On Sept. 1, 1969, 27-year-old Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi deposed the king and revolutionized the country, making it a pro-Arabic, anti-Western, Islamic republic with socialist leanings. It was also rabidly anti-Israeli. A notorious firebrand, Qaddafi aligned himself with dictators, such as Uganda's Idi Amin, and fostered anti-Western terrorism.
On Aug. 19, 1981, two U.S. Navy F-14s shot down two Soviet-made SU-22s of the Libyan air force that had attacked them in air space above the Gulf of Sidra. On March 24, 1986, U.S. and Libyan forces skirmished in the Gulf of Sidra, and two Libyan patrol boats were sunk. Qaddafi's troops also supported rebels in Chad but suffered major military …show more content…
Rebels continued to make gains in loyalist strongholds throughout the country into the fall. By October, they had advanced on Surt, Qaddafi's hometown, and captured Bani Walid. The fight for Surt proved to be more challenging for the rebels, with loyalist forces fiercely committed to maintaining control of the city. Both sides suffered significant casualties. On October 20, 2011, the interim government of Libya announced that Qaddafi had been killed by rebel troops in Surt. Initial reports were unclear on the cause of death.
With Qaddafi dead, the interim government could turn its attention to rebuilding the country and setting the stage for elections. The role and influence of Islamists in government and day-to-day life were unknowns for the future of Libya. During the turmoil in Libya, the Islamists became a powerful force in the country. At the very least, they are poised to form a political party, and Islamist leaders signaled that they would participate in the democratic process. In addition, it remained unclear how the many rivalaries in the country—Islamists vs secularist, geographic, inter-tribe, and between the educated elite and tribal population—will affect the political climate in the country. At the same time, there was growing concern about the increased activity of militant groups.
Political Unrest in the Middle East