Muammar Gaddafi

Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (June 1942 – 20 October 2011),remained ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977. After that he remained unofficial “Brother Leader” of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011, thus leading the country for full 41 years before the latest uprising which claimed his life.

He seized power in a bloodless military coup in 1969 and served as the country’s head of state until 1977, when he stepped down from his official executive role as Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of Libya, and claimed subsequently to be merely a symbolic figurehead. Critics have long described him as Libya’s autocrat or demagogue, despite the Libyan state’s denial of him holding any power and Gaddafi’s self-portrayal as a statesman-philosopher.

In 2011, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya state he established was overthrown in a civil war which consisted of an uprising aided by a NATO intervention.

  • Gaddafi was 4th longest-serving non-royal leader since 1900, as well as the longest-serving Arab leader 
  • He variously styled himself as “the Brother Leader” and “Guide of the Revolution”; in 2008 a meeting of traditional African rulers bestowed on him the title “King of Kings”.
  • After establishing the Jamahiriya (“state of the masses”) system in 1977, he officially stepped down from power and had since then held a largely symbolic role within the country’s official governance structure.

By exporting as much oil per capita as Saudi Arabia and through various welfare programs, Libya achieved the highest living standards in Africa; though not as high as several similarly oil-rich Gulf countries, Libya remained debt-free. In the 1980s, he started several wars and acquired chemical weapons, leading to the United Nations calling Libya under Gaddafi a pariah state and countries around the world imposing sanctions. Six days after the capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 by United States troops, Gaddafi renounced Tripoli’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and welcomed international inspections to verify that he would follow through on the commitment

Gaddafi was a leading advocate for a United States of Africa, he served as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) from 2 February 2009 to 31 January 2010.

Fall of Gaddafi

In February 2011, following revolutions in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia, protests against Gaddafi’s rule began. These escalated into an uprising that spread across the country, with the forces opposing Gaddafi establishing a government based in Benghazi named the National Transitional Council (NTC).

This led to the 2011 Libyan civil war, which included a military intervention by a NATO-led coalition to enforce a UN Security Council Resolution 1973 calling for a no-fly zone and protection of civilians in Libya. The assets of Gaddafi and his family were frozen, and both Interpol and the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants on 27 June for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his brother-in-law Abdullah Senussi, concerning crimes against humanity.

Gaddafi and his forces lost the Battle of Tripoli in August and on 16 September 2011 the NTC took Libya’s seat at the UN, replacing Gaddafi. He retained control over parts of Libya, most notably the city of Sirte, to which it was presumed that he had fled. Although Gaddafi’s forces initially held out against the NTC’s advances, Gaddafi was captured alive after his convoy was attacked by NATO warplanes as Sirte fell on 20 October 2011 but was killed by the rebels the same day.

Third International Theory of Gaddafi

The Third International Theory or Third Universal Theory refers to the style of Government described by Col. Muammar Gaddafi in the early 1970s, on which his Government, the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, was officially based. It was partly inspired by Islamic socialism and Arab nationalism and partly by the principles of direct democracy.

It has similarities with the system of Yugoslav municipal self management in Titoist Yugoslavia, and the Yugoslav Third Way during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s as developed by Edvard Kardelj. 

It was proposed as an alternative to capitalism and communism for Third World countries, based on the stated belief that both of these ideologies had been proven invalid.

Key provisions of the Third International Theory are outlined in The Green Book. It is a system of views which criticizes European-style democracy and Soviet Marxism in detail. The theory rejects traditional instruments of government – parliaments, parties and referendums – and contrasts them to the concept of direct popular democracy based on people’s congresses and people’s committees. According to the Third International Theory, the legal system of a society can not depend on the political situation, and must be based on custom and religion. Gaddafi offers to create a special hierarchical structure of people’s congresses and committees, resulting in a system where “management becomes popular, control becomes popular, and the old definition of democracy as ‘control of people over the government’ is replaced by its new definition as ‘the people’s control over itself’.

The Green Book of Gaddafi

The Green Book is a short book setting out the political philosophy of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. The book was first published in 1975. It was “intended to be required reading for all Libyans.”

  • It is said to have been inspired in part by The Little Red Book (Quotations from Chairman Mao).
  • The Green Book consists of three parts:
  1. The Solution of the Problem of Democracy: The Authority of the People (published in late 1975)
  2. The Solution of the Economic Problem: Socialism (published in early 1977)
  3. The Social Basis of the Third International Theory (published in September 1981)

The Green Book rejects modern liberal democracy based on electing representatives as well as capitalism. Instead, it proposes direct democracy in the form of popular committees which allow direct political participation for all adult citizens. A special place in the Green Book is reserved for women, their physical build and social role in society.

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