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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Peter William Bodde confirmed by US Senate as US ambassador to Libya

The United States Senate has confirmed Obama's choice as US Ambassador to Libya, Peter William Bodde. He will work out of Tunis, the capital of neighboring Tunisia.
The U.S. embassy in Tripoli has been closed for security reasons for some time. In September 2012, an attack in Benghazi, where the U.S. had a consular office, killed then-Ambassador Chris Stevens along with four other Americans. The attack was believed to be by the radical Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia. For security reasons, U.S. diplomatic work is done from Tunis. There was no U.S. ambassador to Libya after the killing of Stevens until Deborah Jones was appointed in May of 2013.
Bodde had been serving as ambassador to Nepal since 2012, but before that he had been assistant chief of mission at the US Embassy in Baghdad. The vote in the Senate approved Bodde by a vote of 95 for to 0 against. Bodde was nominated by Obama back in July.
In other Libya news, a Libyan-American group has filed a complaint against the UN demanding it investigate circumstances surrounding the hiring of Bernardino Leon, the former UN Special Envoy to Libya. The Tripoli-based General National Congress has already demanded an explanation of the UN's actions given Leon had an obvious conflict of interest. A Washington Post article reports:Emadeddin Muntasser, co-founder of the Libyan American Public Affairs Council, told The Associated Press that Leon’s actions, including negotiating the high-paying job with the UAE while serving as mediator between Libya’s rival governments, “threaten the future of Libya.”Leon has insisted there was no conflict of interest and the UN knew of his negotiations for the UAE job paying over $1,500 a day. He accepted the job back in June and was negotiating an increase in housing allowances over the summer. The GNC has pointed out that Leon had refused to make amendments it suggested to his final draft. While he claimed amendments were not possible, he amended the document himself.
Recently, Leon has said he is reconsidering acceptance of the position until he has clarification of charges that the UAE shipped arms to the House of Representatives(HoR) government to aid their commander Khalifa Haftar — who has been carrying of a military operation against Islamists, including the GNC forces, since May of 2014. There is a UN ban on sending arms to Libya. Abdulgader al-Huwali, head of the political affairs committee of the GNC claims his organization will issue a statement to the UN that they will refuse to recognize Martin Kobler, Leon's replacement as UN Special Envoy to Libya unless the UN opens a "transparent investigation" into the hiring of Leon. Kobler says that he wants to restart the dialogue based upon work that he already been done.


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