|Gaddafi at an African Union summit in February 2009|
|Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution of Libya|
1 September 1969 – 20 October 2011
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of Libya|
1 September 1969 – 2 March 1977
|Preceded by||Idris (King)|
|Succeeded by||Himself (Secretary General of the General People's Congress of Libya)|
|Secretary General of the General People's Congress|
2 March 1977 – 2 March 1979
|Prime Minister||Abdul Ati al-Obeidi|
|Preceded by||Himself (Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council)|
|Succeeded by||Abdul Ati al-Obeidi|
|Prime Minister of Libya|
16 January 1970 – 16 July 1972
|Preceded by||Mahmud Sulayman al-Maghribi|
|Succeeded by||Abdessalam Jalloud|
|Chairperson of the African Union|
2 February 2009 – 31 January 2010
|Preceded by||Jakaya Kikwete|
|Succeeded by||Bingu wa Mutharika|
Qasr Abu Hadi, Italian Libya
|Died||20 October 2011
|Political party||Arab Socialist Union (1971–1977)
|Alma mater||Benghazi Military University Academy|
|Allegiance||Libyan Arab Jamahiriya|
|Years of service||1961–2011|
|Commands||Libyan Armed Forces|
Order of Courage     
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (Arabic: معمر محمد أبو منيار القذافي pron.: / / audio (help·info)) (c. 1942 – 20 October 2011), commonly known as Colonel Gaddafi, was a Libyan revolutionary, politician and political theorist. He served as the ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011, during which industry and business was nationalized. Politically an Arab nationalist and Arab socialist, he formulated his own ideology, Third International Theory, later embracing Pan-Africanism and serving as Chairperson of the African Union from 2009 to 2010.
The son of an impoverished Bedouin goatherd, Gaddafi became involved in Arab nationalist politics while at school in Sabha, subsequently enrolling in the Royal Military Academy, Benghazi. Founding a revolutionary group within the ranks of the Libyan military, in 1969 he seized power from King Idris in a bloodless coup. Becoming leader of the governing Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), he dissolved the monarchy and proclaimed the Libyan Arab Republic. Ruling by decree, he implemented measures to remove what he viewed as foreign imperialist influence from Libya, and strengthened ties to other Arab nationalist governments. Intent on pushing Libya toward socialism, he nationalized the country's oil industry and used the increased revenues to bolster the military, implement social programs and fund revolutionary groups across the world. In 1973 he announced the start of a "Popular Revolution" with the formation of General People's Committees (GPCs), a system of direct democracy, but retained personal control over major decisions. He outlined his Third International Theory that year, publishing these ideas in The Green Book.
In 1977, he dissolved the Republic and created the Jamahiriya – a "state of the masses" part-governed by GPCs – officially adopting a symbolic role within the country's governance structure. He retained power as the leader of the Revolutionary Committees; founded to accompany the GPCs, they implemented revolutionary justice and suppressed opponents. Overseeing unsuccessful border conflicts with Egypt and Chad, Gaddafi's support for foreign militants led to Libya being labelled an "international pariah", with a particularly hostile relationship developing with the United States and United Kingdom. From 1999, Gaddafi encouraged the privatization of the economy, moving to integrate with the rest of Africa and seeking better relations with the West. In 2011, an anti-Gaddafist uprising led by the National Transitional Council (NTC) broke out, resulting in the Libyan civil war. NATO intervened militarily on the side of the NTC, resulting in the government's downfall. Retreating to Sirte, Gaddafi was captured and killed by NTC fighters.
Gaddafi was a controversial and highly divisive world figure. Supporters lauded him as a champion of anti-imperialism, Pan-Arabism, and African nationalism, while critics described him as a dictator and autocrat whose authoritarian administration violated the human rights of Libyan citizens and supported international terrorism.
Muammar Gaddafi was born in his family's tent near Qasr Abu Hadi, a rural area outside the town of Sirte in the deserts of western Libya. Ethnically an Arab, he came from a small, relatively unimportant tribal group called the Qadhadhfa. His father, Mohammad Abdul Salam bin Hamed bin Mohammad, was known as Abu Meniar, and his mother was named Aisha; Abu Meniar earned a subsistence as a goat and camel herder. Nomadic Bedouin, they were illiterate and kept no birth records; as such, Gaddafi's date of birth is not known with certainty, and sources have set it in 1942 or in the spring of 1943. His parents' only surviving son, he had three older sisters. Gaddafi's upbringing in Bedouin culture influenced his personal tastes for the rest of the life. He repeatedly expressed a preference for the desert to the city, and retreated to the desert to meditate.
At the time of his birth, Libya was occupied by Italy, witnessing the conflict between Italian and British troops as a part of the North African Campaign of World War II; as a result, Gaddafi was aware of the involvement of European colonialists in his country from childhood. According to later claims, Gaddafi's paternal grandfather, Abdessalam Bouminyar, had died fighting the Italian Army in Khoms during the first battle of the Italian invasion of 1911. At World War II's end in 1945, British and French forces had taken control of Libya, and although intending on dividing the nation between themselves, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared that the country be granted political independence. In 1951, the UN created the United Kingdom of Libya, a federal state under the leadership of a pro-western monarch, Idris, who banned political parties and established an absolute monarchy.
Gaddafi's earliest education was provided by a local tribal teacher, comprising largely of the traditional Islamic teachings which influenced him throughout his life. Subsequently moving to nearby Sirte to attend elementary school, he progressed through six grades in four years. Education in Libya was not free, and paying for it strained his impoverished family's resources. During the week he slept in the local mosque, and at weekends walked 20 miles to visit his parents. From Sirte, he and his family moved to the market town of Sabha in Fezzan, south-central Libya. Here, his father worked as the caretaker for a local tribal leader while Muammar attended secondary school, something neither parent had done. Gaddafi was popular at the school; some friends made there would receive significant jobs in his later administration, most notably his best friend, AbdulSalam Jalloud.
Many teachers at Sabha were Egyptian, and for the first time Gaddafi had access to pan-Arab newspapers and radio broadcasts, most notably the Cairo-based Voice of the Arabs. Growing up, Gaddafi witnessed significant events rock the Arab world, including the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, the Suez Crisis of 1956, and the short-lived existence of the United Arab Republic between 1958 and 1961. Gaddafi took an active interest in the political changes being implemented in the Arab Republic of Egypt under the presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser of the Arab Socialist Union, who had ascended to power in 1956. An advocate of Arab nationalism, Nasser argued for greater unity within the Arab world, the rejection of Western colonialism, neo-colonialism, and zionism, and a transition from capitalism to socialism. Such ideas inspired Gaddafi, who viewed Nasser as a hero. Becoming actively involved in politics, Gaddafi helped organize demonstrations and distribute posters criticizing the monarchy.
