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Source: The New York Times
As world attention focused on the coup in Egypt and the poison gas attack in Syria over the past two months, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that NATO’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention which should be repeated in Syria.
— Writer Patrick Cockburn gets to the point on Libya after 2011. Read it.
ICYMI: White House released over 100 pages of emails about Benghazi (PDF)
In Libya: “The people demand the fall of the (new) regime.”
Sound familiar? Egypt? At this rate, every nation in the Arab Spring will have experienced a second revolution. Tunisia has had one, Egypt is undergoing on and Libya is threatening it.
Two American reporters, Bradley Hope and Kristen Chick, had just arrived. ‘We were way, way out there,’ Hope says. ‘And then we saw this college kid with a shotgun and a Lakers jersey. It was mind-boggling.’ Jeon explained that he was on summer vacation and ‘thought it would be cool to join the rebels.’ He added that his parents didn’t know he was in Libya and pleaded with the reporters not to mention him, but both wrote articles about the encounter (‘At first glance, Mr. Jeon looked like someone who took a wrong turn on their way to the beach or the Santa Monica Pier,’ wrote Hope in a Dubai paper, The National). […] An Al Jazeera news crew spotted Jeon at the refinery where he was staying with his katiba. A network correspondent took out her satellite phone and handed it to Jeon. Within a minute, his parents were on the line. ‘You have to come home, Chris,’ his dad shouted. ‘You don’t know what you’re doing.’ ‘I know exactly what I’m doing,’ Jeon snapped. His mother got on the phone. She was crying. She sounded terrible. She begged him to come home. Jeon told her he’d think about it. He hung up and rejoined his brigade. A couple of days later, the katiba drove into the desert and fired cannons at loyalist positions. Jeon helped load the ammunition. ‘My lips were cracked and bleeding, I hadn’t brushed my teeth in days, and my face was peeling, but it didn’t matter,’ Jeon says. ‘I was totally happy – happier than I’d ever been.’
— Joshua Davis of Men’s Journal wrote on Chris Jeon, a 21-year-old UCLA math major, who fled his self-described monotone life in California and joined rebels in Libya.
Readout of the President’s Call with Libyan President Magariaf
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 13, 2012
President Obama called President Mohamed Magariaf of Libya this evening, their first conversation since President Magariaf’s election last month. President Obama thanked President Magariaf for extending his condolences for the tragic deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, and two other State Department officers in Benghazi yesterday. He also expressed appreciation for the cooperation we have received from the Libyan government and people in responding to this outrageous attack, and said that the Libyan government must continue to work with us to assure the security of our personnel going forward. The President made it clear that we must work together to do whatever is necessary to identify the perpetrators of this attack and bring them to justice. The two Presidents agreed to work closely over the course of this investigation. The President reaffirmed our support for Libya’s democratic transition, a cause Ambassador Stevens believed in deeply and did so much to advance. He welcomed the election of a new prime minister yesterday to help lead the Libyan government’s efforts to improve security, counter extremism, and advance its democracy.
Full and official remarks by the President on the deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya Wednesday
President Barack Obama
Rose Garden, Washington D.C.
Good morning. Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation. Often, they are away from their families. Sometimes, they brave great danger.
Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi. Among those killed was our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, as well as Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith. We are still notifying the families of the others who were killed. And today, the American people stand united in holding the families of the four Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers.
The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. We’re working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats. I’ve also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world. And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.
Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.
Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya. Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans. Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.
It’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save. At the height of the Libyan revolution, Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi. With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries, and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya. When the Qaddafi regime came to an end, Chris was there to serve as our ambassador to the new Libya, and he worked tirelessly to support this young democracy, and I think both Secretary Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there. He was a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspire to walk in his footsteps.
Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today, the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on. I have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those who love them back home.
Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks. We mourned with the families who were lost on that day. I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed. And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.
As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.
But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers. These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity. They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.
We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.
Thank you. May God bless the memory of those we lost and may God bless the United States of America.