Image: Tony Blair meets Moammar Gadhafi in 2007
Leon Neal  /  AP
This May 29, 2007, photo shows Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, left, meeting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, at his desert base outside Sirte south of Tripoli.
updated 2/24/2011 7:19:23 PM ET 2011-02-25T00:19:23

When Moammar Gadhafi told the world he was a changed man, some leaders were skeptical. Others, like Britain's Tony Blair, were quicker to see the benefits of rapprochement with the oil-rich nation.

Now, as Gadhafi's regime crumbles, questions are being raised about whether Britain, the United States, and others were too quick to embrace a volatile despot linked to terrorism and oppression as they sought lucrative business deals.

Those deals worth billions are now in jeopardy as Libya hurtles toward civil war. The strategic decision to build ties with the likes of Gadhafi, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, and Tunisia's Ben Ali also threatens to further inflame anti-Western anger in the Arab world.

  1. Top stories: Turmoil in the Middle East
    1. UN: Gadhafi's food stocks to last just weeks
    2. S. African president: Gadhafi ready for truce
    3. Libyan rebels distribute rules on POW treatment
    4. Armed residents put up resistance to Syrian army
    5. Libyan rebels distribute rules on POW treatment

Blair's role was particularly vital in Gadhafi's international rehabilitation.

The former British prime minister flew to Libya in 2004, holding talks with Gadhafi inside a Bedouin tent. He praised the leader for ending Libya's nuclear and chemical weapons program and stressed the need for new security alliances in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. British commercial deals soon followed.

Britain sold Libya about 40 million pounds ($55 million) worth of military and paramilitary equipment in the year ending Sept. 30, 2010, according to Foreign Office statistics. Among the items: sniper rifles, bulletproof vehicles, crowd control ammunition, and tear gas.

"What did the Foreign Office think Colonel Gadhafi meant to do with sniper rifles and tear gas grenades — go mole hunting?" asked Britain's Guardian newspaper.

Although Britain's current government led by David Cameron has revoked dozens of export licenses to Libya in the wake of the Libyan violence, many say the very weapons and equipment Britain has sold to Libya are being used against the country's people.

Britain's elite Special Air Service, or SAS, also participated in recent training for Libyan soldiers in counterterrorism and surveillance. Robin Horsfall, a former SAS soldier, said at the time that the training was a mistake: "People will die as a result of this decision," he warned.

Since Scotland's release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi — the only man convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland — U.S. lawmakers have accused Britain of backing the Libyan's freedom in exchange for oil deals. The former Libyan intelligence agent was accused of placing a bomb on the plane. The bombing killed 280, many of them American students.

"Moammar Gadhafi is a terrorist — plain and simple," said U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, after Libya's former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil told the Swedish tabloid Expressen Wednesday that Gadhafi had personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing.

Washington paves way
But Washington has also cultivated ties with Gadhafi.

In 2008, former president George W. Bush sent his top diplomat Condoleezza Rice to Libya for talks with Gadhafi. She called the trip "historic" and said it had "come after a lot of difficulty, the suffering of many people that will never be forgotten or assuaged."

The same year, Texas-based Exxon Mobil signed an exploration agreement with the Libyan National Oil Corp. to explore for hydrocarbons off the Libyan coast.

The U.S. also approved the sale of military items to Libya in recent years, giving private arms firms licenses to sell everything from explosives and incendiary agents to aircraft parts and targeting equipment.

The Bush administration approved the sale of $3 million of materials to Libya in 2006 and $5.3 million in 2007. In 2008, Libya was allowed to import $46 million in armaments from the U.S. The approved goods included nearly 400 shipments of explosive and incendiary materials, 25,000 aircraft parts, 56,000 military electronics components and nearly 1,000 items of optical targeting and other guidance equipment.

The U.S. State Department has not yet provided figures for materiel licensed to Libya during the Obama administration. But according to one U.S. government official, Congress spurned a 2009 Obama administration request for approval of a license to allow the private shipment of M113 armored personnel carriers.

The official, who insisted on anonymity because the licensing process is classified, would not detail the number of armored cars sought by Libya. Libyan military officials had pressed U.S. officials as far back as 2007 for the cars and troop-carrying Chinook helicopters, but the Bush administration balked at the requests, the official said.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay recalled that U.S. leaders discouraged her from pressing Libya on its poor human rights record.

