MUAMMAR MOHAMMED ABU MINYAR GADDAFI (/ˈmoʊ.əmɑːr ɡəˈdɑːfi/
; audio (help ·info ); c. 1942 – 20 October 2011), commonly
known as COLONEL GADDAFI, was a Libyan revolutionary , politician ,
and political theorist . He governed
Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then as the
"Brotherly Leader " of the Great Socialist People\'s Libyan Arab
Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011. He was initially ideologically committed
Arab nationalism and
Arab socialism , but he came to rule according
to his own
Third International Theory .
Gaddafi was born near
Sirte to an impoverished
Bedouin family. He
became an Arab nationalist while at school in Sabha , later enrolling
in the Royal Military Academy,
Benghazi . Within the military he
founded a revolutionary cell which, in a 1969 coup , deposed the
Senussi monarchy of Idris . Having taken power, Gaddafi
Libya into a republic governed by his
Council . Ruling by decree , he ejected both Italian colonists and
Western military bases from
Libya while strengthening ties to Arab
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser 's
Egypt—and unsuccessfully advocating
Pan-Arab political union . An
Islamic modernist , he introduced sharia as the basis for the legal
system and promoted "
Islamic socialism ". The oil industry was
nationalised, with the increasing state revenues used to bolster the
military, fund foreign revolutionaries, and implement social programs
emphasising house-building, healthcare, and education projects. In
1973, he initiated a "Popular Revolution" with the formation of
General People\'s Committees , purported to be a system of direct
democracy , but retained personal control over major decisions. He
Third International Theory that year, publishing these
ideas in The Green Book .
In 1977, Gaddafi transformed
Libya into a new socialist state called
Jamahiriya ("state of the masses"). Officially he adopted a
symbolic role in governance but remained head of both the military and
Revolutionary Committees responsible for policing and suppressing
dissent. During the 1970s and 1980s, Libya's unsuccessful border
Egypt and Chad, support for foreign militants, and
alleged responsibility for the
Lockerbie bombing left it increasingly
isolated on the international stage. A particularly hostile
relationship developed with the United States, United Kingdom, and
Israel, resulting in the 1986 U.S. bombing of
Libya and United Nations
-imposed economic sanctions. From 1999, Gaddafi rejected Arab
socialism and encouraged economic privatisation, rapprochement with
Western nations, and
Pan-Africanism ; he was Chairperson of the
African Union from 2009–10. Amid the 2011
Arab Spring , protests
against widespread corruption and unemployment broke out in eastern
Libya. The situation descended into civil war , in which NATO
intervened militarily on the side of the anti-Gaddafist National
Transitional Council (NTC). The government was overthrown and Gaddafi,
who had retreated to Sirte, was captured and killed by NTC militants.
A highly divisive figure, Gaddafi dominated Libya's politics for four
decades and was the subject of a pervasive cult of personality . He
was decorated with various awards and lauded for his anti-imperialist
stance, his support for Arab and then African unity, and for
significant improvements that his government brought to the Libyan
people's quality of life. Conversely, domestically his social and
economic reforms were strongly opposed by Islamic fundamentalists and
he was internationally condemned as a dictator whose authoritarian
administration violated the human rights of Libyan citizens and
financed global terrorism .
* 1 Early life
* 1.1 Childhood: 1942/43–50
* 1.2 Education and political activism: 1950–63
* 1.3 Military training: 1963–66
Libyan Arab Republic
* 2.1 Coup d\'etat: 1969
* 2.2 Consolidating leadership: 1969–73
* 2.2.1 Economic and social reform
* 2.2.2 Foreign relations
* 2.3 The "Popular Revolution": 1973–77
* 2.3.1 Third Universal Theory and The Green Book
* 2.3.2 Foreign relations
* 3 Great Socialist People\'s
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
* 3.1 Foundation: 1977
Revolutionary Committees and furthering socialism: 1978–80
* 3.3 Conflict with the USA and its allies: 1981–86
* 3.4 "Revolution within a Revolution": 1987–98
* 3.5 Pan-Africanism, reconciliation and privatization: 1999–2011
Libyan Civil War
Libyan Civil War
* 4.1 Origins and development: February–August 2011
* 4.2 Capture and death: September–October 2011
* 5 Political ideology
* 5.1 Islamic modernism and
* 6 Personal life
* 6.1 Public image
* 7 Reception and legacy
* 7.1 Posthumous assessment
* 8 See also
* 9 References
* 9.1 Notes
* 9.2 Footnotes
* 9.3 Bibliography
* 9.4 Further reading
* 10 External links
Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi was born in a tent near Qasr Abu
Hadi , a rural area outside the town of
Sirte in the deserts of
Tripolitania , western Libya. His family came from a small,
relatively un-influential tribal group called the
Qadhadhfa , who
Arabized Berber in heritage. His mother was named Aisha (died
1978), and his father, Mohammad Abdul Salam bin Hamed bin Mohammad,
was known as Abu Meniar (died 1985); the latter earned a meager
subsistence as a goat and camel herder. Nomadic Bedouins , they were
illiterate and kept no birth records. As such, Gaddafi's date of
birth is not known with certainty, and sources have set it in 1942 or
in the spring of 1943, although his biographers
David Blundy and
Andrew Lycett noted that it could have been pre-1940. His parents'
only surviving son, he had three older sisters. Gaddafi's upbringing
Bedouin culture influenced his personal tastes for the rest of his
life; he preferred the desert over the city and would retreat there to
From childhood, Gaddafi was aware of the involvement of European
colonialists in Libya; his nation was occupied by Italy , and during
North African Campaign
North African Campaign of
World War II
World War II it witnessed conflict
between Italian and British troops. According to later claims,
Gaddafi's paternal grandfather, Abdessalam Bouminyar, was killed by
the Italian Army during the Italian invasion of 1911 . At World War
II's end in 1945,
Libya was occupied by British and French forces.
Although Britain and France intended on dividing the nation between
their empires, the General Assembly of the
United Nations (UN)
declared that the country be granted political independence. In 1951,
the UN created the United Kingdom of
Libya , a federal state under the
leadership of a pro-Western monarch, Idris , who banned political
parties and centralised power in his monarchy.
EDUCATION AND POLITICAL ACTIVISM: 1950–63
Gaddafi's earliest education was of a religious nature, imparted by a
local Islamic teacher. Subsequently moving to nearby
Sirte to attend
elementary school, he progressed through six grades in four years.
Libya was not free, but his father thought it would
greatly benefit his son despite the financial strain. During the week
Gaddafi slept in a mosque , and at weekends walked 20 miles to visit
his parents. At school Gaddafi was bullied for being a Bedouin, but
was proud of his identity and encouraged pride in other Bedouin
children. From Sirte, he and his family moved to the market town of
Fezzan , south-central Libya, where his father worked as a
caretaker for a tribal leader while Muammar attended secondary school,
something neither parent had done. Gaddafi was popular at this
school; some friends made there received significant jobs in his later
administration, most notably his best friend Abdul Salam Jalloud .
Egyptian President Nasser was Gaddafi's political hero
Many teachers at Sabha were Egyptian, and for the first time Gaddafi
had access to pan-Arab newspapers and radio broadcasts, most notably
Voice of the Arabs . Growing up, Gaddafi witnessed
significant events rock the
Arab world , including the 1948
Arab–Israeli War , the
Egyptian Revolution of 1952
Egyptian Revolution of 1952 , the Suez Crisis
of 1956, and the short-lived existence of the United Arab Republic
between 1958 and 1961. Gaddafi admired the political changes
implemented in the
Arab Republic of Egypt under his hero, President
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser . Nasser argued for
Arab nationalism ; the
rejection of Western colonialism , neo-colonialism , and
Zionism ; and
a transition from capitalism to socialism . Gaddafi was influenced by
Nasser's book, Philosophy of the Revolution, which outlined how to
initiate a coup.
Gaddafi organised demonstrations and distributed posters criticising
the monarchy. In October 1961, he led a demonstration protesting
against Syria's secession from the United Arab Republic. During this
they broke windows in a local hotel that was accused of serving
alcohol . To punish Gaddafi, the authorities expelled him and his
family from Sabha. Gaddafi moved to
Misrata , there attending Misrata
Secondary School. Maintaining his interest in Arab nationalist
activism, he refused to join any of the banned political parties
active in the city—including the
Arab Nationalist Movement , the
Arab Socialist Ba\'ath Party , and the
Muslim Brotherhood —claiming
that he rejected factionalism. He read voraciously on the subjects of
Nasser and the
French Revolution of 1789, as well as the works of
Syrian political theorist
Michel Aflaq and biographies of Abraham
Sun Yat-sen , and
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk .
MILITARY TRAINING: 1963–66
Gaddafi briefly studied History at the University of
Benghazi , before dropping out to join the military. Despite his
police record, in 1963 he began training at the Royal Military Academy
, Benghazi, alongside several like-minded friends from Misrata. The
armed forces offered the only opportunity for upward social mobility
for underprivileged Libyans, and Gaddafi recognised it as a potential
instrument of political change. Under Idris, Libya's armed forces
were trained by the British military; this angered Gaddafi, who viewed
the British as imperialists, and accordingly he refused to learn
English and was rude to the British officers, ultimately failing his
exams. British trainers reported him for insubordination and abusive
behaviour, stating their suspicion that he was involved in the
assassination of the military academy's commander in 1963. Such
reports were ignored and Gaddafi quickly progressed through the
With a group of loyal cadres, in 1964 Gaddafi founded the Central
Committee of the Free Officers Movement, a revolutionary group named
after Nasser's Egyptian predecessor . Led by Gaddafi, they met
clandestinely and were organised into a clandestine cell system ,
offering their salaries into a single fund. Gaddafi travelled around
Libya gathering intelligence and developing connections with
sympathisers, but the government's intelligence services ignored him,
considering him little threat. Graduating in August 1965, Gaddafi
became a communications officer in the army's signal corps.
In April 1966, he was assigned to the United Kingdom for further
training; over 9 months he underwent an English-language course at
Buckinghamshire , an Army Air Corps signal instructors
Bovington Camp ,
Dorset , and an infantry signal instructors
Hythe, Kent . Despite later rumours to the contrary, he did
not attend the
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst . The Bovington
signal course's director reported that Gaddafi successfully overcame
problems learning English, displaying a firm command of voice
procedure. Noting that Gaddafi's favourite hobbies were reading and
playing football , he thought him an "amusing officer, always
cheerful, hard-working, and conscientious." Gaddafi disliked England,
claiming British Army officers racially insulted him and finding it
difficult adjusting to the country's culture; asserting his Arab
identity in London, he walked around
Piccadilly wearing traditional
Libyan robes. He later related that while he travelled to England
believing it more advanced than Libya, he returned home "more
confident and proud of our values, ideals and social character."
