In and Out: Life in our Hands (Part 2)

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 14 November 2011: 5 years 2 months on … Deuce

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi died at the age of 69.

African tribal dignitaries bestowed on him the title “King of Kings” but this King had little in common with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, other than that he donned a white glove at an Arab summit to avoid “soiling his hand” by shaking hands with Arab kings.

Reputedly born in a Bedouin tent in the desert near Sirte on 7 June 1942, as a young colonel, Gaddafi, on 1 September 1969, led a coup, overthrowing the Western-backed elderly King Idris.

He quickly established himself as a belligerent and unpredictable leader.

Gaddafi alienated the West soon after seizing power; however, renowned for his flamboyant dress sense, rambling rhetoric and heavily armed women bodyguards, the Colonel ruled Libya with an iron fist for more than 40 years.

His idol was Egyptian president and fervent Arab nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser. He also declared himself a fan of Stalin and Hitler.

For decades linked to a spate of international terror attacks, including the Lockerbie plane bombing, Gaddafi’s Libya was accused of using its oil wealth to fund and arm rebel groups across Africa and beyond.

Later, Gaddafi renounced terrorism and declared in 2003 that he was giving up the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, prompting the lifting of UN sanctions and shoring up dramatically Libya’s ties with the West.

He shunned formal titles such as president but was officially known as “Guide of the Revolution”

However, this embattled despot, who famously hosted world leaders in his Bedouin tent, came up against an unprecedented challenge to his rule when anti-regime protests erupted on15 February 2011.

Even after forces of Libya’s National Transitional Council overran his fortified Tripoli headquarters on 23 August, after heavy fighting, Gaddafi evaded capture and vowed to fight on.

However, he died on Thursday 20 October 2011 after being shot by a revolutionary (in circumstances still to be investigated) in a last bloody battle that culminated in the fall of his hometown, Sirte.

As the King of Kings and the Guide of the Revolution, he created his own reality.

No longer is he the King of Kings.

(to be continued …)