Dictatorship is an act of forcing your will against the will of others and this can either be official or unofficial. In other cases, there might pressure from the military without there having direct involvement but most forms of dictatorships result after the ruling government is overthrown. Whether directly or not, Muammar Al Gaddafi was one and is one of them and has continued to the Libyan president since 1979’s coup. He is among the four longest serving presidents and who are still in power. Just like what others do, Gaddafi seized power from King Indris though a coup d’etat.
This paper is gong to give a brief history of Gaddafi and then continue to discuss about how he came to power. It will show how he used his powers and with whom he externally related. Though he is a Libyan leader his power in one way or the other affects the rest of the world, this is also another thing that will be discussed.
Gaddafi was a student at Sebha in the period between 1956 and 1961. He started showing interest in political matters a bit early. Inspired by politics of the then president of Egypt Gamel Abdel Nasser, Gaddafi would lead other students to demonstrate and strike and this led to his expulsion from school in Sebha. From there moved to Misurata where he completed his studies although he continued to secretly organize revolutionary movements. (Rose, 2005; 86)
In order to actualise his political dreams, he decided to join Bengasi, a military academy in October, 1963 where he would try to sell his ideas to others in pursuit to join him. Three years later, he enrolled for a military course at Beaconsfield military in Great Britain. It was here that he came to experience fully what it takes to be a military officer as he was given the post of a lieutenant.
According to Davies, (2008; 146) In 1969 Gaddafi in conspiracy with his colleagues to seize power took his idea to effect while king Indris was away for medical attention in Turkey. There was no much resistance and they took power easily and proclaimed Libya a republic country. It was only later that it was established that Gaddafi, the colonel was the power behind the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). After this Indris cousin prince Sayyid Hassan became the king although prior to this he was acting on Indris’ behalf. Before the end of September the monarchical system was brought to an end and Hassan ceased to be the king after the Revolutionary army deposed him put him to house arrest. Although he was the one who masterminded this power seize, he never proclaimed himself to be the leader of the military or the general unlike other dictators instead, he patiently waited for a ceremonial promotion from the post of a colonel, a position he has held for over thirty seven years.
The choice made my Gaddafi to remain in the rank of a colonel was not surprising as even other dictators have held positions lesser than that of military commanders. He used his military power to transform the country from a monarchical state to a republican one by overthrowing Indris’ regime. He also used his power to transform the economy of the country from its strict sense of capitalism to what was referred to as Arab socialism. Private ownership of small companies was allowed while the government controlled the big ones. He also introduced new cultures in his country under a system known as Islamic morals. One thing that was affected by the introduction of these cultures was gambling and use of alcohol. (Rose, 2005; 87)
Anybody who tended to disagree with his rule according to Eichberg et al, (1998; 56) was assassinated by a hit squad, even those who were abroad and regarded as dissidents were not spared either. He has also used his powers to support Muslim’s liberation groups. The ideals of these groups were often misinterpreted by other countries and were deemed to be that of terrorists and his government has often been accused especially by US of financing terrorist groups.
External relations between Libya and other nations especially from the west has always been characterised by mutual distrust for example US under Reagan had even attempted to overthrow him but it failed (USA International Business Publications, 2002; 65-66). Libya has been in the front line toward pan-Arabinism and therefore any move by the west to divide the Arab nation has always been met with fire. Libyan relations with Europe could not be said to be healthy and this started when Yvonne Fletcher, a police constable from Britain was assassinated for leading anti Gaddafi demonstration. Libya has been very supportive to other Arab nations and has been providing financial and military aid to them, a move that is not taken kindly by the United States and other nations from the west. Libyan government has always been confronted by US especially when the later attacked the former on the Gulf of Sindra and again in the 1980’s under what was known as Operation El Dorado which led to the death of 60 people. Gaddafi has always been on the front line to blame the foreign powers for the crisis in the Middle East and thus Libya since the ascension of Gaddafi to power has never been cordial. (Eichberg et al, 1998; 56)
This strained kind of relationship has resulted to terrorism activities both in Libya and in other parts of the world where innocent lives have been lost. The US believes that Gaddafi is the force behind terrorism as it is believed he is the financier of these activities. His ideals like Arab unity and other his hard line position has led his country to be isolated by other nations both economically and politically through sanctions and embargos that have been effected by the United Nations.
Gaddafi is a dictator like any other and pursues dictatorial principles like they all do. He ascended to the power through a coup d’etat after the Revolutionary Army deposed Kind Indris from the throne while away for medical attention. He has used his powers to restructure the political and economic system of Libya for example he replaced the monarchical system with a republican one. He has also tried to change the social relation of the Arab world by trying to promote pan Arabism in the region although his objectives never materialised. His actions has often been misinterpreted by other powers has been accused of financially and supporting Muslim dissidents who target the US’ nationals and its spheres of interest.
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