News / Africa

Eccentricity, Repression Marked Gadhafi's Rule

TEXT SIZE - +

 Colonel Moammar Gadhafi died Wednesday, ending his months-long fight against transitional fighters. To the end, he refused to step down, a stubbornness that reflects his 40-year dictatorship. He was the Arab world’s longest ruling leader and was just a 27-year-old army officer when he took power in 1969 after a military coup against Libya's king.

He quickly gained an outspoken reputation, highly critical of the West. He no longer wore a military uniform, played up his Arab pride and tried to unite the Arab world. Later, his flashy assessories, rambling speeches and female bodyguards made him an eccentric leader on the world stage.

"We tend to focus on his eccentricities, but having said that, for the most part he has been a really rather effective, especially on international platforms and can be quite charming but he certainly is rather peculiar," said Jerrold Post, the director of the political psychology program at George Washington University.

Gadhafi created a social, political and economic system called "Jamahiriya," Arabic for state of the masses.  He outlined his philosophy in his famous Green Book. He called for a country without institutions, run by the people and led by him.  But Daniel Serwer of the Middle East Institute says it never worked that way.

"He was somebody who taught the Libyans that they should form councils to govern themselves. He didn't allow them to govern themselves. It was one man rule," he said.

'Symbol of unity'


Serwer says Libya's oil and gas wealth gave Gadhafi influence at home and abroad. He stashed away the riches for himself and his closest allies.

“He also became a symbol of unity of Libya, which had been kind of cobbled together from different pieces."

Ties to terrorism tarnished Gadhafi's international image. The U.S. blamed him for a German nightclub bombing in 1986 that killed two U.S. servicemen.

In 2003, Gadhafi took steps to reconcile with the West. He admitted responsibility for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 people in Lockerbie, Scotland. He also renounced weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.  In turn, the U.S. removed components of Libya's nuclear program from the country, dropped sanctions and restored diplomatic ties. 

Final days

But at home earlier this year, thousands of Libyans rebelled against Gadhafi's authoritarian rule.

They joined the Arab Spring and demanded he step down. He responded with a violent crackdown.

Soon much of the world was against him, too. The United Nations issued sanctions. NATO launched air strikes.

But Gadhafi refused to leave.

"There is a conspiracy to control the Libyan oil, to control the Libyan land and to colonize Libya again. This is impossible, impossible and we will fight until the last man and woman to defend Libya," the Libyan said

It was always about him, says Jerrold Post. “He has this internal image of himself, perhaps another way of saying this is that his major audience is the mirror on his wall. And he is saying, 'Mirror, mirror on the way, who is the greatest Pan-African, Muslim, third world leader of them all?' And he finds ways of reassuring himself that the answer keeps going back, 'You are Moammar.'”

Daniel Serwer has similiar views. "It will be a legacy of autocracy, of resistance to democracy. Of really foolishness and delusional foolishness for many people," he said.

In the end, Moammar Gadhafi, the young army officer of nomadic parents, who touted himself as a unifier, unified many Libyans against him.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid