this day in 1969, a military coup placed Muammar Gaddafi in power in Libya, beginning a brutal dictatorship which would last forty-two years. Coming from a poor background, Gaddafi rose through the ranks of the Libyan military, ultimately reaching the position of Colonel. It was in this capacity that he led a band of revolutionaries who
toppled King Idris in a bloodless coup, resulting in Colonel Gaddafi becoming Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, which promptly dissolved the monarchy.
Gaddafi believed strongly in Arab nationalism and Islamic socialism, making Islamic shariah law the basis of Libya’s legal system. Gaddafi’s
regime violated the human rights of Libyan citizens, such as his open
use of torture, and alienated the international community with his alleged support of terrorism. In 2011, after forty-two years of the Gaddafi regime, forces opposed to his rule led an
uprising amid the Arab Spring. NATO intervened to support anti-Gaddafi forces, and ultimately his
government was toppled, with Gaddafi himself being killed by rebels while
hiding in Sirte in October 2011.
With Col. Gaddafi dead, Condeleeza Rice recounts his strange obsession with her.
In 2008 Rice was due to meet Gaddafi in Africa. She was invited to have the meeting in his private tent there, which was considered in Libya to be the highest honor Gaddafi could have bestowed, however Rice felt uncomfortable after hearing rumors from her advisers that the Colonel had a strange obsession with her and declined. Instead they met and had the meeting in his home. Gaddafi was apparently confused and asked why his “African Princess” refused his offer.
After the meeting, the US representatives were invited to dinner in Gaddafi’s kitchen. All seemed pleasantly normal until Gaddafi asked Rice to look at a video he had made for her. It was a collection of photographs of Rice meeting different world leaders, with a song playing in the background that Gaddafi had ordered a Libyan composer to write for her, apparently entitled ‘Black Rose in the White House’. “It was insanely bizarre and awkward,” Rice said, “But I was just relieved it wasn’t raunchy or something.”
Aside from this incident, Gaddafi also had an album in his home made up entirely of photographs of Rice, and insisted when she visited on called her 'Leeza’, a nickname he had apparently made up. He also presented her with a diamond ring, a lute, a golden locket with his likeness engraved inside, and an inscribed edition of 'The Green Book’, Gaddafi’s personal political manifesto. All together his gifts came to $212,000.
Remember this thing? Muammar Gaddafi’s green banner wasn’t the only single-colour flag in history but there haven’t exactly been a whole lot of them.
Why was this one so plain? I’m pretty sure part of the reason is that it was originally supposed to be temporary. Until 1977, Libya used the flag of the Federation of Arab Republics: a red-white-black horizontal tricolour with a gold hawk in the centre that was shared by Egypt, Syria and Libya. Then on November 19, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel, initiating the process that would lead to the Camp David Accords.
Gaddafi was furious. He had the federation flag burned in front of the Egyptian embassy and pledged to replace it with a new uniquely Libyan flag. In the meantime he whipped up a plain green “interim” flag, no doubt a reference to his “Green Book” philosophy. But green was always Gaddafi’s favourite colour, and once the interim flag was flying he apparently didn’t see a need to replace it. It was another 34 years before country’s original independence flag was flying again.