معمر محمد (أبو منيار) القذافي
Muammar Gaddafi in 1973
|Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution of Libya|
1 September 1969 – 20 October 2011
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Mustafa Abdul Jalil (Chairman of the National Transitional Council)|
|Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of Libya|
1 September 1969 – 2 March 1977
Mahmud Sulayman al-Maghribi|
Abdul Ati al-Obeidi
|Preceded by||Idris (King)|
|Succeeded by||Himself (Secretary General of the General People's Congress)|
|Secretary General of the General People's Congress|
2 March 1977 – 2 March 1979
|Prime Minister||Abdul Ati al-Obeidi|
|Preceded by||Himself (Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council)|
|Succeeded by||Abdul Ati al-Obeidi|
|Prime Minister of Libya|
16 January 1970 – 16 July 1972
|Preceded by||Mahmud Sulayman al-Maghribi|
|Succeeded by||Abdessalam Jalloud|
|Chairperson of the African Union|
2 February 2009 – 31 January 2010
|Preceded by||Jakaya Kikwete|
|Succeeded by||Bingu wa Mutharika|
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi|
Qasr Abu Hadi, Italian Libya
20 October 2011 (aged 68–71)|
Arab Socialist Union (1971–77)|
Fatiha al-Nuri (1969–70)|
Safia el-Brasai (1970–2011)
University of Libya|
Benghazi Military University Academy
Kingdom of Libya (1961–69)|
Libyan Arab Republic (1969–77)
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (1977–2011)
|Years of service||1961–2011|
|Commands||Libyan Armed Forces|
1969 Libyan coup d'état|
1986 United States bombing of Libya
Libyan Civil War
Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi (/ /; audio ; c. 1942 – 20 October 2011), commonly known as Colonel Gaddafi, was a Libyan revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He governed Libya as Revolutionary Chairman of the 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 to Arab nationalism and Arab socialism, but he came to rule according to his own Third International Theory before embracing Pan-Africanism.
Born near Sirte, Gaddafi was the son of an impoverished Bedouin goat herder. He became involved in politics while at school in Sabha, subsequently enrolling in the Royal Military Academy, Benghazi. He founded a revolutionary cell within the military; in 1969, they seized power from the absolute monarchy of King Idris in a bloodless coup. Gaddafi became Chairman of the governing Revolutionary Command Council (RCC); he then abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the Republic, ruling by decree. He implemented measures to remove what he viewed as foreign imperialist influence from Libya, and strengthened ties to Arab nationalist governments, particularly Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt. He was intent on pushing Libya towards "Islamic socialism", introducing sharia as the basis for the legal system and nationalising the oil industry, using the increased revenues to bolster the military, implement social programs, and fund revolutionary militants across the world. In 1973, he initiated a "Popular Revolution" with the formation of General People's Committees (GPCs), purported to be a system of direct democracy, but retained personal control over major decisions. He outlined his Third International Theory that year, publishing these ideas in The Green Book.
In 1977, Gaddafi dissolved the Republic and created a new socialist state called the Jamahiriya ("state of the masses"), officially adopting a symbolic role in governance. He retained power as military commander-in-chief and head of the Revolutionary Committees responsible for policing and suppressing opponents. He oversaw unsuccessful border conflicts with Egypt and Chad, and his support for foreign militants and alleged responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing led to Libya's label of "international pariah". A particularly hostile relationship developed with the United States and United Kingdom, resulting in the 1986 U.S. bombing of Libya and United Nations-imposed economic sanctions. Gaddafi rejected his earlier ideological commitments and encouraged economic privatisation from 1999, seeking rapprochement with Western nations while also embracing Pan-Africanism and serving as Chairperson of the African Union from 2009–10. Amid the Arab Spring in 2011, an anti-Gaddafist uprising broke out, led by the National Transitional Council (NTC) and resulting in the Libyan Civil War. NATO intervened militarily on the side of the NTC, bringing about the government's downfall. Retreating to Sirte Gaddafi was captured and killed by NTC militants.
