News / Africa

Eccentricity, Repression Marked Gadhafi's Rule

 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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid