the productive Ibrahim al-Koni, of Tuaregic origin, and the younger exile-Libyan Hisham Matar, who has had great success abroad with his books written in English.

On UNESCO’s World Heritage List are five archaeological sites, including Roman ruins, several thousand-year-old rock paintings and the old quarter of the oasis town of Ghadamès. Best known is Leptis Magna on the Mediterranean, which is described as one of the most beautiful places in the Roman Empire, and Kyrene founded by Greeks. As a result of the fighting in Libya, the United Nations Organization in 2016 decided to consider all of the country’s world heritage as threatened.



Food distribution to migrants

June 15

Nearly 10,000 migrants in Libya will be provided with food by two UN organizations, which will start the food distribution in Tripoli district of Sarraj. Among those seeking help are people who until recently were held in Libyan detention and now find it difficult to obtain supplies.

Turkey prevents cargo inspections

June 10th

Turkish naval license prevents inspection of a cargo ship suspected of carrying weapons to one of Libya’s warring parties. The Greek ship which is being barred acts within the framework of EU Operation Irini. After the incident, the EU turns to the NATO military alliance and asks for help. NATO has two patrol vessels in the Mediterranean that have previously assisted EU vessels in Operation Sophia (Irini’s predecessor). If NATO vessels can now be used in the new effort to maintain the arms embargo, then it must be approved by all NATO member states. This means that Turkey can put a stop to it. Two days after the incident, the Turkish navy is conducting a naval exercise in Libyan waters, which is seen as a demonstration of power. Following the incident with the Greek ship, France also complains that the Turkish fleet prevented inspections of suspected cargo.

Oil field opens again

June 8

Oil production has resumed on two major oil fields as a result of the general forces being pushed back by General Haftar, the state oil company NOC announces. The al-Fil field (“Elephant”) opens, a day after it was able to restart production on the country’s largest al-Sharara field. This also means that it is expected to resume exports. Haftar’s military offensive westward, which began in spring 2019 and also aimed to capture the capital of Tripoli, has led to the NOC being forced to invoke force majeure trading rules when contracts with buyers of Libya’s oil could not be fulfilled. For starters, crude oil that has reached the Zawiya refinery will now become gasoline for the domestic market.

Cairo declaration for deaf ears

6th June

The battle is over Sirte on the Mediterranean, strategically close to the oil pipeline network in eastern Libya; the city is held by General Haftar since he joined a local militia at the beginning of the year. Now a pressured Haftar is with his beneficiary in Egypt, President Sisi, and joins an Egyptian proposal called the Cairo Declaration. The proposal for a ceasefire, scheduled to take effect on June 8, says that foreign mercenaries should leave Libya and that militia should be disarmed. But the Tripoli government has the wind in the sails and rejects the proposal. Its new takeover is based on support from Turkey in the form of drones, military advisers and mercenaries from Syria.

Malta acts against migrant smuggling

June 3

Malta’s parliament is informed that the country will fund two smaller coordination centers in Tripoli and Valletta for work to stop the smuggling of migrants via Libya. A declaration of intent that extends for three years has been signed by the Tripoli Government and the Government of Malta. At present there are more than 400 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean aboard ships hired by Malta. The vessels are located outside the territorial waters of the country and are waiting to be ported in any EU country. Malta has long complained that the country does not have the resources to receive migrants, who often end up there when dumped in the sea by human traffickers.

Adherent forces on retreat in Tripoli

June 3

The Tripoli government forces state that they have re-entered the city’s international airport and thus they control the entire capital. The airport has been closed since 2014 and in the hands of forces fighting for General Haftar since 2019, when he launched an offensive against the city. The human rights organization Human Rights Watch accuses Haftar’s forces of foreclosing residential areas in Tripoli’s southern outskirts from which they withdrew. Two days later it is reported that the Haftar forces have also been pushed away from the city of Tarhuna, and from there comes information that one finds what is suspected to be mass graves.

UN: The parties are ready to talk peace

June 1st

The Memorandum of Understanding in Tripoli and the Libyan National Army (LNA, led by General Haftar under the mandate of the Tobruk Government in the East) have agreed to resume peace talks. The meetings will be based on the process that took place during the winter but was not completed, reports Unsmil, the UN’s support for Libya. During an ongoing pandemic, there will be a video conference. In January, an agreement was reported, but Haftar did not sign. Lately, his forces have dropped ground on the battlefield.


Mass murder of migrants as revenge

May 28

A refugee smuggler was murdered. To be avenged, his relatives killed 30 migrants. That picture gives the Tripoli government of events that occurred about 15 miles south of the capital, where 26 people from Bangladesh and four Africans lost their lives. Eleven migrants must have survived and taken to hospital. The circumstances are not clear, and no one is reported to have been arrested, but it is known that migrants who are stuck in Libya while trying to get to Europe are exposed to difficult conditions.

Hooks lose airbase

May 18

The Tripoli government announces yet another military success against Haftar’s forces (compare April 13): al-Watiya airbase on the coastal plain just 15 miles southwest if Tripoli has been captured. In recent weeks, the Turkish government, with Turkish support, has stepped up its attacks around the base and gone in to break Haftar’s supply lines. Just over a week later, Haftar forces, including mercenaries from the Russian security company Wagner, are reported to have withdrawn from the front section. However, it is not interpreted as saying that Haftar would have abandoned his offensive against Tripoli.

Attack despite promises of ceasefire

May 9

For two days, projectiles are raining over areas in Tripoli. Both housing and the Mitiga airport meet. Civilian casualties are reported, as well as severe damage at the airport and a fuel store next door belonging to the state oil company. Haftar’s forces are blamed for the shelling, as well as for attacks a few days earlier against a district where the Foreign Ministry and the Turkish and Italian embassies are located (compare April 30).

Russian mercenaries in Haftar’s joint

May 7

Rumors that there are Russian mercenaries in Libya fighting for General Haftar are confirmed in a UN report whose contents leaked before the report was published. The Russian state denies any form of involvement, but Russian security company Wagner has had close to a thousand people in place since October 2018, according to reporters who worked for the UN Sanctions Committee. The report, which has been handed over to the UN Security Council, says that there are also Syrians in Haftar’s forces.

Fatigue delays EU action

May 4th

Two vessels from EU countries launch Operation Irini (see April 6). According to reports to the AFP news agency, the fight against arms smuggling to the warring parties in Libya has been delayed for almost a month by an agreement between Italy and Greece on which of the countries to command the ships. The EU is said to have decided to take turns, six months at a time.


Undertakers promise ceasefire during the Ramadan

April 30th

Warlord Khalifa Haftar announces that his forces will observe the ceasefire on the occasion of the ongoing Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The message has been preceded by international pressure. The UN-backed government in Tripoli replies that it does not believe in promises from Haftar. Haftar’s army and forces fighting on its side are in control of eastern and southern Libya, but following their advance towards the capital Tripoli which lasted for a year, they have recently had military setbacks (see April 13).

Strict curfew in Tripoli

April 17

The Tripoli government has tightened its restrictions on the spread of coronary infection (see March 19). For ten days ahead, curfew also prevails during the day in areas where the government has control. Food purchases may be made for a few hours in the morning. In eastern Libya, under General Haftar, nightly curfews continue.

The government is taking back coastal cities

April 13

The Tripoli-based government states that its military forces have recaptured two cities in the west from Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Sabratha and Surman are located on the Mediterranean, between the capital and the Tunisian border, and should have been controlled by Salafist militia affiliated with Haftar. It has been a year and a week since Haftar launched an offensive eastbound against Tripoli (see April 4, 2019). According to the UN, hundreds of lives have been claimed and more than 200,000 people have fled during the year.

Water as a weapon in the war

April 11

Both fresh water and gas for civilian purposes are used as weapons in the war, says the UN coordinator in Libya. Over two million people in Tripoli and the surrounding area have been subject to recurrent water breaks during the past week. Behind the interruptions is an armed group 35 miles south of Tripoli that demands to get imprisoned kinsmen free. Tripoli receives fresh water via a pipeline from underground water reservoirs in southern Libya; the network was built at Gaddafi’s time. In western and southern Libya, another conflict leads to power outages as a result of another armed group stopping gas supplies to power plants.

Operation Irini will stop weapons

April 6

The EU presents Operation Irini, the offshore effort that will stop arms smuggling to the warring parties (see February 17). The task becomes difficult: The Tripoli government does indeed accept shiploads in the west, from Turkey, but the Haftar forces in the west are believed to receive mainly their arms deliveries by road, via Egypt.

Former prime minister dies in covid-19

April 5

Former Prime Minister Mahmud Jibril dies in covid-19 viral disease. Jibril led the transitional government that ruled Libya when the dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011. He was Gaddafi’s financial adviser before joining the revolt. In 2012, when parliamentary elections were held, Jibril’s party won, but failed to form government. He died in Egypt.


Virus pandemics require life

March 25th

The Tripoli government confirms Libya’s first death in the covid-19 virus pandemic. It is a person who has recently been traveling in other Arab countries.

Anti-epidemic measures

March 19

The main warring parties in Libya, each in their own right, are taking steps to counteract the spread of coronavirus, which could have very severe consequences in war-ravaged Libya. Warlord Khalifa faces a nightly curfew in areas under his control. In Tripoli, which is governed by a government with greater international support, a similar ban comes into force a few days later, while restaurants close and weddings and funerals are limited. Struggles have continued south of Tripoli despite the parties’ commitments on the ceasefire (see January 12).

Peace coordinators give up

March 2

UN peace coordinator Ghassan Salamé announces that he will leave after three years. He refers to health reasons: stress.


