Thursday, March 17, 2011

PHOTO ESSAY: Keeping Up with the Qaddafis

Note:  The following is a "photo essay" posted on Foreign Policy.  I'll post a few and you can then go directly to Foreign Policy if you care to see more.

The family that fights the United Nations together, stays together.

As the world prepares for a military intervention in Libya, Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi has few allies on the international stage. But sometimes, it's family that counts -- and Qaddafi's close-knit family has stood him in good stead during these days of civil war and threats of no-fly zones. In fact, in a bizarre twist on normal family dynamics, the Qaddafi clan's hard times over the last month seem to have only pulled them closer around their erratic patriarch. Qaddafi has eight biological children, seven of them sons, many of them embracing, in one way or another, the Western values that their father hated (and has railed against). But with his regime under fire, the Qaddafi children have been among their father's most ardent supporters, in many ways rejecting their past inclinations toward reform and partnership with the West. Here, Qaddafi poses with his second wife, Safia, and some of his children in November 1986 near the Bab Aziza palace in Libya, destroyed in a U.S. air raid. According to Muammar, another raid that year killed his adopted daughter.
Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Muammar al-Qaddafi was born in the Libyan desert near the city of Sirte in 1942. He graduated with honors from the University of Libya before, like many of his children after him, pursuing a European education and doing some army training in Britain, where he first began plotting to overthrow the Libyan government. In 1969, he organized a coup that removed King Idris I. After taking power, Qaddafi launched a cultural upheaval and eventually a "people's revolution," creating a unique government system known as the "Jamahiriya"-state of the masses. Though he wields absolute power over the Libyan government, Qaddafi technically holds no formal office. He defended the system in New York on March 2006, saying, "There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet."
Here, Qaddafi makes one of his infamously long and rambling speeches to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23, 2009.
Getty Images
Here, Qaddafi poses with some of his sons in November 1986. Earlier this month, Khamis al-Qaddafi, 27, was expelled from Madrid's IE business school,where he was enrolled in a $81,320-per-year international MBA program. According to a spokesperson for the school, Khamis was expelled due to "his links to the attacks against the Libyan population." Khamis was supposed to have been in the United States doing an internship when the Libyan uprising began in February, but returned home to command his own elite special forces unit. The unit, aptly named the Khamis Brigade, was rumored to have been in charge of suppressing protests in Benghazi, was spotted fighting in Zawiya near the capital of Tripoli, and may have counted teenage mercenary fighters from Chad among its numbers.
Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images