Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi
Who is he: Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi was the leader of Libya from the time he came to power in a military coup in 1969 when he overthrew King Idris until 2011. He was one of the world's longest surviving, strangest and most oppressive leaders. The best description of Gaddafi was made by President Reagan when he called him "the mad dog of the Middle East."
Colonel Gaddafi's days are now numbered as Libyan "rebels" have overtaken the country. What began as peaceful protest in January 2011 over lack of housing and government corruption was originally responded to by Gaddafi with the announcement of a 20 billion euro fund for housing and development. As the protests continued and increased in intensity and buildings were set ablaze, they were met with brutal force by Gaddafi's forces with massive civilian casualties reported, roundly condemned by human rights groups. Eventually, Gaddafi went into hiding and the government is changing hands, assisted by the Western powers-that-be to build a new government. A quick overthrow and relatively bloodless revolution in Libyan may have been deliberately prolonged in order to give cover and support for the violent crackdowns against dissidents in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia etc. and other major oil producing nations.
The production of oil using western companies and the payment in dollars for oil in order to maintain the profitable survival of the dollar as the world reserve currency has been far more important to Washington, London and the monetary elites than the economic conditions or freedom of the Arab peoples. Stability and control is their agenda and the Western intelligence services have only generally intervened in the region in order to replace failed or out of control independent governments failing to march in lockstep with their Western masters on monetary and oil matters. In fact, the case can be made that the current military threats against Iran as well as the earlier US-led invasion of Iraq had far more to do with their decisions to sell oil in other currencies than the other real and faked reasons for military action.
Background: Muammar al-Gaddafi was born in a Bedouin tent near the current city of Sirte where much of the tribal support for al-Gaddafi's regime during the Libyan civil war has come from. Although much of Libya is a rural desert, tribal society outside the main cities, al-Gaddafi attended a Muslim school during some of the major events and upheavals that swept the Arab world in the late 1940s and early '50s.
Like many Muslims at the time, following the Second World War and battles between the German and Italians against the Allies, the end of hostilities and weakened state of the colonial powers led to the growth of independence movements. This was also a time when the Arab world was shaken by the Arab defeats in the Israeli war of independence, the subsequent rise of Gamal Abel Nasser to power in Egypt in 1952 and the rise of Pan Arabism or Arab Nationalism. All of this combined to harden al-Gaddafi's views toward the West and help create his extremist views.
Like many impoverished poor, al-Gaddafi had no choice but to use the only real opportunity for advancement, through the military, and pursued a career as an army officer after independence from Italian rule. He entered the Libyan military academy in Benghazi in 1961, graduated in 1966 and began his association with the Free Officers Movement.
Following Nasser's vision of Arab nationalism, al-Gaddafi and co-conspirators overthrew the monarchy in 1969 and developed a police state of informers, censorship and closed society systems similar but even more extreme than the communist states of Eastern Europe and the Warsaw Pact. Actually, al-Gaddafi's totalitarian society and nation had more in common with Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Kim Jong-il in North Korea than the communist nations of Europe. This oppression of the Libyan people has continued until today with the West at times threatening and at other times at peace with the regime, as long as the oil flowed in an orderly manner.
The new Gaddafi regime forced out all of the former Italian settlers of the colony and took over their properties and extensive public works, as Libya had been considered a part of the Italian nation. Italians made up 12% of the total population and over 30% of the population in the two major cities of Tripoli and Benghazi alone.
There have been several coup attempts against Gaddafi that were beaten back in a very violent and extreme manner. In addition, before making peace with the West he attempted at least twice to obtain nuclear weapons, first from China in 1972 and later from Pakistan in 1977. His failure to get nuclear weapons are a blessing for the region and his adversaries in the West but a scary object lesson for other authoritarian leaders.
Gaddafi's goals have always been far larger than just Libya and he has attempted to merge Libya with a number of neighboring nations to expand his version of Pan Arabism. In addition, Gaddafi has attacked and invaded a number of nearby nations trying to forcibly merge them with Libya.
Muammar Gaddafi has supported the Red Army faction in Italy, Aborigines in Australia, attacked US troops through terrorist actions and has continued to support the murder and assassination of opposition leaders around the world. These actions have caused Gaddafi, personally, and Libya to be labeled as a pariah nation around the world. Libya was bombed by Reagan in an attempt to kill him which missed but ended up killing his adopted daughter and others. His alleged direct involvement in the Lockerbie Scotland airliner bombing is well known, though extremely controversial; if indeed Gaddafi was involved at all, it was likely in retaliation for the Reagan attack.
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