My Big Mouth: Gaddafi’s love/hate relationship with the west


SW Londoner’s Scott McWhinney explores the late Colonel Gaddafi’s complex relationship with the west.


By Scott McWhinney

Libya’s standoff with their unwanted leader has finally come to an end after Colonel Gaddafi was killed during capture.

The late despotic dictator has had a chequered past, rising to power through a questionably orchestrated coup d’état.

Coming to power in 1969, he and a group of military officers deposed King Idris I in a bloodless exchange.

The country was happy at what they considered a long overdue reform but it was unclear who had taken the monarchy’s place in the aftermath and it eventually emerged that it was the 27-year-old Muammar al-Gaddafi.

This pretty much set the scene for his time in power.

He has been a figure the media and public has loved to hate and it is all to easy to forget that he was pictured with world leaders as prominent as Tony Blair in 2004 and Silvio Berlusconi as late as 2009.

The west was happy to accept his help when his government discussed the possibility of setting up immigrant camps to handle and process migrants.

Berlusconi attempted to make deals with Gaddafi for years, offering to pay money by way of reparation for Italy’s colonial rule of the country which began in 1911.

Gaddafi agreed to help stem the flow of immigrants but this decision was not popular with human rights activists.

They criticised the move on the grounds that people should be allowed the chance at asylum, but although it was unpopular the scheme went ahead and cut the number of migrants by nearly 14,000 in the space of a year.

Recent years have seen the death of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein but this is a different story. While national feeling for Gaddafi was not warm, many argued that the civil war should have been just that: civil.

Many have argued that foreign intrusion was financially unviable, morally questionable and just another ploy to secure oil reserves.

It would be irresponsible to suggest that the rest of the world should have done nothing about Gaddafi but the armed response that occurred seems rather heavy handed, as it was a civil matter to begin with.

It is highly likely that any intervention would have been on a much lower scale if Libya had been a country with no valuable resources.

The Libyan debacle, as many political commentators have dubbed it, is drawing to a close but if the past has taught us anything it probably won’t be long until there is another leader whose regime does not please the powers that be.

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