October 18th, 2011
11:28 AM ET

Clinton arrives in Libya on unannounced visit

By Elise Labott

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Tripoli on Tuesday, making her the first Cabinet-level American official to visit Libya since the ouster of longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

She landed under tight security in a country where forces loyal to the transitional government are still battling Gadhafi loyalists. She was slated to meet with officials of the National Transitional Council and planned to offer U.S. medical assistance for those wounded in the fighting, according to a senior State Department official traveling with the secretary.

NTC fighters toppled Gadhafi's nearly 42-year-old government in August after six months of fighting. Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and his brother-in-law and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi are wanted on war crimes charges and remain fugitives.

Read the full story here


Filed under: Diplomacy • Hillary Clinton • Libya • NTC • Secretary of State
Know your surface-to-air missiles
October 17th, 2011
04:43 PM ET

The U.S. field guide to Libya's missing weapons

The U.S. has started distributing this "MANPADS Recognition Guide" to countries bordering Libya as part of the expanded effort to help track down and secure surface-to-air missles and related equipment that have been looted from Libyan weapons bunkers.  The document is being provided so border guards can more easily identify the different parts and prevent weapons smuggling.

The pamphlet has been distributed in various languages including English, Arabic and French.  Security Clearance was provided an English-language version of the pamphlet by the State Department.


Filed under: Algeria • Diplomacy • Egypt • Gadhafi • Libya • Morocco • NTC
Panetta says mission accomplished in Libya ... but not concluded
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at NATO headquarters (NATO photo)
October 6th, 2011
02:31 PM ET

Panetta says mission accomplished in Libya ... but not concluded

By CNN Senior National Security Producer Charley Keyes

The United States believes NATO has accomplished its mission in Libya, but the formal decision to end air attacks and other operations is still in the future, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.

After meeting NATO allies in Brussels, Panetta said the conclusion of Libyan operations depends on the safety of civilians, the remaining capability of toppled leader, Moammar Gadhafi, and whether opposition forces can provide security.

"The decisions there will depend a great deal on the recommendations of our commanders who I think will review all of those guidelines and come forward with their recommendations when the mission ought to conclude," Panetta said at a news conference Thursday. "But ultimately it is the decision of the political leaders there, all of the political leaders that are involved to make the decision when in fact the mission would come to an end."
FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadhafi • Libya • Middle East • Military • NATO • NTC • Panetta • Secretary of Defense
U.S. flag flies again in Tripoli
September 22nd, 2011
05:29 PM ET

U.S. flag flies again in Tripoli

By Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty on assignment in Tripoli, Libya

After an almost nine-month absence, Ambassador Gene Cretz is home in Tripoli, back at the residence he and his wife had to flee, under threat, after Wikileaks released diplomatic documents allegedly containing his blunt comments about Moammar Gadhafi's personal predilections.

"I left Libya suddenly last year under very difficult conditions" Cretz tells guests at an embassy flag-raising ceremony. "At that time I could not imagine I would be returning to a new, free Libya that is brimming with joy, optimism and new-found freedoms."

Gadhafi is in hiding. The revolutionary leadership, the National Transitional Council, is busy trying to form a government. Rebel forces are trying to take out the last Gadhafi strongholds of Bani Wali, Sirte and Sahba.

Ambassador Cretz stands at the podium set up in front of his residence - a cream-colored, red-tiled house that would not seem out of place in suburban Florida.  Two men raise the American flag to the strains of the U.S. National Anthem, followed by the jaunty melody of the new revolutionary national anthem. Libyans stand nearby in the shade of a tree, hands over hearts, and sing along. FULL POST

U.N. General Assembly: A viewer's guide
September 19th, 2011
07:34 AM ET

U.N. General Assembly: A viewer's guide

By CNN's Joe Vaccarello

World leaders converge on the United Nations in New York this week for the 66th annual session of the General Assembly. Of 193 member nations, South Sudan being newly inducted this past July, 121 heads of state and government are expected to attend the six-day event.

Here is a helpful Security Clearance viewer's guide to key events this week.

MONDAY

The U.N. kicks off events with a two-day first-ever high-level meeting on noncommunicable diseases that cumulatively kill three in five people worldwide. It will focus on combating cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is looking to "broker an international commitment that puts noncommunicable diseases high on the development agenda." FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Assad • Diplomacy • Foreign Policy • Gadhafi • Iran • Israel • Karzai • Libya • Middle East • NTC • Obama • Pakistan • Russia • Somalia • Syria • UN General Assembly • UN Security Council • United Nations
September 15th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Seeing the cost of revolution in Libya

By Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty on assignment in Tripoli, Libya

At Libya's largest hospital, the Tripoli Medical Center, the State Department's point man on Libya, Assistant Secretary of State for New Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, saw the price of revolution up close.

Accompanied by doctors, Feltman visited three rooms in which civilian men lay in hospital beds recuperating from gunshot wounds. Most of them had been hit by Gadhafi loyalist snipers. Feltman shook his head as the doctors described the indiscriminate nature of the attacks.

One man was standing on his roof shouting "Allahu Akbar!" ("God is great!"), they said, in support of the rebels. Another was standing in front of his house. When the doctors told Feltman that one man was shot with an anti-aircraft weapon, he seemed shocked.

Like many Libyans in the capital these days, the men flashed the rebel "v for victory" sign, even though the war is not over. Anti-Gadhafi forces still are fighting for control over three remaining Gadhafi strongholds of Bani Walid, Sirte and Sabha.

Leaving the hospital, Feltman told CNN he found the men "inspiring." FULL POST

Libya the new terrorist haven?
September 14th, 2011
02:51 PM ET

Libya the new terrorist haven?

By Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence

Terrorist groups are trying to set up for a long-term presence in Libya, a senior defense official said Wednesday, but American intelligence is not showing a mass movement into the country.

The official, who gave a briefing to reporters at the Pentagon on the condition that the official not be identified, said the fall of Moammar Gadhafi has unleashed some groups that were constrained during the Libyan leader's regime.

The official said terrorist groups "are playing it safe in the short term, but are trying to set up a footprint and network internally for the long haul." The official said terrorist groups now have more freedom to operate within Libya, and "we're concerned about it."

Because some of the terrorist groups were clearly anti-Ghadafi, the Gadhafi regime put its military and intelligence resources into clamping down on the groups, the official said. Now the regime has collapsed, and the NTC is more concerned with dealing with the remnants of that regime than keeping an eye on militant groups.

The official suggested that the United States is seeing some movement into Libya by outside militants, but "in the dozens," not on a large scale.
One reason for the militants' current low profile is the NATO presence. FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadhafi • Libya • NTC • Terrorism
Boots on ground in Libya, but not for combat
A window in the U.S. embassy in Tripoli was shattered during a raid by pro-Gadhafi supporters last May
September 12th, 2011
02:08 PM ET

Boots on ground in Libya, but not for combat

By Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty in Tripoli, Libya and Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughessy at the Pentagon

For the first time since the fall of the Gadhafi regime, US military troops are in Tripoli, Libya. The Defense Department sent in a four-member team to accompany State Department personel returning to Tripoli to assess the damage done to the US embassy since diplomats left earlier this year, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

"As I understand the embassy was pretty well trashed, and their trying to go back in and see if that facility is still usable, and if it is what needs to be done to bring it back on line," said Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon. A US diplomatic team currently is evaluating whether the embassy can be renovated and/or reconstructed or whether a new embassy will have to be built.

A CNN team, including Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty visited the Tripoli embassy on Monday and saw the extent of damage done during what one State Department official said was a 38-hour rampage by pro-Gadhafi suppoerters on May 1 and May 2. The CNN team saw two buildings which had been trashed, burned and ransacked. In one building the ambassador's office was stripped and vandalized.

The embassy had already been evacuated when it suspended activity in February after the revolution began in the spring. No classified information or sensitive materials were left behind. On the night of the attack the compound was protected by just five local guards who fled, the State Department official said.

The military assignment does not negate President Barack Obama's insistance at the begining of operations in Libya that the US will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground" as the four-member team are for diplomatic security, not combat.

He said the four troops arrived in Tripoli over the weekend with the State Department team and consist of two troops who are "explosive ordnance specialist, because one of the concerns was whether there was any presence of any kind of munitions there at the site, or any kind of hazards in that regard," Kirby said.

The other two are "general security."

Kirby said the four troops were not Marines, who traditionally assist the State Dept. with embassy security, but he didn't say which branch of the service the troops are with or if they will be wearing their uniforms.

Kirby did hint that they would be armed.

"There are no other security personnel with them, they are equipped and prepared to provide for their own defense," he said.

September 8th, 2011
06:05 PM ET

Source: US, Libyans do not have read on Gadhafi location

By Sr. State Department Producer Elise Labott

The United States does not know where ousted Libyan leader Moamar Gadhafi is and does not believe the National Transitional Council has a lock on his whereabouts either, a senior US official told CNN.

The U.S. does believe the former leader is still in Libya, the source said. The Libyans do seem to have a lock on where most of the sons are, according to the US official. Saif is believed to be in Sirte. Another son in is believed to be in Bani Walid. Mutassim is believed to be somewhere in the country, the official wasn't at his desk and didn't remember the name of the town, but it was not a familiar name. Khamis is believed to be dead.  FULL POST

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