tv Middle East Institute Hosts Discussion on ISIS in Libya CSPAN May 22, 2016 6:30pm-8:01pm EDT
bring it up again, shame on the republicans who voted no. and this people on the more conservative end who say, there are places where the president overstepped his authority having to do with nondiscrimination issues that infringed on religious liberties. >> could you sense frustration for the chairman about the issues sidetracking the military debate and the readiness debate? >> yes, and it is not just the chairman. you hear people on all sides of this issue getting really frustrated that this has come down to it -- you are talking about enormous national security bills. the bills that will fund the pentagon and overseas operations. >> the biggest bill that congress passes each year. >> even if they are not failing, they are passing. cloudre passing under the
of real frustrations and real anger and veto threats. i don't think anybody likes it. i've heard republicans who support the democrat side. why does this have to be happening here and now? it is interesting to see who is blaming who. i don't think anyone is happy, this just seems to be the necessary existential context. the defense department tends to move ahead of the country on these things. >> before run out of time, if this unusual? >> the chairman seem to indicate cap and frequent. -- seemed to indicate that it happened frequently. to make sure that planes are flying and people have enough training. that this is an unnecessary burden put on defense spending.
there is this the deal with which changes the debate entirely. >> we will have to leave it there this week thank you for joining [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] speakers look at the role of libya's government and the role of the u.s. to supply the government with weapons. it is an hour and a half. >> there are so many things we can talk about regarding libya. this particular program is going
to focus on what the so-called islamic state is up to in libya. although it has wrongfully appropriated the word islamic and does not perform most functions of a state, i'm going to refer to it by the arab acronym daesh. there are other people who may call it isil or isis. i will not contradict the president of the united states who calls it isil. daesh works for me. charles lister is an expert on esh. he is also very knowledgeable about other substate armed groups that often practiced terrorism without coverage.
he understands the complexities and he brings a strong grasp to the theory and practice of terrorism, as illustrated by his recent book on syria. there are filled out biographies in the sheet you have received. he brings that particular perspective to this panel and the other panelists have other perspectives that will be useful in forming a composite view of the problem. fred has wide expertise in military affairs. he knows libya well. he served as attache to the consulate in libya. he understands the complexities of libyan armed groups. and the foreign military establishments that might be involved at some point interacting with the libyan government.
wafa is the charge of the affairs for libyans in washington. she is a fervent libyan patriot and was involved in libyan civil society efforts against the former cannot be regime -- gadhafi regime. she responded to her countries call by accepting senior positions in the ministries of education prior to her current assignment. jonathan winer is secretary kerry's special emissary for libya. he was a key member of kerry's staff when john kerry was the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee. john kerry brought into the state department where he
performed a number of jobs that might be called thankless because they were really touchy issues. he showed himself able to apply the very bottom principles -- the very broad principles of foreign policy to specific circumstances. his current assignment has been something he has been doing for 2.5 years. it has made him very aware of the interest to libya's arab african and european neighbors, as well as the various crosscurrents in the libyan body politic. that is the order on which i'm going to ask our speakers to address issues for about eight minutes. then i will ask a few questions and we may have a bit of an interchange among the members of the panel before we open it up to questions from the audience.
we will start with charles lister. charles: good afternoon everyone. david, thank you very much for that kind introduction. seeing as i have eight minutes i'm going to fly straight into my discussion points. i am not a libya expert per se. i'm going to present more of a big picture look at how isis is operating in libya, how it got there, and what it represents as of today. since isis's declaration of a so-called caliphate in late june 2014, isis is an organization that has since become an international movement. libya has become its most important, secondary efforts outside of iraq. it has done so by exploiting
libya's fundamental instability and political failures. it has done so by exploiting the political failures and vacuum and social divisions that have emerged in libya over the last several years. this is a model of exploiting existing divisions that isis used to its own advantage in syria and iraq. in a sense, isis aims to enter into areas where there are already expensive and intense divisions where there are existing social structures. this is exactly the same model how it entered into syria into 2013. it's the same model they exploited in the city of mosul.
there is a variety of open source information that talks about how isis learned local dynamics. it knew all of the tribal leaders and all of their dirty histories. it knew how certain tribes were against other tribes. it knew how certain militias had a certain history may 20 or 30 years prior would you could use to your advantage. this learning the lay of the land is something isis has been very well practiced in and it was the key to its entrance into the capital of libya today. what does isis represent in libya today? estimates in terms of its manpower very. there are between 3000 and 6000 fighters. as much as 70% of its manpower in libya is made up of non-libyan fighters. tunisian's in particular have
turned out to be a very significant recruitment tool. been -- havehave become extreme a significant in syria and iraq. there is a lot of open source information describing how tunisians in particular have tot isil in syria and iraq bolster the presence in libya. c -- senior commanders have been employed -- deployed to libya to bolster the senior command structure. libya is of strategic importance objectives. the organization is coming under pressure in syria and iraq. 36,000 fighters. they controlled territory along
the central coast in libya. operationally, isis have the capacity to reach the tunisian border. they can also go across the border into tunisia. isil is currently love -- is currently led by a saudi in libya. they have increasingly been led by a leader who came from iraq to bolster leadership in libya. isis has demonstrated a capacity for very fast growth. the estimate in november was 2000 fighters in their ranks in libya. now, the estimate suggests about 6000. that is at least doubling of manpower under its command in the last 6-7 months.
it operates multiple training camps including training camps for children. clearly, it is trying to be in libya for the long haul. it began as is organization in 2014 exploiting the kind of pre-existing social divisions tribal divisions, political divisions, to its own advantage. i'm sure my esteemed libya panelists will be able to talk about this in more detail than i but in particular, it was gaddafi's hometown. it was well-known to have been in area where some gaddafi loyalists had gone back to after the fall of the gaddafi regime.
it was also essentially under the control of militias prior to isil's entry into the town. isis used the fact that there were individuals and other militias accused of being loyal to gaddafi to their own advantage. many of those individuals now fight for isis. you can use a similar analogy to talk about how isil has exploited former saddam era officials in iraq to bolster its own ranks. those pre-existing divisions and tensions, especially on a political 11 -- level they have , used to their own advantage. i've already gotten a time warning. as soon as isis took over, it imposed a city charter. this is something they did in raqqa and mosul. it lays out a full approach to
how civilians are expected to behave. women are subject to many regulations and men have similar regulations to the length of their trousers. there are three prisons depending on the magnitude of your alleged crime. behavioral police were established. internet is now restricted only to internet cafes run by isis. the acquisition of outside information is particularly restricted unless one is able to travel outside of the city. there is little evidence of far -- so far to suggest that isis is earning a lot of money from oil.
all of this underlines the exact same model isis has used to control through fear populations under its influence. for that reason, i would advocate that in this current phase not rushing. there is significant impetus within political discussions these days to rapidly bring the fight to isis in libya through local forces and appointment of special forces from the u.s. and france and the u.k. and various other western countries. isis will exploit this. local fighters need to be vetted and under a single command. we are not anywhere near that position as of now.
i would advocate a let them rot strategy in the meantime. accept the fact that people are not happy under isis control. there are people willing to be under isis control but over time, reason to meet will continue to grow. -- resentment will continue to grow. this is something we have seen in syria and iraq. time should be spent, as i'm sure my fellow spiegel -- speakers will talk about better , uniting the political structure in libya after the december 2015 agreement. most importantly, uniting the east and west structures under the current government that was agreed to in december 2015.
unless those two forces unite, i can say with significant certainty that isis will exploit those two divisions. it will certainly try to. it will devote resources to doing so. on terms of the influx of weaponry, there is currently a u.n. embargo. it has not done on off a lot of good. various outsiders have been sending weapons. it is now a discussion carried out last week about finding a way out in order to send weaponry to infected, acquired armed forces on the ground. again, i would urge caution. until there is a unified structure and forces have been sufficiently vetted and trained and sufficiently linked up with
i would western forces, hesitate to send an large influxes of weaponry. we have learned many lessons from 2011 and 2012 from syria that should be learned in a place like libya today. i'm sure there is plenty more we can discuss with the q&a. i hope that i have made some sense while rushing through my notes. david: thank you charles. [applause] we need 30 seconds to make some technical adjustments up here. we will get the mic level up for people in the back of the room. [no audio]
>> thank you so much. thank you to the middle east institute for the invitation. what an introduction. hopefully i will find something new to say. i will underscore a lot of the points that were made, and illustrate from some recent trips i have made to libya. when we look at the islamic state, we have to understand this fusion between foreign and indigenous elements. there is a long legacy of jihadism that it is built upon. we are seeing an evolution of jihadism in libya. these intense debates between jihadists about the state, the
caliphate, the acceptance of government, this is all being played out over the last 2-3 years. the islamic state represents the ascendancy of one particular strain. that is not to say there are not other strains of jihadism pushing back. there's the post-2001 generation , there's the post-2011 of generation that was radicalized partly by the syria war. there are keynotes for jihadism. the ice -- the islamic state has tapped into these. i would argue also that when it arrived, there was an infrastructure that was already in place. much of the islamic state development has been this
co-opting of infrastructure. what was the catalyst? the syrian war was huge. some of them just wanted to volunteer and fight. with the ascendancy of the islamic state in syria, some of them defected over. others came back. it was this nucleus of islamic state and libyan fighters that came back to libya that implanted the organization first in darna. simultaneously, you have the weakening of the old al qaeda related groups. was the political division of libya. it was absolutely fundamental in giving the space for islamic states to insert itself. these factions were so busy
fighting each other and using isis to demonize their opponents, accusing each other of supporting the islamic state. meanwhile, the islamic state is growing. in tandem, you have the islamic state investing in libya through emissaries and advisers. we heard about the leadership of the technical advisors, sharia courts, many of these are foreign. you also had the foreign fighter influx. islamic state made a concerted effort to direct foreign fighters towards africa and in general. don't come to syria and iraq, come to libya. many of these fighters are the most hardened. when i was in benghazi with the libyan army forces, they said to me that the snipers and suicide bombers were all foreign, that they were facing tunisians mostly. when we look at countering those
-- countering the islamic state, we have to think about it on a case-by-case basis. that requires a tailor-made approach in all of these areas. s reputation isa' well known. the key thing there is that it ran up against this barrier of an older generation of al qaeda that pushed it out. also the tribal element. the very factionalism that allows the islamic state to assert itself into libya is also a buffer. in benghazi, the islamic state inserted itself into on islamist insurgency. it flipped many of the anti-sharia entities. it enjoyed support from those social fabrics of neighborhoods under assault.
it was bolstered by foreigners coming in from abroad and by boat. , this isin stronghold where the infrastructure proves so critical. they really played a role in flipping the pro-gadhafi tribes that were on the outs, that had faced discrimination. that is what the islamic state has really played upon. this notion that you are the losers in the new order and we can protect you. i am not going to say that entire tribes are split. it is often a very personalized choice. it is often very localized. some refugees told me that they have a saying -- better the hell of islamic state than the paradise of this.
the islamic state appears to be moving south towards tripoli. ony're capitalizing marginalization. the dynamics there are more financial. networks,smuggling there are families that have had the longtime affiliation with jihaidsm. there is a large foreign component there. it gets the training out for foreign volunteers. what is their strategy right now? i would argue it is one of consolidation and disruption, to consolidate their hold and to cut off oil revenues, and to disrupt the formation of a new state. you saw this in the attacks on police training. what are the disgruntled youth that we can peel away?
the key challenge is the question of partnership. who does the west ally with? the country is divided, there is no central chain of command. the great risk that the u.s. has is identifying local partners and militias. that could further fracture of that fracture the country and reduce incentives for reconciliation. counterterrorism must reinforce the building of governance. there is the enormous challenges of rebuilding the police. the fight against the islamic state should be a platform to do that. there are three options. there is western directed air. no involvement by locals. this is untenable. we know there has to be a local element.
the second option is the west plus local enablers and this is fraught with risks as far as what comes next. what kind of government replaces this? option is the most desirable, and that is the west supporting a libyan led government through a unified military effort that tackles this menace. i will leave it to the next speakers to discuss. [applause] david: that was a very timely introduction for you. wafa: it might be too short. special thanks to the middle
east institute for hosting this discussion. this is a very important topic to my country. libya is not -- is at a , androus turning point after we heard the analysis from the experts, i will be talking in a different aspect. i will talk about what we think is a different perspective on defeating isis in libya. libya today is indeed an economic crisis with a severe cash shortage and desperate need of humanitarian aid. the chaos of libya threatens the nearby countries. this is the result of domestic complicated political and
economics that resulted in divisions across the country. military technical assistance alone will not be enough to defeat isis. libyans will defeat terrorism only through addressing domestic drivers of instability. the u.s. and international community should help libya with stabilization including their economy, re-conciliation between armed groups, and decentralization of powers. the most effective response to the rise of isis in libya is the construction of an accountable libyan state with an effective security sector. without an accountable libyan state, the war against
extremists will be endless in libya. this is not to say that nothing can be done against isis and libya in the short term. the anti-isis fight could strengthen the political process and vice versa. for instance, efforts right now by the presidential council to create a military to fight isis can both help the security situation and strengthen the political process. moreover, libyan governments should be supported to resist threats from militias and help the bank and government push back against the demands and put constraints on spending on the salaries. militias should be dismantled. they should be re-integrated on an individual basis. it is also essential for the government to reconcile with the
forces dominant in eastern libya , namely the libyan national army. the national community should help in devising a proposal for reconciliation and acknowledging the libya's national army in their role in defeating terrorist forces in the north. -- the east. the u.s. and the international community should support libya through a different policy aspect. in terms of priorities, the economic crisis should come first. a failure to resolve the economic crisis will further exasperate the humanitarian crisis, increase crime activities and promote the growth of isis. second, political conciliation is crucial for making the institutions work so that the u.s. and international partners
should help libya. the will help address concerns in libya, namely counterterrorism on the one hand and illegal immigrants on the other. the response of the international community should not be to put security first and focus on supporting governments to build its forces and control its borders. this strategy has failed before and i was witness to that. since libya's insecurity is the result of complex interaction between complicated legal, economic, and military factors.
in conclusion, the u.s. and the international community should not see libya purely through the lens of counterterrorism and should not take up purely a technical approach only on arming and building up equipment. the partnership should help the new government tackle economic crisis, step up reconciliation and help develop functioning institutions so it can absorb the support offered by the international community. so it can observe whatever is offered by the international community. politicallevel of efforts is more important now than ever. thank you. [applause]
[no audio] jonathan: hi, i'm jonathan winer. on the special envoy for libya. there is an enormous amount of wisdom already expressed. i agree with pretty much everything. not every word but close to it. we should not be too abstract about what we are facing. in the last 72 hours, we saw forces fighting -- to regain critical territory. fighting isis to regain critical territory. they grabbed back some critical territory which lead to tripoli and to the south. in return, they equipped a big
bus with a vehicle and killedsed a device that three dozen libyan soldiers. this battle between libyans and differentiated, because libya believes in a country and daesh believes in itself. it offers on ugly and predatory fantasy vision of gold, glory, girls and guns. it can be attractive to immature men. it offers nothing else for the long run. this battle being fought right now, i had written down that chaos is the enemy. daesh is an enemy and a big enemy. chaos is the enemy. she kept using that word, because daesh feeds on chaos.
if you want to get and defeat daesh, you have to address the factors. that is where our policy has to be based on at its core. our broad strategic interest in libya is to support a unified libya, not one that gets divided into parts with an accountable government, not people self proclaiming i control the resources. that was the way gaddafi ruled on behalf of the people for 42 years. itdidn't work then, and doesn't work now. there would be many gaddafi's who don't once -- who would rule one part of the country. violent extremist groups have been allowed to proliferate. you've had al qaeda.
when you have under governed space, it is a greater opportunity for bad guys to make mischief. luckily libyans do not tend to like foreigners telling them what to do of any kind. whether it is americans or brits for french or people from iraq and syria. they develop antibodies. that is why i'm betting on libya and libyans to win, not daesh. whatever its temporary strengths may be. our approach is that we are tied very closely to support the government of national accord. we think libyans need a stable government to close the security vacuum. that is a precondition to effectively combating isis and
other bad groups for the long run. security first or economy first? it is hard to get people to invest in a country where security is a disaster. it washington, d.c. had no international presence, we would be a much poorer place. if the united states had every foreigner leave, our economy would be in an economic shambles. having everyone leave libya has been bad for libya. you have to get enough security back end, that you can get participants in the libyan economy. one of the key things i learned in talking to people at the imf about libya, i said what reforms can we put in place? they said there is not anything you can do. if libya is not pumping oil, you cannot be successful.
oil is responsible for 90% of government revenues. are pumpingey 150,000 barrels a day. the price of oil is one quarter of what it used to be. it doesn't work. then you will have real chaos. the current economic problems and the security conditions are intimately linked with the political. we keep looking at security and what we're going to do about daesh. we will continue airstrikes. we have had two so far of against terrorists. we have done training and equipping the libyans in the past. we're going to offer more.
we've secured a successful at ministerial-- inisterial communique agreement earlier this week. 22 countries including it every in the region. all are agreeing on the same thing. exemption from the arms embargo to take on terrorists. which we support and will probably participate in if the libyans ask us. we move ahead to try and build national structures. there is a liquidity crisis. some of that is hoarding. we need to get through it. we have to give libyans hope that there is a future for government and governance. we have to get the next generation of libyans playing a bigger role in the future of
libya. i see hope with incoming generations that have fresh ideas. they believe in their own country and want a safe place to live in. u.s. policy is founded on the premise on one government, not multiple governments. compromise, sharing, one , not multipleess negotiations in multiple places. states, everyone who has had clients and proxies aligning against the government whether ideological or regional sectarian battles, and resources being shared on a national level. whether you are east, west, south you have a stake in the government. those are core principles. it is very simple on the end.
if you stick with those principles, you may begin to make some progress, which i think we are starting to see as the gma begins to take hold. thank you. [applause] david: thanks to all of our panelists. are you hearing me well in the back? ok. i am going to ask a question of each one of our speakers in the order they can appear. i may ask them to question one another a little bit. let me start with charles lister. you don't make it sound like a fun place for libyans to be living.
is it a place where daesh can feel safe? this is not emotional -- most . there near assets of nature -- nato countries. there are factions that have to isil in one way or another. do they really see this as a place where they can build a caliphate? charles: the honest answer is i convinced, but it is the best bet that they have for now. it took them until 2014 to a choir a substantial territorial
foothold. i am enough of a libya expert to say everything definitively, but from what i can see, they have made attempts to go further south. at least as far as recruitment. it is not just through tunisia. it is also further into the african continent. i think it is going to be there bastion. therer will be a fight for the city at some point. they appear to being led by commanders who have come from syria and iraq. they will seek to sell as many sew asns as they can -- many divisions as they can. so they can surround -- so they can control libya and the
surrounding area for some as possible. in marchemonstrated this year its capacity to spill over into tunisia. i don't think it is a coincidence that we have seen isis slow down or reduce the amount of mass executions that they carried out. human rights watch released a report saying they have documented 49 executions. that is actually quite a low number for isis. i don't think it is a coincidence that we have seen that low number. they probably are aware of the potential dangers they have there. if they feel under pressure, we will see more killings, we will see more spectacular attacks. we will see more mass executions. i don't think we're there yet. right now, we're in that city building effort, not a caliphate.
we have seenilding replicated elsewhere in egypt and syria and iraq. david: fred, let me ask you to pick up on that. how successful can daesh be in building the kind of quasi-state structures that it has in turkey and syria? after all, there has got to be a lot of competition. not only from other libyan factions, but this new government. i just question how much in the way of financial reserves could isil bring to bear in trying to attract libyans and other fighters. i realize there is a big reservoir of potential fighters elsewhere in africa and tunisia and so on. what are the practical
constraints on daesh and how would it be possible for the combination of the libyan government of national accord and international partners to compete with them? >> there is a lot there. you have answered it. they are not able to replicate the state building function they have elsewhere because they lack revenue streams. they are not able to tap into vast swathes of sectarian disenchantment. there are these isolated pockets that they have implanted themselves. they have been pushed out. it is very episodic. i've mentioned this sort of akamai's asian of libya that had allowed them to come in. it is also buffering them. they run up against rival
militias. will and capacity of factions allows them to grow. they are still capable of great disruption. they should not be taken lightly. they can plot attacks abroad. the attack was preemptive. i think they saw something coming. a lot of people have lost their lives. the question on what the gna can do comes to inclusive governance. the security solution will only get you so far. something has to come after isis. it has to be inclusive. there has to be a rule of law. we don't want to substitute one extremist that for another. there is a reason extremism has flirted in these locales. it is absolutely critical that we received cautiously and
methodically. david: that said, if things continue to stagnate in terms of reestablishing stability in libya and if as the weather improves in the mediterranean, we have another wave of refugees. with all the potential for terrorist coming along with them, which countries would be most critical to western military efforts to bolster the libyan government in dealing with the security problems. which countries feel most threatened? which countries are likely to
come forward with some kind of military assets if things deteriorate to that extent? fred: you sort of answered it. the european countries that are effective, they have announced their willingness. the italians have kind of backed off in participating in a stabilization force. i do believe that the forces are already on the ground. they would be critical to lending expertise. huge will among the european powers, and i think it is a matter of coordinating those efforts. they are not working across -- at cross purposes. making sure the countries have capabilities. the u.s. has certain
capabilities. we need to learn the lessons of our past training failures. we did the training before there was anything to absorb the trainees. there was no unified government, there was no pure c. you trained in bunch of soldiers and they came back to militias. you need to make sure you are training a military that is representative of all libyan factions, not just training one particular town or tribe. david: you are not suggesting that we just don't some -- dump some military equipment for this newly founded libyan government. how much training will be the forces loyal to
the libyan government to observe -- absorb military -- fred: -- fred we know from past : experiences. how will do be do in iraq? when you trained counterterrorism forces, it is not simply a technical capacity. you can train them to certain technical standards. you have to have political unity. it is a long horizon. we're looking at a very long time. we have this immediate isis threat. we need to be looking at the long game. it is going to take a long time. david: let me follow up on that with you. the governments that were represented indiana has indicated support for lifting the arms embargo on sales of military equipment to the government.
assuming that gets through the un security council and i -- and my understanding is it will take a un security council vote. i don't know what russia might do at this stage. assuming there is a un security council resolution, is your government also going to request specific assistance in terms of training its forces and how would that be organized? and where? would it be on libyan territory? would it be in tunisia? i don't quite understand how you form the armed forces for the new libyan government starting from where you are now.
wafa: it is not an easy question. let me tell you something. let me go back to on initiative that was done by a couple of countries. among them the u.s. and european countries, where they had opposed to train some libyan soldiers after the g8 summit in 2013. to create aproposal nucleus of a national army. the idea was to train them abroad. we failed big-time because the wasing -- vetting inappropriate. the them people were taken to different countries. military andrain a expect the soldiers to come back? it failed because the vetting failed.
we did not have a proper strong institution. the government was creating in parallel institutions to the existing defense ministry. right now, let me tell you that we have a nucleus of an army. we have a lot of military professionals all over the country. south, west, and east. we have many different ranks. the military institution existed during the gaddafi time. we had a big massive military capacity. when the cancer open, the country had a huge massive amount of arms. ranks aretary
available. they are there. the idea is to gather them. this is what is starting to happen. the government of national accord is already working with these people internally. the same in the east. army composes of these people. sometimes they had recruited civilians. yes the war was tough. yes, it is a street kind of fight. it is not a traditional military fight. fighting terrorism is not a traditional classic military confrontation. it is something very complicated and very devastating, because it should depend on intelligence and central forces and not military by the means of hellas -- of heavy artillery. up, we have the
nucleus of an army in libya. we have a huge number of trained soldiers. gaddafi trained many, he and now we are technocrats. they should come back. they are already there and we should build on it. we should build their capacity further with lifting the arms embargo. we have to be very careful here because we need to assess what we have already. we need to make sure it is falling in the right hands. we need to solve the problem of the militia and i spoke about that earlier. the government has to be wanting to resist the pressures and their desire to continue. we do not want to go back to square one.
we need to convince these young people and i wished many times this would be in one of our resolutions, that it is the duty of the government of national accord and the national community to support us on that. they should be given incentives. programs should be starting in parallel. only at that point can we see a proper army being formed and assessing what we have and what is needed. i think the government of national accord will be compared at this point. they will be prepared to make its proper request. david: thank you for that. i want to apologize for jumping over the well considered order in which you presented the issues that this government have
-- has to face. you said in your prepared remarks that security couldn't come first. you had to start with the economy getting going, political reconciliation. i want to recognize that you had a well-thought-out approach to that. i did not mean to just -- did not mean to distort your views on military preparedness. you did that extremely well. jonathan, i want to come to you last. noting that some of the things we indicated, the u.s. government indicated following what seems to me to be a very successful meeting in vienna, was that we were going to be prepared to be quite forthcoming
in support of a wide range of support for the libyan government of national accord. in effect, saying that if they would form themselves up as a partner, we would be there to partner with them. but i really wonder to what degree this is going to have the necessary level of support from the congress of the united states, which hasn't shown itself to be notably enthusiastic for -- sometimes for all the things that need to be done, to what extent do we need to build more support itself to be notably within the united states and, particularly, even though there were, as you noted, all the governments in the region, signed on in vienna, in the past, it's been my impression,
that we haven't had whole-hearted support for the idea of the international community getting behind a single government, and i wonder to what degree this issue needs to be higher on the agenda of our relations with egypt, for example, in terms of making certain that the international community carries out the kind of high-minded pledges it made in vienna. jonathan: thank you very much, ambassador. we were talking libya all week last week. probably much of the week last -- the week before. you forget when you have conversation after conversation with one another. getting alignment among all the regional players, as well as the
european neighbors has been at the core of our policy for the past several years. libya can't afford to get divided up by people with different interests fighting with one another. that's part of what leads to chaos. if you've got one regional state that supports one player and another regional state supporting a different player, that's not going to work well for libya, and i think everybody understands that. egypt, united arab emirates, qatar, saudi arabia, sudan, nigeria, tunisia, morocco, i hope have aren't missed any -- i hope i haven't missed any north african regional powers. as well as united kingdom, germany, france, spain, european union, african union, all signed
on to this communique, which is an endorsement of the government of the national accord. it's a bit like water hydraulics. you can't predict where the individual particle will go, when water is flowing through something. , you know a trench most of the water will go through that trench. after you dig the channel, more of the water goes through and you coat the channel and start putting filters and friday things to get the water looking good and useful for more purposes. what we're doing with the government of national accord is trying to create eight channel for national unity and reconciliation and building for libya's needs and building enough stability so the economy can come back, pump oil, which libya needs for libyans,
distribute the wealth fairly, equitably in a way that brings people in, and take advantage of libya's natural resources to rebuild the country. that's what we're trying to do. and i think we've made a lot of progress. there's still a lot of problems, but the more progress we make, the more libya will be able to take on isil as the vast majority of libyans want to do, and reduce it and push it out. it's happening already. you see fighting against them, fighting against them in benghazi. it's not like nothing is happening to push them back. they're going to have less territory again. this is not a native phenomenon. it is an iraqi syria phenomenon transplanted into libya, which has some native elements. some of whom said we don't want them.
we had extremism a long time. we didn't like being told what to do by foreign extremists, and kicked them out. so the libyans are difficult. she's not difficult. she's very sensible, dynamic, and easy to work with. we love working with her. but libyans overall can be quite fractious. so carving that channel in a way that they're going to say this is good is what we're trying to do, and we can't predict where our individual draw folk are going to go, and even though it's going to take time, which it is, and it will. thank you. david: thank you. i'm going to be willing to take some questions from the audience, so raise your hands. i've already seen a few of you with your hands up. i suspect there will be more questioners than i'm able to get to.
when i call on somebody, would you, number 1, introduce yourself as to your name and affiliation. number 2, ask a question. don't make a statement. keep it short. end with a question mark. all right? let me start in the middle there, jason. and wait until you get the microphone, please. audience: always a pleasure to hear such an all-star panel. particularly to take instructions from good old ambassador mac. i'm jason mack, founder of a web site about libya. i agree with the broad outlines of the panel. isis is no doubt a symptom of the malities of libya's implosion plus 2011 and not the cause, and of course as charles started off saying and fred commented, without a bona fide anti-isis coalition, it will be
impossible to make real gains or sustainable gains. so my question is, in a way following up on david's last comment, those actors who support other factions, such as general hopkar in the east, or others who don't want to be part of this anti-isis coalition, it's all well and good to sign communiques. what can be done by the national community to incentivize sanctioned -- incentivize completely. what are concrete proposals and i ask this of the whole panel, that can make people fall into line, both regional actors and different militias on the ground into the different channels you described. david: jonathan, you start by addressing that and i'll ask other members of the panel to jump in if they have particular comments.
jonathan: we'll start with sanctions. sanctions are intended to respond to global and national security threats of various kinds and have to be legally justified. we've sanctioned the speaker of the parliament of the government in libya we recognized prior to the gna. after he undertook a series of people,es to prevent which included substantial threats of violence and intimidation when the majority were ready to support the government of national accord. not just the majority but super majority. we prevented it from happening. we sanctioned him and kalifa forwas sanctioned -- kelly that -- after the sanctions, he wound up leaving town. he lost protection and financial
resources. the central bank channelled all of its authority to the government of national accord and ceased responding to requests from either of the gial legacyl -- vesti governments, so that was a very profound economic shift, which i'm sure had its impact. recently, there was an effort to sell oil illicitly by the self-proclaimed eastern national oil company. self-proclaimed because it was supported by the house of representatives, but not responding to the government of national accord. we got a designation by the u.n. that declared the oil seasonable . seizable the ship's captain cooperated, while the oil was unloaded, and the oil was no longer susceptible to diversion. we were very grateful,
us, for the, all of libyan government to help. global responsibility. we had a unified global approach. all u.n. security council members said yes. not just the typical three but the full five, fully cooperated with one another, just as russia and china participated, should have mentioned that, participated in the vienna communique. very important to have all five on board and have all five pull pulling together on behalf of the same goals. we worked very hard to consult with russia and china as we go along. russia had complaints about how all of us came to be. a lot goes into that history. it's worth noting that they have them and that alignment there is tremendously important, too. so after that, what happened next? did the eastern narc say they
would continue to move out because they have every right to? they should. and then they heard there was a possibility that the participants might wind up getting sanctioned as well, not just the individuals. i don't know whether that had an impact on them or not. i do know that this was a deal cut in the last 48 hours between the eastern narc and the western narc. if the eastern narc agrees to the national government authority, then they are. there's reconciliation, integration and action with a mixture of sanctions and reconciliation. do we want to sanction anybody? we don't want to sanction anybody. we don't want libyans to have to be told what to do by us or anybody else. if they're not coming together and unifying, you have to continue to carve that channel. that is how to use sanctions. it's a signalling device and a tool to get people in the right territory and to back off whenever you can. thank you. david: let's get a microphone to the gentleman on the right.
audience: daniel from johns hopkins. jonathan, you just answered part of my question, which is to what degree does the g.n.a. control things at present? the oil companies the investment , authorities, the central bank, to what degree has any progress been made on unifying the parliaments? where are we in this process? and i would add to what degree is there a connection between the g.n.a. and the local governments that still exist? >> it's a work in progress, of course. the central bank that controls all foreign exchange, all of it,
based in tripoli, exists under at this point the authority of the g.n.a. and undertakes no activities that aren't in alignment with the policies and approach of the g.n.a. the central banks have some independence but it's still in -- still aligned. the role to the east is hard to assess. last week when i read in the wall street journal, they hired a safe cracker to break into a safe and use could off his face melts down i thought it was disturbing. i thought when they broke into safes, it only happened in movies, but it was being discussed in libya right now by somebody who purports to be a central bank governor. disturbing.
large amounts of currency being printed to be imported into libya. i don't know whether those are true or not. very disturbing. it's a work in progress. libyan investment authority has said we'll support and back the g.n.a. and most of the money is tied up still anyway and which is a good thing. the national oil company as we just discussed. it's a work in progress. it's a channel being carved, as it were. in terms of the localities, the governor of national accord's ability to directly control things is quite limited but most of the times, cities in the united states don't take their direction from president obama and vice president biden. they go about their work under existing arrangements. very few of us take guidance from the top offices of our country, it's how the system kind of works. the question is, who's exercising authority and jurisdiction where? and as i've said twice and i'll say a third time and try not to repeat a fourth time, it's a work in progress and hard to say, but if people agree to accept the authority of
something, then the authority is accepted. so the process is as much of a state of mind and a political one as it is anything else. what has to happen over the next few weeks is the governor of -- the government of national accord has to use authority wisely, working with the central bank in particular, to procure sufficient liquidity to get resources on the ground, currency on the ground and purchasing power, things like layers of credit to get things imported so there's enough stuff in libya for ramadan so, yeah, our needs are being taken care of properly. that is the most important immediate thing they have to do, and they're working on it, and i hear from some people that there's going to be a real congress over the next couple of weeks just in time, and another -- and other people tearing their hair out saying it's not enough and they'll need more emergency measures. are they focused on it? yes. it's absolutely essential.
thank you. david: it's been a great discussion by a couple of our speakers about couscous and sanctions. i'm going to ask to get one more question out here at least from the gentleman here. go ahead. audience: thank you very much the presentation. i'm eric goldstein from human rights watch. of course isis is awful but since 2011 the various militia have probably been responsible for far more abuses. those who are talking about a selective listing of the arms embargo, assure us that there will be vetting, i'd like to hear from any member of the panel who can explain how the vetting will be credible, who will do it, who has the intelligence to ensure that the arms don't go into the wrong hands. thank you. david: wafa was involved with
libyan civil society before and i think she's in a great position to answer this question. wafa: civil society, i will answer it maybe with my capacity also in foreign affairs before this post. this is what i mentioned earlier, i said we should not rush, and it's not as simple as that, and we have to be cautious, and i iterated that. i mean, the idea of lifting arms embargo and just importing arms right now, we need to assess what we have. we need to assess our legitimate forces that are going to use that, we have to make sure it's not going to fall in other hands, and i guess my colleagues would also agree with me, and i heard him mention this, we
should not rush into such an issue. we need to organize ourselves and we need to know who's going to take what, where's it going to go, otherwise -- and i pointed out previously, that we had a huge amount of arms and there's a lot of smuggling. there's a lot of organized crime, smuggling arms, stealing of arms in the country, and besides isis, you know, we have huge organized crime network in the country, and a huge amount of arms going in and out. so we need to because this, definitely, i mean, and i think this is going to help. thanks. david: thank you. i'd like to take -- yeah, let me take one more question from the lady in the middle, and then i'm going to ask all four members of the panel to leave us with a final thought, one or two sentences, what the take-away from the program should be in their mind. go ahead, ma'am.