Such activity caught the authorities' attention, who expelled him from the school and ordered his family to leave Sabha. Intent on finishing his secondary education, Gaddafi moved to Misrata, where he attended Misrata Secondary School. Maintaining his interest in Arab nationalist activism, he refused to join any of the banned political parties then active in the city – including the Arab Nationalist Movement, the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, and the Muslim Brotherhood – claiming he rejected factionalism. He read voraciously, including everything that he could find on the subjects of Nasser and the French Revolution of 1789, as well as the works of Syrian political theorist Michel Aflaq and biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Sun Yat-Sen, and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Deciding to study History at the University of Libya in Benghazi, Gaddafi soon dropped out to join the military. In 1963 he began training at the Royal Military Academy, Benghazi, alongside several friends from Misrata who shared his political views. The armed forces offered the only good opportunity for upward social mobility for Libyans from underprivileged backgrounds such as himself, and was an obvious instrument of political change, having the potential for ousting Idris' absolute monarchy. With a group of loyal cadres, in 1964 Gaddafi founded the Central Committee of the Free Officers Movement, named after the Egyptian group founded in 1949 by Nasser, devoting themselves to the revolutionary cause. Led by Gaddafi, they met clandestinely, offering their salaries into a single fund. Gaddafi traveled around Libya when he could, gathering intelligence and developing connections with those sympathetic to his cause; the government's intelligence services failed to pay much attention, considering him of little threat due to his poor background. Gaddafi graduated in August 1965, becoming commissioned as a communications officer in the Libyan Army's signal corps.
In April 1966, he was assigned to the United Kingdom for further training; over nine months he underwent an English-language course at Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, a Royal Air Corps signal instructors course in Bovington Camp, Dorset, and an infantry signal instructors course at Hythe, Kent. Despite later rumours to the contrary, he did not attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The director of the Bovington signal course put together a report noting that Gaddafi successfully overcame early problems with learning English, displaying a firm command of voice procedure. Noting that Gaddafi's favourite hobbies were reading and playing football, he thought him an "amusing officer, always cheerful, hard-working, and conscientious." Gaddafi disliked his time in England, claiming British Army officers racially insulted him and finding it difficult adjusting to the country's culture; asserting his Arab identity in London, he walked around Piccadilly wearing traditional Libyan robes. He later related that while he traveled to England believing it more advanced than Libya, he returned home "more confident and proud of our values, ideals and social character."
The government of King Idris had become increasingly unpopular by the latter part of the 1960s. After the discovery of oil in Libya in 1959, the government had begun to take advantage of this, beginning the commodity's export in 1963, providing a huge boost to the country's economy. In an attempt to make the oil industry as profitable as possible, the government replaced the federal system with a centralized one, causing problems in a country that was deeply divided along regional, ethnic and tribal lines. Within the oil industry, corruption was widespread, with entrenched systems of patronage. Arab nationalism was becoming increasingly popular across Libya, and protests flared up in 1967, following Egypt's defeat in the Six Day War with Israel; being allies with the U.S. and European powers, the Idris administration was seen as favorable to Israel, and therefore anti-Arab. Anti-western riots broke out in Tripoli and Benghazi, while Libyan workers shut down the oil terminals in solidarity with Egypt. By 1969, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was expecting segments of the Libyan armed forces to institute a coup d'etat, but had no knowledge of Gaddafi's Free Officers Movement, instead monitoring a separate revolutionary group known as the Black Boots, led by Abdul Aziz Shalhi.
In mid-1969, King Idris traveled abroad to spend the summer in Turkey and Greece. Gaddafi's Free Officers recognized this as their chance to overthrow the monarchy, initiating a plan that they called "Operation Jerusalem". On 1 September, they occupied airports, police depots, radio stations and government offices in Tripoli and Benghazi. Gaddafi addressed the populace by radio, proclaiming an end to the old regime, "the stench of which has sickened and horrified us all." Idris' nephew, Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi, was formally deposed by the revolutionary officers and put under house arrest; having overthrown and abolished the monarchy, Gaddafi proclaimed the foundation of the Libyan Arab Republic. They did not meet any serious resistance, and they wielded little violence against the monarchists. Due to the bloodless nature of the coup, it was initially labelled the "White Revolution", although later became known as the "One September Revolution" after the date on which it occurred. Gaddafi was insistent that the Free Officers' ascent to power represented not just a coup but a revolution, representing the start of a widespread change in the socioeconomic and political nature of Libyan society. He would proclaim that the revolution meant "freedom, socialism, and unity" for Libya, and over the coming years would implement measures to achieve this.
Setting up a new government, the 12 member central committee of the Free Unionist Officers converted themselves into a Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), who wielded control over the newly proclaimed Libyan Arab Republic. Captain Gaddafi promoted himself to the rank of Colonel, and was recognized as both leader of the RCC as well as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, becoming the de facto head of state. Although the RCC was theoretically a collegial body that operated through discussion and consensus building, from the start it was dominated by the opinions and decisions of Gaddafi, although some of the others attempted to constrain what they saw as his excesses. Gaddafi remained the public face of the government, with the identities of the other RCC members only being publicly revealed in the Official Gazette on 10 January 1970. All of them were young men, from (typically rural) working and middle-class backgrounds, and none had university degrees; in this way they were all distinct from the wealthy, highly educated conservatives who had previously governed the country. The coup completed, the RCC then proceeded with their intentions of consolidating the revolutionary government and modernizing the country. As a result, they began to purge monarchists and members of Idris' Senussi clan from Libya's political world and armed forces; Gaddafi believed that this elite were opposed to the will of the Libyan people and had to be expunged. They maintained the previous administration's ban on political parties, and ruled by decree.
With crude oil being the country's primary export, Gaddafi sought to improve the position of the Libyan oil sector. In October 1969, he proclaimed that the current trade terms were unfair, benefiting foreign oil corporations more than the Libyan state, and in December the RCC began successful talks to increase the price at which they sold their country's oil by threatening to reduce production. In 1970, other OPEC states followed suit, leading to a global increase in the price of crude oil. The RCC followed this with further talks with the oil companies operating in Libya, known as the Tripoli Agreement, in which they secured income tax, back-payments and better pricing; these measures would bring Libya an estimated $1 billion in additional revenues in its first year. Further increasing state control over the oil sector, the RCC began a program of nationalization, starting with the expropriation of British Petroleum's share of the British Petroleum-N.B. Hunt Sahir Field in December 1971. In September 1973, this was followed by the announcement that all foreign oil producers active in the country were to be nationalized under state control. For Gaddafi, this was an important step towards establishing socialism.
The RCC also attempted to suppress regional and tribal affiliation in the country, instead replacing it with a unified pan-Libyan identity. In doing so, they tried to discredit tribal leaders, tying them to the old colonial regime, and in August 1971 a military court was assembled in Sebha to put many of them on trial for counter-revolutionary activity. Long-standing administrative boundaries were re-drawn, crossing tribal boundaries, while pro-revolutionary modernizers were brought in to replace traditional leaders, but the communities that they served often rejected them for more established figures. Realizing the failures of the modernizers, on 11 June 1971, Gaddafi proclaimed the creation of the Arab Socialist Union (ASU), a mass mobilization vanguard party of which he would be president. The ASU recognized the RCC as its "Supreme Leading Authority", and was designed to further revolutionary enthusiasm throughout the country.
The RCC also implemented measures for social reform, adopting Gaddafi's Islamic moral beliefs as a basis. Sharia law was implemented, the consumption of alcohol was banned, night clubs and Christian churches were shut down, traditional Libyan dress was encouraged, Arabic was decreed as the only language permitted in official communications and road signs, and the months of the Gregorian calendar were renamed. From 1969 to 1973, the government introduced social welfare programs, funded with oil money, which led to house-building projects and improved healthcare; education remained a lesser priority. In doing so, they greatly expanded the public sector, providing employment for thousands. These early social programs proved popular within Libya. This popularity was in part due to Gaddafi's personal charisma, virility, youth and underdog status, as well as his rhetoric emphasizing his role as the successor to the anti-Italian fighter and national hero Omar Mukhtar.
On its ascendancy to power, the influence of Nasser's Arab nationalism over the RCC was clearly apparent. The new administration was immediately recognized by four neighboring states with Arab nationalist governments: Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Sudan, while Egypt sent experts in various fields to aid the RCC, who were unanimously inexperienced in governance. Gaddafi propounded Pan-Arab ideas, proclaiming the need for a single Arab state stretching across North Africa and the Middle East; in December 1969, Libya founded the Arab Revolutionary Front with Egypt and Sudan as a step towards political unification, and the following year, Syria stated its intention to join. After Nasser died in November 1970, his successor, Anwar Sadat, suggested that rather than a unified state, they create a political federation, implemented in April 1971; in doing so, Egypt, Syria and Sudan got large grants of Libyan oil money. In February 1972, Gaddafi and Sadat signed an unofficial charter of merger between Libya and Egypt, but it was never implemented as relations broke down the following year. Sadat became increasingly wary of Libya's radical direction, and the September 1973 deadline for implementing the Federation passed by with no action taken, leaving it defunct.
Straight after the 1969 coup, representatives of the Four Powers – France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union – were called to meet with members of the RCC. The U.K. and U.S. quickly extended diplomatic recognition to the RCC, hoping to secure the position of their military bases in the country and fearing further instability. Hoping to ingratiate themselves with Gaddafi's administration, in early 1970 the U.S. informed the Libyan regime of at least one planned counter-coup. Such attempts to form a working relationship with the RCC failed; Gaddafi was determined to reassert Libyan national sovereignty and expunge foreign colonial and imperialist influences. The new administration insisted that the U.S. and U.K. remove their military bases from Libya, with Gaddafi proclaiming that "the armed forces which rose to express the people's revolution [will not] tolerate living in their shacks while the bases of imperialism exist in Libyan territory." The Western powers complied, with the British leaving in March and the Americans in June 1970.
Moving to reduce Italian influence, in October 1970, all Italian-owned assets were expropriated and the 12,000-strong Italian community expelled from Libya; the day became a national holiday. Aiming to reduce the power of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the Mediterranean, in 1971 Libya requested that Malta cease to allow NATO to use its land for a military base, in turn offering to provide them with large amounts of foreign aid. Ultimately, the Maltese government continued to allow NATO to use the island for their activity, but only on the condition that they would not use it for launching an attack on any Arab country. Orchestrating a military build-up, Gaddafi's RCC began purchasing weapons from France and the Soviet Union; the commercial relationship with the latter led to an increasingly strained relationship with the U.S., who were then engaged in the Cold War with the Soviets.
Gaddafi was especially critical of the U.S. due to their support for Israel; Gaddafi supported the Palestinians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, viewing the 1948 creation of Israel as an oppressive indignity forced on the Arab world by Western colonialists. In 1970, he initiated a Jihad Fund to finance those battling Israel, and in a 11 June 1972 speech, announced the creation of the First Nasserite Volunteers Centre to train guerrillas in tactics against the Zionist state. His relationship with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of Fatah was strained, with Gaddafi considering him too moderate and calling for more violent action. He funded the Black September group who perpetrated the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli athletes in West Germany; Gaddafi had the militants' bodies flown to Libya for a hero's funeral. Using Libya's oil wealth, Gaddafi financially supported other militant groups across the world, including the Black Panther Party and Nation of Islam in the U.S., the Provisional Irish Republican Army in the U.K., ETA in Spain, the Red Brigades in Italy, the Red Army Faction in West Germany, the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua, the Red Army in Japan, the Free Aceh Movement in Indonesia and the Moro National Liberation Front in the Philippines. Gaddafi remained indiscriminate in the causes he funded, sometimes switching from supporting one side in a conflict to the other, as in the Eritrean War of Independence. Throughout the rest of the 1970s, these groups received financial support from Libya, which came to be seen as a leader in the Third World's struggle against colonialism and neocolonialism.
On 16 April 1973, Gaddafi gave a speech in Zuwara proclaiming the start of a "Popular Revolution" in Libya. He initiated this new beginning with a five-point plan, the first point of which dissolved all existing laws, which were to be replaced by revolutionary enactments. The second point proclaimed that all opponents of the revolution had to be removed, while the third initiated an administrative revolution that Gaddafi proclaimed would remove all traces of bureaucracy and the bourgeoisie from Libya. The fourth point announced that the population must be armed to defend the revolution, while the fifth proclaimed the beginning of a cultural revolution that would expunge Libya of foreign influences.
As a part of this Popular Revolution, Gaddafi invited the Libyan people to found General People's Committees across the country, as conduits for raising political consciousness. Although he offered little guidance for how people should go about setting up these councils, Gaddafi exclaimed that they would offer a form of direct political participation for all Libyans that was innately more democratic than a traditional party-based representative system. In doing so, he hoped that the councils would mobilize the people behind the RCC, erode the power of the traditional leaders and the traditional bureaucracy, and allow for the formation of a new revolutionary legal system chosen by the people. The People's Committees led to a high percentage of public involvement in decision making, within the limits permitted by the RCC. They also served as a surveillance system, aiding the security services in locating individuals with views critical of the RCC, leading to the arrest of Ba'athists, Marxists and Islamists. The base form of these Revolutionary Committees were the local working groups, who proceeded to send elected representatives to the district level, and from that to the national level – divided between the General People's Congress and the General People's Committee – in a pyramid structure. Above these Committees remained Gaddafi and the RCC, who ultimately remained responsible for all major decisions.
In June 1973, Gaddafi announced the creation of a political ideology that would underpin the new Popular Revolution. Referred to as "Third Universal Theory", it rejected the capitalism of the western world and the atheism of the communist powers, proclaiming that both the United States and the Soviet Union were imperialist. As a part of this theory, Gaddafi praised nationalism as a progressive force and continued to advocate the creation of a pan-Arab state which would lead both the Islamic and Third Worlds against the forces of imperialism. Gaddafi saw Islam as having a key role in this ideology, calling for an Islamic Revival that returned to the origins of the Qur'an, rejecting scholarly interpretations and the Hadith; in doing so he angered many Libyan clerics.