"In the last few days (of the Bush administration) I did meet with some representatives of the U.S. administration," Pillay told The Associated Press in an interview. "They said to me the human rights record of Libya is fine so you needn't touch that."

Proceeding with caution
Many in the intelligence community say they viewed Gadhafi's supposed transformation with cautious optimism at the time.

"He said he wanted to fight extremism, which we viewed positively much like the Americans," Ilan Mizrahi, former deputy in Israel's Mossad intelligence agency told the AP on Wednesday. "But we also said to be cautious of these moments of sanity."

Few European leaders have escaped the wrath of newspaper editorials or embarrassing photo montages with the eccentric leader. Former British prime ministers Blair and Gordon Brown, France's Nicolas Sarkozy, Germany's then-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Italy's Premier Silvio Berlusconi are among them.

The West's dance with Gadhafi and others has already angered some protesters, who feel big powers kept their oppressors in power and enriched them, while cheating ordinary people out of the riches that foreign oil companies have garnered.

For Italy, Libya's proximity to Italian islands and the potential for a refugee influx has long encouraged Rome to foster close ties. Italy, an energy-poor country, also has a large stake in the North African nation's oil production.

For Germany, Schroeder's 2004 visit followed Libya's agreement to pay compensation to victims of a 1986 disco bombing in West Berlin. During that trip, an oil well run by Germany's Wintershall was inaugurated.

France, too, courted Gadhafi in 2007. The leader pitched a tent in the elegant garden of the official guest residence in Paris and stayed three days longer than expected. Sarkozy said of the visit, "If we don't welcome those who take the road to respectability, then what do we say to those who take the opposite road?"

Blushing in Britain
But for Britain, Libya's revolt has been more acutely embarrassing.

Gadhafi once supplied the IRA with weapons and explosives used to kill hundreds in Northern Ireland and Britain, and one of his henchmen was accused in the killing of a British policewoman outside Tripoli's embassy in London in 1984 during a demonstration.

    1. Castaway's parents thought they would never see him again

      The father of Pacific castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga said he was told his long-lost son vanished on a fishing trip but he didn’t have the heart to break the news to his ailing wife.

    2. Scotland legalizes same-sex marriage
    3. Weapons deal strengthened Assad: US intel chief
    4. Outcry over the fate of Sochi's stray dogs
    5. Olympic construction leaves Sochi residents in the cold

He has also been repeatedly linked to the Lockerbie bombing, though the allegations have never been proven.

Still, when the cancer-stricken Lockerbie bomber was released from prison on compassionate grounds in 2009, his return to Libya was broadcast on live television. Gadhafi and his son threw him an extravagant welcome home party. Family members of the Lockerbie bombing victims said the display was insulting.

At the time of al-Megrahi's release, critics said his freedom was awarded to pave the way for more British oil and trade agreements. Libya produces about 1.6 million barrels of crude per day and has the biggest oil reserves in Africa. It is also the largest exporter to Europe.

In 2007, shortly after Blair re-established relations, BP signed a deal worth at least $900 million to explore Libya. If Gadhafi's regime collapses, there are fears another leader could chooses not to honor the contracts, re-negotiate them or kick foreign oil companies out altogether.

British trade with Libya is also worth around 1.5 billion pounds a year. British exports to the country last year were worth 377.1 million pounds. More than 150 British-based companies operate in Libya, including British Airways, HSBC and Barclays banks and clothing chain Marks & Spencer.

Gordon Brown's spokeswoman Nicola Burdett declined comment on the recent violence or Brown's dealings with Gadhafi when in office. The pair held talks on the sidelines of the 2009 G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy. At the time, Brown praised the Libyan leader's decision to scrap his nuclear weapons program.

Blair's office said the former British leader believed he was right to restore relations with Libya.

Blair's spokesman also refused direct comment but made reference to a statement released by his office.

The rest of the world benefited hugely from "the change in Libya's position from a state that was developing nuclear and chemical weapons and sponsoring terrorism, to a state that in 2003 gave up WMD and is now co-operating in the fight against terror," Blair's office said in a statement.

"However none of that justifies the violence internally."

Watchdogs have urged European nations to seize Libyan assets, and criticized their eagerness to court Gadhafi.

"It is difficult to draw lessons in the midst of historic changes, but EU governments have been complacent," said Transparency International's deputy managing director Miklos Marschall. "Short term economic benefits have been considered and very basic principles have been sacrificed."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Gadhafi downplays violence as fight closes in

  1. Closed captioning of: Gadhafi downplays violence as fight closes in

    >>> good evening. while the whole world watches, it apparently now has come down to this, moammar gadhafi is holding on to control of his strong hold of tripoli but he's lost control of large parts of his country, mostly in the east with fresh fighting breaking out around the clock and around tripoli . tonight there's reason to believe he's highly rattled by the fighting, the uprising. he gave a speech today that was hard to follow and make sense of, even by his standards, and as he spoke, more of his territory was changing hands. we begin tonight again inside libya with our chief foreign correspondent, richard engel , who's in the city of benghazi tonight. richard, good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, brian from benghazi . this is the unofficial capital of the rebel movement . lawyers and judges are administering the city. there's even now a radio station here called free libya , and the rebels say tripoli is next. the fighting is closing in on tripoli . rebels and ruthless mercenaries hired by gadhafi are battling for control of villages less than 100 miles from the capital.

    >> the streets were being blocked off by sandbags, by blocks, by bricks, by anything that people could use to try to prevent any pro-regime forces from entering into the streets.

    >> reporter: in the town today, 40 miles west of tripoli , at least ten people were reportedly killed in fighting. but some of the worst violence has been here in benghazi , where hospitals are filled with wounded.

    >> there is more than 300, more than 300 in benghazi and injured more than 3,000.

    >> reporter: doctors say the victims were shot with bullets and anti-aircraft rounds. many were executed at close range. [ speaking foreign language ]

    >> reporter: but today colonel moammar gadhafi downplayed the violence and offered a radically different explanation in a bizarre and revealing radio address. we were in a car as he spoke. his words were slurred. he mumbled, with long pauses. i've listened to speeches in arabic of middle east leaders for 15 years. this did not sound like the same person. gadhafi is speaking now on state radio . it's very difficult to follow. he's all over the place. he's already mentioned the kurds in northern iraq , the unabomber indyia, and saying the people carrying out this revolt are taking drugs that make them insane. in the address gadhafi claimed al qaeda is behind the revolt. osama bin laden is slipping libyans hallucinogenic pills in coffee with milk and the pills are distributed in mosques with help from the united states . a u.s. official today described gadhafi as, quote, nuts. his family members also seem wildly out of touch. gadhafi 's son, saif, appeared on television to claim tripoli is safe and secure. but rebels say gadhafi is holding libya hostage. u.s. officials say the dictator is armed with chemical weapons and has a sovereign fund of $32 billion, more than enough to buy mercenaries and loyalists. thousands of foreigners are still trying to escape the fighting and get away from libya 's apparently irrational leader.

    >> it's just been constant. constant shooting.

    >> reporter: a british warship evacuated its nationals from the port in benghazi , but the airport in tripoli remains crowded and chaotic, full of people desperate to leave, afraid of what gadhafi might do. benghazi , brian, is firmly under rebel control, and the rebels here tell us they believe they have enough force, enough momentum to push out gadhafi in a matter of days.