audience: i am amanda kadlick. can you hear me now? okay. my name is amanda kadlick with rand. my question is about coordination among international actors, sort of carrying on from what jason said about communique is nice, but beyond that, there needs to be some sort of concrete measures. how do you see coordination among u.s. allies, like italy, france, the u.k. because from what it seems, is that each actor or each country has its own plan in place for what it's doing on the ground in terms of its special forces operations, and relationship-building. so what is the degree of communication among those actors, and are they communicating in terms of intelligence sharing, do they have individual relationships that are different on the
ground, and then from there, do you trust that the g.n.a. is actually a body that will provide the kind of factual information that you're looking for in terms of which militias to trust and which militias to work with? david: let me start with fred in answering that question. fred: well, i'll take the last part of that. i mean, factual information, i mean, this is the real problem is that a lot of these militias are sort of auditioning and raising their hands, yeah, i'll fight isis, help me, it's a great way to get support and it's a sort of question about what does that really mean? is there a criteria for signing up and that goes also to the human rights vetting, which is tremendously problematic. in the past, i think when the outside -- when the europeans and turkey tried to train the general purpose force, the
record-keeping system in libya was quite sparse. you didn't know he was a -- you didn't know who was a criminal. some people talked to tribes you know, ask around the families, is this a good person or bad person. it's worrisome. some of the actors pushing back against the islamic state right now are running their own prison. i ran into one of them in tripoli where guys are being thrown in there, who's isis, who's not? how do you know he's isis. so the question of due process is really an issue. the issue of coordination among special forces. i don't know -- i've seen the reports about what the french did in benghazi, so each actor has its own impulse and agendas and i think it can be detrimental to national cohesion if it's not orchestrated. i guess that would be my point that they would have to be on the same sheet because when you back faction a, it creates a certain ripple effect that could be damaging down the road so
that just goes to my point that this all has to be on the same sheet. we have to proceed with caution. that would be my closing point. of course, do no harm. let's be careful before we rush in. this is a society that is probably more resilient than we think. people we talked to, they want their lifestyle issues addressed and want their economy, so that has to be their first step. david: ok. that's a good way for you to end. first, do no harm. charles, how about you. charles: two things i want to mention. it's been said already that isis is not necessarily a libyan phenomenon and i think that's absolutely right. that would spark me to say what i always say when i talk about syria, which is don't forget about the other one, al-qaida. and i think they have had a hold in libya longer than isis. and their branch is intensely connected to al-qaida's central
leadership both in the region and further afield. i think last year, there was a conference held between basically every single al-qaida-linked group in north africa and all the way far south as mali in benghazi, and that was coordinated by sharia. so talking on the isis panel, i would say don't forget about the other jihadi enemy which i would say has much more of a historical foothold in parts of libya. the second part on train and equip, if i was someone in syria to say there is a parallel, the the train and equip mission in syria that is best known as the one that spectacularly failed. it failed because there was a refusal to understand and acknowledge the reality of local dynamics, the reality of what peoples' priorities were. so if i was to draw a parallel to libya, i would say don't make any train and equip mission only about isis.
the whole broader long term libya has to be taken into account and secondly by extension, the train equip mission that has worked is the one that was managed by the central intelligence agency and coordinated with regional governments. that took 18 months to find the first genuinely reliable vetted forces that still exist to this day, over 50 on groups have received that vetting, training and equipping process since 2012-2013, and two out of 53 on my count don't exist anymore. it's a remarkable success rate, but it does go to show how long it takes to conduct a process like this and how important that process was in succeeding and actually acknowledging the local dynamics, that was the primary reason for its success. so again to sort of reiterate what i said and what others have said, it takes time. don't rush a process like this. if you rush it, it will fail. david: wafa, would you like to
just leave us with a couple of final thoughts? wafa: just one thought. that the process of unifying libya and securing it is going to be a long process. and the situation will probably still get worse before it gets better. but my mission is communicating with the u.s. government with gratitude to their high political efforts so far, and to jonathan in particular, who has been doing a lot of traveling and hard work with communique sometimes around the day and the hour, but my message is for them to maintain the momentum and help in coordinating efforts for reconciliation. we need more and more and more reconciliation.
we need to invent proposals and initiatives, and that would be the key for unifying libya and for reaching peace. thank you. jonathan: i know it would be much better to wait for president clinton or president trump takes over to leave them with a libyan problem. that would definitely be better for my physical and psychological well-being. no doubt about it. i'm not convinced it would be better for libya to just wait, including on the issues we just talked about. don't do things until you know what the results are going to be. be very, very afraid. not just very, very careful. sure. i love omelettes. i eat omelettes. i hate breaking eggs. i won't let you break eggs. i don't like egg beaters. it's not a very satisfactory
formulation. isis is going to kill a lot more people before it is done and will kill a lot more than that. it will destroy a lot more if you let them be. libyans have been asking for it east and west, and south, different types of help. should the united states and other members of the international community, a phrase i hate, respond to them positively or go to them and say , no, we'll wait for president clinton or president clump. trump. i said clump. that was not a freudian slip. it was just a mispronunciation. we're faced with the policy choices that we're faced with. don't underestimate, and this is the last point, the power of communiques. they establish norms and you can measure conduct against norms and build activities based upon norms that have been set and underestimating the power of the communique, is i think a
mistake, particularly if people are determined to use it. thank you. david: let me just say one thing as moderator and somebody who's been involved in libya since i went there as a young diplomat in 1969, the whole history of u.s.-libyan relations is one of some very rapid brief periods of very intense involvement, often violent, our war against tripoli in the beginning of the 19th century, our bombing of tripoli and benghazi in 1986, and but also, some brief periods of very benevolent involvement, helping libya become an independent country after the second world war, when other people would have just turned them back to
the italians. and also, the role of american oil companies in helping libya become prosperous after it had been one of the poorest countries in the world. but basically, if you look at the whole history, it's been long, long periods of neglect. and i hope we are turning that around now, and that we will be more closely involved in helping the libyans have the kind of future that they deserve. please join me in thanking our panelists. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute,
announcer: tonight, q&a with .ichael kinsley then queen elizabeth ii gives the annual address at the state opening of parliament. michael kinsley. he talks about living with parkinson's disease and his new book, "old age: a beginners guide." brian: michael kinsley in your new book, "old age: a beginners why do you start your book by saying, this is not about parkinson's disease? michael: because i did not want people to think this wno