The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, a very long name for a bizarre dictatorship. From 1977 till 2011, Libya was called ( ''The Great'' was added in 1986 ) Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The person who invented this name for Libya was Muammar Gaddafi. In 1969 he and some officers of the Libyan Royal Army, took power. They removed king Idris and proclaimed the Libyan Arab Republic. Gaddafi was a young idealist, 27 years old and a supporter of Egypt's president Nasser. After Nasser's death in 1970, the young Gaddafi saw himself as the next great leader of all Arabs. But after seven years of disagreement with the Arab leaders, he abandoned Arab-nationalism and created his Islamic-Socialist Jamahiriya! 

In this socialist document we talk about the period 1977-2011. The period of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Mummar Gaddafi had worked on his Jamahiriya since 1973. His book called the Green Book, was released in 1975 and was the blueprint for this new society. Gaddafi wanted Libya to become a ''state of the masses'', a nation win out presidents and parliaments. Huge people's congresses with thousand of members were to be the legislation of the new Jamahiriya!

When the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was created on 2 March 1977, Gaddafi became Secretaries-General of the General People's Congress. But this post he only had for two years. Because in 1979 he gave up all political positions ( in theory ). Gaddafi only became the ''guide of the revolution'' and was called the ''dear leader''. This was unique since most dictators remained official leaders of their nation. Gaddafi however was not president or prime minister. Since 1979 he did not held any official position!

Abdul Ati al-Obeidi was elected Secretaries-General of the General People's Congress after Gaddafi. In theory he was the head of state and leader of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. But in reality colonel Gaddafi and his officers remained the true leaders. The General People's Congress could not do anything if Gaddafi opposed it. He was the person who had the final saying in everything. Only a few times did the General People's Congress opposed their ''dear leader''. This was when Gaddafi wanted to abolish all schools. He believed that home schooling was better for children. The General People's Congress opposed this and Gaddafi choose to agree with their opposition!

Although the people were supposed to be the rulers of the Jamahiriya, the tribal nature of Libya remained unchanged. Muammar Gaddafi belonged to the Gaddafa tribe, this tribe is home to the city of Sirte. It was here that Muammar was born in 1942. Back then Libya was a colony under Italian control since 1911. The Italians were colonialists who brutally exploited Libyan oil. They were removed in 1943 with the collapse of the German Africa Corps during the Desert War!

Libya then fell under the British Military Administration of Libya until 1951. Idris bin Muhammad al-Mahdi as-Senussi was put on the throne as absolute monarch, because he aided the British during World War 2. He was a member of the Senussi tribe, this tribe was based in Benghazi and it was here that King Idris was to led Libya. The new Kingdom of Libya became an absolute monarchy, political parties were banned and the Libyan Royal Police would arrest anyone who opposed the king!

Many ordinary Libyans remained very poor. King Idris was a classic Arab monarch with little regards to the need of working class people. Western imperialism choose to ignore the Kingdom of Libya until oil was discovered in the 1960's. Then Libya became a player in the international oil market. With the profits from the oil, Libya started to modernize itself. But politically it remained an absolute monarchy like Saudi-Arabia. Young Libyans hated the monarchy, its flag and its king. Their icon was Nasser, the president of Egypt and Arab revolutionary leader!

When Gaddafi took power many young Libyans supported this 27 year old officer. When he proclaimed the Jamahiriya in 1977, many Libyans believed they were truly in power. People were told to call themselves ''comrades'' and this led western media outlets to belive that Gaddafi was a secret communist. Although some Arab leaders had great sympathy for the communist movement, but most Arab-revolutionary leaders were anticommunist!

Like Nasser in Egypt, Gaddafi was an anticommunist. He opposed the atheist nature of Marxism and he was no secularist. Islam was a part of his Jamahiriya. But unlike other Islamic nations, Gaddafi said that Islam was a personal matter and should not be enforced as an dogma. Still Islam was part of the Jamahiriya. This was seen in the new green flag, in Libya's anthem called ''Allah is Great'' and in Islamic morality that was enforced. Jamahiriyan law was based on Islamic Sharia law. Although Gaddafi used Islamic morality, the only law in Libya until 2011 was the law of himself!

Like every dictatorship a state bureaucracy was needed to spy on people. But unlike the KGB or CIA, Gaddafi choose the Cuban method. The ''Revolutionary Committees'' were to keep the people in line with the Green Book. The RC's were created to keep an eye on the people, they spied on people and reported all ''counterrevolutionary'' activities. It was this body of the government that was hated the most by Libyans. They were to meet in special buildings created in every city and town. Between 10% and 20% of all Libyans worked/spied for these ''Revolutionary Committees''. During the Libyan civil war in 2011, most of Gaddafi supporters came from the members of these ''Revolutionary Committees''!

