How he died Col Muammar Gaddafi died from bullet wounds some time after a failed attempt to escape from the fighters of the National Transitional Council NTCbut the exact circumstances of his death are still emerging. Gabriel Gatehouse reports from Sirte.
Share via Email Muammar Gaddafi. It was the year of Suez, the Anglo-French attack on Egypt that marked the emergence of the young Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had overthrown King Farouk and his decadent dynasty four years before, as the Arab champion of modern times.
In he enrolled in the Benghazi military academy, where he cultivated his group of would-be revolutionaries with himself as their uncontested chief. Of all such Arab "revolutions", his was perhaps the sharpest, swiftest, cleanest break with the past, the most obviously identified with a single personality.
No such leader had more vaulting personal ambitions than he. None, in the shape of a small, easily governable population, and the bonanza of immense oil wealth, should have been better equipped to achieve them.
Yet none — even by his own original criteria — was ultimately to fail more abjectly. To be sure, he put his obscure country on the political map.
But as for the real, enduring achievements of his year career, they were in inverse proportion to the extravagance with which he conducted it.
Nasser was a flawed and tragic idol by the time Gaddafi had acquired the means to emulate him, but an immensely potent one all the same, and had he lived, the disciple would have remained in the shadow of the master.
The existing Arab order, he preached, was replete with hypocrisy and two-faced policies, with feeble and shameful regimes who worked against, not for, Arab unity and the Palestinian cause in which they claimed to believe.
But he would surely succeed where his master had failed. And already he was hinting at yet larger, visionary ambitions than that. No one believed in his own high destiny like Gaddafi himself. When the Prophet Muhammad was given his Islamic mission, he called on the Persian and Roman kings to convert to Islam.
Could a bedouin shepherd stand in the face of the Roman and Persian kings? In he turned Libya into the Great Jamahiriyah. In a second volume, his solution to the "economic problem", he envisaged a society that would banish the profit motive, and ultimately money itself, and where no one would work for anyone else.
But this was to amount to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Libya came under such assaults not because of the power of a new idea — Burkina Faso was the only other country to declare itself a Jamahiriyah.
For in practice, Gaddafi remained a very conventional ruler of a developing country. He also spent huge sums on a Soviet-supplied arsenal. But neither the money nor the 8, Soviet technicians could hide the fact that much of it was rotting away in the desert.
No, the foreign desire to stamp out the Jamahiriyah was a self-fulfilling prophecy because, in his pan-Arab frustrations, Gaddafi turned more and more to propaganda, subversion and the patronage of every conceivable "liberation" movement, from semi-respectable Palestinian organisations to outright terrorists such as Carlos the Jackal and Abu Nidal.
He openly espoused revolutionary violence, and sent hit teams to assassinate Libyan "stray dogs" who opposed him from exile. One was the Aziziyah barracks where Gaddafi lived, but instead of the man Reagan called "the mad dog of the Middle East", they apparently — according to state media — killed his adopted daughter, Hanna, instead.
It took some time to appear, but this raid, and above all the attempt to kill him, had a sobering effect. Emulating President Mikhail Gorbachev, in Gaddafi began a characteristically flamboyant perestroika of his own.
He mounted a bulldozer and rammed the walls of a well-known Tripoli jail. Political prisoners clambered free from there and other places where they had been incarcerated for years, often without knowing why. The perestroika pleased Libyans so far as it went, yearning as they did for the day when, like any conventional leader, theirs would turn his attention to the ordinary problems of a small and rather ordinary country.
His first instinct was to rail and abuse. It would be treason for Libya to do so, it was in a historic confrontation with the west, in the course of which, if need be, it would set fire to all oilfields.
Gaddafi was afraid that to yield up those two obscure apparatchiks would be to strike at the very foundations of his tribal-cum-military power. In any case, he had already persuaded himself that it was not just the two suspects that the west was after, but his own head.Col Muammar Gaddafi died from bullet wounds some time after a failed attempt to escape from the fighters of the National Transitional Council (NTC), but the exact circumstances of his death are.
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