LIBYAN ARAB REPUBLIC
Further information: History of
COUP D\'ETAT: 1969
Main article: 1969 Libyan coup d\'état "People of Libya! In
response to your own will, fulfilling your most heartfelt wishes,
answering your most incessant demands for change and regeneration, and
your longing to strive towards these ends: listening to your
incitement to rebel, your armed forces have undertaken the overthrow
of the corrupt regime, the stench of which has sickened and horrified
us all. at a single blow our gallant army has toppled these idols and
has destroyed their images. By a single stroke it has lightened the
long dark night in which the Turkish domination was followed first by
Italian rule, then by this reactionary and decadent regime which was
no more than a hotbed of extortion, faction, treachery and reason."
— Gaddafi, 1969
Idris' government was increasingly unpopular by the latter 1960s; it
had exacerbated Libya's traditional regional and tribal divisions by
centralising the country's federal system in order to take advantage
of the country's oil wealth, while corruption and entrenched systems
of patronage were widespread throughout the oil industry. Arab
nationalism was increasingly popular, and protests flared up following
Egypt's 1967 defeat in the
Six-Day War with Israel; allied to the
Western powers, Idris' administration was seen as pro-Israeli.
Anti-Western riots broke out in Tripoli and Benghazi, while Libyan
workers shut down oil terminals in solidarity with Egypt. By 1969,
Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency was expecting segments of Libya's
armed forces to launch a coup. Although claims have been made that
they knew of Gaddafi's Free Officers Movement, they have since claimed
ignorance, stating that they were monitoring Abdul Aziz Shalhi's Black
Boots revolutionary group.
In mid-1969, Idris travelled abroad to spend the summer in Turkey and
Greece. Gaddafi's Free Officers recognised this as their chance to
overthrow the monarchy, initiating "Operation Jerusalem". On 1
September, they occupied airports, police depots, radio stations and
government offices in Tripoli and Benghazi. Gaddafi took control of
the Berka barracks in Benghazi, while Omar Meheisha occupied Tripoli
barracks and Jalloud seized the city's anti-aircraft batteries.
Khweldi Hameidi was sent to arrest crown prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida
al-Mahdi as-Sanussi , and force him to relinquish his claim to the
throne. They met no serious resistance, and wielded little violence
against the monarchists.
Once Gaddafi removed the monarchical government, he announced the
foundation of the
Libyan Arab Republic . Addressing the populace by
radio, he proclaimed an end to the "reactionary and corrupt" regime,
"the stench of which has sickened and horrified us all." Due to the
coup's bloodless nature, it was initially labelled the "White
Revolution", although was later renamed the "One September Revolution"
after the date on which it occurred. Gaddafi insisted that the Free
Officers' coup represented a revolution, marking the start of
widespread change in the socio-economic and political nature of Libya.
He proclaimed that the revolution meant "freedom, socialism , and
unity", and over the coming years implemented measures to achieve
CONSOLIDATING LEADERSHIP: 1969–73
The 12 member central committee of the Free Officers proclaimed
Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), the government of
the new republic. Lieutenant Gaddafi became RCC Chairman, and
therefore the de facto head of state, also appointing himself to the
rank of colonel and becoming commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Jalloud became Prime Minister, while a civilian Council of Ministers
headed by Sulaiman Maghribi was founded to implement RCC policy.
Libya's administrative capital was moved from al-Beida to Tripoli.
The Flag of the
Libyan Arab Republic (1969–77)
Although theoretically a collegial body operating through consensus
building, Gaddafi dominated the RCC, although some of the others
attempted to constrain what they saw as his excesses. Gaddafi
remained the government's public face, with the identities of the
other RCC members only being publicly revealed on 10 January 1970.
All young men from (typically rural) working and middle-class
backgrounds, none had university degrees; in this way they were
distinct from the wealthy, highly educated conservatives who
previously governed the country.
The coup completed, the RCC proceeded with their intentions of
consolidating the revolutionary government and modernising the
country. They purged monarchists and members of Idris'
from Libya's political world and armed forces; Gaddafi believed this
elite were opposed to the will of the Libyan people and had to be
expunged. "People's Courts" were founded to try various monarchist
politicians and journalists, many of whom were imprisoned, although
none executed. Idris was sentenced to execution in absentia.
In May 1970, the
Revolutionary Intellectuals Seminar was held to
bring intellectuals in line with the revolution, while that year's
Legislative Review and Amendment united secular and religious law
codes, introducing sharia into the legal system. Ruling by decree ,
the RCC maintained the monarchy's ban on political parties, in May
1970 banned trade unions , and in 1972 outlawed workers' strikes and
suspended newspapers. In September 1971, Gaddafi resigned, claiming
to be dissatisfied with the pace of reform, but returned to his
position within a month. In February 1973, he resigned again, once
more returning the following month.
Economic And Social Reform
Gaddafi at an Arab summit in
Libya in 1969, shortly after the
September Revolution that toppled
King Idris I . Gaddafi sits in
military uniform in the middle, surrounded by President Gamal Abdel
Nasser (left) and Syrian President
Nureddin al-Atassi (right).
The RCC's early economic policy has been characterised as being state
capitalist in orientation. A number of schemes were established to
aid entrepreneurs and develop a Libyan bourgeoisie. Seeking to expand
the cultivatable acreage in Libya, in September 1969 the government
launched a "Green Revolution" to raise agricultural productivity so
Libya could rely less on imported food. All land that had either
been expropriated from Italian settlers or which was not in use was
expropriated and redistributed. Irrigation systems were established
along the northern coastline and around various inland oases.
Production costs often outstripped the value of the produce and thus
Libyan agricultural production remained in deficit, relying heavily on
With crude oil as the country's primary export, Gaddafi sought to
improve Libya's oil sector. In October 1969, he proclaimed the
current trade terms unfair, benefiting foreign corporations more than
the Libyan state, and by threatening to reduce production, in December
Jalloud successfully increased the price of Libyan oil. In 1970,
OPEC states followed suit, leading to a global increase in the
price of crude oil. The RCC followed with the Tripoli Agreement, in
which they secured income tax, back-payments and better pricing from
the oil corporations; these measures brought
Libya an estimated $1
billion in additional revenues in its first year.
Increasing state control over the oil sector, the RCC began a program
of nationalization , starting with the expropriation of British
Petroleum 's share of the British Petroleum-N.B. Hunt Sahir Field in
December 1971. In September 1973, it was announced that all foreign
oil producers active in
Libya were to see 51% of their operation
nationalised. For Gaddafi, this was an important step towards
socialism. It proved an economic success; while gross domestic
product had been $3.8 billion in 1969, it had risen to $13.7 billion
in 1974, and $24.5 billion in 1979. In turn, the Libyans' standard of
life greatly improved over the first decade of Gaddafi's
administration, and by 1979 the average per-capita income was at
$8,170, up from $40 in 1951; this was above the average of many
industrialised countries like Italy and the U.K. In 1971,
Anwar Sadat , Libya's Gaddafi and Syria's Hafez al-Assad
signed an agreement to form a federal Union of Arab Republics . The
agreement never materialized into a federal union between the three
The RCC implemented measures for social reform, adopting sharia as a
basis. The consumption of alcohol was banned, night clubs and
Christian churches were shut down, traditional Libyan dress was
encouraged, and Arabic was decreed as the only language permitted in
official communications and on road signs. The RCC doubled the
minimum wage , introduced statutory price controls, and implemented
compulsory rent reductions of between 30 and 40%. Gaddafi also wanted
to combat the strict social restrictions that had been imposed on
women by the previous regime, establishing the
Formation to encourage reform. In 1970, a law was introduced
affirming equality of the sexes and insisting on wage parity. In
1971, Gaddafi sponsored the creation of a Libyan General Women's
Federation. In 1972, a law was passed criminalising the marriage of
any females under the age of sixteen and ensuring that a woman's
consent was a necessary prerequisite for a marriage. Gaddafi's regime
opened up a wide range of educational and employment opportunities for
women, although these primarily benefited a minority in the urban
From 1969 to 1973, it used oil money to fund social welfare programs,
which led to house-building projects and improved healthcare and
education. House building became a major social priority, designed to
eliminate homelessness and to replace the shanty towns created by
Libya's growing urbanisation. The health sector was also expanded; by
Libya had 50% more hospitals than it had in 1968, while the
number of doctors had grown from 700 to over 3000 in that decade.
Malaria was eradicated, and trachoma and tuberculosis greatly
curtailed. Compulsory education was expanded from 6 to 9 years, while
adult literacy programs and free university education were introduced.
Beida University was founded, while
Tripoli University and Benghazi
University were expanded. In doing so the government helped to
integrate the poorer strata of Libyan society into the education
system. Through these measures, the RCC greatly expanded the public
sector , providing employment for thousands. These early social
programs proved popular within Libya. This popularity was partly due
to Gaddafi's personal charisma, youth and underdog status as a
Bedouin, as well as his rhetoric emphasising his role as the successor
to the anti-Italian fighter
Omar Mukhtar .
To combat the country's strong regional and tribal divisions, the RCC
promoted the idea of a unified pan-Libyan identity. In doing so, they
tried discrediting tribal leaders as agents of the old regime, and in
August 1971 a Sabha military court tried many of them for
counter-revolutionary activity. Long-standing administrative
boundaries were re-drawn, crossing tribal boundaries, while
pro-revolutionary modernisers replaced traditional leaders, but the
communities they served often rejected them. Realising the failures
of the modernisers, Gaddafi created the Arab Socialist Union (ASU) in
June 1971, a mass mobilisation vanguard party of which he was
president. The ASU recognised the RCC as its "Supreme Leading
Authority", and was designed to further revolutionary enthusiasm
throughout the country. It remained heavily bureaucratic and failed
to mobilise mass support in the way Gaddafi had envisioned.
Further information: Foreign relations of
Libya under Muammar Gaddafi
Gaddafi (left) with Egyptian President Nasser in 1969. Nasser
privately thought Gaddafi was "a nice boy, but terribly naive".
The influence of Nasser's
Arab nationalism over the RCC was
immediately apparent. The administration was instantly recognised by
the neighbouring Arab nationalist regimes in
Sudan , with
Egypt sending experts to aid the inexperienced RCC.
