March 17, 2011: The United Nations Security Council approves a ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya, starting NATO involvement in the Libyan civil war.

The US and Britain vote in favor of a no-fly zone in Libya, on March 17, 2011. (Credit: Foreign Policy Journal)

The US and Britain vote in favor of a no-fly zone in Libya, on March 17, 2011. (Credit: Foreign Policy Journal)

A widespread Libyan uprising against long-time Libyan ruler Muammar el-Qaddafi began in mid-February 2011, but the rebels lack weapons and are getting defeated. By a vote of ten to five, the UN Security Council approves a resolution authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect civilians there. (United Nations, 03/17/2011) 

No country uses ground forces, but a NATO-led air war begins three days later, targeting el-Qaddafi’s forces. 17 countries are involved, with most of the forces belonging to the US, France, and Britain. (Al Jazeera, 3/25/2011) The civil war will continue for most of the rest of 2011 before the rebels win.

July 15, 2011: The US officially recognizes the rebels as the legitimate rulers of Libya.

Clinton meets with TNC Executive Bureau Chairman Mahmoud Jibril on July 15, 2011. Credit: US Embassy of Libya)

Clinton meets with TNC Executive Bureau Chairman Mahmoud Jibril on July 15, 2011. Credit: US Embassy of Libya)

Clinton announces that the US recognizes the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) as “the legitimate governing authority for Libya,” and says long-time Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government “no longer [has] legitimate authority.” The rebels are still fighting a civil war in Libya, supported by the US and NATO, but are gaining ground against el-Qaddafi’s forces. Clinton says US recognition should help the rebels gain more funding. (US Department of State, 7/15/2011)

October 20, 2011: el-Qaddafi is killed, ending the Libyan civil war.

Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi (Credit: European Press Agency)

Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi (Credit: European Press Agency)

Long-time Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi is killed in his last remaining stronghold of Sirte, Libya. He is beaten to death by an angry mob of rebel Libyans. (Reuters, 10/20/2011)

On October 24, The Transitional National Council (TNC), the political leadership of the Libyan rebels, declares Libya liberated and the civil war over. (Al Jazeera, 10/24/2011)