    >> richard engel from benghazi in libya tonight. richard, thanks. you

Photos: Libya's uprising against Gadhafi

loading photos...
  1. People gathering in Benghazi, Libya in mid-February of 2011 as protest against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi grew, in part triggered by the arrest of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. EDITOR'S NOTE: The content, date and location of this image could not be independently verified. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Buildings at the entrance to a security forces compound burn in Benghazi, Feb. 21, 2011. Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi, claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. (Alaguri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi speaks on state television. Feb. 22, and signalled his defiance over a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule. (Libya TV via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Libyan U.N. ambassador Shalgham is embraced by Dabbashi, Libya's deputy U.N. Ambassador after denouncing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for the first time during a Security Council meeting at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York on Feb. 25. Shalgam, a longtime friend and member of Gadhafi's inner circle, had previously refused to denounce Gadhafi. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Thousands of Libyans gather for the Muslim Friday prayers outside the courthouse in the eastern city of Benghazi on Feb. 25, 2011. Perhaps 8,000 people gathered for the midday prayers with a local imam, who delivered his sermon alongside the coffins of three men killed in the violent uprising that routed Gadhafi loyalists from Benghazi. (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Rebels hold a young man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a loyalist to Gadhafi, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf, March 3, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Pro-Gadhafi soldiers and supporters gather in Green Square in Tripoli, March 6, 2011. Thousands of Moammar Gadhafi's supporters poured into the streets of Tripoli, waving flags and firing their guns in the air in the Libyan leader's main stronghold, claiming overnight military successes. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Rebel fighters jump away from shrapnel during heavy shelling by forces loyal to Gadhafi near Bin Jawad, March 6. Rebels in east Libya regrouped and advanced on Bin Jawad after Gadhafi forces ambushed rebel fighters and ejected them from the town earlier in the day. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Libyan rebel fighters take cover as a bomb dropped by an airforce fighter jet explodes near a checkpoint on the outskirts of the oil town of Ras Lanuf on March 7, 2011. (Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Libyan rebels fire rockets at government troops on the frontline. March 9, 2011 near Ras Lanuf. The rebels pushed back government troops westward towards Ben Jawat. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Libyan government soldiers aboard tanks at the west gate of the town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Libya's army pounded an opposition-held city in the country's west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed. EDITOR'S NOTE: Picture taken on a government guided tour. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Libyan people in Benghazi celebrate after the United Nations Security Council authorized a no-fly zone over Libya, March 18. Thousands of Libyans erupted in cheers as the news flashed on a giant screen in besieged Benghazi late March 17. After weeks of discussion, the UN Security Council banned flights in Libya's airspace and authorized "all necessary means" to implement the ban, triggering intervention by individual countries and organizations like NATO. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A picture combo shows a Libyan jet bomber crashing after being apparently shot down in Benghazi on March 19, 2011 as the Libyan rebel stronghold came under attack. Air strikes and sustained shelling of the city's south sent thick smoke into the sky. (Patrick Baz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Residents of Benghazi flee the city along the road toward Tobruk, in an attempt to escape fighting in their city, March 19, 2011. Gaddafi's troops pushed into the outskirts of Benghazi, a city of 670,000 people, in an apparent attempt to pre-empt Western military intervention expected after a meeting of Western and Arab leaders in Paris. (Reuters TV) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Gadhafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A rebel fighter carries his weapon outside the northeastern Libyan town of Ajdabiyah, March 21, 2011. A wave of air strikes hit Gaddafi's troops around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in the barren, scrub of eastern Libya that rebels aim to retake and where their fighters said they need more help. (Finbarr O'reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A Libyan rebel prays next to his gun on the frontline of the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, March 21, 2011. The international military intervention in Libya is likely to last "a while," a top French official said, echoing Moammar Gadhafi's warning of a long war ahead as rebels, energized by the strikes on their opponents. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Libyan rebels retreat as mortars from Gadhafi's forces are fired on them near the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, March 22, 2011. Coalition forces bombarded Libya for a third straight night, targeting the air defenses and forces of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, stopping his advances and handing some momentum back to the rebels, who were on the verge of defeat. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A Libyan man is comforted by hospital staff as he reacts after identifying his killed brother in the morgue of the Jalaa hospital in Benghazi, March 22, 2011. His brother was killed earlier in fighting around the city of Ajdabiya. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Volunteer fighters training at a rebel army training camp in Benghazi, March 29, 2011. Pro-government forces intensified their attacks on Libyan rebels, driving them back over ground they had taken in recent days. The rebels had reached Nawfaliya, but pulled back to Bin Jawad. (Manu Brabo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Smoke billows as seven explosions were reported in the tightly-guarded residence of leader Moammar Gadhafi and military targets in the suburb of Tajura. Two explosions also rocked the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 29, 2011, as NATO-led coalition aircraft had been seen in the skies over the capital. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A Libyan rebel urges people to leave, as shelling from Gadhafi's forces started landing on the frontline outside of Bin Jawaad, 93 miles east of Sirte, March 29, 2011. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. General Abdel-Fattah Younis, former interior minister in the Gadhafi regime who defected in the early days of the uprising, is greeted by Libyan rebels at the front line near Brega, April 1, 2011. (Altaf Qadri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Libyan men show the V-sign for victory as they stand on the deck of a Turkish ship arriving from Misrata to the port of Benghazi who were evacuated along with others the injured in the fighting between rebel and Gadhafi forces, April 03, 2011. The Turkish vessel took hundreds of people wounded in the Libyan uprising for treatment in Turkey from the two cities of Misrata and Benghazi. (Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A wounded prisoner from Gadhafi's forces is transported in the back of a pickup truck by rebels, on the way to a hospital for treatment, half way between Brega and Ajdabiya, April 9, 2011. Rebels say they took two prisoners after a clash with soldiers near Brega's university outside the government-controlled oil facilities, marking a noticeable advance by rebels. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. In this image taken from TV, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi makes a pubic appearance in Tripoli, April 14 2011. Gadhafi defiantly waved at his supporters while being driven around Tripoli while standing up through the sunroof of a car. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A rebel fighter celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage toward the positions of government troops April 14, 2011, west of Ajdabiyah. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Gadhafi supporters hold copies of his portrait as they gather at the Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli, April 15, 2011. Rebels held much of eastern Libya by mid-April, while Gadhafi controlled the west, with the front line shifting back and forth in the middle. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Doctors work on a baby who suffered cuts from shrapnel that blasted through the window of his home during fighting in the besieged city of Misrata, April 18, 2011. Thousands of civilians are trapped in Misrata as fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels there. The Libyan government has come under international criticism for using heavy weapons and artillery in its assault on Misrata. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. MISRATA, LIBYA - APRIL 20: Libyan rebel fighters discuss how to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from the next room during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi April 20, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building that fought back instead of surrendering, firing on the rebels in the building and seriously wounding two of them during the standoff. Fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels ensconced there. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images) (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Libyan rebel fighters carry out a comrade wounded during an effort to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from a building during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Gaddafi, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building where they fought back instead of surrendering. Two rebels were seriously wounded during the standoff. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Rebels tread carefully as they prepare to invade a house where soldiers from the pro-government forces had their base in the Zwabi area of Misrata on April 24, 2011. (Andre Liohn / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Libyans inspect damage and an unexploded missile at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, May 1, 2011. Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli that killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren. EDITOR'S NOTE: Photo taken on a government guided tour. (Darko Bandic / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Moammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, center, leaves the funeral of his brother Saif Al-Arab Gadhafi, who was killed during air strikes by coalition forces, at the El Hani cemetery in Tripoli, May 2, 2011. Crowds chanting Gadhafi's name gathered in Tripoli for the funeral of his son and three grandchildren. (Louafi Larbi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Fleeing migrants and Libyans are seen on board an International Organization of Migration ship leaving the port of Misrata on May 4, 2011, as Gadhafi forces continued to pound the city. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Libyan men watch as the main fuel depot in Libya's third largest city, Misrata, burns following a bombing by Gadhafi's forces on May 7, 2011. Libyan regime forces shelled fuel depots in Misrata and dropped mines into its harbor using helicopters bearing the Red Cross emblem, rebels said as they braced for a ground assault. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Libyan rebels celebrate near the airport of Misrata on May 11, 2011 after capturing the city's strategic airport following a fierce battle with Moammar Gadhafi's troops -- their first significant advance in weeks. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Women react after a protest against Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Benghazi, Libya, on May 16, 2011. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, announced that he would seek arrest warrants against the leader of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the country's intelligence chief on charges of crimes against humanity. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Tripoli street in Misrata is seen from the terrace of a building used by Gadhafi’s snipers before the rebels took control of the area on May 22, 2011. The weeks-long siege of the city ended in mid-May and Tripoli Street was the site of the fiercest fighting in the battle and a turnin point in the war. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A rebel fighter gives water to a soldier loyal to Gadhafi after he was wounded and then captured near the front line, west of Misrata on May 23, 2011. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. An uncle, left, prays over the body of one and a half year-old Mohsen Ali al-Sheikh during a washing ritual during the funeral at his family's house in Misrata, May 27, 2011. The child was killed by a gunshot during clashes between rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces earlier in the day. (Wissam Saleh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. The body of a drowned refugee floats near a capsized ship which was transporting an estimated 850 refugees from Libya, approximately 22 miles north of the Tunisian islands of Kerkennah, June 4, 2011. At least 578 survived the sinking. (Lindsay Mackenzie / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A photograph taken from a video by a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows Mutassem Gadhafi, son of Moammar Gadhafi, drinking water and smoking a cigarette following his capture and shortly before his death, in Sirte, Oct. 20, 2011. (- / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. A photograph taken from mobile phone video of a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows the capture of Moammar Gadhafi in Sirte on Oct. 20, 2011. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. This image provided by the Libyan Youth Group on Nov. 19, 2011, shows Seif al-Islam Gadhafi after he was captured near the Niger border with Libya. Moammar Gadhafi's son, the only wanted member of the ousted ruling family to remain at large, was captured as he traveled with aides in a convoy in Libya's southern desert. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

Timeline: Recent Middle East unrest


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments