Libyan-American Relations | Middle East Policy Council
The United States established diplomatic relations with Libya following the UN- supported declaration of independence in The U.S. has strategic interests . U.S.-LIBYA RELATIONS. The United States has a Libya maintains an embassy in the United States at Dahlia Street NW, Washington. The following chronology summarizes key events in the U.S.-Libyan relationship, as well as weapons inspection and dismantlement activities in Libya since its.
Our leadership also felt a duty to inspire peoples still under foreign rule, to challenge the powers that represented the old colonialism or practiced an updated neocolonialism. Like all Arab countries, we took the position that Israel was in the colonialist tradition, and we strongly opposed its domination over our Palestinian brethren.
Libya - Relations with the United States
We do not apologize for doing all we could to help them. Our concerns, moreover, were not limited to Arabs. We gave support to liberation movements that spanned the globe from Nicaragua to New Caledonia. We openly offered training camps for freedom fighters, and we helped them financially. Throughout this period, Colonel Qadhafi never concealed his conceptual disagreements with the West. This was also the era of the Cold War. Libyans certainly were not Communists; notwithstanding American accusations, we never had a common agenda with Moscow.
Washington, however, was mistaken in perceiving the occasions we and the Russians worked in tandem with a de facto political alliance. We did this by nationalizing our oil industry, helping to break the monopoly of the oil companies over worldwide pricing.
The policy that we saw as anticolonialism the industrial countries considered a deliberate attack. Moscow benefited by an increase in its own oil income and enjoyed the discomfort the policy caused to the West, but that was not our purpose. Our policy did not save the Soviet Union from ultimate collapse. It did, however, spur economic growth in Libya and the rest of the Arab world.
Reagan took the initiative by challenging the legal status of the Gulf of Sirte, abutting our coast, which Libya regarded as its territorial waters. Libya, of course, considered the Sixth Fleet an arm of Western colonialism.
He quickly found a pretext for a showdown.
The United States And Libya: From Confrontation To Normalization | Middle East Policy Council
Navy jets attached to the Sixth Fleet attacked and shot down two Libyan planes near our coast. The following year, Washington imposed an embargo on Libyan oil and prohibited sales of commercial airliners, calling without success for similar action by its European allies. At the same time, it leaked stories to the press that the Qadhafi regime would be overthrown and the leader assassinated. The American attacks reached a climax on April 15,in direct response to the bombing of a discotheque in West Berlin in which two Americans and a Turkish woman were killed.
Citing links to Libya, Reagan sent some planes to bomb the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi. Though targeted with care, the raid was not limited to military objectives; it killed 41 Libyans and injured another Among the targets was the Bab Al-Aziziya military barracks in Tripoli, where my family was living.
I was just a schoolboy then, but I well recall the thundering noise of the explosions. My two younger brothers, Al-Mutasem Billah, 11, and Hanibal, 10, came close to death when their bedroom collapsed around them. The chief mission of the raid, however, was to get to my father, whom Reagan had obviously decided to liquidate.
A Western journalist had been recruited to conduct interviews that would pinpoint his position. The leader of a friendly Arab state placed phone calls which were electronically monitored. Then, on December 21,Pan American flight blew up over Lockerbie in Scotland, killing people. President Reagan, whose term was to expire in a month, threatened to bomb Libya to rubble if conclusive evidence of its culpability were found.
Ten days later, without such evidence, the United States shot down two more Libyan planes over the Gulf of Sirte. This time Libya, to avoid offering a further pretext for military action, chose not to answer the attack.
Since then, however, the Lockerbie incident has been the central issue in Libyan-American relations. Libya has never accepted responsibility for Lockerbie, and, in the early days, talk in the international press and in legal circles focused on a variety of other suspects.
One of them was Iran, which the previous July had lost passengers in the downing of a commercial airliner by a missile from an American warship in the Persian Gulf. Syrians and Palestinians were also mentioned as potentially culpable. Western authorities were obviously baffled. But, more important, in the following year the Soviet Union fell, putting an end to the Cold War.
Libya did not join the Western coalition against Iraq, as many Arab states did, and it was not involved in the subsequent Madrid Conference, in which the United States sought to promote an Arab-Israeli peace settlement.
But he retained his long-held position that the parties were proceeding in the wrong fashion. He understands the two are allies. But he cannot imagine a peace that does not take into account legitimate Palestinian aspirations, and he is deeply concerned about the fate of the Palestinian refugees. He is convinced, moreover, that it is unwise to divide Palestine into two states, one of them subdivided into two segments, the West Bank and Gaza, both dominated by Israeli settlements.
He believes that such an arrangement, requiring a permanent link across unfriendly territory, must inevitably be the source of ongoing violence. He proposes that it be without weapons of mass destruction, open to the return of both Palestinians and Jews, and belong, among other security organizations, to the Arab League.
Such a state, he knows, would not fully meet the maximalist dreams of either people, but he believes it would be superior to the fractured sovereignty that has been on the international agenda since well before Madrid.
Libya–United States relations
A few weeks after the Madrid conference, Washington turned back to Lockerbie. Washington demanded that Libya surrender the suspects for trial in the United States or Britain. It also called on Libya to accept responsibility for the bombing, pay compensation to the families of the victims and renounce further terrorism.
Though Libya offered to try the men at home, Washington persuaded the United Nations to impose an embargo based on its demands. Only the second in U. To Libya, the action was perceived as prior condemnation. But it resolved not to submit to the conditions that Washington sought to impose. The lesson Libya conveyed was that its state could not be overturned nor its social order disrupted. The British were receptive to this logic, and to help win them over the leader provided them with data about the activities of the Irish Republican Army and with sales concessions in our domestic market.
To the French we offered special access to our oil fields. At the same time, Libya worked to shift international public opinion. Supportive resolutions challenging the U.
Libya re-established its diplomatic presence in Washington with the opening of an Interest Section on July 8,which was subsequently upgraded to a Liaison Office in December and to a full embassy on May 31, On May 15,the US State Department announced its intention to rescind Libya's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism in recognition of the fact that Libya had met the statutory requirements for such a move: Gene Cretz was nominated by President Bush as ambassador to Libya.
The Foreign Relations Committee of the U. Senate held Cretz's confirmation hearing on Wednesday, September 25, Limited services are available for U. Post-Gaddafi Libya present [ edit ] U. Citing the unstable and unpredictable security situation in Libya, the United States also warned its citizens to avoid travel to the country.
However, the optimism that U. For the next three decades relations went from bad to worse. Hostile relations between Libya and the United States reached their pinnacle in the s during the Reagan administration. Not only did the United States seek the overthrow of Qadhafi; it had also orchestrated attempts on his life. While the s were marked by an extreme hostility that resulted in direct attacks by the United States — the bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi being the prime example — the Lockerbie affair and issues of terrorism dominated U.
The Lockerbie bombing on December 21,was seen as Libyan retaliation for U. A year later, on September 19,the explosion of a French UTA airplane over Niger was also blamed on Libya by both the French and the British, who had conducted separate investigations. The UTA case was clearly the work of Libyan agents. However, although the three-year investigation of the Lockerbie attack pointed the finger at the Libyans, the case remained more controversial even after the conviction of two Libyans by a Scottish court in However small those reforms islahat launched inthey nonetheless indicated that the regime wished to change enough to preserve the political system and maintain the welfare state that benefited most Libyans.
Libyan refusal to hand over the suspects, while resting on valid legal grounds, stemmed also from fears that the suspects would put the blame for the bombing on Qadhafi himself.
- History of the U.S. and Libya
- U.S. Department of State
- The United States And Libya: From Confrontation To Normalization
Furthermore, the Libyans were convinced that the real U. Apparently, Britain assured Qadhafi that the evidence was only against Al-Meghrahi and Fhimah and not against senior members of the Libyan government.
The many-sided answers to this question have relevance to all the subsequent decisions that Libya has made since the s to normalize relations with the Western world, in general, and the United States, in particular. The deteriorating economic conditions were obviously an important factor. But there is no doubt that the U. Genesis of Normalization Undoubtedly, the United States agreed to hold the trial in the Netherlands because support for U. In fact, the imposition of sanctions upon various countries, coupled with attempts to apply rules of extraterritoriality to foreign companies doing business with so-called rogue states, faced strong resistance abroad and was failing miserably.
Crane R-IL worked on a proposed law. It would not do away with sanctions as a tool of foreign policy but would ensure that their adverse effects on the U. In exchange, the EU agreed to some restrictions.
This would certainly have weakened the usefulness of international sanctions, in general. Undoubtedly, this development is what enticed the U. A tripartite meeting between the U. This meeting, initiated by the United States,14 marked its first official direct diplomatic contacts with Libya in 18 years —— since diplomatic relations were severed in under the Reagan administration. Officials insisted that Libya had to fulfill other conditions: Obviously, from a Libyan perspective, it was unreasonable to impose such demands before a verdict had been rendered on the two accused.
The only exception to the sanctions was commercial sales of food, medicines and medical equipment, which the administration introduced in May as a result of the sanctions reforms.
It had its own track and its own dynamic. Indeed, the United States resisted attempts to allow the lifting of UN sanctions. Disregarding the improved relations between Libya and the EU, including the United Kingdom, which in July reestablished diplomatic relations that had been broken since ,21 the United States threatened to impose its veto in the Security Council.
Neumann recognized that, unlike the United States, Much of the world has been quick to welcome Libya back into the community of nations.