A few months before the general elections in December, the Biden administration has named a new envoy for Libya signaling a foreign policy refocus on the situation in Libya and making its presence felt vis-à-vis other intervening parties.
The US ambassador to Libya Richard Norland will take on the additional role as special envoy, according to the Washington Post reported on Monday. Since 2019, Norland has served as head of the US mission to Libya.
A State Department official told the Post the move is aimed at boosting U.S. support for Libya’s recently formed unity government, which is scrambling to navigate factional tensions, restore security and basic services and chart a path toward the elections.
The appointment aimed to strengthen the American position in Libya which has been unsuccessful so far to end the roles of other countries in the conflict. But there doubt if Norland who has been on the scene since 2019 could make any difference by being named an “envoy”.
Some parties in Libya think Mr. Norland was has not been putting enough pressure on militias and mercenaries and their backers to follow a constructive course toward peace and stability.
The Post reported that the State Department’s official said Khalifa Hafter
had not actively opposed the creation of the recent unity government, which US officials see as a promising sign.
“As long as he maintains that posture, I think he’s doing himself a favor in the eyes of Libyan citizens,” the official said as quoted by the Post. “And I think it makes it possible for us to treat him as an important actor in this process.”
But the official acknowledged that major challenges remain, including signs of dissent from armed factions in Tripoli and attacks on the country’s new foreign minister following her appeals for a Turkish withdrawal.