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U.S.-Libya: A History of Tense Relations

-Due to hostile relations, the Team did not venture into Libya-

It is currently next to impossible for U.S. citizens to travel to Libya. It is difficult to acquire the necessary papers and Libya is hostile to the United States. In order to get into the country, the U.S. State Department must specifically validate passports for travel to Libya. Libyan visas must be obtained overseas (which takes several weeks). Finally, Libya requires that all passports be printed in Arabic or have attached translations. To attain a translation, visitors must be journalists, American Red Cross members, visiting relatives or traveling "in the U.S. national interest."

U.S.-Libya relations have had a lengthy history of tension. U.S. involvement with Libya began in the late eighteenth century when Berber pirates raided American ships, stealing goods and enslaving crews. The U.S. Navy was actually created to launch punitive expeditions. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, Libya was colonized by a variety of countries - Italy, England and France. In 1951, the country gained U.N. sanctioned independence, but the monarchy was overthrown in a coup in 1969.

Muammar Quaddafi assumed power as the de facto head of state at the age of 27. During Quaddafi's rule, foreign relations have been weak. Libya has been in a 20-year war with its neighboring country, Chad. Relations with Egypt and other North African neighbors have been filled with tension. Quaddafi has supported anti-Western, anti-Israeli and even anti-Arab terrorism. In many cases, the U.S. has resorted to bomb retaliation.

In 1981, U.S. naval aircraft shot down Libyan planes in the Mediterranean Sea in waters off the Libyan coast. In 1986, the U.S. launched air attacks in retaliation for alleged Libyan involvement in a terrorist bombing directed at U.S. servicemen in Berlin. In 1989, Libya was suspected of involvement in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. After that bombing, the U.N. barred international airlines from entering or leaving the country. In 1990, the U.S. naval aircraft again shot down Libyan planes. Since the U.S. bombings in the last decade, Quaddafi's actions have been less overt. However, he continues to arrest, execute and assassinate domestic and foreign opponents.

I think taking another route was a good idea!


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