The War in the Jabal Nafusa
This chapter argues that while initially neglected by both Qadhafi and NATO during the 17 February Revolution, the Nafusa Mountains acquired strategic importance as the war progressed, and Libya’s post-revolutionary political forces centred on the mountains to convert that importance into political influence. It traces the region’s ethnic, cultural and political divisions from the Arab migrations of the middle ages through to the tribal alliances of the Ottoman period and Italian colonial experience, noting that Qadhafi's regime exploited preexisting communal rifts. It examines Zintan’s and the Amazigh’s different decisions to support the 17 February Revolution, their armed insurrections, and different alliances with the Tebu, Tuareg, Warfalla, Magarha and others. The intervention of Western and Arab powers under NATO’s no-fly zone, and emerging conflicts of interest between these powers and between the rebels is discussed, and the rebels’ rapid advance through various tribal communities during June and July. It concludes by examining the post-revolutionary political forces that emerged from the Nafusa Mountains — Zintan’s military expansionism and alliance-building; Amazigh activism; and tribal and intercommunal conflicts. It notes the continuities and parallels that have directed the region’s politics throughout the Ottoman era to the present day.
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