Pan-Arab ideas, proclaiming the need for a single
Arab state stretching across
North Africa and the
Middle East . In
Libya signed the Tripoli Charter alongside
Sudan. This established the Arab
Revolutionary Front, a pan-national
union designed as a first step towards the eventual political
unification of the three nations. In 1970
Syria declared its
intention to join.
Nasser died unexpectedly in November 1970, with Gaddafi playing a
prominent role at his funeral. Nasser was succeeded by
Anwar Sadat ,
who suggested that rather than creating a unified state, the Arab
states should create a political federation , implemented in April
1971; in doing so, Egypt,
Sudan received large grants of
Libyan oil money. In February 1972, Gaddafi and Sadat signed an
unofficial charter of merger, but it was never implemented because
relations broke down the following year. Sadat became increasingly
wary of Libya's radical direction, and the September 1973 deadline for
implementing the Federation passed by with no action taken.
After the 1969 coup, representatives of the Four Powers —France,
the United Kingdom, the United States, and the
Soviet Union —were
called to meet RCC representatives. The U.K. and the U.S. quickly
extended diplomatic recognition, hoping to secure the position of
their military bases in
Libya and fearing further instability. Hoping
to ingratiate themselves with Gaddafi, in 1970 the U.S. informed him
of at least one planned counter-coup. Such attempts to form a working
relationship with the RCC failed; Gaddafi was determined to reassert
national sovereignty and expunge what he described as foreign colonial
and imperialist influences. His administration insisted that the U.S.
and the U.K. remove their military bases from Libya, with Gaddafi
proclaiming that "the armed forces which rose to express the people's
revolution tolerate living in their shacks while the bases of
imperialism exist in Libyan territory." The British left in March and
the Americans left in June 1970.
Moving to reduce Italian influence, in October 1970 all Italian-owned
assets were expropriated and the 12,000-strong Italian community was
Libya alongside the smaller community of Libyan Jews .
The day became a national holiday known as "Vengeance Day". Italy
complained that this was in contravention of the 1956 Italo-Libyan
Treaty, although no U.N. sanctions were forthcoming. Aiming to reduce
NATO power in the Mediterranean, in 1971
Libya requested that Malta
NATO to use its land for a military base, in turn
Malta foreign aid. Compromising, Malta's government continued
NATO to use the island, but only on the condition that NATO
would not use it for launching attacks on Arab territory. Over the
coming decade, Gaddafi's government developed stronger political and
economic links with
Dom Mintoff 's Maltese administration, and under
Malta did not renew the UK's airbases on the island in
1980. Orchestrating a military build-up, the RCC began purchasing
weapons from France and the Soviet Union. The commercial relationship
with the latter led to an increasingly strained relationship with the
U.S., which was then engaged in the
Cold War with the Soviets. Play
media A 1972 anti-Gaddafist British newsreel including an
interview with Gaddafi about his support for foreign militants
Gaddafi was especially critical of the U.S. due to its support of
Israel, and supported the
Palestinians in the Israeli–Palestinian
conflict , viewing the 1948 creation of the State of Israel as a
Western colonial occupation which was forced upon the
Arab world . He
believed that Palestinian violence against Israeli and Western targets
was the justified response of an oppressed people who were fighting
against the colonisation of their homeland. Calling on the Arab
states to wage "continuous war" against Israel, in 1970 he initiated a
Jihad Fund to finance anti-Israeli militants. In June 1972 Gaddafi
created the First Nasserite Volunteers Centre to train anti-Israeli
Like Nasser, Gaddafi favoured the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
and his group,
Fatah , over more militant and Marxist Palestinian
groups. As the years progressed however, Gaddafi's relationship with
Arafat became strained, with Gaddafi considering him too moderate and
calling for more violent action. Instead he supported militias like
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine , Popular Front for
the Liberation of Palestine – General Command , the Democratic Front
for the Liberation of Palestine , As-Sa\'iqa , the Palestinian Popular
Struggle Front , and the
Abu Nidal Organization . He funded the Black
September Organization whose members perpetrated the 1972 Munich
massacre of Israeli athletes in West Germany, and had the killed
militants' bodies flown to
Libya for a hero's funeral.
Gaddafi financially supported other militant groups across the world,
Black Panther Party
Black Panther Party , the
Nation of Islam
Nation of Islam , the
Tupamaros , the
19th of April Movement and the Sandinista National
Liberation Front in
Nicaragua , the ANC among other liberation
movements in the fight against
South Africa , the
Provisional Irish Republican Army , ETA , Action directe , the Red
Brigades , and the
Red Army Faction in
Europe , and the Armenian
Secret Army , the
Japanese Red Army , the
Free Aceh Movement
Free Aceh Movement , and the
Moro National Liberation Front in the
Philippines . Gaddafi was
indiscriminate in the causes which he funded, sometimes switching from
supporting one side in a conflict to the other, as in the Eritrean War
of Independence . Throughout the 1970s these groups received
financial support from Libya, which came to be seen as a leader in the
Third World 's struggle against colonialism and neocolonialism .
Though many of these groups were labelled "terrorists " by critics of
their activities, Gaddafi rejected this characterisation, instead he
considered them to be revolutionaries who were engaged in liberation
THE "POPULAR REVOLUTION": 1973–77
Gaddafi with Romanian communist leader
Nicolae Ceausescu in
Bucharest, Romania 1974
On 16 April 1973, Gaddafi proclaimed the start of a "Popular
Revolution" in a speech at
Zuwarah . He initiated this with a 5-point
plan, the first point of which dissolved all existing laws, to be
replaced by revolutionary enactments. The second point proclaimed that
all opponents of the revolution had to be removed, while the third
initiated an administrative revolution that Gaddafi proclaimed would
remove all traces of bureaucracy and the bourgeoisie . The fourth
point announced that the population must form People's Committees and
be armed to defend the revolution, while the fifth proclaimed the
beginning of a cultural revolution to expunge
Libya of "poisonous"
foreign influences. He began to lecture on this new phase of the
revolution in Libya, Egypt, and France. As a process, it had many
similarities with the
Cultural Revolution implemented in China.
As part of this Popular Revolution, Gaddafi invited Libya's people to
found General People\'s Committees as conduits for raising political
consciousness. Although offering little guidance for how to set up
these councils, Gaddafi claimed that they would offer a form of direct
political participation that was more democratic than a traditional
party-based representative system . He hoped that the councils would
mobilise the people behind the RCC, erode the power of the traditional
leaders and the bureaucracy, and allow for a new legal system chosen
by the people. Many such committees were established in schools and
colleges, where they were responsible for vetting staff, courses, and
textbooks to determine if they were compatible with the country's
The People's Committees led to a high percentage of public
involvement in decision making, within the limits permitted by the
RCC, but exacerbated tribal divisions. They also served as a
surveillance system, aiding the security services in locating
individuals with views critical of the RCC, leading to the arrest of
Ba\'athists , Marxists , and Islamists . Operating in a pyramid
structure, the base form of these Committees were local working
groups, who sent elected representatives to the district level, and
from there to the national level, divided between the General
People\'s Congress and the General People\'s Committee . Above these
remained Gaddafi and the RCC, who remained responsible for all major
decisions. In crossing regional and tribal identities, the committee
system aided national integration and centralisation and tightened
Gaddafi's control over the state and administrative apparatus.
Third Universal Theory And The Green Book
Third International Theory and The Green Book (Muammar
In June 1973, Gaddafi created a political ideology as a basis for the
Third International Theory . This approach
regarded both the U.S. and the
Soviet Union as imperialist and thus
rejected Western capitalism as well as Eastern bloc communism\'s
atheism. In this respect it was similar to the Three Worlds Theory
developed by China's political leader
Mao Zedong . As part of this
theory, Gaddafi praised nationalism as a progressive force and
advocated the creation of a pan-Arab state which would lead the
Islamic and Third Worlds against imperialism. Gaddafi saw Islam as
having a key role in this ideology, calling for an Islamic revival
that returned to the origins of the Qur\'an , rejecting scholarly
interpretations and the
Hadith ; in doing so, he angered many Libyan
clerics. During 1973 and 1974, his government deepened the legal
reliance on sharia, for instance by introducing flogging as punishment
for those convicted of adultery or homosexual activity.
Photograph of Gaddafi in the 1970s
Third International Theory in three short volumes
published between 1975 and 1979, collectively known as The Green Book
. Volume one was devoted to the issue of democracy, outlining the
flaws of representative systems in favour of direct, participatory
GPCs. The second dealt with Gaddafi's beliefs regarding socialism,
while the third explored social issues regarding the family and the
tribe. While the first two volumes advocated radical reform, the third
adopted a socially conservative stance, proclaiming that while men and
women were equal, they were biologically designed for different roles
in life. During the years that followed, Gaddafists adopted quotes
from The Green Book, such as "Representation is Fraud", as slogans.
Meanwhile, in September 1975, Gaddafi implemented further measures to
increase popular mobilisation, introducing objectives to improve the
relationship between the Councils and the ASU.
In 1975, Gaddafi's government declared a state monopoly on foreign
trade. Its increasingly radical reforms, coupled with the large
amount of oil revenue being spent on foreign causes, generated
discontent in Libya, particularly among the country's merchant class.
Libya saw its first civilian attack on Gaddafi's government
Benghazi army building was bombed. Much of the opposition
centred around the RCC member Omar Mehishi , and with fellow RCC
member Bashir Saghir al-Hawaadi he began plotting a coup against
Gaddafi. In 1975 their plot was exposed and the pair fled into exile,
receiving asylum from Sadat's Egypt. In the aftermath only five RCC
members remained, and power was further concentrated in Gaddafi's
hands. This led to the RCC's official abolition in March 1977.
In September 1975, Gaddafi purged the army, arresting around 200
senior officers, and in October he founded the clandestine Office for
the Security of the Revolution. In April 1976, he called upon his
supporters in universities to establish "revolutionary student
councils" and drive out "reactionary elements". During that year,
anti-Gaddafist student demonstrations broke out at the universities of
Tripoli and Benghazi, resulting in clashes with both Gaddafist
students and police. The RCC responded with mass arrests, and
introduced compulsory national service for young people. In January
1977, two dissenting students and a number of army officers were
Amnesty International condemned it as the first time
Libya that dissenters had been executed for purely
political crimes. Dissent also arose from conservative clerics and
the Muslim Brotherhood, who accused Gaddafi of moving towards Marxism
and criticised his abolition of private property as being against the
Islamic sunnah ; these forces were then persecuted as
anti-revolutionary, while all privately-owned Islamic colleges and
universities were shut down.
Following Anwar Sadat's ascension to the Egyptian presidency, Libya's
Egypt deteriorated. Over the coming years, the two
slipped into a state of cold war . Sadat was perturbed by Gaddafi's
unpredictability and insistence that
Egypt required a cultural
revolution akin to that being carried out in Libya. In February 1973,
Israeli forces shot down
Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 , which had
strayed from Egyptian airspace into Israeli-held territory during a
sandstorm. Gaddafi was infuriated that
Egypt had not done more to
prevent the incident, and in retaliation planned to destroy the RMS
Queen Elizabeth 2 , a British ship chartered by American Jews to sail
Haifa for Israel's 25th anniversary. Gaddafi ordered an Egyptian
submarine to target the ship, but Sadat cancelled the order, fearing a
military escalation. Gaddafi in 1976 with a child on his lap
Gaddafi was later infuriated when
Syria planned the Yom
Kippur War against Israel without consulting him, and was angered when
Egypt conceded to peace talks rather than continuing the war. Gaddafi
became openly hostile to Egypt's leader, calling for Sadat's
overthrow. When Sudanese President
Gaafar Nimeiry took Sadat's side,
Gaddafi also spoke out against him, encouraging the
Liberation Army 's attempt to overthrow Nimeiry. Relations with Syria
also soured over the events in the
Lebanese Civil War
Lebanese Civil War . Initially,
Syria had contributed troops to the Arab League's
peacekeeping force, although after the Syrian army attacked the
Lebanese National Movement , Gaddafi openly accused Syrian President
Hafez al-Assad of "national treason"; he was the only Arab leader to
criticise Syria's actions. Focusing his attention elsewhere in
Africa, in late 1972 and early 1973,
Libya invaded Chad to annex the
Aouzou Strip .
Intent on propagating Islam, in 1973 Gaddafi founded the Islamic Call
Society, which had opened 132 centres across Africa within a decade.
In 1973 he converted Gabonese President
Omar Bongo , an action which
he repeated three years later with
Jean-Bédel Bokassa , president of
Central African Republic
Central African Republic . Between 1973 and 1979,
$500 million in aid to African countries, namely to Zaire and Uganda,
and founded joint-venture companies throughout the country to aid
trade and development. Gaddafi was also keen on reducing Israeli
influence within Africa, using financial incentives to successfully
convince eight African states to break off diplomatic relations with
Israel in 1973. A strong relationship was also established between
Libya and Prime Minister
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto 's Pakistani
government, with the two countries exchanging nuclear research and
military assistance; this relationship ended after Bhutto was deposed
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1977.
Gaddafi sought to develop closer links in the
Maghreb ; in January
Tunisia announced a political union, the Arab Islamic
Republic . Although advocated by Gaddafi and Tunisian President Habib
Bourguiba , the move was deeply unpopular in
Tunisia and it was soon
abandoned. Retaliating, Gaddafi sponsored anti-government militants
Tunisia into the 1980s. Turning his attention to
Algeria , in 1975
Libya signed the Hassi Messaoud defence allegedly to counter alleged
"Moroccan expansionism", also funding the
Polisario Front of Western
Sahara in its independence struggle against
Morocco . Seeking to
diversify Libya's economy, Gaddafi's government began purchasing
shares in major European corporations like
Fiat as well as buying real
Malta and Italy, which would become a valuable source of
income during the 1980s oil slump.
GREAT SOCIALIST PEOPLE\'S LIBYAN ARAB JAMAHIRIYA
On 2 March 1977 the General People's Congress adopted the
"Declaration of the Establishment of the People's Authority" at
Gaddafi's behest. Dissolving the Libyan Arab Republic, it was replaced
by the Great Socialist People's
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Arabic :
الجماهيرية العربية الليبية الشعبية
الاشتراكية, al-Jamāhīrīyah al-‘Arabīyah
al-Lībīyah ash-Sha‘bīyah al-Ishtirākīyah), a "state of the
masses" conceptualised by Gaddafi. A new, all-green banner was
adopted as the country's flag. Officially, the
Jamahiriya was a
direct democracy in which the people ruled themselves through the 187
Basic People\'s Congresses , where all adult Libyans participated and
voted on national decisions. These then sent members to the annual
General People's Congress, which was broadcast live on television. In
principle, the People's Congresses were Libya's highest authority,
with major decisions proposed by government officials or with Gaddafi
himself requiring the consent of the People's Congresses. Flag
of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
Although all political control was officially vested in the People's
Congresses, in reality Libya's existing political leadership continued
to exercise varying degrees of power and influence. Debate remained
limited, and major decisions regarding the economy and defence were
avoided or dealt with cursorily; the GPC largely remained "a rubber
stamp" for Gaddafi's policies. On rare occasions, the GPC opposed
Gaddafi's suggestions, sometimes successfully; notably, when Gaddafi
called on primary schools to be abolished, believing that home
schooling was healthier for children, the GPC rejected the idea. In
other instances, Gaddafi pushed through laws without the GPC's
support, such as when he desired to allow women into the armed forces.
Gaddafi proclaimed that the People's Congresses provided for Libya's
every political need, rendering other political organizations
unnecessary; all non-authorised groups, including political parties,
professional associations, independent trade unions and women's
groups, were banned.
With preceding legal institutions abolished, Gaddafi envisioned the
Jamahiriya as following the Qur\'an for legal guidance, adopting
sharia law; he proclaimed "man-made" laws unnatural and dictatorial,
only permitting Allah 's law. Within a year he was backtracking,
announcing that sharia was inappropriate for the
Jamahiriya because it
guaranteed the protection of private property, contravening The Green
Book's socialism. His emphasis on placing his own work on a par with
Qur'an led conservative clerics to accuse him of shirk ,
furthering their opposition to his regime. In July 1977, a border war
broke out with Egypt, in which the Egyptians defeated
their technological inferiority. The conflict lasted one week before
both sides agreed to sign a peace treaty that was brokered by several
Arab states. Both
Sudan had aligned themselves with the
U.S., and this pushed
Libya into a strategic—although not
political—alignment with the Soviet Union. In recognition of the
growing commercial relationship between
Libya and the Soviets, Gaddafi
was invited to visit
Moscow in December 1976; there, he entered talks
Leonid Brezhnev . In August 1977 he then visited Yugoslavia ,
where he met its leader
Josip Broz Tito
Josip Broz Tito , with whom he had a much
REVOLUTIONARY COMMITTEES AND FURTHERING SOCIALISM: 1978–80
"If socialism is defined as a redistribution of wealth and
resources, a socialist revolution clearly occurred in
Libya after 1969
and most especially in the second half of the 1970s. The management of
the economy was increasingly socialist in intent and effect with
wealth in housing, capital and land significantly redistributed or in
the process of redistribution. Private enterprise was virtually
eliminated, largely replaced by a centrally controlled economy." —
Libyan Studies scholar Ronald St Bruce.
In December 1978, Gaddafi stepped down as Secretary-General of the
GPC, announcing his new focus on revolutionary rather than
governmental activities; this was part of his new emphasis on
separating the apparatus of the revolution from the government.
Although no longer in a formal governmental post, he adopted the title
of "Leader of the Revolution" and continued as commander-in-chief of
the armed forces. The historian Dirk Vandewalle stated that despite
the Jamahariya's claims to being a direct democracy,
"an exclusionary political system whose decision-making process" was
"restricted to a small cadre of advisors and confidantes" surrounding
Libya began to turn towards socialism. In March 1978, the government
issued guidelines for housing redistribution, attempting to ensure the
population that every adult Libyan owned his own home and that nobody
was enslaved to paying their rent. Most families were banned from
owning more than one house, while former rental properties were
expropriated by the state and sold to the tenants at a heavily
subsidised price. In September, Gaddafi called for the People's
Committees to eliminate the "bureaucracy of the public sector" and the
"dictatorship of the private sector"; the People's Committees took
control of several hundred companies, converting them into worker
cooperatives run by elected representatives.
On 2 March 1979, the GPC announced the separation of government and
revolution, the latter being represented by new Revolutionary
Committees, who operated in tandem with the People's Committees in
schools, universities, unions, the police force and the military.
Dominated by revolutionary zealots, most of whom were youths, the
Revolutionary Committees were led by Mohammad Maghgoub and a Central
Coordinating Office based in Tripoli, and met with Gaddafi annually.
According to Bearman, the revolutionary committee system became "a
key—if not the main—mechanism through which exercises political
control in Libya". Publishing a weekly magazine The Green March
(al-Zahf al-Akhdar), in October 1980 they took control of the press.
Responsible for perpetuating revolutionary fervour, they performed
ideological surveillance, later adopting a significant security role,
making arrests and putting people on trial according to the "law of
the revolution" (qanun al-thawra). With no legal code or safeguards,
the administration of revolutionary justice was largely arbitrary and
resulted in widespread abuses and the suppression of civil liberties :
the "Green Terror." Gaddafi with
Yasser Arafat in 1977
In 1979, the committees began the redistribution of land in the
Jefara plain, continuing through 1981. In May 1980, measures to
redistribute and equalise wealth were implemented; anyone with over
1000 dinar in their bank account saw that extra money expropriated.
The following year, the GPC announced that the government would take
control of all import, export and distribution functions, with state
supermarkets replacing privately owned businesses; this led to a
decline in the availability of consumer goods and the development of a
thriving black market . Gaddafi was also frustrated by the slow pace
of social reform on women's issues, and in 1979 launched a
Revolutionary Women's Formation to replace the more gradualist Libyan
General Women's Federation. In 1978 he had established a Women's
Military Academy in Tripoli, encouraging all women to enlist for
training. The measure was hugely controversial, and voted down by the
GPC in February 1983. Gaddafi remained adamant, and when it was again
voted down by the GPC in March 1984, he refused to abide by the
decision, declaring that "he who opposes the training and emancipation
of women is an agent of imperialism, whether he likes it or not."
The Jamahiriya's radical direction earned the government many
enemies. Most internal opposition came from Islamic fundamentalists ,
who were inspired by the events of the 1979
Iranian Revolution . In
February 1978, Gaddafi discovered that his head of military
intelligence was plotting to kill him, and began to increasingly
entrust security to his Qaddadfa tribe. Many who had seen their
wealth and property confiscated turned against the administration, and
a number of Western-funded opposition groups were founded by exiles.
