Muammar Gaddafi's response to the 2011 Libyan Civil War

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Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya before he was killed during the Libyan Civil War

Muammar Gaddafi (1942 - 2011) attributed the protests against his rule to people who are "rats" and "cockroaches", terms that have been cited by Hutu radicals of the Tutsi population before the Rwanda genocide began, thus causing unease in the global community. Gaddafi accused his opponents as those who have been influenced by hallucinogenic drugs put in drinks and pills. He specifically referred to substances in milk, coffee and Nescafe. He claimed that Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were distributing these hallucinogenic drugs. He also blamed alcohol.[1][2] Gaddafi also claimed that the protests against his rule were a "colonialist plot" by foreign countries to control oil and "enslave" Libyan people. He had asserted that he will chase down the protesters and cleanse the country "house by house".[3][4] Gaddafi had also stated that "those who don't love me do not deserve to live".[3][4] On 22 February 2011, Gaddafi mentioned China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre which crashed the democratic movement led by students and threatened widespread killings against dissidents in an appearance on state television as the revolt against his regime consolidated its grip on the eastern half of the country and spread to the suburbs of Tripoli.[5]

Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has stated that family will "fight to the last man and woman and bullet".[6] He denied wrongdoing by government forces. "We are not killing our fellow citizens. We are not dropping bombs on them. We and our loyal army have shown unprecedented tolerance towards our own people, who are already armed with tanks and heavy artillery. But even despite that we do not touch innocent civilians." He said that the largest demonstration the opposition had made was of a few thousand people in Bengazi, and that the opposition was made up of terrorists who publicly executed soldiers of the Libyan army on "dozens of videos" on the Internet. He said that "Libya does not use mercenaries, period", and that half of Libya's population are blacks[citation needed], some of whom were being falsely labeled as mercenaries. He accused opposition members, whom he called "armed bandits, who are sitting in the tanks", of being "eager to divide the country into two parts — the East and the West."[7]

Arms traffic to Gaddafi[edit]

A weapons cache from "D.P.R. of Korea" found at the Ajdabiya checkpoint during the Libyan Civil War.

Russia got billions of dollars worth of arms deals with Gaddafi and government officials were also late to condemn the massacres of civilians.[8] The EU's arms trafficking watchdog organization has observed flights between Tripoli and Belarus. Some of the planes have visited a military base in Baranovichi, Belarus, which has a dedicated military base that only handles stockpiled weaponry and military equipment. Gaddafi's sons have attended Belarusian-Russian military exercises before.[9]

Treatment of civilians[edit]

During ongoing international military operations in Libya to enforce a no-fly zone, the National Transitional Council claimed that Gaddafi was importing civilians to Misrata to use as human shields for pro-Gaddafi tanks and soldiers in an effort to deter airstrikes.[10]

Replacement of unwilling soldiers with mercenaries[edit]

Human Rights Watch said it had seen no evidence of mercenaries being used in eastern Libya. This contradicted widespread earlier reports in the international media that African soldiers had been flown in to fight rebels in the region as Gaddafi sought to keep control.

Soon after Gaddafi started to fight against civilians evidence surfaced that Libyan military units have refused to shoot protesters and Gaddafi had hired foreign mercenaries to do the job. Gaddafi's ambassador to India confirmed that defection of military units had indeed led to such a decision. Video footage of this started to leak out of the country.[6]

Nigerians reported advertisements for mercenaries in Nigerian newspapers in the early days of the conflict.[6] One group of mercenaries from Niger, who had been recruited from the streets with promises of money, included a soldier of just 13 years of age.[11] On 18 February, it was reported that armed forces with military members from Chad were operating in Benghazi, having been "paid with 5,000 (Dinars) and provided with the latest car models to 'get rid' of Libyan citizen-demonstrators."[12] On 21 February, a lawyer working in Benghazi said that a local security committee formed by native civilians had taken control of the city and had arrested 36 mercenaries from Chad, Niger and Sudan who were allegedly hired by Gaddafi's body guards to fight in the city.[13] On 22 February, there were reports of mercenaries from Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, Mali, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, and possibly even Asia and Eastern Europe, fighting in Bayda. Mercenaries allegedly killed 150 people in the city of Bayda.[14] Various other reports told of Chadians operating in Southern Libya, Benghazi and Tripoli.[15] Mercenaries from Chad, Mali and Niger were reportedly working in the rest of eastern Libya.[16] On 23 February, Gaddafi reportedly deployed mercenaries from nearby countries such as Mali, Niger and Chad with some mercenaries from Chad and Niger reportedly in Bengazi and other eastern cities.[16][17] On 24 February, the Aruba School in the coastal town of Shahhat became the prison for almost 200 suspected pro-Gaddafi mercenaries. They are reportedly part of Libya's Khamis Brigade, the well-equipped 32nd brigade led by Khamis Gaddafi.[18] Rebel forces claimed that after the fall of Bin Jawad to Gaddafi's forces, mercenaries publicly raped, mutilated, and executed captured fighters.[19]

Gaddafi's former Chief of Protocol Nouri Al Misrahi stated in an interview with the Al Jazeera that Nigerien, Malian, Chadian and Kenyan mercenaries are among foreign soldiers helping fight the uprising on behalf of Gaddafi.[20] On 25 February, speculation that members of the Zimbabwe National Army were covertly fighting in Libya grew as Zimbabwe’s Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa avoided giving a straight answer to a question posed in Parliament about it.[21] On the same day, the Foreign Ministry of Chad denied allegations that mercenaries were fighting for Gaddafi, although he admitted it was possible that individuals had joined such groups.[22]

According to African Union chairman Jean Ping, the "NTC seems to confuse black people with mercenaries,". Ping said that for the rebels, "All blacks are mercenaries. If you do that, it means (that the) one-third of the population of Libya, which is black, is also mercenaries. They are killing people, normal workers, mistreating them."[23]

In some cases misidentifications have been reported. Peter Bouckaert reported one case of captured soldiers in Bayda who seemed to be from southern Libya.[24] Libya has a significant black population that could be mistaken for mercenaries but are actually serving in the regular army.[25] Also, many Chadian soldiers who fought for Gaddafi in past conflicts with Chad were given Libyan citizenship.[25]

The Daily Telegraph studied the case of a sixteen-year-old captured Chadian child soldier in Bayda. The boy, who had previously been a shepherd in Chad, had gone to a border town to look for work. At a bus stop, a Libyan man had offered him a job and a free flight to Tripoli, but in the end he had been airlifted to shoot opposition members in Eastern Libya. Othman Fadil Othman, the Gaddafi official who had hired the boy in Chad, was captured along the boy in the airport and he claimed he did not know either that they were sent to shoot opposition members. However, according to the Telegraph, "It seemed more likely that Mr Othman was trying to save his skin than tell the truth. A beefy, confident man of 30, with three wives and several children back home – he told us with a smirk – he spent a career as a party organiser in Gaddafi's bizarre Soviet-style dictatorship, telling people what to do. He worked for the youth wing headed by the dictator's son Saeef. Mr Othman still couldn't quite bring himself to condemn the colonel. It was painfully obvious that he was hopelessly unsuited for Gaddafi's attempt to terrorise his own people into submission. Like nearly all the captives Mr Othman had no military training. Unleashing thugs and mercenaries like him had backfired disastrously."[26]

Non-aligned Yugoslavia and its successor Balkan countries have had long and friendly relations with Libya since Josip Broz Tito's era, with cooperation ranging from civil engineering to military trade. In particular, many Yugoslav planes including Soko G-2 Galeb were exported to Libya, and some were shot down during imposing of a no-fly zone.[27] In response to unconfirmed allegations that Gaddafi hired Serbian pilots and training officers during the early stages of the Libyan uprising,[28] the Serbian Ministry of Defence denied that any of its active or retired personnel were participating in the events in Libya, calling the allegations "total stupidity". Serbia has suspended all military trade with Libya, in accordance with UN resolution 1973.[29][30] The rumors of Serbian and Ukrainian military staff training and helping Gaddafi forces have also been heard in Libya at the beginning of the conflict, and were reported by Al Jazeera from two Libyan colonels who defected to Malta.[31][32] However, when asked by Serbian TV Pink, Gaddafi said that opposition forces tried to bribe a Serbian officer to say that he was mercenary for Gaddafi, which he refused, quoting this incident as an example of a failed war propaganda.[33] Miroslav Lazanski, a military expert from ex-Yugoslavia, born in Slovenia but now based in Belgrade, claimed the allegations were nonsense, since Serbian pilots never flew the Sukhoi aircraft that comprised the backbone of the Libyan Air Force.[34]

In June 2011, Amnesty International said it found no evidence of foreign mercenaries being used, saying the black Africans claimed to be "mercenaries" were in fact "sub-Saharan migrants working in Libya," and described the use of mercenaries as a "myth" that "inflamed public opinion" and led to lynchings and executions of black Africans by rebel forces.[35]

Other methods of suppressing protests[edit]

Gaddafi offered an automobile, money and weapons for gangs of three people who will be accompanied by one Gaddafi's officials to drive around Tripoli to deter opposition activities.[36]

The population of some cities were loyal to Gaddafi, one example is his hometown of Sirte which has been well developed.[37] Control over Tripoli came in large part from several elite security brigades, which were well-supplied with arms and training while the regular army was somewhat neglected in order to guard against potential coups.[38] Southwestern Libya contains a large population of sub-Saharan Africans, primarily Chadian refugees who Gaddafi settled there in the 1970s–1980s.[39] Gaddafi had also been recruiting soldiers from among the Tuareg people in southwestern Libya, although the tribe as a whole have announced their support[40] for the protesters.

Internationally, several Latin American nations including Venezuela and Cuba released statements of supports for Gaddafi due to shared social revolutionary backgrounds and alliances.[41][42]

Censorship[edit]

International journalists were banned[43][44] by the Libyan authorities[45] from reporting from Libya except by invitation of the Gaddafi government. Additionally, reports suggest that the Internet was widely disrupted.[46] On 13 February, Gaddafi warned against the use of Facebook, and security organisations arrested several prominent internet activists and bloggers.[47][48][49] The novelist Idris al-Mesmari was arrested hours after giving an interview with Al Jazeera about the police reaction to protests in Benghazi on 15 February.[50] Rolling Internet censorship[51] occurred mostly but not entirely[52] at night; all Internet traffic was abruptly lost on 18 February.[51][53] Furthermore, some satellite phones were jammed.[54] By 8 March, the government had allowed a large number of foreign reporters into Tripoli, however the journalists complained of having their movements restricted and the government has complained of biased reporting.[55]

A BBC News crew was beaten and then lined up against a wall by Gaddafi's soldiers, who then shot next to a journalist's ear and laughed at them.[56]

Government media campaign[edit]

Throughout the uprising, Gaddafi had been able to use the state owned television channel, Al-Jamahiriya, to appear as if he and his forces were in control and to craft a pro-government message. For example, channels that appeal to Libyan youth had broadcast Libyans reciting Gaddafi's historical accomplishments and patriotic songs.[57] On 8 March, the state television broadcast what appeared to be Gaddafi loyalists celebrating in Martyrs' Square in Zawiya; however, analysis determined that the footage was actually shot elsewhere, outside of Zawiya.[58] Analysts speculate that this effort at propaganda may not have much of an effect with a population that is accustomed to such tactics.[57] Gaddafi described the Western intervention as "crusader colonial aggression".[59]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  3. ^ a b {{cite web By November 2014 much of what Gaddafi had initially said about the rebels being Islamic terrorists was true and Libya is currently in the clutches of Islamists. | url=http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20110226/NEWS02/102260342/Gadhafi-People-who-don-t-love-me-don-t-deserve-live- | title=Gadhafi: 'People Who Don't Love Me Don't Deserve To Live' | date=26 February 2011 | work=The News Journal }}
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