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Title: Libya and Britain : a study of the history of British-Libyan relations 1969-1979
Author: Ali, A. A. A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5365 4163
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines relations between Libya and the United Kingdom after 1969 when a new government came to power in Tripoli which seemed to pose a direct threat to a number of key British interests. The thesis is grounded on a careful reading of secondary literature which has been integrated into newly available official documents available in the National Archive. The main claim to originality is in the light these documents throw on our understanding of that relationship. The thesis uses a case study approach which examines specific themes in UK-Libya relations which include arguments over arms sales, the oil economy and the role of oil companies, and relations over the Irish question and the problematic Libyan supply of weapons and support to the IRA in the 1970s. It inevitably touches on relations between both governments and the United States, but that is not a main focus of the study. These areas have been chosen for study because they represent the most significant areas of bargaining and conflict between Libya and the UK in the time period, according to both the secondary literature and press debate at the time and the newly available documentation. The author has been aware of the limitations of using the National Archives, especially where material has newly arrived for view. These include the scope of official ‘weeding’ before documents are made available to conserve space and to avoid repetition, but also to exclude sensitive material relating to intelligence and cognate aspects of relations with other governments. These limitations qualify, but do not undermine, the conclusions drawn. The main findings of the research refine our existing understanding of Libya-UK relations, important given that there is only a limited literature on the topic, and that no previous published work explores them using the National Archives. The archive material helps one to conclude that Straw’s (2010) argument that the basis of UK-Libya relations was always ‘strategic interest’ is partly sound but ultimately mistaken. Other important factors such as trade also mattered, and energy issues were at the same time ‘strategic’ and ‘trade-related’ for both sides. At least as important, mutual misunderstandings and a certain amount of confusion about the intentions of the other party (and what they could find negotiable) also shape the relationship, although strategic interest remains an important factor. The thesis also reveals for the first time differences in the evaluation of Libyan policy and intentions at different levels of the UK government, demonstrating that the bureaucratic politics of the British system of foreign policy making shaped some of the British responses to Libyan actions. Equally, although the evidence suggests that Gaddafi dominated Libyan policy making, it is clear that the elite surrounding him also played some part in policy making and in defining responses to British actions and announcements. Above all, the thesis demonstrates the complexity of the dynamics of UK-Libya relations in the time period studied, and that both sides consistently tended to believe that they had more influence over the other than was in fact the case.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available