On Libya Policy Trump Defers to Europe
In an article for the Washington Institute, Ben Fishman argues that rather than leaving the job to Europe, Washington can articulate a clear Libya policy at the September UN General Assembly meeting, thereby making a political deal more likely to achieve and enforce.
The Trump administration has yet to articulate a policy on Libya, as with many other second-tier issues. In April, the president said, “I do not see a role in Libya,” although he emphasized that getting rid of the Islamic State remained a priority. Nor has Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed Libya substantively. Three days after the Paris summit, the State Department spokesperson released a tepid endorsement, suggesting that the White House did not coordinate with the French government on Macron’s initiative. The statement read, “While the Libyan people must lead the process of achieving political reconciliation in their country, the international community plays an important role in supporting those efforts.” Similarly, the U.S. embassy to Libya, operating from Tunis, highlighted on August 10 that Ambassador Peter Bodde is engaged with Serraj and Haftar and had met both in the prior week in Tunis and Amman, respectively. Notably, the embassy stressed that the commander of U.S. Africa Command, Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, had not met with Haftar, an attempt to deny rumors that the U.S. military is working with Haftar and his forces.
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