U.S. Representative to the Transitional National Council Chris Stevens provided an update on the situation in Libya during a special press briefing on August 2, 2011. Mr. Stevens said:
"...I've been in Benghazi for about four months now. We got there April 5th. It was difficult to get in there at the time. There weren't any flights. So we came in by a Greek cargo ship and unloaded our gear and our cars and set up our office there. So we've been on the ground since then.
"My mandate was to go out and meet as many of the leadership as I could in the TNC. They've got their council, which is sort of their legislature, and they've got a -- sort of a cabinet. So I've met just about everybody in those two institutions. And then I've gone around and -- with our small team -- and tried to get to know other people in the society there. Of course, we operate in eastern Libya, not the part that Qadhafi controls. And the immediate concern when we got there was that Qadhafi's forces had almost infiltrated and taken over Benghazi, but were pushed out by NATO. And since then, the situation has improved quite a bit.
"Real briefly, I'll say that in the last four months, my strong impression is that the TNC are making progress, and I sort of break it down into three areas. Diplomatically, they've made tremendous progress since April gaining international recognition now from about 30 countries, including, significantly, our own. This helps them in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of their own people, in the eyes of the Libyan people who are still under Qadhafi's rule, and it also helps them in the sense that it increases the pressure on Qadhafi.
"Financially, they've made progress. And when we got there, they were really in a precarious situation because they didn't have funds to pay for food, medicine, fuel to keep the power generators going to keep the lights on. And since then, a number of countries have come forth and offered loans, most recently Turkey and Qatar and the UAE and Kuwait. And of course, with political recognition, they're hopeful that they'll be able to gain access to the frozen assets around the world.
"And then lastly, I would say militarily -- although it's been slow -- they're also making progress gaining territory from Qadhafi. And the way I sort of break it down is there are three battlefronts. There's the Western Mountains, where they've got fighters inching their way towards Tripoli. There's the Misrata front on the coast, where they've not only fought off Qadhafi's forces successfully, but they're also pushing west up the coast towards Tripoli. I understand they're getting close to Zliten, which is a significant town. And then closer to where I am, there's Brega. And they made a push just as I was leaving Benghazi towards Brega, where they're now encountering difficulty with landmines, unfortunately. Hopefully, they can get through those.
"Now, I don't want to paint an overly rosy picture because there are also challenges inside the TNC-controlled area, and one of them is security. There was a security vacuum when the regime fell, and they had to stand up very quickly this organization called the TNC. The police, for the most part, just left their posts because they were afraid of popular reaction against them because they had committed abuses in the early days against the people. So there's hardly any police around, and because of that vacuum, militias started to form and step in.
"And so looking after the security of Benghazi and eastern Libya, you've got a lot of militias and a few police. And this had led to some security challenges that you've already read about and know about, I'm sure. And the TNC is working to address these problems. We've flagged the problems with them. The British, the French, other diplomatic missions there are sort of keeping the pressure on the TNC to get their arms around the militia problem so that they can provide better security as they try to move forward to Tripoli and hopefully to Qadhafi's departure."
You can read Mr. Stevens' complete remarks here.