By Jim Kouri
The Obama Administration’s celebration of the killing of Libyan dictator Moamar Khadhafi by rebel fighters is expected to result in a financial bonanza for that war-torn nation’s fledgling government. During a meeting with leaders from the National Transitional Council yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that the United States will help rebuild post-Khadhafi Libya.
Secretary Clinton secretly flew to Libya for security reasons to meet with officials from Libya’s interim government in Tripoli the day before Khadhafi’s death. She told the leaders at the time that they are welcomed by the United States and the U.S. government officials will review Libya’s needs as it moves forward towards a democracy.
“This is Libya’s moment. This is Libya’s victory. And the future belongs to you,” Clinton said during a press conference for U.S. and foreign journalists in the Libyan capital.
“I am pleased to announce that we are going to put even more money into helping Libya secure and destroy dangerous stockpiles of weapons,” she said.
She then pledged to give the fledgling Libyan democracy $40 million to support the new government’s efforts in addition to cash and assistance in rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.
Clinton discussed the need to destroy chemical weapons believed to be possessed by the fallen leadership of Khadhafi. In addition, she stressed the importance of unifying the separate militias and groups under one command and that it should be controlled by the civilian government.
She urged the commanding officers of all Libyan militia to “see the benefit of joining the new government.”
The Secretary of State also said that Washington will extend economic cooperation with Tripoli, enhance educational and cultural exchanges as well as civil society engagement. Clinton also promised to transport the seriously wounded to hospitals within the U.S.
However, after all the promises made on behalf of the American people, Clinton could not get a solid answer on the question of the Lockerbie terrorist attack or on the status of the only man convicted for the deadly air crash.
Last month, NTC officials said that Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the main convict of the bombing in 1988 which killed 270 civilians (mostly Americans) aboard a plane over Scotland, was not to be put on trial again as the case is already closed,
While Clinton stressed that the United States believes that al-Megrahi should have never been freed, she stopped short of insisting the NTC turn him over to the U.S. government.
However, Clinton did say that the United States will continue pursue the justice for the victims, and that Lockerbie is “still an open case.”
While President Barack Obama and many in Washington, D.C., are optimistic about Libya’s future, many within the intelligence, military and law enforcement communities are less enthusiastic.
“This is typical ‘progressive’ politics: Obama and Clinton are quite generous with other people’s money. So what if it ends up in the hands of terrorists? It’s happened before when millions of dollars were given to the Palestinians only to end up in the hands of Hamas or other terrorist group,” argues former police commander and military intelligence officer Donald Sumner.
“We played a minimal role in this ‘war’ and yet here we are promising millions of taxpayer dollars to people we’re not even sure about,” said political strategist Mike Baker.
“With our economy in virtual turmoil, how many nations are we going to rebuild… or help to rebuild?” Baker asked rhetorically.
In addition, many counterterrorism experts are suspicious of some of the Libyans involved in the overthrow and killing of Khadhafi, since Libya was a well-known terrorist recruiting base. They are also concerned with the Libyan dictator’s cache of weapons, including chemical weapons, falling into the wrong hands.
For example, in December 2007, an in-depth study by West Point Military Academy authors Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman, found that Saudi Arabia took first place as far as the numbers of terrorists sent to combat the United States and other coalition members in Iraq. Libya, a country less than one fourth as populous as the Saudi Kingdom, took second place. Saudi Arabia sent 41% of the fighters, while, according to Felter and Fishman, “Libya was the next most common country of origin, with 18.8% (112) of the fighters listing their nationality as Libyan.”