Gaddafi dominated Libya's politics for four decades and was the subject of a pervasive cult of personality. A controversial and highly divisive world figure, he was decorated with various awards and lauded for both his anti-imperialist stance and his support for Pan-Africanism and Pan-Arabism. Conversely, he was internationally condemned as a dictator and autocrat whose authoritarian administration violated the human rights of Libyan citizens and supported irredentist movements, tribal warfare, and terrorism in many other nations.
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 were 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) and 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 in Bedouin culture influenced his personal tastes for the rest of his life; he preferred the desert over the city and would retreat there to meditate.
From childhood, Gaddafi was aware of the involvement of European colonialists in Libya; his nation was occupied by Italy, and during the North African Campaign of 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. Education in 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. Bullied for being a Bedouin, he was proud of his identity and encouraged pride in other Bedouin children. From Sirte, he and his family moved to the market town of Sabha in 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 school; some friends made there received significant jobs in his later administration, most notably his best friend Abdul Salam Jalloud.
Many teachers at Sabha were Egyptian, and for the first time Gaddafi had access to pan-Arab newspapers and radio broadcasts, most notably the Cairo-based 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, 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. 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 Syria's secession from the United Arab Republic. During this they broke windows of a local hotel 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 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 Lincoln, Sun Yat-sen, and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Military training: 1963–66
Gaddafi briefly studied History at the University of Libya in 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 course.
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 Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, an Army Air Corps signal instructors course in Bovington Camp, Dorset, and an infantry signal instructors course at Hythe, Kent. Despite later rumours to the contrary, he did not attend the 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
Coup d'etat: 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, the U.S. 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.
Having removed the monarchical government, Gaddafi 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 this.
Consolidating leadership: 1969–73
The 12 member central committee of the Free Officers proclaimed themselves the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), the government of the new republic. 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.
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' Senussi clan 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
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, other 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 be 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.
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), 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.
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%.
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 1978, 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 old, 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.
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 Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Sudan, with Egypt sending experts to aid the inexperienced RCC. Gaddafi propounded Pan-Arab ideas, proclaiming the need for a single Arab state stretching across North Africa and the Middle East. In December 1969, Libya signed the Tripoli Charter alongside Egypt and Sudan. This established the Arab Revolutionary Front, a pan-national group understood to constitute a first step towards eventual political unification of the three nations, and in 1970 Syria declared its intention to join.
Nasser died unexpectedly in November 1970, with Gaddafi playing a prominent role in his funeral. Nasser was succeeded by Anwar Sadat, who suggested that rather than a unified state, the Arab states create a political federation, implemented in April 1971; in doing so, Egypt, Syria and 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 as 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 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 U.K. remove their military bases from Libya, with Gaddafi proclaiming that "the armed forces which rose to express the people's revolution [will not] tolerate living in their shacks while the bases of imperialism exist in Libyan territory." The British left in March and the Americans in June 1970.
Moving to reduce Italian influence, in October 1970 all Italian-owned assets were expropriated and the 12,000-strong Italian community expelled from 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 cease to allow NATO to use its land for a military base, in turn offering them foreign aid. Compromising, Malta's government continued allowing NATO use of the island, but only on the condition that they would not use it for launching attacks on Arab territory. 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., who were then engaged in the Cold War with the Soviets.
Gaddafi was especially critical of the U.S. due to their support for Israel. Gaddafi supported the Palestinians in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, viewing the 1948 creation of Israel as a Western colonial occupation forced on the Arab world. 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 guerrillas.
His relationship with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of Fatah was strained, with Gaddafi considering him too moderate and calling for more violent action. Instead he supported militia like the 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 who 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 also welcomed the three surviving attackers in Tripoli following their release in exchange for the hostages of hijacked Lufthansa Flight 615 a few weeks later and allowed them to go into hiding.
