Muammar Gaddafi

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Muammar Gaddafi

Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (Arabic: معمر محمد أبو منيار القذافي‎) (June 1942[nb 1] – 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi  /ˈmoʊ.əmɑr ɡəˈdɑːfi/ (Arabic: مُعَمَّر القَذَّافِي‎ Muʿammar al-Qaḏḏāfī  audio (help·info)) or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011. Gaddafi seized power in a bloodless military coup from King Idris in 1969 and served as the country's head of state until 1977, when he stepped down from his official executive role as Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of Libya and claimed subsequently to be merely a symbolic figurehead. He styled himself as "Leader of the Revolution"; in 2008 a meeting of traditional African rulers bestowed on him the title "King of Kings". A leading advocate for a United States of Africa, he served as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) from 2 February 2009 to 31 January 2010.

Gaddafi replaced the Libyan Constitution of 1951 with laws based on the political ideology he had formulated, which he called the Third International Theory and published in The Green Book. After establishing the Jamahiriya (جماهيرية, "state of the masses") system in 1977, he officially stepped down from power and after that time held a largely symbolic role within the country's official governance structure. Rising oil prices and extraction in Libya led to increasing revenues. By exporting as much oil per capita as Saudi Arabia and through various welfare programs, Libya achieved the highest living standards in Africa; Libya remained debt-free.

Critics long described Gaddafi as having been Libya's autocrat or demagogue, despite the Libyan state's denial of his holding any power. In the 1980s, he acquired chemical weapons, leading to some calling Libya under Gaddafi a pariah state and countries around the world imposing sanctions. Six days after the capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in 2003 by the United States, Gaddafi renounced Tripoli's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and welcomed international inspections to verify that he would follow through on the commitment.

In February 2011, following revolutions in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia, protests against Gaddafi's rule began. These escalated into an uprising that spread across the country, with the forces opposing Gaddafi establishing a government, based in Benghazi, named the National Transitional Council (NTC). This act led to a civil war, which precipitated military intervention by a NATO-led coalition to enforce a UN Security Council Resolution 1973 calling for a no-fly zone and protection of civilians in Libya. The assets of Gaddafi and his family were frozen, and both Interpol and the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants on 27 June for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his brother-in-law Abdullah Senussi, concerning crimes against humanity. Gaddafi and his forces lost the Battle of Tripoli in August and on 16 September 2011 the NTC took Libya's seat at the UN, replacing Gaddafi. He retained control over parts of Libya, most notably the city of Sirte, to which it was presumed that he had fled. Although Gaddafi's forces initially held out in the battle for Sirte against NATO's bombing attacks and the NTC's advances, Gaddafi was captured alive in Sirte by members of the Libyan National Liberation Army (NLA) after his convoy was attacked by NATO warplanes as Sirte fell on 20 October 2011. Gaddafi was then killed by NLA fighters. His 41-year leadership prior to the civil war made him the fourth-longest-serving non-royal leader since 1900, as well as the longest-serving Arab leader.

Early life and military academy

Muammar Gaddafi was born in 7 June 1942 in Qasr Abu Hadi, a rural farming area located just outside the town of Sirte in western Libya. He was raised in a Bedouin tent in the Libyan desert near Sirte. According to many biographies, he came from an Arab tribal family called the Qadhadhfa. At the time of his birth, Libya was an Italian colony. According to Gaddafi, his paternal grandfather, Abdessalam Bouminyar, fought against the Italian occupation of Libya and died as the "first martyr in Khoms, in the first battle of 1911". In 1948, when he was six years old he was wounded and witnessed the death of two cousins when an old mine left by soldiers of the colonial Italian Royal Army exploded near Sirte. This incident is said to have influenced his later views towards the former colonialist powers in general and towards Italy in particular.

Gaddafi attended a Muslim elementary school far from home in Sabha, during which time he was profoundly influenced by major events in the Arab world and the Arab nationalist movement. He admired Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and looked to him as a hero during his rise to power in 1952. In 1956 Gaddafi took part in anti-Israeli protests during the Suez Crisis. In Sabha he was briefly a member of Scouting. He finished his secondary school studies under a private tutor in Misrata, concentrating on the study of history. In 1951, Libya gained independence under the Western-allied King Idris.

Gaddafi entered the Royal Libyan Military Academy at Benghazi in 1961, and graduated in 1966. After graduating, Qaddafi steadily rose through the ranks of the military, and joined a group in hopes of deposing King Idris due to increasing dissatisfaction with his rule. Both towards the end of his course and after graduation, Gaddafi pursued further studies in Europe. False rumours have been propagated with regards to this part of his life, for example, that he attended the United Kingdom's Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He did in fact receive four months' further military training in the United Kingdom in advanced communications as a Signals officer, and spent four months in London. After this, as a commissioned officer he joined the Engineers Corps. Although often referred to as "Colonel Gaddafi", he was in fact only a Lieutenant when he seized power in 1969. He promoted himself to Colonel after his coup.

Libyan revolution of 1969

In Libya, as in a number of other Arab countries, admission to a military academy and a career as an army officer only became available to members of the lower economic strata after independence. A military career offered an opportunity for higher education, for upward economic and social mobility, and was for many the only available means of political action. For Gaddafi and many of his fellow officers, who were inspired by Nasser's brand of Arab nationalism, a military career was a revolutionary vocation.

As a cadet, Gaddafi associated with the Free Officers Movement. Most of his future colleagues on the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) were fellow members of his graduating class at the military academy. The frustration and shame felt by Libyan officers by Israel's massive defeat of the Arab armies on three fronts in 1967 fuelled their determination to contribute to Arab unity by overthrowing the Libyan monarchy. As disaffection with King Idris grew, Gaddafi became involved with a movement of young officers to overthrow the king while a cadet.

On 1 September 1969, a small group of junior military officers led by Gaddafi successfully staged a bloodless coup d'état against King Idris while the king was in Turkey for medical treatment. Idris's nephew, Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi, was formally deposed by the revolutionary Gaddafi officers and put under house arrest; having overthrown and abolished the monarchy, they proclaimed the Libyan Arab Republic.

Gaddafi was named commander-in-chief of the armed forces and chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Libya's new ruling body. At age 27, Gaddafi had become the ruler of Libya.

Leader of Libya

On gaining power he immediately ordered the shutdown of American and British military bases, including Wheelus Air Base. He told Western officials that he would expel their companies from Libya's oil fields unless they shared more revenue. In his warning, he alluded to consultation with Nasser. The oil companies complied with the demand, increasing Libya's share from 50 to 79 percent. In December 1969, Egyptian intelligence thwarted a planned coup against Gaddafi from high-ranking members of his leadership. Many of the dissenters had grown uneasy with his growing relationship to Egypt.

Gaddafi soon replaced country's official Gregorian calendar with an Islamic calendar and forbade the sale of alcohol He renamed the months of the calendar. August, named for Augustus Caesar, was renamed Hannibal, and July, after Julius Caesar, was renamed Nasser, for Gamal Abdel Nasser. Gaddafi increasingly devoted himself to "contemplative exile" over the months following an attempted assassination attempt, writing a manifesto, The Green Book (an allusion to Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book), in which he denounced capitalism and communism as variations on "slavery" and spurned all political parties as forms of "dictatorship". In the manifesto, he advocated direct rule by People’s Committees according to Islamic law. At this time, routine administrative tasks fell to Major Abdessalam Jalloud, who became prime minister in place of Gaddafi in 1972. Two years later, Jallud assumed Gaddafi's remaining administrative and protocol duties, to allow Gaddafi to devote his time to revolutionary theorizing. Gaddafi remained the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the effective head of state. The foreign press speculated about an eclipse of his authority within the RCC, but Gaddafi soon dispelled such theories by imposing measures to restructure Libyan society.

In 1970, Gaddafi expelled the remaining Italian settlers from Libya, and emphasized what he saw as the battle between Arab nationalism and western imperialism. He vocally opposed Zionism and Israel, and expelled the Jewish community from Libya. Having appointed close family and friends to all positions of power, those close to Gaddafi were amassing large fortunes in oil revenue. In the early 1970s, Gaddafi created the Revolutionary Committees as conduits for raising political consciousness, with the aim of direct political participation by all Libyans rather than a traditional party-based representative system. In 1979, however, some of these committees had eventually evolved into self-appointed, sometimes zealous, enforcers of revolutionary orthodoxy.

The Revolutionary Committees occasionally kept tight control over internal dissent; reportedly, ten to twenty percent of Libyans worked as informants for these committees, with surveillance taking place in the government, in factories, and in the education sector. During the 1970s, Libya executed members of the Islamist fundamentalist Hizb-ut Tahrir faction, and Gaddafi often personally presided over the executions.

Early reforms and actions

Gaddafi signed an agreement with Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba to merge nations in 1974. The pact came as a surprise because Bouguiba had rebuked similar offers for over two years previously. Weeks after the agreement, he postponed a referendum on the issue, effectively ending it weeks later. The idea of merging states was highly unpopular in Tunisia, and cost Bourguiba much of his people's respect. The agreement was said to allow Bourguiba the presidency while Gaddafi would be defence minister. A later treaty with Morocco's Hassan II in 1984 broke down in two years when Hassan II met with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Gaddafi said recognition of Israel was "an act of treason".

Increase of revenue from oil

From the beginning of his leadership, Gaddafi confronted foreign oil companies for increases in revenues. Immediately after assuming office, he demanded that oil companies pay 10 percent more taxes and an increased royalty of 44 cents per barrel. Gaddafi argued that Libyan oil was closer to Europe, and was cheaper to ship than oil from the Persian Gulf. Western companies refused his demands, and Gaddafi asserted himself by cutting the production of Occidental Petroleum, an American company in Libya, from 800,000 to 500,000 that year. Occidental Petroleum's President, Armand Hammer, met with Gaddafi in Tripoli and had difficulty understanding exactly what he wanted at first. He said at one meeting, Prime Minister Abdessalam Jalloud finally took out his gun belt and left the loaded revolver in full view. Later, Hammer recalled that moment and said he felt then "that Gaddafi was ready to negotiate". In The Age of Oil, historians considered Gaddafi's success in 1970 to be the "decisive spark that set off an unprecedented chain reaction" in oil-producing nations. Libya continued a winning streak against the oil companies throughout the 1970s energy crisis; Later that year, the Shah of Iran raised his demands to match those of Gaddafi. OPEC nations began a game of "leap frogging" to win further concessions from the oil companies after following Gaddafi's lead.

Gaddafi and the Shah of Iran both argued for quadrupling the cost of oil in 1975. In 1975, Gaddafi allegedly organized the hostage incident at OPEC in Vienna, Austria.

Establishment of the Jamahiriya

From 1971 to 1977, Gaddafi approved the Arab Socialist Union, modeled on Egypt's Arab Socialist Union, to function as a political party in Libya. In 1976 the rank of Major General was conferred upon him by his own Arab Socialist Union's National Congress. Gaddafi accepted the honorary rank, but stated that he would continue to be known as "Colonel" and to wear the rank insignia of a Colonel when in uniform.

On 2 March 1977, the GPC, at Gaddafi's behest, adopted the "Declaration of the Establishment of the People's Authority" and proclaimed the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. In the official political philosophy of Gaddafi's state, the "Jamahiriya" system was unique to the country, although it was presented as the materialization of the Third International Theory, proposed by Gaddafi to be applied to the entire Third World. From 1977 onward, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya officially declared itself to be a direct democracy state in which the people ruled themselves through local popular councils and communes, named Basic People's Congresses, where all adult Libyans were allowed to participate and vote on national decisions. These people's congresses were, in principle, the country's highest authority, with major decisions proposed by government officials or Gaddafi himself requiring the consent of the people's congresses. Despite officially stepping down from power in 1977 and no longer holding any governmental position, Gaddafi continued to exert considerable influence over the country's affairs, with many of his critics insisting that the structure of Libya's direct democracy gave him "the freedom to manipulate outcomes", comparing him to a demagogue. The other surviving members of the Libyan Revolutionary Command Council remained with positions in office by virtue of leading the revolution and were thus not subject to election.

