Experts Call for Greater U.S.-Libya Engagement

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) is pleased to announce the release, in collaboration with the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council and Freedom House, of a policy letter addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry which lays out a series of five policy recommendations for increased U.S. engagement in Libya. The letter received the endorsement of 28 leading foreign policy analysts, former United States diplomats, NGO leaders, and prominent members of the Libyan community calling for the United States to reaffirm and increase its engagement with Libya and bolster support for its transition to democracy. In the year since the tragic death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was widely respected as a champion of serious U.S. commitment to Libya and broad engagement with its people, efforts of the United States in Libya have understandably focused on bringing those responsible to justice and on strengthening diplomatic security. Yet this has come at an inadvertent cost: a year of limited engagement with Libya during a critical stage of its transition.

With this in mind, the United States must develop “an effective strategy for both the long- and short-term.” The signatories contend, “Ultimately, it is up to the people of Libya to fulfill the promise of their revolution, but the United States has an essential supporting role to play.”

Among the letter’s recommendations, we call on the U.S. administration to:

•   support the recently announced National Dialogue initiative to ensure that it empowers a diverse array of voices—not only political elites—and incorporates extensive outreach to each region
•   pledge support and expertise for the constitution writing process
•   expand cooperation and funding to address justice and security sector reform
•   increase diplomatic engagement and public advocacy, including a visit by Secretary Kerry
•   encourage the Libyan Government to resolve contract disputes and sign OPIC and Ex-Im agreements

The letter includes signatories from a range of backgrounds, including three former U.S. Ambassadors – David Mack, Charles Cecil, and Michael Ussery; Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of the New American Foundation; Ellen Lust, Associate Professor at Yale University; Rihab Elhaj, President of the New Libya Foundation; and Christopher J. Griffin, Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative.

This policy letter was coordinated by the Libya Working Group, which is co-chaired by the Atlantic Council, Freedom House, and the Project on Middle East Democracy. The Libya Working Group convenes individuals from think tanks, NGOs, multinationals, and business associations to discuss developments in Libya and policy responses.