Libya is committed to working with friends and allies as an engaged partner for peace and security, as well as progress and prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The United States has a strong diplomatic relationship with Libya and supports Libya’s transition to democracy. Click here for more information on US-Libya relations.
Libya is a member of the African Union (AU), the Arab Maghreb Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It is included in the European Union’s European Neighborhood Policy, aimed at bringing the EU and its neighboring countries closer.
Libya’s foreign policy has changed with each government since gaining independence in 1951. See below for more information on Libya’s foreign policy history. For more information on Libya’s history, click here.
Libya’s Foreign Policy History, 1951 - 2011
King Idris I
King Idris I maintained close relations with the West. The U.S. and Libya established embassies in Tripoli and Washington and appointed ambassadors in 1954. Both the U.S. and the UK were given military base rights in Libya.
Libya joined the League of Arab States, now known as the Arab League, in 1953. Libya was one of the 30 founding members of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), established in 1963. In 1964, Libya, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia formed a joint consultative committee for economic cooperation between Northern African states.
The King Idris I was ousted in 1969 by a military coup led by Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi appointed himself head of state and renamed the country the Libyan Arab Republic.
Increasing tensions led to the withdrawal of the U.S. ambassador in 1972. Staff members were withdrawn in 1979 after an attack on the embassy and the mission was closed.
The Arab Spring and Beyond
During the “Arab Spring” of 2011, Gaddafi took a hard line against the changes sweeping the region and when unrest broke out in Libya, used brutal force in a crackdown against his fellow citizens. Western governments condemned the regime for the violent response, and again broke off relations with Gaddafi.
When the Gaddafi regime fell, the National Transitional Council (NTC) became internationally recognized as the legitimate representative of Libya and opened representative missions abroad and began the process of establishing democracy in Libya with international support.
Now, the democratically elected House of Representatives is the internationally recognized government supported by European nations and the U.S.