Most prominent was the National Front for the Salvation of Libya
(NFSL), founded in 1981 by
Mohammed Magariaf , which orchestrated
militant attacks against Libya's government. Another, al-Borkan,
began killing Libyan diplomats abroad. Following Gaddafi's command to
kill these "stray dogs", under
Colonel Younis Bilgasim 's leadership,
Revolutionary Committees set up overseas branches to suppress
counter-revolutionary activity, assassinating various dissidents.
Although nearby nations like
Syria and Israel also employed hit
squads, Gaddafi was unusual in publicly bragging about his
administration's use of them; in 1980, he ordered all dissidents to
return home or be "liquidated wherever you are." "I have created a
Utopia here in Libya. Not an imaginary one that people write about in
books, but a concrete Utopia." — Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya had sought to improve relations with the US under the
Jimmy Carter , for instance by courting his brother, the
Billy Carter , but in 1979 the US placed
Libya on its
list of "State Sponsors of
Terrorism ". Relations were further
damaged at the end of the year when a demonstration torched the U.S.
embassy in Tripoli in solidarity with the perpetrators of the Iran
hostage crisis . The following year, Libyan fighters began
intercepting U.S. fighter jets flying over the Mediterranean,
signalling the collapse of relations between the two countries.
Libyan relations with Lebanon and Shi\'ite communities across the
world also deteriorated due to the August 1978 disappearance of imam
Musa al-Sadr when visiting Libya; the Lebanese accused Gaddafi of
having him killed or imprisoned, a charge he denied. Relations with
Syria improved, as Gaddafi and Syrian President
Hafez al-Assad shared
an enmity with Israel and Egypt's Sadat. In 1980, they proposed a
political union, with
Libya paying off Syria's £1 billion debt to the
Soviet Union; although pressures led Assad to pull out, they remained
allies. Another key ally was Uganda, and in 1979, Gaddafi sent 2,500
troops into Uganda to defend the regime of President
Idi Amin from
Tanzanian invaders. The mission failed; 400 Libyans were killed and
they were forced to retreat. Gaddafi later came to regret his
alliance with Amin, openly criticising him as a "fascist " and a
CONFLICT WITH THE USA AND ITS ALLIES: 1981–86
The early and mid-1980s saw economic trouble for Libya; from 1982 to
1986, the country's annual oil revenues dropped from $21 billion to
$5.4 billion. Focusing on irrigation projects, 1983 saw construction
start on Libya's largest and most expensive infrastructure project,
Great Man-Made River ; although designed to be finished by the end
of the decade, it remained incomplete at the start of the 21st
century. Military spending increased, while other administrative
budgets were cut back. Domestic threats continued to plague Gaddafi;
in May 1984, his
Bab al-Azizia home was unsuccessfully attacked by a
militia—linked either to the NFSL or the Muslim Brotherhood—and in
the aftermath 5000 dissidents were arrested. Construction for
Great Man-Made River Project
Libya had long supported the
FROLINAT militia in neighbouring Chad,
and in December 1980, re-invaded Chad at the request of the
FROLINAT-controlled GUNT government to aid in the civil war; in
January 1981, Gaddafi suggested a political merger. The Organisation
of African Unity (OAU) rejected this, and called for a Libyan
withdrawal, which came about in November 1981. The civil war resumed,
Libya sent troops back in, clashing with French forces who
supported the southern Chadian forces. Many African nations had tired
of Libya's policies of interference in foreign affairs; by 1980, nine
African states had cut off diplomatic relations with Libya, while in
1982 the OAU cancelled its scheduled conference in Tripoli in order to
prevent Gaddafi gaining chairmanship. Proposing political unity with
Morocco, in August 1984, Gaddafi and Moroccan monarch Hassan II signed
the Oujda Treaty, forming the Arab-African Union; such a union was
considered surprising due to the strong political differences and
longstanding enmity that existed between the two governments.
Relations remained strained, particularly due to Morocco's friendly
relations with the US and Israel; in August 1986, Hassan abolished the
In 1981, the new US President
Ronald Reagan pursued a hard line
approach to Libya, erroneously claiming it to be puppet regime of the
Soviet Union. In turn, Gaddafi played up his commercial relationship
with the Soviets, visiting
Moscow again in April 1981 and 1985, and in
1978 threatening to join the
Warsaw Pact . The Soviets were
nevertheless cautious of Gaddafi, seeing him as an unpredictable
extremist. Beginning military exercises in the Gulf of
Sirte – an
area of sea that
Libya claimed as a part of its territorial waters –
in August 1981 the US shot down two Libyan Su-22 planes monitoring
them. Closing down Libya's embassy in Washington, D.C., Reagan
advised US companies operating in the country to reduce the number of
American personnel stationed there. In March 1982, the US implemented
an embargo of Libyan oil, and in January 1986 ordered all US
companies to cease operating in the country, although several hundred
workers remained when the Libyan government doubled their pay.
Diplomatic relations also broke down with the UK, after Libyan
diplomats were accused in the killing of
Yvonne Fletcher , a British
policewoman stationed outside their London embassy, in April 1984. In
Spring 1986, the US Navy again began performing exercises in the Gulf
Sirte ; the Libyan military retaliated, but failed as the US sank
several Libyan ships.
After the US accused
Libya of orchestrating the 1986 Berlin
discotheque bombing , in which two American soldiers died, Reagan
decided to retaliate militarily. The
Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency were
critical of the move, believing that
Syria were a greater threat and
that an attack would strengthen Gaddafi's reputation; however Libya
was recognised as a "soft target." Reagan was supported by the UK but
opposed by other European allies, who argued that it would contravene
international law. In Operation El Dorado Canyon , orchestrated on 15
April 1986, US military planes launched a series of air-strikes on
Libya, bombing military installations in various parts of the country,
killing around 100 Libyans, including several civilians. One of the
targets had been Gaddafi's home. Himself unharmed, two of Gaddafi's
sons were injured, and he claimed that his four-year-old adopted
daughter Hanna was killed, although her existence has since been
questioned. In the immediate aftermath, Gaddafi retreated to the
desert to meditate, while there were sporadic clashes between
Gaddafists and army officers who wanted to overthrow the government.
Although the US was condemned internationally, Reagan received a
popularity boost at home. Publicly lambasting US imperialism,
Gaddafi's reputation as an anti-imperialist was strengthened both
domestically and across the Arab world, and in June 1986, he ordered
the names of the month to be changed in Libya.
"REVOLUTION WITHIN A REVOLUTION": 1987–98
The late 1980s saw a series of liberalising economic reforms within
Libya designed to cope with the decline in oil revenues. In May 1987,
Gaddafi announced the start of the "Revolution within a Revolution",
which began with reforms to industry and agriculture and saw the
re-opening of small business. Restrictions were placed on the
activities of the
Revolutionary Committees; in March 1988, their role
was narrowed by the newly created Ministry for Mass Mobilization and
Revolutionary Leadership to restrict their violence and judicial role,
while in August 1988 Gaddafi publicly criticised them. Gaddafi
at the twelfth
African Union conference in 2009
In March, hundreds of political prisoners were freed, with Gaddafi
falsely claiming that there were no further political prisoners in
Libya. In June, Libya's government issued the Great Green Charter on
Human Rights in the Era of the Masses, in which 27 articles laid out
goals, rights and guarantees to improve the situation of human rights
in Libya, restricting the use of the death penalty and calling for its
eventual abolition. Many of the measures suggested in the charter
would be implemented the following year, although others remained
inactive. Also in 1989, the government founded the Al-Gaddafi
International Prize for Human Rights , to be awarded to figures from
Third World who had struggled against colonialism and imperialism;
the first year's winner was South African anti-apartheid activist
Nelson Mandela . From 1994 through to 1997, the government initiated
cleansing committees to root out corruption, particularly in the
In the aftermath of the 1986 U.S. attack, the army was purged of
perceived disloyal elements, and in 1988, Gaddafi announced the
creation of a popular militia to replace the army and police. In
Libya began production of mustard gas at a facility in Rabta,
although publicly denying it was stockpiling chemical weapons, and
unsuccessfully attempted to develop nuclear weapons. The period also
saw a growth in domestic Islamist opposition, formulated into groups
Muslim Brotherhood and the
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group . A
number of assassination attempts against Gaddafi were foiled, and in
turn, 1989 saw the security forces raid mosques believed to be centres
of counter-revolutionary preaching. In October 1993, elements of the
increasingly marginalised army initiated a failed coup in
while in September 1995, Islamists launched an insurgency in Benghazi,
and in July 1996 an anti-Gaddafist football riot broke out in Tripoli.
Revolutionary Committees experienced a resurgence to combat these
In 1989, Gaddafi was overjoyed by the foundation of the Arab Maghreb
Union , uniting
Libya in an economic pact with Mauritania, Morocco,
Tunisia and Algeria, viewing it as beginnings of a new
Libya stepped up its support for anti-Western militants
such as the Provisional IRA, and in 1988,
Pan Am Flight 103
Pan Am Flight 103 was blown
Lockerbie in Scotland, killing 243 passengers and 16 crew
members, plus 11 people on the ground. British police investigations
identified two Libyans –
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Lamin Khalifah
Fhimah – as the chief suspects, and in November 1991 issued a
declaration demanding that
Libya hand them over. When Gaddafi refused,
Montreal Convention , the
United Nations (UN) imposed
Resolution 748 in March 1992, initiating economic sanctions against
Libya which had deep repercussions for the country's economy. The
country suffered an estimated $900 million financial loss as a result.
Further problems arose with the West when in January 1989, two Libyan
warplanes were shot down by the U.S. off the Libyan coast . Many
African states opposed the UN sanctions, with Mandela criticising them
on a visit to Gaddafi in October 1997, when he praised
Libya for its
work in fighting apartheid and awarded Gaddafi the Order of Good Hope
. They would only be suspended in 1998 when
Libya agreed to allow the
extradition of the suspects to the
Scottish Court in the Netherlands ,
in a process overseen by Mandela.
PAN-AFRICANISM, RECONCILIATION AND PRIVATIZATION: 1999–2011
Muammar Gaddafi wearing an insignia showing the image of the
At the 20th century's end, Gaddafi—frustrated by the failure of his
Pan-Arab ideals—increasingly rejected
Arab nationalism in favour of
Pan-Africanism , emphasising Libya's African identity. From 1997 to
Libya initiated cooperative agreements or bilateral aid
arrangements with 10 African states, and in 1999 joined the Community
of Sahel-Saharan States . In June 1999, Gaddafi visited Mandela in
South Africa, and the following month attended the OAU summit in
Algiers, calling for greater political and economic integration across
the continent and advocating the foundation of a United States of
Africa . He became one of the founders of the
African Union (AU),
initiated in July 2002 to replace the OAU; at the opening ceremonies,
he called for African states to reject conditional aid from the
developed world, a direct contrast to the message of South African
Thabo Mbeki .
