The Development of Libyan-Tunisian Bilateral Relations: A Critical Study on the Role of Ideology
Kirfaa, Almabruk Khalifa
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Libyan-Tunisian bilateral relations take place in a context shaped by particular historical factors in the Maghreb over the past two centuries. Various elements and factors continue to define the limitations and opportunities present for regimes and governments to pursue hostile or negative policies concerning their immediate neighbours. The period between 1969 and 2010 provides a rich area for the exploration of inter-state relations between Libya and Tunisia during the 20th century and in the first decade of the 21st century. Ideologies such as Arabism, socialism, Third Worldism, liberalism and nationalism, dominated the Cold War era, which saw two opposing camps: the capitalist West versus the communist East. Arab states were caught in the middle, and many identified with one side over the other. generating ideological rivalries in the Middle East and North Africa. The anti-imperialist sentiments dominating Arab regimes and their citizens led many statesmen and politicians to wage ideological struggles against their former colonial masters and even neighbouring states. Post-independence Tunisia and Libya were involved in the rivalry that was clearly present during the 20th century between 'radical' and 'conservative' Arab regimes. A polarised ideological climate existed between Habib Bourguiba, Tunisia's first President, and Muammar Gaddafi, the young military officer who would later become the ruler of Libya, which created a hostile climate. The regimes of Bourguiba and Gaddafi adopted differing positions on their relations with other Arab states, Pan-Arabism and a narrowly defined Tunisian nationalism, and they clashed on many occasions. Ideology was a major factor contributing to the state of relations between Bourguiba and Gaddafi in the period between 1969 and 1987. Post-1987, Tunisia made a remarkable reversal under Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had ousted Bourguiba from power, in the area of Libyan-Tunisian bilateral relations. The years between 1987 and 2010 witnessed joint co-operation and policies between the regimes of Tunisia and Libya, principally in the area of the economy. Gaddafi and Ben Ali appear to have focused more on shared economic interests than on implementing a radical pan-Arabism or a conservative notion of Tunisian nationalism.
PhD in Politics