An attack on a port jeopardizes peace talks

February 19

The International Migration Organization (IOM) calls on the international community to find a safe way to rescue migrants trying to get away from Libya, where fighting is ongoing. The day before, about 200 were landed in Tripoli shortly after a rocket attack on the city’s port. Since the turn of the year, about 3,000 migrants in boats have been picked up and reached Italy or Malta, while at least 1,700 have been returned to Libya. The Tripoli government is threatening, with reference to the attack on the port, to drop peace talks under the auspices of the UN. When the talks in Geneva are to resume a few days later, the deliberations stand and “stomp”.

EU decision on action against arms smuggling

February 17th

EU foreign ministers agree on a new effort at sea to halt supplies of arms to warring parties in Libya that violate the UN arms embargo. The crews shall have the right to stop vessels. The effort will be directed primarily to eastern Libya and will begin in the spring. It replaces Operation Sophia, which the EU started in 2015 to combat refugee smuggling (see 27 March and 10 June 2019). Skeptical EU countries have feared that a new fleet could encourage offshore boat traffic with migrants hoping to be rescued and brought to Europe. Voices in the ministerial circle emphasize that it is a question of a military and not a humanitarian effort.

Haftar is stripping the state’s oil revenue

February 5

The Libyan state has lost nearly a billion dollars in oil revenues since forces fighting General Haftar staged a blockade on key oil facilities on January 18, the national oil company said (see January 19, 2020). Export ports in five locations are in the block and because the capacity to store crude oil is limited, extraction is slowed down. Production has shrunk by more than 80 percent, from 1.2 million barrels of oil a day to 187,000.

Cautious optimism at UN talks

February 4th

Representatives of the warring parties have, in principle, agreed that a shaky cease-fire between them should be turned into a lasting cease-fire. The message is provided by UN peace coordinator Ghassan Salamé. In talks taking place in Geneva, five representatives of the Tripoli government (GNA) and five of General Haftar’s LNA forces, which control eastern and southern Libya, participate.


Long penalty for attack in Benghazi

January 23

A Libyan man held responsible for an attack on a US mission in Benghazi in 2012 is sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison in the United States. The man was captured by a US special forces force in 2017 and taken to the United States, where he was convicted of terrorist crimes in 2019. Another Libyan, captured in 2014, was sentenced in 2018 to 22 years in prison. Four Americans, including an ambassador, lost their lives in the attack. In the United States, it had the repercussions for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was accused of failing to ensure that the Americans had adequate protection.

Peace meeting in Berlin, blocked in oil ports

January 19

Heads of state and government from countries involved in Libya have been invited to Berlin in an effort to find ways to prevent the war from escalating. Libyan leaders are also present. Several of the participating states have provided allies in Libya with weapons, among others. The UN wants to try to persuade them to respect the UN arms embargo (intended to stop weapons supplies to the warring parties) and to support efforts that can give Libya peace. Just hours before the meeting, forces fighting for Khalifa Haftar block Libya’s most important ports for oil exports. Without revenues from the oil trade, the situation for the Tripoli government, which the UN sees as legitimate, is deteriorating, including its ability to keep social services running and pay salaries to public servants.

Arms rest after pressure

January 12

After several weeks of international diplomacy, mainly from Russia and Turkey, a ceasefire comes into force. After nine months of fighting, the Tripoli-based government and General Haftar, who control much of the country in general, have promised to sign an agreement to stop the fighting. A few days later, when the parties have settled in Moscow (albeit without meeting), Fayez al-Sarraj signs for the Tripoli government. Khalifa Haftar, on the other hand, leaves Moscow without signing the agreement.

Detention forces occupy important coastal city

January 6

General Haftar’s forces, who are marching towards Tripoli and have subjugated large parts of the country, say they have captured Sirte. The coastal city plays an important role in the Libyan oil industry and is therefore an attractive change. In 2015, Sirte was captured by the Islamic State jihadist movement, but IS was later driven away with the support of US air strikes by the government controlling Tripoli.

Flying attack kills military cadets

January 4th

Nearly 30 cadets die in a plane attack against a military school in Tripoli, a GNA government spokesman said. At the same time, many are injured and the government is urging city residents to go to the hospitals to donate blood. Tripoli is under attack by forces fighting for rebel general Haftar, but Haftar forces do not take responsibility for the attack. Since Haftar’s offensive against Tripoli began in the spring of 2019, according to UN estimates, at least 280 civilians and about 2,000 combatants have lost their lives. 146,000 Libyans are fleeing the fighting.

Turkish Libya insert green light

January 2

Turkey’s parliament gives the go-ahead to assist the Tripoli government militarily (see December 9 and December 15, 2019). The Tripoli government is trying to hold back forces led by General Khalifa Haftar, who controls most of Libya. The Tripoli government has requested assistance from Turkey, which begins with a limited aid effort. Since Haftar is supported by neighboring countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as several major powers, Turkey’s actions in the conflict are perceived as a threat to regional stability.

Libya Culture

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