Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Deborah K. Jones New US Ambassador to Libya

6 months after 9/11 Benghazi attack, Obama nominates replacement for slain ambassador Stevens

By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2:25 PM

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama nominated a new ambassador to Libya on Wednesday, filling a post that has been vacant since Chris Stevens was killed in the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack and signaling the United States’ commitment to the North African country as it undergoes a perilous transition from decades of dictatorship.

The announcement came as Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan, and two days after the six-month anniversary of the storming of the U.S. diplomatic mission in the eastern Libyan city. No one has yet been captured for the attack, which has caused significant political headaches for Obama and his foreign policy team.

“The United States will continue to stand with Libya during this difficult time of transition,” Kerry told reporters. “The Libyan people have begun to chart the course for their own future, and they’re defining it. Obviously there are challenges ahead and we understand that, from building political consensus to strengthening the security and protecting human rights, and growing the Libyan economy.”

Kerry thanked the Libyan government for its cooperation after the Benghazi attack and insisted that “those who killed Americans in Benghazi will be brought to justice.” He promised Zidan that America would continue working for a stable Libya.

“We must not walk away from the difficult work that Chris Stevens and his cohorts were so dedicated to,” Kerry said. Stevens was the first ambassador killed in the line of duty since the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in 1979.

To replace Stevens, the White House tapped Deborah K. Jones, a career diplomat who has served in Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and the now-shuttered U.S. Embassy in Syria. Jones, who currently works as a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, also has spent time at embassies in Turkey and Ethiopia.

Jones will assume a difficult position heading the embassy in Libya’s capital, Tripoli. The North African country has been beset by lawlessness, militant group rivalries and political instability since rebels, with the help of the U.S. and other governments, overthrew long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

“She is a very capable and experienced diplomat,” Kerry said of Jones. “I have no doubt that she will help to strengthen the partnership between us.”

Zidan also met with Obama and his national security adviser Tom Donilon at the White House.

The president added his support Libya’s democratic efforts and outlined areas the U.S. could help the government strengthen its institutions and improve the rule of law, according to a statement by Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

From Washington’s perspective, the most pressing problem is insecurity.

Stevens and three other Americans were killed a half-year ago when a large group of men, possibly tied to Islamic extremist groups, assaulted the American outpost in Benghazi, and the help that arrived proved far too little and too late.

The militant group Ansar Al-Shariah is suspected of carrying out the attack, which the administration initially attributed to a protest over an American-made, anti-Islam videothat spiraled out of control. Officials later retracted that account and called it a terror attack. But no one has been punished in Libya or elsewhere for involvement.
Zidan has been trying to reassert government control over Libya. Last month, he called on militias to evacuate buildings and headquarters and join government security forces, vowing that his government will take a hardline stand against any armed group that tries to hijack control of “Tripoli or Benghazi or any other city.”

However, the Libyan government heavily depends on security provided by commanders of several powerful militias that the president has labeled “legitimate” forces. Militias in Libya often act with impunity, running their own prison cells, making arrests and taking confessions in total absence of state control and oversight.

The lawlessness also has allowed Gadhafi’s once-vast stock of weapons to fall into the hands of extremists who’ve sparked a civil war in neighboring Mali. A France-led intervention has pushed back the Islamist militants after they seized half the country last year.

Speaking next to Kerry, Zidan thanked Obama and the U.S. for its key contribution in the effort to defeat Gadhafi. He said Libya would partner the U.S. in stabilizing his country and region.

“This relationship will be at the best level,” Zidan, in his first to trip to Washington as prime minister, said through an interpreter.
Associated Press National Security Writer Lara Jakes contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mr Michael Richards
Right into the war zone of post-Benghazi Libya...guess what??...a dud diplomat with little experience. Before being a nothing scholar she was a tester for the Foreign Service...
...Why?...Just to prove you can send a woman that Arabs hate to an Arab country that hates us??

Obama to nominate new Libya ambassador
By Jonathan Easley - 03/13/13 12:58 PM ET

President Obama will nominate Deborah K. Jones as the State Department’s new ambassador to Libya, the White House announced on Wednesday.

If confirmed, Jones would replace Chris Stevens, the ambassador killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The deaths of Stevens and three other Americans ignited a political firestorm at the height of the 2012 presidential election and Jones’s nomination could provide GOP lawmakers theopportunity to again press the administration over the deadly attack.

Jones served as U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait from 2008 to 2011, and has been with the State Department since 1982, holding posts in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Syria.

White House spokesman Jay Carney praised Jones as a "career foreign service officer who has served admirably in diplomatic posts across the world."

Despite her extensive Middle East experience, the Benghazi attack is likely to overshadow her nomination.

Republicans have charged that the State Department, under the leadership of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ignored the existence of credible threats in the region.
GOP lawmakers also criticized U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice after she initially blamed the attacks on a spontaneous protest of an offensive anti-Islam video.
The administration later acknowledged the attack was terrorism and that no demonstration or protest had taken place in Benghazi. But officials defended Rice, saying that her statements had been based on then-current intelligence.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said this week that he does not believe the White House has shared all its information in the incident. Graham said he intended to write to Secretary of State John Kerry and demand access to survivors from the attack.

Graham and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had initially threatened to block John Brennan’s nomination for CIA director until the administration answered their questions, before relenting and voting for this confirmation. Both, though, have vowed to continue investigating the matter.

Democratic lawmakers have charged Republicans with continuing to press the issue for political gain.

Carney on Wednesday also said that Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was arriving for his first official visit to the U.S. Zeidan is meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday afternoon, and will visit the White House later.

Carney did not say whether Jones would be involved in any of those meetings.

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