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You're reading: Tribal ties held key to Gaddafi rule
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Historians say the veteran ruler used economic privileges, marital alliances and the threat of force to build ties to tribes commanding varying degrees of loyalty among most of the six million population.

Gaddafi’s own tribe, the Al-Gaddadfa, one of more than 20 tribes in the country, is based around Sirte, a Mediterranean coastal city.

Despite its small size, its location – in the heart of the Sirte basin rich in oil – gave the tribe pre-eminence and led to claims by its descendents that they trace their lineage directly from Prophet Mohammad, some historians say.

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