Gaddafi, the mad dog of the Middle East
Lots of background on Gaddafi (as well as pretty good dose of snark). Fascinating stuff in a train wreck sort of way—what a total wackjob. It doesn’t bode well for the current situation in Libya.
DAMASCUS - Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was new to the scene when he marched into the Arab summit in Cairo in September 1970, exactly one year after he had staged a successful coup in Libya, at the young age of 27, ousting his predecessor, the ailing King Idriss, aged 80.
Dressed in military uniform with a revolver strapped around his belt, the flamboyant young man wanted to come across as an “Arab Che Guevara”. The Arabs assembled in Egypt were busily trying to hammer out a solution to a bloody showdown in Amman between King Hussein and the Palestinians, known as Black September.
Gaddafi, a protege of Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser who was ostensibly committed to Arab nationalism, was furious with Hussein. In words that seem strangely appropriate today, Gaddafi barked, “We are faced with a madman like Hussein who wants to kill his own people. We must send someone to seize him, handcuff him, stop him from doing what he is doing, and take him off to a mental asylum!”
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, a wise old man, gently said, “I don’t think you should call an Arab king a madman who should be taken to an asylum.” Gaddafi snapped back: “But he is mad! All his family is mad! It’s a matter of record!” Gaddafi was making reference to Hussein’s father King Talal who abdicated in 1951 because he was mentally unfit to rule Jordan.
The wise Faisal remarked: “Well, perhaps all of us are mad.” Nasser intervened, “Sometimes when you see what is going on in the Arab world, your majesty, I think this may be so. I suggest we appoint a psychiatrist to examine us regularly and find one which ones are crazy.”
Gaddafi learned, at the young age of 27, that he could do just about anything he pleased in the Arab world - and get away with it. Nothing stuck to Gaddafi, no scandal from eccentric behavior, no guilt because of bloodshed, and embarrassment because of poor leadership.
That all explains why the “king of kings” did not even blink when mowing down protesters in Benghazi and Tripoli over the past week, whipping up a death toll of nearly 300 Libyan citizens. He hired African tribes to kill his own countrymen, fired at the unarmed demonstrators from airplanes, contaminated the waters of Benghazi, and cut off fuel to prevent opponents from commuting between Libyan cities. It was Gaddafi being Gaddafi, right until the apparent end.
“Big Brother Muammar” will either be toppled when and if the angry Libyan street storms his palaces in Tripoli, or if he is arrested by a military coup. Suicide perhaps, would be easier for him, than surrender.