Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi – the Q indicates a velar K, a guttural far back in the throat, as the dh indicates a velar d, not the ordinary friendly d, but one far back in the throat; they’re helpful indications how his name is pronounced. – with a band of fellow army officers seized power in Libya.
The US had a large airforce base, Wheelus, in the country, whose armaments could have dealt with any small country, but they did nothing at all during the coup. After the usual round of wild claims that they must have been behind it had subsided, it has been generally recognized that the US had no part in the coup, either for or against. See note 1.
Mu’ammar’s first act on attaining power was typical and in a sense defined him. Tripoli was surrounded at the time by the ring of favellas or shanty towns that many cities in the world have; Qadhafi built a whole series of modern furnished apartments, moved the shanty town dwellers into them, and then destroyed the shanty towns. It is unlikely to be forgotten.
Mu’ammar’s own instinct was against it, but his friend Gemal Abdel Nasser of Egypt persuaded him, probably correctly, that it was necessary to create a cult of personality, simply for personal protection. His personal life remained stubbornly individualistic however, with his army tent in his army camp.
Arabic is a very big language, and the term for the minaret of the mosque, Jami’, the gatherer, the crowd creator, was extended by Qadhafi not merely to Joumhouria, a republic, but to Jamahiriya, the technically correct category for the state of Libya, meaning the masses, or “mass-dom” as one official named it.
Qadhafi may be, and often is, regarded as an amiable nut, but he is at least quite consistent. The masses are exactly who he regards as important and worthy of service, which is merely what all governments are supposed to believe, of course, but very few of them have provided their masses with free state of the art healthcare, free state of the art education, and a $50,000 (fifty thousand US dollar) state loan if they get married. Indeed, none of them, to be brutally frank about it, with the exception of Libya, which is why Libya is ranked #1 in Africa for standard of living by the UN.
Ellen Brown’s detailed and very factual description of Libya can be found at
Also at http://wahyusamputra.blogspot.com/2011/04/libya.html
Note I. - Some very individualistic events took place around the coup, however, all rather revealing. The coup had been planned for earlier, for example, but as the day drew nigh, news swept Tripoli that Umm Kulthum was coming to hold a concert there. (To try to explain to those not literate in the Arab world that this maternal full figured lady, all of whose songs lasted for several hours and who had all her earnings paid directly to the Egyptian army was a source of crowd hysteria that made Beatlemania look rustic would take too long.) Qadhafi found himself surrounded by fellow conspirators who had become babbling idiots, capable only of repeating endlessly “Didn’t you hear? Umm Kulthum is coming to Tripoli!” “But the coup – it’s tomorrow,” one imagines Qadhafi hissing between clenched teeth, only to be met with another dollop of the great news. Qadhafi gave up, and let the current carry him, and by something not far short of a miracle, none of the preparations were discovered. The coup was successfully carried out, at a slightly later date, and the story may serve as a useful example of the SNAFU (Situation normal, all f***ed up) as against the CONSPIRACY school of thought.
Note 2.Everyone will have their own favorites, from closing barber shops – hair cutting should be done at home – to my own favorite, announcing the replacement of all Libyan ambassadors world wide by committees formed of all Libyans in the country. (Can you imagine the chaos?)