Alternative History
Kingdom of Cyrenaica
مملكة برقة
Al-Mamlakat Al-Bariqa

Timeline: 1983: Doomsday

OTL equivalent: Cyrenaica
Flag Coat of Arms
Flag Coat of Arms
Anthem "Ya Beladi"
(and largest city)
Other cities Al-Bayda, Tobruk, Derna, Jalu, Adam
  others English, Greek and Italian
  others Christianity, Unaffiliated
Ethnic Groups
  others Berbers, Greeks and others
Demonym Cyrenaicans
Government Unitary parliamentary semi-constitutional monarchy
King Mohammed
  Royal house: Senussi
Crown Prince
Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani
Area 399,670.95

351,883.51 km²

Population 2,301,191 
Independence from Libya
  declared 1984
  recognized 1985
Currency Cyrenaican Dinar
Organizations League of Nations, Arab League

Cyrenaica (Arabic: مملكة برقة romanized: Al-Mamlakat Al-Bariqa), also known as Barqah, is the eastern part of the the former nation of Libya. It became independent upon that state's collapse in 1984. Compared to Tripolitania, the western part of Libya, Cyrenaica has enjoyed relative stability in the years since the collapse, though it has certainly faced difficult challenges. About three-fourths of Libya's oil wealth is under the kingdom's control. Since it lacks the resources and manpower to take full advantage of these reserves, various other nations, including Egypt, Greece, and the Persian Gulf states, have invested in drilling and refining it.



A fertile area set off from the surrounding desert by the Jebel Akhdar, Cyrenaica has always comprised a distinct region. The English name Cyrenaica comes from a Greek colony, Cyrene, founded in the seventh century BC. It grew into an important Greek region of five cities called the Pentapolis. Another one of the five was Barca, source of the country's Arabic name, Barqah. After about a century of independence, Cyrenaica spent almost all the rest of its history as a province of larger empires: the Persians, Ptolemies, Romans, and Arabs. After the breakup of the Umayyad Caliphate, the region passed between different dynasties; for the most part, the rulers of either Egypt or Tripoli exercised a loose suzerainty over it. In the early modern era it passed to the Ottoman Empire.

In 1912, Italy made Cyrenaica a protectorate, and soon after a colony. In 1934 Italy united it with Tripolitania and Fezzan to form the modern Libya. World War II brought British occupation, and with British support Idris as-Senussi, the dynastic leader of the Senussi Sufi movement, established the Emirate of Cyrenaica. This existence as a separate country lasted only two years; Idris soon united all of Libya as a kingdom. Under the kingdom, Cyrenaica's oil was drilled for the first time, sparking rapid economic growth for the whole country.

The rise of Gaddafi's dictatorship in 1969 amounted to a total consolidation of national power in Tripoli. Cyrenaica, though the source of most of Libya's wealth, received comparatively little investment. This neglect caused the beginning of a regional consciousness that would come to the fore after the collapse of the central government.


Cyrenaica, along with Tripolitania, would suffer no nuclear attacks but would however reel from the aftereffects of doomsday. Without international supply chains, both the export of oil and the import of food came to a complete stop. The region produced some agriculture, but the land under cultivation was simply not enough to support the million people who called the region their home.

To maintain order, soldiers returning from Chad were soon deployed throughout the Cyrenaican coast, with the highest concentration in the city of Benghazi. It was soon apparent, however, that this was not going to solve the problematic issue of hunger that was beginning to creep into the population. Riots against Gaddafi's rule were quick to begin and by October the situation looked precarious. However, an unexpected respite arrived for the government from the sky: rain.

Although some fallout would make its way over to Libya, the biggest change the nation saw was the rains beginning early that year. This change was more pronounced over the east, where over the winter the amount of rainfall would triple due to the climatic effects of nuclear war. Farmers were quick to capitalise on the opportunity the rainfall provided and began planting crops as soon as enough rain had fallen. This was also coupled with an increase in groundwater usage, although this was hampered due to most of the focus being toward the south and not centred around Benghazi. Even then, the residents of city saw the land greener than it had ever been before. Over 700mm of rain would fall over the course of winter and more land than ever before was put under the plough as many marginal lands bloomed into life.

The greatest change of all happened in the Jebel Akhdar. Being the only region of Libya with forests, three times the rainfall meant 1800mm of rain fell in the region. Dried out wadis bloomed into life, and the opportunity was exploited by both farmers and the wildlife. Although more trees were cut down in a bid to grow more food, this was somewhat offset by major new growth toward the interior of the region.

Even the extra rains, however, would not be enough.

