Online Staff Report
In what could prove to be a moment of vindication for President Barack Obama, former Libyan ruler Col. Muammar Gaddafi was reportedly killed Oct. 20 near his hometown of Sirte, east of Tripoli.
Gaddafi, 69, was reportedly killed by rebel forces in a battle for Sirte. He had been in hiding since NATO-backed rebels toppled his regime in a civil war two months ago.
Gaddafi originally seized power through a military coup in 1969. His 42-year rule made him the fourth-longest non-royal leader since 1900. He was also the longest-serving Arab leader.
Arabic Al Jazeera television reportedly showed footage of a wounded and bloodied Gaddafi, alive and being dragged around by armed men in Sirte. Separate clips of Gaddafi’s half-naked corpse with open eyes and apparent gunshot wound to the side of the head were also shown, as rebel fighters fired automatic weapons into the air.
As reported by the New York Times, “The images punctuated an emphatic and violent ending to his four decades as a ruthless and bombastic autocrat who had basked in his reputation as the self-styled king of kings of Africa.”
In a speech to the nation March 28, President Obama made his case as to why the United States needed to join NATO forces to intervene in the civil war. His decision drew intense criticism from those who asserted he was overstepping the president’s power to wage war without congressional consent. Specifically, Republicans asserted Obama was violating the War Powers Act.
Obama was expected to comment about the death of Gaddafi at 2 p.m. Eastern time, Oct. 20, in Washington, D.C. Those comments were not available at press time.
Obama did release the following statement Aug. 22: “Tonight, the momentum against the Qadhafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant. The Qadhafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.
“The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Qadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Qadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all. Meanwhile, the United States has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya. At this pivotal and historic time, the TNC should continue to demonstrate the leadership that is necessary to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the people of Libya, avoiding civilian casualties, protecting the institutions of the Libyan state, and pursuing a transition to democracy that is just and inclusive for all of the people of Libya. A season of conflict must lead to one of peace.
“The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people. Going forward, the United States will continue to stay in close coordination with the TNC. We will continue to insist that the basic rights of the Libyan people are respected. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy.”
Locally, U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-16), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, issued the following statement about the reported killing of Gaddafi:
“Muammar Qaddafi embodied the tyranny and evilness of a despotic regime that brutally oppressed its people and sponsored terrorism around the world. We will never forget when his hatred for humanity, freedom, and common decency led to the senseless killing of 270 people, including many Americans, over Lockerbie, Scotland.
“Libya faces many challenges in the months and years ahead,” Manzullo added. “The transitional government in Libya must ensure that the legacy of Qaddafi is reversed. We must be vigilant to prevent any radical elements in Libya from using this transition to take that country in the wrong direction. I will work closely with the Administration to ensure that America’s interests are protected.”