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Ma'tan as-Sarra

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Title: Ma'tan as-Sarra  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Gaafar Nimeiry, Air Bissau, Maaten al-Sarra Air Base
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Ma'tan as-Sarra

Ma'tan as-Sarra is an oasis in the Kufra District municipality in the southeast corner of Libya. It is located in the Libyan Desert, 322 kilometres (200 mi) southeast of Kufra. A marginal oasis, with few palms and substandard water, it allowed the creation in 1811 of the last trans-Saharan caravan route. However, it historically has been little visited by Toubou and Zaghawa nomads.[1]

In 1934, Ma'tan as-Sarra was turned over as part of the Sarra Triangle to Italy by the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, who considered the area worthless sand and a cheap appeasement to Benito Mussolini's attempts at empire.[1]

In 1972, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi felt that Gaafar Nimeiry of Sudan had betrayed the Arab cause by signing the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement ending the civil war.[1] He thus established a base at Ma'tan as-Sarra to stockpile weapons and as a staging area for Sudanese insurgents, who were trained at the bases at Joudaim and Ma'sar Ra's near Tripoli.[2] In July 1976, one thousand followers of Sudanese opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi left the oasis and stormed Khartoum after crossing northern Darfur and Kordofan. Al-Mahdi's force was defeated only after a tank battalion struck into the city after three days of heavy fighting.[1]

Libya also established Maaten al-Sarra Air Base, which was heavily used during the Chadian-Libyan conflict (1978-1987). The base was subject to a highly successful raid in September 1987 by the Chadian army that contributed to the signing of a ceasefire the same month.


Coordinates: 21°41′0″N 21°49′52″E / 21.68333°N 21.83111°E / 21.68333; 21.83111

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