"Egypt Liberates Libya" by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present the eighth story from Jeff Provine's
excellent blog This
Day in Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this
post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
July 21st 1977,
on this day the Government of Egypt declared war on Libya just twenty-four
hours after Colonel Gaddafi had ordered a full-scale raid on the border
city of Sallum.
Egypt Liberates Libya Small skirmishes and shootouts between the Egyptian
and Libyan armies would result in a rout that would become an invasion.
Tensions had mounted between the two countries for months with attacks at
one another's embassies, Gaddafi's order of the removal of all Egyptian
nationals from his country by July 1, and finally the Libyan peoples'
"March on Cairo" where thousands of civilians approached the Egyptian
border to make known their stance against a possible Egyptian-Israeli
The march would lead to further difficulties when it reached the border,
where Egyptian troops stopped the protesters. On July 20, Libyan artillery
fired at the Egyptians, and a full-scale raid on the city of Sallum
followed on July 21. The Libyans expected some fighting, then to disengage
and return across the border. Instead, the Egyptians responded with a
declaration of war and counter-invasion.
With superior arms, the Egyptians raced toward Tripoli on the coast roads
after bypassing Ajdabiya. The Libyan army looked for methods of ambush,
but Egyptian air superiority kept enemy tanks and infantry pinned. On July
24, armed forces rolled into Tripoli, and Gaddafi was nowhere to be found.
The leader of the revolution had pulled out of the capital and hidden in
bunkers deep in the desert.
Algeria and Palestine called for an armistice, but their cries went
unheard. Instead, Egypt called for free elections and a new Libyan
government. As a fallen leader, Gaddafi was not arrested, merely ignored,
and he would eventually become an expatriate in Syria. The new election
was backed by the United States; most international figures merely sat
back to watch. The USSR was expected to speak out, but the Soviets were
quiet as they had their own designs on invasions farther east and hoped
not to muddy international waters.
Libya, now newly reopened, fell in line with Egyptian ideals and developed
relations with the West. Farther in the east, Iran would arise in a
revolution to become a religious republic (what many called socialist).
Saddam Hussein's government, suspicious of Ba'ath revolutionaries spilling
over from Iran, declared war on their neighbor, which received increasing
aid from the USSR despite their own problems in Afghanistan. Western
attention was drawn more heavily to Libya, and Iraq would fall to the
A new "iron curtain" would drop across the Middle East. Both sides would
grow increasingly fearful of the other, and war seemed imminent daily.
Terrorist attacks rang through Saudi Arabia, hoping to edge the king out
of power, but further backing from Egypt and the West would keep the
balance. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the eastern states
would face economic collapse and sought to bring in Kuwait as a liberation
of Arab resources from Western hands.
The Gulf War began with an invasion of Kuwait from the north, and a
massive United Nations force would counter-invade with Egyptian and Saudi
troops leading the way. War seemed to spin out of control, and it seemed
unfathomable to end without bringing down the Iraqi and Iranian
governments, which was achieved in 1994 with the Fall of Tehran. Coalition
forces would stay behind in the region for decades to come, redrawing
national borders to create Kurdistan and establishing constitutions based
on ideals of freedom. Terrorism and insurgency would follow continually
and plague the elected governments for generations.
says in reality, Egypt did not fully counterattack Libya, and both
countries were quick to agree to armistice. Algerian president Houari
Boumedi'ne mediated peace with the help of Palestinian Yasser Arafat. Though
peace was achieved, the rift between conservative and socially revolutionary
Middle Eastern states would continue.
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Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of
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