How bad was Gaddafi? Undoubtedly he plundered the nation’s wealth. He imprisoned people in hellish prisons for decades for showing the most minute amount of dissent. Also he tortured them.
Undoubtedly Libya was an oil rich country where very little of the wealth filtered down to the people.
But but for all that, there have been worse tyrants, Saddam Hussein & Idi Amin to name but 2. In Saudi Arabia the wealth has filtered down. But personally were I given the unenviable choice of living on one country or another, I think I would prefer Libya. Apart from anything else, Libya was as secular as any of the Middle East States.
Gaddafi did hand out the country’s wealth to various countries, sometimes for good causes sometimes bad. We in the UK felt particularly aggrieved because he supplied some arms to the IRA.
The danger is that someone worse than him will take over. For all I or anyone else knows there may already be people plotting to take over. The voices coming from Libya have been somewhat contradictory. It looks like there will be a power struggle which will not necessarily be through the ballot box. It may be that Islamic hardliners will take in the same way that they did in 32 years ago when the Shah was overthrown & inter alia, women’s rights were abolished. The signs are not encouraging in Tunisia or Egypt or any other of the Middle East & North Africa countries. It certainly doesn’t look as though democracy is about to take root in any of them. If Libya is initially democratic, then will it continue along that path. Unless there is a proper separation of powers, then the post of dictator could be taken up quite easily. The problem is that something just as bad or even worse could replace Gaddafi. Gaddafi had a complicated system which made it almost impossible for rivals to usurp him or for a Western democracy to take hold.
We are all waiting anxiously to see what happens.