Civil war

Gaddafi's focus on maintaining his power base in the west of the nation made him deeply unpopular in the east. Work on the Great Man-Made River accelerated, but with a clear emphasis on providing water to Sirte instead of the larger and more crucial city of Benghazi. This would prove to be for naught, as little work was completed before members of Gaddafi's army, horrified by his handling of the situation, launched a coup in a bid to both protect the country's territorial integrity and improve its food situation.

Even with the blessed amount of rain that had fallen, agricultural problems remained widespread. Mismanagement of land had led to a significant amount of water running off and causing floods instead of percolating into the ground. Even so, it had been a record harvest for the region and people would have likely been able to survive on the domestic harvest. Things were not as good in the west however, as Gaddafi had ordered his soldiers to fire upon anyone trying to flee to Tunisia, as well as on any refugee boats brave enough to try to cross over from Europe. Countless Italian boats were sunk during the early months and many refugees braving the conditions of the sea found a watery grave awaiting them.

In a year where every region of Libya recorded record harvests, the nation faced famine. The majority of the nation's food had been imported, and now without international trade, starvation began to set in. Gaddafi's soldiers forcefully took the harvests of the east and diverted them to the west - thus leaving the region of Barqah in an immensely precarious position. It was in these conditions that the first riots of Benghazi began. Riots had grown depressingly commonplace in the west but the rain bounty had given people hope that they would manage to pull through, but this was not to be.

And thus the stage was set for the army to pull a coup on the man who had come to power 14 years ago in the same manner. Throughout the chaos, Gaddafi had attempted to try to secure food from the neighbouring nation of Egypt in exchange for oil but talks fell through when the government of Egypt was overthrown. This failure, along with numerous others, were blamed on the leader as the army pulled the coup.

However, Gaddafi had been tipped off about the possibility of such an event and was prepared. Mere minutes before the plotters made their move, Gaddafi was spirited away before joining an armoured convoy and heading to Sirte. Much of the army loyal to him followed once they heard their leader had fled to his hometown and this made it impossible for the new government to launch air strikes to hunt down Gaddafi.

Royalist revolt

The new government tried to establish talks with the new Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt to try to set up the same deal with the new government: oil for food. Egypt, having seen a major harvest of its own, proved receptive toward the idea and the first convoys of oil (in captured European ships) set off for Egypt while Egypt send a large convoy of its own containing thousands of tons of cereals. Such a success, however, was not shared by either government with its people. The new Libyan government did not want to look weak and instead wanted to secure its control over the nation with food. On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood was deeply worried that the export of its food when its people too were hungry could see their own government fall.

The ships made their way back to Tripoli, thankfully with no incident. In a somewhat convoluted plan, the government had ordered them to return to Tripoli in one convoy before sending a part of the fleet back to Benghazi. Although seemingly illogical, the government had wanted the ships stay together for protection. Had the ships split earlier, their naval escort also would have divided, putting both flotillas at risk. With the food for Tripoli secure, the majority of the naval escort could thus guard the ships as they made their way back east. In their brief stop, the ships picked up a few more soldiers and military escorts from land.

The arrival of the ships laden with food was met with thunderous cheers in Benghazi, where news of the event had gotten out through royalists. In an opportunity that should not have existed, the claimant of the throne of Libya, Hasan as-Senussi, had managed to sneak onto one of the ships as it made its way from Tripoli to Benghazi. Having managed to escape his house arrest with his family in the confusion of Gaddafi fleeing, he made contact with some of his supporters who were in the low levels of army command. Loyalists in the army managed to sneak him onto the convoy to Benghazi in plain sight as the ship was temporarily off the coast of Tripoli refueling.

As the crowd cheered, the arrival of a man underneath the old Cyrenaica flag was quickly noticed by the crowd. When they realised who the man was, the cheers increased to deafening. Due to the shrewd manoeuvre, the credit for the arrival of food was given to the deposed crown prince and Benghazi, already a loyalist region, saw Hasan popularity rise to even greater levels. After all, who should they be thanking, a far-off government or the crown prince who had just appeared off a ship full of food?

The soldiers escorting the food could see the way the wind was blowing, and soon joined in the cheering and the acclamations toward Hasan. As the west began descending into civil war, the eastern half of the nation consolidated around a military faction that was becoming at least nominally loyal to Hasan. Under the leadership of a junta that included Hasan, the grain was transferred onto land and distributed in a careful manner. Massive storage facilities were either built or made available to store the rest of the grain and distribute it periodically.

Such an endeavour may have caused problems had it not been for the popularity of the former crown prince and his heartfelt urge to respect the rule of law and to conserve the food. While the junta supposedly ruling all of Libya slowly but surely self-destructed in Tripoli, the junta in Benghazi began taking more and more decisions on their own. Part of this included sending military convoys to the south to "convince" the people and any security forces present to submit to the authority in Benghazi. This was a simple process, with the small trucks full of grain helping to easily sway the people to comply.

By the time the monsoons rolled around in October 1984, a significant chunk of the east was already under the control of the Benghazi junta. Their commitment only strengthened as news came that Libya, or more specifically Tripolitania, had collapsed into civil war.


Two main issues faced the Benghazi junta. The most immediate was the expansion and management of farmland in a sustainable and reasonable manner, both to feed the people now and continue to feed people in the future. In this, the crown prince took the lead. Having studied agriculture at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, along with Islamic theology, he soon gathered together some of the most successful and learned farmers along with many men knowledgeable in the field of land management and got to work in April. Expanding the forest was a priority, trees long known to both increase the percolation of water into the ground and improve soil quality and bind it together. The country established nurseries, each month planting more saplings. At the same time, Hasan implemented a program of land reform - ironically building on the work of the Gaddafi government. Visiting as many farms as he could, he urged brothers who had gained a share of the land from their fathers to tear down walls and dividing markers and work together to better utilise their resources. These actions were controversial, but reverence for the new leader began to show itself in changes to agricultural practices. Hasan thus began advocating for families to come together and work larger plots of lands, although he stopped short of endorsing whole tribes to do the same. Instead he emphasised the need for productive lands that were small enough to planted but large enough for irrigation to be effective.

The next group he targeted were goat-herders. Long a staple of the region, Hasan was made aware by his fellows about the damage of grazing practices. As many herders grazed in a haphazard fashion over a large region, efforts were made gather and educate them to use rangelands and to graze more intensively over the newly forming grasslands. This would not only stop soil degradation but would improve soil quality if done in a timely and organised fashion.

The last thing that was to be done was the use of rocks to create check dams across the high slopes of the region. A practice long known in agriculture, the purpose of these check dams was to reduce the velocity of water running off wadis and thereby increase absorption. The state also contracted workers to dig ditches, also to hold water and reduce runoff. The scope of the project was large, and it gave rise to significant employment. However, due to the nature of the economy and the number of refugees heading into the region, payment was only given in food.

Thus over the course of half a year, significant measures were put in place to help utilise the additional rainfall and help better the soil in a bid to feed more people.

The second issue that arose was handled by the junta. The civil war had led to massive displacements and violence. Cyrenaica needed to secure both its newly productive farmland and its reserves of oil. The junta ensured that all military units east of Sirte declared loyalty to the Benghazi government and, in a gamble, began putting up checkpoints on routes into their zone of control. Over 600 tanks were deployed to protect the southern flank of the region from the civil war and ensure no fighting reached the heart of the economy. As the fighting dragged on, many soldiers fleeing the west would defect and join the army in the east in a bid to avoid starvation and escape from the hellish conditions that had were now commonplace on the Tripolitan coast.

The army wouldn't be able to protect all its wells, however; indeed over the next few years it would lose over a third to the civil war being waged to the west from attacks by both the Gaddafi loyalists and the junta in Tripoli. Yet it would retain control over the rest, allowing it to maintain production and sell refined oil to Egypt in exchange for food.

It had become clear by late Summer that little desire remained to push westward and reclaim Tripoli. Instead, Hasan and his junta decided to take the final step in the course that they had been pursuing for a year. On September 2, 1984 - the day that he was supposed to have become king fifteen years ago - Hasan as-Senussi assumed the throne of Cyrenaica.

Oil and Grain

In 1988, Egypt launched an invasion of Israel. Israel responded with missiles that took out the leadership, decapitating the country and plunging Egypt into five years of fragmentation and collapse. This removed from the picture Cyrenaica's lone remaining customer for its petroleum. The years of unrest had greatly reduced the country's refining capacity, both its physical infrastructure and technical knowledge, so it could not even produce very much for domestic use. The oil industry atrophied, wells across the kingdom ceasing production. Any dream that the citizens had of building a modern economy seemed crushed by the realities of a post-nuclear world.

However, the policies of agricultural self-sufficiency under Hasan and his son and successor Muhammad, together with the continued bounty of Cyrenaica's wetter climate, meant that there was lots of available work. Modern goods would not be available, but most of the people could at least have a job and enough food to survive. And the kingdom was stable, in fact one of the healthiest states in the entire Mediterranean.

