1st Edition

Italy and Libya From Colonialism to a Special Relationship (1911–2021)

Edited By Luciano Monzali, Paolo Soave Copyright 2023

    This volume proposes a historical analysis of Italian-Libyan relations in contemporary times. After examining the colonialism of liberal Italy, which in 1911 culminated in the military campaign for the conquest of the Libyan regions, it evaluates the impact of fascism in Libya and the attempt to launch a broader pro-Arab policy. The third section analyzes the construction of the so-called 'special relationship' between Rome and Tripoli since the 50s when an economic interdependence between the Libyan oil producer and the Italian industrial power was pursued despite political differences.

    Finally, the volume also focuses on the dramatic implosion of Libya and the loss of its political unity following the fall of the Gaddafi regime, which, on the one hand, scaled back Italy's regional role, on the other, spread instability throughout the Euro-Mediterranean area. The volume uses a historiographical methodology focused on primary sources and updated scientific literature but also includes specialized analyses of the most current scenarios.

    This is the first systematic work on the Italian-Libyan relationship produced in English, accessible to area scholars, specialists, analysts, and students, who intend to deepen their understanding of one of the pivotal factors of the Euro-Mediterranean balance, which is currently missing.

    Sergio Romano

    Introduction: Italy and Libya: A Historical Perspective of a Mediterranean Relationship.
    Luciano Monzali and Paolo Soave

    Part 1: Italy and Libya: From Liberal Colonialism to Fascism.

    1. Tripolitania and Cyrenaica in Liberal Italy’s Foreign Policy
    GianPaolo Ferraioli

    2. History of a Minority, not a Minor History: the Maltese Community in Tripoli from the Liberal Age to Fascism
    Simona Berhe

    3. From the ‘Riconquista’ to the Normalisation: Fascism and Libya
    Paolo Soave

    4. The Demographic Colonisation in Libya 1926 – 1940
    Federico Cresti

    5. If the monument could speak: Jewish Italian imaginaries across the Mediterranean.
    Piera Rossetto

    Part 2: Italy and Independent Libya: Building a ‘Special Relationship’.

    6. Pietro Quaroni, Post-Fascist Italy and the Libyan Question 1945-1949
    Luciano Monzali

    7. Republican Italy and the Senussi Monarchy 1951-1969
    Federico Imperato

    8. Aldo Moro, Italian Diplomacy and Gaddafi’s Rise to Power 1969-1978
    Giuseppe Spagnulo

    9. The Silent Friend. ENI and Gaddafi’s Libya
    Rosario Milano

    10. From Troublemaker to Strategic Partner: Gaddafi and the West
    Karim Mezran and Federica Saini Fasanotti

    11. Two Great Friends. Berlusconi and Gaddafi 1994-2011.
    Ilaria Tremolada

    Part 3: Fragmented Libya: Trying to Save the Italian and European Influences.

    12. Libya’s Arab Spring And Italy’s Post-Uprising Influence
    John Davis

    13. Italy and the Disintegration of the Libyan State
    Roberta La Fortezza

    14. A New State-Building Process for Libya? Italy and the International Community 2011-2021
    Arturo Varvelli and Alessia Melcangi


    Luciano Monzali is Full Professor of History of International Relations at the University of Bari ‘Aldo Moro’, Italy. He is one the most distinguished historians of Italian Foreign Policy. He is the author of ‘The Italians of Dalmatia: From Italian Unification to World War I’ (2009) and editor with Paolo Soave of ‘Italy and the Middle East. Geopolitics, Dialogue and Power during the Cold War’ (2021).

    Paolo Soave is Associate Professor of History of International Relations at the University of Bologna, Italy. His research interests are focused on Italian Foreign Policy, U.S. Foreign Policy, First World War, Cold War. Among his recent publications: ‘Italy and the Middle East. Geopolitics, Dialogue and Power during the Cold War’ (2021); ‘Una vittoria mutilata? L’Italia e la conferenza di pace di Parigi’ (2020).