News / Middle East

    Libyan Leader Known for His Eccentricities and Ruthless Rule

    This image broadcast on Libyan state television Feb. 22, 2011, shows Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as he addresses the nation in Tripoli
    This image broadcast on Libyan state television Feb. 22, 2011, shows Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as he addresses the nation in Tripoli

    Multimedia

    Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has ruled his north African nation since 1969.  He is known for his eccentricities and ruthless rule.  Now, despite massive protests, the 68-year-old leader refuses to leave and he says he will die a martyr.

    As a young military officer, Moammar Gadhafi led a coup against the reigning king and set up the Libyan Arab Republic. In the 1970s, he tried to unite Libya, Egypt and Syria as the Federation of Arab Republics and throughout his 42-year rule, he has been an irritant to the West.

    Ian Lesser advised former President Bill Clinton on north African affairs.  "We’ve seen over years rapid shifts from Libya, focusing on Arab-Israeli affairs, to the region, to Africa.  At one point Libya is an African country, then it’s a Middle Eastern country.  Then it’s a global actor, then it’s inward looking. There are these rapid shifts," he said.



    U.S. and Libyan tension rose in the 1980s.  The U.S. held Libya responsible for the bombing of a West Berlin disco, frequented by the American military, and the two countries battled over access to the Gulf of Sidra.  Describing Mr. Gadhafi, President Ronald Reagan called him "The mad dog of the Middle East."

    The U.S. retaliated for the Berlin incident by bombing a Gadhafi compound. He escaped, but his adopted baby daughter died. 

    In the late 1980s, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270, many of them Americans.  Years later, Libya would accept responsibility for the bombing and agree to monetary settlements.  

    A Libyan national was sentenced to 27 years in prison for the act, but when he was released on humanitarian grounds, Mr. Gadhafi greeted him as a celebrity.

    Now protesters emboldened by Egypt's recent uprisings, are challenging the Libyan leader's rule, and he is losing the support of key government figures.

    Ali Aujali is the Libyan ambassador to the U.S. "I resign from serving the current dictatorship regime, But I will never resign from serving our people until their voices reach the whole world. I am calling for him to go and leave our people alone," he said.

    Moammar Gadhafi spoke on state TV and said he will stay in Libya and die a martyr.

    He raised theThe Green Book  that he wrote about his political philosophy. The books are free at Libyan embassies around the world.  The first part is called The Solution fo the Problem of Democracy."  

    Aly Abuzaakouk is a Libyan human rights activist in Northern Virginia. Protesters in Libya called him as he watched Mr. Gadahfi on TV. "This is his last hurrah. His last speech.  He won't have anything else to say because he is living outside history. He's not in history anymore," he said.

    But he is still in charge in Libya, even if, as some analysts say, he is detached from reality.


    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora