Assessing Qaddafi

On September 1, Mu’ammar al-Qadhdhafi (the proper transliteration of his name) would have been ruler of Libya for exactly 42 years, making him the world’s longest-ruling non-royal head of state. As he leaves the scene, his wretched reign deserves an appraisal.

Qaddafi took power at the age of 27 in the waning days of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the immensely influential pan-Arab leader of Egypt, and saw himself as Nasser’s acolyte but with a greater ambition: Whereas Nasser dreamed of a single Arab nation stretching from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf as an end in itself, Qaddafi saw Arab unity as the first step to Muslim unity. Although Qaddafi failed to achieve any sort of unity, and his “Third International Theory” detailed in the 1975 Green Book proved a total bust, he did have an early and marked impact on two major developments.

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