The BBC marked the three year anniversary of the death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi with Mad Dog: Gaddafi’s Secret World. The documentary depicted a harrowing image of a leader intoxicated with power, with the west turning a blind eye to 40 years of brutality, dictatorship and oppression due to the vast oil reserves in Libya. However, Libya is still far from harmonious, with civil unrest still rife across the country.
“This mad dog of the Middle East has a goal of a world revolution”. The words spoken by former US President Ronald Reagan in 1986 eerily echo at the beginning of the documentary, before cutting to footage of the crumbled remains of Gaddafi’s palace. But, whilst his palace has become desolate and forgotten, the legacy of his tyrannical leadership is far from a thing of the past and is still causing widespread conflict in Libya.
His ‘secret world’ is certainly revealed, and it is one that is uncomfortable, yet importantly uncompromising, to watch. A megalomaniac that killed anyone who challenged or criticised his regime, putting the bodies of his enemies in a freezer to later gloat at his accomplishments, and hanging students he suspected of being spies in front of schoolchildren. The documentary reveals the horrific extent of his sexual abuse of young Libyan girls, who he would single out on his sordid visits to local schools and his henchman would bring back to his ‘rape chambers’ in his palace. Worse still, he would then send his victims to mental institutions so no one would believe them.
This gutsy documentary provides an invaluable insight into the perplexing character of Gaddafi, through the accounts of those that served him and cultivated his dreams and ambitions. His former poison dealer Gary Korkala was asked to provide ten briefcases rigged up with explosives, and his bodyguard was forced to cheer at the execution of 17 students. The honesty of the documentary enables a detailed and thorough understanding of the extent of his corruption and the terror he inflicted.
However, the execution of Gaddafi in February 2011 has not brought an end to problems in Libya. UEA student Suleiman Ben Sufia lives in the centre of the country’s capital, Tripoli, and recognises the instability that still remains: “Libya is constantly developing but in a slow way. The new government is struggling to bring the rebels who fought against Gaddafi into the army”. He also states that another key reason for stagnation in progress is that Gaddafi’s son, who sought asylum in Niger, is funding tribes that still remain loyal to the regime to cause problems in the country. Although the ‘mad dog’ has gone, there is still much to be done to tackle Libya’s problems.