Gaddafi – A Life in Pictures
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (Arabic: مُعَمَّر القَذَّافِي Muʿammar al-Qaḏḏāfī About this sound audio (help·info);[variations] (June 1942[nb 1] – 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi play /ˈmoʊ.əmɑr ɡəˈdɑːfi/ or Colonel Gaddafi, was Libya's head of state from 1969, when he seized power in a bloodless military coup, until 1977, when he stepped down from his official executive role as Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of Libya, and claimed subsequently to be merely a symbolic figurehead. Critics have often described him as Libya's de facto autocrat, a claim his Libyan regime officially denied. In 2011, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya regime he established was overthrown in a civil war which consisted of an uprising aided by a NATO intervention. His 42-year leadership prior to the uprising made him the fourth longest-serving non-royal leader since 1900, as well as the longest-serving Arab leader. He variously styled himself as "the Brother Leader" and "Guide of the Revolution"; in 2008 a meeting of traditional African rulers bestowed on him the title "King of Kings".
After seizing power in 1969, he abolished the Libyan Constitution of 1951. He established laws based on the political ideology he had formulated, called the Third International Theory and published in The Green Book. After establishing the jamahiriya ("state of the masses") system in 1977, he officially stepped down from power and had since then held a largely symbolic role within the country's offical governance structure. Rising oil prices and extraction in Libya led to increasing revenues. By exporting as much oil per capita as Saudi Arabia and through various welfare programs, Libya achieved the highest living standards in Africa; though not as high as several similarly oil-rich Gulf countries, Libya remained debt-free under his regime. Gaddafi started several wars and acquired chemical weapons. The United Nations called Libya under Gaddafi a pariah state. In the 1980s, countries around the world imposed sanctions against Gaddafi. Six days after the capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 by United States troops, Gaddafi renounced Tripoli's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and welcomed international inspections to verify that he would follow through on the commitment. A leading advocate for a United States of Africa, he served as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) from 2 February 2009 to 31 January 2010.
In February 2011, following revolutions in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia, protests against Gaddafi's rule began. These escalated into an uprising that spread across the country, with the forces opposing Gaddafi establishing a government based in Benghazi named the National Transitional Council (NTC). This led to the 2011 Libyan Civil War, which included a military intervention by a NATO-led coalition to enforce a UN Security Council Resolution 1973 calling for a no-fly zone and protection of civilians in Libya. The assets of Gaddafi and his family were frozen, and both Interpol and the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants on 27 June for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Senussi, concerning crimes against humanity. Gaddafi and his forces lost the Battle of Tripoli in August, and on 16 September 2011 the NTC took Libya's seat at the UN, replacing Gaddafi. He retained control over parts of Libya, most notably the city of Sirte, to which it was presumed that he had fled. Although Gaddafi's forces initially held out against the NTC's advances, Gaddafi was captured alive as Sirte fell to the rebel forces on 20 October 2011 and died the same day under unclear circumstances.