tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 23, 2014 6:00am-8:01am EDT
>> good afternoon, everyone. thank you for coming. welcome to the chairman's forum. we're delight to have you. please join me in welcoming ambassador debra jones, our ambassador to libya. ambassador jones gets special credit for coming to today's event. she's in great demand right now in washington. mad to spending time with her daughters and with college graduation and all those things, thank you so much for coming. extra credit. it's a particular pleasure to welcome a respected colleague and a great friend, ambassador debra jones, who is our u.s. ambassador to libya since march of last year. she has previously served as the
u.s. ambassador to kuwait. she is a true expert on middle east diplomacy and actually global affairs having served not only in the middle east, but in ethiopia, in argentina. she has searched in iraq, tunisia, syria, and united arab emirates. she's held important positions in the department of state headquarters. she's been a role model and mentor to up and coming male and tee mail foreign service officers and a true leader. deb remarks thank you so much for coming. this is not a news program. this is a discussion with sort of a broader optic, but i can't ignore events of the last few days in libya, and so i'm going to start with that, and then we will try to get a sense of where how we move forward in libya, what we should understand in washington, what the path looks like to stabilize the country, what the american role can be. as you well know, there is a
former general calf he'lla heftar who has started something called operation dignity to purge the country of islamists. there's been armed action against ansar al sharia. the state department has already issued a statement, of course saying they've not had contact. they do not condone or support, and nor has the u.s. government assisted in these actions. we are continuing to call on all parties to refrain from violence and to seek resolution through peaceful means. my question to you, ambassador, would be what would be a scenario for all parties to seek resolution through peaceful means? >> that's an easy one. first, i think it's important to clarify some of what's happening and to make clear that this is different things are happening in different places in libya that reflect underlying issues that have been simmering for some time, and i would probably
narrow down what you said about that he has -- he it's not necessarily islam per se. it's terrorism that he is actually declared that he is with ansar al shaara and groups that, in fact, wenl were probably responsible for the attack on our own embassy or our mission facility in benghazi in 2012. liars. anyone who said they're an expert, but between what i call the status quo/secularist groups, many of them tribal groups who actually had an
accommodative relationship with gadhafi, but then participated in the revolution and then expected following the revolution to go back to more or less the status quo and way of operating the secular state as opposed to the islamist group's revolutionary islamists who really saw the revolution as an opportunity to advance an agenda that was far more -- not only islam and in some cases i think the range, actually, on that side that goes from kind of what i call the islamist or islamic politics which would be something like christian democrats or the party in turkey all began in belhaj accident and then at the extreme end you do have ansar shaara, the taqfudis and jihadists that want no part of any democratic process or deposit and are, in fact, look towards the opportunity to establish the islamic state.
how do we deal with that? i would say recently you've all seen the news about proliferation of envoys and you know who is who and who is out there. the u.k. has named someone -- the e.u. has named someone. i think that spain recently may have named one. france is continuing naming someone. latvia. no, i'm teasing. we have the secretary has asked david satarfield to play in a personal capacity because david has a day job at the mfo to really focus on a political dialogue, political reconciliation because what we have come to believe rightfully or wrongly, but i think accurately is that wft reasons that all of the problems -- that the programs that the international community and we have been engaged in in the three years following the revel have failed to gain significant traction is because there are underleague disagreements and disputes within a very
ununified, disunified and weak government, which is in a continual battle with the general national congress, which is largely seen to be dominated by islamist elements, but our approach now is to say we're going to try to reach out to all influencers in society and that can include spoilers as well as positive, you know, what everyone might say, positive or negative and, in fact, my activities in this regard have generated a lot of fizz and gossip and negative commentary and everything else that suddenly, you know, the element that i'm at with belhaaj it was that -- it's to send a tweet linking me to one of my congressmen and who is actually dealing with benghazi, and i would say the ambassadors have gone over to the muslim brotherhood. in any case the goal is to decide to look at some
particular issues. it's pretty clear that already some broadly put, basic issues that have to be addressed in this dialogue and we work out the rules for competition within leba. those have to do with the political isolation law. how do you modify that and look at carving out areas of inclusion for people who actually can contribute and have made clear by the previous actions that, in fact, they are pro with the revolution, et cetera. when i say that, i'm not using it in a dark meaning of killing them all. i'm saying neutralizing as a political force because right now they are playing an outsized role. i think that when we talk about demilitaryizing or disarming, that's obviously important, but wait that that happens has to be part of a before broader package. in any way it's done, but to remove them as that arm of the political beening so that things
can progress without their interruptions, which we're seeing now, looking at the power structure, the fundamental flaws and the constitutional declaration that -- sorry, i'll get through this -- that confused mightily executive and legislative power within libya so that a prime minister is basically a simple clerical employee trying to deal with a gnc that is dom naturing executive authority in a way that we would understand executive authorities. also powers that goes from the center out into the municipalities out into the country itself, and then obviously the sharing of resources of libya's natural resources, how that's managed, how that's managed equitably, transparently, and fairly in a broad nutshell. >> but clearly having rules clarifies things. >> right. >> and building consensus strengthens things. but the fact that libya has been pulled in different directions has something to do with the fact that both the oil ports and