Although Gaddafi and his family would enrich themselves in luxury during the last 10 years of the Jamahiriya, this was less the case in the period before the capitalist reforms. Between 1977 and 1999, Gaddafi was quite moderate. We saw him driving all by himself in the 70's. Tomas Sankara was very inspired by Gaddafi, because he was so moderate and drove himself. This stood in total opposition to other Arab leaders, who drove luxurious cars and all had chauffeurs!

Libyans may not realize this today. But in compare to the other Arab states, the Libyans had the highest living standards. In the 80's, Libya was not a poor nation. It's GDP was higher then Egypt, Syria and much closer to that of Saudi-Arabia. All because of the Libyan oil which Gaddafi also shared with the population. Gas prices were very low, the cost of living was also very affordable. But because of Gaddafi's revolutionary dogmatism and his ban on private enterprises, most educated and entrepreneurial Libyans fled. This forced the nation to seek help in building their planned economy!

Elements of workers self-management were presented in the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. But since 79% of all economic activities of Libya are based on the winning of crude oil, workers had little to say in reality. The workers councils could not do anything that stood against the authority of the ''Revolutionary Committees''. By 1999 the first market elements were introduced. Soon Libya was leaving the planned economy for a capitalist market economy. For a new class of entrepreneurial Libyans, the capitalist reforms gave them a change at wealth and prosperity. But for ordinary workers, the capitalist reforms were not good. Like in Russia, many lost their job and income. Poverty rose for the first time since 1969!

Muammar Gaddafi became famous for his support to terrorist groups. Militant organisations like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine got their weapons and training in Libya. Also Gaddafi gave weapons to the Irish Republican Army, who fought against the British Unionists in Northern Ireland. The USA called Libya a ''terrorist'' nation and Ronald Reagan started a campaign to isolate Libya. Also Gaddafi had tried to unite the Arab world against Israel and US imperialism. For Reagan, Gaddafi was a ''mad dog'' that had to be killed. After the Rome and Vienna airport attacks, which killed 19 people and wounded  140. Gaddafi said that he would continue to support the Red Army Faction, the Red Brigades, and the Irish Republican Army as long as the European governments supported anti-Gaddafi Libyans. The Foreign Minister of Libya also called the massacres "heroic acts", this fueled hatred in the American ruling class! 

On 5 April 1986, Libyans agents bomb a West-German nightclub in West-Berlin. The attack killed two US soldiers and one civilian. This was the act that US imperialism needed to attack Libya. Ronald Reagan ordered the US Air Force to kill Gaddafi in Tripoli by bombing it. Ten day's after the bombing, 45 aircraft took off from US carriers and attacked the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. One American plane was shoot down, killings its two pilots. The Americans hit Gaddafi's home, but he was warned by an Italian politician minutes before the bombs fell. Americans fighters killed 40 soldiers and destroyed five Il-76 transports and 13 MIG-23 fighters!

Yet Muammar Gaddafi survived. He claimed to have won the battle, but his so called ''victory'' speech was much less bombastic. Gaddafi changed the name of Libya from Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The attack was condemned by many countries. By a vote of 79 in favor to 28 against with 33 abstentions, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 41/38 which "condemns the military attack perpetrated against the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on 15 April 1986, which constitutes a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law!

In the 90's, Libya lost their Soviet allies as stalinism collapsed. But it also gained new friends. Gaddafi had supported the African National Congress of Nelson Mandela. When Apartheid came down in 1994, Gaddafi was viewed as a hero among South Africans. It was then that the ''dear leader'' started to build alliances with African leaders. It would be the first steps in his grand plan to creation of an African Union. International he was still isolated, because Libya supported terrorist groups and said it would build weapons of mass destruction!

The African Union was created in 1999, in Gaddafi's home town of Sirte. It was huge victory for the ''dear leader'' as he was now an African nationalist. This was reflected by his clothing style, which was more African then Arab. African leaders called Gaddafi a true African leader, a big departure from his Arab-nationalism. It was Africa were the ''dear leader'' would find many allies. In recognition of his work for Africa, the kings of many African tribes crowned him ''King of Kings''. One of Gaddafi's African supporters was the young Thomas Sankara, who became president of Burkina Faso in 1984. Sankara studied the concept of Jamahiriya and Burkina Faso could have become the second Jamahiriya had Thomas Sankara not been murdered in 1987!

