An aerial image of Tobruk's harbour.
There are many escarpments
(cliffs) to the south of Tobruk (and indeed in all of Cyrenaica, the eastern half of Libya). These escarpments generally have their high sides to the south and their low sides (dip slopes
) to the north. This constitutes a substantial physical barrier between the north and south of Libya in the Tobruk area.
Previously, Tobruk was some 470 km (290 mi) from Benghazi
through the Libyan Coastal Highway
, but this distance was shortened to 450 km (280 mi) after the construction of the Charruba–Timimi Road
between the years 1975 and 1985. Construction of the Tobruk–Ajdabiya Road
reduced the distance between those two cities from 620 km (390 mi) to about 410 km (250 mi).
Because it is approximately 150 km (93 mi) away from Egypt
by land, Tobruk is also an important hub for merchants from both Egypt
, and for travellers between the two countries as well as those from Bayda
Later the site became a way station on the caravan
route that ran along the coast.
World War II
Tobruk had a deep, natural, and protected harbour, which meant that even if the port were bombed, ships would still be able to anchor there and be safe from squalls
, so the port could never be rendered wholly useless regardless of military bombardment
. This was of critical importance, as it made Tobruk an excellent place to supply a desert warfare
campaign. It was also heavily fortified by the Italians
prior to their invasion of Egypt in November 1940.
In addition to these prepared fortifications, there were a number of escarpments
and cliffs to the south of Tobruk, providing substantial physical barriers to any advance on the port over land. Tobruk was also on a peninsula, allowing it to be defended by a minimal number of troops, which the Allies used to their advantage when the port was under siege. An attacker could not simply bypass the defenders, for if they did, the besieged would sally forth
and cut off the nearby supply lines
of the attacker, spoiling their advance.
But Tobruk was also strategically significant, due to its location with regard to the remainder of Cyrenaica. Attackers from the east who had secured Tobruk could then advance through the desert to Benghazi
, cutting off all enemy troops along the coast, such as those at Derna
. This advance would be protected from counterattack
, due to escarpments that were quite difficult for a military force to climb, running generally from Tobruk to Suluq
. Due to the importance of maintaining supply
in the desert, getting cut off in this area was disastrous. Therefore, whoever held both Suluq and Tobruk controlled the majority of Cyrenaica.
Finally, 24 km (15 mi) south of the port was the largest airfield in eastern Libya. This was significant due to the importance of air power
in desert warfare.
British capture of Tobruk
The counterstrike involved the British pocketing two of the Italian camps against the Mediterranean, forcing their surrender. This led to a general Italian retreat to El Agheila
. Tobruk was captured by British, Australian and Indian forces on 22 January 1941.
German capture of Tobruk
Tobruk remained in Axis hands until 11 November 1942, when the Allies captured it after the Second Battle of El Alamein
. It remained in Allied hands thereafter. Although not as much a reason for its strategic significance, the British built a rail line from El Alamein
to Tobruk during the course of the war. This rail line was significant both for purposes of supply and as a sense of pride to the Allied troops, as the rail line was built through a little-populated, inhospitable desert.
Libyan Civil Wars
This section needs expansion
. You can help by adding to it
. (October 2020)
Abulgassem Tayeb AL-Sharef (1943-2019), who had managed several oil companies and was once the "youngest" General Manager of the international Marketing of oil products in Libya (Elbrega Company), also he was the General Manager of the Petroleum Industries in the National Oil Corporation .
One of the founders of the Mellita oil complex, west of Libya, which was considered the largest gas project in the world at the time ,
He was a Member of the French Libyan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, representing the Libyan oil sector .
On 1 January 1934, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan were united as the Italian colony of Libya. However, during World War II
these names continued to be used.
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