US ponders reopening embassy in Tripoli, consulate in Benghazi and intelligence sharing with Libya
A new diplomatic and military policy for Libya that could significantly expand US involvement in the country could be finalized by the Trump administration in the next few weeks, according to two US officials, the CNN reported.
The policy, if approved, would aim to further the existing US goal of supporting reconciliation between rival factions in eastern and western areas of Libya. The policy could also lead to the eventual re-opening of the US embassy and the establishing of a new intelligence sharing effort led by US special forces, according to the officials, according to CNN.
If approved, this would be the latest country in which President Donald Trump is expanding the US counterterrorism effort.
The new approach could lead to more regular visits to Libya by diplomatic personnel, including the US ambassador, who has not been stationed in the country because of the unstable situation, the CNN added.
The US is also considering re-establishing a presence in Benghazi after a 2012 attack that killed four Americans — and also re-establishing a coordination center for some US forces and Libyan officials to facilitate counterterrorist intelligence sharing. US troops could also carry out a training and advisory role in conjunction with Libyan forces, CNN explained.
It’s also expected that if approved, up to 50 US special operations troops could be sent to Libya on a rotating basis to share counterintelligence information, added CNN.
Officials caution all of this could take months to implement and intelligence sharing and training efforts in Somalia are seen as the model for the new policy. Small teams of US military and intelligence personnel have gone in and out of Libya in recent years for just a few days at a time to meet and share information with Libyan counterparts, the CNN wrote.
But it is significant that a more permanent US presence is being considered for the first time since the US closed its embassy in Tripoli in 2014 after the situation deteriorated following the 2012 attack at the US compound in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
While the intelligence sharing would largely focus on counterterrorism, the US is likely to provide assistance to Libya to address the migration crisis in the country, CNN concluded.
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