Thursday, 18 November 2010

Relations between Libya and the US strained again

The relations between Libya and the US have again been upset by minor events. The expulsion of a US diplomat has, according to sources in Tripoli, been carried through. The declaration of the diplomat as persona non grata is a small affair and seems to have been designed to embarrass the Americans and the Libyan authorities. US representation in Libya is already under par and is struggling to make a position for itself, despite the lukewarm treatment of Libya by the Obama Administration.

The tourism sector has received a considerable boost with the easing of visa restrictions for American visitors. Regular international cruise companies are once again calling into Libya to see key historic sites.

The US also courted animosity from the Libyans during the UN Human Rights Council meeting where the US spokesman decried the poor treatment of detainees and the torture which is widely reported as basic to the system of control at the Abu Selim prison and its offshoots.

In all the information circulating in the foreign and domestic media in the last week has tended to confirm US opinion that Libya has not yet qualified as an acceptable ally and for as long as petty infringements are magnified in the US State Department this position is unlikely to change.

The foreign business community might gain some confidence from the promised start of exploration operations by the major international oil companies, but without political acceptance of the Libyan regime by Washington, real progress by the US private sector in development will be inhibited.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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