News / Africa

Controversy Marks Libyan Leader's 42-Year Reign

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, (File)
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, (File)
TEXT SIZE - +

Embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is the Arab world's longest-serving head of state, in power since 1969 when he deposed the nation's King Idris in a military coup.  

Colonel Gadhafi gained a reputation as an eccentric, donning flowing robes and animal skins and surrounding himself with all female bodyguards.

Labeled the "mad dog of the Middle East" by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, the Libyan leader drew attention for his often-controversial political decisions.

He has supported a number of revolutionary movements around the world, including in Chad and Iran. He has been accused of sponsoring Islamic militant groups and terrorist attacks.   

In 1986, U.S. President Reagan ordered air strikes in Libya because of the Gadhafi government's alleged involvement in the bombing of a German nightclub that killed two U.S. servicemen. Gadhafi's adopted daughter died in the raid.

Just two years later, Libya was blamed for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie that killed 270 people. Gadhafi admitted responsibility for the attack in 2003 and agreed to pay victims' families more than $2 billion in compensation.

That same year, the Libyan leader agreed to renounce terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, clearing the way for the lifting of U.S. and European sanctions imposed after the German disco bombing, and the restoring of diplomatic relations. The United Nations also lifted its sanctions related to the Lockerbie bombing.

But the goodwill did not last long. Gadhafi is now fighting to hold onto power against a large-scale uprising that began in February and has seen rebels seize much of the nation's east. He is under immense international pressure to step down after responding to the uprising with deadly violence. The government crackdown on protesters prompted new international sanctions against Libya, and in March, NATO began an air campaign against Gadhafi's forces under a U.N. mandate to protect the Libyan people.

Born in 1942 to a Bedouin family in the Libyan desert, Gadhafi graduated from the University of Libya and became an army officer.

Less than a decade after taking control of the country at age 27, he invented a system of government called the "Jamahiriya," Arabic for "state of the masses." In theory, the system was to be run by people's committees, with Gadhafi assuming the title of "Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution." But in reality, he quashed dissent and reportedly survived several assassination attempts.

Gadhafi has been a strong advocate of the ideology of Arab unity known as Pan-Arabism, and also led a Pan-African effort seeking to unify African nations.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid