The U.S. Senate approved the nomination of a new U.S. ambassador to
Libya late Thursday, making it the first time in 36 years that the United
States will have an ambassador in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Putting a
U.S. ambassador in Libya marks the culmination of a long road towards
diplomatic normalcy between the two nations, as Edward Yeranian reports
The Senate's confirmation of career diplomat Gene
Cretz as the new U.S. ambassador to Libya culminates a long process of
healing and a rapprochement between two nations.
Here in the
Arab world, many observers are watching the re-establishment of
diplomatic relations between the United States and Libya, followed by
the Senate approval of a new ambassador to Tripoli-the first in 36
years with caution and mixed feelings.
Hisham Youssef, who
heads the Cabinet of Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, says
that the League is pleased by the improving relations between the
United States and Libya.
"We welcome advancing relations between
Libya and the United States and on the basis of agreements that they
have had in the last several months and advancing the relations is
something that we look at in a very positive and constructive way," he
Youssef is, nevertheless, a bit skeptical about the
importance of the U.S. move to confirm Cretz, due to a backdrop of
tense relations between the outgoing Bush administration and the Arab
world, in general.
"Well, improving relations with the whole of
the Arab world requires much more than having an ambassador in Libya
and this is why people are looking forward to the policies that will be
adopted by the new [Obama] administration," he said.
critics of the move in the Arab world, like political analyst and
columnist for Beirut's Daily Star newspaper Rami Khouri, also think
that the Bush administration is improving relations with Libya for all
the wrong reasons.
"I'm a little bit cynical about it," he said.
"I think this deal that the Libyans and the Americans and the West made
strikes me as incomplete because they gave up their nuclear industry in
return for having normal relations. They paid a lot of money to
compensate families of the victims of the bombings."
Libya is still an autocratic place which is very tightly run and the
West is very happy to have relations with it and make money from oil
and contracts and stuff like that. So, I'm a bit critical of how the
West would completely ignore the internal conditions and the nature of
the regime, especially a regime that talks about promoting freedom and
democracy as Bush has been. To do this kind of deal strikes me as
materialistic expediency at its worst," he added.
Colonel Moammar Gadhafi began to improve ties with Washington in 2003
after renouncing terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. That
process came to a head this year, after Libya agreed on a plan to
compensate families of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over
Lockerbie, Scotland and the 1986 bombing of the Berlin discoteque, La
Belle, in which two US serviceman were killed, and dozens wounded.
of State Condoleezza Rice met with Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of the
Libyan leader, Thursday, on the heels of the Senate approval of Cretz.