Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (June 1942 – 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was a Libyan politician and political theorist. He served as the ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011. Politically an Arab nationalist, he formulated his own ideology, known as Third Universal Theory, with industry and business being nationalized under state ownership. He later came to embrace Pan-Africanism, and served as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) from 2009 to 2010.
Born the son of an impoverished Bedouin goatherd, Gaddafi became involved in Arab nationalist politics while at school in Sabha, subsequently enrolling in the Royal Military Academy, Benghazi. Founding a revolutionary group within the ranks of the Libyan military, in 1969 he seized power from King Idris in a bloodless coup. Becoming leader of the governing Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), he dissolved the monarchy and proclaimed the Libyan Arab Republic. Ruling by decree, he implemented measures to remove foreign imperialist influence from Libya, and strengthened ties to other Arab nationalist governments. Intent on pushing Libya toward socialism, he nationalized the country's oil industry and used the increased revenues to bolster the military, implement social programs to improve housing and healthcare, and fund revolutionary groups across the world. In 1973 he announced the start of a "Popular Revolution" in Libya with the formation of General People's Committees (GPCs), a system of direct democracy, but retained personal control over major decisions. He outlined his Third Universal Theory that year, publishing these ideas in a political tract, The Green Book.
In 1977, he dissolved the Republic and announced the creation of the Jamahiriya, officially adopting a symbolic role within the country's governance structure. Throughout Libya, Revolutionary Committees were formed to accompany the GPCs, with Gaddafi as their leader; utilizing violence to suppress counter-revolutionary elements, Gaddafi later admitted that they had caused excessive problems. Overseeing unsuccessful border conflicts with Egypt and Chad, his support for foreign militants led to Libya being labelled an "international pariah", with a particularly hostile relationship developing with the United States and United Kingdom. From 1999, Gaddafi initiated moves to integrate with the rest of Africa, and sought better relations with the west, undergoing a process of economic liberalization. In February 2011, following revolutions in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia, an anti-Gaddafist uprising led by the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) broke out, resulting in the Libyan civil war. A NATO-led coalition intervened militarily on the side of the NTC, resulting in the downfall of the government. Gaddafi himself retreated to Sirte, but was captured and killed by NTC fighters.
Gaddafi is a controversial and highly divisive world figure, being lauded as a champion of anti-imperialism and both Arab and African nationalism by his supporters, but his critics have accused him of being a dictator and autocrat whose authoritarian administration has overseen multiple human rights abuses both at home and abroad.