Gaddafi financially supported other militant groups across the world, including the Black Panther Party, Nation of Islam, Tupamaros, 19th of April Movement and Sandinista National Liberation Front in the Americas, the ANC among other liberation movements in the fight against Apartheid in 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, Japanese Red Army, Free Aceh Movement, and Moro National Liberation Front in Asia. Gaddafi was indiscriminate in the causes 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 such a characterisation, instead considering them revolutionaries engaged in liberation struggles.
The "Popular Revolution": 1973–77
On 16 April 1973, Gaddafi proclaimed the start of a "Popular Revolution" in a Zuwarah speech. 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 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.
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.
Third Universal Theory and The Green Book
In June 1973, Gaddafi created a political ideology as a basis for the Popular Revolution. Third International Theory considered the U.S. and the Soviet Union as imperialist, 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.
Gaddafi summarised 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.
These radical reforms led to discontent, furthered by widespread opposition to the RCC's decision to spend oil money on foreign causes. In 1974, Libya saw its first civilian attack on Gaddafi's government when a Benghazi army building was bombed. In 1975 two RCC members, Bashir Saghir al-Hawaadi and Omar Mehishi, launched a failed coup against Gaddafi, and in the aftermath only five RCC members remained. 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 1976, student demonstrations broke out in Tripoli and Benghazi, and were attacked by police and Gaddafist students. The RCC responded with mass arrests, and introduced compulsory national service for young people. Dissent also arose from conservative clerics and the Muslim Brotherhood, who were persecuted as anti-revolutionary. In January 1977, two dissenting students and a number of army officers were publicly hanged; Amnesty International condemned it as the first time in Gaddafist Libya that dissenters had been executed for purely political crimes.
Following Anwar Sadat's ascension to the Egyptian presidency, Libya's relations with Egypt deteriorated. This resulted in the frequent deportations of thousands of Egyptian migrants working in the country. Sadat was perturbed by Gaddafi's unpredictability and insistence that Egypt required a cultural revolution. 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 to 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 was later infuriated when Egypt and 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 become openly hostile to Egypt's leader, calling for Sadat's overthrow, and when Sudanese President Gaafar Nimeiry took Sadat's side, Gaddafi by 1975 sponsored the Sudan People's Liberation Army to overthrow Nimeiry. Focusing his attention elsewhere in Africa, in late 1972 and early 1973, Libya invaded Chad to annex the uranium-rich Aouzou Strip. Offering financial incentives, he successfully convinced 8 African states to break off diplomatic relations with Israel in 1973. 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 the Central African Republic.
Gaddafi sought to develop closer links in the Maghreb; in January 1974 Libya and 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 soon abandoned. Retaliating, Gaddafi sponsored anti-government militants in 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 their 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 estate in 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. 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.
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 the Qur'an led conservative clerics to accuse him of shirk, furthering their opposition to his regime. In July, a border war broke out with Egypt, in which the Egyptians defeated Libya despite their technological inferiority. The conflict lasted one week before both sides agreed to sign a peace treaty that was brokered by several Arab states. That year, Gaddafi was invited to Moscow by the Soviet government in recognition of their increasing commercial relationship.
Revolutionary Committees and furthering socialism: 1978–80
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, Libya remained "an exclusionary political system whose decision-making process" was "restricted to a small cadre of advisors and confidantes" surrounding Gaddafi.
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, the Revolutionary Committees were led by Mohammad Maghgoub and a Central Coordinating Office, and met with Gaddafi annually. 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."
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 his 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.
The Jamahiriya's radical direction earned the government many enemies. 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, while another, al-Borkan, began killing Libyan diplomats abroad. Following Gaddafi's command to kill these "stray dogs", under Colonel Younis Bilgasim's leadership, the Revolutionary Committees set up overseas branches to suppress counter-revolutionary activity, assassinating various dissidents. Although nearby nations like Syria also employed hit squads, Gaddafi was unusual in publicly bragging about his administration's use of them; in June 1980, he ordered all dissidents to return home or be "liquidated wherever you are."
