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Between National Interest, Identity And Ideology: Libya's Sub-Saharan African Foreign Policy


Libya's first salt caves

Afro Libyans revive ancient custom

Muammar Gaddafi’s foreign policy is often thought to have been influenced by three things: his irrationality, Libya’s national primacy, and his ideology-driven pursuits (Solomon & Swart 2005: 469-70). On the African continent, Gaddafi was an active figure in liberation movements, interventions and militarism in the 1970s and 1980s (Bakrania 2014:6). Gaddafi's interest in Sub Saharan Africa developed partly because of his admiration for Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser, an Arab national who fostered a 'special relationship' with countries south of the Sahara desert (Akinsanya 1976:512-3). However, Gaddafi’s foreign policy gave precedence to Arab socialism in Libya and Arab unity in the Middle East in the first two decades of his political tenure. In the 90's, however, Gaddafi’s foreign policy became heavily fixated on Sub-Saharan Africa; with some scholars arguing that his foreign policy prioritised Africa and pan Africanism (Ronen 2002:62).

In this paper, I analyse the relationship between ideology and national interest, and its articulation in Gaddafi's foreign policy approach to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Publish date: 2018

Award: Distinction/1st Class

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