News / Middle East

Libyan Envoy: Building Army is Key to Security

Libyan security forces stand guard at a checkpoint on the highway leading to downtown Benghazi, Libya, Feb. 15, 2013. Libyans are preparing to mark the second anniversary of the uprising that ousted Moammar Gadhafi.
Libyan security forces stand guard at a checkpoint on the highway leading to downtown Benghazi, Libya, Feb. 15, 2013. Libyans are preparing to mark the second anniversary of the uprising that ousted Moammar Gadhafi.
Mohamed ElshinnawiKate Woodsome
Libya is marking two years since the birth of the uprising that ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi, an anniversary marred by persistent insecurity across the country. The Libyan ambassador to the United States acknowledged the challenges his country faces in an exclusive interview with VOA, but said he is still optimistic about the future.

Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali said the greatest challenge is building an official Libyan army, which did not exist during the 42 years Gadhafi ruled the country. The former leader used brigades to protect his family and his people, and what has taken their place is a patchwork of armed men carving out their own version of security.
 
“The problem is how we’re going to absorb them in the government under different umbrellas,” Aujali said. “Not all of them want to be in the army, or they want to be in the police forces, or they want to be in security service. Some of them, they are civilians who just found themselves fighting the brutal regime during the revolution.”
Libyan Ambassador to the U.S. Ali Suleiman Aujali at his Washington office, Feb 2013.Libyan Ambassador to the U.S. Ali Suleiman Aujali at his Washington office, Feb 2013.
x
Libyan Ambassador to the U.S. Ali Suleiman Aujali at his Washington office, Feb 2013.
Libyan Ambassador to the U.S. Ali Suleiman Aujali at his Washington office, Feb 2013.

The ambassador said the new Libyan government wants to work with the fighting groups, to train and educate them.

“We have these freedom fighters, or what you call them, the young revolutionaries. They are the one who’s taking care of the security of Libya and the border, and they are not a problem to us because we need them at this time,” he said.

On Friday, Libyan leaders urged people to stay calm and even cancelled some demonstrations planned to mark the anniversary of the uprising, which began on February 17, 2011.

In the past two years since Gadhafi was killed by protesters, a new government has come to power and re-established Libya’s links with the rest of the world.

But the thrill of life without Gadhafi has turned to worry that the country has traded one set of problems for another. The oil-rich country is still economically destitute and lacks a constitution. Militia fighters are roaming the streets of the south, while extremists make inroads in the east, where an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi killed four people last year, including the U.S. ambassador.

The Libyan ambassador in Washington acknowledged the problems.

“We have to build our security. Without our security, we cannot build our country. This is priority number one,” he said.

Aujali added that he thought the government was doing a good job integrating some former fighters into different sectors, offering them educational scholarships and medical treatment. He noted other gains, too.

“We elected our government, the transitional government. I think this is an achievement. The oil production now it has reached the level before the revolution,” he said.

What the government hasn’t done is pass a new constitution, a process that has proven extremely difficult in post-revolutionary Egypt.

But the Libyan ambassador dismissed any comparisons to Egypt, saying they are different societies.

“I am very optimistic about the drafting of the new constitution, but I think maybe we should take the right time to draft it. We should not be in a hurry,” he said.

There are no signs that anyone is hurrying.

Two years since Libya’s transitional leaders promised a new constitution, the General National Congress approved a committee on Wednesday that will write the law that will govern the election that will choose the committee that will draft the new constitution.

Once all those steps happen, Aujali said the process should “not take a very long time” because most of the articles in the old constitution "can still serve us well after more than 40 years."

He said Libyans have been quick to adapt to the new reality of life after Gadhafi.

“It doesn’t take us time to find the right flag. It doesn’t take time at all to have the [new] national anthem. We just need to make some necessary changes in some paragraphs in the anthem and then we sing all together the same anthem we sang since 1951,” he said.

The ambassador appealed for patience, and for help from the international community.
President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address Feb. 12, 2013.President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address Feb. 12, 2013.
x
President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address Feb. 12, 2013.
President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address Feb. 12, 2013.

U.S. President Barack Obama pledged in his State of the Union address last Tuesday that the United States would help Libya provide for its own security. He offered few details about what that meant.

The Libyan ambassador to the U.S. also provided few details about Tripoli’s relationship with Washington.

“I think the Americans are committed to help Libya by training, by technology, which is really important in this small population,” he said. “I think they are committed and they want to see Libya do well.”

Representatives from Libya, the U.S. and other Western and Arab nations gathered in Paris on Tuesday to discuss the future of Libya. At the Support Libya conference, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said they had agreed to the “the rapid deployment of European experts” to train and rebuild the army, navy and air force.”

With both freedom and security, Libya has a future, said Aujali.

"If you are free, then you can create and you can create a hope and you can dream, and your dreams come true.”

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More