In 1979, the U.S. placed Libya on its list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism", while at the end of the year 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.
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 "Gaddafi's Pet Project", the 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. 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, and so 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 U.S. and Israel; in August 1986, Hassan abolished the union. Domestic threats continued to plague Gaddafi; in May 1984, his Bab al-Azizia home was unsuccessfully attacked by a joint NFSL–Muslim Brotherhood militia, and in the aftermath 5000 dissidents were arrested.
In 1981, the new US President Ronald Reagan pursued a hard line approach to Libya, erroneously considering it a 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 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 U.S. shot down two Libyan Su-22 planes monitoring them. Closing down Libya's embassy in Washington, D.C., Reagan advised U.S. companies operating in the country to reduce the number of American personnel stationed there. In March 1982, the U.S. implemented an embargo of Libyan oil, and in January 1986 ordered all U.S. companies to cease operating in the country, although several hundred workers remained. Diplomatic relations also broke down with the U.K., after Libyan diplomats were accused in the shooting death of Yvonne Fletcher, a British policewoman stationed outside their London embassy, in April 1984. In Spring 1986, the U.S. Navy again began performing exercises in the Gulf of Sirte; the Libyan military retaliated, but failed as the U.S. sank several Libyan ships.
After the U.S. accused Libya of orchestrating the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing, in which two American soldiers died, Reagan decided to retaliate militarily. The 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 U.K. but opposed by other European allies, who argued that it would contravene international law. In Operation El Dorado Canyon, orchestrated on 15 April 1986, U.S. 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 U.S. was condemned internationally, Reagan received a popularity boost at home. Publicly lambasting U.S. 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.
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 the 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 economic sector.
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 1987, 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 like the 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 Misrata, while in September 1995, Islamists launched an insurgency in Benghazi, and in July 1996 an anti-Gaddafist football riot broke out in Tripoli. The Revolutionary Committees experienced a resurgence to combat these Islamists.
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 Pan-Arab union. Meanwhile, Libya stepped up its support for anti-Western militants such as the Provisional IRA, and in 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over 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, citing the 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
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 2000, 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 President 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 joined the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and in August 2008 Gaddafi was proclaimed "King of Kings" by a committee of traditional African leaders. They coronated 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 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. Libya also cemented connections with China and North Korea, being visited by Chinese President Jiang Zemin in April 2002. Influenced by the events of the 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 between Libya and the EU; the latter ended its sanctions in October.
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 in Venezuela in September 2009, joined Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in calling for an "anti-imperialist" front across Africa and Latin America. Gaddafi proposed the establishment of a South Atlantic Treaty Organization to rival NATO. That month he also addressed the 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
Origins and development: February–August 2011
Following the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, Gaddafi spoke out in favour of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, then threatened by the 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, Libya was 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 30%.
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.
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. Libyan officials rejected the ICC, claiming that it had "no legitimacy whatsoever" and highlighting that "all of its activities are directed at African leaders". 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".
Aided by 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 Zliten and Tripoli, ending the last vestiges of Gaddafist power.
Capture and death: September–October 2011
Only a few towns in western Libya—such as Bani Walid, Sebha and Sirte—remained Gaddafist strongholds. Retreating to Sirte after 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 minister 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 rear end "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; a rebel identifying himself as Senad el-Sadik el-Ureybi later claimed responsibility. 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; Al Aan TV showed amateur video footage of the funeral. Seeking vengeance for the killing, Gaddafist sympathisers fatally wounded one of those who had captured Gaddafi, Omran Shaaban, near Bani Walid in September 2012.