the militias, the islamist militias are armed and have been disruptive, and so my question just before we leave former general heftar, the former prime minister and -- is it conceivable that he or some -- again, i think that's a mischaracterization, and i think it's an opportunistic endorsement. it's dangerous to assume that all militias or to lump all militias in the same category as well. the issue of the militias is a problem, but heftar's focus is on a very specific terrorist group. not necessarily militias. not all militias are terrorist groups. not all militias are islamist
extremists. these happen to be residual elements that were never as suitably reintegrated into society just the same way that we had the challenge of regreg rating militias followingure own revolution many some cases. the reason that they play an outside role and the reason we have the oil stoppage is back to this fundamental political dispute. people who don't want to see the oil flow to a government which they consider infiltrated or permeated by islamists so that it will squeeze that government and force it to either step aside or be pulled aside by the people versus people who believe that, you know, a different group who thinks that that oil is being misdistributed and there should be more of a federalist or a distribution or more federalist authorities. i mean, these are not unnatural debates in a we to have in a post revolutionary setting, and i think it's important to remember that, but i also think it's important from the
beginning to kind of turn around the narrative that people -- i bought for a while this narrative that somehow gadhafi had, you know, taken over this brilliantly running functioning state with all of these good solid institutions and exploited it and destroyed it and in 42 years dismantled the state. i have -- my own view has changed dramatically -- considerably. i believe now that there were never any kinds of institutional -- there was never ae functioning libyan state per se with credible enduring institutions beyond personalities or beyond, you know, what was being propped up elsewhere, and that is a result of that, that weakened state is what permitted gadhafi to basically come in and for 42 years exploit the state and make deals and keep everything off track. i can't think of anything else that would explain it otherwise. i mean, he was not -- he was very clever, and he used all the same kinds of divisions that we have right now in the state to manage to exploit it and use the
oil wealth, abuse the oil wealth, and he was frankly like an abusive parent. i still think that that political agreement, that power sharing agreement has to be worked out. it's interesting. he is not declared that he wants to be the ruler. he has not declared he wants to be in charge of the state, and anyone frankly would be kind of a fool because it's a tough job. he wants the gnc to step aside because the gnc has thus far failed to take any action to respond to the unhappiness of many libyans that it was -- it's outstayed its time, and there's no forcing mechanism to compel it to leave.
to work on a constitutional draft, the constitutional drafting committee. it's a caretaker government because another triggering event for this weekend's events was the naming of akhmed as prime minister from -- and largely seen by many as an islamist or at least supporting some sort of islamist agenda and, therefore, that would have been the final straw. the process would have completely gotten locked their hold on the government as well as the congress as well as institutions, and i think that's what this is really about. >> so you see some sort of blocking actions. the security council unanimously passed a chapter 7 resolution the other day. essentially authorizing if asked to keep i will lift oil exports from leaving the coast.
you see these other actions you've mentioned. you're describing a political process that overcomes the legacy of want only gadhafi, but the monarchy beforehand. the prime minister in march the constitutional monarchy, and i want to ask you the civil society question. is libya capable in the near term of erecting an edifice, a political structure that they can agree on and function under that gets past the cult of personality and the sort of culture of personality and egypt just had a little bit of trouble with civil society building. tunisia has done very admirably. where does libya come out on that? >> let me back up and say a few things. first of all, i think that mohammed abdulaziz endorsed the idea of a constitutional monarchy. i don't think he was speaking in his role as foreign minister because that's certainly not a policy position of the governm
governments don't issue that. and he's been notably silent as far as i know on these recent events as well. but in terms of is libya capable of developing a civil society? well, of course, it is. although, again, in our business you have to look at geography first and foremost, and i think there's some things that are fairly clear cut. predictable agriculture produce and hydrocarbons, et cetera, generally produce strong authoritarian governments whether it's iraq, france, egypt. countries that are divided geographically by mountains or deserts or what have you, whether it's afghanistan, whether it's switzerland, italy, which was not unified -- >> lebanon. >> keep going. they produce fragmented governments. as to what a country finds, and i do think this goes back and i think it's a great question because all the arab spring so-called countries, i love to
go back to april 2011 analysis which i think was brilliant and succinct which is there are two driving issues. if you want to do an analysis of every country that's gone through this, it's about two issues, it's about legitimacy and humiliation. you can do the calculus and say who feels both of those components? they wereli they were likely to have erupted in some kind of outburst. in libya it was clear for them what the humiliation piece was it and they could all unify against it just as the case wtu in egypt. i think what the foreign minister was suggesting was that you need a figure. this is commonly said, you need a father figure, and, oh, by the way, how many of us grew up with picture painted by gilbert stewart of george -- what's the
name of the town we're in right now -- washington who at the time because the country needed a figure that unified us and, in fact, george washington's salary as president of the united states in 18th century was $20,000 a year. in today's money, that is $4 million a year, folks. why was that? it was to give him an imperial stature and an ability to create a presence that americans would coalesce around and say this is our leader, this is our figure. so all i'm saying is that works for some people, too. you know, it is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but it helps to have a heroic leader as well. libyan society is a little different. it is not a society that by and large likes heroic leaders or picks or wants to go back to a dictatorship. what people have said to a person almost, is we like what he's doing because he's filling a gap that the government hasn't
taken care of, but we don't want him as an individual to step in and play that role. so civil society. how does that work? what libyans do work at is at the local level, at the municipal level, things actually work for them at smaller levels, consensual levels, so the question is how do you build basic tools of a sovereign state, army, the security piece, the regulatory piece for commerce, and the rule of law piece which is work that can be done on one level, but again we have to sort out these bumps and get some kind of consensus toward that and then they can work at their local levels with local councils with the tribes with whatever they're already doing and we do work with them on those programs to learn how do you create a budget, how do you decide what your municipality needs? one thing that most libyans i think consider a great success of the revolution apart from getting rid of gadhafi and apart from the embracing of democracy,
which they do and they have and they continue to do, is the devolution of power from the center at the top down into society. >> it makes sense but let me sort of -- you've given us a broad analysis based on the sort of geography and history and whatnot, but i wanted to look at the last few years of events and sort of, if you will, ask a tough question about are we -- can we -- what can be done now? it seemed in 2011 there was a very aspirational sense with the february 17 revolution, you had a national transitional council, a constitutional declaration that seemed very much like an abr arab spring democracy road map in many respects. there may have been flaws, but it was unusual in terms of what it departed from. all of these things pointing to a new day in libya. today you have the former prime minister who was kidnapped and
driven from office last year. you had the interim prime minister was not granted the authorities he sought. i may be wrong on some of these but this is the press. the general national congress danmate mandate expired and th granted themselves an extension. pirated oil being offloaded by a north korean tanker. you had militias, some of them arm and extremisextremist. the move against the islamist militias. armed federalists. so the question is now with all of these trends, and maybe i'm being unfair, but you tell me, what institutions or processes can the libyan people cling to? what can they turn to now that they do regard as legitimate and reflects popular sovereignty for everyone. >> the constitution drafting piece. i mean, look, the constitutional declaration of august 2011 that laid out a lot of these time lines, and, again, some of those artificial time lines. there's no mention of a date, february 7th, in the constitutional declaration.
that's part of the problem, that it laid out a series of time lines for the accomplishing of certain objectives, none of which has been accomplished thus far, but if you looked at the document itself and said this shall be done in four months or this shall be done in six months, what have you, it led people to say, okay, february 7th is the date, that's the end of this gnc business, they should step aside. now, unfortunately, no one challenged that date in court. i wish they had. i wish that someone had taken that to the constitutional court or some higher authority and said is this date a date but nobody did because, in fact, i'm not sure they would have won that case because it was not spelled out per se. but libyans do support the constitution drafting process. there was a lower turnout, but, in fact, in the head of the committee was elected from benghazi. he's a secularist. he's a technocrat, and he got something like 66% of the vote in his district. so i think that's indicative of something, and i haven't given up hope. and i think the young people --
look, 60% of libyans are under the age of 40, which is always hopeful i think. there's a wisdom in the fact that we get older, move on, and get out of the way. but i don't think that it's a hopeless -- i think what we're doing is we're getting to know -- libya is getting to know itself as well as we're getting to know libya. i think in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, we went through what i call the endorphin phase of revolution. it's like the first six months of being in love. you know, everyone was so focused on the beloved in the form of the revolution, it's like those first six months you can be in the middle of the sahara desert and you don't see scorpio scorpions, snakes, or feel the heat. you see the beloved before you and know you want it without thinking of the consequences. one year into that relationship, you realize mortality is flawed. political processes are organic processes. i know of no baby that emerges walking and i know of two 2-year-old who doesn't. you know, all things being
equal. so the fact is these things are just going to take time and i don't think the libyans themselves were even as aware of the fragmentation that existed and the other parties that came on board and, you know, have perhaps in the words of some would say have hijacked or tried to hijack the revolution or others who may have had good theories but then were incapable of putting those theories into process. there are some people now, many people, in fact, two argue that the 2012 elections were premature, and, in fact, that it was wrong to expect that absent the other context of kind of a more rules of the road and consensus on what were the issues that were going to be agreed upon, that it may have been premature to have elections. elections are not the solution to everything. >> fair enough. you're speaking as though the libyan people have every possibility of pulling this together on their own time frame and that this can come together.
