Archive | Libya

LIBYA, 2016: Three ‘Governments’, Foreign Intervention & the Return of Gaddafi

NOVANEWS

Saif Al-Islam

A couple of months ago when the UN-sponsored ‘Government of National Accord’ (GNA) was sent to take control of all national institutions, Libya was already being ruled by two different, rival parliaments: the Islamist-dominated ‘National Salvation’ government in Tripoli and the internationally recognised parliament based in Tobruk in the east.

The actual result of this painstaking UN brokered peace process is that Libya now has three rival governments instead of two: and none of them appears capable of governing or unifying the once stable nation. But the UN-backed GNA might be the least capable of the three and has just suffered an embarrassing vote of no confidence: members of the Libyan House of Representatives have voted against the UN ‘Government of National Accord’ by 61 to 1 (source).

Not that this is necessarily surprising; on its arrival in Tripoli at the end of March, the GNA leaders found Tripoli’s airspace closed to them and had to arrive by boat. So much for all of the UN’s diplomatic efforts: the same UN, remember, that didn’t bother to send any fact-finding operations to Libya in 2011 to try to ascertain whether there was really any basis for authorizing the NATO military intervention to force regime change.

So, to recap. The UN-backed government appears to have already failed. There are now 3 separate ‘governments’ in Libya. And the US has just begun military operations in ISIS-held Sirte, with France recently having to admit to having already been carrying out secret operations in the country.

Making sense of post-Gaddafi Libya is very hard work.

From 2014, the plethora of armed militias at large in the chaos-riddled country due to the 2011 mercenary war seemed to have gathered around either the Libyan National Army (backed by the secular ‘House of Representatives’) or the Libyan Dawn Coalition (dominated by the Islamist parties). That said, there are also roaming factions of jihadists and terror groups in various places, seemingly answerable to no one.

And it is against this confused, chaotic backdrop that reports emerged some months ago suggesting that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi – the eldest son of the late Libyan leader and one-time ‘Golden Boy’ of Libya’s political future – had been released from his detainment, having previously been sentenced to death.

It is difficult to work out whether this story is true. It was broadly reported at the time (albeit in a very low-key manner, with mass media reticence), but most news out of Libya has become increasingly difficult to verify or cross reference.

So is Saif Gaddafi at large? And how relevant would that be to the bigger picture mentioned above?

Saif Gaddafi’s lawyer reported that Saif had in fact, “been given his liberty on April 12, 2016″, this being in accordance with an amnesty law passed by the Tobruk parliament. Saif had been captured by the Zintan militia shortly after his father and brother were murdered by NATO’s Libyan death squads in Sirte in October 2011. The International Criminal Court had demanded Saif be handed over to them; but the Zintan refused.

After fierce fighting, when the Islamist Libya Dawn faction took control of Tripoli, Saif, along with dozens of other officials of Gaddafi’s former state were put on trial for their life. However, the Zintan militia – allied to the more secular Libyan National Army – again refused to hand him over.
Libya-saifgaddafi-supporters

After a cowboy trial dominated by the Libya Dawn militias and condemned by human rights groups, Saif was sentenced to execution, along with eight other former officials of Gaddafi’s Socialist Arab Republic. But the trial was never recognised by the government in Tobruk.

It was reported that in the 24 hours after word has gotten out of Saif’s recent release, Green Libyan loyalists across different cities and towns were holding up images of Saif and shouting out his name: evidence, if any were needed, that even five years on from the French/American-led NATO destruction of Libya, there is still massive support (pictured above) from the Libyan people for the former Libyan republic.

A British lawyer seemed to confirm Saif’s release, saying that his death sentence had been quashed. Karim Khan QC said he was now petitioning the international criminal court to drop its charges against Saif, which would allow him to travel abroad without facing arrest.

The Guardian noted, however, that ‘The claim could not be independently verified, and neither the UN-backed government in Tripoli or Zintan authorities has yet commented on the report, while some disputed it.’

And according to the Tripoli Post, Libyan officials were denying it.

According to Al-Monitor, however, Saif ‘has already started contacting people inside Libya and abroad who are supporting him, trying to come up with his own plan to salvage the country.’

The report continues, ‘The majority of tribes that supported his father in the 2011 civil war see him as a savior, and they are willing to support him as their de facto leader in any political process to bring about national reconciliation and reunify the country. This is especially true since the United Nations-brokered political dialogue and the Government of National Accord have so far failed to deliver stability and security, let alone anything tangible to alleviate the hardships Libyans are facing on a daily basis, which include power cuts, shortage of money in the banking system and soaring prices.’

Al-Monitor goes further and claims to have ‘learned, by having been part of these discussions’ that ‘tribal leaders who support Seif are willing to accept him as their only representative, or what is known in tribal customs as “next of kin”.’

This is a highly significant suggestion: could Saif Gaddafi, sentenced to death by Libyan militias and wanted on spurious ‘War Crimes’ charges by the ICC, be seen as the only national figure suitable as a unifier?

The going-full-circle irony of this state of affairs would be immense.

Mass rallies of pro-Gaddafi Green loyalists were occurring all throughout the violent, bloody events of the 2011 war and NATO intervention, including one march that was estimated to have been the largest protest in world history. Such rallies even continued on after Muammar Gaddafi’s murder, but the reign of terror that ensued by NATO-backed criminal gangs and death-squad militias suppressed such public gatherings or displays of loyalty to the former Libyan state.

This forced many Gaddafi supporters and Green Libyans into hiding, while many thousands were rounded up by the militias and some hundreds are estimated to have been summarily executed. That hasn’t, however, stopped a slow, steady resurgence of pro-Gaddafi activity and public displays of loyalty to the former Libya.

When word about Saif’s release broke some months ago, an RT journalist distills the essence of Saif Gaddafi’s liberty; ‘What is so significant about his release… is what it represents: the recognition, by Libya’s elected authorities, that there is no future for Libya without the involvement of the Jamahiriya movement.’

In a tribal society like Libya, the tribes — particularly the major tribes such as Warfalla and Tarhuna — are absolutely crucial for establishing any successful settlement in the ravaged country. This is a key fact that those behind the initial Libyan intervention in 2011 and those trying to maneuver its aftermath have utterly failed to appreciate, with clueless Western officials frequently displaying a completely dismissive attitude towards the tribes.

This isn’t just some quaint quirk of Libya either, but a key factor in various other Middle Eastern or African societies, such as a Western/American ally like Jordan.

As many British political experts noted in light of the Chilcot Report and the Americans’ utter lack of respect or understanding of Iraqi society in their post-war planning, the Americans have absolutely no idea about Arab societies whatsoever.

The British, by comparison, have traditionally been much better informed and able to think more intelligently, going back to even the imperial days and the role and influence of famous ‘Arabists’ like T.E Lawrence and Gertrude Bell, among others; but, as veteran Conservative politician Ken Clarke recently argued in response to the Chilcot Report, the Americans – going into Iraq – completely dismissed any need for such experts in the region; the British were also largely sidelined from post-war planning in Iraq, allowing the Americans to completely dismantle every element of the Iraqi state (and dismiss all those who had worked for it) and create the sectarian quagmire that exists to this day in that country.

The same extraordinary levels of ignorance occurred in Libya, with Hillary Clinton and others in her sphere completely dismissing any significance to Libya’s tribal make-up: and neither the French nor the British, in their blind rush to remove Gaddafi, appeared to have given the matter any thought either.

There are thought to be something like 140 tribes or clans in Libya, with 30 or so of these being particularly influential. Even in the early months of the 2011 ‘uprising’, it was reported widely that several hundred tribal elders gathered in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, for what was described as widespread show of support for Gaddafi.

It is interesting that, of the many Libyan refugees in Tunisia, almost all of them still hold onto great love for the former republic under Gaddafi and are from tribes that were loyal to the regime, such from Sirte, Bani Waled or Warshefana. A young woman speaking in this 2014 article from The World Weekly – and who spent months in various prisons after the fall of Gaddafi, in which she describes being beaten with pipes and repeatedly raped by a militia leader – essentially says she was waiting for the return of Saif al-Islam, who was seen as the only hope.

Saif Gaddafi has the loyalty of many, many Libyans – that is to say, natural, indigenous Libyans, as opposed to the foreign jihadists and the foreign-backed militias or internationally imposed ‘governments’. He, crucially, also has respect from many of the tribes.

I noted with curiosity as well that internationally recognised authorities in Libya recently allowed Muammar Gaddafi’s widow (and Saif’s mother), Safia (pictured below with the late Libyan figurehead), back into the country as part of a new attempt at ‘national reconciliation’. This would be the first time Safia has set foot in her homeland since her husband’s murder. This also might suggest a wind change in Tobruk.
gaddaf-wife

Ever since the day Muammar Gaddafi was brutally murdered in Sirte in October 2011, there has been nothing but continuous failure in Libya to establish any kind of unity or workable future; and some of this has to be down to Western sponsors’ failure to respect the tribal nature of Libya. And it may be, if some experts are to be believed, that Gaddafi’s eldest son, Saif, emerges from the brink of execution as the one figure who might be able to make the difference.

That he could also garner mass support is very likely.

When the Islamist militia court passed the death sentence for Saif last year, people in multiple Libyan cities and towns came out onto the streets in protest, holding up pictures of Saif and his father; this even happened in places under ISIS or Al-Qaeda control, where doing this was extremely dangerous.

But this also somewhat echoes the unconfirmed report earlier in the year that the late Libyan figurehead’s daughter, Ayesha Gaddafi, was secretly maneuvering to return to Libya and announce herself leader of a Libyan people’s resistance and movement for national unity. The claim about Ayesha Gaddafi (pictured below) was difficult to validate and international media entirely ignored the story; the story now concerning Saif Gaddafi appears much more substantial, but the media has mostly downplayed this story too.

This could be because Western mainstream media and Western governments alike do not want any ‘Return of the Gaddafis’ or resurgence of Green Libya; they do not want any reversal of the collapse that was accomplished in 2011.

ayesha-gaddafi

In part, this might also be because the corporate media went to such lengths to help bring about that collapse by propagating the false narratives and fake stories about what had really gone on in Libya in 2011. And having engaged in all of that deception – and having also gloried in the downfall of Gaddafi himself – to now, five years on, have to report on normal Libyans supporting or calling for a return to the old republic and chanting the name of Gaddafi’s eldest son would be not just counter to Western policy and geopolitical needs, but also just downright embarrassing.

Saif was long regarded a reformer and democracy advocate in Libya, prior to the 2011 catastrophe: in fact, a WikiLeaks document in early 2011 suggested Libya was headed towards further democratic reforms and possible elections just prior to the foreign-orchestrated bloodbath.

Many Libyans – even those who might’ve had reservations about Saif beforehand – came to respect him even more when, instead of fleeing or trying to protect his own career, he remained in Libya in 2011 and supported his father. More than that, he had actually been abroad when the trouble had started and had gone home specifically to help defend the Socialist Republic. He had even openly admitted that he bore some guilt and responsibility for having been so involved with Western and European leaders and institutions and thus allowing Libya to lower its guard and become vulnerable to international duplicity: and yet, when that betrayal was in process, he came home to try to protect and preserve the country, at risk to his own life.

Saif himself, who in the midst of the 2011 crisis (pictured below greeting Green Libya loyalists in 2011) was openly bitter about the extent to which he felt he had been betrayed by his many Western and European friends and allies, would probably not be someone most Western policy makers would want to see reemerge: not just because he is a Gaddafi and not just because he would seek to restore the country and expel all of the imported terrorists, mercenaries and jihadists, but because he is someone who has been wined and dined by the Western elites and powers and is intimately aware of them (Saif was, at one point, being befriended by everyone from Tony Blair to the Rothschilds) – and moreover, having been so comprehensively betrayed by them, he is not likely to cooperate with their agendas ever again.
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In short, he could never be the puppet leader that the West wants. One suspects even ISIS would be preferable to Saif. The irony is that, had the 2011 conspiracy never happened and had the Western governments simply waited for things to develop organically, Saif probably would’ve been very amenable to Western influence and interests in his steering of the political situation in Libya.

All of this forces me to wonder how Western, particularly American and French, policy makers will react if not only Assad survives in Syria, but Saif Gaddafi emerges as the most potent figurehead for re-unifying Libya.

Imagine if Assad continues to preside over a re-unified and sovereign Syria and a Gaddafi begins to gather mass support to move towards not only unification, but restoration of the former Libyan republic. Then the brutal covert, regime-change wars that were inflicted on both nations in 2011 will have ultimately failed – albiet, only after several years of vast bloodshed and destruction.

Somehow, I can’t imagine Washington putting up with that.

And it is unfortunate that these turns of events are happening just as Hillary Clinton presidency might be imminent. Hillary – especially given that she was a central player in the wars on both Libya and Syria (and was famously filmed celebrating Gaddafi’s violent killing) – will most likely seek to take measures to prevent both scenarios. She has already stated her intention to ensure Assad doesn’t remain in Damascus as being one of her “first priorities” when she comes into office. We can safely imagine that she wouldn’t tolerate either Saif or Ayesha Gaddafi – or anyone else connected to them – gaining momentum in NATO’s and Hillary’s Libya.

Which brings us to the matter of renewed military intervention in Libya.

US forces are already active in Libya again, and official statements have suggested there is “no end” currently foreseen for those operations. So are US forces just there to fight ISIS? Or are they also there to stick around and make sure the Green Libyan movement doesn’t experience its second coming?

There are question marks over what the US raids in Sirte are really about, along with the French military presence in general. They could legitimately be trying to weaken or drive out the ISIS presence (which is only there in the first place thanks to French, American and other Western military efforts, remember) for the sake of the weak, ineffective and corrupt puppet ‘government’ it has put in place to preside over the chaos as foreign entities finish siphoning off all of the country’s former wealth and resources.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook has said they don’t see “an end point at this particular moment in time.”

Libya’s unity government has faced backlash from the parliament and its rival government in the east for calling in US airstrikes in the jihadist stronghold of Sirte – Gaddafi’s birthplace and a town which ISIS has been allowed to virtually take over, also thought by some to be the location of the Islamic State’s so-called ‘caliph’ or global leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Protests also in July erupted in Libya over French military operations conducted inside the country without local authorities’ consent.

In fact, it seems all of the major players in the 2011 conspiracy are again active in Libya.

Leaked reports have suggested the British SAS may have been on the ground in Libya for months already – just as they had been in the early weeks of the 2011 crisis, when they had been secretly hunting for Gaddafi and aiding ‘rebel’ militias at a time when British and international officals had been insisting they weren’t interested in regime change or assasination, only a ‘ceasefire’. And earlier this year senior Conservative politicians in Britain attacked what they saw as a ‘disastrous’ plan to station some 1,000 UK troops in Libya.

Which, again, could all genuinely be for the sake of fighting ISIS and other jihadists and cleaning up their own mess. But given the extraordinary levels of blood-soaked deception and duplicity all three governments – and much of the international community – employed in 2011 to topple Gaddafi’s government and install jihadists into Libya in the first place, it is almost impossible for us now to not be very suspicious about motives.

Vijay Prashad argues that the GNA only authorises foreign military operations in Libya because the UN and Western governments are denying them $67 billion of Libyan money that it will only give back to Libya if the foreign agenda is served. He writes, ‘When the Libyan government requests US airstrikes, it does so not of its own volition but because of the conditions for the release of its own money.’

But again, could this renewed Western military presence be more to do with halting any movement back towards the old Libyan national identity? Hushed talk of this resurgence of Green Libyan loyalists or ‘Green Resistance’ isn’t just about rallies or chants.

On January 18th, when a group of armed fighters assaulted an air-force base outside the city of Sabha and expelled the forces of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan’s government (we can use the word ‘government’ loosely), reports spread that the Green Flag of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was raised again in a number of cities. International media was virtually silent on the matter, while the ‘government’ was reticent in providing details.

When writing about Libya in general, we have to be very careful; as there is a constant absence of verifiable information. These days there are always rumours or unconfirmed reports of things, but everything is a sea of uncertainty.

The Green Resistance is reported by some to be becoming an increasingly influential force within the Libyan National Army, which serves the country’s elected House of Representatives, and there have been suggestions that the LNA has been recruiting from among tribes loyal to Gaddafi. But if the Sabha story was true, it serves as a reminder that ‘Green Resistance’ fighters can be a significant force, particularly in the south – which is where there is the most popular support. Given time, and with enough organisational ability, a movement could coalesce in the south of Libya that could potentially claim and hold territory.

It could even lead to the creation of an independent state of sorts in the south. A major figurehead – like a Saif or Ayesha Gaddafi – could make that happen. And from there, anything could happen – and the old, sovereign nation of Libya could be restored.

The question is, in relation to that possibility: what would the US, France and the rest of the ‘international community’ do if that started to happen? And might they, in fact, be taking measures already to prepare for that?

Wherever Saif Gaddafi is – if he is free from detainment now – I hope he has very good protection being given to him. In fact, it actually struck me as being possible that the reason Libyan authorities and even the Zintan seemed to deny Saif’s release might’ve been to protect him and throw observers off the scent.

Related: Is Ayesha Gaddafi Leading a Secret Resistance in Libya?‘ ‘Saif Gaddafi: The Man Who Could’ve Brought Liberty to Libya‘, ‘The Story of Sirte: From Proud Libya to ISIS Caliphate‘, ‘The Libya Conspiracy: A Guide to the Crime of the Century‘, ‘Libya After Gaddafi: The Humiliation of the Failed State‘…

 

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‘THE LIBYA CONSPIRACY’ – Free, Exclusive Book Download For All Readers

NOVANEWS
The-Libya-Conspiracy_S-Awan(Book-Cover-2015)
In 2011, an international crime was committed that was so vast, so immoral, that the mainstream media even now  refuses to address it in truthful terms. It was a crime carried out by deception and subterfuge and amid a sea of misinformation, and it involved virtually every major Western government or media organisation.
This book, ‘The Libya Conspiracy’, is the definitive exposure and analysis, in its full scope and all its ugliness, of what truly was the crime of the century. This is a freedownload for all readers or subscribers to this blog.

The product of over a year’s (mostly open-source) research, this is a decisive study of the 2011 Libya ‘intervention’ and the so-called Libyan ‘Civil War’ and beyond; a vast and immoral deception that has major implications for every one of us and the entire world.

A big shout-out has to go to my good friend Mumra2k for doing the mega formatting job on the files – he burnt the midnight oil so that there could be multiple formats of the book.

The book is available for download in three formats;

To download the basic PDF, use this link here.

To download the version for your Kindle or e-book reader device, click here.

To download the version for your mobile device, click here.

Or if you prefer to read the book on-line, you can read it in Google Docs using this link.

Or you can email me directly via the contact page to request a copy and I will send it to you.

 

Although this e-book is free for anyone who wants it and I did not wish to turn it into a profit enterprise, please do consider leaving a tip or making a small ‘donation’ via the Paypal link below. You can either make a one-time contribution or do it as a regular thing. Some of the work I undertake on this blog is very time-consuming: especially something that took as much time to research, write and put together as this e-book did. Any support you might provide will help to make that time and work more beneficial to me and help me to do more and to keep this site running. Thank you.

 

Why, you might ask, should you need to understand what happened in Libya in 2011…?

Because understanding what happened in Libya means understanding what the nature of the world in geopolitical terms now is; it means understanding who the criminals are, and most of all understanding how the criminal conspiracy works. And make no mistake: a vast criminal conspiracy was carried out in Libya and was covered up by a mainstream media that was itself part of the conspiracy.

The postscript to the NATO intervention in Libya is still going on now. Europe is facing a mass migration crisis, while thousands of desperate people are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea from the Libyan coast. Terrorists and extremist militias are flourishing like never before in history and are using the fallen Libya as a staging area to wage terror on multiple nations. We are being drawn towards the brink of an engineered, continent-spanning crisis and sectarian ‘Clash of Civilisations’ that may eventually engulf the entire world. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed amid several collapsing nations, including Syria, with Libya itself now declared ‘a failed state‘ in mainstream commentary.

And most of it goes back to 2011, the NATO-led ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Libya and the brutal and sadistic assassination of Muammar Gaddafi.

All of this, coupled with the lies *still* being told even now by our political leaders about the 2011 intervention, convinced me that a thorough, comprehensive and clear chronicle of what really did happen in Libya in 2011 still needs to be laid down. Everyone needs to see beyond the fog of confusion and misinformation; needs to understand what really happened, how it happened, and *why* it happened; who caused it, who planned it and what the intention was.

This document is essentially a criminal investigation.

Please share this book far and wide. Across 140 pages, it can be demonstrated beyond doubt that; (1) the NATO powers are War Criminals that need to be brought to account for their actions in 2011, (2) that key officials of the governments of the US, the UK, France, several European nations and the Gulf States need to be tried in an international court for these crimes, including Hilary Clinton, Nicolas Sarkosy, and David Cameron, (3) that the alliance of governments, corporations and military agencies that currently control the Western world are morally bankrupt and need to be thoroughly investigated as criminals.

And (4) that the mainstream/corporate media and news broadcasters are entirely complicit in aiding and abetting an international criminal conspiracy and should also be either investigated or boycotted.

In doing so, it will also be demonstrated;

(1) that there was no ‘Civil War’ in Libya in 2011, (2) that there were no mass civilian ‘demonstrations’ against Gaddafi or the Libyan government in 2011, (3) that wholesale lies and fabrications were concocted by our governments and by the corporate news-media and that neither Gaddafi nor the Libyan regime was guilty of the ‘crimes’ they were accused of, (4) that NATO and the Western governments deliberately installed Al-Qaeda and other terrorist/extremist groups into Libyan cities, (5) that the entire operation was illegal under international law, and (6) that NATO, France, Britain and America, committed mass murder in Libya.

Most importantly, this book also comprehensively demonstrates how it was all done, every bloodstained step of the way, from the obscured beginning to the horrific end.
From the vast corporate media deception campaign, the Social Media sleight-of-hand and the ‘persona management software’, to the secret assassination plot, the Obama Letters, the Pentagon tapes, the Russian satellite data and everything in-between, this is the real story of the international ‘intervention’ in Libya… and there should be no ambiguity or doubt anymore about what really happened and what it was about.

Download ‘The Libya Conspiracy’ for free, using the links provided. And feel free to share the information and also to distribute this work freely, so long as no alterations are made to the files.

And thank you for supporting this blog and for supporting independent journalism in general.

___________________

List of Main Contents

Gaddafi’s Libya: Before the Crisis
The Obama Letters

February 2011: The Beginning of the End
Gaddafi and the Media

Collapse of a Nation: How it (Really) Started
The ‘Day of Rage’
Ultra-Violence & the State of Terror
‘Peaceful, Pro-Democracy’ Protesters
Bernard Levy

Mass Deception: Enter the Corporate Media
The Media Deception Campaign
Saif Gaddafi
The Russian Satellite Data

Utilising Social Media: The Propaganda Masterstroke
Persona Management Software
The You-Tube Strategy
A Nation ‘Destabilised by Al-Jazeera’

The Brink of the Abyss: “We are the People of Libya!”

Rebels, Mercenaries, Terrorists, Proxy Militias
‘Everyone is Terrified’
Al-Qaeda’s Day in the Sun
Billion-Dollar Mercenaries
A Word About ‘Captagon’
Guantanamo Bay

The UN Resolution and NATO’s Imperialist War
UN Resolution 1973
The UN Charter
The War on Libya Begins

‘Disguised as Arabs’ – The ‘Fifth Element’ in Libya
Boots on the Ground
Special Forces, MI6, Qatar & Criminal Warfare
The 2010 Unconventional Warfare Manual of the US Military

The Corporate Media Fiction & the ‘Crimes of the Regime’
The Benghazi Narrative
The Viagra Stories
The African Mercenaries
Amnesty International & International Crisis Group
BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN & co Go to Town
The Information War

Timeline of Destruction: March – October 2011
Operation Destroy Libya
NATO War Crimes

‘Criminals and Barbarians’ – NATO’s Civilian Casualties
Piles of Bodies…’
The Fall of Tripoli
Operation Target Gaddafi
The Osama bin Laden Ruse
The ‘Nazi-Fascist Role’
Gaddafi’s Last Stand

The End of Gaddafi & the End of Libya
The ‘Largest Demonstration in World History’
Sirte & the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi

End-Game: The Gaddafi Check-Mate
Citizens Commission on Benghazi Report

Further Information to Convict Hilary Clinton, Sarkosy & Possibly Others of Murder…
The ‘White-Flag’ Convoy
The ‘Return to Barbarism’
Sarkozy and the French Connection
Three Decades of ‘Operation Assassinate Gaddafi’

After Gaddafi: The ‘National Transitional Council’
Ethnic Cleansing, Torture, Persecution & Murder
Who the ‘Opposition’ Leaders Really Were
Revolution or ‘Counter-Revolution?
Jalil’s Confession
The War in Syria

Libya NOW: A ‘Failed State’
Warlords, Terrorists, Rival Militias, & No Government
‘Islamic State’, Sharia Law, the Persecution of Women
2011 ‘Civil War’ as ‘Battle of the Sexes’
Mass Migration & the Mediterranean

The Case for the Prosecution: The Crime & the Criminals
Obama, Hilary, David Cameron & the Whole Mafia
The Mass Media Warfare
The Pentagon Tapes
Decades of Propaganda
Lockerbie
The Berlin Disco Bombing
The Failure of the UN

The Motive: Why Libya Was Targeted
The Gold Dinar & African Development
The Gold Heist of the Century
The Lockerbie Reimbursements
The ‘World Revolution’
The ‘Islamic State’, the ‘Clash of Civilisations’ & the ‘Perpetual War’

Posted in Libya, Literature0 Comments

GADDAFI: A Psychological Profile of Man, Myth & Reality

 NOVANEWS

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He walked up to the podium to address the UN General Assembly.
All eyes in the chamber were on the strange, eccentric figure, whose invitation to New York had been the subject of great controversy and coverage. Staring out at all the delegations of world government, he acted out ripping up the UN Charter, calling it “worthless”.

He proceeded to condemn the UN for its failure to prevent “65 wars since 1945”, and to rally against the dictatorial control of the Security’s Council’s five permanent members and the domination of “the Super-powers”. “How can we be happy about global peace and security if the whole world is controlled only by five countries?” he complained. Some delegations walked out. Others looked embarrassed or uncomfortable.

The year was 2009 and the speaker was Muammar Gaddafi; then acting not just as the symbolic ‘head of state’ for Libya but as Chairman of the African Union. It was the first and last time he would ever be invited to address the UN. He would be dead less than two years later, murdered brutally by a terrorist mob being armed and supported by the very same “super-powers” and UN Security Council he had condemned in 2009. The bitter, ugly irony wouldn’t have been lost on him in those final weeks and days.

Hours later, he was in the CNN  studio being interviewed by veteran presenter Larry King; it was a very odd, stilted interview, partly undermined by a language barrier and partly by Gaddafi’s strange, off-kilter manner at the time. In that one moment in time, we saw two sides of the Libyan leader: in the General Assembly we saw the incisive protester and world figure, while in the TV studio we saw the slightly strange, disheveled man who Western audiences had such a hard time relating to.

That juxtaposition in fact probably characterised Western perception of Muammar Gaddafi for most of his life.

So what is there still to be said about Gaddafi? Loved. Hated. Demonised, vilified. Lionised. Mocked. Condemned. Celebrated. Revolutionary. Dictator. Visionary. Tyrant. Terrorist. Socialist. And finally murdered.

The list of words used to define or describe one of the most notorious world figures of the late 20th century goes on and on. Those words, those semantics, change depending of course on who is doing the talking. They changed also depending on what year it was or what the weather was like that day. But, as a few weeks ago marked the fifth anniversary since his brutal murder in Sirte, this seemed an appropriate time – as promised – to reflect on the life and character of one of the twentieth century’s most interesting and debated figures.

I already wrote here at length on the downfall of Gaddafi and Libya in 2011 and also about the Gaddafi era itself in Libya from 1969 to 2011; now, finally, was the appropriate time to reflect more squarely on Gaddafi himself, as a person. To try to understand his psychology, his motivations, his possible failings, and to try to deal with some of the enigma and contradiction. He was, to my mind, one of the three or four most fascinating world figures of the 20th century, and also the most important socio/geo-political martyr of the 21st century so far; and there is a great deal to process when trying to understand who he was.

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The one thing you could never do was define him in a simple sentence.

In life, and beyond death, Gaddafi remains difficult to make any blanket statements about. I don’t generally lionise people when it comes to politics or world affairs, and I would never claim Gaddafi was a ‘hero’ in any absolute sense; he was certainly a hero in 2011 and he died a hero. But life is too complicated and international affairs too nebulous and mired in corruption and agendas to make general statements about political figures.

Gaddafi was certainly a visionary and a revolutionary. In some ways he was an echo of the kind of world-changing, groundbreaking figures that existed in long gone times; a modern, Libyan or Arab equivalent of an Augustus or of an ancient Greek styled ‘Statesman-Philosopher’ type. In some ways he was also just another Arab dictator; but of course that wouldn’t contradict the Augustus analogy at all, as the founder of the Roman Republic had been a dictator for life, however much he had tried to dress it up in different terms. For that matter, you would have to go back to Roman times to find the last even vaguely famous Libyan before Gaddafi: since the days in which Romans were sailing the Mediterranean and warring with Carthage over 2,000 years ago, no ‘Libyan’ had ever made an impact on history or become known across the world until Muammar Gaddafi.

Tingba Muhammad, in an article in ‘The Final Call’, described Gaddafi as ‘a man whose progressive record of accomplishments very well may be unmatched by anyone who has ever led a nation in modern times.’

And he was also therefore a kind of leader most of us in the West can’t really relate to understand, given our highly institutionalized and regulated political systems and classes in which the power or will of individual figures to bring about vast change is extremely minimal, the individual subject by the vast, self-perpetuating systems and instruments of government and economics. That system, it is argued, protects us from madmen, protects us from overly ambitious or powerful individuals like Hitler or from cults of personality; which is probably true for the most part. It also hinders any possibility of revolution or of great change, it could be argued.

Gaddafi could be a riddle of contradictions. Who else could be named a frontrunner for Amnesty International’s poll for ‘Human Rights Hero, 2011’ and then just weeks later be labelled a ‘war criminal’ by Western government officials and accused of massacring civilian demonstrators?

Odd and eccentric are certainly other things you could describe Gaddafi as. And highly entertaining at times too. He unfortunately lent himself to ridicule, even when the ridicule wasn’t justified; though often the ridicule was probably justified. Here is a genuinely funny, but not mean-spirited, satire of Gaddafi from shortly before his death.

His eccentricities probably made it much easier for him to be caricatured as a ‘mad dictator’ much of the time; though most of those eccentricities probably didn’t emerge until later in his life, creating a sometimes jarring contrast between the serious, revolutionary nation-builder of the 1970s and the sometimes weird, outlandish figure of later years.

Here was a man whose downfall and death was celebrated by Western government officials and media, and yet was mourned by many across Sub-Saharan Africa, who celebrated him as a hero. For instance, a vigil was held in Sierra Leone. The Daily Times of Nigeria stated that Gaddafi, whether he had or hadn’t been a dictator, was the most benevolent in a region that only knew dictatorship and that he was “a great man that looked out for his people and made them the envy of all of Africa.”

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AllAfrica.com reported that while many Libyans and Africans would mourn Gaddafi, this would be ignored by Western media and that as such it “would take 50 years” before historians decided whether he was “martyr or villain.”

I think that is a very astute point actually; it may take 50 years for most people to really understand who Gaddafi was, what he accomplished, what he tried to do and what he was about. We can debate back and forth for hours over what Gaddafi was about; but the one thing he absolutely wasn’t is the two-dimensional Bond villain the Western governments and media made him out to be for so many years, even if some of his behavior did lend itself to that caricature.

He was a flawed person and a flawed leader, certainly; he was an egotist, yes. And some of his ideas, policies and actions were highly questionable. And like most Arab or African leaders, he can be said to have at various times presided over a repressive, sometimes violent, regime, even if he wasn’t the one guiding or endorsing the more oppressive behavior; this too, for that matter, is a subject of contention – the question of whether Gaddafi himself was directly to blame for the more oppressive behaviour of some of the Revolutionary Committees and other elements of the regime over the years. The jury is verymuch still out on that. The ‘jury’, for that matter, is still out in general, as the Western coalition chose to murder him instead of bringing him to a trial.

One of the reasons Gaddafi is so difficult to judge is because he changed so much. Across the four decades of his Libya, he seemed to reinvent himself and alter some of his views numerous times. If you study his history, there are periods in which you could legitimately call him a ‘dictator’ of course (but not necessarily any worse or different to various other Arab or African leaders – including the ones our governments support). But at other points you could also legitimately call him a true revolutionary, a champion of the people, a genuine Socialist. This practically impossible task of ‘defining’ Gaddafi is so complicated that people even now can’t state for certain whether he was a ‘dictator’ or merely a symbolic figurehead during the last few decades of his life.

But he was always an easy figure for the Western media and governments to make fun of. This wasn’t aided by his increasingly ostentatious dress sense as he got older, nor by some of the things he said and the way he said them. But then Gaddafi was a singular force, a self-made individual, who didn’t play the game by the international rule-book and who didn’t fit in to the prevailing world order.

And he didn’t mince words or ideas; didn’t do ‘politics’ in the sense that we understand it. Therefore he could say things like “There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet!” and do so in all seriousness; whether he meant that in a partly sarcastic way or not. He wasn’t, in truth, a great orator and often said things that didn’t translate very well (though he had a definite poetic flourish in his writings). That being said, there really aren’t many great ‘orators’ in the modern Arab world, where rhetoric and great oratory aren’t generally considered necessary qualities: by that standard, Gaddafi was different and can be said to have made at least a handful of very potent speeches in his time, in addition to written texts.

It helped that he always had the ability to shock or to provoke, of course; but also to be unintentionally funny when he was actually trying to be profound.

Who but Gaddafi would begin a speech at an Arab Summit with the sentence, “Firstly I would like to explain to you all why the Israelis and the Palestinians are both stupid…” But it was Gaddafi, and everyone knew who he was, knew what to expect, and some even came to enjoy it. When he made that statement about the Palestinians and the Israelis, the Palestinian Prime Minister was in the front row, laughing his head off and gesturing at the podium as if to illustrate that Mad Uncle Gaddafi was making his drunken X-Mas toast.

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Whether it was his support for various liberation movements in the 70s and 80s or whether it was the admittedly very odd custom he had of travelling everywhere with an elite unit of female bodyguards (the famous Amazonian Guard – many of whom were brutally hunted down and murdered after Gaddafi’s downfall). Or whether it was in his blunt statements, such as in that famous 2009 UN address in which he called the UN Security Council “the world terrorism council” and ripped up the UN Charter in front of the whole General Assembly, calling it ‘worthless’.

Sometimes this could be hilarious. When he visited Italy and met with Silvio Berlusconi, Gaddafi wore pictures of Libyan martyrs who’d died at the hands of Italian/Fascist Colonial occupation forces during World War II (over a million Libyans died in Italian concentration camps at that time; something that without doubt influenced a lot of Gaddafi’s attitude towards Colonialism and the West). It was a remarkably brazen thing to do, but he was making a statement on behalf of all Libyans (and the look on Berlosconi’s face, as he tries to pretend he hasn’t noticed, is priceless).

And among all of his visions, he also had some questionable ideas. And yes, Gaddafi proposed ‘SATO’; a ‘NATO of the South’ that would be set-up in opposition to NATO and would’ve been constituted by African and South-American nations forming a mutual defense initiative. It sounds facetious, but he may have had a serious underlying point about the imperialist North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the need for an equal and opposite organisation. For one thing, if he had built a ‘SATO’, then the NATO criminal enterprise of 2011 that resulted in his murder and the destruction of Libya might have encountered some serious opposition from the outset. Libya would’ve had allies. Instead, Libya was left to fend for itself against what Fidel Castro called “the Nazi-Fascist role played by America and its NATO allies”.

And yes, like Augustus, he also decided to rename the months. February was ‘Lights’, August was ‘Hannibal’ (that other great, mythic ‘hero’ of Libyan history, who had waged war on the Romans). These were all ‘quirky’, perhaps downright odd, aspects to his character and his life. He was also full of contradictions.

He was bitterly opposed to extremist ‘terrorists’, yet in his mission statement to support ‘freedom movements’ across the world he probably can be said to have at times supported ‘terrorist’ organisations; although there we do get into semantics and into questions of how you define a terrorist in one instance and a ‘freedom fighter’ in the other (case in point: he was substantially supporting Nelson Mandela and the ANC at a time when they were still being considered ‘terrorists’ by most Western governments).

He was also always keen to emphasise his humble Bedouin roots and would therefore receive dignitaries in his signature sprawling white tent, which he erected wherever he went: Rome, Paris and, after much controversy, New York, on a Westchester estate in 2009. Yet at the same time he increasingly started to attire himself in fine, ostentatious clothes. There were always such contradictions with Gaddafi, such was the complexity of his character. Unlike an archetypal ‘dictator’, he was subject to change, was in fact looking to change at various times and was looking to implement change as time moved on. His Libya was in an ongoing ‘state of revolution’; a continuous evolution going on over a long period of time, not a dictatorship set in stone.

Inside that tent of his, the quilted walls were printed with motifs like palm trees and camels. But however ostentatious and attention-seeking it may have been, there is also something charming and even endearing in seeing images of people like Vladimir Putin or Tony Blair having to meet Gaddafi in his tent. Modern, Western politicians always seemed so out-of-place, out of their comfort zone when having to do this. But likewise, Gaddafi himself always looked so out of place in the modern structures of global, Corporatist government on those few occasions he was invited; he looked like some exotic figure who’d been transported via a time-machine into the modern political world.

Libyan leader Moummar Gaddafi talks with Pan African Parliament President Gertrude Mongella from Tanzania during the family photo of the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon

When he came to the UN General Assembly in New York in 2009, some treated him like a rock star; even some of the usually composed, hum-drum officials and delegates seemed to be fascinated by his presence, as if their world had suddenly turned upside down.

Among two of the things most emblematically associated with Gaddafi’s work are the ‘Green Book’ and the Great Man-Made River project.

Gaddafi’s ‘Green Book’, which provided much of the basis for his ‘remaking of Libya’, has at times been ridiculed by Western commentators or dismissed as the quaint ramblings of a ‘madman’ or an eccentric. But numerous progressive academics worldwide have acclaimed The Green Book as a serious body of political thought, offering an incisive critique of Western parliamentary democracy, capitalism and Marxist socialism, and offering a viable, workable alternative.

The other ‘official’ books are a mixed thing. My Vision, published in the late 90s, is widely regarded as little more than a propaganda exercise by the Libyan state.

However, Gaddafi’s Escape to Hell & Other Stories is a fascinating insight into his mind; some of it has poetic flourish, while some of it is badly written to the point of being almost unreadable. But there are rich explanations of his passion for nature and the profundities of the living world, very sweet passages in relation to his parents, interesting insights into his own failings, frustrations and sense of limitation. There is also an insightful sense of Gaddafi’s sense of brotherhood with oppressed peoples and belittled cultures across the world, which explains the psychology behind his decades-long support for liberation movements from Nicaragua to Ireland to the Aborigines. And humour can be found in his vitriolic attacks on religious extremists and Islamist terrorism, which are full of sarcasm and put-downs.

Escape to Hell  is actually probably a much better insight into Gaddafi’s personality and mind (and a better read too) than The Green Book; the latter being a manifesto, the former being more of a free-flowing dialogue.

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The Great Manmade River has been written about at length elsewhere (and somewhat here): but is worth mentioning again here, as it was undertakings like this that gave Gaddafi the aura of those old-world visionaries and ‘nation builders’ and society-makers like in the legends of the classical Greek city states or of Roman builders like Augustus and Caesar, or Herod the Great.

He wasn’t just inspiring and forging the society on a political or ideological level, but was literally involved hands-on in building and transforming the landscape and infrastructure. Like a Herod the Great or an Augustus, he wanted to leave his mark for posterity, not just in the political and social landscape but in the physical landscape itself.

It is a little sad to think that he might’ve failed in that: the Great Manmade River – regarded a marvel in modern engineering, and rather boastfully called by Gaddafi himself ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ – has, in fact, been severely damaged by both the marauding Islamist rebels and the NATO bombers in 2011. And though some things will probably survive, monuments or projects relating to Gaddafi have been destroyed or town down all over Libya, and even swathes of some of the great cities and urban developments he oversaw the development of have been laid to waste or left in ruin by the NATO onslaught or the subsequent terrorist militias and warlords.

Even Tripoli, once a marvel of Gaddafi’s Libya, has been left in ruin and has been listed now as the ‘fifth most unlivable city’ in the world.

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The circumstances of Gaddafi’s birth, fittingly enough for someone who went to such lengths to mythologise himself, have the almost prophetic air of something out of scripture or myth.

The son of an impoverished Bedouin goat herder, Muammar Gaddafi was born in a tent near Qasr Abu Hadi, a rural area outside the town of Sirte in the deserts of western Libya. Curiously, Gaddafi’s date of birth is not known for certain, as his parents were Nomadic Bedouin and were illiterate and did not keep birth records.

These were the most humble of beginnings imaginable for a figure who end up a nation-builder, a one-time dictator and a cultural and national figurehead. Gaddafi was never embarassed of these roots, never tried to deny them or disavow his parents and upbringing. In fact, quite the opposite: he wore this Bedouin desert birth and upbringing almost as a badge of honour, as evidenced by – among other things – the fact that he would meet foreign dignitaries in his special tent and would even set up a tent to stay in when abroad, as he did in New York in 2009.

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The contradiction in Gaddafi, as I mentioned earlier, is that while he was proud of this ‘humble’ roots and of the tribal and desert traditions of the country, he was also a city-builder who wanted to modernise and industrialise Libya, and he therefore often appeared to be oscillating back and forth between these two natures. His reverence of nature and the wilderness was undeniable and came through strongly in his writings, along with a disdain for modern, urban lifestyles – and yet he sought to build thriving, modern cities at the same time.

In 1945 at the conclusion of World War II, Libya was still occupied by British and French Colonialist forces.

Although Britain and France intended on dividing the nation between their empires (which they would again try to do in 2011, albeit in different terms and under different, more modern guises), the General Assembly of the newly-established United Nations granted the country independence. In 1951, the United Kingdom of Libya was created; a federal state under the leadership of the pro-western monarch, Idris, who banned all political parties and established an absolute monarchy. The monarchy was essentially a Colonialist vassal, serving foreign interests and keeping the population in poverty. This was essentially not a system at all interested in common society or in building up a nation, but mostly of simply holding the North-African nation as a vassal land of foreign interests.

The idea – wrongly perpetuated by critics – that Gaddafi’s regime had banned political parties was, technically, incorrect: there had never *been* any political parties.

Education in Libya was not free at that time, but Gaddafi’s father funded his son’s education despite the great financial difficulty. During the weeks, Gaddafi slept in a local mosque, having no home, and at weekends he walked some 20 miles to visit his parents in their traditional dwellings. Reportedly bullied for being a Bedouin, he was nevertheless proud of his identity and was said to have actively encouraged this same pride in other Bedouin children.

This same disposition of the child of humble origins being bullied for his ‘inferior’ background and responding with renewed pride in his roots would in fact play out all through Gaddafi’s life.

I believe – through reading and studying on Gaddafi at length – that he believed he was later looked down on and bullied by other Arab leaders and elite ruling families, particularly the Saudis, as being somehow a figure of ridicule simply because he was mere Bedouin from a poor African nation; moreover and more importantly, he perceived the same attitude towards him and his country from the broader international forces, particularly the Western and European governments who for so long refused to recognise his leadership or his country. Gaddafi (pictured below in the early 70s with PLO leader Yasser Arafat, with Egypt’s Nasser and the Saudi Royals on the right), may therefore have carried with him something of a persecution complex.

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This was, of course, entirely valid come 2011, when all of his longstanding views of the ‘Western, Colonialist aggression’ (and his mistrust of the Saudi and Gulf State monarchies) were proven absolutely true.

As a young man and student, he had a keen interest in Arab nationalist activism, but he nevertheless refused to join any of the banned political parties active at the time, including the Arab Nationalist Movement, the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and the Muslim Brotherhood, this being because he rejected ‘factionalism’. He later claimed at this time he read voraciously on the subjects of General Nasser and Egypt, the French Revolution of 1789, the works of Syrian political theorist Michel Aflaq and curiously the biography of Abraham Lincoln.

“Lincoln was a man who created himself from nothing without any help from outside or other people. I followed his struggles. I see certain similarities between him and me,” he said in a book published by The Pittsburg Press in 1986 called Gaddafi: The Man the World Loves to Hate.

People could roll their eyes or make jokes about any comparison between Muammar Gaddafi and Abraham Lincoln, but the fact is that Gaddafi was entirely self-made. All that he accomplished in his own life he accomplished entirely without assistance from outside forces and without inherited privilege. Unlike the Royal Dictators of the Saudi and Gulf States, for example, who inherit immense and wealth and privilege, or like leaders of American or British governments, who come up through highly wealthy elite networks and major patronage from wealthy backers or from corporations, someone like Gaddafi literally came from nothing and *had* nothing except what he built himself.

And indeed the Libya that he built – the poorest nation in Africa at the time he inherited the helm and wealthiest and most successful within just the first decade of his rule – was also a self-made success story, built entirely independently, without any foreign loans, without any involvement from Western companies or governments or the IMF or World Bank. Given all of that, Gaddafi could literally compare himself to Lincoln and be making a serious point. His Libya had also come into being as an entirely Libyan affair and wasn’t a foreign-backed or foreign funded coup.

Graduating in August 1965, the young Gaddafi had become an army communications officer. In April 1966, he was sent to Britain for further training; spending time undergoing military training in Dorset and Kent and an English language course at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire.

One of his instructors from this time called him “hard working, conscientious” and “an amusing officer”, adding that he was an avid reader of books and also enjoyed playing football. Gaddafi disliked England, however, and later claimed that British Army officers had racially insulted him on a regular basis. He also claimed to have found it very difficult adjusting to the country’s culture. One wonders, with hindsight, whether these experiences might have had some impact on his later attitude towards the Colonialist powers, Britain in particular. The experience may have also caused him to retreat more into his Arab identity and his desert roots. Almost certainly, whatever racism he encountered would’ve left a bitter taste in his mouth.

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There is a very amusing picture (above) of the young Gaddafi walking around Piccadilly Circus in 1966, dressed in traditional Bedouin robes, while two English old ladies look on, bemused.

There was very little time between Gaddafi walking around Piccadilly Circus in 1966 and he and his ‘Revolutionary Committee’ conducting the coup in Libya that ousted the monarchy and established a Socialist Republic.

Gaddafi and his Revolutionary Committees believed the monarchy and the ruling elite were opposed to the will of the people and the development of the nation, so they purged monarchists and members of Idris’ Senussi clan from Libya’s political world and armed forces.

Inspired by the Arab Nationalism that was going on across the Middle East, particularly the example set by President Nasser in Egypt, the Libyan Revolution led by Gaddafi successfully ousted King Idris in 1969. It was an entirely bloodless coup with no deaths and no violence; conducted with popular consent and broad support and carried out entirely by Libyan nationals serving a Libyan agenda. It had been entirely secular in character, with no sectarian interests. Contrast this to the foreign-funded 2011 uprising, which involved scores and scores of foreign terrorists and mercenaries and was backed and directly aided by foreign interference and foreign military bombing; it was an absolute bloodbath, mired in Islamist terrorism, Al-Qaeda atrocities, ethnic cleansings, and unbridled barbarity in many instances.

The difference between Gaddafi’s 1969 revolution and the Al-Qaeda/NATO-led 2011 ‘revolution’ is absolute.

Read more: ‘The Libya Conspiracy: A Definitive Guide to the Libya Intervention & the Crime of the Century…’

Following the military coup in 1969, the new Libyan government insisted that America and Britain immediately remove their military bases from Libya, with the 27-year-old Gaddafi saying Libya would “tolerate living in shacks while the bases of imperialism exist in Libyan territory.” The British left in March and the Americans in June 1970, despite both having tried to negotiate an agreement with the Libyans at this early stage. But with this clear statement and attitude, the tone and nature of the relationship between the new Libya and the Western superpowers was set for the decades that would follow.

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Gaddafi was recognised as Revolutionary Chairman of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977, and then later as the “Brotherly Leader” of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011, the latter being supposedly a less executive and more symbolic role.

While many critics portrayed the Gaddafi family and the Libyan ‘regime’ as an immovable, dictatorial ‘establishment’ that would permanently rule over the people, it is clear that Gaddafi was considering other possibilities. Other critics would point to the ‘lavish lifestyles’ of the Gaddafi family, though in reality this was more to do with some of his sons and relatives and not so much Gaddafi himself. And more to the point, even if the Gaddafi family did live in ‘luxury’, it clearly wasn’t at the expense of the people.

And of course the whole critique becomes even less meaningful when we consider the luxury that other dictatorships, such as the Saudi and Gulf-State Royal Families live in (and the extraordinary wealth disparity with their populations), and who are nevertheless supported and well-regarded by Western governments. Even more pertinently, the political classes in America, France, Britain and most other developed nations aren’t exactly known for slumming it with the lower classes either, are they?

Gaddafi, let’s remember, was a peasant, born in the desert to impoverished Bedouin parents: he worked for and attained everything he had in life, having had the most humble beginnings imaginable. Our own Establishment simply has that luxury as a ‘birthright’.

Some of Gaddafi’s relatives, as well as some Libyan officials, did later adopt lavish lifestyles, including luxurious homes, Hollywood film investments and private parties with American pop stars; this was particularly the case with the younger generation, such as Gaddafi’s son Mot’assim.

How much this was true of Gaddafi himself (pictured below with wife Safia and son Saadi in the 70s: photo credit, Tyler Hicks, New York Times) is difficult to tell, but the evidence suggests he wasn’t particularly excessive in the context of other leaders or ‘dictators’. In democratic societies like ours, someone like Tony Blair, for example, earns millions in his post-office enterprises as well as receiving substantial amounts of tax-payer money for his personal security, etc. The same is true of former American Presidents like Clinton and Bush.

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The Gaddafi family compound had facilities for banquets and other public events, but was actually described by US intelligence reports published via Wikileaks as “not lavish in any way compared with the ostentation of the Gulf-oil-state families.”

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And what of Gaddafi, the ‘Brutal Dictator’?

It is, rather remarkably, still an unresolved question as to whether Gaddafi himself was personally responsible for any of the more brutal actions at various points by elements of the regime or whether these elements, particularly the Revolutionary Committees, were much more autonomous than that and essentially acted on their own authority and initiatives. It could be that when Gaddafi attacked those elements of the regime publicly or condemned their actions, he was simply performing an act to absolve himself in the people’s eyes. Or it’s possible he really wasn’t directly culpable in their activities.

The truth of the matter may lay somewhere in the hazy middle of those two possibilities.

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There were also strong indications that his personal involvement with those aspects of the regime abated more and more in the later years as he adopted his more and more symbolic position in the society, and that by the last few years of his life he was hardly involved at all; but that the existential crisis of 2011 simply forced all the revolutionary forces to rally around the founder of the state once more and forced Gaddafi himself to return to a more aggressive stance in order to fight off the invading terrorists, mercenaries and foreign agents.

As Hugh Roberts notes in his article ‘Who Said Gaddafi Had to Go?’, days after Gaddafi’s death (and which I’ve referenced in previous articles, because it really is a worthwhile read): ‘Words such as ‘authoritarianism’, ‘tyranny’ (a favourite bugbear of the British) and ‘dictatorship’ have never really captured the particular character of this set-up but have instead relentlessly caricatured it. Gaddafi, unlike any other head of state, stood at the apex not of the pyramid of governing institutions but of the informal sector of the polity, which enjoyed a degree of hegemony over the formal sector that has no modern counterpart.’

Perversely, it also worth considering that much of Gaddafi’s alleged paranoia and the paranoia displayed by the Revolutionary Committees (which led to much of the oppressive treatment of political opponents) was a direct result of all the CIA/MI6/foreign assassination attempts and plots to subvert, infiltrate or overthrow the regime.

If Gaddafi was paranoid, it was for good reason. From the moment he’d ousted the monarchy 1969, Gaddafi had numerous and constant threats to both his position and his life – from the monarchists, from the Israeli Mossad, from Saudi and Gulf-State agents, from the CIA and MI6, from homegrown and foreign-backed groups like the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO), and finally from Al-Qaeda and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. He and his supporters had every cause for extreme defensiveness; all of which of course was proven entirely valid in 2011.

In regard to the widely circulated caricature of Gaddafi as a ‘mad, weird’ dictator, it could be legitimately suggested that Gaddafi did get stranger and stranger in his behaviour as the years went on.

Something happened with him that tends to happen to most men who experience great power for a long period of time; just as with Augustus and other emperors, and just as with various dictators over the centuries, being in power for so many years – and becoming the national figurehead and living symbol – undoubtedly did odd things to his mind and his self-perception. His ego clearly spiraled, to the extent that he openly thought of himself as the “king of kings” of Africa, having already considered himself a prophet. The thing is, had he walked away or stepped aside after the first decade or so of his rule, no one would question his accomplishments and what he did for Libya – that first decade was an extraordinary period of development, vision and success.

Read more: The Life & Death of Gaddafi’s Libya: A Study of the Libya That No Longer Exists

But most men, were they to rule for almost four decades, would probably develop significant psychological complexes. What is particularly fascinating in Gaddafi’s case is that, come the Arab Spring and violent uprising in 2011 – combined with the NATO-led assault – something seemed to snap back in him and the increasingly odd egotist and eccentric of the preceding decade-plus seemed to quickly be shaken off like moss.

Suddenly, something more like the Gaddafi of 1969 was back – the proud, defiant Libyan patriot and guardian of the society. If you observe Gaddafi in 2011, it was as if the sudden, bloody and urgent, existential threat to the nation he had built up was like a splash of cold water to wake him from what had been – at times – a long, increasingly self-obsessed daze.

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It was too late, in a sense. In another sense, however, it gave him one last chance to become something potent and vital again and to become in reality the kind of national symbol and hero that he had always tried to present himself as. But whereas, for many years he had artificially built up this mythology around himself, as many ‘great men’ do, in 2011 it was purely in his actions. In other words, where he had spent many years trying to, with no small amount of ego, portray himself as the great hero and defender of the society, he now, at the end, actually was the great hero and defender of the society -right to the bitter, bloody end.

Which is not to say that the various acts of egotism and self-aggrandizement over the years were ‘justified’ by the Gaddafi of 2011 – they weren’t. But, in the end, he entirely lived up to his image, however self-serving that image might’ve been at some stages of his life. Where most leaders, especially powerful ‘dictators’ with vast wealth or assets to protect, would’ve fled to safety, gone into exile or cut a deal, Gaddafi stood his ground and fought and prioritised saving the nation, the society and the people’s dignity.

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So, who was the ‘real’ or definitive Muammar Gaddafi?

The Gaddafi who, in a mad act of self-worship, allowed a delegation of minor African dignitaries to place a golden crown on his head and literally proclaim him “King of Africa”? Or the Gaddafi who, just weeks before his death – and at a time when the war was clearly lost and he knew his time in Libya was up – went out and rallied his people, telling them to go out into the streets with their flags and be unafraid of their enemies and to continue on as proud Libyans in their land?

It’s actually impossible to say.

The answer is probably that both were the ‘real’ Gaddafi; one was the Gaddafi that began to emerge when he grew psychologically fat and lazy from continuous prestige and power, while the other was the Gaddafi who quickly re-emerged when the life or death of the nation was suddenly at stake. One was the Gaddafi who it was difficult to have much sympathy for; the other was the Gaddafi who got to end his life as a hero and as the most potent symbol Libya had ever – and will ever have – produced, almost as if to make up for all those years of inflated self-aggrandizement and vanity projects.

Why was Gaddafi a hero in much of Africa and why was he so influential in the continent?

It’s important to remember that his original interests had been in the Arab world and not so much Africa. He had been a major proponent of Arab Nationalism and Pan-Arabism in the 1970s – that Arab nations should build mostly secular, progressive states and come together in common cause and brotherhood, instead of following their own petty interests or sectarian concerns. He had been the main proponent of the plan to unify Libya with Syria and Egypt in a common, secular Arab alliance.

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These endeavors ultimately failed, however, and, by the eighties, that Pan-Arab ideal had evaporated from most of the region.He still maintained a good relationship with Syria, which had remained an Arab Nationalist state and which like Libya was one of the few remaining nations on earth that was truly independent. But in general, Gaddafi was no longer on very good terms with most of the Arab world.

Instead, he turned towards Africa.

Gaddafi had opposed Apartheid in South Africa and forged a good relationship with Nelson Mandela, who named his own grandson after Gaddafi and called Gaddafi one of the 20th century’s “greatest freedom fighters”, and insisted the eventual collapse of the Apartheid system owed a great deal to Gaddafi and Libyan support. In turn, Mandela later played a key role in helping Gaddafi gain (brief) mainstream acceptance in the Western world later in the 1990s. Over the years, Gaddafi came to be seen as a hero in much of Africa due both to his epic revolutionary image and to what he had accomplished in Libya. This view was only amplified by the manner of his horrific death at the hands of Western, Imperialist-backed terrorists.

After Mr Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, he rejected pressure from Western leaders – including then-US President Bill Clinton – to sever ties with Gaddafi, who had in fact largely bankrolled his election campaign. “In the darkest moments of our struggle, when our backs were to the wall,” Mandela had said, “it was Muammar Gaddafi who stood with us.” In 1997, Mandela awarded Gaddafi the highest official honour in South Africa in recognition for his support of human rights and the struggle against white Apartheid.

This view of Gaddafi was shared by many others across Africa. “For most Africans, Gaddafi is a generous man, a humanist, known for his unselfish support for the struggle against the racist regime in South Africa. If he had been an egotist, he wouldn’t have risked the wrath of the West to help the ANC both militarily and financially in the fight against Apartheid,” said Jean-Paul Pougala, writing in the London Evening Post after Gaddafi’s death.
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Gaddafi was also one of the founders of the African Union (AU), created in July 2002, with its birthplace in his own place of birth (and death) – Sirte.

There are debates as to whether Gaddafi’s influence on Africa was positive or negative. There are highly critical views of Libyan involvement in other African states and in bloody skirmishes and Civil Wars in Africa; but, of course, these are the same sorts of geopolitical controversies that numerous other nations – the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, to name a few – have been, and still are, involved in too.

What is clear is that – particularly in the final years of his life – Gaddafi was, in essence, moving to free the entire African continent from the clutches of Western imperialism.

As is well attested, Gaddafi was establishing himself as the pioneer of African development and currency; establishing himself as the alternative to the IMF in Africa. In effect, he was setting himself up for conflict with the international central banks and monetary system. Just how significant Gaddafi’s presence was to Africa is something that Western media has always tried to downplay. But Gaddafi alone had allocated two-thirds of the $42 billion that was required to launch a public African Central Bank (based in Nigeria), an African Monetary Fund (based in Cameroon) and an African Investment Bank based in Libya.

The African Monetary Fund (AMF) would’ve meant no more borrowing from Rothschild Central Banks for African countries, but production of its own currency for Africa, interest-free and backed by Gold standard.

This was the reason Gaddafi was always portrayed and treated as such a threat to Western interests. Had he been a simple dictator, content to live out his reign in luxury as an all-powerful ruler in his own domain, the West would’ve left him alone – just like various other dictators are left alone. It was his continuous interest in pursuing anti-Imperialist agendas that made him unpalatable: whether it was ensuring Libyan independence and self-sufficiency in the early 70s, trying to establish a strong Arab federation in the mid-to-late 70s, financially supporting worldwide ‘liberation movements’ throughout the 70s and 80s, or trying to establish African currency and independence in the 21st century, the Western powers realised that he wasn’t inclined to just sit there, playing the fiddle like Nero.

While Gaddafi certainly took steps to reconcile with the West and to try to improve relations (led in part by his son, Saif al-Islam), he never entirely gave up his anti-Colonial, anti-Imperialist views and ideas. He always retained that same attitude that had driven the 1969 ousting of the King. As late as the Second Africa/South America Summit in Venezuela in September 2009, he joined Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in calling for an “anti-imperialist front” across Africa and Latin America; this, in the same year he had made his controversial address to the UN General Assembly in New York.

By this point in time, it would’ve been clear to Western agencies that, for all his ‘reconciliation’ with the West in recent years, Gaddafi was still ultimately a problem and a nuisance.

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Where does all this bring us to in our search for the ‘real’ Gaddafi?

Nowhere definitive, probably. Just confirmation that he was a complex figure who can be viewed in many different lights depending on where you’re standing at any given time. probably lionised him a little too much when I compiled a book detailing the 2011 ‘Civil War’ and Western intervention; but I was really writing in the context of that year’s events and Gaddafi’s actions at that time.

It would be childish to call portray him as a faultless saint, as political affairs, particularly in such a troubled, unstable region, don’t create such figures. It is, by the same token, equally childish to portray Gaddafi as a cartoon Villain, which is what Western officials did for so long; a caricature that had very little basis in reality. Gaddafi was… simply Gaddafi; complex, enigmatic, flawed, but an extraordinary political, social and now historical figure, whose life, actions and legacy will inspire debate for generations to come.

In the end, in the final analysis, Muammar Gaddafi ends up a figure so difficult to pin down, so difficult to truly assess, that it may, as AllAfrica.com said, take “50 years” to truly come to a conclusion.

What the Western, NATO-led governments and their Islamist/Salafist terrorist friends did do in 2011, however, was inadvertently to make sure that whatever Gaddafi may or may not have been in his lifetime, he was an absolute hero in the final chapter. In 2011, Gaddafi was the great lion set upon and defeated by the corrupt alliance of wolves, jackals and vultures. He died a hero’s death, fighting a long, hero’s battle. Whatever else he may have been at any other time, he ended up the ultimate hero, the ultimate defender of his people and his country, waging one last, dying battle against corrupt, criminal forces of a morally-bankrupt global/financial Imperialism.

In essence, as I said earlier, the events of 2011 allowed Gaddafi to achieve an apotheosis as a natural end-point to the ‘revolutionary’ figure he had been in ’69 and the early 70s, almost erasing – to some extent -some of the less noble acts and periods in-between those times.

Fidel Castro summed up the 2011 crisis, saying, “If he (Gaddafi) resists and does not yield to their demands, he will enter history as one of the great figures.” Perhaps in some ways it was the only fitting end for the man who, in the first instance, had been the ultimate revolutionary.

Related: Gaddafi: Odd, Funny Facts – From Secret Pen-Pals to Piccadilly Circus‘, ‘Libya, 2016: Three Governments, More Foreign Intervention & the Return of Gaddafi‘, ‘The Story of Sirte: From Proud Libya to Extremist Caliphate‘, ‘Is Ayesha Gaddafi Leading a Secret Resistance?

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LIBYA After Gaddafi: The Humiliation & Horror of the ‘Failed State’

NOVANEWS

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The nightmare that is post-Gaddafi Libya is showing no signs of improving any time soon.
Libyans who were promised democracy and progress by NATO and the international powers that rained bombs down across the country in 2011 have in fact been given nothing of the sort.

I have already chronicled the 2011 Libyan catastrophe at length in this book (still free to download), which comprehensively illustrates the international conspiracy conducted against Gaddafi and the Libyan people and decisively tears apart all of the false narratives about what was going on in Libya in 2011 in the so-called ‘Arab Spring’.

So what is the reality of this ‘brave new Libya’ that was supposed to have been created through all the lies and bombs of 2011? We are now four years beyond the uprising and the murder of Gaddafi. For most of those intervening four years, the same corporate/news media that was so adamant about how terrible Gaddafi was and how necessary the international intervention was has been almost completely silent about Libya, declining to report on the country or to send anyone to Tripoli, Benghazi, Sirte or anywhere else.

It was as if the media’s role was simply to demonise Gaddafi and once he was dead and the ‘regime change’ accomplished, the matter was over. It hasn’t been until the last nine months or so that mass-media organisations have reluctantly started to talk about Libya again, partly due to the fact that the increase in migrant deaths in the Mediterranean waters have made it impossible to pretend everything’s alright – because the Libyan tragedy has now directly caused a European crisis.

The reality is that the fall of Gaddafi’s administration has created all of the country’s worst-case scenarios: Western embassies have all left, the south of the country has become a haven for terrorists, and the Northern coast an uncontrollable hub for illegal migrant trafficking. Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have all closed their borders with Libya (Tunisia is now even building an Israeli-style wall to cut itself off from Libya). This all occurs amidst a backdrop of widespread rape, assassinations and torture that completes the picture of post-Gaddafi Libya.  This is Hilary Clinton and co’s gift to the Libyan people.

And the biggest joke is that the great ‘National Transitional Council’ that was propped up by the Western powers to replace the old republic is already history and there hasn’t been a proper government in Libya since Gaddafi’s death; now instead we have multiple rival ‘governments’ trying to assert themselves as the authority while the Western nations and the UN have absolutely no idea who to recognise, how to help or what to do.

Perhaps now, belatedly, some of our officials and diplomats might find themselves thinking back to all those offers Gaddafi and the old officials had made to negotiate a compromise.

And from 16th May 2014 (and ongoing) a Second Civil War has been going on in Libya, with the various factions who’d united to end the Gaddafi era now having turned on each other, as they were always bound to. Is anyone surprised by that? Did NATO and the West expect to fund, arm and unleash that level of bloodlust, violence and anarchy and then expect it to stop when Cameron or Obama clicked their fingers? Our governments, even the UN, simply left the Libyans to it after 2011. The killing never stopped. But the Hilary Clintons, the David Camerons and Nicolas Sarkosys of the world washed their hands of it and didn’t care anymore.

And instead of trying to fix the horror story they’d created in Libya, they all moved onto trying to create the same horror story in Syria, hoping for the same ‘victory’. And while the world’s attention turned to the vast Syria crisis (which itself sprang partly from the Libya crisis), Libya was sliding even further into the abyss.

Since 2011 Libya has been experiencing a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions, a financial crisis, an environmental crisis and an infrastructure crisis. The country hasn’t been rebuilt from all the NATO bombing.

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Benghazi is currently facing a major, ongoing humanitarian crisis. How bad is it? A petition was recently being circulated, started by a group of Libyan activists, demanding that Benghazi be declared a “disaster zone”. Benghazi, you will recall, was the initial focal point of Western ‘intervention’ in early 2011, thanks to a false narrative concocted by Western governments and mainstream media that Gaddafi had been “about to” carry out a “massacre” in the city, when in fact he had simply been attempting to retake the city from foreign-backed terrorists and gangs. Now the city that the French-led NATO forces bombed almost five years ago in order to protect the terrorist groups from the Libyan Army is “a disaster zone” at the mercy of ISIL/Daesh.

France, Britain and any other government can talk all they like now about the danger of ISIL being in Libya and the need to intervene – but never forget for a moment that the terrorists are only there because *our governments* sent NATO forces to ensure their victory.

NBC goes further and defines Libya as a “failed state”. 

It has in fact been called a “failed state” several times recently by various analysts. A ‘failed state’? Who *made it* a ‘failed state’? Libya was the most prosperous, successful nation in Africa. NATO, the US, France, the UK and every other nation involved in the intervention in Libya took a successful, self-reliant nation and TURNED IT INTO A ‘FAILED STATE’ through bombing, the arming and supporting of terrorists and through targeted assassination. And now those same leaders, and the same corporate media propagandists who encouraged and celebrated the murder of Gaddafi and the intervention in Libya, have the gall, have the nerve, to casually label it ‘a failed state’, as if it’s somehow some mere, unfortunate thing that has happened because Arabs and Africans aren’t very good at managing things.

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In fact, it was precisely because Gaddafi was making so much progress – not just in Libya, but in Africa – that the Western officials unleashed the Libyan apocalypse. See here for a comprehensive portrait of what Libya had been during the Gaddafi era; a poor, Third World country that was utterly transformed to the extent that in 2010 – just months before the 2011 ‘uprising’ – the UN rated Libya No.1 on its global index of ‘human development’. To fully understand the scale of the tragedy here, you have to understand what Libya *was* prior to the international ‘intervention’.

And what is Libya now?

This BBC piece on ‘Lawless Libya’ reflects how dire the situation is in the country. Numerous militias each govern their own patches of territory, with successive “governments” struggling to exercise control. Libya has essentially been turned into a mixture of the Wild West and the kind of tribal/warlord dynamics that defined Afghanistan during the 9/11 era. There are lots of different armed groups – up to 1,700, according to some sources – with entirely differing goals. But money and power are what is said to be motivating most forces and parties, with religious extremism motivating the others.

‘Libya continues to suffer from a chronic absence of security, with almost daily assassinations, bombings and kidnappings.’ This sounds like an absolute copy-and-paste of what much of Iraq was like following the US-led invasion. Which is of course what Gaddafi said would happen; “they will turn Libya into another Iraq, another Somalia…” he had said in February 2011.

The Libyan tribes, what’s left of the Libyan National army and the elected Parliament in Tobruk are working hard to rid their country of the Al-Qaeda, LIFG, Ansar al-Sharia, ISIS/ISIL and other extremist/terrorist brigades that Western governments imported into Libya in 2011 (or in the case of ISIL/Daesh, came into Libya after to take advantage of the utter helplessness of the country). But the Western-backed terrorist infestation of the country has proven impossible to cleanse.

And the lack of definitive government makes the problem even more impossible. Karim Mezran of the Atlantic Council wrote a particularly grim blog post titled ‘Deepening Polarization in Libya, No Agreement in Sight’.  In an irony of ironies, Libya’s PM was allegedly threatening protesters with troops just last year – the precise crime that Gaddafi was accused of having committed (but which he hadn’t); except this time no Western government was jumping all over that threat, demanding ‘intervention’.

As if things weren’t bad enough, the emergence of ISIL/Daesh in Libya has only exacerbated the nightmare.

‘Daesh in Libya’ is regarded to have emerged in Derna in 2014 as Libyan jihadists and mercenaries who’d been waging their Western-backed terror campaigns in Syria were returning to the fallen country that had been their first arena in 2011. Declaring allegiance to the ‘Islamic State’, they declared eastern Libya theirs.

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While Libya was used as the springboard for the Syrian rebellion, many of the jihadists and Western-backed mercenaries never left; and the same gangs and militias who’d fought the 2011 rebellion against Gaddafi and the state simply decided to start fighting each other and trying to control territory and resources. Eastern Libya had long been an area where Islamists and jihadists had sought dominion, but the strong Libyan state under Muammar Gaddafi had kept jihadism suppressed up until 2011 when foreign governments, aided by NATO, bombed the Libyan state into oblivion in direct aid of the various jihadist and terrorist groups, paving the way for the establishment of these extremist ‘caliphates’.

NATO and the international forces bombed the way for Al-Qaeda and the other jihadist groups in 2011, entering into a direct alliance with them; it has made the subsequent ISIL/Daesh takeover inevitable.

The Libyan people themselves have had all of their weapons taken away by NATO and its on-the-ground proxy militias; and are therefore largely unable to defend themselves. The irony is that Gaddafi and the old government had tried to directly arm the Libyan civilians during the 2011 crisis – precisely so that they could defend themselves and their homes from the roving brigades of terrorists. Even very late in the 2011 crisis, Gaddafi had tried to negotiate an agreement with Western agencies that would’ve had him give up the fight and go into exile – his only condition was that a portion of the Libyan Army be allowed to stay in the country and continue to try to fight off the various terrorist gangs and foreign mercenaries that had been imported in. He was refused, even in this.

ISIL being able to take over Sirte and other Libyan cities isn’t surprising, given the utter absence of security or even a functioning state. NATO and the Western governments disarmed the Libyan population, making resistance close to impossible; moreover they left Sirte, as with most of the rest of the country, in ruins and with no functioning system of government or law-enforcement.

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But the truly horrific post-script to the fall of Gaddafi was already unfolding long before ISIL arrived; it was unfolding, in fact, from before even Gaddafi’s brutal murder.

The entire, delicate social and cultural fabric of the country fell apart with Gaddafi’s death. While Gaddafi loyalists were tortured or killed, an unending process of crime and retaliation ensued, militias and splinter-groups broke off and tried to do their own thing, and religious extremism flourished as the Al-Qaeda-led terrorists who’d mostly fought the war continued to establish their ‘caliphates’ (just as Gaddafi had tried to tell Western media would happen), and impose their extreme religious law. Any sense of the national unity or identity that had been so key in the Gaddafi era was gone, along with any sense of secularism or inclusiveness. Instead, as in Syria and Iraq, sectarian lines formed and the violence spiralled.

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All thought of African unity or development, so central to Gaddafi’s vision, was now gone. And indeed Black Africans in Libya were persecuted or murdered en masse by the Salafist-inspired jihadists. Aside from mass lynching of Black people that followed Gaddafi’s fall, Christians were also being persecuted once Gaddafi was gone.

Things like this and this didn’t happen in Gaddafi’s Libya, of course, as Gaddafi was vehemently opposed to sectarianism in general and to Islamic fundamentalism in particular; the character of the Green Revolution, while not completely secular in the Western sense, certainly wasn’t sectarian. The old Libya was all about national unity and identity. Post-Gaddafi Libya is the exact opposite; national identity is gone, while the religious extremists – many of them foreign and not Libyan – have free reign in much of the country. It’s the same, of course, in Syria and Iraq; wherever the foreign proxy terrorists go, minorities and Christians are persecuted or killed and the inter-cultural fabric is torn apart.

Following the end of Gaddafi’s rule, there were reports of attacks also against sites of Sufi Muslims. In late 2011, a Sufi school in Tripoli was stormed by armed men who “burned its library, destroyed office equipment and dug up graves of sages buried there,” and “turned the school into a Salafist mosque.” Sufism, by the way, is one of the oldest, most traditional interpretations of Islam; a minority sect in places like Libya, it is under attack from the various Salafi-inspired groups who want a puritanical, intolerant version of Islam to wipe away all other schools of thought. The Sufi Muslims traditionally place more emphasis on the spiritual, mystical side of the religion, somewhat comparable perhaps to the old Gnostics of early Christian traditions.

Sharia Law is in effect in various Libyan cities and towns, the Islamists establishing their various ’emirates’ just as Gaddafi said would happen. The same “Al-Qaeda Imams” Gaddafi told us were “in the mosques” guiding the uprising in 2011 are now in the town halls and civil buildings, legitimized by our Western governments. ‘Fatwas’ are being issued on a regular basis; ‘fatwas’ and indeed all the other traits of hardline Islamist/Salafist culture were entirely alien to Libya in the previous four decades.
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Hardline Islamists ‘Ansar al-Sharia’ ride around in ‘police’ convoys looking very much like ISIS/ISIL, and this was even prior to the larger-scale ISIL invasion that has occurred this year. ‘Ansar al-Sharia’ in Derna is headed by Abu Sufian bin Qumua former Guantanamo inmate who was a major Al-Qaeda figure in the 2011 uprising. Much of the uprising was, again, commanded by Al-Qaeda figures; something that is comprehensively demonstrated here. Ansar al-Sharia in fact have worked in concert with ISIL to help the latter establish a major presence in Libya.

The status of women in the new, NATO-backed Libya is yet another dimension to the tragedy.

Gaddafi’s system championed women’s involvement in decision-making, education and rights issues, in a way that most Arab countries don’t. Hilary Clinton, laughably viewed by some in America as some kind ‘women’s rights’ campaigner, gave Libyan women Al-Qaeda in place of progress. It was in fact reported very soon after Gaddafi’s death that one of the earliest new laws being sought by a number of men was the legal right to still have sexual intercourse with the corpses of dead wives for a certain amount of time before burial. That’s the sort of level we’re talking about. Western commentators could make fun of Gaddafi having an all-female bodyguard unit if they like (sure, it was very odd), but the same people are silent about Libyan women being subject now to fundamentalist-Islamic rules and restrictions.

Unlike many other Arab nations, women in pre-2011 Libya had the right to education, hold jobs, divorce, hold property and have an equal income to men. The United Nations Human Rights Council had in fact praised Gaddafi in particular for his promotion of women’s rights, and it’s no coincidence that so many of the most ardent pro-Gaddafi loyalists were women. It’s all gone now.
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In March 2013, for example, Sadiq Ghariani, the ‘Grand Mufti’, issued a fatwa against the UN Report on Violence Against Women and Girls, condemning it. Later in 2013, lawyer Hamida Al-Hadi Al-Asfar, advocate of women’s rights, was abducted, tortured and killed. It is alleged she was targeted for criticising the Grand Mufti’s declaration. No arrests were made. Ghariani in fact has been using the UK as a base from which to encourage the violent extremists, including Islamic State, to consolidate their control of Libya.

In the (forced) change from Gaddafi’s Libya to the post-NATO Libya, women have gone from being highly active in Libyan life, going to universities and being a major part of the work force, to now facing the new reality of Sharia Law and the possibility also of being sold to ISIS/ISIL fighters as “virgin brides”. This is the gift Hilary Clinton, Samantha Powers, Susan Rice and others have given the women of Libya; women who, like most Libyans now, live in humiliation in their own country where they once lived in dignity.

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And of course the greatest sign, the greatest validation, of the great ‘success story’ of NATO and the West’s intervention in Libya has to be the thousands of people risking their lives to flee Libya across the sea in the hope of reaching Europe. This simply fulfils Gaddafi’s prediction prior to his murder that the Mediterranean would “become a sea of chaos” if the government fell. Some of these are Libyans, but many or most are refugees from other parts of Africa or the Middle East, who are being channeled through Libya and launched to sea by trafficking gangs and terror groups.
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Amnesty International, who – for the record – utterly refuted the Western governments/media stories about the Gaddafi government’s alleged ‘crimes’ in 2011 – now also sum up the character of post-Gaddafi Libya best when they declare ‘Libya is a place full of cruelty’; ‘Thousands of foreign nationals, including refugees and asylum-seekers, face abductions for ransom, torture and sexual violence by traffickers, smugglers and organized criminal groups. Many are systematically subjected to discrimination and exploitation by their employers or face indefinite detention in appalling conditions on account of their immigration status. Religious minorities, in particular Christian migrants and refugees, are persecuted and are at highest risk of abuse from armed groups that seek to enforce their own interpretation of Islamic law’.

This grim analysis of post-Gaddafi Libya could go on and on; but you’ve gotten the picture by now. And again, see this article for a portrait of what Libya used to be. The international intervention in Libya in 2011 stands as one of the worst, most heinous war crimes in modern history. And for the people of Libya, the chaos, suffering, degradation and humiliation didn’t end in the bombing and violence of 2011, but continues to this day. They still don’t have a government. In most parts of Libya, they don’t have infrastructure or basic amenities. And in many cities and towns, they live every day in danger of violence, arrest, rape or assassination.

The arrival now of scores of ISIS/ISIL fighters and extremists into a Libya that the international powers have left defenseless is the final rancid icing on the cake. Because with the arrival of ISIL, things can only get even worse.

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The Story of SIRTE: From Proud Libya to ISIS/Terrorist ‘Caliphate’

NOVANEWS
On October 19th 2011, a convoy of cars left the city of Sirte, carrying Libya’s beleaguered figurehead Muammar Gaddafi.
On October 21st, an American/CIA drone (being operated from Las Vegas) spots the convoy and alerts NATO bombers, which immediately begin bombing the vehicles.

It was French planes that started the attack, but soon NATO war-planes from other nations also arrived and joined in. Many or most of those human beings in these vehicles on the ground were incinerated, while others were torn apart by machine-gun fire. Gaddafi himself survived this air-strike, but the NATO-backed armed gangs later found him.

NATO, French and British SAS forces helped the bloodthirsty rebels in Sirte locate and capture Gaddafi. British SAS troops coordinated the ground forces (Al-Qaeda and the rebel jihadists) and unconfirmed reports have persisted that French agents were actually *among* the crowd of crazed rebels that tortured, sodomized and executed Gaddafi (for a comprehensive account of all of this, consult the free download of The Libya Conspiracy). He was paraded, bloodied and dazed, dragged about by the manic, crazed, drug-fueled mob with their blood-curdling cries of ‘God is Great’, filmed for the benefit of all the world’s news stations and newspapers and then at some point in the chaos he was executed.

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Almost as soon as Gaddafi was toppled, the Al-Qaeda flags were flying over the Benghazi courthouse in celebration. America, France and the rest of the Western governments and regional allies celebrated with them; a great victory for ‘The Good Guys’.
Gaddafi’s assassination marked the end of an era and the end of Libya; but it was only the beginning of the suffering and degradation that Sirte itself was to suffer.

The son of an impoverished Bedouin goat herder, Muammar Gaddafi had been born in a tent near Qasr Abu Hadi, a rural area outside the town of Sirte in the deserts of western Libya; he very much regarded Sirte as his birthplace and ‘home town’. Gaddafi had subsequently transformed Sirte, carrying out extensive programmes of public works to expand what was once a village into a small city. After 1988, many government departments, along with the Libyan parliament, were relocated from Tripoli to Sirte, even while Tripoli remained the formal capital of Libya.

Sirte was in fact intended by the Gaddafi-era government to be the future capital of a unified Africa. The ‘Sirte Declaration‘ was the resolution adopted by the Organisation of African Unity in 1999, when numerous African Heads of State were hosted by Gaddafi in Sirte to establish the African Union. In 2007, Sirte was also where Gaddafi held the talks to broker a peace agreement between the Sudan government and the warring factions of Darfur.

The city would later, perhaps even fittingly, be the final stronghold of Gaddafi loyalists in the foreign-orchestrated bloodbath of the ‘Libyan Civil War’ in 2011. In a radio address on 1st September 2011, Gaddafi had been forced by events to declare Sirte the new capital of Libya, after Tripoli had been captured by the NATO-backed rebels. Beyond the bloodbaths in Tripoli and Benghazi, thousands of civilians were killed by NATO and the rebels in just Sirte alone.

Read more: The Libya Conspiracy: A Definitive Guide to the Libya Intervention & the Crime of the Century‘…

After Gaddafi’s murder, Sirte was left almost completely in ruins by both the NATO bombing and the on-the-ground destruction by jihadists, with most buildings and infrastructure either entirely destroyed or severely damaged. The destruction of Sirte came to perfectly symbolise the destruction of Libya itself, as everything that had been built, everything it had been transformed into for four decades, and everything it symbolised in terms of both Libya and Africa, was left in ruins.

These images below are what Sirte used to look like prior to the Western bombing campaign of 2011.

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And this below is what Sirte looked like after the bombing campaign conducted by all the wealthiest natinos on earth. The same can be said for other Libyan cities, including the once extraordinary city of Tripoli.

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For Sirte, that wasn’t even where the story ended.

The persecution of pro-Gaddafi supporters after Gaddafi’s death became commonplace. Even after Gaddafi was dead, loyalists remained and among the civilian population there were still plenty willing to speak openly about where their support had lay. “We lived in democracy under Muammer Gaddafi, he was not a dictator. I lived in freedom, Libyan women had full human rights. We want to live just as we did before,” said one resident, in this piece in The Telegraph. “There is little food, not enough clean water and no gas. Now we live worse than animals.”

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That was just over four years ago. In the four years since NATO and the international community decided to overthrow the Libyan state, have things improved?

As bitter as many Sirte residents and Libyan loyalists may have been at the Western-backed coup and the assassination of the national figurehead, perhaps some of them considered that, as the months went on, things would improve. Perhaps they considered that the high-minded, democratic Western nations that had opted to militarily force a regime change in Libya would make sure a peaceful transition to democracy was made. Perhaps they considered that France, the United States, Britain and the others would ensure security, or at the very least *justify* the bloody regime-change by ensuring it counted for something. Some might’ve thought the United Nations – which had played its key part in enabling the destruction of Libya – would be around in the aftermath to help ensure human rights and to help protect the Libyan people.

But any poor soul in Sirte who might’ve held to such an optimistic view wouldn’t have been thinking those things for very long; neither would any poor soul in Benghazi or Tripoli. Because there’s no sign of the ‘democracy’ the West promised, nor any inkling of ‘human rights’. And the rape and desolation of Sirte, as with most of Libya, continues to this day.

But to complete the sordid story and make it all the more perverse, the city that was the birthplace of Muammar Gaddafi and the heart of the African Union is now the headquarters of ‘Daesh’ or the so-called ‘Islamic State’.

Much of Sirte’s population of 300,000 people were either subject to the NATO-backed genocide or had to flee during the 2011 war in Libya. Eventually much of the population dared to return and to attempt to build the city in the absence of Gaddafi and the government (about 70% of the population had returned to Sirte); but then in February 2015, ‘ISIL’ terrorists appeared ‘out of nowhere’ – in a fleet of shiny, brand new Toyota pick-ups. An ISIS siege of the city commenced.

The international community – the same international community that had used overwhelming military force to overthrow the Libyan state and allow scores of foreign terrorists to enter the country – did absolutely nothing to stop this ISIS invasion or to come to the aid of its ‘liberated’ Libya. And now, just as the hijacked Syrian city of Raqqa is about to be taken from ‘ISIS’, Sirte is already in place to be the next base of the extremist ‘caliphate’. Some analysts are already calling Sirte, and not Raqqa in Syria, the Islamic State ‘capital’.

Two months into the Russian campaign against ISIL targets in Syria, a UN report in December warned that up to 5,000 ISIL terrorists were now in Libya, with half of them concentrated in Sirte, and that the extremist group “sees the country as a retreat zone and strategic hub for recruits unable to reach its Syrian heartland.”

US military propagandist Joseph V. Micallef writes, ‘It’s believed that about 70% of the Islamic State militants in Libya are foreigners, with the bulk coming from Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia. In recent months there have been consistent reports that Islamic State has been transferring  “administrators” and “military commanders” to Libya to take direct control of its militants there. Moreover, Islamic State websites in Libya have been prominently featuring the slogan that “Sirte will be no less than Raqqa,” suggesting that if Raqqa falls, Sirte may become the new capital of Islamic State…’

There is, again, a perverse symbolism in the home town and birthplace of the late Libyan figurehead being turned into the ‘new Raqqa’ or capital of the Islamic State, which probably isn’t lost on Sirte’s beleaguered residents.

ISIL being able to take over Sirte isn’t surprising, given the utter absence of security or even a functioning state. NATO and the Western governments disarmed the Libyan population, making resistance close to impossible; moreover they left Sirte, as with most of the rest of the country, in ruins and with no functioning system of government or law-enforcement. The story isn’t new; just as much of Iraq was left shattered, vulnerable and disunited after the US-led invasion, so again with Libya, which has been left an easy victim by the West’s devastation of the country. With no unified government, and with various terrorist or extremist militias carving out their own territories, who are the Libyan people supposed to turn to?

Read more: As ISIS Humiliates Libya, Second Western Intervention Imminent‘…

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ISIL/Daesh swept to power in Sirte with ease, partly thanks to an alliance with the local branch of the jihadist ‘Ansar al-Sharia‘ group that was born out of the 2011 uprising in which various jihadist leaders, including Al-Qaeda commanders and former Guantanamo Bay prisoners, were allowed by the West to lay the foundations for their future ‘caliphates’. In essence, everything NATO and the Western governments have tried to let happen in Syria is what they *did* let happen in Libya.

Sirte has in fact become a hub or HQ for terrorist organisations.

In recent communications with the leadership of Libya’s Tribes’ Council, American contacts James and Joanne Moriarty were told that the leadership of ISIL, Boko Haram, Ansar al-Sharia, and possibly other terror groups, had all gathered in Sirte for meetings that took place around the 9th and 10th of December 2015.

It is a tremendous irony that the place that was previously hosting the African Union and a movement for ‘African unity’ (and the likes of Nelson Mandela) was now instead hosting terrorist leaders and extremist jihadists.

ISIS have reportedly set up their command centre right next to the domed, marble-clad conference centre that Gaddafi had built to host pan-African summits. They have taken control of the formerly state-run radio station, which they now use to broadcast speeches by the extremist caliphate’s religious leaders. Further to this, ISIL’s leadership may have been strategically relocated to Sirte in recent months, following the assaults on ISIL strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

Iranian news agency FARS reported two months ago that ISIL’s elusive ‘caliph’ or leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, wasn’t in Raqqa nor in Iraq, but had been spirited out of Turkey and transported safely to Sirte, now ‘the safest jihadist stronghold in the world’. This is believed to have happened on around December 9th, roughly the same time James and Jo Moriarty say the gathering of terrorist leaders took place in Sirte.

If true, it means the leader of the ‘Islamic State’ group is now based in Gaddafi’s birthplace.

The two rival Libyan ‘governments’ have conducted airstrikes against ISIL in Sirte in recent months, but their capabilities are very limited, relying on outdated warplanes and helicopters from the Gaddafi era, and a lack of precision weapons.

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By late November 2015, Sirte was under the complete control of ISIL.

With now an estimated 1,500 fighters in the city, ISIL have predictably started to impose their own rule of law, just as if Sirte was Raqqa; with dress codes for men and women, segregation in school classrooms and the establishment of religious police. This is what the once proud Libyan people are subjected to in Sirte, the legacy of a Western/NATO ‘humanitarian intervention’ that was really nothing of the sort. Punishments are inflicted on residents, for crimes ranging from theft or alcohol production to “spying”. These include imprisonment, amputations, public crucifixions and beheadings. The group has set up its own religious police force and is reported to be carrying out constant house-to-house searches and forcing residents to attend religious ‘re-education’ classes.

The image below is a billboard put up to show women how they are now expected to conduct themselves…

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This image, on the other hand, captures some of the hundreds of thousands of Libyan women who took to the streets throughout 2011 to show their support for Gaddafi and the former Libyan Republic and who had repeatedly asked NATO and the international coalition to stop the bombing and allow Libyans to determine their own future…

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From this BBC report on the situation in Sirte today, a children’s doctor says, ‘The killing is unbelievable. I lost four cousins on my father’s side, five cousins on my mother’s side, three other relatives and two neighbours. One cousin was crucified at the Zaafran roundabout’.

ISIL’s brutality in Libya has been more or less the same as its actions in Syria and Iraq. When citizens in Sirte took up arms to try to push back the foreign terrorists, residents have said the jihadists engaged in a brutal crackdown. Cleric Khalid Awad said that ISIS had killed some of their prisoners and hung the bodies from bridges, roundabouts and highways across the city, the AFP news agency reported. There were also reports that the group had beheaded 12 people and crucified them.

The Islamic State has also been pushing east from Sirte in an operation to seize control of the country’s oil infrastructure, mirroring what the extremists have previously done in both Syria and Iraq. As Middle East Eye wrote last summer, “the desert region to the south of the oil ports has been strategically cleared in a series of attacks by IS militants on security personnel and oil fields, where employees have been killed and kidnapped, and vehicles and equipment seized.”

This is now the reality of Sirte and the conditions its citizens live under; a gift from NATO, the UN and leading officials from virtually every Western government. A city bombed to rubble by the wealthiest nations on earth and now taken over by scores of mostly foreign extremists who subject the citizens to the humiliation of a medieval life.

Read more: Libya After Gaddafi: The Humiliation & Horrors of a ‘Failed State‘…

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The ‘Founding Declaration of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya’

NOVANEWS

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A statement, released via the Jamahiriya News Agency on January 9th 2017 and purporting to be the ‘Founding Declaration of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya’, suggests the Libyan people’s fight-back against the international conspiracy and terrorist takeover is gathering momentum.

As is often the case with Libya these days, source-verification is very difficult, just as it was in regard to alleged statements from Ayesha Gaddafi which were covered here. However, the JNA’s editorial comment states, ‘We received the English translation of the founding declaration/communique today along with a copy of the original document. Saif Al Islam Qaddafi is indeed leading the movement.’

The image above, by the way, is not recent – but is from 2011.

The declaration, issued “from the Western mountain”, reads as a noble, unifying call-to-action seeking to re-unify the people and restore the country that was destroyed in 2011 by terrorist gangs and their international sponsors.

The translation reads; ‘Feeling our historical and national responsibility to maintain the homeland and the dignity of its people and to work on passing it to the future generations free, dignified and prestigious as we inherited it from our parents and grandparents who had sacrificed themselves and their wealth in heroic, immortal epics for its sake…’

Aware of the conspiracy and the perils that inflicted the country and brought about the collapse of its institutions, leading to the domination of terrorism on the joints of the State and its spread all over the country undermining its security and social peace turning it into a yard of regional and international conflict that damaged its unity, fortune and safety; produced a failed state and a feuding society; uprooted its people into dislodged and displaced persons; looted its wealth and savings; laid the foundations for sowing the seeds of discord among its towns and tribes and; disseminated the discourse of hatred that hit the social fabric in a mortal spot…’

And keen to cross with the homeland to safety, growth, and construction, away from the language of infighting, marginalization, and exclusion; We announce the launch of the organized popular work, at home and abroad, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya, a national framework of struggle that combines all Libyan activists to liberate the country from the control of terrorist organizations that use religion as a cover and are bonded by being agents for the foreigner, and the tampering of criminal militias; and to work on building a national sovereign state and maintaining its independence, security, and prestige by means of legitimate institutions.’

It is a state whose citizens are linked with the bond of citizenship, respects differences and diversity and, maintains rights and duties. It is the state of the judiciary and the rule of law where the Libyan people alone has the right to choose its political system freely and to build a modern advanced economy that depends on its latent potential through developing its natural, material and human resources per a comprehensive development plan that bypasses the miserable reality to open prospects and hopes for a prosperous economy that achieves happiness and prosperity to our great people…’

It continues briefly, calling on the people to put aside their differences and come together for the restoration of the country and a legitimate state. The full text and original Arabic document can be read here.

As was covered here last year, the Libyan Green Resistance has been gathering momentum and even, allegedly, significant support within some of Libya’s failing ‘government’ institutions.

And the (alleged) release from prison of Saif Gaddafi last summer – particularly the secrecy and lack of official comment or confirmation – was suggestive of the possibility that Saif was being seen as the best hope for rescuing the post-2011 ‘failed state’ from its misery (read more). It is, we should acknowledge, still not known for certain that Saif is involved in or leading this movement at all – it may be that he is simply being used as a powerful symbol to inspire or embolden the movement.

However, he may well be involved – and, if he is, I would suggest it is far better at this point that his involvement remains unconfirmed and unknown and that those opposed to the Gaddafi loyalists – both in Libya and abroad – are kept uncertain and in the dark about the scale or nature of what they’re dealing with.

This declaration isn’t signed by or attributed to Saif or any individual. It instead reads as a statement to, for and by the people.

As was previously covered here just under a year ago, Ayesha Gaddafi was also alleged to have stated that she was now the ‘leader of the resistance’ in Libya and that she was about to create a new ‘secret government’ to take back the fallen, chaos-riddled country. Those statements too were unconfirmed, but were nevertheless symbolically very powerful.

I also want to say here that I received a correspondence in mid-October last year – the source of which I was expected not to divulge due to his/her location and safety concerns. This came to me on account, apparently, of the book I put together a while ago on the Libya intervention happening to reach someone (I don’t know how) deeply involved in those events. The exchange was partly to acknowledge the book and partly to correct a particular (minor) error I had apparently made in the research. I received the correspondence via a social media account that was created just for that day and then immediately deleted.

The reason I bring it up is because the exchange suggested to me that some of the rumours (and unconfirmed statements) about what’s going on in Libya are probably true; and that, where there appears to be smoke and mirrors going on in some cases, it is probably deliberate.

This January ‘declaration’, if genuine, however, suggests the arrival of a stage of more open, overt activity and objectives. I also tend to wonder, as previously suggested, if the events in Aleppo, Syria, might’ve further signaled that now was the time.

Related: Muammar Gaddafi: A Psychological Profile of Man, Myth & Reality‘, Libya, the Failed State‘, ‘The Story of Sirte: From Proud Libya to Terrorist Playground‘…

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GADDAFI: A Psychological Profile of Man, Myth & Reality

NOVANEWS

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He walked up to the podium to address the UN General Assembly.
All eyes in the chamber were on the strange, eccentric figure, whose invitation to New York had been the subject of great controversy and coverage. Staring out at all the delegations of world government, he acted out ripping up the UN Charter, calling it “worthless”.

He proceeded to condemn the UN for its failure to prevent “65 wars since 1945”, and to rally against the dictatorial control of the Security’s Council’s five permanent members and the domination of “the Super-powers”. “How can we be happy about global peace and security if the whole world is controlled only by five countries?” he complained. Some delegations walked out. Others looked embarrassed or uncomfortable.

The year was 2009 and the speaker was Muammar Gaddafi; then acting not just as the symbolic ‘head of state’ for Libya but as Chairman of the African Union. It was the first and last time he would ever be invited to address the UN. He would be dead less than two years later, murdered brutally by a terrorist mob being armed and supported by the very same “super-powers” and UN Security Council he had condemned in 2009. The bitter, ugly irony wouldn’t have been lost on him in those final weeks and days.

Hours later, he was in the CNN  studio being interviewed by veteran presenter Larry King; it was a very odd, stilted interview, partly undermined by a language barrier and partly by Gaddafi’s strange, off-kilter manner at the time. In that one moment in time, we saw two sides of the Libyan leader: in the General Assembly we saw the incisive protester and world figure, while in the TV studio we saw the slightly strange, disheveled man who Western audiences had such a hard time relating to.

That juxtaposition in fact probably characterised Western perception of Muammar Gaddafi for most of his life.

So what is there still to be said about Gaddafi? Loved. Hated. Demonised, vilified. Lionised. Mocked. Condemned. Celebrated. Revolutionary. Dictator. Visionary. Tyrant. Terrorist. Socialist. And finally murdered.

The list of words used to define or describe one of the most notorious world figures of the late 20th century goes on and on. Those words, those semantics, change depending of course on who is doing the talking. They changed also depending on what year it was or what the weather was like that day. But, as a few weeks ago marked the fifth anniversary since his brutal murder in Sirte, this seemed an appropriate time – as promised – to reflect on the life and character of one of the twentieth century’s most interesting and debated figures.

I already wrote here at length on the downfall of Gaddafi and Libya in 2011 and also about the Gaddafi era itself in Libya from 1969 to 2011; now, finally, was the appropriate time to reflect more squarely on Gaddafi himself, as a person. To try to understand his psychology, his motivations, his possible failings, and to try to deal with some of the enigma and contradiction. He was, to my mind, one of the three or four most fascinating world figures of the 20th century, and also the most important socio/geo-political martyr of the 21st century so far; and there is a great deal to process when trying to understand who he was.

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The one thing you could never do was define him in a simple sentence.

In life, and beyond death, Gaddafi remains difficult to make any blanket statements about. I don’t generally lionise people when it comes to politics or world affairs, and I would never claim Gaddafi was a ‘hero’ in any absolute sense; he was certainly a hero in 2011 and he died a hero. But life is too complicated and international affairs too nebulous and mired in corruption and agendas to make general statements about political figures.

Gaddafi was certainly a visionary and a revolutionary. In some ways he was an echo of the kind of world-changing, groundbreaking figures that existed in long gone times; a modern, Libyan or Arab equivalent of an Augustus or of an ancient Greek styled ‘Statesman-Philosopher’ type. In some ways he was also just another Arab dictator; but of course that wouldn’t contradict the Augustus analogy at all, as the founder of the Roman Republic had been a dictator for life, however much he had tried to dress it up in different terms. For that matter, you would have to go back to Roman times to find the last even vaguely famous Libyan before Gaddafi: since the days in which Romans were sailing the Mediterranean and warring with Carthage over 2,000 years ago, no ‘Libyan’ had ever made an impact on history or become known across the world until Muammar Gaddafi.

Tingba Muhammad, in an article in ‘The Final Call’, described Gaddafi as ‘a man whose progressive record of accomplishments very well may be unmatched by anyone who has ever led a nation in modern times.’

And he was also therefore a kind of leader most of us in the West can’t really relate to understand, given our highly institutionalized and regulated political systems and classes in which the power or will of individual figures to bring about vast change is extremely minimal, the individual subject by the vast, self-perpetuating systems and instruments of government and economics. That system, it is argued, protects us from madmen, protects us from overly ambitious or powerful individuals like Hitler or from cults of personality; which is probably true for the most part. It also hinders any possibility of revolution or of great change, it could be argued.

Gaddafi could be a riddle of contradictions. Who else could be named a frontrunner for Amnesty International’s poll for ‘Human Rights Hero, 2011’ and then just weeks later be labelled a ‘war criminal’ by Western government officials and accused of massacring civilian demonstrators?

Odd and eccentric are certainly other things you could describe Gaddafi as. And highly entertaining at times too. He unfortunately lent himself to ridicule, even when the ridicule wasn’t justified; though often the ridicule was probably justified. Here is a genuinely funny, but not mean-spirited, satire of Gaddafi from shortly before his death.

His eccentricities probably made it much easier for him to be caricatured as a ‘mad dictator’ much of the time; though most of those eccentricities probably didn’t emerge until later in his life, creating a sometimes jarring contrast between the serious, revolutionary nation-builder of the 1970s and the sometimes weird, outlandish figure of later years.

Here was a man whose downfall and death was celebrated by Western government officials and media, and yet was mourned by many across Sub-Saharan Africa, who celebrated him as a hero. For instance, a vigil was held in Sierra Leone. The Daily Times of Nigeria stated that Gaddafi, whether he had or hadn’t been a dictator, was the most benevolent in a region that only knew dictatorship and that he was “a great man that looked out for his people and made them the envy of all of Africa.”

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AllAfrica.com reported that while many Libyans and Africans would mourn Gaddafi, this would be ignored by Western media and that as such it “would take 50 years” before historians decided whether he was “martyr or villain.”

I think that is a very astute point actually; it may take 50 years for most people to really understand who Gaddafi was, what he accomplished, what he tried to do and what he was about. We can debate back and forth for hours over what Gaddafi was about; but the one thing he absolutely wasn’t is the two-dimensional Bond villain the Western governments and media made him out to be for so many years, even if some of his behavior did lend itself to that caricature.

He was a flawed person and a flawed leader, certainly; he was an egotist, yes. And some of his ideas, policies and actions were highly questionable. And like most Arab or African leaders, he can be said to have at various times presided over a repressive, sometimes violent, regime, even if he wasn’t the one guiding or endorsing the more oppressive behavior; this too, for that matter, is a subject of contention – the question of whether Gaddafi himself was directly to blame for the more oppressive behaviour of some of the Revolutionary Committees and other elements of the regime over the years. The jury is verymuch still out on that. The ‘jury’, for that matter, is still out in general, as the Western coalition chose to murder him instead of bringing him to a trial.

One of the reasons Gaddafi is so difficult to judge is because he changed so much. Across the four decades of his Libya, he seemed to reinvent himself and alter some of his views numerous times. If you study his history, there are periods in which you could legitimately call him a ‘dictator’ of course (but not necessarily any worse or different to various other Arab or African leaders – including the ones our governments support). But at other points you could also legitimately call him a true revolutionary, a champion of the people, a genuine Socialist. This practically impossible task of ‘defining’ Gaddafi is so complicated that people even now can’t state for certain whether he was a ‘dictator’ or merely a symbolic figurehead during the last few decades of his life.

But he was always an easy figure for the Western media and governments to make fun of. This wasn’t aided by his increasingly ostentatious dress sense as he got older, nor by some of the things he said and the way he said them. But then Gaddafi was a singular force, a self-made individual, who didn’t play the game by the international rule-book and who didn’t fit in to the prevailing world order.

And he didn’t mince words or ideas; didn’t do ‘politics’ in the sense that we understand it. Therefore he could say things like “There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet!” and do so in all seriousness; whether he meant that in a partly sarcastic way or not. He wasn’t, in truth, a great orator and often said things that didn’t translate very well (though he had a definite poetic flourish in his writings). That being said, there really aren’t many great ‘orators’ in the modern Arab world, where rhetoric and great oratory aren’t generally considered necessary qualities: by that standard, Gaddafi was different and can be said to have made at least a handful of very potent speeches in his time, in addition to written texts.

It helped that he always had the ability to shock or to provoke, of course; but also to be unintentionally funny when he was actually trying to be profound.

Who but Gaddafi would begin a speech at an Arab Summit with the sentence, “Firstly I would like to explain to you all why the Israelis and the Palestinians are both stupid…” But it was Gaddafi, and everyone knew who he was, knew what to expect, and some even came to enjoy it. When he made that statement about the Palestinians and the Israelis, the Palestinian Prime Minister was in the front row, laughing his head off and gesturing at the podium as if to illustrate that Mad Uncle Gaddafi was making his drunken X-Mas toast.

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Whether it was his support for various liberation movements in the 70s and 80s or whether it was the admittedly very odd custom he had of travelling everywhere with an elite unit of female bodyguards (the famous Amazonian Guard – many of whom were brutally hunted down and murdered after Gaddafi’s downfall). Or whether it was in his blunt statements, such as in that famous 2009 UN address in which he called the UN Security Council “the world terrorism council” and ripped up the UN Charter in front of the whole General Assembly, calling it ‘worthless’.

Sometimes this could be hilarious. When he visited Italy and met with Silvio Berlusconi, Gaddafi wore pictures of Libyan martyrs who’d died at the hands of Italian/Fascist Colonial occupation forces during World War II (over a million Libyans died in Italian concentration camps at that time; something that without doubt influenced a lot of Gaddafi’s attitude towards Colonialism and the West). It was a remarkably brazen thing to do, but he was making a statement on behalf of all Libyans (and the look on Berlosconi’s face, as he tries to pretend he hasn’t noticed, is priceless).

And among all of his visions, he also had some questionable ideas. And yes, Gaddafi proposed ‘SATO’; a ‘NATO of the South’ that would be set-up in opposition to NATO and would’ve been constituted by African and South-American nations forming a mutual defense initiative. It sounds facetious, but he may have had a serious underlying point about the imperialist North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the need for an equal and opposite organisation. For one thing, if he had built a ‘SATO’, then the NATO criminal enterprise of 2011 that resulted in his murder and the destruction of Libya might have encountered some serious opposition from the outset. Libya would’ve had allies. Instead, Libya was left to fend for itself against what Fidel Castro called “the Nazi-Fascist role played by America and its NATO allies”.

And yes, like Augustus, he also decided to rename the months. February was ‘Lights’, August was ‘Hannibal’ (that other great, mythic ‘hero’ of Libyan history, who had waged war on the Romans). These were all ‘quirky’, perhaps downright odd, aspects to his character and his life. He was also full of contradictions.

He was bitterly opposed to extremist ‘terrorists’, yet in his mission statement to support ‘freedom movements’ across the world he probably can be said to have at times supported ‘terrorist’ organisations; although there we do get into semantics and into questions of how you define a terrorist in one instance and a ‘freedom fighter’ in the other (case in point: he was substantially supporting Nelson Mandela and the ANC at a time when they were still being considered ‘terrorists’ by most Western governments).

He was also always keen to emphasise his humble Bedouin roots and would therefore receive dignitaries in his signature sprawling white tent, which he erected wherever he went: Rome, Paris and, after much controversy, New York, on a Westchester estate in 2009. Yet at the same time he increasingly started to attire himself in fine, ostentatious clothes. There were always such contradictions with Gaddafi, such was the complexity of his character. Unlike an archetypal ‘dictator’, he was subject to change, was in fact looking to change at various times and was looking to implement change as time moved on. His Libya was in an ongoing ‘state of revolution’; a continuous evolution going on over a long period of time, not a dictatorship set in stone.

Inside that tent of his, the quilted walls were printed with motifs like palm trees and camels. But however ostentatious and attention-seeking it may have been, there is also something charming and even endearing in seeing images of people like Vladimir Putin or Tony Blair having to meet Gaddafi in his tent. Modern, Western politicians always seemed so out-of-place, out of their comfort zone when having to do this. But likewise, Gaddafi himself always looked so out of place in the modern structures of global, Corporatist government on those few occasions he was invited; he looked like some exotic figure who’d been transported via a time-machine into the modern political world.

Libyan leader Moummar Gaddafi talks with Pan African Parliament President Gertrude Mongella from Tanzania during the family photo of the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon

When he came to the UN General Assembly in New York in 2009, some treated him like a rock star; even some of the usually composed, hum-drum officials and delegates seemed to be fascinated by his presence, as if their world had suddenly turned upside down.

Among two of the things most emblematically associated with Gaddafi’s work are the ‘Green Book’ and the Great Man-Made River project.

Gaddafi’s ‘Green Book’, which provided much of the basis for his ‘remaking of Libya’, has at times been ridiculed by Western commentators or dismissed as the quaint ramblings of a ‘madman’ or an eccentric. But numerous progressive academics worldwide have acclaimed The Green Book as a serious body of political thought, offering an incisive critique of Western parliamentary democracy, capitalism and Marxist socialism, and offering a viable, workable alternative.

The other ‘official’ books are a mixed thing. My Vision, published in the late 90s, is widely regarded as little more than a propaganda exercise by the Libyan state.

However, Gaddafi’s Escape to Hell & Other Stories is a fascinating insight into his mind; some of it has poetic flourish, while some of it is badly written to the point of being almost unreadable. But there are rich explanations of his passion for nature and the profundities of the living world, very sweet passages in relation to his parents, interesting insights into his own failings, frustrations and sense of limitation. There is also an insightful sense of Gaddafi’s sense of brotherhood with oppressed peoples and belittled cultures across the world, which explains the psychology behind his decades-long support for liberation movements from Nicaragua to Ireland to the Aborigines. And humour can be found in his vitriolic attacks on religious extremists and Islamist terrorism, which are full of sarcasm and put-downs.

Escape to Hell  is actually probably a much better insight into Gaddafi’s personality and mind (and a better read too) than The Green Book; the latter being a manifesto, the former being more of a free-flowing dialogue.

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The Great Manmade River has been written about at length elsewhere (and somewhat here): but is worth mentioning again here, as it was undertakings like this that gave Gaddafi the aura of those old-world visionaries and ‘nation builders’ and society-makers like in the legends of the classical Greek city states or of Roman builders like Augustus and Caesar, or Herod the Great.

He wasn’t just inspiring and forging the society on a political or ideological level, but was literally involved hands-on in building and transforming the landscape and infrastructure. Like a Herod the Great or an Augustus, he wanted to leave his mark for posterity, not just in the political and social landscape but in the physical landscape itself.

It is a little sad to think that he might’ve failed in that: the Great Manmade River – regarded a marvel in modern engineering, and rather boastfully called by Gaddafi himself ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ – has, in fact, been severely damaged by both the marauding Islamist rebels and the NATO bombers in 2011. And though some things will probably survive, monuments or projects relating to Gaddafi have been destroyed or town down all over Libya, and even swathes of some of the great cities and urban developments he oversaw the development of have been laid to waste or left in ruin by the NATO onslaught or the subsequent terrorist militias and warlords.

Even Tripoli, once a marvel of Gaddafi’s Libya, has been left in ruin and has been listed now as the ‘fifth most unlivable city’ in the world.

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The circumstances of Gaddafi’s birth, fittingly enough for someone who went to such lengths to mythologise himself, have the almost prophetic air of something out of scripture or myth.

The son of an impoverished Bedouin goat herder, Muammar Gaddafi was born in a tent near Qasr Abu Hadi, a rural area outside the town of Sirte in the deserts of western Libya. Curiously, Gaddafi’s date of birth is not known for certain, as his parents were Nomadic Bedouin and were illiterate and did not keep birth records.

These were the most humble of beginnings imaginable for a figure who end up a nation-builder, a one-time dictator and a cultural and national figurehead. Gaddafi was never embarassed of these roots, never tried to deny them or disavow his parents and upbringing. In fact, quite the opposite: he wore this Bedouin desert birth and upbringing almost as a badge of honour, as evidenced by – among other things – the fact that he would meet foreign dignitaries in his special tent and would even set up a tent to stay in when abroad, as he did in New York in 2009.

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The contradiction in Gaddafi, as I mentioned earlier, is that while he was proud of this ‘humble’ roots and of the tribal and desert traditions of the country, he was also a city-builder who wanted to modernise and industrialise Libya, and he therefore often appeared to be oscillating back and forth between these two natures. His reverence of nature and the wilderness was undeniable and came through strongly in his writings, along with a disdain for modern, urban lifestyles – and yet he sought to build thriving, modern cities at the same time.

In 1945 at the conclusion of World War II, Libya was still occupied by British and French Colonialist forces.

Although Britain and France intended on dividing the nation between their empires (which they would again try to do in 2011, albeit in different terms and under different, more modern guises), the General Assembly of the newly-established United Nations granted the country independence. In 1951, the United Kingdom of Libya was created; a federal state under the leadership of the pro-western monarch, Idris, who banned all political parties and established an absolute monarchy. The monarchy was essentially a Colonialist vassal, serving foreign interests and keeping the population in poverty. This was essentially not a system at all interested in common society or in building up a nation, but mostly of simply holding the North-African nation as a vassal land of foreign interests.

The idea – wrongly perpetuated by critics – that Gaddafi’s regime had banned political parties was, technically, incorrect: there had never *been* any political parties.

Education in Libya was not free at that time, but Gaddafi’s father funded his son’s education despite the great financial difficulty. During the weeks, Gaddafi slept in a local mosque, having no home, and at weekends he walked some 20 miles to visit his parents in their traditional dwellings. Reportedly bullied for being a Bedouin, he was nevertheless proud of his identity and was said to have actively encouraged this same pride in other Bedouin children.

This same disposition of the child of humble origins being bullied for his ‘inferior’ background and responding with renewed pride in his roots would in fact play out all through Gaddafi’s life.

I believe – through reading and studying on Gaddafi at length – that he believed he was later looked down on and bullied by other Arab leaders and elite ruling families, particularly the Saudis, as being somehow a figure of ridicule simply because he was mere Bedouin from a poor African nation; moreover and more importantly, he perceived the same attitude towards him and his country from the broader international forces, particularly the Western and European governments who for so long refused to recognise his leadership or his country. Gaddafi (pictured below in the early 70s with PLO leader Yasser Arafat, with Egypt’s Nasser and the Saudi Royals on the right), may therefore have carried with him something of a persecution complex.

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This was, of course, entirely valid come 2011, when all of his longstanding views of the ‘Western, Colonialist aggression’ (and his mistrust of the Saudi and Gulf State monarchies) were proven absolutely true.

As a young man and student, he had a keen interest in Arab nationalist activism, but he nevertheless refused to join any of the banned political parties active at the time, including the Arab Nationalist Movement, the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and the Muslim Brotherhood, this being because he rejected ‘factionalism’. He later claimed at this time he read voraciously on the subjects of General Nasser and Egypt, the French Revolution of 1789, the works of Syrian political theorist Michel Aflaq and curiously the biography of Abraham Lincoln.

“Lincoln was a man who created himself from nothing without any help from outside or other people. I followed his struggles. I see certain similarities between him and me,” he said in a book published by The Pittsburg Press in 1986 called Gaddafi: The Man the World Loves to Hate.

People could roll their eyes or make jokes about any comparison between Muammar Gaddafi and Abraham Lincoln, but the fact is that Gaddafi was entirely self-made. All that he accomplished in his own life he accomplished entirely without assistance from outside forces and without inherited privilege. Unlike the Royal Dictators of the Saudi and Gulf States, for example, who inherit immense and wealth and privilege, or like leaders of American or British governments, who come up through highly wealthy elite networks and major patronage from wealthy backers or from corporations, someone like Gaddafi literally came from nothing and *had* nothing except what he built himself.

And indeed the Libya that he built – the poorest nation in Africa at the time he inherited the helm and wealthiest and most successful within just the first decade of his rule – was also a self-made success story, built entirely independently, without any foreign loans, without any involvement from Western companies or governments or the IMF or World Bank. Given all of that, Gaddafi could literally compare himself to Lincoln and be making a serious point. His Libya had also come into being as an entirely Libyan affair and wasn’t a foreign-backed or foreign funded coup.

Graduating in August 1965, the young Gaddafi had become an army communications officer. In April 1966, he was sent to Britain for further training; spending time undergoing military training in Dorset and Kent and an English language course at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire.

One of his instructors from this time called him “hard working, conscientious” and “an amusing officer”, adding that he was an avid reader of books and also enjoyed playing football. Gaddafi disliked England, however, and later claimed that British Army officers had racially insulted him on a regular basis. He also claimed to have found it very difficult adjusting to the country’s culture. One wonders, with hindsight, whether these experiences might have had some impact on his later attitude towards the Colonialist powers, Britain in particular. The experience may have also caused him to retreat more into his Arab identity and his desert roots. Almost certainly, whatever racism he encountered would’ve left a bitter taste in his mouth.

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There is a very amusing picture (above) of the young Gaddafi walking around Piccadilly Circus in 1966, dressed in traditional Bedouin robes, while two English old ladies look on, bemused.

There was very little time between Gaddafi walking around Piccadilly Circus in 1966 and he and his ‘Revolutionary Committee’ conducting the coup in Libya that ousted the monarchy and established a Socialist Republic.

Gaddafi and his Revolutionary Committees believed the monarchy and the ruling elite were opposed to the will of the people and the development of the nation, so they purged monarchists and members of Idris’ Senussi clan from Libya’s political world and armed forces.

Inspired by the Arab Nationalism that was going on across the Middle East, particularly the example set by President Nasser in Egypt, the Libyan Revolution led by Gaddafi successfully ousted King Idris in 1969. It was an entirely bloodless coup with no deaths and no violence; conducted with popular consent and broad support and carried out entirely by Libyan nationals serving a Libyan agenda. It had been entirely secular in character, with no sectarian interests. Contrast this to the foreign-funded 2011 uprising, which involved scores and scores of foreign terrorists and mercenaries and was backed and directly aided by foreign interference and foreign military bombing; it was an absolute bloodbath, mired in Islamist terrorism, Al-Qaeda atrocities, ethnic cleansings, and unbridled barbarity in many instances.

The difference between Gaddafi’s 1969 revolution and the Al-Qaeda/NATO-led 2011 ‘revolution’ is absolute.

Read more: The Libya Conspiracy: A Definitive Guide to the Libya Intervention & the Crime of the Century…’

Following the military coup in 1969, the new Libyan government insisted that America and Britain immediately remove their military bases from Libya, with the 27-year-old Gaddafi saying Libya would “tolerate living in shacks while the bases of imperialism exist in Libyan territory.” The British left in March and the Americans in June 1970, despite both having tried to negotiate an agreement with the Libyans at this early stage. But with this clear statement and attitude, the tone and nature of the relationship between the new Libya and the Western superpowers was set for the decades that would follow.

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Gaddafi was recognised as Revolutionary Chairman of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977, and then later as the “Brotherly Leader” of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011, the latter being supposedly a less executive and more symbolic role.

While many critics portrayed the Gaddafi family and the Libyan ‘regime’ as an immovable, dictatorial ‘establishment’ that would permanently rule over the people, it is clear that Gaddafi was considering other possibilities. Other critics would point to the ‘lavish lifestyles’ of the Gaddafi family, though in reality this was more to do with some of his sons and relatives and not so much Gaddafi himself. And more to the point, even if the Gaddafi family did live in ‘luxury’, it clearly wasn’t at the expense of the people.

And of course the whole critique becomes even less meaningful when we consider the luxury that other dictatorships, such as the Saudi and Gulf-State Royal Families live in (and the extraordinary wealth disparity with their populations), and who are nevertheless supported and well-regarded by Western governments. Even more pertinently, the political classes in America, France, Britain and most other developed nations aren’t exactly known for slumming it with the lower classes either, are they?

Gaddafi, let’s remember, was a peasant, born in the desert to impoverished Bedouin parents: he worked for and attained everything he had in life, having had the most humble beginnings imaginable. Our own Establishment simply has that luxury as a ‘birthright’.

Some of Gaddafi’s relatives, as well as some Libyan officials, did later adopt lavish lifestyles, including luxurious homes, Hollywood film investments and private parties with American pop stars; this was particularly the case with the younger generation, such as Gaddafi’s son Mot’assim.

How much this was true of Gaddafi himself (pictured below with wife Safia and son Saadi in the 70s: photo credit, Tyler Hicks, New York Times) is difficult to tell, but the evidence suggests he wasn’t particularly excessive in the context of other leaders or ‘dictators’. In democratic societies like ours, someone like Tony Blair, for example, earns millions in his post-office enterprises as well as receiving substantial amounts of tax-payer money for his personal security, etc. The same is true of former American Presidents like Clinton and Bush.

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The Gaddafi family compound had facilities for banquets and other public events, but was actually described by US intelligence reports published via Wikileaks as “not lavish in any way compared with the ostentation of the Gulf-oil-state families.”

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And what of Gaddafi, the ‘Brutal Dictator’?

It is, rather remarkably, still an unresolved question as to whether Gaddafi himself was personally responsible for any of the more brutal actions at various points by elements of the regime or whether these elements, particularly the Revolutionary Committees, were much more autonomous than that and essentially acted on their own authority and initiatives. It could be that when Gaddafi attacked those elements of the regime publicly or condemned their actions, he was simply performing an act to absolve himself in the people’s eyes. Or it’s possible he really wasn’t directly culpable in their activities.

The truth of the matter may lay somewhere in the hazy middle of those two possibilities.

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There were also strong indications that his personal involvement with those aspects of the regime abated more and more in the later years as he adopted his more and more symbolic position in the society, and that by the last few years of his life he was hardly involved at all; but that the existential crisis of 2011 simply forced all the revolutionary forces to rally around the founder of the state once more and forced Gaddafi himself to return to a more aggressive stance in order to fight off the invading terrorists, mercenaries and foreign agents.

As Hugh Roberts notes in his article ‘Who Said Gaddafi Had to Go?’, days after Gaddafi’s death (and which I’ve referenced in previous articles, because it really is a worthwhile read): ‘Words such as ‘authoritarianism’, ‘tyranny’ (a favourite bugbear of the British) and ‘dictatorship’ have never really captured the particular character of this set-up but have instead relentlessly caricatured it. Gaddafi, unlike any other head of state, stood at the apex not of the pyramid of governing institutions but of the informal sector of the polity, which enjoyed a degree of hegemony over the formal sector that has no modern counterpart.’

Perversely, it also worth considering that much of Gaddafi’s alleged paranoia and the paranoia displayed by the Revolutionary Committees (which led to much of the oppressive treatment of political opponents) was a direct result of all the CIA/MI6/foreign assassination attempts and plots to subvert, infiltrate or overthrow the regime.

If Gaddafi was paranoid, it was for good reason. From the moment he’d ousted the monarchy 1969, Gaddafi had numerous and constant threats to both his position and his life – from the monarchists, from the Israeli Mossad, from Saudi and Gulf-State agents, from the CIA and MI6, from homegrown and foreign-backed groups like the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO), and finally from Al-Qaeda and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. He and his supporters had every cause for extreme defensiveness; all of which of course was proven entirely valid in 2011.

In regard to the widely circulated caricature of Gaddafi as a ‘mad, weird’ dictator, it could be legitimately suggested that Gaddafi did get stranger and stranger in his behaviour as the years went on.

Something happened with him that tends to happen to most men who experience great power for a long period of time; just as with Augustus and other emperors, and just as with various dictators over the centuries, being in power for so many years – and becoming the national figurehead and living symbol – undoubtedly did odd things to his mind and his self-perception. His ego clearly spiraled, to the extent that he openly thought of himself as the “king of kings” of Africa, having already considered himself a prophet. The thing is, had he walked away or stepped aside after the first decade or so of his rule, no one would question his accomplishments and what he did for Libya – that first decade was an extraordinary period of development, vision and success.

Read more:The Life & Death of Gaddafi’s Libya: A Study of the Libya That No Longer Exists

But most men, were they to rule for almost four decades, would probably develop significant psychological complexes. What is particularly fascinating in Gaddafi’s case is that, come the Arab Spring and violent uprising in 2011 – combined with the NATO-led assault – something seemed to snap back in him and the increasingly odd egotist and eccentric of the preceding decade-plus seemed to quickly be shaken off like moss.

Suddenly, something more like the Gaddafi of 1969 was back – the proud, defiant Libyan patriot and guardian of the society. If you observe Gaddafi in 2011, it was as if the sudden, bloody and urgent, existential threat to the nation he had built up was like a splash of cold water to wake him from what had been – at times – a long, increasingly self-obsessed daze.

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It was too late, in a sense. In another sense, however, it gave him one last chance to become something potent and vital again and to become in reality the kind of national symbol and hero that he had always tried to present himself as. But whereas, for many years he had artificially built up this mythology around himself, as many ‘great men’ do, in 2011 it was purely in his actions. In other words, where he had spent many years trying to, with no small amount of ego, portray himself as the great hero and defender of the society, he now, at the end, actually was the great hero and defender of the society -right to the bitter, bloody end.

Which is not to say that the various acts of egotism and self-aggrandizement over the years were ‘justified’ by the Gaddafi of 2011 – they weren’t. But, in the end, he entirely lived up to his image, however self-serving that image might’ve been at some stages of his life. Where most leaders, especially powerful ‘dictators’ with vast wealth or assets to protect, would’ve fled to safety, gone into exile or cut a deal, Gaddafi stood his ground and fought and prioritised saving the nation, the society and the people’s dignity.

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So, who was the ‘real’ or definitive Muammar Gaddafi?

The Gaddafi who, in a mad act of self-worship, allowed a delegation of minor African dignitaries to place a golden crown on his head and literally proclaim him “King of Africa”? Or the Gaddafi who, just weeks before his death – and at a time when the war was clearly lost and he knew his time in Libya was up – went out and rallied his people, telling them to go out into the streets with their flags and be unafraid of their enemies and to continue on as proud Libyans in their land?

It’s actually impossible to say.

The answer is probably that both were the ‘real’ Gaddafi; one was the Gaddafi that began to emerge when he grew psychologically fat and lazy from continuous prestige and power, while the other was the Gaddafi who quickly re-emerged when the life or death of the nation was suddenly at stake. One was the Gaddafi who it was difficult to have much sympathy for; the other was the Gaddafi who got to end his life as a hero and as the most potent symbol Libya had ever – and will ever have – produced, almost as if to make up for all those years of inflated self-aggrandizement and vanity projects.

Why was Gaddafi a hero in much of Africa and why was he so influential in the continent?

It’s important to remember that his original interests had been in the Arab world and not so much Africa. He had been a major proponent of Arab Nationalism and Pan-Arabism in the 1970s – that Arab nations should build mostly secular, progressive states and come together in common cause and brotherhood, instead of following their own petty interests or sectarian concerns. He had been the main proponent of the plan to unify Libya with Syria and Egypt in a common, secular Arab alliance.

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These endeavors ultimately failed, however, and, by the eighties, that Pan-Arab ideal had evaporated from most of the region.He still maintained a good relationship with Syria, which had remained an Arab Nationalist state and which like Libya was one of the few remaining nations on earth that was truly independent. But in general, Gaddafi was no longer on very good terms with most of the Arab world.

Instead, he turned towards Africa.

Gaddafi had opposed Apartheid in South Africa and forged a good relationship with Nelson Mandela, who named his own grandson after Gaddafi and called Gaddafi one of the 20th century’s “greatest freedom fighters”, and insisted the eventual collapse of the Apartheid system owed a great deal to Gaddafi and Libyan support. In turn, Mandela later played a key role in helping Gaddafi gain (brief) mainstream acceptance in the Western world later in the 1990s. Over the years, Gaddafi came to be seen as a hero in much of Africa due both to his epic revolutionary image and to what he had accomplished in Libya. This view was only amplified by the manner of his horrific death at the hands of Western, Imperialist-backed terrorists.

After Mr Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, he rejected pressure from Western leaders – including then-US President Bill Clinton – to sever ties with Gaddafi, who had in fact largely bankrolled his election campaign. “In the darkest moments of our struggle, when our backs were to the wall,” Mandela had said, “it was Muammar Gaddafi who stood with us.” In 1997, Mandela awarded Gaddafi the highest official honour in South Africa in recognition for his support of human rights and the struggle against white Apartheid.

This view of Gaddafi was shared by many others across Africa. “For most Africans, Gaddafi is a generous man, a humanist, known for his unselfish support for the struggle against the racist regime in South Africa. If he had been an egotist, he wouldn’t have risked the wrath of the West to help the ANC both militarily and financially in the fight against Apartheid,” said Jean-Paul Pougala, writing in the London Evening Post after Gaddafi’s death.

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Gaddafi was also one of the founders of the African Union (AU), created in July 2002, with its birthplace in his own place of birth (and death) – Sirte.

There are debates as to whether Gaddafi’s influence on Africa was positive or negative. There are highly critical views of Libyan involvement in other African states and in bloody skirmishes and Civil Wars in Africa; but, of course, these are the same sorts of geopolitical controversies that numerous other nations – the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, to name a few – have been, and still are, involved in too.

What is clear is that – particularly in the final years of his life – Gaddafi was, in essence, moving to free the entire African continent from the clutches of Western imperialism.

As is well attested, Gaddafi was establishing himself as the pioneer of African development and currency; establishing himself as the alternative to the IMF in Africa. In effect, he was setting himself up for conflict with the international central banks and monetary system. Just how significant Gaddafi’s presence was to Africa is something that Western media has always tried to downplay. But Gaddafi alone had allocated two-thirds of the $42 billion that was required to launch a public African Central Bank (based in Nigeria), an African Monetary Fund (based in Cameroon) and an African Investment Bank based in Libya.

The African Monetary Fund (AMF) would’ve meant no more borrowing from Rothschild Central Banks for African countries, but production of its own currency for Africa, interest-free and backed by Gold standard.

This was the reason Gaddafi was always portrayed and treated as such a threat to Western interests. Had he been a simple dictator, content to live out his reign in luxury as an all-powerful ruler in his own domain, the West would’ve left him alone – just like various other dictators are left alone. It was his continuous interest in pursuing anti-Imperialist agendas that made him unpalatable: whether it was ensuring Libyan independence and self-sufficiency in the early 70s, trying to establish a strong Arab federation in the mid-to-late 70s, financially supporting worldwide ‘liberation movements’ throughout the 70s and 80s, or trying to establish African currency and independence in the 21st century, the Western powers realised that he wasn’t inclined to just sit there, playing the fiddle like Nero.

While Gaddafi certainly took steps to reconcile with the West and to try to improve relations (led in part by his son, Saif al-Islam), he never entirely gave up his anti-Colonial, anti-Imperialist views and ideas. He always retained that same attitude that had driven the 1969 ousting of the King. As late as the Second Africa/South America Summit in Venezuela in September 2009, he joined Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in calling for an “anti-imperialist front” across Africa and Latin America; this, in the same year he had made his controversial address to the UN General Assembly in New York.

By this point in time, it would’ve been clear to Western agencies that, for all his ‘reconciliation’ with the West in recent years, Gaddafi was still ultimately a problem and a nuisance.

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Where does all this bring us to in our search for the ‘real’ Gaddafi?

Nowhere definitive, probably. Just confirmation that he was a complex figure who can be viewed in many different lights depending on where you’re standing at any given time. probably lionised him a little too much when I compiled a book detailing the 2011 ‘Civil War’ and Western intervention; but I was really writing in the context of that year’s events and Gaddafi’s actions at that time.

It would be childish to call portray him as a faultless saint, as political affairs, particularly in such a troubled, unstable region, don’t create such figures. It is, by the same token, equally childish to portray Gaddafi as a cartoon Villain, which is what Western officials did for so long; a caricature that had very little basis in reality. Gaddafi was… simply Gaddafi; complex, enigmatic, flawed, but an extraordinary political, social and now historical figure, whose life, actions and legacy will inspire debate for generations to come.

In the end, in the final analysis, Muammar Gaddafi ends up a figure so difficult to pin down, so difficult to truly assess, that it may, as AllAfrica.com said, take “50 years” to truly come to a conclusion.

What the Western, NATO-led governments and their Islamist/Salafist terrorist friends did do in 2011, however, was inadvertently to make sure that whatever Gaddafi may or may not have been in his lifetime, he was an absolute hero in the final chapter. In 2011, Gaddafi was the great lion set upon and defeated by the corrupt alliance of wolves, jackals and vultures. He died a hero’s death, fighting a long, hero’s battle. Whatever else he may have been at any other time, he ended up the ultimate hero, the ultimate defender of his people and his country, waging one last, dying battle against corrupt, criminal forces of a morally-bankrupt global/financial Imperialism.

In essence, as I said earlier, the events of 2011 allowed Gaddafi to achieve an apotheosis as a natural end-point to the ‘revolutionary’ figure he had been in ’69 and the early 70s, almost erasing – to some extent -some of the less noble acts and periods in-between those times.

Fidel Castro summed up the 2011 crisis, saying, “If he (Gaddafi) resists and does not yield to their demands, he will enter history as one of the great figures.” Perhaps in some ways it was the only fitting end for the man who, in the first instance, had been the ultimate revolutionary.

 

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A Meditation on Aleppo, Syria, Libya & the Importance of Bashar Assad’s Survival

NOVANEWS

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It is difficult to look at the situation in Aleppo and not see it in a broader context. Not only of Syria, but of Libya, the past several years, and of the entire region. And of international affairs in general.

We probably shouldn’t; we should probably view different situations entirely in their own light. But I can’t help but look at Aleppo – both the fall of Aleppo to rebel militias and foreign-backed mercenaries and now the liberation or reclamation of Aleppo by Syrian government forces – and see it as a point on a timeline that goes all the way back to Benghazi, Tripoli, Sirte and elsewhere.

In some ways, that connection is obvious: as I’ve said before, I always saw the Libyan and Syrian nightmares as one event, albeit occurring in two different countries. And, for example, we know about how Libyan arms were smuggled from the fallen Gaddafi-era state into Syria under the watch of Turkey and the CIA for use by Syrian rebel militias, and how all of the same players involved in orchestrating, initiating and propagandising for the anti-Gaddafi movement in Libya were also involved in the anti-Assad uprising in Syria.

It occurs to me that the Syrian government victory in Aleppo isn’t just a strategic and territorial victory; it is a moral victory, not just of Syria over the various foreign-backed forces that were sent to terrorise and subdue its communities, but also a moral and symbolic victory in the context of a society struggling to survive amid a multi-faceted, multi-lateral conspiracy conducted by an international mafia that considers itself all-powerful.

If Assad and Syria do survive, it will drastically change the perception concerning the odds of potential survival against such a concerted geopolitical onslaught involving so many institutions, agencies and actors.

Gaddafi showed everyone how to fight: but Assad and the Syrian government have shown that you can win – albeit with massive help from foreign allies, and at massive, massive cost.
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It also occurs to me that Bashar Assad has outlasted virtually everyone who was insisting ‘Assad Must Go’ for years.

He has outlasted a Saudi King, a British Prime Minister in David Cameron, a French President in Sarkosy, another French President in Hollande, several other leaders or officials, and is now certainly going to outlast Barack Obama. He also, crucially, outlasted Hillary Clinton, who – even right up until a couple of months ago was still saying Assad would be removed as one of her “first priorities” when becoming president.

Hillary fell before Assad did – just think about that. Hell, Assad has even outlasted Turkish democracy.

He hasn’t outlasted Angela Merkel (yet); but, for the record, Merkel is actually one of the few leading Western officials who *hasn’t* sung from the ‘Assad Must Go’ hymn-sheet and has in fact generally said that Assad should be included in any plan for Syria’s future.

And Obama, in truth, has actually been softer on Assad and Syria – if it can be put that way – than Hillary or the Bush regime would’ve been. For all the talk of Obama himself having been behind the chaos in Syria, this simply isn’t true; he was simply inheriting a foreign-policy agenda that pre-dated him and was actually an extension of the Iraq War agenda (as was Libya: Libya and Syria both being on the Rumsfeld/Pentagon ‘hit-list’ immediately after 9/11 and leaked by Retired General Wesley Clarke).

And the Cheney/Rumsfeld regime still been in power at the time, Syria would’ve been outright invaded by the US military and Assad removed long ago.

We also have to remember how close we came to direct military invasion into Syria in 2013; and how Russian diplomatic intervention and – and I cite this so that people don’t forget – a British parliamentary no-vote against David Cameron’s wish to go into Syria and led principally by the much-maligned Labour Party leader Ed Miliband. Seriously, Ed Miliband – who lost the election – helped save Syria from Western military invasion and directly helped derail what was, at the time, an inexorable Washington-led push towards forced regime-change. People should remember that the next time they mock him for being ‘a Jew’ or a ‘Liberal Elite’ “Lib-Tard” or whatever other dumb labels get thrown around these days by dumb people.
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But Assad’s survival has been frankly Herculean.

Many of Assad’s critics place the blame on him for refusing to step aside. This is nonsense, of course: the President of the country could not go into exile when there was no feasible successor or alternative to take his place and when it would’ve meant leaving the country at the mercy of armed militias, mercenaries and foreign-backed jihadists. Assad – who, remember, had never really sought the Syrian presidency, but had wanted to be an eye doctor – had no choice but to fight: and he had no choice but to call upon Russia and Iran to assist him – without that help, he would’ve lost, he would be dead, and Syria would’ve gone the way of Libya and Iraq.

None of this is about lioinisng Assad himself; and I wholly accept that the Syrian state handled the early 2011 protests very badly and that – prior to the escalation of the fighting – there were civilian protesters and dissenters being cruelly and violently suppressed by state actors or agencies. I know this, having had it told to me by people who were there. And I also wholly accept that there were probably some very ugly figures in the regime who may also have been behind some horrible acts in early 2011; though there’s no real evidence that Bashar Assad himself was one of them.

Whatever the nature of the Syrian state going forward, the Syrian regime in the past was a very harsh one that didn’t tolerate dissent or anti-government opinion – but in this it was no different to any other state in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and including Bahrain (where the British PM has just been in recent days, selling weapons) and now, sadly, even Turkey.

I noted above how ironic it is that Assad has outlasted most of those leaders who were calling for him to go: in the case of Turkey, the irony is of a different kind. Here, we see a Turkish government – led by Erdogan – that has been acting criminally against Assad and the Syrian state for several years: a Turkish government that, when it started propagandising against Assad, was itself a democracy, but is now more or less a dictatorship and might end the war as more of an oppressive dictatorship than even what will be seen in Syria.

How ridiculous is that? To highlight the point, below is a picture of Assad laughing – and to further highlight how absurd all of this has become, I found a picture of him with Sting.
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And the thing is, if there hadn’t been a covert, dirty war fought against Assad and Syria, had foreign mercenaries and fighters not been flooded into Syria to terrorise the population, if international agencies and officials hadn’t been willing to sacrifice countless Syrian lives, communities and towns for the sake of dirty geopolitical schemes, and if Western media and governments hadn’t engaged in outright lies and propaganda campaigns to pervert reality and perception, then I wouldn’t care about Assad or the Syrian government: and in fact, I would probably be the kind of person who might’ve been criticising the Syrian state for its treatment of opposition and protest.

But that whole list of things did happen – and is still happening – and the entire narrative stopped being about whatever flaws or unpleasant things there used to be about the Syrian state and Syrian politics and became about the ceaseless array of unpleasant things that were being inflicted upon Syria and Syrians from the outside.

Every one of those things – every foreign terrorist, every false-flag event used to frame Assad as the ‘brutal tyrant’, every massacre and every deception employed to create a false narrative of events – has actually given Bashar Assad far more ‘legitimacy’ than he had *before* the war. Along with every scripted call of ‘Assad Must Go’ from Hillary Clinton, Sarkosy or anyone else, it has all actually had the precise opposite effect: it has made Assad the most ‘legitimate’ President of Syria that could be imagined at this point in time.
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And this was already arguably the case long before the retaking of Aleppo.

When it comes to dispelling the myth about ‘Assad the Tyrant’, who ‘countless Syrians’ want gone from their country, I could quote Eva Bartlett here or Vanessa Beeley or some other independent journalist who’s been in Syria and moved among Syrian people and communities. Instead, however, I’ll point us to a different source – just to reinforce the point.

Assad’s legitimacy, at least at this point in time, seems to be affirmed by an opinion poll from not that long ago commissioned by the BBC and conducted by the market research firm ORB (conducted across all 14 governates of Syria). The same poll found that a staggering 82 percent of those Syrians surveyed believe that Daesh or the so-called ‘Islamic State’ is the creation of Washington (85 percent of Iraqis were found to believe the same thing).

More importantly, the poll found that there is very little support for dividing the country and creating a federal system. In Syria, 70% oppose dividing the country up. What’s important about citing this particular source is that it isn’t a naturally pro-Assad or pro Syrian government source, so it’s findings are all the more significant. By the same token, an internal NATO study (dated June 2013, during some of the worst days of the fighting), which took stock of Syrian public opinion, found that some 70% of Syrians supported President Assad (with 20% expressing a neutral position and 10% supporting the “rebels”). Had a similar study been (honestly) undertaken in the past year, the percentage would be even higher.

 

I said earlier that Libya and Syria were/are the same war.

And neither is actually over yet. Where Gaddafi’s government lost in 2011, Assad’s government also lost: the former lost Tripoli and Benghazi and Sirte and other towns or cities, while the latter lost much of Aleppo, and Raqqa and elsewhere. And in both cases they were lost to the same schools of people on the ground, using the same methods, driven by the same ideologies, backed by the same foreign countries and supported by the same international media and government institutions.

The main difference was that Gaddafi was killed early, signalling the perceived collapse of the Libyan state against the marauding forces of chaos; whereas Assad managed to survive month after month, year after year, protected by his government forces and the Syrian Arab Army and aided by allies in Iran and Russia. And because he survived, he lived to fight another day.

And because he lived to fight another day, almost six years on from the initial crisis in Syria, he is now taking back territory from the rebels and jihadists, overturning the longstanding plans and operations of foreign powers and agencies, and winning not just the war on the ground but also the propaganda war and the high ground.

Had Gaddafi lasted long enough for the real nature of the Libyan rebellion to be widely exposed, for Western and Gulf-State deceptions to be unraveled and for the beginnings of the Migrant Crisis to start to appear, things may have started going back in his favor too.

As previously pointed out, the situation in Libya may have more recently been – albeit quietly – gravitating back towards a yearning for something resembling the Green Libya that the Western governments helped destroy in 2011. This has been most symbolised by the reported release from detention of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (pictured below in Tripoli in 2011), who had previously been sentenced to death.

libya-saif-tripoli
I wrote several months ago; ‘Imagine if Assad continues to preside over a re-unified and sovereign Syria and a Gaddafi begins to gather mass support to move towards not only unification, but restoration of the former Libyan republic. Then the brutal covert, regime-change wars that were inflicted on both nations in 2011 will have ultimately failed – albeit, only after several years of vast bloodshed and destruction…’

That might still, over time, prove to be what happens: and one wonders if the survival of the Syrian government might also hold symbolic value for Libyans, the Green Resistance and the possibility of rising back up from what had once seemed like total ruin and collapse.

The symbolic link between Libya and Syria isn’t just related to the ‘Arab Spring-turned-nightmare’ or 2011.

The Federation of Arab Republics had in fact been Muammar Gaddafi’s own initiative to merge Libya, Egypt and Syria in order to create a United Arab state based on secular Arab nationalism. The idea had, among other things, had broadly been to create strong Arab states that would, through mutual defense and cooperation, be able to withstand existential threats from the outside. Although approved by a referendum in each country on 1st September 1971, the idea never properly developed and was dead by 1977.

By 2011, it might’ve proven useful – because what has happened, via Neo-Con/PNAC policy in the Middle East since the Iraq War in 2003, has essentially been the deliberate, callous collapsing of three strong, independent, secular Arab states (Iraq, Libya, Syria) and the sought-after creation of huge pockets of lawless, terrorist-occupied territories and sectarian strife.

We know that, during the events of 2011 as the crisis was unfolding in both countries, Gaddafi had been in regular contact with Assad: and, to some extent, seeing what unfolded in Libya may have helped Assad and his government make key decisions in Syria. There were also suggestions from some sources that it had been Assad who had sold out Gaddafi’s location and movements to NATO bombers in Sirte, leading to the Libyan leader’s murder – allegedly, this had been in order to strike a deal with the French to buy Assad some more time. I don’t know if that version of events is true or not.

Either way, little over a year ago, it genuinely looked like Assad was finished and Syria was days away from Libya 2.0: a year later and, albeit with massive help from Russia, the situation is completely different.

Of course, victory in Aleppo doesn’t necessarily guarantee a quick end to the war or even Syria’s survival.Almost at the same time as the reports were breaking from Aleppo in recent days, the report was also breaking that ISIS fighters had gone back into Palmyra. Weapons are already being delivered again to rebel groups by Washington in the wake of the Syrian government victories in Aleppo. Turkey and Erdogan are still there and still an unknown factor in terms of long-term intention.
afp_aleppo-celebrations

And the Israeli government will not easily tolerate the Syrian President staying in place with the help of Iran and Hezbollah: indeed, if a Netanyahu/Trump alliance seeks to destroy Obama’s Iran Deal and resort to open hostile action against Iran, then the entire thing will blow up even more and Syria won’t even get the chance to rebuild or to establish peace. As much as Hillary was fixated on the regime-change in Syria, the incoming Trump administration is more than likely to be a stronger ally to Israel and fixated on Iran, which would mean Syria still wouldn’t necessarily be out of the woods – especially now that Iran is so heavily involved in Syria.

Trump was right about one thing recently – American foreign policy has essentially placed both Iraq and Syria under Iranian control. Which presumably wasn’t the plan, but is simply an indication of how catastrophically bad all of US policy in the Middle East has been from Iraq onward. Indeed, that perceived level of Iranian control is one of the main reasons ‘ISIS’ was able to flourish both in Iraq and in terms of the rebellion in Syria: because it was able to appeal to some Sunni Arab insecurities and fears about Iranian/Shia domination of the region.

There is also a question of whether Syria’s survival – if it does survive – will mark a decisive turning point in the geopolitical dynamics and signal the end of the programme; or whether conspirators will simply move onto a very vulnerable Lebanon instead, which was also part of the post-9/11 Rumsfeld/Neo-Con hit-list.

Of course, even if the Syrian government survives and the nation survives as a sovereign state, it has come at an extraordinarily high price in destruction and human life: they’ve had to fight for every inch of the country, and not only against the armed militant forces on the ground, and against endless false- flags and propaganda exercises, but with the entire weight of international government institutions and media against them for the entire five-to-six years.

But Bashar Assad, albeit with a lot of external help, has politically outlasted virtually everyone who has spent the passed several years trying to get rid of him. And the symbolic and propaganda – or counter-propaganda, as may be more accurate – weight and significance of that, both for Assad politically and for Syria as a sovereign nation and society, could be regarded as enormous.

If we were talking, just days ago, about the symbolic power of Fidel Castro and his defiance and resistance, then there’s really no way we can not talk about Assad and Syria – who have been under assault for almost six years from multiple armed militias and several nations and institutions, including some of the most powerful in the world – in that same light.

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Saudi Zio-Wahhabi terrorists target children in Benghazi

NOVANEWS

Islamist terrorists target children in Benghazi while the West and UN look on

Benghazi car bombing scene, 21 Nov 2016

By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis

Islamist terrorists have committed yet another heinous crime in Benghazi, Libya’s second city.

On 21 November they detonated a car bomb in one of the city’s busiest streets near the main, Al-Jalaa hospital.

Video Player

The explosion took place at 1:30pm, exactly the time when children were returning home from school. At least three children were killed and 20 other people injured.

A series of recent car bombings in the city had been claimed by the self-styled Islamic State (IS) group and the so-called Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC).

The BRSC consists of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Sharia group, the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Libya Shield 1 militia, and several other terrorist outfits, including the 17 February Martyrs Brigade, the Rafallah al-Sahati Brigade, Jaysh al-Mujahidin and the Brega Martyrs Brigade.

In May 2014 the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, launched Operation Dignity against the IS and the BRSC in Benghazi and elsewhere in the eastern province of Cyrenaica. In February 2016 the army succeeded in pushing the terrorists out of much of Benghazi.

At present, the remaining IS and BRSC terrorists are holed up in the small port of Ganfouda, south-west of central Benghazi, where they are using their families as human shields to deter a final onslaught by the LNA.

Map showing Ganfouda, south-west of Benghazi

Map showing Ganfouda, south-west of Benghazi

It is thought that the 21 November attack on the schoolchildren had been carried out by agents working for the terrorists besieged in Ganfouda.

Much fuss has been made in the Western media and among official circles about a Western-supported joint operation by Islamist and organised-crime groups called “Solid Structure” (Al-Bunyan al-Marsoos in Arabic), which aims to oust the IS from its stronghold in the central town of Sirte.

Operation “Solid Structure” is superficially sponsored by the United Nations-brokered and the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated “Government of National Accord”, which is based in a disused naval station in Tripoli and whose writ does not go beyond the offices it occupies, and has been supported by occasional US air strikes on Sirte. The operation is in essence a turf war between Islamist terrorists: on one side there is Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and organised-crime groups from the town of Misrata, and on the other there is the IS.

In fact, the LNA is the only force in Libya fighting the Islamist terrorists – all Islamist terrorists, not just the IS – who have sprung up throughout Libya since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in October 2011.

Despite this, the UN, the US and its European satellite states continue to insist on keeping an arms embargo on the LNA while publicly claiming to be committed to fighting terrorism.

As in Syria, in Libya the UN and the Western powers have allied themselves with one type of Islamist terrorists – the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda and its clones – against another type of Islamist terrorists, the IS.

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GADDAFI, Odd & Funny Facts: From Piccadilly Circus to Secret Pen-Pals

NOVANEWS

burningbloggerofbedlam-muammar-gaddafi

As a few days ago marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of Muammar Gaddafi,I decided to mark it with a more low-key, fun-ish look back at Libya’s former national figurehead.

A more serious piece on the life and character of one of the most controversial world figures of the 20th century will follow in a few days, which I’d been working on for some time but hadn’t been able to finish in time.

In the meantime it occurs to me that while people mostly write very serious things – good or bad – about Gaddafi and his era, and much of it centers unfortunately on his brutal death and the horrific events in Libya from 2011 to now, it might be nicer for a change to look at a few of the more lighthearted curiosities and tidbits from Gaddafi’s monumental and controversial life. And, given how odd and epic a story his life was and how eccentric and odd a figure Gaddafi himself could be, there are quite a few curious or interesting facts or stories to pick from.

Recounting such trivia perhaps helps to humanise the man and prevent him from being presented only as an archetype, a symbol or a caricature.

Here then are some of the most curious, funny or otherwise interesting little bits of trivia I’ve come across about Muammar Gaddafi over the years.

For example, Gaddafi had a Jewish pen-pal who lived in Brooklyn.

Louis Schlamowitz had actually begun writing to Gaddafi way back in the 1960s and the letters only stopped in 2011 when the foreign-backed uprising in Libya began, at which time the Brooklyn-based florist was 81 years old. What is remarkable, and kind of endearing, about this story is that Gaddafi always wrote back, maintaining this pen-pal correspondence for decades. “He was a good pen-pal,” the elderly florist said. “I felt it was very nice of him to take the time to write back to me, because I’m nobody special.”

Mr Schlamowitz, who also exchanged letters with Marylin Monroe and Richard Nixon among others, said his correspondence with the Libyan leader aroused suspicion from the FBI and American agencies who visited him to ask what he was playing at.

A Christmas card from Gaddafi, written around 2000, thanked Mr Schlamowitz for his “friendship through the years”.

Gaddafi spent time in England as a student in the sixties. In April 1966, he was sent to Britain for training; spending time undergoing military training in Dorset and Kent and an English language course at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire.

One of his instructors from this time called him “hard working, conscientious” and “an amusing officer”, adding that he was an avid reader of books and also enjoyed playing football. Gaddafi disliked England, however, and later claimed that British Army officers had racially insulted him on a regular basis. He also claimed to have found it very difficult adjusting to the country’s culture. One wonders, with hindsight, whether these experiences might have had some impact on his later attitude towards the Colonialist powers, Britain in particular. The experience may have also caused him to retreat more into his Arab identity and his desert roots.
gaddafi_in_londonpicadilly1966
There is a very amusing picture (above) of the young Gaddafi walking around Piccadilly Circus in 1966,dressed in traditional Bedouin robes, while two English old ladies look on, bemused.

Um, yes, he appears to have had a major crush on former US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice. He apparently did keep a photo album filled with pictures of her. Rice later claimed to have been fully aware of Gaddafi’s interest in her from their personal interactions. He once claimed he was “very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders.” I guess the heart wants what the heart wants.

And yes, like Augustus in Ancient Rome, he also decided to rename the months. February was ‘Lights’, August was ‘Hannibal’ (that other great, mythic ‘hero’ of Libyan history, who had waged war on the Romans).

Gaddafi contributed towards Welsh independence.

Gaddafi donated funding to Welsh independence party Plaid Cymru. The Libyan leader was known for his financial support of ‘liberation movements’ and oppressed groups worldwide: from Mandela and the ANC to the Maoris in New Zealand and Aborigines in Australia, the Black Panthers in America, the IRA, the PLO, the Sandanistas in Nicaragua. etc. It appears that, included in this long list, was Plaid Cymru in Wales.

This is confirmed in an upcoming book by Plaid Cymru activist Dr Carl Clowes, who recounts his visit to Libya in the 70s and Gaddafi’s donations to the party. “Libya had the best health and education systems in the whole of Africa,” he says, recalling his delegation’s visit to the country. He suggests Gaddafi’s donation to Plaid Cymru was motivated by his general desire to disrupt the ‘Western Imperialist’ status quo.

Gaddafi is credited with having supposedly invented the ‘world’s safest car’.

The Libyan Rocket, which looks like a sleek, futuristic vehicle, is said to have had a collapsible bumper, the ability to travel miles with flat tires, and a device that can cut fuel supply during accident to avoid fire. It was never mass produced, as the 2011 Libyan Civil War derailed the project.
Gaddafis-Rocket-Safest-Car-2
There are obviously a bunch of apocryphal stories about Gaddafi, which we don’t know whether they’re true or false.One of these, for example, concerns the idea that the young Gaddafi had bunked with Muhammad Ali in London in the 1960s. Supposedly, sitting on Ali’s bed, the young student had talked about his plans for future revolution. ‘Watch, one day you will see,’ Gaddafi had allegedly said, while a half asleep Ali had (supposedly) reacted “Sheeet, you crazy!”

I’m guessing this probably didn’t happen; but it’s a fabulous story. We do know that Ali did visit Libya as a guest of Gaddafi some years later.

And yes, he once, in a fit of anger, proposed to ‘abolish’ the nation of Switzerland – and yes, that’s probably the funniest Gaddafi story there is.

No one knows his date of birth. The circumstances of Gaddafi’s birth, fittingly enough, have the almost prophetic air of something out of scripture or myth. The son of an impoverished Bedouin goat herder, Muammar Gaddafi was born in a tent near Qasr Abu Hadi, a rural area outside the town of Sirte in the deserts of western Libya. Curiously, Gaddafi’s date of birth is not known for certain, as his parents were Nomadic Bedouin and were illiterate and did not keep birth records.

Education in Libya was not free at that time (though it would after Gaddafi took power), but Gaddafi’s father funded his son’s education despite the great financial difficulty. During the weeks, Gaddafi slept in a local mosque, having no home, and at weekends he walked some 20 miles to visit his parents in their traditional dwellings. Reportedlty bullied for being a Bedouin, he was nevertheless proud of his identity and was said to have actively encouraged this same pride in other Bedouin children.

But he wasn’t embarassed by his humble roots, and in fact emphasized it wherever possible. Despite his increasingly odd and ostentatious dress-sense, he was also always keen to emphasise his humble Bedouin roots and would therefore receive dignitaries in his signature sprawling white tent, which he erected wherever he went: Rome, Paris and, after much controversy, New York, on a Westchester estate in 2009. Everyone from Tony Blair to Vladimir Putin (pictured below) would have to enter the tent if they wanted to meet with the Libyan figurehead.
gaddafi-putin-tent

He was inspired in part by Abraham Lincoln…

As a young man and student, he later claimed to have read voraciously on the subjects of General Nasser and Egypt, the French Revolution of 1789, the works of Christian Syrian political theorist Michel Aflaq and, interestingly, the biography of Abraham Lincoln. “Lincoln was a man who created himself from nothing without any help from outside or other people. I followed his struggles. I see certain similarities between him and me,” he said in a book published by The Pittsburg Press in 1986 called Gaddafi: The Man the World Loves to Hate.

Nelson Mandela named one of his grandchildren after Gaddafi.

After Mr Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, he rejected pressure from Western leaders – including then-US President Bill Clinton – to sever ties with Gaddafi, who had in fact largely bankrolled his election campaign. “Those who feel irritated by our friendship with Gaddafi can go jump in the pool,” Mandela had said. He added pointedly, “Those that yesterday were friends of our enemies have the gall today to tell me not to visit my brother Gaddafi.”
gaddafi-mandela34

In 1997, Mandela awarded Gaddafi the highest official honour in South Africa in recognition for his support of human rights and the struggle against Apartheid.

While many of the monuments or landmarks associated with Gaddafi have been destroyed or torn down since his death, and many of the cities and urban developments he supervised the building of have been devastated by NATO bombing or left in ruin, various monuments or sites associated with or in honour of the late Libyan leader still stand outside of Libya.

Examples being the Gaddafi Mosques in Tanzania, Kampala and Uganda, as well as Pakistan’s biggest sports stadium, the Gaddafi Stadium (in Lahore). There is still ongoing debate in Pakistan as to whether the country’s most illustrious stadium should be renamed or should remain as Gaddafi Stadium.
gaddafi-stadium

Yes, one of the oddest and most eccentric things Gaddafi ever did was to create his elite, all-female bodyguard unit, the Amazon Guard. However, despite some salacious claims in Western media about the nature or relationship between Gaddafi and the women, it was always claimed that each of the female bodyguards was a virgin for life. I have no idea if that’s true; and the Amazonian Guard really was one of the strangest, most baffling, things Gaddafi ever came up with. Following the downfall of Gaddafi and Libya, the fate of many of the women was unknown, but photographic evidence existed to suggest that some of them were hunted down by Libyan rebels and brutally tortured and murdered.

Just weeks before Western media was calling Gaddafi a war criminal, brutal tyrant and accusing him of massacring civilians, Gaddafi was the frontrunner for Amnesty International’s ‘Human Rights Hero, 2011’ award. It will be athousand years before someone goes from ‘Human Rights Hero’ to ‘brutal war criminal’ as quickly as that again.

And yes, Gaddafi had proposed ‘SATO’; a ‘NATO of the South’ that would be set-up in opposition to NATOand would’ve been constituted by African and South-American nations forming a mutual defense initiative. It sounds facetious, but he may have had a serious underlying point about the imperialist North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the need for an equal and opposite organisation.

No one knows where Gaddafi is buried.

After his brutal murder in October 2011, his body was kept on display for weeks before eventually being buried in an unmarked grave at an unknown location to prevent his tomb becoming a shrine.

________________

A more serious, bigger piece to mark the fifth anniversary of Gaddafi’s death, which was meant to go up on the 21st, will appear here in the next few days. Meanwhile, you can read all older Libya posts here.

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