In 1994, Greece took a major step toward reunification when the rival breakaway states agreed to form a confederation on equal terms with the Hellenic Republic. This put an end to the internal fighting that had marked post-1983 Greece, and the peace provided an opportunity for new trade and development. Greek firms and the government began to demand petroleum, and Cyrenaica was the obvious source. Starting in the late 90s, Cyrenaica accepted Greek investment into wells and refineries.

Egypt reunified around the same time as Greece and by 2000 was also demanding petroleum. Relations took a hit in 2004 when Egypt unilaterally annexed Kufra, an oasis town deep in the desert south of Cyrenaica. This encroachment into Libyan territory was an insult, but the land was remote and not valuable. However, in 2007 Egypt explored north of Kufra, finding major deposits of crude oil under the desert. This time, Cyrenaica demanded that Egypt relinquish the territory. The government complied, unwilling to go to war over the territory. But Egypt was able to win a concession to its national petroleum company, which was granted exploitation rights in the oilfields that had been discovered by Egyptians, with Cyrenaica keeping 40 to 50% of the profits.

Recent history

Sicily had begun to colonize Tripolitania in 2001. Everyone in Cyrenaica was alarmed at the return of the old colonizer. The Greeks were no less alarmed, and they obtained the right to station a limited number of troops near Greek-run facilities, and signed a mutual defense pact with Cyrenaica.

In 2009 disputes along the border helped to launch the Second Sicily War, in which Libya was a major front. The war required Cyrenaica to partner with the Atlantic nations, but the king rejected the idea of permanent alliance, believing that nonalignment was the best course for the kingdom. After the war and the removal of Sicilian troops from Africa, the defense pact with Greece was allowed to expire. Greek and other ADC troops left Cyrenaica by 2013.

The years since the war have been marked by the revival of the Mediterranean as an open, vibrant economic zone. The country entered this era with some advantages. It had enjoyed a longer period of stability than almost any other state in the region. The changed climate and the policies of the 80s and 90s had brought about an adequate level of food security. And of course it sat on a huge amount of exploitable petroleum. Cyrenaica is a major supplier of fuel to much of Europe and North Africa.

The country's limited democracy and the king's political power provoked periodic criticism and protests. A series of large demonstrations in the mid-2010s was put down with mass arrests and some violence. King Muhammad continued to argue that the constitution was responsible for Cyrenaica's success, allowing it to avoid both the corruption and oppression of autocracy and the chaos of democracy.


Rainfall levels across the Sahara Desert have increased from an average of around one inch (25mm) to four to five inches (100-125mm) this has led to the desert to begin greening to form a dry savanna.


Cyrenaica since the 1980s has transitioned from a petroleum-based economy to an agricultural one, and back again. But the change back has been less rapid and booming than the initial change of the mid-20th century. One reason is the simple fact that the world today consumes much less petroleum than it did in 1980. But another factor was the massive investment that the country made into farming and irrigation in the 80s and 90s. Officials have been reluctant to let that development go to waste. The petroleum sector of the economy has therefore grown steadily but slowly since the mid-90s.

A significant portion of the petroleum infrastructure is in fact in the hands of foreign firms, especially from Egypt, Greece, and the Persian Gulf. The Cyrenaican government imposes taxes and fees and therefore can argue that foreign investment is returned to the country. Still, the level of foreign involvement is a major point of controversy. Some political parties advocate nationalizing foreign-owned wells and refineries.

Government and Politics


The Libyan constitution of 1951 provided the basis for Cyrenaica's government. Much of the document was adopted with few changes; most revisions were merely to geographic references to a united Libya. The constitution lays out a very strong monarchy kept in check by free elections.

The monarchy is hereditary, constitutionally limited to males of the Senussi dynasty. It is the monarch's responsibility to designate a successor. The king has the power to name the head of government, veto legislation, and appoint members of the Senate.

Libya's parliament is bicameral. Voters choose members of the House of Representatives. The king himself names the Senate. Prime Ministers and cabinets must have the support of both houses as well as the Crown.


Foreign Relations

Cyrenaica has an agreement with Egypt over three oil fields in the south of former Libya, Egypt will mine the oil and control the land and Egypt will also build an oil line to transport oil to the town of Ras Lanuf which is to the west of the capital city, any oil revenue will go to the Cyrenaican government.

During the decade in which Cyrenaica shared a border with Italian Tripolitania, Greece was invited to station troops inside the country to defend its petroleum interests. This proved crucial for defending Cyrenaica's frontier during the Second Sicily War. After the war, Tripolitania was demilitarized and Cyrenaica asked that the Greek troops return home. Despite cooperating with Greece and the rest of the Atlantic Defense Community during the war, the kingdom has sought nonalignment regarding the major blocs in the region.