The son of a nomadic camel herder, Muammar Gaddafi eventually left behind the goatskin tent in the desert where he lived as a child — but he never lost his love of the Bedouin aesthetic. He just embellished it with gold. This week marks the 45th anniversary of the 27-year-old upstart’s Sept. 1, 1969, bloodless coup against Libya’s King Idris, during which he overthrew the leader, promoted himself to colonel and, as TIME reported a few months into his reign, went from “virtually unknown” to vastly powerful:
As Libya has descended into chaos, it has split into two broad camps. On one side is Libya Dawn, an Islamist-backed umbrella group; on the other is a renegade general, Khalifa Hifter, who is based in the eastern part of the country along with his allies. As this power struggle has escalated, it is no longer just an internal Libyan conflict. It is now being fought regionally, with parallels to other battles playing out in North Africa and the Middle East.
At least 36 people were killed in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi, many of them civilian, where Libyan Special Forces and Islamist militants clashed on Saturday night and Sunday morning, medical and security sources said. The government said more than 150 people have died in the capital Tripoli and Benghazi in two weeks of fighting as clashes forced U.S. and foreign diplomats to pull out of the country.
The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort as fighting intensified between rival militias. Secretary of State John Kerry said "free-wheeling militia violence" prompted the move. American personnel at the Tripoli embassy, which had already been operating with limited staffing, left the capital around dawn and traveled by road to neighboring Tunisia, with U.S. fighter jets and other aircraft providing protection, the State Department said. The withdrawal underscored the Obama administration's concern about the heightened risk to American diplomats abroad, particularly in Libya where memories of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in the eastern city of Benghazi are still vivid.
"60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan apologized Sunday night for her discredited Oct. 27 report featuring an “eyewitness” account of the Benghazi terrorist attack that proved to be false.
CBS News’s chairman expressed disappointment and contrition Friday for a mistaken “60 Minutes” report about the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attacks, but he suggested the program and his network intended to move past the flawed story.
"60 Minutes" has learned of new information that undercuts its Oct. 27 account of an ex-security officer who called himself Morgan Jones. His real name is Dylan Davies, and he recounted to Lara Logan, in great detail, what he claimed were his actions on the night of the attack on the Benghazi compound.
Publication has been halted for a disputed book about the attack last year on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Threshold Editions announced Friday that it's suspending Dylan Davies' "The Embassy House: The Explosive Eyewitness Account of the Libyan Embassy Siege by the Soldier Who Was There" after serious doubts emerged about whether Davies had witnessed the 2012 raid.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney took the first question in Monday night's debate -- whether or not the administration bungled its response to the attacks in Libya -- and he responded by talking about the Arab Spring, Syria, Mali, Iran, Egypt and Osama bin Laden.
Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the erratic, provocative dictator who ruled Libya for 42 years, crushing opponents at home while cultivating the wardrobe and looks befitting an aging rock star, met a violent and vengeful death on Thursday in the hands of the Libyan forces that drove him from power. In death, as in life, his circumstances proved startling, with jerky video images showing him captured, bloody and disheveled, but alive. A separate clip showed his half-naked torso, with eyes staring vacantly and what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head, as jubilant fighters fired into the air. In a third video, posted on YouTube, excited fighters hovered around his lifeless-looking body, posing for photographs and yanking his limp head up and down by the hair.
In George Orwell's 1939 novel, Coming Up for Air, his narrator, George Bowling, broods on the special horrors of the new totalitarianism and notices "the colored shirts, the barbed wire, the rubber truncheons," but also, less obviously perhaps, "the processions and the posters with enormous faces, and the crowds of a million people all cheering for the Leader till they deafen themselves into thinking that they really worship him, and all the time, underneath, they hate him so that they want to puke.
David Mack is a former U.S. diplomat who served throughout the Middle East, including a posting in Libya. He says he believes Gadhafi could very well seek asylum for himself and his family in a country like Russia
The nearly 42-year rule of Moammar Gadhafi seems to be at a tenuous spot. Rebels claim they control most of Tripoli and claim three of Gadhafi's sons have been captured, including Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was considered Libya's heir apparent.
Muammar Gaddafi continues to hold tightly to power even as NATO bombs rain down on Tripoli. Syrian autocrat Bashar al-Assad has killed more than 1,000 of his own people in an effort to quash protests. In Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has refused to step down despite months of unrest that has intensified into near civil war this week. The question is, why do all these guys fight so hard to keep power? Why not decamp to Saudi Arabia or Venezuela and live out their lives in luxury before being killed or held for trial like Hosni Mubarak? Any attempt to diagnose a defining psychological feature of dictatorship would be facile.
Rebels in eastern Libya say their forces have been mistakenly hit in a Nato air raid on a rebel tank position. Rebels said five died, while doctors in Ajdabiya told the BBC at least 13 rebel fighters had been killed in the strike.
The U.S. may consider sending troops into Libya with a possible international ground force that could aid the rebels, the former U.S. commander of the military mission said Thursday, describing the ongoing operation as a stalemate that is more likely to go on now that America has handed control to NATO.
Distinguished Middle East scholar, Juan Cole, addresses the situation in Libya stating that "the United Nations-authorized intervention in Libya has pitched ethical issues of the highest importance, and has split progressives in unfortunate ways. He invites a calm and civilized discussion of the rights and wrongs while presenting his case, concluding with: "It is possible to reason our way through, on a case-by-case basis, to an ethical progressive position that supports the ordinary folk in their travails in places like Libya. If we just don’t care if the people of Benghazi are subjected to murder and repression on a vast scale, we aren’t people of the Left."
Juan Cole in his March 22nd Informed Comment provides a list of 10 differences between George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the current United Nations action in Libya.