Is any nation on Earth facing as much fitna (chaos) as Libya does at the moment? A state that went from having the best standard of living in Africa, the Muslim World and probably the entire globe in 2010 to suffering the worst civil war in the World by 2012. My grandfather who had right-wing sympathies moved to Libya and would later say to my father: “That Qadhafi may be a communist” my grandfather considered any socialist a communist “But he is great for his people”. In this article I will try to explain what happened in Libya and who was Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi.
Libya has an ancient history, but we will start with the fact that the Italians invaded in 1911, as they wanted to recreate the Roman Empire and join the other European states in their imperialist ambitions. For twenty years Omar Mukhtar fought the Italians and was finally captured and executed.
Eventually Libya would become free and under the influence of King Idris, a Western puppet, who would sell out his nation to the West.
Qadhafi was born a Bedouin in 1942 (the exact date is unknown), in a tent within the desert of the Sirte region of Libya. He belonged to the small and relatively un-influential tribe of Qadhadhfa. His parents, who were goat herders, wanted him to become a religious teacher and he was educated as a young boy by an Islamic teacher. Qadhafi would never forget his Bedouin roots or the desert, which he considered his true home.
He was heavily influenced by Omar Mukhtar, whose picture he would keep by his chest and after attending a primary school with many Egyptian teachers, also became influenced by Nasser, the president of Egypt and a strong pan-Arabist. He become politicized as an Arab Nationalist, Islamist, anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist and led a protest against Syria’s exit from the United Arab Union, during which time he attacked a foreign hotel which was serving alcohol, an insult to Libya, a Muslim nation.
He went to the University of Libya and studied history, but dropped out to join the army in 1963. Qadhafi was angry that the British, an imperialist power in the Muslim World, were training the Libyan army. He failed his exams, refused to learn English and was rude to his teachers, who accused him of being behind the assassination of one of their officers. He was later sent to England (pictured below in Piccadilly Circus) for military training where he was racially abused by his teachers.
As King Idris was on holiday, Qadhafi and others initiated a coup to take over the country, which they did successfully and peacefully, without any deaths.
Qadhafi’s rule would see a socialist and Islamic system the likes of which had not seen in modern times. The country would be run from 1969-1977 by the Revolutionary Command Council, all of whom were from working or middle class backgrounds, in complete contrast to the Conservative rich people who had run the country under Idris.
He would later give the country to the people through the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, a form of direct democracy which gave the people control over their daily lives and wealth, and which showed the ‘Athenian Democracy’ practised in the West to be nothing more than dictatorships. The country was now run by the ‘Green Book‘, Qadhafi’s own manifesto.
The constitution was however based on Islam and Arab culture, as Qadhafi believed secularism was incompatible with the Muslim world, however Libya practised a much different version of Sharia law than that promoted by the Salafis in Saudi Arabia.
Under Qadhafi Libya kicked out the British Armies bases from Libya and would nationalise the oil, Libya being one of the biggest oil producing countries in the world, and use the proceeds to fund a bayt al-Mal (welfare state), first invented by the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab in the 7th Century.
He would eradicate homelessness, building houses for all his people, his parents being the last Bedouins to home, whilst he stayed in the small corporals home until every Libyan was housed. Not many leaders can boast the same, the prime example of a powerful leader who remained in a mud hut was of course Umar ibn al-Khattab.
Every newlywed couple was given a £50,000 to find a new house. Also every mother was given £10,000 every time they gave birth. Just like Umar ibn al-Khattab he would give a proportion of the nation’s wealth to every citizen.
He would build the best education and healthcare systems in Africa and the Muslim World, free of charge and to which all Libyans were entitled too. Again a free healthcare system by the state was first recorded in history by Umar ibn al-Khattab. If the state was unable to provide medicine or education in Libya, the Jamahiriya would pay for the individual to go abroad and receive it.
Qadhafi would fund irrigation projects not only in Libya, but across the Sahara including within Burkina Faso and Sudan.
He also funded anti-Imperialist struggles across the world such as The Black Panther Party, IRA, The Nation of Islam, Workers Revolutionary Party (UK), National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, The PLO, The Red Army Faction, Tupamaros and the African National Congress to name a few, as well as working with late British MP Bernie Grant and the late Rosie Douglas, former prime minister of Dominica.
In fact despite pressure from the West, Nelson Mandela refused to condemn Qadhafi, even saying in front of Bill Clinton that those who have a problem with his friendship with Qadhafi can go jump in a pool. Mandela’s grandson is now named Qadhafi.
He was the biggest funder of the African satellite, an attempt to give Africa its own satellite and more control over its own media, as well as trying to set up a bank and currency to rival the World Bank and the IMF, an attempt to shift the financial control of Africa and the Middle East to the control of the nations within it. Some say that this move would have crushed financial dependency and gone a long way to ending imperialism in those countries.
Concern about how religious teachers were trying to distort Islams message in order to help imperialism, he tried to encourage all children to learn the Qur’an by heart, so that they would be able to recognize the lies of some of the Islamic teachers.
