By Ajnadin Mustafa.
Tripoli, 11 August 2015:
Tripoli International Airport, despite being in ruins at present, is to go back to being named . . .[restrict]after the late King Idris. It is to become Idris International Airport. The decision, made by the government, was announced yesterday.
Originally built by the Italians and named Castel Benito Airport after the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, it was renamed Idris Airport on independence in 1951. Libya’s dictator renamed it Tripoli International Airport as soon as he grabbed power, trying to wipe out all memory of the king.
In the four years since the revolution, although many streets across the country were given back their pre-Qaddafi names, such as Tripoli’s 24 December Street and Shara Istiqlal, there has been no attempt to honour King Idris who led Libya to independence and ruled it for 18 years until, exhausted by the bickering of politicians and governments falling apart over rivalries, he announced his abdication in August 1969.
The restoration of the name is largely symbolic. It will not bring the airport back into action in the near future. When it was attacked in July last year by units led by Misratan commander Salah Badi and finally taken over from Zintani forces the following month, it was left a smouldering wreck with buildings and aircraft destroyed. The cost of reconstruction is put at over $1 billion.
At the moment, moreover, the military forces that hold Tripoli are thought to want to maintain Mitiga as the main airport. It is their power base. [/restrict]