From "Super villain" to partner

10 min

Libya was seen for a long time as a black sheep in the international community, that country in North Africa alleged to have sponsored terrorism and provided weapons and arms and funding to terror groups around the world. A pariah state.

But things have changed over the past three decades, and Colonel Gaddafi has recently even been involved in deals with the EU to create refugee camps on his side of the Mediterranean, to stop them getting to EU borders.

Aron Lund is an editorial writer for Upsala Nya Tidning newspaper, and has also written for the Swedish Institute of International Affairs about Libya,  he told Radio Sweden that things have changed markedly over the past three decades.

"In the seventies and the eighties he was the enemy number one of the United States, and the US even bombed Libya in 1986," Aron Lund says, "Since then it's been turned around. His relations with the west aren't unproblematic today, there are a lot of problems, but they have turned around quite a lot. He was in isolation for much of the nineties, under sanctions, and had economic problems."

Lund adds that the Libyan regime is well known for its cruelty, "The level of repression in Libya, the regime's brutality is so much greater than most dictatorships in the region. Egypt seemed comparatively liberal under Mubarrak, compared to Gaddafi. So there was a wall of fear that had to be broken down, and apparently that happened with Egypt."´

Writer Aron Lund says he was surprised by the speed of the uprising, "Today's riots are completely unprecedented in Libyan history, and yeah I'm surprised. But that's the thing with a dictatorship that has no free press, no legitimate ways of expression, nothing, that these things can bubble up under the surface and you can't see them coming until they erupt."