Gaddafi's image in the Arab world was damaged severely in 1978 when Shia imam Musa al-Sadr disappeared en route to Libya. The Libyan government consistently denied responsibility, but Lebanon held Gaddafi responsible, and continues to do so. Allegedly, Yasser Arafat asked Gaddafi to eliminate al-Sadr because of his opposition to Palestinians in the Lebanese Civil War. In 1981, Shia Lebanese vigilantes hijacked two Libyan aircraft, demanding information on al-Sadr's whereabouts. Shia Muslims across the Arab world continue to view Gaddafi negatively since this incident. His relations with Shia-populated Lebanon and Iran soured as a result (though he did support Iran later on during the Iran-Iraq War, somewhat improving his image there). Lebanon formally indicted Gaddafi in 2008 for al-Sadr's disappearance.

War against Egypt

The disappointment and failure Nasser faced for his lost Six-Day War motivated Gaddafi to better coordinate Arab attacks on Israel. Beginning in 1972, Gaddafi granted financial support and military training to Palestinian militant groups against Israel. He also strengthened his unity with Egypt, and in 1972, convinced Anwar Sadat to share the same flag and join a partial union with Libya. Gaddafi had offered a fully unified state where Sadat would be president and he would be defence minister. Sadat distrusted Gaddafi and refused. Gaddafi was further disappointed with Egypt's political system, as he spoke to Egypt's Arab Socialist Union and was suggested "a partial merger, in order to allow time for thorough and careful study". Gaddafi quipped back, saying "There's no such thing as a partial merger". In 1973, Gaddafi secretly sent Libyan military planes to join the Egyptian Air Force. The outbreak of the Yom Kippur War surprised Gaddafi, as Egypt and Syria planned it without his knowledge. Gaddafi felt that the war wasted resources and manpower to chase limited objectives, and accused Sadat of trying to weaken the FAR by launching the War. According to Gaddafi, Assad and Sadat were foolish to fight for small areas of Israeli-occupied territory when the entire land could be returned to the Palestinians outright. He said, "I will participate only in a war if the aim is to oust the usurpers and send the Jews back to Europe from where they have come since 1948 to colonize an Arab land. Jews from Arab countries ...are our cousins... they will live amongst us in peace as they have done for the past centuries."

Gaddafi's relationship with Egypt further weakened because he opposed a cease-fire with Israel and called Sadat a coward for giving up after one Israeli counteroffensive. Gaddafi also believed that the Soviet Union and the United States would join forces with Israel, and would deploy troops on the demarcation lines to invade and "colonize" the Arab nations. Anwar Sadat was equally angry with Gaddafi and revealed that he was responsible for foiling a 1973 submarine attack Libya planned for sinking the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 during an Israeli cruise. Gaddafi fired back, saying the Arabs could have destroyed Israel within 12 hours if they had adopted a sound strategy. Gaddafi charged Egyptian reporters with the breakdown of Libyan-Egyptian relations in 1973, and said Sadat was partly to blame because he had "no control" of Egyptian information media. Egypt's peace talks in 1977 led to the Steadfastness and Confrontation Front, a group Gaddafi formed to reject the recognition of the Israeli state. Libya's relations with Egypt broke down entirely that year, leading to the short-lived Libyan–Egyptian War. During the war, Libya sent its military across the border, but Egyptian forces fought back and forced them to retreat. Gaddafi's animosity with Sadat was so high that in 1981, Gaddafi declared his death a national holiday. He called it a just "punishment" for his role in the Camp David Accords.

Activities in Sudan and Chad

After Nasser's death, Gaddafi attempted to become the leader of Arab nationalism. He wanted to create a "Great Islamic State of the Sahel", unifying the Arab states of North Africa into one. As early as 1969, Gaddafi contributed to the Islamization of Sudan and Chad, granting military bases and support to the FROLINAT revolutionary forces. In 1971, when Muslims took power in Sudan, he offered to merge Libya with Sudan. Gaafar Nimeiry, the President of Sudan, turned him down and angered Gaddafi by signing a peace settlement with the Sudanese Christians. Gaddafi took matters into his own hands in 1972, organizing the Islamic Legion, a paramilitary group, to arabize the region. He dispatched The Islamic Legion to Lebanon, Syria, Uganda, and Palestine to take active measures to ensure Islamic control. The Islamic Legion was highly active in Sudan and Chad, and nearly removed the Toubou population of southern Libya through violence.

Through the 1970s and 1980s, Gaddafi led an armed conflict against Chad, and occupied the Aouzou strip. During the 1970s, two Muslim leaders, Goukouni Oueddei and Habre, were fighting against the Christian southerners for control of Chad. Gaddafi supported them, and when they seized control in 1979, he offered to merge with Chad. Goukouni turned him down, and Gaddafi withdrew Libyan troops in 1981 because of growing opposition from France and neighboring African nations. Gaddafi's withdrawal left Goukouni vulnerable in Chad, and in 1982, his former partner, Habre, led a coup to remove him from Chad. Gaddafi helped Goukouni regain territory in Chad, and fought with Habre's forces. As a side note, Gaddafi's occupation of Chad led to the liberation of French archaeologist Françoise Claustre in 1977. In 1987, Gaddafi engaged in a full-out war with Chad, suffering a humiliating loss in 1987 during the Toyota War. Libya took heavy casualties, losing one tenth of its army (7,500 troops) and 1.5 billion dollars worth of military equipment. Chad lost 1,000 troops, and was supported by both the United States and France.[85] During the war, Gaddafi lost his long-time ally, Goukouni Oueddei, who repaired his relationship with Habre in 1987. Gaddafi gave Habre an offer to make complete peace, and promised to return all Chadian prisoners in Libya. He also promised to pay reparations for the damage done to Chad, and promised financial support to fight poverty. He also announced that he would push to end the death penalty in Libya, end "revolutionary" courts, free hundreds of political prisoners, and warmed relations with African leaders concerned about his "Green revolution." Former Libyan soldiers and rebel groups supported by Libya continued to fight the Chadian government independent of Gaddafi. Their organization, the Arab Gathering, was an Arab supremacist group that also contributing to violence in Sudan. Members of this group later developed into leaders of the Janjaweed.

Dissent and Revolutionary Committees

During the early 1980s, the committees established by Gaddafi had considerable power and became a growing source of tension within the Jamihiriya, to the extent that Gaddafi sometimes criticized their effectiveness and excessive repression, until the power of the Revolutionary Committees were eventually restricted in the late 1980s. Libya faced internal opposition during the 1980s because of the highly unpopular war with Chad. Numerous young men cut off a fingertip to avoid conscription at the time. A mutiny by the Libyan Army in Tobruk was violently suppressed in August 1980. In 1981, Gaddafi expressed doubts over the effectiveness of the Revolutionary Committees, due to the growing tension they were causing within the Jamahiriya.

In 1982, there were cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, which led some Libyans to be hesitant when speaking with foreigners. The government conducted executions and mutilations of political opponents in public and broadcast recordings of the proceedings on public television. Dissent was illegal under Law 75 of 1973, which limited freedom of expression at the time. From time to time, opposition was met with violence. Between 1980 and 1987, a network of diplomats and recruits were employed to assassinate at least 25 critics living abroad. The Revolutionary Committees called for the assassination of Libyan dissidents living abroad in April 1980, sending Libyan hit squads abroad to murder them. On 26 April 1980, Gaddafi stated that a deadline was set for 11 June 1980, for dissidents to return home or be "in the hands of the revolutionary committees". In 1982, Gaddafi stated that they should "repent" and return to the Jamahiriya, that "Such people are charged with high treason because of their collaboration with the Israelis and Americans," and that "It is the Libyan people's responsibility to liquidate such scums who are distorting Libya's image." Libyan agents assassinated dissidents in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

Following an abortive 1986 attempt to replace English with Russian as the primary foreign language in education, English has been taught in recent years in Libyan schools from primary level, and students have access to English-language media. In 2004, Libya posted a $1 million bounty for journalist Ashur Shamis, under the allegation that he was linked to Al-Qaeda and terror suspect Abu Qatada. During the 2005 civil unrest in France, Gaddafi called Chirac and offered him his help in quelling the resistors, who were largely North African. There were indications that Libya's Gaddafi-era intelligence service had a relationship with intelligence organizations such as the CIA, who voluntarily provided information on Libyan dissidents to the regime in exchange for using Libya as a base for extraordinary renditions. In 2010, Libya's press was rated as 160th out of 178 nations in the Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. In January 2011, the state's policies on human rights, including freedom of expression, were generally well received by the United Nations Human Rights Council, where most countries largely praised the country's human rights record.

In 1988, Gaddafi criticized the excessive measures taken by the Revolutionary Councils, stating that "they deviated, harmed, tortured" and that "the true revolutionary does not practise repression." That same year, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya issued the Great Green Document on Human Rights, in which Article 5 established laws that allowed greater freedom of expression. Article 8 of The Code on the Promotion of Freedom stated that "each citizen has the right to express his opinions and ideas openly in People’s Congresses and in all mass media."[106] A number of restrictions were also placed on the power of the Revolutionary Committees, leading to a resurgence in the Libyan state's popularity by the early 1990s.

State-sponsored terrorism

Gaddafi supported militant organizations that held anti-Western sympathies around the world. The Foreign Minister of Libya called the massacres "heroic acts". Gaddafi fueled a number of Islamist and communist militant groups in the Philippines, including the New People's Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The country still struggles with their murders and kidnappings. In Indonesia, the Organisasi Papua Merdeka was a Libyan backed militant group. Vanuatu's ruling party also enjoyed Libyan support. In Australia he attempted to radicalize Australian Aborigines, left-wing unions, Arab Australians, against the "imperialist" government of Australia. In the United Kingdom he financed the Workers Revolutionary Party.

In 1979, Gaddafi said he supported the Iranian Revolution, and hoped that "...he (the Shah) ends up in the hands of the Iranian people, where he deserves." Gaddafi also financed and supported Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress party, who had for a long time been designated as terrorists by the United States up until 2008.

Gaddafi explicitly stated that it "is the Libyan people's responsibility to liquidate" Libyan dissidents that had escaped from Libya, unless they "repent" and return to the Libyan Jamahiriya, raising tensions with refugee countries and European governments. In 1985, he stated that he would continue to support the Red Army Faction, the Red Brigades, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA), as long as European countries supported anti-Gaddafi Libyans. In 1976, after a series of attacks by the IRA, Gaddafi announced that "the bombs which are convulsing Britain and breaking its spirit are the bombs of Libyan people. We have sent them to the Irish revolutionaries so that the British will pay the price for their past deeds". In April 1984 some Libyan refugees in London protested the execution of two dissidents. Libyan diplomats shot at 11 people and killed Yvonne Fletcher, a British policewoman. The incident led to the cessation of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Libya for over a decade. In June 1984 Gaddafi asserted that he wanted his agents to assassinate dissident refugees even when they were on pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca and, in August that year, a Libyan plot in Mecca was thwarted by Saudi Arabian police.