i want to ask you about an externality, but is, at least one here, that the jihadists are going back and forth between eastern libya and syria. >> sure. >> does the conflict in syria constitute sort of a tumor that's feeding a cancer inside of libya? and also i would note that the general took out the broadcast capability of at least ansar al-islam. could you talk a little bit about the information space in libya. >> it's battle space. the information warfare in libya is as exacting as any other battle space. that's with agreed rules of broadcasting which is a problem, and i see both sides have their stations -- all sides have their stations and the night before last i think the headquarters of
the tv station of one leader was attacked. so it happens. but, yes, obviously why are we -- why does libya matter so much to us? libya matters precisely because of its location and the potential it has for becoming a hot bed or a nest of -- for these other groups who are moving within the region because of the absence of border security, because of the absence really -- because of the permissive environment within generated by a lack of government capacity to extend its security measures. so, yes, obviously syria is problematic. what goes back and forth, there are a number of libyans who obviously have been in syria, who are coming back. egypt obviously -- you know, it's an important big neighbor for libya and what happens in egypt has an impact whether
politically on libya or economically or otherwise. you have something like i think close to a million libyans who live in egypt and egyptians are coming across on the other side as well, and, again, what happens -- you know, if elements within egypt feel compelled to leave and join kind of a lawless environment in libya, that's a toxic -- that's a potentially toxic mix as well. so that's why libya for us, it's not about the oil for the united states anyway. for us it's not about the immigration problems which, you know, predate this situation. gadhafi had immigration issue was europe and was fairly extortionist in his approach to it. send me $5 billi5 billion eurose or i will unleash on you. so none of that is new. what's a new piece is flows of terrorist and extremist
organizations as using libya as a crossroads and it's so full of arms. that's the other big problem. the number of weapons, and i mean serious weapons, we're not talking about glocks or bb guns. we're talking about, you know, rpgs and 14.5 caliber anti-aircraft artillery pieces. yeah. >> well, i want to ask you about u.s. government activity and capacity. let me start by saying going back to the nato operation where it was a joint endeavor, and you had consensus of the security council the other day. i note that the embassy often puts out statements in conjunction with the uk, france, germany, and italy, so five countries speaking as one. you just talked about mediators popping up in various capitals. is this a new model for cooperation? is it better for the u.s. to sort of align with several
states and speak with one voice and how much can the u.s. lead in terms of helping this mediation process, advancing civil society, bringing in technical assistance. i'm going to ask you in a moment about what the embassy can and is doing but just in general -- >> sure. first of all, i think, you know, the model adapts for every circumstance. in the case of libya, the u.n. was given a special coordinating role after the revolution in -- and the head of it is a former minister from lebanon who is very capable. if you read tariq's assessments at the u.n., they're quite spot on and thoughtful and he's been engaged very heavily in a lot of the political discussion with libyans, but we -- one of the reasons we do coordinate so much more and it is, in fact, what we call it the p-3 plus 4 which is actually three permanent members, the united states, the
united kingdom, france plus the eu plus the u.n. and now plus germany because they wanted to join in the mix, and that's fine, but we saw it as a way of, first of all, efficiency because it's really a task for the government. you know, one thing, with a weak government like libya has and with a nascent structure, really to have multiple ambassadors coming and essentially pummeling them with the same questions or asking the same things doesn't make a lot of sense. we coordinate amongst ourselves anyway and we have a close-knit group and we do coordinate statements on issues at hand. we do coordinate -- in fact, the secretary probably will see something emerge -- i suspect from the next couple days on the situation in libya. but we also coordinate on the programs because in the three years following the revolution, contrary to a lot of popular perception, people did not abandon libya. if anything, sometimes libya was overwhelmed with proposals for
border security missions, ubam is doing that right now, but also for civil society, for governance, for rule of law projects, and all kinds of things. a lot of things on the security side, police training, military training. the u.s., as you know, as well as the uk and italy and turkey are engaged in training a general purpose force for libya. but it can be overwhelming. i mean, as i said, we provided all of this institutional scaffolding this high to a building that was this big. you know, and that tends to crush the building. we've been trying to moderate that and adjust that and to focus on what it is the libyans can also receive. the u.s. -- getting a hug from the u.s. is not always a comfortable hug, but in that sense we can do things, too, that others cannot necessarily do. we can sometimes be a little more of a stick or a little more of a -- you no, i think probably every former ambassador here and there are several in the room, i
see you, too, ron back there, that has been in a situation where governments almost welcome, and i don't say this with hubris, i say it as a practical reality, where given their nature in a consensus driven society, it is sometimes helpful for them to be able to say, you know what, the u.s. made me do this or i really came under a lot of pressure from the united states, and i don't think that's always a bad thing. >> well, let me expand on that. here you are in washington. i'm sure you've been to the hill already or are headed there soon -- >> i have been there twice. >> we'll keep you here as long as you care to stay. you have refuge here at stimson. what would you like at washington that you don't have already in hand? what can washington do to strengthen the american role in libya? >> i'm going to get fired. maybe that's a good thing, too. shall i get fired? you know, we've had a lot of attention from washington, and i
think sometimes there is a sense of urgency that plays out domestically that, you know -- look, our job as ambassadors at the end of the pointy end of the spear is to make sure that the interagency operating -- it's almost like a dentist drill. you know, at one end you have this big machine or the emergency that's all pumping in but it really has to come to a fine point that is hnled with skill and precision on a very delicate situation with the right time, and that's -- can i compare washington to a dentist drill or maybe we're the dentist drill, but i think it's kind of like that sometimes. you know, our job is like -- it's almost like -- i used to say we were like, you know, airport flight controllers, flight path controllers to make sure that all of the incoming flights, planes are coordinated and they're not going to crash with all the agencies, but,
again, we're a whole lot of love on this side of the atlantic, and if all that love comes crashing down at the same time it can be too much too soon in the wrong places, not intentionally, just because people see the size of the problem and see the size of the challenges and everyone wants to help. and there's a lot of help that comes out. but let me put it to you in a very graphic position. there are probably more people in this room today than there are empowered, capable people in the libyan government able to absorb the support we're giving them. shall i repeat that? you know, and that's the reality. so we really have to be careful, and we really need to look in different ways, too, in private sector and elsewhere, here and in other places, to find different pieces of that scaffolding that is going to support, you know, the fundamental -- getting governance on its feet, but before we can go anywhere, libyans themselves have to agree on what their road map is going
to be, who they want to be, how they want to do it. you know, and we can help in many ways, but we can't write that story for them. and our experience is different. and, of course, you're always going to get -- and god bless them, i adore them, the libyans who are educated in the united states or have worked for years with oil companies, and they are very frustrated. they're more frustrated than anyone else. they go back to libya and they say people don't want to work this way or i have to have consensus with 10,000 other people. one of the reasons -- i think ali tried to brick bring a kind of western executive approach to his job, and there was no implementing institution under it, institutional scaffolding under it. so, you know, you can go and like the king tell the waves be still or move all you want and it's not going to change the tide. so what we're really focused on
is finding something that resonates and works, and as part of this dialogue. as i said, i have gone around meeting a lot of people, generating a lot of feedback. bill bushrns came and met with number of people. we had a rather historic meeting with a number of people amongst the various groups for the first time sitting on the same side of the table together in the same room since the revolution. they were i think even astonished themselves and afterwards they continued the conversation for at least another half an hour, but, of course, there are differences that are there. and it's going to take hard work. it's going to take people sitting down and saying does the libyan state matter to me more than my personal interest? sovereignty is about individual engagement with the state and responsibility toward the state, and this is a whole change of -- i mean, people need to understand how radical a change that is for libyans. some of whom joke and say, you know, we used to sit in front of
the television and wait for the banner headline that was going to come on saying the dictator has been overthrown. he said now we're waiting for the next banner headline that's not coming. well, you're the banner headline. you've got to write the news. tough do the story. >> so let me -- before i open it up for your questions, let me ask you about the mission itself. >> uh-huh. >> i take it that it's a fairly -- it's a tailored mission. you probably don't have lots and lots of personnel under the current circumstance. what is the u.s. embassy team able to execute on now and are they getting outside of tripoli, are you able to move around the country? >> yeah. well, in limited places. first of all, we are a small -- we're lean and mean. we have very few -- we are a tiny embassy. we have a large security component, as you might -- we're somewhat similar to a medieval
for tre fortress in some ways. we're well protected. benghazi will not happen again but something else will, it always does. we travel on the seams. i want to dispel the mirth we don't ever emerge from the compound grounds. i get out and about. if you don't follow me already, follow me on twitter to the shores of tripoli, b. i get out -- in fact, you know, if i go to misrata, they say you have been to misrata twice and you've only seen us once. we do plan things. we go out -- libya has some fabulous sights. five world heritage sights. i have to put in a pitch. it has amazing weather. it has fantastic fish. you know, it's got so much to offer, and we do get out, but it's limbed to the west. we do not get out to benghazi.
