U.S. Embassy Operations in Libya

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
February 26, 2011
American Evacuee From Libya Greeted By U.S. Embassy Official

More:Information for U.S. Citizens Affected by the Situation in the Middle East and North Africa

Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Janet Sanderson briefed the press on the situation in Libya.

Assistant Secretary Crowley said, "...As was just announced in the White House press briefing, given current security conditions in Libya, coupled with our inability to guarantee fully the safety and security of our diplomatic personnel in the country, the Department of State has temporarily withdrawn Embassy personnel from Tripoli and suspended all Embassy operations effective today. The safety of the American community remains paramount to the Department, and we will continue to provide assistance to the greatest extent possible through other missions."

Under Secretary Kennedy spoke about U.S. efforts to assist American citizens in Libya. He said, "...We moved to get out as many American citizens as we could and who presented themselves at the Embassy. We will continue to work to assist American citizens. The Bureau of Consular Affairs has a 7 by 24-hour by 365-day-a-week capability. If any additional American citizens are in need of assistance, they can contact or their family members or others can contact the State Department, and we will see what we can do. But we have put in, as I said, the last charter flight that we intend to at this time. And we do know that the airport, in spite of it being overcrowded still, is moving some commercial planes in and out."

Deputy Assistant Secretary Sanderson addressed how the United States is continuing to carry on its work with regards to Libya. She said, "...In addition to the responsibilities we have to the American community and to our own mission on the ground, obviously one of the things that the Department has been doing in the last week to 10 days is a full court press in terms of trying to develop a set of options for the President and for his decision makers with regard to the continuing and indeed intensifying violence on the ground, violence against the Libyan people, and what seems to us to be increasing problems with the regime and with the way it is handling its governance of the country.

"You've seen, of course, that the Secretary of State has made a number of calls to her counterparts around the world in the last couple of days. Those calls are continuing. She has consulted with African foreign ministers, European foreign ministers, and others who are interested in the fate of Libya. The Secretary has echoed what the President has said -- we're shocked and appalled by what we have seen on the ground in Libya. We hold the Libyan Government accountable for its actions and the actions of its military and other security forces as these atrocities are being perpetrated. We are deeply concerned about the fate of the Libyan people and we are looking at a variety of options -- a toolkit, if you will, in addition to sanctions, unilateral -- the ones that were announced this morning, or this afternoon, rather, by the White House. But in conjunction with our friends and likeminded allies in the area, we're looking at other options and, of course, there is the multilateral track.

"I don't have a lot of details for you right now. We are having those consultations. They're ongoing. But I think the important thing to take away is that the international community is speaking with one voice about what is happening in Libya. We are all concerned and shocked, and we are looking at ways to try and not only change the behavior of the government, but also hold it accountable for what is happening on the ground.

"The Secretary will go to the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva in -- on Sunday, I think she departs. The meeting is on Monday. And the President dispatched Under Secretary for Political Affairs Bill Burns to Europe. He is now there for consultations with some of our closest European allies about what's next.

"Obviously, let me say something about the state of diplomatic relations between the United States and Libya. Let me underscore what Pat has said. Our Embassy is not closed. We have suspended operations. We still continue to reach out to the Libyans where appropriate, both directly and through third parties. The Libyan Embassy here is up and running. We have been -- we have not been informed in any change of the status of the ambassador. I will be meeting with representatives of the Libyan Embassy shortly after this meeting to convey our decision about the suspension of diplomatic activities of our mission on the ground in Libya, but the relationship remains and we do have channels of communication to speak directly to the Libyan Government about the very grave concern we have about the evolving situation on the ground."

You can read the full transcript of the briefing here.



Joseph M.
Oregon, USA
February 27, 2011

Joseph M. in Oregon writes:

Unfortunately, the UN and U.S. concerted sanctions, will not prevent further violence and mass killings occurring by the hour in Tripoli and in Western Libya. The international community needs to react in a more force-able manner. We reacted after the horrific mass killings in Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Darfur, Sudan and let's not repeat a slow response which historically resulted in thousands being killed and large scale crimes against humanity and inhumane atrocities occurring during the 1990's--that I personally engaged in as a "humanitarian operation", while assigned to EUCOM Joint Operations in the European theater.

The U.S., EU and UN needs to act immediately, with respect to intervening in Libya, the level of violence is horrifying. Have we already forgotten so soon the lessons gained from the 1990's, that we all lived through, in referencing the mass killings occurring in; Bosnia Herzegovina, Rwanda and more recently in Darfur Sudan?

Western nations should be very concerned in supporting the democratic movements that have taken hold in Northern Africa and in the Arab nations recently impacting multiple nations. The United States has a strategic interest and a moral obligation to react in a proactive manner. We have a unfettered commitment in supporting democratic reforms as these circumstances unfold and not stand by idling as the people's movements in each country develops, regardless if those populations decide and vote for a parliamentary government that may include Islamic representation. We want to be on the right side of democracy and freedom, as revolutionary changes are occurring throughout the region.

Whether in Egypt, Libya or in Yemen, our role is to support the raise of democratic change and to support the people's wishes for each country individually. It is not the business of the U.S. or of the international community to decide in each individual country, what a future government may look like or is likely to emerge--the will of the people should be represented and respected by achieving democratic reforms. I personally am very pleased in witnessing the historical significance of the collapsing of decades of authoritarian and autocratic ruling, experienced by many Arab nations oppressing their people during my lifetime.

That said, as we well know, the reports and circumstances coming from Libya are extremely alarming to the entire international community. Reports out of Western Libya are becoming even more disturbing, the level of violence, shootings and large-scale human rights violations are escalating greatly, especially in Tripoli and in Western Libya. The sign held by one demonstrator from Tripoli reads: "Benghazi We Are With You", Where is the joint effort needed by the UN and international community in the form of crisis intervention?---"Game Over Qaddafi!"

The U.S. and the EU needs to address this humanitarian disaster occurring in Libya, immediately at the scheduled conference in Geneva. Qaddafi and the brutal mercenary thugs responsible for the mass killings need to be held accountable, indicted by the International War Tribunal (ICC), in stating the least.

Bill T.
California, USA
March 3, 2011

Bill T. in California writes:

White House dithering on Lybia is wrong, wrong, wrong!

You need AT LEAST to execute a no-fly zone and let Kadafi know that Western democracies are serious in their support of human and civil rights.

Waiting will only make the suffering worse and the solution harder. Now we have Chavez stirring the pot. Give us a break and ACT!!!


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