US Senators introduce bill in support of diplomatic solution to the Libya crisis
On 21 November, members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee – Chris Coons, Lindsey Graham, Chris Murphy, and Marco Rubio – introduced a piece of legislation called ‘the Libya Stabilization Act’ which attempts to clarify and enhance US policy in support of a diplomatic resolution to the Libyan crisis. The proposed bill would see the creation of a report on foreign government involvement in the crisis, require a strategy to counter Russian influence, see sanctions placed on individuals considered to be furthering the conflict, and marshal humanitarian assistance and economic reform to support the Libyan people. The document also calls for the appointment of ‘US Special Envoy for Libya’ to coordinate with other foreign governments and international entities to advance ‘a sustainable diplomatic solution to the conflict in Libya.’
This bipartisan bill has been introduced in both the House (this took place in October) and the Senate, but it has not yet been debated or passed in either. If it is passed, most of the provisions within the bill will likely require several months to be implemented, likely longer for the process of sanctioning specific actors. This Senate version of the bill is very similar to the House version, and both are in lock step with UNSMIL’s approach of late. It has bipartisan support and may be passed without debate.
This bill is likely to be a negative blow for the Libyan National Army (LNA)’s hopes of winning the US over to its side of the conflict and its push for a military solution to the crisis. However, it should not necessarily be seen as an overt political move in favour of the GNA as many of the sanctionable actions identified in the bill will also apply to forces aligned to the Government of National Accord (GNA), as well as GNA officials and their international allies. In addition, while this bill clearly advocates a political approach to solving the Libya crisis and will likely strengthen the perception among Libyans and internationals that the US is more willing to seriously engage on Libya in the coming months, the bill is primarily symbolic and meant to deter Russia rather than to compel any specific US action. This bill should be seen more as a step towards consolidating and clarifying misperceptions about US policy towards Libya.