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Col Muammer Gaddafi has ruled Libya with an iron fist for the last 42 years, since he seized power in 1969. In the initial stages of his rule people considered him a handsome, charismatic, young military officer. He is a disciple of former president of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser.
He made his own political philosophy, and over time forced students to read this philosophy in schools. Further, he banned all political parties from operating, imprisoned many critics, and led them to death in his period of governance. Decades of survival under tyrannical times, and unparalleled oppression under the Gaddafi regime have made people rebel.
He has been a great head-turner at most of the international gatherings so far. People in the Arab world call him flamboyant because of his outlandish clothing and blunt speeches.
The first Anti-Government demonstrations started with over-throwing the Tunisian and Egyptian governments that engulfed the Arab world. On February 17, protests took place in Libya calling for a regime change or for Gaddafi to step down.
Decades of suppression, economic sluggishness, stagnant standard of living and impossibility of political reforms, might have made the people of Libya revolt against the 42-year-old military rule. The spark of the regime change movement got escalated in the Arab world after the successful ousting of the Tunisian government early this year.
Gaddafi attempted to suppress protests even in the initial stages by curbing them down with the military use of live bullets, mortars, machine guns and anti air-craft missiles, leading to heavy loss of civilians in many towns of Libya.
Protests continued to turn violent in February. Witness reports said that there was bloody fighting between soldiers and rebel forces. On February 20, rebel forces captured the port city of Benghazi, and the next day the Libyan Justice Minister resigned and said he was unhappy with excessive use of force against protesters.
From the beginning of this revolution, rebel forces fought tooth and nail in their aim to change the existing political system for democracy. Professor Daniel Serwer of John Hopkins University met with the National Transitional Group (NTC) and said “From what we know they want a democratic Libya, an Islamic state but a state that is clearly a multiparty state, clearly a liberal state”. The rebel (NTC) includes several very different groups including former Gaddafi Allies, long-time opposition figures, ethnic Berber fighters, and Islamists.
A five month long battle was aided by NATO forces that entered fighting in Libya, after UN secretary Council passed a resolution which authorized “all necessary measures” to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians. As far as the role of United States is concerned in this battle to oust Gaddafi, it has been subtle and American troops have not placed their boots on Libyan soil.
Now after five months of deadly hostility in Libya, rebel forces have captured Bab-al Aziziya, Muammer Gaddafi’s compound and the heart of his rule for the last 40 years. It was stormed and looted badly and the statue of the besieged dictator was demolished.
The huge complex was literally filled with anti air-craft shells and used bullets as rebels fighters found their way inside the compound amid dozens of bodies. Several NATO strikes and the onslaught eventually led to the fall of his compound.
It seems to be clear that decades of military rule in Libya has its days numbered. What can be counted on is the relentless and munificent execution of fierce battle against the Gaddafi troops: this is truly a mark of courage and determination.