At the third AU summit, held in
Libya in July 2005, he called for
greater integration, advocating a single AU passport, a common defence
system, and a single currency, utilising the slogan: "The United
States of Africa is the hope." His proposal for a Union of African
States project, a project originally conceived by
Kwame Nkrumah of
Ghana in the 1960s, was rejected at the Assembly of Heads of States
and Government (AHSG) summit in Lusaka (2001) by African leaders who
thought it was "unrealistic" and "utopian." In June 2005, Libya
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA),
and in August 2008 Gaddafi was proclaimed "
King of Kings
King of Kings " by a
committee of traditional African leaders . They crowned him in
February 2009, in a ceremony held in
Addis Ababa , Ethiopia; this
coincided with Gaddafi's election as AU chairman for a year.
The era saw Libya's return to the international arena. In 1999, Libya
began secret talks with the British government to normalise relations.
In 2001, Gaddafi condemned the
September 11 attacks
September 11 attacks on the U.S. by
al-Qaeda , expressing sympathy with the victims and calling for Libyan
involvement in the
War on Terror against militant Islamism. His
government continued suppressing domestic Islamism, at the same time
as Gaddafi called for the wider application of sharia law.
cemented connections with China and North Korea, being visited by
Jiang Zemin in April 2002. Influenced by the events
Iraq War , in December 2003,
Libya renounced its possession of
weapons of mass destruction , decommissioning its chemical and nuclear
weapons programs. Relations with the U.S. improved as a result,
while British Prime Minister
Tony Blair visited Gaddafi in March 2004.
The following month, Gaddafi travelled to the headquarters of the
European Union (EU) in
Brussels , signifying improved relations
Libya and the EU; the latter ended its sanctions in October.
During his 2008 visit to Russia, Gaddafi pitched his
in the grounds of the
Moscow Kremlin . Here he is joined by Russian
Vladimir Putin and French singer
Mireille Mathieu .
In October 2010, the EU paid
Libya €50 million to stop African
migrants passing into Europe; Gaddafi encouraged the move, saying that
it was necessary to prevent the loss of European cultural identity to
a new "Black Europe". Removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of
terrorism in 2006, Gaddafi nevertheless continued his anti-Western
rhetoric, and at the
Second Africa-South America Summit , held in
Venezuela in September 2009, he called for a military alliance across
Africa and Latin America to rival NATO. That month he also addressed
United Nations General Assembly in New York for the first time,
using it to condemn "Western aggression". In Spring 2010, Gaddafi
proclaimed jihad against Switzerland after Swiss police accused two of
his family members of criminal activity in the country, resulting in
the breakdown of bilateral relations.
Libya's economy witnessed increasing privatization; although
rejecting the socialist policies of nationalized industry advocated in
The Green Book, government figures asserted that they were forging
"people's socialism" rather than capitalism. Gaddafi welcomed these
reforms, calling for wide-scale privatization in a March 2003 speech.
In 2003, the oil industry was largely sold to private corporations,
and by 2004, there was $40 billion of direct foreign investment in
Libya, a sixfold rise over 2003. Sectors of Libya's population
reacted against these reforms with public demonstrations, and in
March 2006, revolutionary hard-liners took control of the GPC cabinet;
although scaling back the pace of the changes, they did not halt them.
In 2010, plans were announced that would have seen half the Libyan
economy privatized over the following decade.
While there was no accompanying political liberalization, with
Gaddafi retaining predominant control, in March 2010, the government
devolved further powers to the municipal councils. Rising numbers of
reformist technocrats attained positions in the country's governance;
best known was Gaddafi's son and heir apparent
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi ,
who was openly critical of Libya's human rights record. He led a group
who proposed the drafting of the new constitution, although it was
never adopted. Involved in encouraging tourism, Saif founded several
privately run media channels in 2008, but after criticising the
government they were nationalised in 2009. In October 2010, Gaddafi
apologized to African leaders for the historical enslavement of
Africans by the
Arab slave trade .
LIBYAN CIVIL WAR
Main articles: Muammar Gaddafi\'s response to the 2011 Libyan Civil
Libyan Civil War
Libyan Civil War (2011)
ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT: FEBRUARY–AUGUST 2011
People protesting against Gaddafi in
Dublin , Ireland, March
Following the start of the
Arab Spring in 2011, Gaddafi spoke out in
favour of Tunisian President
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali , then threatened
Tunisian Revolution . He suggested that Tunisia's people would
be satisfied if Ben Ali introduced a Jamahiriyah system there.
Fearing domestic protest, Libya's government implemented preventative
measures by reducing food prices, purging the army leadership of
potential defectors and releasing several Islamist prisoners. They
proved ineffective, and on 17 February 2011, major protests broke out
against Gaddafi's government. Unlike
Tunisia or Egypt,
largely religiously homogenous and had no strong Islamist movement,
but there was widespread dissatisfaction with the corruption and
entrenched systems of patronage, while unemployment had reached around
Accusing the rebels of being "drugged" and linked to al-Qaeda,
Gaddafi proclaimed that he would die a martyr rather than leave Libya.
As he announced that the rebels would be "hunted down street by
street, house by house and wardrobe by wardrobe", the army opened
fire on protests in Benghazi, killing hundreds. Shocked at the
government's response, a number of senior politicians resigned or
defected to the protesters' side. The uprising spread quickly through
Libya's less economically developed eastern half. By February's end,
eastern cities like Benghazi, Misrata, al-Bayda and Tobruk were
controlled by rebels, and the Benghazi-based National Transitional
Council (NTC) had been founded to represent them. Pro-Gaddafi
protests in Tripoli, May 2011
In the conflict's early months it appeared that Gaddafi's
government—with its greater firepower—would be victorious. Both
sides disregarded the laws of war , committing human rights abuses,
including arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial executions and
revenge attacks. On 26 February the
United Nations Security Council
passed Resolution 1970 , suspending
Libya from the UN Human Rights
Council , implementing sanctions and calling for an International
Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into the killing of unarmed
civilians. In March, the Security Council declared a no fly zone to
protect the civilian population from aerial bombardment, calling on
foreign nations to enforce it; it also specifically prohibited foreign
occupation. Ignoring this, Qatar sent hundreds of troops to support
the dissidents, and along with France and the United Arab Emirates
provided the NTC with weaponry and training.
NATO announced that it
would enforce the no-fly zone. On 30 April a
NATO airstrike killed
Gaddafi\'s sixth son and three of his grandsons in Tripoli.
In June, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif
al-Islam, and his brother-in-law Abdullah
Senussi , head of state
security, for charges concerning crimes against humanity. That month,
Amnesty International published their report, finding that while
Gaddafi's forces were responsible for numerous war crimes, many other
allegations of mass human rights abuses lacked credible evidence and
were likely fabrications by rebel forces that had been promoted by
Western media. In July, over 30 governments recognised the NTC as the
legitimate government of Libya; Gaddafi called on his supporters to
"Trample on those recognitions, trample on them under your feet ...
They are worthless". In August, the
Arab League recognised the NTC to
be "the legitimate representative of the Libyan state".
NATO air cover, the rebel militia pushed westward, defeating
loyalist armies and securing control of the centre of the country.
Gaining the support of
Amazigh (Berber ) communities of the Nafusa
Mountains , who had long been persecuted as non-Arabic speakers under
Gaddafi, the NTC armies surrounded Gaddafi loyalists in several key
areas of western Libya. In August, the rebels seized
Tripoli , ending the last vestiges of Gaddafist power.
CAPTURE AND DEATH: SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER 2011
Death of Muammar Gaddafi
Only a few towns in western Libya—such as Bani Walid, Sebha and
Sirte—remained Gaddafist strongholds. Retreating to
Tripoli's fall, Gaddafi announced his willingness to negotiate for a
handover to a transitional government, a suggestion rejected by the
NTC. Surrounding himself with bodyguards, he continually moved
residences to escape NTC shelling, devoting his days to prayer and
reading the Qur'an. On 20 October, Gaddafi broke out of Sirte's
District 2 in a joint civilian-military convoy, hoping to take refuge
in the Jarref Valley. At around 8.30am,
NATO bombers attacked,
destroying at least 14 vehicles and killing at least 53. The convoy
scattered, and Gaddafi and those closest to him fled to a nearby
villa, which was shelled by rebel militia from Misrata. Fleeing to a
construction site, Gaddafi and his inner cohort hid inside drainage
pipes while his bodyguards battled the rebels; in the conflict,
Gaddafi suffered head injuries from a grenade blast while defence
Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr was killed.
A Misratan militia took Gaddafi prisoner, beating him, causing
serious injuries; the events were filmed on a mobile phone. A video
appears to picture Gaddafi being poked or stabbed in the anus "with
some kind of stick or knife" or possibly a bayonet. Pulled onto the
front of a pick-up truck, he fell off as it drove away. His
semi-naked, lifeless body was then placed into an ambulance and taken
to Misrata; upon arrival, he was found to be dead. Official NTC
accounts claimed that Gaddafi was caught in a cross-fire and died from
his bullet wounds. Other eye-witness accounts claimed that rebels had
fatally shot Gaddafi in the stomach. Gaddafi's son Mutassim , who had
also been among the convoy, was also captured, and found dead several
hours later, most probably from an extrajudicial execution . Around
140 Gaddafi loyalists were rounded up from the convoy; tied up and
abused, the corpses of 66 were found at the nearby Mahari Hotel,
victims of extrajudicial execution. Libya's chief forensic
pathologist, Othman al-Zintani, carried out the autopsies of Gaddafi,
his son and Jabr in the days following their deaths; although the
pathologist initially told the press that Gaddafi had died from a
gunshot wound to the head, the autopsy report was not made public.
On the afternoon of Gaddafi's death, NTC Prime Minister Mahmoud
Jibril publicly revealed the news. Gaddafi's corpse was placed in the
freezer of a local market alongside the corpses of Yunis Jabr and
Mutassim; the bodies were publicly displayed for four days, with
Libyans from all over the country coming to view them. In response to
international calls, on 24 October Jibril announced that a commission
would investigate Gaddafi's death. On 25 October, the NTC announced
that Gaddafi had been buried at an unidentified location in the
desert. Seeking vengeance for the killing, Gaddafist sympathisers
fatally wounded one of those who had captured Gaddafi, Omran Shaaban,
near Bani Walid in September 2012.