Berlin discotheque bombing

On 5 April 1986, Libyan agents bombed "La Belle" nightclub in West Berlin, killing three and injuring 229. Gaddafi's plan was intercepted by several national intelligence agencies and more detailed information was retrieved four years later from Stasi archives. The Libyan agents who had carried out the operation, from the Libyan embassy in East Germany, were prosecuted by the reunited Germany in the 1990s.

In response to the discotheque bombing, joint United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps air-strikes took place against Libya on April 15, 1986 and code-named Operation El Dorado Canyon and known as the 1986 bombing of Libya. Following the 1986 bombing of Libya, Gaddafi intensified his support for anti-American government organizations. He financed Jeff Forts Al-Rukn faction of the Chicago Black P. Stones gang, in their emergence as an indigenous anti-American armed revolutionary movement. Members of Al-Rukn were arrested in 1986 for preparing to conduct strikes on behalf of Libya, including blowing up U.S. government buildings and bringing down an airplane; the Al-Rukn defendants were convicted in 1987 of "offering to commit bombings and assassinations on U.S. soil for Libyan payment." In 1986, Libyan state television announced that Libya was training suicide squads to attack American and European interests. He began financing the IRA again in 1986, to retaliate against the British for harboring American fighter planes.

Gaddafi also sought close relations with the Soviet Union and purchased arms from the Soviet bloc.

Lockerbie bombing

During Gaddafi's time in power, the Libyan government was implicated in the financing of many anti-western groups, including several terror plots. The Black Panther Party, Nation of Islam, and the Irish Republican Army all allegedly had links to Muammar Gaddafi. Due of Libya's links to Irish terrorism, the United Kingdom cut off diplomatic relations with Libya for more than a decade. However, in the most famous instance, Libya was implicated in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. During this event, the plane Pan Am Flight 103, carrying 270 people exploded near Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. On 22 February 2011 during the Libyan civil war, the former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil in an interview with the Swedish newspaper "Expressen", claimed to have evidence that Muammar Gaddafi had personally ordered the bombing. In 1988, U.S. warplanes carried out bombings in Libya, in a failed attempt to kill Gaddafi.

Alliances with authoritarian national leaders

Despite backing pro-democracy causes in Africa, Gaddafi fuelled rebellions in countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as having a close relationship to Uganda's infamous dictator Idi Amin, whom he sponsored and advised. When Amin's government began to crumble, Gaddafi sent troops to fight against Tanzania on behalf of Amin, and 600 Libyan soldiers were killed during combat operations. Nevertheless, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who had played major role in overthrowing Idi Amin said in February, "Muammar Gaddafi, whatever his faults, is a true nationalist. I prefer nationalists to puppets of foreign interests." Museveni also said "Therefore, the independent-minded Gaddafi had some positive contribution to Libya, I believe, as well as Africa and the Third World [...] We should also remember, as part of that independent-mindedness, he expelled British and American military bases from Libya [after he took power]."

Gaddafi ran a school near Benghazi called the World Revolutionary Center (WRC). A notable number of its graduates have seized power in African countries. Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso and Idriss Déby of Chad were graduates of this school, and are currently in power in their respective countries. Gaddafi trained and supported Charles Taylor of Liberia, Foday Sankoh, the founder of Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front, and Jean-Bédel Bokassa, the Emperor of the Central African Empire. Gaddafi also financed Mengistu Haile Mariam's military junta in Ethiopia, which was later convicted of one of the deadliest genocides in modern history.

In a BBC interview, Kenya's Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said the Libyan leader sometimes showed a violent side at African Union meetings, saying "He really suppressed Libyan people and vanquished them to the extent that in one of many AU meetings we saw him slap his foreign minister in our presence, which is something unexpected of any dignified and self-respecting head of state." Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe since 1980 having spearheaded Zimbabwe's independence struggle, remained a staunch ally of Col. Gaddafi until the Libyan ruler's death.

In Europe, Gaddafi had close ties with Serbian and later Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević, and with the controversial Austrian politician Jörg Haider. According to the Daily Mail, Jörg Haider received tens of millions of dollars from both Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Gaddafi also aligned himself with the Orthodox Serbs against Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo, supporting Milošević even when he was charged with large-scale ethnic cleansing against Albanians in Kosovo.

Gaddafi developed an ongoing relationship with the revolutionary Colombian Marxist–Leninist guerrilla group FARC, becoming acquainted with its leaders at meetings of revolutionary groups which were regularly hosted in Libya.

During the Falklands War Gaddafi provided the Argentinian regime with 20 launchers and 60 SA-7 missiles, as well as machine guns, mortars and mines. These were delivered in four trips by two Boeing 707 of the AAF, refuelled in Recife with the knowledge and consent of the Brazilian government.

Gaddafi developed a friendship with Hugo Chávez, and in March 2009, Libya's Olympics Committee named a stadium after the Venezuelan leader. Strategic analysis groups, along with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos reported that both Chávez and Gaddafi supported the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which produces "more than half of the world’s cocaine," however this relationship was disputed by the Venezuelan government. In September 2009, at the Second Africa-South America Summit on Isla Margarita, Venezuela, Gaddafi joined 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, saying: "The world’s powers want to continue to hold on to their power. Now we have to fight to build our own power."

After the 1979 Iranian Revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power, Gaddafi became one of the first leaders to congratulate and offer support to the then fledgling Islamic Republic. Gaddafi, who had long opposed the Shah for his support of American/British policies and his previous relations with King Idris, reversed many policies that had strained the relations between the two countries. While relations did substantially improve, the long term effect was that it alienated him from his previous pan-Arab beliefs and became more Islamist, such as recognizing the islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa as Iranian rather than Emirati and gave crucial military support to Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. He publicly stated his support to other Arab and Persian Gulf countries, urging them to stand beside their "Islamic Brothers". However, fearing Shi'ite or Islamic Revolutions of their own should Saddam fall, they instead cut off relations with Gaddafi and supported Iraq (the only exception being Hafez Al-Assad). Although the disappearance of Musa Al-Sadr did sour relations, the Iranian government did not publicly implicate Gaddafi at the time and Iran continued to consider Libya (along with Syria) as its only reliable ally for many years. Only much later, after the end of the war, did Al-Sadr's disappearance reemerge as an issue between the two countries. Later on, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei visited Libya, one of only times he left Iran as Supreme Leader. Even during the Libyan Civil War, there were apparent divisions in the government on whether to support Gaddafi or not, between those who continued to view Gaddafi as a hero for his support of Iran during the war and those who viewed him as responsible for Al-Sadr's disappearance. Early in the conflict, Iran reiterated at the UN its support for "the importance of respecting national sovereignties and disallowing certain powers to bypass international law and intervene under guises such as 'humanitarian intervention'". Later on however, did the state-run Kayhan newspaper condemn Gaddafi for his suppression of the rebels.

Due to his support of Iran, Saddam Hussein broke off relations with Gaddafi in 1980 until 1991, when after the Persian Gulf War and the international Sanctions against Iraq, Gaddafi (who was facing sanctions of his own due to the Lockerbie bombing) once again came out in support of Saddam and helped assist the Iraqi Government in circumventing Import restrictions and offering limited military assistance. Libya was also one of the only countries to accept Iraqi Passports and have an embassy in Baghdad (and vice versa for Iraq). In 1999, Gaddafi awarded his Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights to the "Children of Iraq". However, Saddam never forgot Gaddafi's support for Iran and while the relations were cordial, Gaddafi and Saddam would never meet from 1991 until the overthrow of Saddam in 2003.

Focus on activities in Africa

In the early 1980s, Gaddafi played a key role in the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa. His image as a revolutionary inspired many South Africans to fight for their liberation, and he was largely responsible for funding and arming the Anti-Apartheid Movement as it fought the Apartheid regime and white minority rule. As a result, Gaddafi began gaining considerable popularity in South Africa and other African countries. He was also responsible for supporting and funding Nelson Mandela's election campaign. He continued to maintain a close friendship with Mandela, who named his grandson after Gaddafi. In turn, Mandela later played a key role in helping Gaddafi gain mainstream acceptance in the Western world later in the 1990s. Over the years, Gaddafi would be seen as a hero in much of Africa. In 2008, after being declared "King of Kings" by African traditional rulers in Libya, Gaddafi said:

We want an African military to defend Africa, we want a single African currency, we want one African passport to travel within Africa

—Muammar Gaddafi

In 1998, Gaddafi turned his attention away from Arab nationalism. He eliminated a government office in charge of promoting pan-Arab ideas and told reporters "I had been crying slogans of Arab Unity and brandishing standard of Arab nationalism for 40 years, but it was not realised. That means that I was talking in the desert. I have no more time to lose talking with Arabs...I am returning back to realism...I now talk about Pan-Africanism and African Unity. The Arab world is finished...Africa is a paradise...and it is full of natural resources like water, uranium, cobalt, iron, manganese." Public television networks switched from Middle-Eastern soap operas to African themes involving slavery. The background of a unified Arab League that had been a staple of Libyan television for over two decades was replaced by a map of Africa. Gaddafi said, "Libya is an African country. May Allah help the Arabs and keep them away from us. We don't want anything to do with them." Gaddafi sported a map of Africa on his outfits from then forward, and further stated that, "I would like Libya to become a black country. Hence, I recommend to Libyan men to marry only black women and to Libyan women to marry black men."

In addition to supporting African movements, such as the African National Congress in South Africa, Liberian rebels during the First Liberian Civil War, and cetain factions in the Sierra Leone Civil War, his support also sometimes went to leaders described by the United Nations as dictators and warlords. Gaddafi used anti-Western rhetoric against the UN, and complained that the International Criminal Court was a "new form of world terrorism" that wanted to recolonize developing countries. Gaddafi opposed the ICC's arrest warrant for Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir and personally gave refuge to Idi Amin in Libya after his fall from rule in 1979.

According to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Charles Taylor's orders for "The amputation of the arms and legs of men, women, and children as part of a scorched-earth campaign was designed to take over the region’s rich diamond fields and was backed by Gaddafi, who routinely reviewed their progress and supplied weapons". Gaddafi intervened militarily in the Central African Republic in 2001 to protect his ally Ange-Félix Patassé from overthrow. Patassé signed a deal giving Libya a 99-year lease to exploit all of that country's natural resources, including uranium, copper, diamonds, and oil. Gaddafi acquired at least 20 luxurious properties after he went to rescue Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

Gaddafi's strong military support and finances gained him allies across the continent. He was bestowed with the title "King of Kings of Africa" in 2008, as he had remained in power longer than any African king. Gaddafi was celebrated in the presence of over 200 African traditional rulers and kings, although his views on African political and military unification received a lukewarm response from their governments. His 2009 forum for African kings was canceled by the Ugandan hosts, who believed that traditional rulers discussing politics would lead to instability. On 1 February 2009, a 'coronation ceremony' in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was held to coincide with the 53rd African Union Summit, at which he was elected head of the African Union for the year. When his election was opposed by an African leader, Gaddafi arranged with Silvio Berlusconi to have two escorts sent to that leader to have him change his mind. It worked, and he was elected Chairman of the African Union from 2009 to 2010. Gaddafi told the assembled African leaders: "I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa."

In 1986, 2000, and the months prior to the 2011 civil war, Gaddafi announced plans for a unified African gold dinar currency, to challenge the dominance of the US$ and Euro currencies. The African dinar would have been measured directly in terms of gold, which would mean a country’s wealth would depend on how much gold it had rather than how many dollars it traded, allowing a greater sharing of the wealth and self-determination in Africa.

In 1989, Gaddafi was overjoyed by the Maghreb Pact between Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. Gaddafi saw the Pact as a first step towards the formation of "one invincible Arab nation" and shouted for a state "from Marrakesh to Bahrain", pumping his fists in the air. In 1995 Gaddafi expelled 30,000 Palestinians living in Libya, a response to the peace negotiations that had commenced between Israel and the PLO.

Western acceptance

As early as 1981, Gaddafi feared that the Reagan Administration would combat his leadership and sought to reduce his maverick image. He and his cabinet talked frequently about the pullout of American citizens from Libya. Gaddafi feared that the United States would be plotting economic sanctions or military action against his government. In 1981, he publicly announced that he would not send any more hit teams to kill citizens in Europe, and quickly obeyed a 1981 armistice with Chad. In 1987, Gaddafi proposed an easing of relations between the United States and Libya. Speaking of the 1986 bombing of Libya, he said, "They trained people to assassinate me and they failed. They tried all the secret action against us and they failed. They have not succeeded in defeating us. They should look for other alternatives to have some kind of rapprochement."

After the fall of Soviet client states in eastern Europe, Libya appeared to reassess its position in world affairs and began a long process of improving its image in the West. In 1994, Gaddafi eased his relationship with the Western world, beginning with his atonement for the Lockerbie bombings. For three years, he had refused to extradite two Libyan intelligence agents indicted for planting a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103. South African president Nelson Mandela, who took special interest in the issue, negotiated with the United States on Gaddafi's behalf. Mandela and Gaddafi had forged a close friendship starting with his release from prison in 1990. Mandela persuaded Gaddafi to hand over the defendants to the Scottish Court in the Netherlands, where they faced trial in 1999. One was found not guilty and the other, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, was given a life sentence. For Gaddafi's cooperation, the UN suspended its sanctions against Libya in 2001. Two years later, Libya wrote to the UN Security Council formally accepting "responsibility for the actions of its officials" in respect to the Lockerbie bombing. It was later claimed by Libyan Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem and his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi that they did not believe they were responsible and that they simply wrote the letter to remove UN sanctions. Gaddafi agreed to pay up to US$2.7 billion to the victims' families, and completed most of the payout in 2003. Later that year, Great Britain and Bulgaria co-sponsored a UN resolution to remove the UN sanctions entirely. In 2004, Shukri Ghanem, then-Libyan Prime Minister, openly told a Western reporter that Gaddafi was "paying for peace" with the West, and that there was never any evidence or guilt for the Lockerbie bombing. Indeed, many legal experts as well as the United Nations observer at the Lockerbie trial, Hans Köchler, voiced strong reservations about the Lockerbie trial, and in 2007 the sworn affidavit of a key witness indicated that the decisive physical evidence used to convict al-Megrahi had been planted.

Gaddafi's government faced growing opposition from Islamic extremists during the 1990s, particularly the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which nearly assassinated him in 1996. Gaddafi began giving counter-terrorism intelligence to MI6 and the CIA in the 1990s, and issued the first arrest warrant for Osama bin Laden in 1998, after he was linked to the killing of German anti-terrorism agents in Libya. Gaddafi also accused the United States of training and supporting bin Laden for war against the Soviet Union. He said the United States was bombing al-Qaeda camps that they had supported and built for him in the past. Gaddafi also claimed that the bombing attempts by Bill Clinton were done to divert attention from his sex scandal.

Intelligence links from Gaddafi's regime to the U.S. and the U.K. deepened during the George W. Bush administration; the CIA began bringing alleged terrorists to Libya for torture under the "extraordinary rendition" program. Some of those renditioned were Gaddafi's political enemies, including one current rebel leader in the 2011 NATO-backed war in Libya. The relationship was so close that the CIA provided "talking points for Gaddafi, logistical details for [rendition] flights, and what seems to have been the bartering of Gaddafi’s opponents, some of whom had ties to Islamist groups, for his cooperation."

He offered to dismantle his active weapons of mass destruction program in 1999. In 2002, Saddam Hussein paid Gaddafi $3.5 billion to save him should he have an internal coup or war with America. In 2003, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by U.S. forces, Gaddafi again admitted to having an active weapons of mass destruction program, and was willing to dismantle it. His announcement was well publicized, and during interviews Gaddafi confessed that the Iraq War "may have influenced him", but he would rather "focus on the positive", and hoped that other nations would follow his example. Gaddafi's commitment to the War against Terror attracted support from the United States and Britain. Prime minister Tony Blair publicly met with Gaddafi in 2004, commending him as a new ally in the War on Terror. During his visit, Blair lobbied for the Royal Dutch Shell oil company, which secured a deal in Libya worth $500 million.

The United States restored its diplomatic relations with Libya during the Bush administration, removing Libya from its list of nations supporting terrorism. President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney portrayed Gaddafi's announcement as a direct consequence of the Iraq War. Hans Blix, then UN chief weapons inspector, speculated that Gaddafi feared being removed like Saddam Hussein: "I can only speculate, but I would imagine that Gaddafi could have been scared by what he saw happen in Iraq. While the Americans would have difficulty in doing the same in Iran and in North Korea as they have done in Iraq, Libya would be more exposed, so maybe he will have reasons to be worried." Historians have speculated that Gaddafi was merely continuing his attempts at normalizing relations with the West to get oil sanctions removed.

There is also evidence that his government was weakened by falling gas prices during the 1990s and 2000s (decade), and his rule was facing significant challenges from Libya's high unemployment rate at the time. The offer was accepted and international inspectors in Libya were led to chemical weaponry as well as an active nuclear weapons program. In 2004, inspectors from the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) verified that Libya had owned a stockpile of 23 metric tons of mustard gas and more than 1,300 metric tons of precursor chemicals. By 2006, Libya had nearly finished construction of its Rabta Chemical Destruction facility, which cost $25 million, and Libyan officials were angered by the fact that their nuclear centrifuges were given to the United States rather than the United Nations. British officials were allowed to tour the site in 2006.

In 2007, the Bulgarian medics were returned to Bulgaria, where they were released. Representatives of the European Union made it clear that their release was key to normalizing relations between Libya and the EU. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, visited Libya in 2007 and signed a number of bilateral and multilateral agreements with Gaddafi, including a deal to build a nuclear-powered facility in Libya to desalinate ocean water for drinking. Gaddafi and Vladimir Putin reportedly discussed establishing a Russian military base in Libya. In August 2008, Gaddafi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi signed a landmark cooperation treaty in Benghazi.

Gaddafi met with then U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice in September 2008, where she pressed him to complete his payout for the Lockerbie bombings. Libya and the United States finalized their 20-year standoff over the Lockerbie bombings in 2008 when Libya paid into a compensation fund for victims of the Lockerbie bombing, 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing, and to American victims of the 1989 UTA Flight 772 bombing. In exchange, President Bush signed Executive Order 13477 restoring the Libyan government's immunity from terrorism-related lawsuits and dismissing all of the pending compensation cases in the United States. In June 2009, Gaddafi made his first visit to Rome, where he again met Berlusconi, president Giorgio Napolitano and senate president Renato Schifani. Chamber president Gianfranco Fini cancelled the meeting because of Gaddafi's delay. The Democratic Party and Italy of Values opposed the visit and many protests were staged throughout Italy by human rights non-governmental organizations and Italian Radicals. Gaddafi also took part in the G8 summit in L'Aquila in July as Chairman of the African Union. During the summit a handshake between U.S. President Barack Obama and Muammar Gaddafi marked the first time the Libyan leader had been greeted by a serving U.S. President. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano hosted a dinner where Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister and G8 host, overturned protocol at the last moment by having Gaddafi sit next to him, just two places away from president Obama who was seated on Berlusconi's right-hand side.

Gaddafi also met with United States Senator John McCain in 2009. In August 2009, convicted bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was released to Libya on compassionate grounds and was received with a large celebration. Gaddafi and his government were criticized by Western leaders for his participation in this celebration. In 2010, Gaddafi agreed to pay US$3.5 billion to the victims of IRA attacks he assisted during the 1980s.

Speech to the U.N. General Assembly

On 23 September 2009, Muammar Gaddafi addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York, making his first appearance despite 40 years in power. Gaddafi was introduced in the General Assembly Hall as the “leader of the revolution, the president of the African Union, the king of kings of Africa,” and made speech that lasted for 90 minutes rather than the allotted 15. During his speech, Gaddafi criticized the United Nations' inability to prevent wars, saying that "sixty-five aggressive wars took place without any collective action by the United Nations to prevent them.” Gaddafi noted the Iraq war in particular as being the "mother of all evils" and suggested that those who caused the “mass murder” committed there be tried, and also defended the right of the Taliban to establish an Islamic emirate. Gaddafi raised the point of whether swine flu was made in a laboratory as a weapon, saying "The swine virus may have gotten out in the open after escaping from a laboratory. It may have been put together in a lab by the military…. We do sometimes make viruses in a laboratory and then they make viruses for capitalist companies who will make vaccinations and make money.” Gaddafi also demanded a thorough re-investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy as well as the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gaddafi's main point was the inequality of the United Nations, which gives five permanent members of the Security Council more power than the all the other nations that make up the General Assembly. Gaddafi criticized the Security Council, saying the council “is political feudalism for those who have a permanent seat it should not be called the Security Council, it should be called the terror council. Permanent is something for God only. We are not fools to give the power of veto to great powers so they can use us and treat us as second-class citizens.” At one point in his speech, Colonel Gaddafi waved a copy of the United Nations Charter and seemed to tear it, saying he did not recognize the authority of the document. He suggested that the United Nations headquarters be moved to Libya. Further, Gaddafi repeated his longstanding proposal that Israel and the Palestinian territories be combined into one state called Isratine. While being critical of the United States and its foreign policy, Gaddafi praised the idea that the United States had elected Barack Obama president, whom Gaddafi referred to as a “son of Africa”.[195] Gaddafi said, "Obama is a glimpse in the darkness after four or eight years. We are content and happy if Obama can stay forever as president of the United States."

Libyan civil war

On 17 February 2011, major political protests began in Libya against Gaddafi's government. During the following week these protests gained significant momentum and size, despite stiff resistance from the Gaddafi government. By late February the country appeared to be rapidly descending into chaos, and the government lost control of most of Eastern Libya. Gaddafi fought back, accusing the rebels of being "drugged" and linked to al-Qaeda. His military forces allegedly killed rebelling civilians, and relied heavily on the Khamis Brigade, led by one of his sons Khamis Gaddafi, and on tribal leaders loyal to him. He allegedly imported foreign mercenaries to defend his government, reportedly paying Ghanaian mercenaries as much as US$2,500 per day for their services. Reports from Libya also confirmed involvement with Belarus, and the presence of Ukrainian and Serbian mercenaries.

The violent response to the protesters prompted defections from his government. Gaddafi's "number two" man, Abdul Fatah Younis, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil and several key ambassadors and diplomats resigned from their posts in protest. Other government officials refused to follow orders from Gaddafi, and were jailed for insubordination.

At the beginning of March 2011, Gaddafi returned from a hideout, relying on considerable amounts of Libyan and U.S. cash that had apparently been stored in the capital. Gaddafi's forces had retaken momentum and were in shooting range of Benghazi by March 2011 when the UN declared a no fly zone to protect the civilian population of Libya. On 30 April the Libyan government claimed that a NATO airstrike killed Gaddafi's sixth son and three of his grandsons at his son's home in Tripoli. Government officials said that Muammar Gaddafi and his wife were visiting the home when it was struck, but both were unharmed. Gaddafi son's death came one day after the Libyan leader appeared on state television calling for talks with NATO to end the airstrikes which had been hitting Tripoli and other Gaddafi strongholds since the previous month. Gaddafi suggested there was room for negotiation, but he vowed to stay in Libya. Western officials remained divided over whether Gaddafi was a legitimate military target under the United Nations Security Council resolution that authorize