After US imperialism attacked Afghanistan and Iraq, Gaddafi choose to surrender to the forces of capitalism and imperialism. In 2003 he gave up his support to terrorist groups and he also abandoned Libya's nuclear program. Western leaders forgave Gaddafi and were ready to work with the man they once called a ''mad dog''. Capitalist reforms were swift. It made the Gaddafi family wealthy and rich. His sons and only daughter knew to how life their lives in luxury. Ayesha Gaddafi is the only daughter of Muammar Gaddafi and is now 36 to 37 years old. Ayesha Gaddafi was appointed as the United Nations Development Program National Goodwill Ambassador for Libya on 24 July 2009, primarily to address the issues of HIV/AIDS, poverty and women's rights in Libya, all of which are culturally sensitive topics in the country. In February 2011 the United Nations stripped Ayesha of her role as a goodwill ambassador because she supported her father's regime in killing Libyans!

The ideal of Jamahiriya died out. By 2011, little was left of the revolutionary ideal of direct democracy as the Green Book claimed Libya was. The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was by now a state-capitalist nation. Gaddafi and his family were still in power and enjoyed the fruits of their capitalist reforms. But many Libyans felt the pain of poverty as many parts of the Libyan economy were privatized. As a result most Libyan companies started to work on capitalist principals. Those workers could not meet the demands of the market were fired. Suddenly profits and making as much money as possible was the new economic law. Workers councils were replaced by market based state institutions. This was very clear when Libya opened its first stock market in 2007. Western capitalists could now buy Libyan stocks!

29 western businesses were operating in Libya after 2007, but capitalism was still complying about state regulations. They found a friend among the Gaddafi family who was seen to be the successor of Muammar Gaddafi. Saif-Al-Islam Gaddafi is the second son of the late Libyan dictator. He is an educed man and western nations saw in him a reformer. Like Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, the western ruling class hoped for more capitalist reforms in Libya under Saif-Al-Islam. This could have happened as Saif was very well liked by the upper class of Europe, because of his charisma!

Libyan workers hated the luxurious life style of the Gaddafi family. A new generation of young Libyans grew up knowing only the poverty caused by the market economy. Also because of internet they learned about the true nature of the Jamahiriya. They knew it was a lie and they hated the old face of Muammar Gaddafi and his bombastic military uniform. On February 17 of 2011, the youth of Benghazi rose up against Gaddafi. As the ''Revolutionary Committees'' told army and police to open fire, the anger among the people was exploding. Very soon the city of Benghazi liberated itself from the Jamahiriya. The banner of the former Kingdom of Libya was adopted as ''revolutionary'' flag by the youth. A very poor choice as it would rally many anti-imperialists to Gaddafi's side. Also the hypocrite actions of the rebel leadership would lead to a NATO intervention! 

Muammar Gaddafi saw the rebels as ''Agents of Al-Qaeda''. He was unable to understand that these rebels were young people, who had enough of his regime. Gaddafi was 69 years old and seemed to have lost his understanding of events. But his sons made sure that the elite forces of the Jamahiriya would strike back. Khamis Gaddafi was the youngest son and led an elite army against the rebels. In March the Libyan Armed Forces ( Green Army ) attacked the rebel Libyan People's Army around Benghazi. Now the rebels stared to panic. They were not able to fight the tanks and artillery. The tanks of the Green Army killed many innocent civilians!

Western nations feared that the rebels might lose. Most European nations had giving support to the uprising since February. Now the Green Army of Gaddafi was using tanks and artillery against the rebel city of Benghazi. NATO forces choose to intervene. British, French and Italian planes would fly many missions between March and October 2011 against the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Soon the Libyan Air Force was destroyed on the ground as few planes were able to intercept the western jet fighters. Thanks to western air support, the rebels drove the Green Army away from Benghazi. By Augustus it was clear that the rebels were winning the civil war!

In only twenty days, rebel forces took all coastal tows ( with the exception of Site ) between Benghazi and Tripoli. The final battle for the capital lasted 8 days. It ended with the capture of Gaddafi's compound and the final surrender of green soldiers. During the last battles, many crimes were committed by both the rebels and the greens. Rebels killed many innocent black workers, as they believed that black mercenaries were used. After the civil war it became clear that Gaddafi never used mercenaries from Africa!

The former buildings of the ''Revolutionary Committees'' were burned. Many who were members of these ''Revolutionary Committees'' were hunted down and arrested. Since there was no law and order, many rebels choose to play for judge and executioner. The rebels were not saints and many acted not noble. Also a part of the rebel army was Islamic fundamentalist. These Islamic rebels hoped to create an Islamic Emirate of Libya!

After the liberation of Tripoli, the rebels found the luxury of the Gaddafi family. Rebels entered their homes and saw how their leaders had enjoyed the fruits of capitalism. Ayesha Gaddafi owned a huge villa with an underground swimming-pool. Mutassim Gaddafi owned a palace, that was set on fire after rebels found it. Mutassim was the fourth son of Gaddafi and was his National Security Advisor from 2008 until the end. When Tripoli fell to the rebels, Muammar Gaddafi and his fourth son Mutassim fled to Sirte!

In the capital the crimes of the Green Army was exposed. Many innocent Libyans were tortured and jailed. Burned corpses were found, victims of the green soldiers. Gaddafi's criminal regime had murdred and burned many people in the capital. This only angered the rebels who showed little tolerance towards captured green soldiers. After 42 years of dictatorship, torture and killing by the Jamahiriya, the Libyan rebels wanted revenge!

The rebel leadership was made up of former state bureaucrats and military leaders. Their leader was the former Jamahiriyan Minister of Justice; Mustafa Abdul Jalil. Like many bureaucrats he was loyal to Gaddafi and worked under him. But his loyalty ended when Gaddafi ordered the army to shoot at the youth who started the revolution in Benghazi. Together with a few generals and diplomats he created the National Transitional Council or NTC. After Muammar Gaddafi fled Tripoli, Mustafa Abdul Jalil became the new head of state. He asked the UN to change the name of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to Libya. Later the official name of the nation became the State of Libya! 

Between 28 August and 23 October, the rebels drove the last remnants of the Green Army back to Sirte. This city was the new capital of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya since Tripoli fell to the rebels. Gaddafi spend his last month traveling from house to house. At his side was Mutassim and his bodyguards. Gaddafi was famous for his all female bodyguards called the Amazon Guard. But these females were not at his side in his last day's. The Amazon Guard fell apart after the rebel victory at Tripoli. Many choose to hide, yet some were found by the rebels and brutally executed!

Rebel forces attacked Sirte on 15 September. A brutal battle started that would last until 20 October. 16.000 rebels fought against 2.500 green soldiers who defended Sirte. After 25 days of fighting and killing, the city was in ruins. Like Berlin in 1945, Sirte was almost completely destroyed. The birthplace of Muammar Gaddafi, a city that was the crown-jewel of the Jamahiriya was reduced to rubble. Muammar Gaddafi and his son tried to flee, but their convoy was attacked by NATO planes. As they tried to hide, rebels found them. Gaddafi's body guards were killed and he was captured by a group of rebels. The ''dear leader'' himself was completely in shock and seemed to plea for his life. But the angry mob was not about to let the dictator live. After the rebels paraded Gaddafi around, he was shot in the head. Muammar Gaddafi was executed and died!

Gaddafi's fourth son Mutassim was also arrested by the rebels. Unlike his father he was not arrested by an angry rebel mod and paraded around. Mutassim Gaddafi was filmed alive and seeing drinking some water. Later You-Tube video's shown him wounded and dying. Mutassim Gaddafi died of his wounds, his death body and that of his father were displayed for rebels to see. The British tabloids loved the pictures of the two death Gaddafi's. Later it was also reviled that the youngest son of the dictator, was killed in a bombing raid of NATO around 29 August 2011!

With the executions of Muammar Gaddafi and his son Mutassim, the Jamahiriya died. It lived for 34 years. We revolutionary socialists never supported Gaddafi. But some Stalinist leftists choose to support the dictator. For them Gaddafi was anti-imperialist and the rebels they called ''NATO rats''. Unlike Syria the civil war ended after only a few months. This prevented Islamic extremists from hijacking the revolution. But this does not mean that Libya is stable. What is needed today is a workers party on a socialist program. A united workers movement is needed against the pro-capitalist ex-rebel leaders, who want to build a capitalist Libya on the ruins of the former ''Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya''!

The Libyan coat of arms used between 1977 and 2011. 
Gaddafi choose to keep the eagle of the former Federation of Arab Republics. 
Under the eagle in Arabic you could still read ''Federation of Arab Republics'' 
the only remnant of Gaddafi's Arab-nationalism in the 70's!

Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism

Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism