Colonial Soldiers in Italian Counter-Insurgency Operations in Libya, 1922-32


  • Nir Arielli University of Leeds


The vast majority of the force employed by the Italians to crush local resistance in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica was composed of Libyans, Eritreans and Ethiopians. The article examines why the Italians came to rely so heavily on colonial soldiers. It highlights two key predicaments the Italians faced: how to contend with the social, economic and political repercussions that military recruitment for the counter-insurgency created in East Africa; and the extent to which they could depend on forces raised in Libya itself. Finally, the article offers an initial assessment of how the counter-insurgency exacerbated tensions between Libyans and East Africans.

Author Biography

Nir Arielli, University of Leeds

DR NIR ARIELLI is Lecturer in International History at the University of Leeds. He is author of Fascist Italy and the Middle East, 1933-40 (2010) and co-editor, with Bruce Collins, of Transnational Soldiers: Foreign Military Enlistment in the Modern Era (2012). His current research examines the history of the phenomenon of foreign war volunteers from the late eighteenth century to the present.