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Hopeful Signs Concerning Libya

Ali Aujali is the recently appointed charge d'affairs of the re-opened Libyan embassy in Washington, D.C. (file)

The Libyan embassy in Washington has been reopened, demonstrating growing recognition of the legitimacy of the Transitional National Council.

In a move demonstrating the growing recognition of the legitimacy of Libya's opposition governing body, the Transitional National Council, the Libyan embassy in Washington has been reopened, and the U.S. has accredited Ali Aujali as charge d'affairs. Mr. Aujali had been Ambassador to the U.S. under Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, until he resigned his post in February and joined the opposition seeking to overthrow Mr. Gadhafi.

In July, the United States recognized the Transitional National Council, or TNC, as the legitimate governing authority of Libya, four months after NATO began its operations to protect civilians from Gadhafi regime attacks.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta highlighted some positive signs:

"The combination of NATO forces there, the combination of what the opposition is doing, the sanctions, the international pressure, the work of the Arab League – all of that has been very helpful in moving this in the right direction. And I think the sense is that Gadhafi's days are numbered."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the situation in Libya calls "for strategic patience." She noted that when anti-Gadhafi protests began there was no organized opposition, there were no reliable civil institutions, "There was," she said, "no address even for trying to figure out how to help people who were attempting to cast off this brutal dictatorship of 42-plus years."

Secretary Clinton praised the distance the Libyan opposition has travelled in a few short months, and the willingness of the international community to join with the United States in bearing the burden of defending civilians and promoting universal values in Libya. "I think this is 'smart power,' said Secretary of State Clinton, "where it's not just brute force, it's not just unilateralism; it's being smart enough to say. . . .we want a bunch of people singing out of the same hymn book. And we want them singing a song of universal freedom, human rights and democracy – everything that we have stood for and pioneered over 235 years."