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Monday, December 19, 2011

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy

Christopher M. Blanchard
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs

After more than 40 years of authoritarian repression and eight months of armed conflict, fundamental political change has come to Libya. The killing of Muammar al Qadhafi on October 20 and the declaration of Libya’s liberation by the interim Transitional National Council on October 23 marked the end of the Libyan people’s armed revolt and the formal beginning of the country’s transition to a new political order. Overcoming the legacy of Qadhafi’s rule and the effects of the recent fighting is now the principal challenge for the Libyan people, the TNC, and the international community. The transition period may prove to be as complex and challenging for Libyans and their international counterparts as the recent conflict. Immediate tasks include establishing and maintaining security, preventing criminality and reprisals, restarting Libya’s economy, and taking the first steps in a planned transition to democratic governance. In the coming weeks and months, Libyans will face key questions about basic terms for transitional justice, a new constitutional order, political participation, and Libyan foreign policy. Security challenges, significant investment needs, and vigorous political debates are now emerging.

Operation Unified Protector, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military operation to enforce the United Nations (U.N.) mandated no-fly zone and civilian protection mission, ended on October 31, in line with Security Council Resolution 2016. The proliferation of military weaponry from unsecured Libyan stockpiles—including small arms, explosives, and shoulderfired anti-aircraft missiles—remains a serious concern in Libya and in neighboring countries, and the Security Council adopted Resolution 2017 to deal specifically with that threat. The Obama Administration is implementing a program with the TNC to retrieve and disable certain types of weapons, including shoulder-fired surface to air missiles. U.S. officials have stated that nuclear materials and chemical weapons components (including newly discovered/previously undeclared chemical weapons) remain secure. Libyan officials have reengaged with international monitors. The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli has reopened with a limited staff. Congress may consider proposals for assisting Libya’s transitional authorities.

The U.N. General Assembly has recognized the TNC as Libya’s U.N. representative, and the Security Council has extended the mandate to March 2012 for the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to assist Libyans with public security and transition arrangements. Resolutions 2009 and 2016 also set conditions for the sale of arms and training to the Libyan government and partially lift the U.N. mandated asset freeze for certain purposes. The TNC continues to call for the release of Libyan assets seized pursuant to Resolutions 1970 and 1973. Transfers of assets have begun from multiple governments, including $1.5 billion in previously blocked assets that the U.S. government has arranged to support Libyan humanitarian, fuel, and salary needs. U.S. Treasury Department licenses now authorize the release of assets belonging to some Libyan entities and allow new transactions with some Libyan state institutions, including oil companies.

A TNC stabilization team is leading Libyan efforts to deliver services; assess reconstruction needs; and begin to reform ministries, public utilities, and security forces. The TNC has issued orders concerning security and established a high security council to coordinate militia forces. Initial reports from Libya suggest that local militias and some emergent political groups may oppose certain TNC policies and seek to maintain their armed status during the transition period. In spite of sporadic low-level conflict and serious government capacity gaps, TNC officials remain confident in Libyan unity, and Interim Prime Minister Abderrahim al Kib swore in an interim government on November 24. As Libyans work to shape their future, Congress and the Administration have the first opportunity to fully redefine U.S.-Libyan relations since the 1960s.

Date of Report:
December 8, 2011
Number of Pages:
Order Number: RL3
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Lord’s Resistance Army: The U.S. Response

Alexis Arieff
Analyst in African Affairs

Lauren Ploch
Specialist in African Affairs

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, is a small, dispersed armed group in central Africa that originated 24 years ago in Uganda. It has drawn the attention of Members of Congress and other U.S. policymakers due to its infliction of widespread human suffering and its potential threat to regional stability. The group is infamous for its brutal attacks on civilians and mass abductions of children. Despite its Ugandan origins, the LRA currently operates in remote regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan. When the LRA was based in northern Uganda, the United States provided humanitarian relief and aid for reconciliation and recovery in the war-torn region. As the LRA has moved across central Africa, the United States has taken a more active role in countering its impact. Since 2008, the United States has supported regional operations led by the Ugandan military to capture or kill LRA leaders. The United States has also extended humanitarian aid, pursued regional diplomacy, and pushed for “early-warning” systems and multilateral programs to demobilize and reintegrate ex-LRA combatants. U.S. involvement has been spurred by human rights advocacy and by Uganda’s role as a regional security partner of the United States. The LRA is on the State Department’s “Terrorist Exclusion List,” and Kony is a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.” Draft legislation before the 112th Congress includes H.R. 895, H.Res. 465, S. 1601, and S. 1867.

In May 2010, Congress enacted the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act (P.L. 111-172), which required the Obama Administration to submit to Congress a “strategy” to “guide future United States support ... for viable multilateral efforts to mitigate and eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability” posed by the LRA. The Administration’s policy response, submitted in November 2010, stresses the protection of civilians, the “removal” of top LRA commanders, the promotion of LRA desertions, and the provision of humanitarian relief. On October 14, 2011, the President reported to Congress, “consistent with the War Powers Resolution,” that he had authorized the deployment of approximately 100 U.S. armed forces to serve as advisors to “regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield.” The report emphasized that the deployed personnel “will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.” The Administration has portrayed this decision as consistent with congressional intent as expressed in P.L. 111-172 and subsequent consultations.

The U.S. approach to the LRA raises a number of issues for policymakers, some of which could have implications far beyond central Africa. A key question, for some, is whether the response is commensurate with the level of threat the LRA poses to U.S. interests, and whether the deployment of U.S. military personnel could lead to unintended consequences. More broadly, decisions on this issue could potentially be viewed as a precedent for U.S. responses to similar situations in the future. Other issues for Congress include the timing and rationale for U.S. action; the role and likely duration of U.S. deployments in the region; the benchmarks for success and/or withdrawal of U.S. forces; funding levels for counter-LRA activities and for potential future humanitarian aid and related commitments; and the relative priority of counter-LRA activities compared to other foreign policy and budgetary goals. Other possible policy challenges include regional militaries’ capacity and will to conduct U.S.-supported operations, and these militaries’ relative level of respect for human rights. Congressional oversight may also focus on the appropriateness of the Administration’s LRA policy approach, as outlined in November 2010; the status of its implementation; interagency coordination; and the role of other donors.

Date of Report: November 21, 2011
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: R42094
Price: $29.95

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