Personal and public life
As a schoolboy, Gaddafi adopted the ideologies of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism, influenced in particular by Nasserism, the thought of Egyptian revolutionary and president Gamal Abdel 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 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." His Arab nationalist views led him to believe that there needed to be unity across the Arab world, combining the Arab nation under a single nation-state. He described his approach to economics as "Islamic socialism", although biographers 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. Gaddafi saw his socialist Jamahiriyah as a model for the Arab, Islamic, and non-aligned worlds to follow. The extent to which Libya became socialist under Gaddafi is disputed. Gaddafi biographer Jonathan Bearman suggested that while Libya did undergo "a profound social revolution", he did not think that the country established "a socialist society". Conversely, Bruce 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'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. He was driven by a sense of "divine mission", believing himself a conduit of Allah's will, and thought that he must achieve his goals "no matter what the cost". Raised within the Sunni branch of Islam, Gaddafi called for the implementation of sharia within Libya. 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. He also funded the construction and renovation of two mosques in Africa, including Uganda's Kampala Mosque. He nevertheless clashed with conservative Libyan clerics as to his interpretation of Islam. 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, though saw the sexes as "separate but equal" and therefore felt women should usually remain in traditional roles.
A fundamental part of Gaddafi's ideology was anti-Zionism. 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." Rallying against Jews in many of his speeches, his anti-Semitism has been described as "almost Hitlerian" by Blundy and Lycett. From the late 1990s onward, his view seemed to become more moderate. In 2007, he advocated the Isratin single-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, stating that "the [Israel-Palestine] solution is to establish a democratic state for the Jews and the Palestinians... This is the fundamental solution, or else the Jews will be annihilated in the future, because the Palestinians have [strategic] depth." Two years later he argued that a single-state solution would "move beyond old conflicts and look to a unified future based on shared culture and respect."
Personal and family life
Gaddafi was a very private individual, who described himself as a "simple revolutionary" and "pious Muslim" called upon by Allah 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". Reporter Mirella Bianco found that his friends considered him particularly loyal and generous, and asserted that he adored children. She was told by Gaddafi's father that even as a child he had been "always serious, even taciturn", a trait he also exhibited in adulthood. His father said that he was courageous, intelligent, pious, and family oriented.
Other sources describe Gaddafi as "extraordinarily vain" and a womaniser. Blundy and Lycett note Gaddafi had a large wardrobe, and sometimes changed his outfit multiple times a day. 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."
In the 1970s and 1980s there were reports of his making sexual advances toward female reporters and members of his entourage. After the civil war, more serious charges came to light. Annick Cojean, a journalist for Le Monde, wrote in her book, Gaddafi's Harem that Gaddafi had raped, tortured, performed urolagnia, and imprisoned hundreds or thousands of women, usually very young. Another source—Libyan psychologist Seham Sergewa—reported that several of his female bodyguards claim to have been raped by Gaddafi and senior officials. After the civil war, Luis Moreno Ocampo, prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, said there was evidence that Gaddafi told soldiers to rape women who had spoken out against his regime. In 2011 Amnesty International questioned this and other claims used to justify NATO's war in Libya.
According to a Brazilian plastic surgeon, Gaddafi had been his patient in 1995. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency believed that Gaddafi had suffered from clinical depression, while the Israeli authorities claimed that he had been afflicted by epilepsy and hemorrhoids. He was a fan of Beethoven, and said his favourite novels were Uncle Tom's Cabin, Roots, and Colin Wilson's The Outsider. He was also a football enthusiast.
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. Gaddafi allegedly worked for years with Swiss banks to launder international banking transactions. In November 2011, The Sunday Times identified property worth £1 billion in the UK that Gaddafi allegedly owned. Gaddafi had an Airbus A340 private jet, which he bought from Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia for $120 million in 2003. Operated by Tripoli-based Afriqiyah Airways and decorated externally in their colours, it had various luxuries including a jacuzzi.
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, Hanna Gaddafi and Milad Gaddafi.
According to Vandewalle, Gaddafi "dominated [Libya's] political life" during his period in power. A cult of personality devoted to Gaddafi existed in Libya. His face appeared on a wide variety of items, including 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.
