Libya (Tripoli Province, West)

Ali Al-Sallabi -Libyan political analyst affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood- claimed that the Ottomans entered Libya at the request of its people to liberate their country from the Spaniards and then the Knights of Malta, stressing that the Ottoman reforms contributed to a real Libyan development. And “Al-Sallabi” adds, in an interview with the Turkish Anatolia Agency, that in 1510 the Spanish fleet attacked the city of Tripoli and occupied it despite the strong resistance of the people.

And he continued, “Despite its fall, the popular resistance movement continued. They laid siege around Tripoli, forcing the Spaniards -later- to hand it over to the Knights of Saint John of the Crusaders (Knights of Malta), in 1530.”

A quick overview of what Al-Sallabi mentioned may raise many questions. What are the reasons that drove Spain to attack without the slightest account of a country that was strong at the time? Despite the valiant resistance of the people, it was not as strong as mentioned. To explain, the truth is that the Ottoman Empire- when it was- supposed to be the protector of the Libyans, it exhausted them, and dealt with them, materialistically, leading to the current interventions and violations that Libya suffers from, as well as the policies that the mercenaries continue to utilize till it reached this weak situation.    

Although he mentioned that the popular movement is the one that confronted the Spaniards, he was mistaken when he said: the advent of the Ottomans was the result of the weakness that befell Libya. Still, the question is what exactly happened?

Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent agreed to help the people of Tripoli to get rid of the Knights of Saint John, so he sent a force headed by Murad Agha. They descended in Tajoura, yet, Murad Agha was unable to enter Tripoli, so he asked Sinan Pasha for help. The leader Darghouth Pasha joined them, hence, the Ottomans entered Tripoli in 1551, and Murad Agha became Wali.A on it.

Immediately right after it fell under the Ottoman occupation, the real intentions of the sultans were revealed, that is, lacking the interest of reformation, assigning important positions to young, inexperienced rulers, weakening the army, imposing taxes, and preferring personal interests over the interest of the country.

As a result, a large number of Janissaries (mercenaries), who were officers in the Ottoman army, took power in Tripoli. They had a military upbringing, were trained in martial arts and contributed to changing the country’s history. Gradually, their positions rose and they controlled the states and controlled the bureaucracy. They corrupted and took advantage of their wealth, so chaos and turmoil swept through country-during their rule- and the lives of many of them ended with murder at the hands of their soldiers.

The Karamanli era came, as a part of the historical events that changed Libya. The first to take over Tripoli was Ahmed Al-Karamanli. He was born into an Ottoman family that settled in Tripoli, and married of the people of Tripoli. His family held many military positions, and Ahmed gained the trust of the soldiers and became Wali. In 1711, the family of Ahmed al-Karamanli ruled Tripoli for more than a century.

Yusuf Pasha, of the Karamanli family, got to rule, while in the meantime, the Ottoman Sultan fed up with him and his behavior. To explain, Youssef refused to help the Sultan against the Greeks in 1829, and in the meantime, a massive revolution, led by Abdul Jalil Saif Al-Nasr, took place against the Karamanli dynasty. Besides, the pressure of European countries intensified on Youssef to pay his debts.

Because his treasuries were empty, new taxes were imposed. This has beset the people and had revolutions breaking out. Hence, Youssef Pasha was forced to resign, leaving the rule to his son Ali, in 1832. Still. Things got worse, and despite Sultan Mahmud II’s recognition of Ali as the ruler, his interest and attention was, mainly, focused on how to preserve what remained of the empire’s possessions, especially after the loss of Greece and Algeria in 1830. And after a thorough study of the situation in Tripoli, the Sultan decided to intervene directly and regain his authority.

In 1835, the Turkish fleet arrived in Tripoli and arrested Ali Pasha and transferred him to Turkey, hence, ending the rule of the Karamanilis in Libya to face other events.

History always repeats itself…