April 18-25 Trump does not see a US role in Libya

Apr 25, 2017 | International actors

On 20 April, in a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paulo Gentiloni at the White House, US President Donald Trump said, “I do not see a role in Libya. I think the United States has right now enough roles”. This was one of Trump’s first public remarks about Libya since taking office and followed comments by Gentolini that the US role in Libya is critical for ensuring political stability. However, Trump said the US would continue to play a major role in ridding the world of the Islamic State (ISIS), including in Libya.

On 23 April, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated during a press conference in Djibouti that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and other UN representatives have found a suitable candidate to nominate as UN Special Envoy to Libya. This follows a US veto in February on the appointment of former Palestinian prime minister Salam al-Fayyad to the position. Mattis also said that successes would not be guaranteed if the United States focused exclusively on counterterrorism. Mattis said, “We all are aware that there’s disarray in the unity government, and until you straighten that out, there’s going to be a lot of transient successes if you try and just do counterterrorism.”

On 20 April, UN Special Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler told the UN Security Council (UNSC) that the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) had been blurred, adding that the major risk came now from internal conflict and the growth of militias in the continuing power vacuum. Kobler reiterated that the LPA was the only option and is open to amendment by Libyans, but stressed that, “There is no alternative, there is no plan B. And there is no need for one.”  He added that the international community needed to move beyond policies of containment, noting that although issues such as border security, migration and terrorism must be addressed, these are symptoms not the causes of the current crisis.

On 19 April, a delegation headed by wealthy Misratan tycoon Abdul Hamid Dbaiba and comprising mainly Misratan military figures working under the GNA, made an official visit to Moscow to meet with representatives from the Russian foreign ministry and parliament. The delegation included Mohammed al-Ghosri, the GNA’s spokesperson for the MoD, Colonel Abu Shahma, nominated by the GNA as military governor for Sirte, and Ben Rajab, head of Misrata Military Council.