Biographers Blundy and Lycett believed that he was "a populist at heart." Throughout Libya, crowds of supporters would turn up to public events at which 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 not show up at all. Although Bianco thought he had a "gift for oratory", he was considered a poor orator by biographers Blundy and Lycett. Biographer Daniel Kawczynski noted that Gaddafi was famed for his "lengthy, wandering" speeches, which typically involved criticising Israel and the U.S.
Gaddafi was notably confrontational in his approach to foreign powers, and generally shunned Western ambassadors and diplomats, believing them to be spies.Gaddafi 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 very 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.
Starting in the 1980s, he travelled with his all-female Amazonian Guard, who were allegedly sworn to a life of celibacy. However, according to psychologist Seham Sergewa, after the civil war several of the guards told her they had been pressured into joining and raped by Gaddafi and senior officials. He hired several Ukrainian nurses to care for him and his family's health, and traveled everywhere with his trusted Ukrainian nurse Halyna Kolotnytska. Kolotnytska's daughter denied the suggestion that the relationship was anything but professional.
Reception and legacy
According to Jonathan Bearman, Gaddafi "evoked the extremes of passion: supreme adoration from his following, bitter contempt from his opponents". Supporters praised Gaddafi's administration for the creation of an almost classless society through domestic reform. They stress the regime's achievements in combating homelessness and ensuring access to food and safe drinking water. Highlighting that under Gaddafi, all Libyans enjoyed free education to a university level, they point to the dramatic rise in literacy rates after the 1969 revolution. 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.
Critics labelled Gaddafi "despotic, cruel, arrogant, vain and stupid", and he became a bogeyman for Western governments, who presented him as the "vicious dictator of an oppressed people". During the Reagan administration, the United States regarded him as "Public Enemy No. 1" and 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". Opponents were critical of Libya's human rights abuses; according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) and others, hundreds of arrested political opponents often failed to receive a fair trial, and were sometimes subjected to torture or extrajudicial execution, most notably in the Abu Salim prison, including an alleged massacre on 29 June 1996 in which 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 government was frequently criticized for not being democratic, with Freedom House consistently giving Libya under Gaddafi the "Not Free" ranking for civil liberties and political rights.
International reactions to Gaddafi's death were divided. U.S. President Barack Obama stated that it meant that "the shadow of tyranny over 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 President Fidel Castro commented that in defying the rebels, Gaddafi would "enter history as one of the great figures of the Arab nations", while Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez described him as "a great fighter, a revolutionary and a martyr." Nelson Mandela expressed sadness at the news, praising Gaddafi for his anti-apartheid stance, remarking that he backed the African National Congress during "the darkest moments of our struggle". Gaddafi was mourned by many as a hero across Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, a vigil was held by Muslims in Sierra Leone. The Daily Times of Nigeria 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, who 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 then voted 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".
- Gaddafi loyalism after the 2011 Libyan Civil War
- History of Libya under Muammar Gaddafi
- List of longest-ruling non-royal national leaders since 1900
- HIV trial in Libya
- For purposes of this article, 20 October 2011 is considered to be the date that Gaddafi left office. Other dates might have been chosen.
- 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 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 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, while ABC and MSNBC identified 112 possible spellings. A 2007 interview with Gaddafi's son 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".
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as King of Libya
|Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of Libya
| Succeeded by|
as Secretary General of the General People's Congress of Libya
Mahmud Sulayman al-Maghribi
|Prime Minister of Libya
| Succeeded by|
as Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of Libya
|Secretary General of the General People's Congress of Libya
| Succeeded by|
Abdul Ati al-Obeidi
|New office||Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution of Libya
| Succeeded by|
Mustafa Abdul Jalil
as Chairman of the National Transitional Council of Libya
|Chairperson of the African Union
| Succeeded by|
Bingu wa Mutharika