Wednesday, August 1, 2012

40 years ago: Egypt and Libya agree on political union

On August 2, 1972, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi concluded three days of talks in the Libyan cities of Tobruk and Bengazi with an accord that would see the governments of the two countries unite by September 1, 1973. The proposed union, which would create the largest state in Africa, was seen as a move to provide money from oil-rich Libya for the Egyptian army to buy offensive weapons that the Soviets had refused to supply. The plan was subject to public referenda in each country, but the “final version” of the accord could be vetoed by the leaders of the two countries.

Egypt and Libya already comprised two-thirds of the Federation of Arab Republics, which, with Syria, had come into existence on January 1, 1972. The union between Egypt and Libya ultimately failed because of disagreements over the timing and objectives of war and diplomatic alternatives to war agains Israel.

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