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 awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid