Friday, October 21, 2011

Colonel Gaddafi Assassinated: End of An Era in Libya

Sixty-nine-year-old deposed dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, a maverick who had ruled Libya with an iron hand for 42 years, was on 20 October shot and killed by the rebels in his hometown of Sirte after the revolutionary forces overran his last bastion.
The longest-serving leader in the African and Arab world, Gaddafi died of his wounds after being captured from a hole where he had been hiding in Sirte, a rebel commander said, adding there was a lot of firing and he was also hit in his head.
"Muammar Gaddafi has been killed," Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said in a news conference in the capital Tripoli.
Gaddafi's son Mutassim and Defence Minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr were also found dead in Sirte, the last major bastion of resistance two months after the regime fell in August.
Known for his flamboyant dressing style and gun-toting female bodyguards as much as for his iron clasp over the country, Gaddafi had been holed up with the last of his fighters in the furious battle with revolutionary fighters assaulting the last few buildings they held in his Mediterranean coastal hometown of Sirte. At one point, a convoy tried to flee the area and was blasted by NATO airstrikes, though it was not clear if Gaddafi was in the vehicle.
Sirte’s fall caps weeks of heavy, street—by—street fighting as revolutionary fighters besieged the Mediterranean coastal city. Despite the fall of Tripoli on 21 August, Gaddafi loyalists mounted fierce resistance in several areas, including Sirte, preventing Libya’s new leaders from declaring full victory in the eight-month civil war. Earlier this week, revolutionary fighters gained control of one stronghold.
Life of Gaddafi
Born in the desert in 1942, Gaddafi, at the age of only 29, became the leader of a small group of junior army officers who in September 1969 staged a bloodless coup, overthrowing King Idris while he was abroad for medical treatment. Fiercely anti-Western and inspired by Egypt's President Nasser, he governed according to his unique political philosophy — set out in his Green Book — based on a combination of socialism and Arab nationalism.
Gaddafi quickly showed he would brook no dissent to his idiosyncratic rule, reportedly having students who marched against his regime publicly hanged. In one of his most infamous atrocities, 1,200 prisoners were massacred in a Tripoli jail in 1996.
As far as his relations with other nations are concerned, his outspoken public support for a range of terrorist organizations, including the IRA and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), attracted growing international criticism and concern.
The increasingly erratic nature of his regime was underlined in 1984 when diplomats at the Libyan embassy in London opened fire on a demonstration outside, killing Yvonne Fletcher.
In 1986, the bombing by Libyan agents of a Berlin nightclub, in which two off-duty American servicemen died, prompted President Reagan to launch air strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi. Gaddafi's adopted daughter was among 35 Libyans killed.
In December 1988, came the most notorious incident of all — the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish village of Lockerbie, killing 270. The attack prompted global outrage. For years Gaddafi denied any involvement, leading to UN sanctions and international pariah status for his regime.
He finally began to emerge from the cold when South African president Nelson Mandela helped to broker a deal which saw two Libyan intelligence officers handed over in 1999 to stand trial before a Scottish court. In 2003, after one of the men had been convicted, the Libyan government wrote to the UNSC formally accepting responsibility for the actions of its officials in the attacks.
Gaddafi's rehabilitation seemed complete when the same year, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by US and British forces, he admitted that Libya had an active weapons of mass destruction program which he offered to dismantle. In 2004, Tony Blair traveled to Tripoli to welcome the West's new ally in the so-called "War on Terror".
Chronology of Recent Events
15/16 February 2011:
The arrest of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel starts a riot in Benghazi.
24 February: Antigovernment militias take control of central coastal city of Misrata after evicting forces loyal to Gaddafi.
26 February: The U.N. Security Council imposes sanctions on Gaddafi and his family, and refers the crackdown on rebels to the International Criminal Court.
28 February: EU governments approve sanctions against Gaddafi and his closest advisers.
5 March: The rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi declares itself Libya's sole representative.
17 March: The UN Security Council votes to authorise a no-fly zone over Libya and military action -- to protect civilians against Gaddafi's army.
19 March: The first air strikes halt the advance of Gaddafi's forces on Benghazi and target Libya's air defences.
30 April: A NATO missile attack on a house in Tripoli kills Gaddafi's youngest son and three grandchildren, his government says.
27 June: The ICC issues arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity.
21 August: Rebels enter Tripoli with little resistance. Gaddafi makes audio addresses over state television calling on Libyans to fight off the rebel "rats".
23 August: The rebels overrun Gaddafi's fortified Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, trashing the symbols of his rule.
29 August: Gaddafi's wife, his daughter Aisha and two of his sons enter Algeria. Aisha Gaddafi gives birth in a clinic in a border town hours after crossing the frontier.
1 September: Libya's interim rulers meet world leaders at a conference in Paris to discuss reshaping Libya. Gaddafi, on the 42nd anniversary of his coming to power, urges his supporters to fight on.
8 September: Interim prime minister Mahmoud Jibril arrives in Tripoli on his first visit since it was taken by his forces.
11 September: Libya starts producing oil again. Niger says Gaddafi's son Saadi has arrived there.
13 September: Interim government chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil makes his first speech in Tripoli to a crowd of about 10,000.
15 September: France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's David Cameron land in Libya to a heroes' welcome.
16 September: The UN Security Council eases sanctions on Libya, including on its national oil company and central bank. The UN General Assembly approves a request to accredit interim government envoys as Libya's sole representatives at the United Nations, effectively recognizing the NTC.
20 September: US President Barack Obama calls for the last of Gaddafi's loyalist forces to surrender as he announces the return of the U.S. ambassador to Tripoli. Gaddafi taunts NATO in a speech broadcast by Syrian-based Arrai television station.
21 September: The interim rulers say they have captured most of Sabha, one of three main towns where Gaddafi loyalists have been holding out since the fall of Tripoli. Gaddafi's birthplace Sirte and the town of Bani Walid continue to resist.
25 September: The first Libyan crude oil to be shipped in months sails from the eastern port of Marsa el Hariga for Italy.
27 September: NATO says Libya's interim rulers have taken full control of the country's stockpile of chemical weapons and nuclear material.
12 October: Government fighters capture Gaddafi's son Mo'tassim after he tried to escape Sirte.
13 October: NTC forces say they have control of the whole of Sirte except neighborhood 'Number Two' where Gaddafi forces are surrounded.
14 October: Gunfights break out in Tripoli between Gaddafi supporters and NTC forces, the first sign of armed resistance to the new government.
17 October: NTC forces celebrate the capture of Bani Walid, one of the final bastions of Gaddafi loyalists.
-- A Syrian television station confirms Gaddafi's son Khamis died in fighting southeast of Tripoli on 29 August.
18 October: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Libya on an unannounced visit, urges militias to unite.
20 October: NTC fighters capture Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown, ending a two-month siege and extinguishing the last significant hold out of troops loyal to the deposed leader.
With the fall of the Gaddafi, who came to power in a bloodless coup against King Idris in 1969 when he was a 27-year-old army captain, Libya has become another case of regime change since the start of the popular unrest that broke out in the Arab world this past January and February. Libya’s regime had been led by the Gaddafi family. Despite the fact that Gaddafi took power via a military coup, he did not allow a robust and autonomous military institution that could pose a threat to his authority to develop. This practice, however, seems to have resulted in sizeable defections from the Libyan army, sparking a civil war.
The crisis in Libya may play itself out over a long period of time. The country’s geopolitical reality is one where the crisis within the country can continue to evolve without seriously impacting the region or beyond. Meanwhile, the de facto government of new Libya, the NTC, has been feted in Paris by more than 60 nations and international organizations. The NTC presented its plans for nation-building to the international community and the rest of the world pledged to help the new government in meeting urgent needs and begin the formation of a functioning governing authority.

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