Qadhafi would travel to Venezuela where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Bolivar’, a replica of Simon Bolivars sword, by Hugo Chavez himself (pictured below), the award being the highest honor in Venezuela. He also, in 2009, went to Italy bringing Omar Mukhtar’s son with him where they watched the Lion of The Desert in the Italian Parliament, it had been banned throughout the 80’s in Italy.
Despite all he achieved he never felt truly at home when not in the desert, still a Bedouin at heart he would go to the desert to pray whenever he was troubled and needed to think properly.
Of course all these achievements were frowned upon in the West. After the Iraq War Qadhafi saw the need to better arm his country, but in turn the West agreed to make some concessions with Libya if he agreed to end the programme. Unfortunately for Qadhafi he believed them.
As the Arab Spring started, some warlords in the East of Libya decided to fight against him. The CIA had been training an army for such an mission since 1988. They claimed to want to bring ‘democracy’ to the country, even though they knew Libya was more democratic than the West and also claimed to be Islamists, although they fought alongside the enemies of Islam: NATO, plus most of the ‘rebels’ claimed to be fighting to introduce secularism or ‘moderate Islam’.
The media claimed that Qadhafi was bombing his own people, however this was later shown to be false. In fact even with the mercenaries being hired, trained and equipped with US standard army weaponry, they were unable to defeat Qadhafi. That is when NATO decided to intervene directly and started to bomb Libya. 1.7 Million protesters came out in Green Square (some pictured below) in Tripoli to support Qadhafi, where he gave a speech.
In the speech he dared the Western leaders to look how his people protest for him, whilst theirs only protest against them, he demanded that if the NATO didn’t stop the bombing, he would fire missiles at Italy and France and said to the people that Libya was their country and they would die to defend it.
Unfortunately this would become Qadhafi’s fate as a French plane bombed his convoy, whilst making a trip to Sirte, and the mercernaries were quick to kill him. Before his death he managed to produce a last will and testament, which reads as follows:
“This is my will. I, Muammar bin Mohammad bin Abdussalam bi Humayd bin Abu Manyar bin Humayd bin Nayil al Fuhsi Qadhafi, do swear that there is no other God but Allah and that Mohammad is God’s Prophet, peace be upon him. I pledge that I will die as a Muslim.
Should I be killed, I would like to be buried, according to Muslim rituals, in the clothes I was wearing at the time of my death and my body unwashed, in the cemetery of Sirte, next to my family and relatives.
I would like that my family, especially women and children, be treated well after my death. The Libyan people should protect its identity, achievements, history and the honourable image of its ancestors and heroes. The Libyan people should not relinquish the sacrifices of the free and best people.
I call on my supporters to continue the resistance, and fight any foreign aggressor against Libya, today, tomorrow and always.
Let the free people of the world know that we could have bargained over and sold out our cause in return for a personal secure and stable life. We received many offers to this effect but we chose to be at the vanguard of the confrontation as a badge of duty and honour.
Even if we do not win immediately, we will give a lesson to future generations that choosing to protect the nation is an honour and selling it out is the greatest betrayal that history will remember forever despite the attempts of the others to tell you otherwise.”
Chaos erupted around Libya as the West got control of the oil and put up elections, of which only 1.7 million people out of Libya’s population of 6.2 million bothered to vote. The Muslim Brotherhood who got 13.2 million in neighbouring Egypt and 1.5 million in Tunisia, could only get 150,000 people to vote for them in Libya and came second. One of the first acts of the new government was to give the economy over to the World Bank.
Militias have now torn the country apart fighting each other over land, the new government was bound to fail as different rival warlords wanted power for themselves. Now different parts of the country are ruled by different warlords and even ‘Islamic State in The Maghreb’ an equivalent of ISIS have taken over part of the country. The numbers of people that have been killed in this massacre is estimated in the hundreds of thousands, Libya has gone from the poorest country in Africa, under Idris, to the richest under Qadhafi and now to probably the poorest again. There appears to be no hope for Libya.
Yet if one man alive can possibly unite Libya now it is Qadhafi’s son Saif Al-Islam, who currently has the support still of the Bedouin tribes, Tripoli and even some of the elected politicians in the so called ‘government of Libya’.
Saif Al-Islam has said recently in an interview that he believes he should be allowed to try and speak to them and encourage them to work with the warlords in order to come to some arrangement. He is under no illusions that the country will go back to the way it was, but now his only concern is peace and stability in Libya.
We should be campaigning for the release of this political prisoner, whom the West has the power to release if they chose to. We owe it to the Libyan people and to Muammar Qadhafi himself, whom Nelson Mandela described as one of the 20th century’s greatest freedom fighters, both of whom have given so much to the world.
I am not a political dreamer like I was when I was younger, I understand that in politics you have to be realistic and deal with numbers and facts, meaning that I know not to waste time on what appears to be a lost cause, but rather to help other countries more likely to survive and escape imperialism. But as one person pointed out to me that they were 99.9% sure that peace will be impossible in Libya for decades and that I am becoming a dreamer once again, I think that for a country and the son of a man who both have a special place in my heart, isn’t that 0.1% chance a dream worth fighting for?