Gaddafi summarized his thought regarding Third Universal Theory in three short volumes published between 1975 and 1979, that were collectively known as The Green Book. The first volume, The Solution of the Problem of Democracy: The Authority of the People, was devoted to the issue of democracy, outlining the flaws of representative systems in favor of direct, participatory democracy in the form of his General People's Committees. The second, The Solution of the Economic Problem, dealt with Gaddafi's beliefs regarding socialism, while the third, The Social Basis of the Third International Theory, explored social issues regarding the family and the tribe. While the first two volumes had expressed views advocating radical reform, the third adopted a socially conservative stance, proclaiming that while men and women were equal, they were biologically designed for different roles in life. In ensuing years, government supporters would adopt quotes from The Green Book, such as "Representation is Fraud", as revolutionary slogans.
The swift implementation of these radical reforms led to discontent, furthered by widespread opposition to the RCC's decision to spend oil money on foreign causes, and in 1975, there were student demonstrations against Gaddafi's government. The RCC responded with mass arrests, and introduced compulsory national service for young people. Dissent also arose from conservative clerics and the Muslim Brotherhood, many of whom began to preach against the government, subsequently being persecuted as anti-revolutionary elements. Two members of the RCC, Bashir Saghir al-Hawaadi and Omar Mehishi, had become particularly concerned with Gaddafi's social experiment, and decided to launch a coup d'etat to overthrow him that year. They failed, and in the aftermath only five of the original twelve RCC members remained in power. Ultimately, this led to collapse of the RCC, which would be officially abolished in March 1977. Meanwhile, in September 1975 Gaddafi implemented further measures to increase popular mobilization, introducing objectives to try and improve the relationship between the Revolutionary Committees and the ASU. He also began to appoint members of his family and tribe to high positions in the security and armed forces.
Following Anwar Sadat's ascension to the Egyptian presidency, Libya's relations with Egypt deteriorated. Sadat was perturbed by Gaddafi's unpredictability and insistence that Egypt required a cultural revolution. In February 1973, Israeli forces shot down Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA) Flight 114, which had strayed from Egyptian airspace into Israeli-held territory during a sandstorm. Gaddafi was infuriated that Egypt had not done more to prevent the incident, and in retaliation planned to destroy the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, a British ship chartered by American Jews to sail to Haifa for Israel's 25th anniversary. Gaddafi ordered an Egyptian submarine to target the ship, but Sadat discovered and cancelled the order, fearing a military escalation. The Yom Kippur War between an Egyptian-Syrian alliance and Israel also led to the deterioration of relations between the two leaders; Gaddafi was infuriated that he had not been consulted on the war plans, and was angry that Egypt eventually conceded to peace talks with Israel, believing that they should have fought on till victory. Sadat and Gaddafi became openly hostile, the latter proclaiming that Sadat had betrayed Nasser's vision and should be overthrown. Relations also deteriorated with Sudan, where Islamist President Gaafar Nimeiry had developed closer links to Egypt and the West; by 1975, Gaddafi was sponsoring merceneries to overthrow Nimeiri, who proclaimed the former to have "a split personality – both parts evil".
Gaddafi's break with Egypt and Sudan led him to focus his attention on the rest of Africa. Expanding Libyan influence southward, in late 1972 and early 1973, Libya invaded Chad in order to annex the Aouzou Strip, a desert region suspected of containing underground uranium deposits. One of his primary ambitions was to reduce Israeli influence in the continent, successfully convincing eight states to break off diplomatic relations with Israel in 1973, offering financial incentives to do so. Intent on propagating Islam, in 1973 Gaddafi founded the Islamic Call Society, which had begun operations in 132 centers across Africa within a decade. He achieved early success, in 1973 converting Gabonese President Omar Bongo to the faith, which he repeated three years later with Jean-Bédel Bokassa, president of the Central African Republic. Gaddafi sought to develop closer links in the Maghreb area of northwest Africa. In January 1974, Libya and Tunisia announced a political union, forming the Arab Islamic Republic; although advocated by Gaddafi and Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba, the move was deeply unpopular within Tunisia, and soon abandoned. Retaliating, Gaddafi sponsored anti-government militants in Tunisia into the 1980s. Turning his attention to Algeria, in 1975, Libya signed the Hassi Messaoud defence agreement to counter the threat of Moroccan expansionism, also funding the Polisario Front of Western Sahara in their liberation struggle against Morocco.
On 2 March 1977 the General People's Congress adopted the "Declaration of the Establishment of the People's Authority" at Gaddafi's behest. Dissolving the Libyan Arab Republic, it was replaced by the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Arabic: الجماهيرية العربية الليبية الشعبية الاشتراكية, al-Jamāhīrīyah al-‘Arabīyah al-Lībīyah ash-Sha‘bīyah al-Ishtirākīyah), a "state of the masses" conceptualized by Gaddafi. Officially, the Jamahiriya was a direct democracy in which the people ruled themselves through Basic People's Congresses, where all adult Libyans participated and voted on national decisions. In principle, the People's Congresses were Libya's highest authority, with major decisions proposed by government officials or Gaddafi himself requiring the consent of the People's Congresses. Gaddafi proclaimed that the People's Congresses provided for Libya's every political need, rendering other political organizations unnecessary; all non-authorized groups, including political parties, professional associations, independent trade unions and women's groups, were banned.
With preceding legal institutions abolished, Gaddafi envisioned the Jamahiriya as following the Qur'an for legal guidance, adopting Islamic sharia law; he proclaimed "man-made" laws unnatural and dictatorial, only permitting God's law. Within a year he was backtracking, announcing that sharia was innapropriate for the Jamahiriya because it guaranteed the protection of private property, contravening The Green Book's socialism. In July, a border war broke out with Egypt, in which the Egyptians defeated Libya despite their technological inferiority. The conflict lasted a week before both sides agreed to a peace treaty brokered by several Arab states. That year, Gaddafi was invited to Moscow by the Soviet government in recognition of their increasing commercial relationship.
In December 1978, Gaddafi stepped down as Secretary-General of the General People's Congress (GPC), announcing his wish to focus on revolutionary rather than governmental activities; this was a part of his new emphasis on separating the apparatus of the revolution from the apparatus of government. Adopting the title of "Leader of the Revolution", he continued as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Gaddafi continued exerting considerable influence over Libya, with many critics insisting that the structure of Libya's direct democracy gave him "the freedom to manipulate outcomes", comparing him to a demagogue. On 2 March 1979, the GPC announced the separation of government and revolution, the latter being represented by new Revolutionary Committees, who operated in tandem with the People's Committees in schools, universities, unions, the police force and the military. Dominated by revolutionary zealots, the Reolutionary Committees were accountable to the "Leader of the Revolution", whom they met annually, and were coordinated by a Central Coordinating Office for Revolutionary Committees. Publishing their own weekly magazine, The Green March (al-Zahf al-Akhdar), in October 1980 they took control of all press. Responsible for perpetuating revolutionary fervor, they performed ideological surveillance, later adopting a significant security role, making arrests and putting people on trial according to the "law of the revolution" (qanun al-thawra). With no legal code or safeguards, the administration of revolutionary justice was largely arbitrary and resulted in widespread abuses and the suppression of civil liberties.
1978 saw the Libyan government push towards socialism. In March, they published guidelines for housing redistribution, attempting to ensure that every adult Libyan owned their own home and was not "enslaved" to paying rent. Most families were banned from owning more than one house, and houses that had formerly been rented were expropriated by the government and sold to the tenants at a heavily subsidized price. In September, Gaddafi called for the People's Committees to eliminate the "bureaucracy of the public sector" and the "dictatorship of the private sector"; the People's Committees seized control of several hundred companies, converting them into workers' cooperatives run by elected representatives. In 1979, the committees began redistribution of land in the Jefara plain, continuing through to 1981. In May 1980, measures to redistribute and equalize wealth were implemented; anyone with over 1000 dinar in their bank account saw that extra money expropriated. The following year, the GPC announced that the government would take control of all import, export and distribution functions, with state supermarkets replacing privately owned businesses; this led to a decline in the availability of consumer goods and the development of a thriving black market.
The Jamahiriya's radical socialist direction and revolutionary justice earned the government many enemies. Many who had seen their wealth and property confiscated turned against the administration, and a number of western-funded opposition groups were founded by exiles; most prominent was the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), founded in 1981 by Mohammed Magariaf, which orchestrated militant attacks against Libya's government. The Revolutionary Committees set up overseas branches to suppress such counter-revolutionary activity, assassinating various dissidents. In 1979, the U.S. government placed Libya on their list of state sponsors of terrorism, while at the end of the year a demonstration torched the U.S. embassy in Tripoli. The following year, Libyan fighters began intercepting U.S. flighter jets flying over the Mediterranean, signalling the collapse of relations between the two countries. Libyan relations with Lebanon also deteriorated over the 1978 disappearance of Shia imam Musa al-Sadr when on a visit to Libya; the Lebanese accused Gaddafi of having him killed or imprisoned, a charge he denied. Relations with Syria improved, as Gaddafi and Syrian President Hafez al-Assad shared an enmity with Israel and Egypt's Sadat. In 1980, they proposed a political union, with Libya paying off Syria's £1 billion debt to the Soviet Union; although pressures led Assad to pull out, they remained allies. Another key ally was Uganda, and in 1979, Gaddafi unsuccessfully sent troops into Uganda to defend the regime of his friend, President Idi Amin, from Tanzanian invaders.
The early and mid-1980s saw economic trouble for Libya; from 1982 to 1986, the country's annual oil revenues dropped from $21 billion to $5.4 billion. Focusing on irrigation projects, 1983 saw construction start on the Great Manmade River; although designed to be finished by the end of the decade, it would still be incomplete at the start of the 21st century. Military spending increased, while other administrative budgets were cut back. In December 1980, Libya re-invaded Chad at the request of the GUNT government to aid in the civil war; in January 1981, Gaddafi suggested a political merger. The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) rejected this, and called for a Libyan withdrawal, which came about in November 1981. Many African nations had tired of Libya's policies of interference in foreign affairs; by 1980, nine African states had cut off diplomatic relations with Libya, while in 1982 the OAU cancelled its scheduled conference in Tripoli in order to prevent Gaddafi gaining chairmanship. Proposing political unity with Morocco, in August 1984, Gaddafi and Moroccan monarch Hassan II signed the Oujda Treaty, forming the Arab-African Union; such a union was considered surprising due to the strong political differences that existed between the two governments. Relations remained strained, particularly due to the Moroccan regime's friendly relations with the U.S. and Israel; in August 1986, Hassan abolished the union.
In 1981, the new US President Ronald Reagan famously declared Gaddafi an "international pariah" and the "mad dog of the Middle East". He immediately pursued a hard line approach to Libya, considering its government a puppet regime of the Soviet Union. In turn, Gaddafi played up his commercial relationship with the Soviets, visiting Moscow again on 27 April 1981 and threatening to join the Warsaw Pact. Beginning U.S. military exercises in the Gulfe of Sirte – an area of sea that Libya claimed as a part of its territorial waters – in August 1981 the U.S. shot down two Libyan Su-22 planes that were monitoring them. Closing down the Libyan embassy in Washington D.C., Reagan advised U.S. companies operating in the country to reduce the number of American personnel stationed there. In March 1982, the U.S. implemented an embargo of Libyan oil, and in 1986 ordered all U.S. companies to cease operating in the country. Relations were also strained with the U.K., particularly after Libyan diplomats were accused of shooting dead Yvonne Fletcher, a British policewoman stationed outside their London embassy, in April 1984. During the Falklands War Gaddafi supplied the Argentinian junta with weapons. In Spring 1986, the U.S. Navy again began performing exercises in the Gulf of Sirte; the Libyan military retaliated, but failed as the U.S. sank several Libyan ships.
After the U.S. accused Libya of orchestrating the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing, in which two American soldiers died, Reagan decided to retaliate militarily. In doing so, he was supported by the U.K. but opposed by other European allies, who highlighted that it would contravene international law. In Operation El Dorado Canyon, orchestrated on 15 April 1986, U.S. military planes launched a series of air-strikes on Libya, bombing military installations in various parts of the country, killing around 100 Libyans, some of whom were civilians. One of the targets had been Gaddafi's home in the Bab al-Azizia barracks. Gaddafi would later claim his four-year-old adopted daughter Hanna was killed, although nobody had ever heard of this daughter before and it was doubted as to whether she had actually existed. In the immediate aftermath, Gaddafi retreated to the desert to meditate. Although the U.S. was condemned internationally, Reagan received a popularity boost at home. The attack also strengthened Gaddafi domestically, who publicly attacked the imperialism of the U.S.
The late 1980s saw a series of liberalising economic reforms within Libya designed to cope with the decline in oil revenues. In May 1987, Gaddafi announced the start of the "Revolution within a Revolution", which began with reforms to industry and agriculture and saw the re-opening of small business. Restrictions were placed on the activities of the Revolutionary Committees; in March 1988, their role was narrowed by the newly created Ministry for Mass Mobilization and Revolutionary Leadership to restrict their violence and judicial role, while in August 1988 Gaddafi publicly criticised them, asserting that "they deviated, harmed, tortured" and that "the true revolutionary does not practise repression." In March, hundreds of political prisoners were freed, with Gaddafi erroneously claiming that there were no further political prisoners in Libya. In June, the Libyan government issued the Great Green Charter on Human Rights in the Era of the Masses, in which 27 articles laid out goals, rights and guarantees to improve the situation of human rights in Libya, restricting the use of the death penalty and calling for its eventual abolition. Many of the measures suggested in the charter would be implemented the following year, although others remained inactive. Also in 1989, the Libyan government founded the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, to be awarded to figures from the Third World who had struggled against colonialism and imperialism; the first year's winner was South African anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela. From 1994 through to 1997, the Libyan government initiated cleansing committees to root out corruption, particularly in the economic sector.
In the aftermath of the 1986 U.S. attack, the army was purged of perceived disloyal elements, and in 1988, Gaddafi announced the creation of a popular militia to replace the army and police. In 1987, Libya began production of mustard gas at a facility in Rabta, although publicly denied it was stockpiling chemical weapons, and unsuccessfully attempted to develop nuclear weapons. The period also saw a growth in domestic Islamist opposition, formulated into groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. A number of assassination attempts against Gaddafi were foiled, and in turn, 1989 saw the security forces raid mosques believed to be centres of counter-revolutionary preaching. In October 1993, elements of the army initiated a failed coup in Misrata, while in September 1995, Islamists launched an insurgency in Benghazi, and in July 1996 an anti-Gaddafist football riot broke out in Tripoli. The Revolutionary Committees experienced a resurgence to combat these Islamists.
In 1989, Gaddafi was overjoyed by the foundation of the Arab Maghreb Union, uniting Libya in an economic pact with Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Gaddafi saw the Pact as a first step towards the formation of "one invincible Arab nation" and shouted for a state "from Marrakesh to Bahrain", pumping his fists in the air. A decade later, it joined the Community of Sahel-Saharan States. Meanwhile, Libya stepped up its support for anti-western militants such as the Provisional IRA, and in 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie in Scotland, killing 259 passengers. British police investigations identified two Libyans – Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah – as the chief suspects, and in November 1991 issued a declaration demanding that Libya hand them over. When Gaddafi refused, citing the Montreal Convention, the United Nations (UN) imposed Resolution 748 in March 1992, initiating economic sanctions against them which had deep repurcussions for the country's economy. The country suffered an estimated $900 million financial loss as a result. Further problems arose with the west when in January 1989, two Libyan warplanes were shot down by the U.S. off the Libyan coast. Many African states opposed the UN sanctions, with Mandela criticising them on a visit to Gaddafi in October 1997, when he praised Libya for its work in fighting apartheid and awarded Gaddafi the Order of Good Hope. They would only be suspended in 1998 when Libya agreed to allow the extradition of the suspects to the Scottish Court in the Netherlands, in a process overseen by Mandela.
As the 20th century came to a close, Gaddafi increasingly rejected Arab nationalism, frustrated by the failure of his Pan-Arab ideals; instead he turned to Pan-Africanism, emphasising Libya's African identity. From 1997 to 2000, Libya initiated cooperative agreements or bilateral aid arrangements with ten African states. In June 1999, Gaddafi visited South Africa, visiting his friend, Mandela; the following month he attended the OAU summit in Algiers, calling for greater political and economic integration across the continent and advocating the foundation of a United States of Africa. He became one of the founding figureheads of the African Union (AU), initiated in July 2002 to replace the OAU; at the opening ceremonies, he proclaimed that African states should reject conditional aid from the developed world, a direct contrast to the message of South African President Thabo Mbeki. At the third AU summit, held in Libya in July 2005, he called for a greater level of integration, advocating a single AU passport, a common defense system and a single currency, utilising the slogan: "The United States of Africa is the hope." In June 2005, Libya joined the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and in August 2008 Gaddafi was proclaimed "King of Kings" by an assembled committee of traditional African leaders. On 1 February 2009, a 'coronation ceremony' in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was held to coincide with the 53rd African Union Summit, at which Gaddafi was elected chairman of the African Union for the year.
The era saw Libya's return to the international arena. In 1999, Libya began secret talks with the British government to normalise relations. In 2001, Gaddafi condemned the September 11 attacks on the U.S. by al-Qaeda, expressing sympathy with the victims and calling for Libyan involvement in the War on Terror against militant Islamism. His government continued suppressing domestic Islamism, at the same time as Gaddafi called for the wider application of sharia law. Libya also cemented connections with China and North Korea, being visited by Chinese President Jiang Zemin in April 2002. Influenced by the events of the Iraq War, in December 2003, Libya renounced its possession of weapons of mass destruction, decommissioning its chemical and nuclear weapons programs. Relations with the U.S. improved as a result, while U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair met with Gaddafi in the Libyan desert in March 2004. The following month, Gaddafi travelled to the headquarters of the European Union (EU) in Brussels, signifying improved relations between Libya and the EU, the latter ending its remaining sanctions in October. In October 2010, the EU paid Libya €50 million to stop African migrants passing into Europe; Gaddafi encouraged the move, saying that it was necessary to prevent the creation of a "Black Europe".
Removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in 2006, Gaddafi nevertheless continued his anti-western rhetoric, and at the Second Africa-South America Summit on Isla Margarita, Venezuela in September 2009, joined Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in calling for an "anti-imperialist" front across Africa and Latin America. Gaddafi proposed the establishment of a South Atlantic Treaty Organization to rival NATO. On 23 September 2009, Gaddafi addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York for the first time, using it to condemn western aggression. In Spring 2010, Gaddafi proclaimed jihad against Switzerland after Swiss police accused two of his family members of criminal activity in the country, resulting in the breakdown of bilateral relations.
The Libyan economy witnessed increasing privatization; although rejecting the socialist policies of nationalized industry advocated in The Green Book, government figures asserted that they were forging "people's socialism" rather than capitalism. Gaddafi welcomed these reforms, calling for widescale privatization in a March 2003 speech. In 2003, the oil industry was largely turned over to private corporations, and by 2004, there was $40 billion of direct foreign investment in Libya, a sixfold rise on 2003. Sectors of the Libyan population reacted against these reforms with public demonstrations, and in March 2006, revolutionary hardliners took control of the GPC cabinet; although scaling back the pace of change, they did not halt them. In 2010, plans were announced that would have seen half the Libyan economy privatized over the following decade. While there was no accompanying political liberalization, with Gaddafi retaining predominant control, in March 2000, the government devolved further powers to the municipal councils. Rising numbers of reformist technocrats attained positions in the country's governance; best known was Gaddafi's son and heir apparent Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was openly critical of Libya's human rights record. He led a group who proposed the drafting of the new constitution, although it was never adopted, and in October 2009 was appointed to head the PSLC. Involved in encouraging tourism, Saif founded several privately run media channels in 2008, but after criticising the government they were nationalised in 2009. In October 2010, Gaddafi apologized for Arab involvement in the African slave trade.
In 2011, amid the Tunisian revolution, Gaddafi spoke out in favour of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, announcing that to satisfy his people, he should introduce the jammahariyah system to Tunisia. Fearing domestic protest, the Libyan government implemented preventative measures, reducing food prices, purging the army leadership of potential defectors and releasing a number of Islamist prisoners. They proved ineffective, and on 17 February 2011, major political protests began in Libya against Gaddafi's government. Many of the reasons for the uprising differed from those of Tunisia and Egypt; unlike those nations, Libya did not have a large Islamist support base or civic movement and was largely religiously homogenous; however, there was much dissatisfaction with the corruption and entrenched systems of patronage that were associated with Gaddafi's regime, and unemployment had reached around 30%. Gaddafi accused the rebels of being "drugged" and linked to al-Qaeda, proclaiming that he would die a martyr rather than leave Libya. Proclaiming that the rebels would be "hunted down street by street, house by house and wardrobe by wardrobe", the armed forces opened fire on protests in Benghazi, killing hundreds. Shocked at the heavy handed response, a number of senior politicians resigned or defected to the protesters' side.
The uprising spread quickly through eastern Libya, which had seen less economic investment than the western half. By the end of February, several cities, including Benghazi, Misrata, al-Bayda and Tobruk, had proclaimed themselves liberated from the Gaddafi regime. A Benghazi-based organisation calling itself the National Transitional Council (NTC) appeared that month, to represent the protest movement. Nevertheless, in the early months of the conflict it appeared that the government – with its greater firepower – would be victorious. The Gaddafist military relied heavily on the Khamis Brigade – led by his son Khamis Gaddafi – as well as on loyal tribal leaders, and foreign mercenaries. Both sides disregarded the laws of war, committing human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial executions and revenge attacks. Responding to the bloodshed, on 26 February the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1970, suspending Libya from the UN Human Rights Council, implementing sanctions and calling for an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the killing of unarmed civilians. In March, the Security Council declared a no fly zone to protect the civilian population from aerial bombardment, calling on foreign nations to enforce it; it also specifically prohibited foreign occupation. Ignoring this, Qatar sent hundreds of troops to support the dissidents, and along with France and the United Arab Emirates began providing the NTC with weaponry and training.
A week after the implementation of the no-fly zone, NATO announced that it would enforce it. On 30 April the Libyan government claimed that a NATO airstrike killed Gaddafi's sixth son and three of his grandsons at his son's home in Tripoli. Government officials said that Gaddafi and his wife were visiting the home when it was struck, but both were unharmed. Gaddafi son's death came one day after the Libyan leader appeared on state television calling for talks with NATO to end the airstrikes which had been hitting Tripoli and other Gaddafi strongholds since the previous month. Gaddafi suggested there was room for negotiation, but he vowed to stay in Libya. Western officials remained divided over whether Gaddafi was a legitimate military target under the United Nations Security Council resolution that authorized the air campaign. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that NATO was "not targeting Gaddafi specifically" but that his command-and-control facilities were legitimate targets-including a facility inside his sprawling Tripoli compound that was hit with airstrikes 25 April. However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was captured on video calling for Gaddafi to be killed or captured and was later captured again on video celebrating the news of his death.
On 27 June, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his brother-in-law Abdullah Senussi, head of state security for charges, concerning crimes against humanity. Libyan officials rejected the ICC, claiming that it had "no legitimacy whatsoever" and highlighting that "all of its activities are directed at African leaders". That month, Amnesty International published their findings, in which they asserted that many of the accusations of mass human rights abuses made against Gaddafist forces lacked credible evidence, and were instead fabrications of the rebel forces which had been readily adopted by the western media. On 15 July 2011, at a meeting in Istanbul, over 30 governments recognised the NTC as the legitimate government of Libya. Gaddafi responded to the announcement with a speech on Libyan national television, in which he called on supporters to "Trample on those recognitions, trample on them under your feet ... They are worthless".
Now with NATO support in the form of air cover, the rebel militia pushed westward, defeating loyalist armies and securing control of the centre of the country. Gaining the support of Amazigh (Berber) communities of the Nafusa Mountains, who had long been persecuted as non-Arab speakers under Gaddafi, the NTC armies were able to encircle Gaddafi loyalists in several key areas of western Libya. In August, the rebels seized both Zlitan and Tripoli, effectively ending the last vestiges of Gaddafist power. On 25 August, the Arab League recognised the NTC to be "the legitimate representative of the Libyan state", on which basis Libya would resume its membership of the League.
Although all major cities were now under NTC control, a few towns in western Libya-such as Bani Walid, Sebha and Sirte-remained Gaddafist strongholds. Retreating to the latter after Tripoli's fall, Gaddafi announced his willingness to negotiate for a handover to a transitional government, a suggestion rejected by the NTC, who held out for total victory. Surrounding himself with trusted confidants and bodyguards, he continually moved residences to escape NTC shelling; with food, water and electricity becoming scarce, Gaddafi devoted his days to reading the Qur'an and praying. On the morning of Thursday 20 October, Gaddafi broke out of Sirte's District 2 in a joint civilian-military convoy, hoping to take refuge in the Jarref Valley. At around 8.30am, NATO bombers attacked, destroying at least 14 vehicles and killing at least 53. The convoy scattered, and Gaddafi and those closest to him fled to a nearby villa, which was shelled by rebel militia from Misrata. Fleeing to a construction site, Gaddafi and his inner consort hid inside drainage pipes while his bodyguards battled the rebels; in the conflict, Gaddafi suffered head injuries from a grenade blast while defence minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr was killed.
Overwhelming the loyalists, a Misratan militia took Gaddafi prisoner, beating him and stabbing him in the anus with a bayonet, causing serious injuries; the events were filmed on a cell phone, accompanied by cries of "Allahu Akbar!" and "Misrata!". Pulled onto the front of a pick-up truck, he fell off as it drove away. His semi-naked, lifeless body was then placed into an ambulance and taken to Misrata; upon arrival, he was found to be dead. Official NTC accounts claimed that Gaddafi was caught in a cross-fire and died from his bullet wounds. Other eye-witness accounts claimed that rebels had fatally shot Gaddafi in the stomach; a rebel identifying himself as Senad el-Sadik el-Ureybi later claimed responsibility. Gaddafi's son Mutassim, who had also been among the convoy, was also captured, and found dead several hours later, most probably from an extrajudicial execution. Around 140 Gaddafi loyalists were rounded up from the convoy; tied up and abused, the corpses of 66 were found at the nearby Mahari Hotel, victims of extrajudicial execution. Libya's chief forensic pathologist, Dr. Othman al-Zintani, carried out the autopsies of Gaddafi, his son and Jabr in the days following their death; although the pathologist initially told the press that Gaddafi had died from a gunshot wound to the head, the autopsy report was not made public.
On the afternoon of Gaddafi's death, NTC Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril publicly revealed the news. Gaddafi's corpse was placed in the freezer of a local market alongside the corpses of Yunis Jabr and Mutassim; the bodies were publicly displayed for four days, with Libyans from all over the country coming to view them. In response to international calls, on 24 October Jibril announced that a commission would investigate Gaddafi's death. On 25 October, the NTC announced that Gaddafi had been buried at an unidentified location in the desert; Al Aan TV showed amateur video footage of the funeral.
During his school days in Sabha, Gaddafi adopted the ideologies of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism, influenced in particular by Nasserism, the thought of Egyptian revolutionary and president Gamal Abdel Nasser, whom Gaddafi adopted as his hero. During the early 1970s, he formulated his own particular approach to Arab nationalism and socialism, known as Third International Theory, the principles of which were laid out in the three volumes of The Green Book.
Gaddafi's ideology was largely based on Nasserism, blending Arab nationalism, aspects of the welfare state, and what Gaddafi termed "popular democracy", or more commonly "direct, popular democracy". He called this system "Islamic socialism", as he disfavored the atheistic quality of communism. While he permitted private control over small companies, the government controlled the larger ones. Welfare, "liberation" (or "emancipation" depending on the translation), and education were emphasized. He also imposed a system of Islamic morals and outlawed imbibing alcohol and gambling. School holidays were cancelled to allow the teaching of Gaddafi's ideology in the summer of 1973.
In 2007, he suggested a single-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, at first saying "This is the fundamental solution, or else the Jews will be annihilated in the future, because the Palestinians have [strategic] depth". In 2009, in a New York Times commentary, he wrote that a single-state solution would "move beyond old conflicts and look to a unified future based on shared culture and respect."
During Gaddafi's speech to the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September 2009, he blamed the United Nations for failing to prevent 65 wars and claimed that the Security Council had too much power and should be abolished. He demanded that Europe pay its former colonies $7.77 trillion dollars to pay for past imperialism or face "mass immigration".
On 25 February 2011, Britain's Treasury set up a specialised unit to trace Gaddafi's assets in Britain. Gaddafi allegedly worked for years with Swiss banks to launder international banking transactions. In November 2011, The Sunday Times identified property worth £1 billion in the UK that Gaddafi owned. Gaddafi had an Airbus A340 private jet, which he bought from Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia for $120 million in 2003. Operated by Tripoli-based Afriqiyah Airways and decorated externally in their colours, it was used in 2009 to repatriate Lockerbie bomber Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, on his licensed release from prison in Scotland. The plane was captured at Tripoli airport in August 2011 as a result of the Libyan civil war, and found by BBC News reporter John Simpson to contain various luxuries including a jacuzzi.
Gaddafi's first wife was Fatiha al-Nuri (1969–1970). His second wife was Safia Farkash (1970–2011), née el-Brasai, a former nurse from Obeidat tribe born in Bayda. He met her in 1969, following the revolt, when he was hospitalized with appendicitis; the couple remained married until his death. Gaddafi had eight biological children, seven of them sons.
He is also said to have adopted two children, Hanna and Milad.
Gaddafi's brother-in-law, Abdullah Senussi, was believed to have headed Libya's military intelligence until the Gaddafi government was overthrown.
He hired several Ukrainian nurses to care for his and his family's health. In 2009, it was revealed that he did not travel without his trusted Ukrainian nurse Halyna Kolotnytska, noted as a "voluptuous blonde". Kolotnytska's daughter denied the suggestion that the relationship was anything but professional. Gaddafi also allegedly made sexual advances on female journalists.
Gaddafi considered himself an intellectual and a philosopher. He was known for a flamboyant dress sense, ranging from safari suits and sunglasses to more outlandish outfits apparently influenced by Liberace or Hollywood film characters. In 2011, a Brazilian plastic surgeon told the Associated Press that Gaddafi had been his patient in 1995 to avoid appearing old to the Libyan people. The Libyan postal service, General Posts and Telecommunications Company (GPTC), has issued numerous stamps, souvenir sheets, postal stationery, booklets, etc. relating to Gaddafi.
From early in his rule he acquired a reputation for unpredictability and eccentricity. He once said that HIV was "a peaceful virus, not an aggressive virus" and assured attendees at the African Union that "if you are straight you have nothing to fear from AIDS". He also said that the H1N1 influenza virus was a biological weapon manufactured by a foreign military, and he assured Africans that the tsetse fly and mosquito were "God's armies which will protect us against colonialists". Should these 'enemies' come to Africa, "they will get malaria and sleeping sickness". On one occasion, he was reported to have said that the Christian Bible was a "forgery".
Beginning in the 1980s he traveled with his Amazonian Guard, which was all-female, and reportedly was sworn to a life of celibacy (however, Dr. Seham Sergheva claimed in 2011 that some of them were subjected to rape and sexual abuse by Gaddafi, his sons, and senior officials).
Gaddafi made very particular requests when traveling to foreign nations. During his trips to Rome, Paris, Moscow, and New York, he resided in a bulletproof tent, following his Bedouin traditions. While in Italy, he paid a modeling agency to find 200 young Italian women for a lecture he gave urging them to convert to Islam. According to a 2009 document release by WikiLeaks, Gaddafi disliked flying over waters and refused to take airplane trips longer than 8 hours. His inner circle stated that he could only stay on the ground floor of buildings, and that he could not climb more than 35 steps.
Numerous sources have characterised Gaddafi as a dictator. Gaddafi was noted for giving "lengthy, wandering" speeches. Gaddafi funded the construction of and supported two mosques in Africa. One is the largest mosque in Uganda, located on Kampla Hill in the Old Kampala district of Kampala, Uganda.
Gaddafi remained a controversial and divisive figure on the world stage throughout his life and after death. Supporters praised Gaddafi's administration for the creation of an almost classless society through domestic reform. They stress the regime's achievements in combating homelessness and ensuring access to food and safe drinking water. Highlighting that under Gaddafi, all Libyans enjoyed free education to a university level, they point to dramatic rise in literacy rates after the 1969 revolution. Supporters have also praised achievements in medical care, praising the universal free healthcare provided under the Gaddafist administration, with diseases like cholera and typhoid being contained and life expectancy raised.
During the early 1970s, the Western media typically portrayed Gaddafi in a positive manner as a freedom fighter; a Readers Digest article at the time, for example, compared his freedom-fighting ideals to Che Guevara and noted his popularity among Libyans. This changed in the 1980s, when Gaddafi began being frequently portrayed a dictator and tyrant who was erratic, conceited, and mercurial in nature. During the Reagan administration, the United States regarded him as "public enemy number one" and Reagan famously dubbed him the "mad dog of the Middle East", despite actually being in North Africa.
Critics asserted that under Gaddafi's administration, the Libyan people had lived in a climate of fear, criticising his government's pervasive surveillance of civilians. Opponents were critical of Libya's human rights abuses; those arrested often failed to receive a fair trial, and were sometimes subjected to torture or extrajudicial execution, most notably in the Abu Salim prison, including a massacre in 29 June 1996 in which Human Rights Watch estimated that 1,270 prisoners were massacred. He was also charged with mismanaging the economy through his experiments with socialism, with critics arguing that Libya's great oil wealth could have been better spent on domestic development. His government's treatment of non-Arab Libyans has also come in for criticism, with native Berbers, refugees and foreign workers all facing persecution in Gaddafist Libya including the expulsion of Italians and Jews from Libya in 1970.
Nelson Mandela remained a close friend, named his grandson after Gaddafi, was quoted as saying "In the darkest moments of our struggle, when our backs were to the wall, Muammar Gaddafi stood with us." Gaddafi was widely mourned as a hero across Sub-Saharan Africa; for instance, a vigil was held by Muslims in Sierra Leone. After Gaddafi's death some of his sympathizers remained as militants, being reportedly responsible for the death of one of his captors, Omran Shaaban.
International reactions to Gaddafi's death were divided. US President Barack Obama said that the death of Gaddafi meant that "the shadow of tyranny over Libya has been lifted," while former Cuban President Fidel Castro commented that in defying the rebels, he would "enter history as one of the great figures of the Arab nations."
as King of Libya
|Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of Libya
as Secretary General of the General People's Congress of Libya
Mahmud Sulayman al-Maghribi
|Prime Minister of Libya
as Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of Libya
|Secretary General of the General People's Congress of Libya
Abdul Ati al-Obeidi
|New office||Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution of Libya
Mustafa Abdul Jalil
as Chairman of the National Transitional Council of Libya
|Chairperson of the African Union
Bingu wa Mutharika
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