While the beaches of Normandy or the streets of Nuremberg might be more familiar names from the World War II, the shores of Libya and the desertsof North Africa proved just as important for the outcome of the last global conflict. As Robert Satloff writes in FP, it will be 70 years next week since the Americans and their British allies launched Operation Torch, "America's first foray into the uncertain terrain of the modern Arab world." Allied and Axis forces were fighting in the deserts of Libya and Egypt -- and skirmishing in Morocco and Algeria -- for three years, until Axis troops were finally trapped in Tunisia in the spring of 1943. While the politics of today are much different, the modern Arab world remains of critical strategic importance, and modern decision makers would do well to look back at this forgotton struggle.
Here, two soldiers belonging to Allied forces aim at a German soldier surrendering from his tank in October 1942 as a sandstorm clouds the battlefield at al-Alamein, Egypt, about 60 miles west of Alexandria. The battle at al-Alamein began Oct. 23, 1942, and lasted for 12 days.