Blinken: Washington Actively Working to Re-establish Diplomatic Presence in Libya


On Wednesday, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said that Washington is “actively” working on re-establishing a diplomatic presence in Libya.

“I can’t give you a timetable other than to say that this is something we’re very actively working on. I want to see us be able to re-establish an ongoing presence in Libya,” Blinken said at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. He did not provide any details on the active work he referred to.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Barbara Leaf is currently touring the region, traveling to Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, and Tunisia, between 15-25 March.

In Libya, Leaf will meet with senior officials “to underscore US support for UN-facilitated efforts to promote consensus leading to elections in 2023”.

“There’s also an important moment where, through the work of the UN Envoy, there may be, and I emphasise may be, a path forward to moving Libya in a better direction including getting elections for a legitimate government. Our diplomats are deeply engaged in that,” Blinken added.

Libya has had little peace since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising, that ousted Muammar Gaddafi. It split in 2014 between rival eastern and western factions, with the last major bout of conflict ending in 2020 with a ceasefire.

Washington shut its embassy in Tripoli in 2014, and moved its mission to neighbouring Tunis following intensifying violence between rival parties. US Special Envoy for Libya, Richard Norland has operated out of the Tunisian capital, taking frequent trips into Libya.

A September 2012 assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi, since closed, killed four Americans including the then US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

The OPEC member country has been locked in a political stalemate since late 2021, when scheduled elections were postponed due to legal disputes. The eastern-based Libyan Parliament subsequently withdrew support from the interim government.

Peacemaking efforts have focused on getting the Parliament and the High State Council (HCS) to agree on a constitutional basis for elections and voting rules.