Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in retrospect

The Palaver Hut

The world greeted the death of Muammar Gaddafi, as the end of his 42 years of despotic reign over Libya.
No doubt, Gaddafi’s death leaves the Libyan people in an awkward position with the new National Transitional Council (NTC) government, who have been in power just for a few months, but already are being accused of numerous human-right abuses including war crimes against humanity.

I’m sure this is not the post-Gaddafi we all wished for Libyan people. But whatever the case maybe, the new Libya’s NTC’s soldiers are not going to face any sort of war crimes because they managed to triumph in killing Gaddafi. Case closed!

There’s an adage that says “money is the main cause of most wrongdoing and problems in the world”. This is never far from the truth, as history shows Libya came into the spotlight with the discovery of oil on its soil in 1959, a very poor desert country that suddenly became rich under the leadership of King Idris. The US and European companies invested huge stakes in the extremely lucrative petroleum and banking sectors in Libya.

Meanwhile, Muammar Gaddafi, who hailed from a small tribe of Arabs, the Qadhadhfa, who are mostly herders that lived in the Hun Oasis, entered the Libyan military academy at Benghazi in 1961, and graduated in 1966.

He later pursued further studies in the UK where he underwent a four months military training. On 1st September 1969, Gaddafi led a small group of junior military officers on a bloodless coup d’état against King Idris, while the king was in Turkey for medical treatment. The monarchy was abolished and a Libyan Arab Republic was proclaimed.

On gaining power, he immediately nationalized the oil business with the West and ordered the shutdown of American and British military bases. He told Western officials that he would expel their companies from Libya’s oil fields unless they shared more revenue. The oil companies complied with the demand, increasing Libya’s share from 50 to 79 percent.

Further cementing western hatred of the new regime, Gaddafi played a leading role in the 1973 oil embargo against the US and maintained cooperative relations with the Soviet Union. Gaddafi also reportedly channelled early oil wealth into national free health care and education.

Ever since, the US and its closest allies maintained a mostly hostile relationship with Muammar Gaddafi and Libya. The ‘international community’ repeatedly enforced or renewed sanctions against Libya in the 1980s and 1990s.
In 2004, former US President G. W. Bush administration dropped sanctions against the regime and paved the way for a new era in US-Libyan bilateral trade.

The deliberate gunshot that killed Gaddafi has managed to hide some very divisive and awkward secrets Gaddafi may have revealed during his trial. He would have opened during the trial, old political wounds and politically damaged the Western governments. It’s a pity we will never know the gory details of what happened and when, especially how Gaddafi was helped to rebuild his oil industry and what happened to his billions of petrodollars investments, as we speak.

Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam who has been arrested, should not be killed but given a chance to face fair trial. He may reveal some of the mysteries behind many of the top-level security documents from the Reagan’s Administration pertaining to Libya. The documents remain classified. These include National Security Decision Directives 16 (Economic and Security Decisions for Libya), NSDD 205a (Annex: Acting Against Libyan Support of International Terrorism), NSDD 224 (Counter-Terrorist Operations Against Libya), and NSDD 234 (Libya Policy).

The documents that have been declassified are partially redacted. The George H.W. Bush NSDD 19 (US Policy Toward Libya) also remains classified.

By Joseph Spencer