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Muammar Gaddafi, the leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011 and the head of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 was killed in his hometown Sirte on October 20, 2011. Having led Libya for over four decades, Gaddafi had become the longest- serving Arab autocrat and leader. But in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings that swept across, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria, the Libyans decide to stage their own protest.

The country broke out into civil war. Protests started as early as February 2011 and had escalated to full-fledged war by June 2011. With the intervention of the United Nations and the support of the NATO forces, the forces opposing Gaddafi established a transitional government. After a prolonged siege of Sirte, Gaddafi’s stronghold, Libyan National Liberation Army members managed to capture Gaddafi. The former leader was shot and killed ending the war in Libya.

Colonel Gaddafi

Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi came to power in Libya in 1969, having overthrown the King Idris in a coup d'état. He abolished the constitution of the country and established the Libyan Arab Republic. He formulated the Third International Theory, his political ideology which he published in The Green Book. In keeping with this ideology he proclaimed the Jamahiriya in 1977, a nation of the people and stepped down as leader of the republic.

Gaddafi’s role as the “Brother Leader” of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was symbolic and he did not wield any power, he often claimed. Critics, both national an international have opposed such a notion and called him an eccentric autocrat. Gaddafi was a strong proponent of Arab nationalism and Islamic socialism. In 2008 he was conferred the title “King of Kings”. These were indicative of the limitless authority wielded by Gaddafi in his four decade long regime.

Libyan Civil War

In February 2011 Libya broke out in protest against the forty-year long regime of Gaddafi. By the close of the month the country had shown the beginnings of civil war and the National Transitional Council (NTC) had set up an alternative government at Benghazi. A number of Gaddafi’s close and trusted aides had joined the movement. Other Libyan cities including Misrata, Bayda, Tobruk, Zuwara and Sabratha were taken over by the NTC. By March Gaddafi had gotten over the initial surprise and his troops had started to fight for Misrata and Benghazi.

In March 2011, a number of countries had sent in forces to Libya in an intervention to upkeep the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. Air forces from France, UK, and USA and the Royal Navy of UK were deployed to aide the NTC in Libya. The country's airspace was declared a no-fly zone. Towards the end of March, NATO had taken over the operations which had initially been led by France, UK, and USA.

In June 2011, Gaddafi announced his intentions of holding free and fair polls in the country. This was probably a move to save Tripoli, the Libyan capital from NATO bombardment. The NTC and NATO rejected the offer and war continued. In August 2011, Tripoli fell to the NTC. Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam was arrested. Fighting in Abu Salim, Bab al-Azizia and other parts of Tripoli cost the country over 400 lives. Over 2,000 others were injured. Even as the NTC started to take over the border cities of Libya, effectively sealing all exit corridors, it was reported that Gaddafi’s family had fled to Algeria. Gaddafi himself and a number of loyal supporters moved to Sirte. Mid October the NTC forces took over many parts of Sirte. Fierce fighting between Gaddafi’s and NTC forces ensued and the Libyan leader was captured on October 20.

Death and Dishonor

On October 20, 2011 following the fall of Sirte, NATO warplanes attacked the convoy in which Gaddafi was traveling. The US Predator Missile and other air strikes had killed many Gaddafi supporters who were at the time protecting him. Gaddafi himself and his surviving aides were driven to take shelter in the drain west of Sirte. Fighters of the National Transitional Council captured the erstwhile Libyan leader around midday. What happened later has been the matter of much speculation. A number of mobile videos showing the NTC fighters torturing Gaddafi have been broadcasted by news channels and websites. Gaddafi’s body had many wounds in the chest, head, and abdomen and he had been shot twice. His body was left in the cold storage of a Misrata market and was put on display for four days. International criticism mounted, denouncing the cruelty with which Gaddafi was killed. The NTC later promised to bring the killers to trial. Gaddafi was sixty-nine years old when he died.

Last Updated on: September 30th, 2021
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