i hope eventually will be able to. we can't travel on a dime. >> if i may, so the americans who are very interested in tourism in libya -- >> wouldn't do it right now. >> infrastructure. >> it's a precarious situation. how much does a big mac cost? i have the 911 standard which is if you go as a tourist to any country in the world and something happens to you, if you call 911, what do you get for it? you know, if you're in iceland, germany, uk, u.s., a lot of places, you're going to get quite a bit. if you're in libya, you're going to keep dialing and, you know, if you know people, they will come to your rescue. libyans help each other out. one of the things i'm always very moved by and touched by is how often libyans stop and help other libyans. and i tell people one of the
stories about libya that's fantastic actually is if any other society in the world that is that heavily saturated with weapons, you would have a lethality rate that's off the charts. it doesn't happen. why? why doesn't it happen? now it's happening in a very specific way against a very specific group of terrorists who have been assassinating methodically and systematically former government officials. it went from former colonels to police to judicial authorities and then heinously went to civilians, and i mean the killing of these young cadet that is were graduating from this military academy in benghazi by a car bomb that was deliberately timed to go off at precisely the moment when you had the largest congregation of these young men, it was beyond the pale. and this is the thing that led to the declaration of the government about terrorism. this is when the patience and
tolerance level was reached. should americans go around? things happen and unless you really know libyans, i would say if you know libyans, you know the place, you have good sources, you could probably go and go in certain places. right now there are areas i would avoid because americans are targeted and abductions have always been part and parcel of certain areas and especially when you have no rule of law. you choose a high value object because in a transactional society, you need something that's of value for your transaction, and human beings work pretty well, and this is age old practice. i'm not persuaded even -- you mentioned the abduction in october which was ostensibly in reaction for the u.s. capture of a target. i am convinced personally, you may be wrong, but considering who helped him out in that process, that there was probably a deal made to ultimately get the release of someone else or bring them back in the country. who knows. i hate to speculate but i can't
help but speculate in my business. you know, the abduction -- the terrible precedent set with the abduction of five egyptian diplomats in response to the egyptian arrest of the head of the libyan revolutionary operations when he was in alexandr alexandria, followed by the abduction of tunisian diplomats and followed by the outrageous abduction of the jordanian ambassador, you know, who was thankfully released, but, unfortunately, released in exchange for a convicted al qaeda affiliate who had tried to bomb the airport who some reports indicate has been killed in the fighting in benghazi. i don't know. unfortunately, that hasn't been confirmed. >> well, fascinating and now i'm going to open it up to your questions. we have many experts in the room. please wait for the microphone. identify yours and elf and if y
have an affiliation. >> we'll start with the lady in the second row, barbara. >> barbara slavin. all my admiration to you ambassador for taking this post. you will get a reward i hope of special quality. my question is about other outside forces that are supporting various groups. the general, is he getting support from egypt, from the uae? is this sort of a chance to expunge the muslim brotherhood and its elements from libya? >> barbara, that's a good question, and, indeed, you know, certainly there are libyans who have said we need assisi and then i say but you don't have the egyptian army behind him. however, certainly there's been a lot of talk, and one of the narratives that has -- that is commonly heard in libya is that this is not about our own problems.
this is about being the victims of a kind of a proxy war that is being launched by, you know, external forces and i mean everybody knows who those countries are. it's uae or qatar. it's not a secret that the uae and qatar both were supportive of the revolution in different ways and provided very generous support, by the way, in terms of medical care and the offer of free education, et cetera, to various groups. subsequently though, the narrative that many libyans believe and which, frankly, is very difficult to prove concretely, is that each side is funding either training of military or arms or weapons or has an agenda that goes on and on and on. our position has been to call on our friends and our allies to not complicate or confuse the situation within libya because i do believe that it's complicated enough and that enough of these
issues are, in fact, indige jno problems that are exploited by others. you know, and i think libyans have to confront them and deal with those problems because, again, other hands can exploit a situation only when it's so weak that it can be exploited. there's two sides to that thing. but certainly there are those on the -- i would say it's certainly libyans who are based outside of libya have interests that are at play, and some of them, you know, are frankly quite open about it because they believe that this is necessary, these actions are necessary to address issues that the government is not addressing. particularly on the terrorism side of the house right now. now, that doesn't necessarily mean a political endorsement. again, i think the role is not very clear yet in terms of what he seeks at the end of this exercise and also how shall we know when the exercise is over. now, i have my own thoughts on
it because i think that this gets into gaining ground for tactical purposes and, for example, a lot of debate over the control of the airports in tripoli. one airport is widely said and in fact believed to be controlled by the zintan, tripoli international airport. and another airport is believed to be largely controlled by salafis and receiving arms and weapons and things like this from outside the country. now, the question is whether these groups get into a knock down drag out, and we don't assess that one group is particularly capable of dominating the other group. so that's when the situation becomes kind of dicey, but whether they -- i think one group has said they're not going to negotiate, still they're going to use force. i think he's gotten what he wanted which is the gnc suddenly announced a date for elections,
june 25th. when before it was a maybe, and maybe in august. i mean, it's still very fluid, and we have to watch and see what that is, but he's already obviously produced one thing that a lot of libyans wanted, which was a date certain for elections from the gnc. question now though, can the state or can who provide the security for those elections to take place? fairly and honestly. next issue is going to be i'm sure a big issue is ahmed going to continue to pursue becoming prime minister now that you have a june 25th election named in addition to presenting his cabinet, et cetera, or are people going to say, look, let's leave abdullah as a caretaker government until you have a new parliament which is in effect
and is going to name a new government anyway and a parliament which they're going to be called the house of representatives which -- i was going to say that's ominous. >> i can't have that on my conscience. >> okay. does that, barbara, answer your question. >> you didn't answer whether egypt -- >> oh, egypt are supporting. i said that's -- i'm not aware that they are. i said -- i know that libyaeian who reside in egypt and the uae have expressed support. i have nothing for you on that. >> very good. >> how is that answer? >> let's take a question over here. on this side. any question. all right. so sir, in the very far back, please wait for the microphone. >> miss ambassador, i'm
christopher blanchard the congressional research service. i wanted to give you two opportunities, one to respond to some remarks that were made in an interview which seemed to implicate a broader group than ansar al sharia that do implicate muslim brotherhood -- >> but he's not tried to kill muslim brotherhood. >> his remarks were a bit more ambiguous i think and have obviously generated debate inside libya and are affecting how people respond. and then the other to give you an opportunity to sort of respond to questions about the continuation of not just u.s. security assistance but the sort of general plan to work with the libyan military given the questions about chain of command that are obviously being raised here. can you talk about why the u.s. government may believe that it's still important to proceed along that path or not? thank you. >> are you going to give me the wrote? because i haven't read -- >> sure. i can if you'd like. >> what's the specific quote? >> sure. let's see.
he's talking about how the muslim brother had organized groups of radicalists and gave them passports. >> those are two different issues. there's a political issue and there's this now very specific tactical issue against terrorists elements, camps, all of these in the east. the broader competition and that issue is again that, in fact, again, the secularist status quo side has not been as engaged politically and intentionally withdrew from politics because of disgust over what happened after the elections when they felt it was 65% of the vote, they should have been able to choose a prime minister, and they were, in fact, blocked by that tactically by the islamists in the parliament. so, in fact, this is a whole different dynamic that is not about necessarily killing but it's about dislodging people who
they believe are exploiting or -- it's a lot of -- this is a political issue, and again i think there are different elements that are concerned about that one as well. now, the airport thing is a very specific and a little different and that will be a force issue. there's the other political half of that. that's why i say it's complicated, it's complex, and there are various players in it and whether this surges and goes away or what, i don't know. i think the question and the danger right now is that normally for two sides to sit at a table or for multiple sides, for however many sides, they have to be either -- you know, three conditions. they are either -- one of three. they are either, you know, exhausted, injured, or impoverished by the existing situation to the point that they choose its time to sit down at the table, and we're not yet seeing that either of the groups feel that they are either exhausted by the current
situation, impoverished by the current situation, or injured, wounded enough by that situation. and that's why we've got to -- you know, there's got to be a little more work done now to calm that situation and bring it back away from violence into an operational political dialogue. the building of the army, you have raised a great question, it's one we go over all the time, is what will the employment of these forces be? and at the time, of course, that the programs were set up and established, the situation was very different and being presented in a very different way. so even as we speak, you know, we are certainly rethinking the program, but it doesn't negate the need for a national army, and, in fact, you know, ahmed already pre-emptively had said he met once with -- we all met with him once as a group of ambassadors after the initial election before it became very clear that this was going to go into a long debated process and then we've not met with him again, but in that meeting with
the first point he made was he supported the building of a national army, and, in fact, whe when we were in rome in march, may, i can't remember what month it is, march i guess, both the gnc and the government attended and agreed to the building of the general purpose force in the joint agreed communique that was issued which was the whole point was to get both sides to agree on certain steps and then witnessed by the international community as saying you have bought into this so now we are going to hold you to it. so, again, how that is implemented ultimately is still obviously a work in progress. because there's no question they need a national security architecture. it's hard to have one when you don't have an agreed policy or a national security concept. >> i think we have time for one more question. sir? wait for the microphone, please. >> former colleague.
hi. >> daniel seward from johns hopkins and the middle east institute. deb, let me add my voice to the encouragement you've gotten and the gratitude we all feel for what you're doing. i wanted you to try to be a little bit more specific about what you expect heftar to do next. what i'm hearing is, and you can correct me if i'm hearing the wrong thing, is that you're not too unhappy with what he's done so far. but what signals is the united states going to send him about what the next steps ought to be? >> no, daniel, let me be clear. let me clarify something. obviously the government -- and i think we made a statement about that yesterday. you know, we were not aware of this in advance. we have not provided support, and we are not happy with the need to resort to violence or to
disruption to advance an agenda. and obviously are going to work to limit that, to look at that. however, my point is, you know, it's very difficult to step up and condemn, you know -- i mean, we should, but i personally, i have to be honest with this, frankly it's not necessarily for me to condemn his actions in going against very specific groups, which as far as i have seen has been extremely specific, warning civilians to move out of the way and really attacking groups that, frankly, are on our list of terrorists. i mean, i'm not saying that's the best way to deal with them at all and i'm not supporting it from that perspective. what i'm saying is i personally am not going to come out and condemn blanketly what he did in that specific instance. i don't think he has huge personal support.
i'm trying to describe what i see as a situation within libya which is i hear a lot of support for his actions against these specific groups, less support for him as an individual given his background and what many see as an opportunistic strike that is using this as a pretext to gain authority, but i'm just saying the jury is still out because it's not clear what is the political agenda behind it entirely yet. again, we want this to be a legitimate process, and he needs -- frankly, my earlier advice to the government was reach out to him and try to reign him in and talk to him and make sure you're taprotecting t civilians in the area. we're going to continue to work with the government and libyans and political influencers and he's obviously become one of those influencers in that equation that we're going to at some point have to deal with and
the elements who are supporting heftar. they say he's voted in two elections so i'm assuming he's an american citizen. he's democratic, small d"d." juke check the warden list. >> i don't think he's registered with us on the warden list. >> we will now pay a lot more attention to libya, hopefully with a much sharper lens thanks to the last hour of your insights, ambassador jones. wee out o time i want to thank our broadcast audience, our sponsors. the next form is tonight. we will have usaid administrator, doctor ritchie shot. please join me in thanking ambassador jones. [applause] >> you can now take c-span with you where ever you go with our free c-span radio at with your smartphone or tablet. listen to all free c-span tv channels or c-span radio any time. there's a schedule of each of our networks so you can tune in
when you want. play podcast of recent shows from her signature program like afterwards, the king indicators and q. and a. take c-span with you wherever you go. download your free online for your iphone, android or blackberry. >> state department officials testified about u.s.-mexico security and trade cooperation. they were asked about drug trafficking and the high rates of weapons smuggled from the u.s. to mexico. this house foreign affairs committee hearing is to ours. >> the hearing will come to order. we will ask all the members if they could take their seats at this time. this hearing is on the future of u.s.-mexico relations. and today as we look at the future of u.s.-mexico relations, we have witnesses that we'll
hear from shortly but before we do i'm going to make an opening statement and then my, the ranking member of this committee will make his opening statement. despite our strong cultural ties, our relationship with neighboring mexico has never received the sustained attention from official washington that it deserves. this committee is working to change this. in december, chairman salmon's western hemisphere subcommittee held an important field hearing in arizona of facilitating trade between the two countries. and ranking member engel has had a sustained interest in the western hemisphere, particularly u.s.-mexico relations. we will all be watching secretary kerry's trip to mexico city with interest. this partnership is very important to both countries' economic competitiveness.
very important to the standard of living for people to as a top trading partner, trade in goods and services with mexico tops $500 billion annually, supporting millions of american jobs. with structural reforms underway in mexico, this could increase significantly. the high level economic dialogue should advance border management and trade efficiency. but most of all, a successful conclusion of the trans-pacific partnership negotiations, which includes both countries, would -- and, of course, canada, many countries along the western side of south america, that partnership, that tpp would spur economic growth across a region that represents 40%, 40% of the entire global trade. a particular area of growing
significance of course is energy. mexico is one of the 10 largest oil producers in the world, the united states next year being number one. mexico is in the top 10. and it is one of the largest sources of u.s. oil imports. last december, mexico announced historic energy reform, ending the 75-year state-monopoly, pemex. this committee will be watching closely as mexico finalizes these reforms, which are expected to result in a large and productive influx of private capital, technology and expertise. if done right, this will allow mexico's energy sector to thrive, improving u.s. energy security by creating a more reliable source of oil from our close southern neighbor. and this committee played a key
role in the passage of the u.s.-mexico transboundary hydrocarbons agreement, paving the way for greater energy exploration. as a mexican official told committee staff in mexico city last week, mexico wants to work with the u.s. and canada to help north america achieve energy independence. of course, the biggest threat to mexico's success is the ongoing threat of violence from drug cartels and criminal organizations. u.s. efforts with mexico to tackle these transnational criminal organizations must be monitored and improved. after taking a post-election pause to consider and review mexico's national security policy, and with a lot of u.s. aid sitting in the pipeline, it appears that the nieto administration will continue partnering closely with the u.s. both countries have an interest
in reducing the capacity of the cartels. february's joint operation between mexico and u.s. authorities to take down "el chapo" guzman was a key success in this partnership. mexicans are hopeful they are witnessing a new era in their country. under this new administration reforms already passed are proving that our southern neighbors are serious about liberalizing and modernizing institutions. these improvements in trade and investment should improve our relations. i'll now turn to the ranking member for any comments he may have. >> chairman royce, i'd like to begin by thanking you for holding today's hearing. i've been focused on reports of u.s.-mexico relations for many years and i appreciate your willingness to bring this issue before the committee.
once characterized by mutual distrust, u.s.-mexico relations are now stronger than ever. i'm pleased the obama administration has prioritized our partnership with mexico from the very start and i'm happy to see that secretary kerry is continuing a high level engagement of this trip there tomorrow. today our two economies are tied more closely together than ever before. ..