The Hariri Center for the Middle East hosted a briefing on April 24 for the newly-confirmed US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens with prominent Libyan-Americans and representatives from non-governmental organizations with operational programs in Libya.
Essam Omaish, director of the Libyan Emergency Task Force, presented an overview of the political and security environment in the lead up to national elections scheduled for June 23, and Nicolas Collins, program officer at the National Democratic Institute, spoke about vibrant civil society efforts in election monitoring and voter education. The group engaged in a discussion with Ambassador Stevens about the potential risks facing Libya, including threats from rival militia groups, declining legitimacy of the National Transitional Council, loose border security, the free flow of weapons, lack of state institutions, and weak legal and regulatory systems. Participants noted the lack of anti-Americanism in Libya, unlike in other parts of the region, and a receptivity to external support and sincere eagerness to work with the United States. The group presented suggestions for how the United States and the US Embassy in Tripoli could play a positive role by galvanizing support in the international community to assist in overcoming these challenges.