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LIBYA - Profile - Moammar Mohammed Abdel Salam Abu Minyar Al-Qadhafi.

In power since Sept. 1, 1969, Qadhafi is the supreme decision maker and can at any time decide on a petroleum policy or project and other matters (see OMT). Born in 1942 at a village which the Saudi magazine 'Al Majalla' has called "Juhannam" (in Arabic meaning hell) in the Sirte region, Qadhafi belongs to the Qadhadfa tribe. His father was a camel dealer from the tribe's Qadhafaddam clan. His cousins Ahmad and Sayyed Qadhafaddam are powerful in the ramified intelligence community, with Ahmad commanding a special military force. Ahmad is also a liaison man between Libya and other Arab states.

On Sept. 1, 1969, Qadhafi and 11 fellow "free officers" on the General Provisional Committee for Defence Co-ordinators (GPCDC) staged their coup against the Sanoussi monarchy. Since then there have been several cycles of structural change in Libya, with the cabinet and central legislature elected every year by the GPC.

On March 1, 2001 Qadhafi got the GPC's annual meeting in the southern town of Sebha to scrap most secretariats (ministries), leaving only the Secretariats for Foreign Affairs, African Unity, Finance, Information, and Justice and Public Order. Qadhafi then told the GPC: "We have shown the world a model demonstrating that governments are not needed. You have no more government to complain against. Now everything is in your hands and in future you can only complain to yourselves". He also told the GPC: "I would like that a constitutional reference (a head of state's position) be established. The (present) General Co-ordinator of the Social Popular Command could be the head of state in a formal manner. We need him in case something happens, like a catastrophe, a war or whatever".

The General Social Popular Command is an informal body of respected members of the community at national or local levels who act as advisors. Its co-ordinator is theoretically chosen under a rotating system every six months and, although his name is never mentioned by the Libyan media, he ranks highest in protocol.

Qadhafi's wish fuelled speculation that his favourite son Saif Ul-Islam (Sword of Islam), aged 35, may be chosen for the post which would imply the latter could be the heir to the higher position of "The Leader of the Revolution" in the post-Qadhafi era.

It was Saif who recommended the nomination of Dr. Shokri Ghanem to the post of secretary general of the General People's Committee (prime minister) before the congress (GPC) held its annual session in Sirte on June 7-14, 2003. The GPC elected Ghanem, who replaced Mubarak Al-Shamekh.

In external matters, Qadhafi is disillusioned with the Arab world and concentrates on African affairs. He boasts of the African Union as being his brainchild. He has repeatedly indicated since the late 1990s that he wants Libya out of the Arab League, because his ideas have been largely ignored by Arab rulers.

In complex regional problems, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, Qadhafi tries to simplify matters but promotes radical projects. His latest is "Israteen", presented in a speech aired via satellite to the London School of Oriental and African Studies on June 27, 2003. He gave the speech to a meeting at the Academy of Graduate Studies in Tripoli organised by the London Middle East Institute. He said: "We are laying down a timebomb in seeking a two-state solution" between Israel and the Palestinians. Instead, he said, Israel and Palestine should have one state to be called Israteen (teen for Falasteen, Arabic for Palestine). He said this should be a federation, drawing on South Africa and Lebanon as models.

After a civil war in Lebanon broke out in 197r, Qadhafi offered "a lasting solution", not only for the Lebanese but also for all other Arab countries which have Christian communities. He said the Christians should simply convert to Islam.

Even his associates are sometimes embarrassed by Qadhafi's radical ideas. But none of them would dare challenge the leader or question his erratic behaviour.

Under the top tier of the political leadership, Qadhafi's logic combines a simple formula for the decision makers to retain power and a complex concept of "constant revolution" (see detailed Libyan who's who in Gas Market Trends, Vol. 53, No. 4).
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Publication:APS Review Gas Market Trends
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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Previous Article:LIBYA - The Opposition.
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