Muammar Gaddafi Biography: A Dictator's Life, Death

Born in western Libya in 1942, Muammar Gaddafi was influenced by the Arab nationalist movement while he was a student. After participating in the movement to overthrow the monarchy, Gaddafi became leader of Libya. His strong personality and forceful rule antagonized the western world. Though relations with the west improved, conditions in Libya worsened. The Arab Spring protests in 2011 eventually led to the end of his regime and his death later that year. by WatchMojo.com learns more about the life, rule and death of Muammar Gaddafi.
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He was nicknamed “the mad dog of the Middle East.” Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re taking a look at the life of Muammar Gaddafi.

Birth


Gaddafi was born in Western Libya in 1942. During his youth, he saw his native country move from an Italian colony to an independent state under the Western-friendly King Idris.

Education


While at school, he was influenced by the Arab nationalist movement. By 1961, he enlisted at Benghazi’s military college. After leaving school, he joined a group in hopes of deposing the king due to increasing dissatisfaction with his rule.

The King is Overthrown


On September 1st, 1969, the Free Officers Movement successfully overthrew the king while he was abroad. Gaddafi and his fellow revolutionaries abolished the monarchy and declared the Libyan Arab Republic.

Gaddafi Takes Power


Gaddafi became commander-in-chief of the armed forces and chairman of the country’s new ruling body, the Revolutionary Command Council. With that, he became ruler of Libya.

Changes in Libya


Gaddafi immediately closed American and British military bases in Libya, and forced foreign oil companies within the country’s borders to allocate more of their profits to the nation. He also replaced the Gregorian calendar with the Islamic one, and banned the sale of alcohol.

Opposition Made Illegal


Months after Gaddafi seized power, an attempt was made to overthrow him. His resulting paranoia caused him to make opposition to his regime illegal. The next year, he ejected the remaining Italian residents from Libya, and expelled the Jewish population because of his ardent opposition to Zionism and Israel.

“Green Book”


Gaddafi continued to shun the Western world, while he also influenced Arab, African and Muslim populations. His 1974 “Green Book” summarized his political viewpoints on topics like democracy and capitalism, and explained how Gaddafi’s strategies would solve world problems.

Corruption

In addition to his cult of personality, Gaddafi allegedly became increasingly corrupt. As the poverty-level of his population increased, so did his massive personal wealth due to the nation’s oil revenue.

Strange Behavior


Not only that, but Gaddafi was considered by some as erratic and bizarre. He called himself king of Africa, hired female bodyguards and dressed in eccentric clothing.

Western Antagonism


Gaddafi’s reputation abroad deteriorated as he antagonized the West. He allegedly supported the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam and the Irish Republican Army, and was also linked to other criminal activity like the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that took down a Pan Am flight with 270 people on board.

American Relations Improve


Opposition to Gaddafi grew to the point where the U.S. unsuccessfully attempted to kill him through a series of bombings in 1986. However it wasn’t long before Libya-U.S. relations improved. Gaddafi began sharing information with the West to secure his place as ruler against an imminent Islamist menace. He also gave up the Lockerbie bombing suspects at the behest of Nelson Mandela.

Italian Relations Improve


Gaddafi’s legitimacy increased to the point where Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi considered him a close friend. Many hypothesized these newly-solidified relationships with the Western world were thanks to Libya’s booming oil supplies. However at home, the gap between the rich and the poor was at an all-time high.


When the Arab Spring protests began in 2011, the people of Libya rose as well. Following the downfalls of Tunisia’s longtime dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, protests sprouted in Benghazi and quickly spread.

NTC and NATO


Gaddafi suppressed the movement by indiscriminately killing rebels. However, this inadvertently encouraged them to resist more strongly: the rebels formed a governing body called the National Transitional Council, or NTC, and earned NATO’s support.

Tripoli


A NATO coalition soon lent its strength to the fight against Gaddafi in the form of air strikes and the enforcement of a no-fly zone. This resulted in the death of one of Gaddafi’s sons, and before long Tripoli fell to the rebels. Warrants were issued by the International Criminal Court for Gaddafi and members of his inner circle for crimes against humanity; however the leader was in hiding.

Death


By July, Gaddafi’s reign was officially over because numerous countries acknowledged the NTC as Libya’s legitimate government. On October 20th, 2011, it was announced he had been found and killed under ominous circumstances. Many Libyans celebrated Gaddafi’s demise, as it marked the end of one of the twentieth century’s most notorious dictatorships.
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