Muammar Gaddafi, the dictator who ruled Libya for more than four decades, is dead. The circumstances surrounding Gaddafi’s death remain slightly unclear, but rebel fighters shot Gaddafi near his home town of Sirte, Libya.
Videos screened on Al Jazeera showed an injured but alive Gaddafi, with later videos — including this graphic video on YouTube — showing rebels celebrating next to the dead body of Gaddafi. It’s not clear if Gaddafi died from injuries sustained before he was captured or after.
His body has been placed in a mosque in Misrata, according to Al-Jazeera television reports. “No doubt there are fears his grave will become a shrine for the minority in Libya who still support him,” notes Richard Spencer in The Telegraph. “But Muslim tradition is clear: his remains must be treated with respect, ritually washed and buried as quickly as possible — preferably within 24 hours.
Gaddafi’s son, Muatassim, was also killed in the battle while there are reports that another of his sons, Seif al-Islam, has been captured.
But what now for Libya, the country he has ruled with an iron fist for decades?
The death of Gaddafi gives life to Libya, says Larbi Sadiki in Al Jazeera:
There is probably a little of Gaddafi in every Libyan: anger, frustration, injustice, victimhood, and even hatred. Now, as Gaddafi’s body is laid to rest, so should all of these emotions. To let them take hold of “New Libya” would mean prolonging that residue of Gaddafi’s rule. To do so would be to give Gaddafi an undeserved lease of life.
Libyans need to forget Gaddafi ever existed, because he doesn’t deserve to be remembered, declares Alaa al-Ameri (the pseudonym of a British-Libyan economist and writer) in The Guardian:
“The task now is for those who suffered under him to rebuild the country he vandalised and ultimately tried to destroy. For every life he took, for every future he stole, we must commit to rebuilding not just our country, but our whole society to such a standard that when we’re finished, there will be no evidence that he or his parasitic family and entourage ever existed.”
Democracy isn’t just about free elections. A feeling of chaos still pervades Libya and that’s a concern, writes Ed Husain in The New York Times:
“But in Gaddafi’s death were also clues to the real risks of chaos and extremism that can spread in the region. The lack of Arab outcry, for example, about the public manhandling, and mobile-phone recording of his blood-stained corpse by his killers is an indication that yesterday’s rebels are not necessarily prepared to embrace democratic culture. Like the Nazis at Nuremburg, why was Gaddafi not put on trial after capture? But killed and a baying mob allowed to parade and cheer around him?”
But former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice — whom Gaddafi was known for having an obsession with — wrote of meeting Gaddafi in her memoir, which the Daily Beast has published an extract of today:
“At the end of dinner, Gaddafi told me that he’d made a videotape for me. Uh oh, I thought, what is this going to be? It was a quite innocent collection of photos of me with world leaders — President Bush, Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao, and so on — set to the music of a song called “Black Flower in the White House,” written for me by a Libyan composer. It was weird, but at least it wasn’t raunchy …
… I remember that I came away from the visit realising how much Gaddafi lives inside his own head, in a kind of alternate reality. As I watched events unfold in the spring and summer of 2011, I wondered if he even understood fully what was going on around him. And I was very, very glad that we had disarmed him of his most dangerous weapons of mass destruction. There in his bunker, making his last stand, I have no doubt he would have used them.”
Other dictators will now be sleeping uneasily, argues Nile Gardiner in The Telegraph:
“Just a year ago, Gaddafi appeared to be in a formidable position. Today he was hunted down like a rodent after his regime crumbled with astonishing speed.”
Gaddafi’s death is also a victory for a new American approach to war, one with more collaborative approach with other nations, more air strikes and fewer troops on the ground, write Mark Landler and David Leonhardt in The New York Times:
“Only a few months ago, the approach had few fans: not the hawks in Congress who called for boots on the ground, not the doves who demanded a pullout and not the many experts who warned of a quagmire. Most pointedly, critics mocked President Obama for ‘leading from behind’, a much-repeated phrase that came from an unnamed administration official in an article in The New Yorker.
But the last six months have brought a string of successes. In May, American commandos killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. In August, Tripoli fell, and Colonel Gaddafi fled. In September, an American drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a top al-Qaeda operative and propagandist, in Yemen. And on Thursday, people were digesting images of the bloodied body of Colonel Gaddafi, an oppressive strongman who spent decades flaunting his pariah status.”
On a lighter note, blogger Spencer Ackerman wrote the 10 headlines you’ll expect to read in the next 72 hours in the US media after Gaddafi’s death:
- Why Gaddafi’s Death Vindicates “Leading From Behind” (Tom Friedman)
- Gaddafi’s Death Shows The US Was Never Really “Leading From Behind” (Anne-Marie Slaughter)
- There Is Still More To Do In Libya (Any Washington Post op-ed)
- On To Damascus, Then Teheran (Weekly Standard)
- Gaddafi’s Death Shows The Post-Iraq Syndrome Is Over (TNR)
- Whither The Obama Doctrine? (David Ignatius)
- Saving The Responsibility To Protect From Future Libya Wars (Democracy Arsenal)
- Slideshow: Bye, Bye Muammar (Foreign Policy)
- Gaddafi’s Death May Not Lead To Bump For Obama (Politico)
- The Warplanes And Warships of Libya (WIRED‘s Danger Room)