Political ideology of Muammar Gaddafi "We call it
the Third Theory to indicate that there is a new path for all those
who reject both materialist capitalism and atheist communism. The path
is for all the people of the world who abhor the dangerous
confrontation between the Warsaw and North Atlantic military
alliances. It is for all those who believe that all nations of the
world are brothers under the aegis of the rule of God." — Muammar
Gaddafi's ideological worldview was moulded by his environment,
namely his Islamic faith, his
Bedouin upbringing, and his disgust at
the actions of European colonialists in Libya. As a schoolboy,
Gaddafi adopted the ideologies of
Arab nationalism and Arab socialism
, influenced in particular by
Nasserism , the thought of the Egyptian
President Nasser, whom Gaddafi adopted as his hero. During the early
1970s, Gaddafi formulated his own particular approach to Arab
nationalism and socialism, known as
Third International Theory , which
has been described as a combination of "utopian socialism , Arab
nationalism, and the
Third World revolutionary theory that was in
vogue at the time". He regarded this system as a practical
alternative to the then-dominant models of Western capitalism and
Marxism-Leninism. He laid out the principles of this Theory in the
three volumes of The Green Book , in which he sought to "explain the
structure of the ideal society."
Libyan studies specialist Ronald Bruce St. John regarded Arab
nationalism as Gaddafi's "primordial value", stating that during the
early years of his government, Gaddafi was "the Arab nationalist par
excellence". He called for the
Arab world to regain its dignity and
assert a major place on the world stage, blaming Arab backwardness on
stagnation resulting from Ottoman rule, European colonialism and
imperialism, and corrupt and repressive monarchies. Gaddafi's Arab
nationalist views led him to the Pan-Arabist belief in the need for
unity across the Arab world, combining the Arab nation under a single
nation-state. To this end, he had proposed political union with five
neighbouring Arab states by 1974, although without success. Gaddafi
saw his socialist Jamahiriyah as a model for the Arab, Islamic, and
non-aligned worlds to follow, and in his speeches declared that his
Third International Theory would eventually guide the whole world. He
nevertheless had minimal success in exporting the ideology outside of
For many years, anti-
Zionism was a fundamental component of Gaddafi's
ideology. He believed that the state of Israel should not exist, and
that any Arab compromise with the Israeli government was a betrayal of
the Arab people. In large part due to their support of Israel,
Gaddafi despised the United States, considering the country to be
imperialist and lambasting it as "the embodiment of evil." He rallied
against Jews in many of his speeches, with Blundy and Lycett claiming
that his anti-Semitism was "almost Hitlerian ". His views later
shifted; in 2009, he stated that "the Jews have been held captive,
massacred, disadvantaged in every possible fashion... want and
deserve their homeland." He called for both Jews and
"move beyond old conflicts and look to a unified future based on
shared culture and respect", forging a single-state that he termed
ISLAMIC MODERNISM AND ISLAMIC SOCIALISM
Gaddafi rejected the secularist approach to
Arab nationalism that had
been pervasive in Syria. Instead, he deemed Arabism and Islam to be
inseparable, referring to them as "one and indivisible", and called
on the Arab world's Christian minority to convert to Islam. He
desired unity across the Islamic world, and encouraged the
propagation of the faith elsewhere; on a 2010 visit to Italy, he paid
a modelling agency to find 200 young Italian women for a lecture he
gave urging them to convert. According to Gaddafi biographer Jonathan
Bearman, in Islamic terms Gaddafi was a modernist rather than a
fundamentalist , for he subordinated religion to the political system
rather than seeking to Islamicise the state as Islamists sought to do.
He was driven by a sense of "divine mission", believing himself a
conduit of God's will, and thought that he must achieve his goals "no
matter what the cost". His interpretation of Islam was nevertheless
idiosyncratic, and he clashed with conservative Libyan clerics. Many
criticised his attempts to encourage women to enter traditionally
male-only sectors of society, such as the armed forces. Gaddafi was
keen to improve women's status, although saw the sexes as "separate
but equal" and therefore felt women should usually remain in
traditional roles. "The purpose of the socialist society is the
happiness of man, which can only be realised through material and
spiritual freedom. Attainment of such freedom depends on the extent of
man's ownership of his needs; ownership that is personal and sacredly
guaranteed, i.e. your needs must neither be owned by somebody else,
nor subject to plunder by any part of society." — Muammar Gaddafi.
Gaddafi described his approach to economics as "Islamic socialism".
For him, a socialist society could be defined as one in which men
controlled their own needs, either through personal ownership or
through a collective. The extent to which
Libya became socialist
under Gaddafi is disputed. Bearman suggested that while
undergo "a profound social revolution", he did not think that "a
socialist society" was established in Libya. Conversely, St. John
expressed the view that "if socialism is defined as a redistribution
of wealth and resources, a socialist revolution clearly occurred in
Libya" under Gaddafi's regime.
Gaddafi was staunchly anti-Marxist , and in 1973 declared that "it
is the duty of every Muslim to combat"
Marxism because it promotes
atheism. In his view, ideologies like
Zionism were alien
to the Islamic world and were a threat to the ummah , or global
Islamic community. Nevertheless, Blundy and Lycett noted that
Gaddafi's socialism had a "curiously Marxist undertone", with
political scientist Sami Hajjar arguing that Gaddafi's model of
socialism offered a simplification of
Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels '
theories. While acknowledging the Marxist influence on Gaddafi's
thought, Bearman stated that the Libyan leader rejected Marxism's core
tenet, that of class struggle as the main engine of social
development. Instead of embracing the Marxist idea that a socialist
society emerged from class struggle between the proletariat and
bourgeoisie , Gaddafi believed that socialism would be achieved
through overturning 'un-natural' capitalism and returning society to
its "natural equilibrium". In this he sought to replace a capitalist
economy with one based on his own romanticised ideas of a traditional,
pre-capitalist past. This owed much to the Islamic belief in God 's
natural law providing order to the universe.
Gaddafi (right) with Nimeiry and Nasser in 1969
A very private individual, Gaddafi was given to rumination and
solitude, and could be reclusive. The reporter Mirella Bianco
interviewed Gaddafi's father, who stated that his son was "always
serious, even taciturn", also being courageous, intelligent, pious,
and family oriented. Gaddafi's friends described him to Bianco as a
loyal and generous man. More widely, he was often regarded as being
"bizarre, irrational or quixotic". Bearman noted that Gaddafi was
emotionally volatile and had an impulsive temperament, with the U.S.
Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency believing that the Libyan leader suffered
from clinical depression . Gaddafi described himself as a "simple
revolutionary" and "pious Muslim" called upon by God to continue
Nasser's work. According to Vandewalle, Gaddafi was "an austere and
devout Muslim", albeit one whose interpretation of Islam was "deeply
personal and idiosyncratic." He was also a football enthusiast, and
enjoyed both playing the sport and horse riding as a means of
recreation. He was a fan of
Beethoven , and said his favourite novels
were Uncle Tom\'s Cabin ,
Roots , and The Outsider .
Gaddafi regarded personal appearance as important, with Blundy and
Lycett referring to him as "extraordinarily vain". Gaddafi had a
large wardrobe, and sometimes changed his outfit multiple times a day.
He favoured either a military uniform or traditional Libyan dress,
tending to eschew Western-style suits. He saw himself as a fashion
icon, stating "Whatever I wear becomes a fad. I wear a certain shirt
and suddenly everyone is wearing it." Following his ascension to
power, Gaddafi moved into the
Bab al-Azizia barracks, a six-mile long
fortified compound located two miles from the center of Tripoli. His
home and office at Azizia was a bunker designed by West German
engineers, while the rest of his family lived in a large two-story
building. Within the compound were also two tennis courts, a soccer
field, several gardens, camels, and a
Bedouin tent in which he
entertained guests. In the 1980s, his lifestyle was considered modest
in comparison to those of many other Arab leaders.
He was preoccupied with his own security, regularly changing where he
slept and sometimes grounding all other planes in
Libya when he was
flying. He made particular requests when traveling to foreign
nations. During his trips to Rome, Paris, Madrid, Moscow, and New York
City, he resided in a bulletproof tent, following his Bedouin
traditions. Gaddafi was notably confrontational in his approach to
foreign powers, and generally shunned Western ambassadors and
diplomats, believing them to be spies. Gaddafi with Spanish
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2010
Gaddafi has been described as a womaniser. In the 1970s and 1980s
there were reports of his making sexual advances toward female
reporters and members of his entourage. Starting in the 1980s, he
travelled with his all-female
Amazonian Guard , who were allegedly
sworn to a life of celibacy. After Gaddafi's death, the Libyan
psychologist Seham Sergewa—part of a team investigating sexual
offences during the civil war—stated that five of the guards told
her they had been raped by Gaddafi and senior officials. After
Gaddafi's death, the French journalist Annick Cojean published a book
alleging that Gaddafi had had sexual relations with women, some in
their early teenage years, who had been specially selected for him.
One of those Cojean interviewed, a woman named Soraya, claimed that
Gaddafi kept her imprisoned in a basement for six years, where he
repeatedly raped her, urinated on her, and forced her to watch
pornography, drink alcohol, and snort cocaine. Gaddafi also hired
several Ukrainian nurses to care for him; one described him as kind
and considerate, and was surprised that allegations of abuse had been
made against him.
Gaddafi married his first wife, Fatiha al-Nuri, in 1969. She was the
daughter of General Khalid, a senior figure in King Idris'
administration, and was from a middle-class background. Although they
had one son,
Muhammad Gaddafi (b. 1970), their relationship was
strained, and they divorced in 1970. Gaddafi's second wife was Safia
Farkash , née el-Brasai, a former nurse from Obeidat tribe born in
Bayda . They met in 1969, following his ascension to power, when he
was hospitalized with appendicitis; he claimed that it was love at
first sight. The couple remained married until his death. Together
they had seven biological children:
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (b. 1972),
Al-Saadi Gaddafi (b. 1973),
Mutassim Gaddafi (1974–2011), Hannibal
Muammar Gaddafi (b. 1975),
Ayesha Gaddafi (b. 1976), Saif al-Arab
Gaddafi (1982–2011), and
Khamis Gaddafi (1983–2011). He also
adopted two children,
Hana Gaddafi and Milad Gaddafi.
13th Anniversary of 1 September Revolution on postage stamp,
According to Vandewalle, Gaddafi "dominated political life" during
his period in power. A cult of personality devoted to Gaddafi existed
in Libya. Depictions of his face could be found throughout the
country, including on postage stamps, watches, and school satchels.
Quotations from The Green Book appeared on a wide variety of places,
from street walls to airports and pens, and were put to pop music for
public release. Gaddafi claimed that he disliked this personality
cult, but that he tolerated it because Libya's people adored him. The
cult served a political purpose, with Gaddafi helping to provide a
central identity for the Libyan state.
Biographers Blundy and Lycett believed that he was "a populist at
heart." Throughout Libya, crowds of supporters would arrive at public
events where he appeared. Described as "spontaneous demonstrations" by
the government, there are recorded instances of groups being coerced
or paid to attend. He was typically late to public events, and would
sometimes fail to arrive. Although Bianco thought he had a "gift for
oratory", he was considered a poor orator by biographers Blundy and
Daniel Kawczynski noted that Gaddafi was famed for
his "lengthy, wandering" speeches, which typically involved
criticising Israel and the U.S.
RECEPTION AND LEGACY
Main articles: International reactions to the death of Muammar
List of awards and honours bestowed upon Muammar Gaddafi
Anti-Gaddafist placard in Ireland
According to Jonathan Bearman, Gaddafi "evoked the extremes of
passion: supreme adoration from his following, bitter contempt from
his opponents". Bearman added that "in a country that formerly
suffered foreign domination, 's anti-imperialism has proved enduringly
popular". Gaddafi's domestic popularity stemmed from his overthrow of
the monarchy, his removal of the Italian settlers and both American
and British air bases from Libyan territory, and his redistribution of
the country's land on a more equitable basis. Supporters praised
Gaddafi's administration for the creation of an almost classless
society through domestic reform. They stressed the regime's
achievements in combating homelessness, ensuring access to food and
safe drinking water, and to dramatic improvements in education; under
Gaddafi, literacy rates rose significantly and all education to
university level was free. Supporters have also applauded
achievements in medical care, praising the universal free healthcare
provided under the Gaddafist administration, with diseases like
cholera and typhoid being contained and life expectancy raised.
Biographers Blundy and Lycett believed that under the first decade of
Gaddafi's leadership, life for most Libyans "undoubtedly changed for
the better" as material conditions and wealth drastically improved,
while Libyan studies specialist Lillian Craig Harris remarked that in
the early years of his administration, Libya's "national wealth and
international influence soared, and its national standard of living
has risen dramatically." Such high standards declined during the
1980s, as a result of economic stagnation. Gaddafi claimed that his
Jamahiriya was a "concrete utopia", and that he had been appointed by
"popular assent", with some Islamic supporters believing that he
exhibited barakah . His opposition to Western governments earned him
the respect of many in the Euro-American far right , with the
UK-based National Front for instance embracing aspects of the Third
International Theory during the 1980s. His anti-Western stance also
attracted praise from the far left; in 1971, the
Soviet Union awarded
Order of Lenin
Order of Lenin , although his mistrust of atheist Marxism
prevented him from attending the ceremony in Moscow. Portrait of
Gaddafi near the Libyan-Tunisian border, 2008
Gaddafi's critics regarded him as "despotic, cruel, arrogant, vain
and stupid". He became a bogeyman for Western governments, who
presented him as the "vicious dictator of an oppressed people".
Reagan famously dubbed him the "mad dog of the Middle East".
According to critics, the Libyan people lived in a climate of fear
under Gaddafi's administration, due to his government's pervasive
surveillance of civilians. Gaddafi's
Libya was typically described by
Western commentators as a police state . His administration has also
been criticised by political opponents and groups like Amnesty
International for the human rights abuses carried out by the country's
security services. These abuses included the repression of dissent,
public executions, and the arbitrary detention of hundreds of
opponents, some of whom reported being tortured. One of the most
prominent examples of this was a massacre that took place in Abu Salim
prison in June 1996; HRW estimated that 1,270 prisoners were
massacred. Dissidents abroad or "stray dogs" were also publicly
threatened with death and sometimes killed by government hit squads.
His government's treatment of non-Arab Libyans has also came in for
criticism from human rights activists, with native Berbers, Italians,
Jews, refugees, and foreign workers all facing persecution in
Gaddafist Libya. According to journalist Annick Cojean and
psychologist Seham Sergewa, Gaddafi and senior officials raped and
imprisoned hundreds or thousands of young women and reportedly raped
several of his female bodyguards. Gaddafi's actions in promoting
foreign militant groups, although regarded by him as a justifiable
support for national liberation movements, was seen by the United
States as interference in the domestic affairs of other nations and
active support for international terrorism.
A poster of Gaddafi in
International reactions to Gaddafi's death were divided. U.S.
Barack Obama stated that it meant that "the shadow of
Libya has been lifted," while UK Prime Minister David
Cameron stated that he was "proud" of his country's role in
overthrowing "this brutal dictator". Contrastingly, former Cuban
Fidel Castro commented that in defying the rebels, Gaddafi
would "enter history as one of the great figures of the Arab nations",
while Venezuela's Chávez described him as "a great fighter, a
revolutionary and a martyr." Mandela expressed sadness at the news,
praising Gaddafi for his anti-apartheid stance, remarking that he
African National Congress
African National Congress during "the darkest moments of
our struggle". Gaddafi was mourned as a hero by many across
Sub-Saharan Africa; The
Daily Times of Nigeria for instance stated
that while undeniably a dictator, Gaddafi was the most benevolent in a
region that only knew dictatorship, and that he was "a great man that
looked out for his people and made them the envy of all of Africa."
The Nigerian newspaper Leadership reported that while many Libyans and
Africans would mourn Gaddafi, this would be ignored by Western media
and that as such it would take 50 years before historians decided
whether he was "martyr or villain."
Following his defeat in the civil war, Gaddafi's system of governance
was dismantled and replaced under the interim government of the NTC,
which legalised trade unions and freedom of the press. In July 2012,
elections were held to form a new
General National Congress (GNC), who
officially took over governance from the NTC in August. The GNC
proceeded to elect
Mohammed Magariaf as president of the chamber, and
Mustafa A.G. Abushagur as Prime Minister ; when Abushagar
failed to gain congressional approval, the GNC instead elected Ali
Zeidan to the position. In January 2013, the GNC officially renamed
the Jamahiriyah as the "State of Libya". The pro-Gaddafists remaining
Libya came to be known as the Green Movement, and were formalised
Libyan Popular National Movement party, established by
Khuwaildi al-Hamidi. The Libyan government prevented this party from
taking part in the 2012 parliamentary elections and banned the display
of Gaddafist symbols. Gaddafists then founded a new political party,
Al Fateh Al Jadeed; two of its members, Subah Mussa and Ahmed Ali,
promoted the new venture by hijacking the Afriqiyah Airways Flight 209
in December 2016.
* berbers portal
* Gaddafi loyalism after the
2011 Libyan Civil War
2011 Libyan Civil War
* History of
List of longest-ruling non-royal national leaders since 1900
* HIV trial in
Arab world portal
Cold War portal
* Human rights portal
* Africa portal
* ^ For purposes of this article, 20 October 2011 is considered to
be the date that Gaddafi left office. Other dates might have been
* On 15 July 2011, at a meeting in Istanbul, more than 30
governments, including the United States, withdrew recognition from
Gaddafi's government and recognised the National Transitional Council
(NTC) as the legitimate government of Libya.
* On 23 August 2011, during the Battle of Tripoli , Gaddafi lost
effective political and military control of Tripoli after his compound
was captured by rebel forces.
* On 25 August 2011, the
Arab League proclaimed the anti-Gaddafi
National Transitional Council
National Transitional Council to be "the legitimate representative of
the Libyan state".
* On 20 October 2011, Gaddafi was captured and killed near his
hometown of Sirte.
* In a ceremony on 23 October 2011, officials of the interim
National Transitional Council
National Transitional Council declared, "We declare to the whole world
that we have liberated our beloved country, with its cities, villages,
hill-tops, mountains, deserts and skies."
* ^ Due to the lack of standardization of transcribing written and
regionally pronounced Arabic, Gaddafi's name has been romanized in
various ways. A 1986 column by
The Straight Dope lists 32 spellings
known from the U.S.
Library of Congress
Library of Congress , while ABC and MSNBC
identified 112 possible spellings. A 2007 interview with Gaddafi's
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi confirms that Saif spelled his own name
QADHAFI, and the passport of Gaddafi's son Mohammed used the spelling
AL-GATHAFI. However, according to
Google Ngram the variant QADDAFI
was slightly more widespread, followed by QADHAFI, GADDAFI, and
* ^ A B Vela, Justin (16 July 2011). "West prepares to hand rebels
Gaddafi\'s billions". The Independent. Archived from the original on
12 May 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
* ^ Staff (23 August 2011). "
Libya Live Blog: Tuesday, 23 August
2011 – 16:19".
Al Jazeera . Retrieved 23 August 2011.
* ^ A B "
Arab League gives its full backing to Libya\'s rebel
council". The Taipei Times. 26 August 2011. Archived from the original
on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
* ^ "Muammar Gaddafi: How he died". BBC. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
* ^ Saleh, Yasmine (23 October 2011). "UPDATE 4-
nation liberated after Gaddafi death". Reuters.
* ^ "How are you supposed to spell Muammar
Gaddafi/Khadafy/Qadhafi?". The Straight Dope. 1986. Retrieved 5 March
* ^ "How many different ways can you spell \'Gaddafi\'". ABC News.
September 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
* ^ Chris Matthews (21 October 2011). Hardball With Chris Matthews.
MSNBC. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
* ^ "Saif Gaddafi on How to Spell His Last Name". The Daily Beast.
1 March 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
* ^ "Rebel Discovers Qaddafi Passport, Real Spelling of Leader\'s
Name". The Atlantic.
* ^ Anil Kandangath (25 February 2011). "How do you spell
Gaddafi’s name?". Doublespeak Blog. Archived from the original on 28
* ^ "
Google Ngram Viewer".
* ^ "The Prosecutor v. Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif
al-Islam al-Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi". ICC-01/11-01/11.
International Criminal Court. 11 November 2011. Archived from the
original on 13 November 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
* ^ Blundy Kawczynski 2011 , p. 9; St. John 2012 , p. 135.
* ^ A B Bearman 1986 , p. 58; Blundy Kawczynski 2011 , p. 9.
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