Libyan-American Relations | Middle East Policy Council
officials argued that broader normalization of U.S.-Libyan relations This report provides background information on Libya and U.S.-Libyan. Major anti-government protests broke out in Libya on February 15 and have since intensified, eliciting violent government responses. normalization of U.S.-Libyan relations would provide opportunities for the United provides background information on Libya and U.S.-Libyan.
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. 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.
Libya–United States relations - Wikipedia
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. The changed climate had largely isolated the United States.
Libya, however, was not totally satisfied with the ensuing arrangements. Washington insisted that the U. It also left intact the diverse sanctions imposed in the s by President Reagan, holding that it would reconsider them only after the trial.
Qadhafi protested that the temporary and partial nature of the relief violated the intent of the United Nations. Though he saw the agreement as representing progress, it was a small step indeed toward ending the mutual antagonism between the two countries.
Britain, in contrast, agreed, once the terms of the trial were set, to the restoration of normal relations. So did France, with which Libya cooperated fully in the investigation and later in the trial in Paris of suspects in the bombing of a French airliner, which took place in the same year as the Lockerbie episode. Both now have embassies in the Libyan capital. The arrangement that all accepted provided for a trial to be conducted by Scottish judges, under Scottish law, on a former airbase in the Netherlands.
The suspects, delivered to the Hague, were locked up in a prison that surprised us by its level of comfort. But the trial that followed was surely one of the strangest in British history. Libya cooperated in the Scottish investigation, as it had promised in the agreement. The team interrogated 13 Libyans in Octoberand 59 in June It was also given whatever documents it requested. The Scots acknowledged they received full cooperation from the Libyan authorities.
We Libyans acknowledged that the proceedings were conducted scrupulously by the Scottish judges. We had more reservations about the defense lawyers, both Libyan and Scottish, who had been chosen by the suspects but whose effectiveness was questionable. These considerations, however, were secondary to the verdict, which, according to a consensus of experts and observers, corresponded poorly with the facts that the prosecutors presented.
The verdict, to say the least, was puzzling. The evidence, according to this consensus, did not lay to rest the possibility that the plane was destroyed by a totally different scenario, directed by other culprits. Indeed, at the end, the hypotheses seemed as plausible as any claims of Libyan involvement. To obtain a conviction, the prosecution had to prove that the two suspects acted in concert to blow up the Pan Am plane. But one conclusion was indisputable: Many Western specialists were surprised that the verdict was not overturned on appeal.
The spokesman for the British crash victims — but not the American victims — rejected the culpability of both of the accused. Like all Libyans, so did the leader. Though further appeals remain under British law, Libya had pledged under the original agreement to accept the verdict, and it will honor the pledge. Both events are regarded as accidents. Libya rejects compensation based on intentional destruction, insisting the circumstances surrounding the Lockerbie crash are too uncertain to justify punitive damages.
It includes provision for compensating the families of the Libyan victims of the American raids in on Tripoli and Benghazi. Libya has not forgotten these deaths or the conviction that the parties responsible should be put on trial.
We Libyans recognize Lockerbie as a terrible tragedy, which we deeply regret. Libya sees the tragedy, however, not in isolation but within the context of international conflict, for which overall blame is widely shared. For this reason, Libya considers it proper for a range of governments, as well as international businesses, to contribute to the fund.
In fact, several large companies, a number of them American, have made generous offers already. We also consider it vital for America, at this point, to release for deposit to the fund Libyan money frozen during the Reagan era.
The survivors must agree to a formula for the allocation, and, once the money is disbursed, the file must be closed. It is not unreasonable to hold that Libya wants no repetition of such suits in a Lockerbie settlement.
This applies particularly to the United States itself. Its name must be removed from the list of states that sponsor terrorism. Its citizens must no longer be singled out for discrimination in obtaining American visas. Though Lockerbie hangs over both our countries like a dark cloud, the United States has told us it is amenable to restoring normal relations. It says it has no hidden agenda, that it is ready to open the door to dialogue. The last barrier between us is the compensation question, and the framework of a resolution is clear.
We recognize that America is faced with domestic political pressures, but so is Libya. We are ready to get on with more vital concerns, so long as Washington is willing to join us. We cannot fulfill the conditions of reconciliation without a certainty that Washington will do the same. Our shoreline, which America challenged during the Cold War, has become center court in a worldwide antiterrorist contest.
We have announced full compliance with U. Security Council resolutionsandwhich commit us to desist from any future terrorism. In the new millennium, the old disputes have given way to a shared Libyan-American strategy against an international enemy. Indeed, times have changed. Not only is there no more Cold War; the old liberation movements have faded.
The Palestinians have a legal and recognized authority to represent them. Moreover, in an age of globalization, Libya recognizes the advantages enjoyed by large states, as well as regional trading blocs, and it has taken a stand — in Chechnya, Chad and the Philippines, for example — against secessionist strategies, even if they are Islamic.
Libya now urges liberation movements to turn to diplomacy and democracy to satisfy their objectives. Let me cite one further shadow on the horizon. Interest Section in Tripoli on February 8, The mission was upgraded to a U. Liaison Office on June 28,and to a full embassy on May 31, The establishment in of an American School in Tripoli demonstrates the increased presence of Americans in Libya, and the continuing normalization of bilateral relations.
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.