Embattled Libyan government announces surprise visit by CIA director

THE GOVERNMENT OF WAR-torn Libya announced on Thursday that William Burns, director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was in capital Tripoli for discussions with senior Libyan officials. By visiting Tripoli, Burns became the highest-ranking American government official to travel to the North African country under the presidency of Joe Biden.

According to reports in the Libyan media, Burns spent most of Thursday in Tripoli, where he met with Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, a controversial businessman who is serving as prime minister in the Government of National Unity (GNU). Burns also met with GNU Minister of Foreign Affairs Najla al-Mangoush, as well as with Hussein al-Ayeb, who leads the GNU’s intelligence agency. The CIA director also met with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar (pictured), head of the Libyan National Army (LNA). The LNA nominally supports the GNU’s rival government in eastern Libya, the Government of National Stability (GNS). However, Haftar is seen by many as Libya’s de facto strongman. Notably, Burns did not meet with Fathi Bashagha, the self-styled ‘prime minister’ of the GNS, which, unlike the GNU, is not recognized by the United Nations, but is supported by a number of regional powers, including NATO member Turkey.

Al-Monitor reported that the subject of the GNU’s relations with Russia was high on the agenda during Burns’ visit, as was the subject of Libya’s energy exports to Europe. Counterterrorism was also discussed, which is unsurprising, given that last month the GNU surrendered Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi to American authorities. Washington alleges that Al-Marimi was involved in the 1988 downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which was conceived and plotted by the regime of the late Colonel Moammar al-Gadhafi. The move was seen as an attempt by the GNU to strengthen relations with Washington, in light of the challenge it faces from the GNS and the LNA.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 13 January 2023 | Permalink

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