QADDAFI, Muammar

Colonel Muammar Abu Minyar Al-Qaddafi. Libyan politican born sometime between 1938 and 1942 near Syrte in a nomad tribe belonging to the Sanussi sect. When he was a teenager, he was a great admirer of President Nasser and got into trouble because of his political activities. He joined the Military Academy of Benghazi in 1963 and, like Nasser, formed a group of « free officers » who staged a coup against King Idris on September 1st, 1969. Qaddafi, who was only 27, took the leadership of the Revolution Command Council and became Prime Minister in January 1970. In 1977, the official name of the country was changed to « Jamahiryia » and the Revolution Command Council was replaced by the General People’s Congress. Qaddafi was its first Secretary General.

Guide of the Libyan Revolution

A recurrent feature of Qaddafi’s foreign policy has been the announcement of proposals for the union of Libya with neighbouring states, and the subsequent collapse of such planned mergers (with Egypt, Sudan, Syria and Tunisia). When these unions were rejected or collapsed (like the one with Egypt) he tried to get popular support for his ideas in the Arab world. This in turn created hostility between Libya and a number of Arab countries. Relations with some other countries in different parts of the world also deteriorated as Libya provided money, arms and training for subversive or ‘liberation’ organizations. In March 1979 Qaddafi resigned from the post of Secretary General of the General People’s Congress, so that he could devote more time to ‘revolutionary work’. Qaddafi remains nevertheless the real leader of the Libyan Jamahiriya.

He made further proposals for transforming Libyan society along the lines described in his ‘Green Book’ and the Third Universal Theory between Capitalism and Socialism.

Attacks and international isolation

During the 80’s, a series of attacks are attributed to people close to Qaddafi: an attack on a Berlin discotheque frequented by Americans in 1986, the Lockerbie bombing against a plane carrying American civilians, whose explosion during the flight made 270 deaths in 1988 and the attack on a french aircraft, flight 772 UTA connecting Brazzaville to Paris in 1989.

Libya is therefore excluded from the international community in the early nineties. From there, Colonel Gaddafi began to make efforts to improve the diplomatic situation of his country. In 1999 he delivers the officers responsible for the Lockerbie bombing to the Scottish courts, and following their judgment, he will recognize their guilt in 2003. That same year, Libya pay compensation to victims of this attack, which allows Libya to reintegrate its place in the United Nations.

Conversion

Meanwhile discussions between Libya, United States and Britain lead to abandonment by Muammar Qaddafi of its program to develop weapons of mass destruction and by signing the additional protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2004.

Economically, Qaddafi has opened the libyan market to international companies, which maked Libya attractive as a partner in the region and brought closer to some countries such as the UK, France, Italy and Spain.

The Africa-Europe Summit held in Cairo in April 2000 was a spectacular occasion for the formal renewal of ties at the highest level between the European Union and colonel Qaddafi: at this occasion, the Libyan leader had long discussions with Romano Prodi, President of the EU Commission, with the German Chancellor Schroeder, with the French President Chirac and with the Spanish Prime Minister Aznar.

Personal Features

He has the image of an austere man, and sincere but whimsical. For example, during his visits abroad, Qaddafi still take his Bedouin tent with him, in which he receives official and journalists. This requirement often qualified as eccentric strengthen critical public opinion in host countries against the coming of the colonel (Cf. President Qaddafi’s visit to France in December 2007). Another of his fantasies is to be personally protected by women, his famous « Amazons ».

Foreign Affairs

As Libya received little support from the Arab states in the Lockerbie affair, Qaddafi replaced his former pan-Arab view (he called it « a mirage ») by a new interest for a leading role in African affairs.

In 2000 in Lome (Togo), the Libyan leader gave the idea of the formation of « United States of Africa ». Those would have only one currency and one army. In 2007, Qaddafi visited several African capitals to present the draft of his African federal state.

The case of Bulgarian nurses

From 1999 to 2007, the Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor remained locked up in Libya and convicted for having inoculate the AIDS virus to children they cared for. Muammar Qaddafi used resolving this matter well-publicized for political purposes, including to promote a rapprochement between his country with France’s newly elected President Nicolas Sarkozy. The case solved, Nicolas Sarkozy made a move to Tripoli in July 2007 while Qaddafi was invited on an official visit in Décember 2007. This visit has raised many reactions and awakened the incomprehension of many.

In spite of the franco-lybian rapprochement, Qaddafi has violently critized Nicolas Sarkozy’s projet of Union for the Mediterranean. He described it as « humiliating » and compared his country and his arab neighbours to « dogs begging to be given a bone ». As a result he refused to be present to the UPM summit held in Paris on July 13 2008.

The 1st of September 2009, Mouammar Qaddafi had is 40th birthday in power.