|Biographical detail : ||Libyan ruler convinced he made his country great.
Emerged in 1969 as “leader of the revolution” at the head of the Libyan officers, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi overthrew the sick, ageing, self-effacing and pro-western monarchy of King Idris of Libya, that vast, underpopulated, least known of north African states.
Colonel Gaddafi’s idiosyncratic policies, to his critics, were a startling blend of pan-Arab nationalism and Islam. At home he enforced a strict code, banned the use of non-Arab languages in public life and at one time expelled non-Libyans. Colonel Gaddafi’s political ideology of a Third Way between capitalism and communism was explained in his Green Book.
Codified his ideas in the Green Book, and declared the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya or “state of the masses”, in March 1977, Colonel Gaddafi set up People’s congress and described it as grassroots democracy.
Gaddafi, a man of simple life, with such antics and an increasingly outlandish dress sense often seemed clownish and deluded. His house in the barracks in Tripoli was identical to any others. He improved the quality of lives of the down trodden and long-suffering people of Libya.
In the early Seventies Libya granted oil concessions to independent US companies, which led to massive oil price rises.
Abroad, Colonel Gaddafi’s tireless interventions soured relations, at least temporarily, with virtually every Arab regime. He intervened in Africa and supported revolutionaries all over the world. Such support, however, aroused Western enmity and followed in 1986 US bombing of his Tripoli headquarters in which his stepchild was killed. He became a household name, a bogeyman of the western world.
After Colonel Gaddafi supposedly turned over a new leaf in 2003 and surrendered his weapons of mass destruction, he became a darling of the West. Tony Blair, then prime minister of Britain, held a friendly tent summit with Colonel Gaddafi outside Tripoli in 2004.
Sought to be all things to all men, Gaddafi negated the need for any other man at all. Thus he was, variously, a Bedouin tribesman, a colonel and self-styled revolutionary, an Arab and an African, a nationalist and a socialist, a Muslim and a poet. As his confidence grew, so too did his arrogance and his eccentricity.
Facing a popular uprising against his 42-year rule Gaddafi responded with brute force, setting off a chain reaction that engulfed his long-placid country in an eight-month civil war. And with panic and confusion taking hold in high places, with long-serving officials and military commanders rushing to defect, his power seemed close to crumbling. The violence he initiated caught up with him, leading to his death under murky circumstances, on 20 October 2011, in his home-town of Sirte.
Born in a Bedouin tent in the desert near Sirte, on Libya’s Mediterranean coast, Muammar al-Gaddafi came from the semi-nomadic al-Gadaffa clan. With Colonel Nasser of Egypt as his idol the 14-year-old Gaddafi was caught up in the surging pan-Arab emotions of the time, in the ideals of Arab renaissance, unity, strength and the liberation of Palestine. In 1961 he entered the Libyan military academy, where as a young cadet he started working on plan to overthrow the monarchy.