Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, a distinguished Libyan politician and diplomat, passed away on September 16, 2023, leaving behind a legacy shaped by his decades of public service and dedication to his nation. As we remember his life and contributions, we offer this obituary in honor of the man who played a pivotal role in Libya’s political history.
Born on October 10, 1939, Abdul Ati al-Obeidi’s journey in public service began as he rose through the ranks in Libya under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi. He held prestigious positions, including serving as Prime Minister from 1977 to 1979 and later as the General Secretary of the General People’s Congress from 1979 to 1981. However, his most notable achievement came in the realm of diplomacy when he became one of the key negotiators in Libya’s historic decision to denounce and abandon its nuclear weapons program.
In the tumultuous year of 2011, marked by the First Libyan Civil War between Gaddafi loyalists and Anti-Gaddafi rebels, Abdul Ati al-Obeidi’s life took a dramatic turn. He was appointed Foreign Minister following the defection of Moussa Koussa, a pivotal figure in Gaddafi’s government. Notably, al-Obeidi had accompanied Koussa to Djerba, Tunisia, only to return to Libya while Koussa defected to London. Just a week after Koussa’s departure, on April 3, 2011, Obeidi flew to Greece, where he presented a peace proposal to his Greek counterpart, Dimitrios Droutsas, in an effort to find a diplomatic resolution to the ongoing conflict.
Despite his commitment to diplomacy, August 31, 2011, marked a fateful day in Abdul Ati al-Obeidi’s life when he was detained by rebel forces west of Tripoli. This event underscored the complexities and challenges of the political landscape in Libya during that time.
Nevertheless, in June 2013, a court found him not guilty of a charge of mismanagement, a testament to his commitment to justice and accountability.
On September 16, 2023, Abdul Ati al-Obeidi passed away at the age of 83 due to a heart attack. His death marks the end of an era in Libyan politics, leaving behind a rich tapestry of experiences, accomplishments, and challenges.