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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora