AUSPC2011: Keynote – Libya, The Way Forward

Arab-US Policymakers Conference 2011

October 27-28, 2011 – Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, Washington, DC

This year marks the 20th Arab-US Policymakers Conference, or AUSPC, organized by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, under the direction of Dr. John Duke Anthony. The Policymakers Conference series has endured by filling a void on the Washington calendar for a regular, well organized symposium where leaders in diplomacy, business, academia, the military and elsewhere can assemble to network and discuss the challenges and issues affecting the Arab world and the United States’ policy and position in it. SUSRIS has had the privilege of attending all of the AUSPC conferences since it was launched nine years ago and has admired the hard work and dedication that has produced a very professional, highly regarded event. We applaud the National Council on US-Arab Relations for advancing its mission through the conference and look forward to many more years of Policymakers Conferences.


Arab-US Policymakers Conference
Washington, DC
October 28, 2011

Luncheon Remarks – Libya: The Way Forward – Ambassador Ali Aujali

Introduction of Speaker

Ms. Harriet Fulbright – President, J. William & Harriet Fulbright Center; Founder, Harriet Fulbright College


H.E. Ambassador Ali Aujali – National Transitional Council of Libya Ambassador to the United States

Remarks as delivered

[Dr. Joseph Moynihan] Highnesses, Excellency’s, colleagues, and friends, we thank you for your willingness to stay with us here though a dynamic scheduling period. We are to recover that, and we hope that you can remain with us throughout this Friday afternoon, which may extend a little bit longer than we originally thought. That said, the next event on the schedule is one you certainly would not want to miss.

Mrs. Harriet Fulbright, of course the widow of Senator J. William Fulbright. I never fail to meet a Fulbright Scholar throughout my travels, and we know the world is a better place for that program. But Mrs. Fulbright was introduced earlier. We know that she’s in her own right every bit as much of a force for international understanding and indeed the peaceful resolution of disputes as was her wonderful husband before her. I won’t go into the details of her bio because it’s been presented once, but once again the National Council is graced to have Harriet Fulbright on our stage. Thank you.

[Mrs. Harriet Fulbright] Thank you. I’m here, standing here to actually introduce Ambassador Ali Aujali, who is a first rate diplomat, and we are very happy to have him with us. Born and raised in Libya, he started his career in 1968 in London, and went on to Malaysia, Argentina, and Brazil. He has also held a variety of positions in his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then on September 9, 2011, he presented his credentials to President Barack Obama. So we are happy to have him here. He is the first Ambassador to the U.S. from a free Libya. He practices his profession according to one of Senator Fulbright’s more memorable statements: “The making of peace is a continuing process that must go on from day to day, from year to year, so long as our civilization shall last. Our participation in this project and process is not just a signing of a charter with a big red seal, it is a daily task, participating in all the details and decisions, which together constitute a living and growing policy.”

It is therefore my great pleasure and honor to present to you Ambassador Ali Aujali.

[Ambassador Ali Aujali] [Arabic Greeting] First of all, let me say thank you very much, Dr. Anthony, for this invitation. Thank you for the Arab-American Policymaker Conference, and for organizing this event every year. This is a very important event in Washington D.C., and I’m very happy to be here for the second time to give some remarks. Three years ago, exactly in this month, 2008, I came here and I made very few remarks. That day when I came here, I was expecting very important news from Tripoli concerning the settlement of Lockerbie issue. Then the outstanding issue with Libya and United States, which took more than decades; it was settled that day when I came to this conference. Thank you very much.

The second thing also, I want to bear my condolences to the Saudi Arabia government and to the people for the death of the Crown Prince.

I want to thank, first of all, the United States for what you did for the Libyan people, when they asked for help against this brutal regime which took place after the Libyan Assembly peacefully tried to raise their voice to ask one simple question: what happened to our beloved who have been detained in 1996? And they only came to know about them in 2008.

Gaddafi faced that demonstration with weapons and guns. Libyan people were desperate, and they asked for help. I was here in the United States in Washington D.C. I was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, and he directed the camera to my face, and asked me what do you want to tell the President. I told Mr. President Libyan people, they need your help. Libyan people, they’ve been killed by their own ruler who ruled them for the last forty-two years. Without the help, without the lead of the United States, Libyan people, they’re going to suffer. And maybe it will be a massacre. And if no international action will be taken, then I am sure that the world will regret. We have experience of Srebrenica; we have experience in African countries. But we are grateful to the United States. We are grateful to the people, we are grateful to the media, we are grateful to the Congress who came forward and supported, even there are some voices telling the people here and there that Libya is not the interest of the United States. But the matter of interest is a human being. Libyan people, they are facing this brutal regime, and they have no ways and means to defend themselves. I’m really happy, on behalf of the Libyan people to tell you, thank you America, thank you President, thank you very much.

The second thing, I want to thank the NATO, who also came to help the Libyan people, the United Nations, also. The Arab League, Qatar, United Arab Emirate, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, all these countries who came forward to help the Libyan people.

When the revolution started in Libya on fifteenth or sixteenth of February, I was asking myself what is going on? And I made a call to the important people to find out why Gaddafi is killing the people just for simple demonstration? And the only thing I get from that time they are only young people on drugs, and this very easy issue to handle. When I hear of this word, then I said well, there is no meaning for calling anybody. Then my family, the Libyan community, we’d been discussing what’s going on in Libya. There is only one choice in front of me, there is only one decision I have to make, and that decision is not difficult, because what I have seen on my eyes, what we’ve been watching on the TV, it is unbelievable. I want to thank the Libyan community for the role the Libyan Senate, my staff, and also my family. I’m sure if I delay my resignation by one day, my wife and my daughter, they would go to the CNN and they would make it on my behalf. I am grateful to them.

Nobody in Libya, and I think in the world, and the intelligence agencies, they expect that the Libyan people raise one day against this regime, because the main purpose, the main issues, the main interests of this regime, how to keep the power in the hands of Gaddafi and Gaddafi’s sons. I’ve been working for Libya forty-two years. I was appointed during the monarchy before the coup d’etat. We’d been trying for all these years that if we can make some changes, we can not leave the country in the hands of Gaddafi and Gaddafi’s family to do what they want. There are many decent people, there are many honorable people in Libya. They felt a long time ago that what’s going on in Libya is completely wrong. Wrong direction. Libyans, they never enjoy, with all the weather they have, they’re lifeless. They never believe, they never even dream with a good future for themselves or their children. They are desperate.

They have no loyalty to their own country, but February 17, it made these changes. For the first time in forty-two years that we are proud of our country, we are proud of our people. The Libyan chanting on the twenty-third of this month when they celebrate free Libya, raise your head, you are a free Libyan. The Libyans that are free after this revolution, you do not know how much we suffered as a diplomat to keep our principles and to keep our dignity, and to work to make some kind of understanding between the United States and Libya. I always believed that maybe when Gaddafi, he feels comfortable with the United States, maybe he will turn to his people, he look at them, he realize they need attention, they need infrastructure, they need a vacation, and they need part of their wealth.

Two messages from the victory happening in Libya; message and a lesson. Message to the dictatorship all over the world. Don’t ever underestimate your people. Nobody dreamed in Libya that one day the Libyan would raise up against Gaddafi. This is a great lesson. A message to the leader, also, they have to give democracy to the people to choose their representative. Without this, I think the Arab world has been under stress from their own government. They are rising now, and there is no more chance for compromise. When the Libyans raised against this regime, I spoke with Mr. Jabril, the chairman of NTC in Rome, that was I think maybe March. And I asked him for one thing. Mr. Jabril, my advice to you is one thing: no compromise. No discussion with Gaddafi or Gaddafi’s government. We have one destiny, we have one hope, we have one dream, that Libya is free from Gaddafi and Gaddafi’s family. We lost hope in this government to do anything for the Libyan people.

The Libyans, they find themselves, grow up in different society, facing brutal regime, and they find themselves, they need a leadership. Then they organized themselves in the National Transition Council. People, they know each other, but they never work together in this such a situation from peaceful demonstration to become a real war. These young people who have been fighting, unbelievable. I believe because of this accumulation of the oppressed, of frustration, of unemployment, and of the hatred of this regime. For eight months, Libyan people, they made their dreams come true.

But we must realize that there are so many challenges in front of us, but in the same time I have two things. One is the Libyan who have been able to be united for eight months to fight this regime who has been using everything – mercenaries, raping, killing, mass graves. I have a great hope in these people to continue the dream of the Libyan for a free, democratic elected government.

The second thing, the international community who came to help the Libyans, the desperate Libyans, in the right time, we not only need their support and their help during the war, but we need their help and support during the peace. Libyans, they need better education, they need training, they need security, and they need stabilization. These are very important issues.

The National Security Council yesterday, they end the mission of the NATO. I was not very happy myself, if you ask me. I thought that maybe they will extend it until the end of the year, until we manage to control everything, every piece in our country. But the forming of another option, which is led by Qatar, and the United States, and other countries, I think this is make me feel more comfortable. There are no resistance now of course in Libya, Gaddafi’s dead, Gaddafi’s finished, but at the same there are some people, some folks maybe here or there, we have eight thousand of borders with African countries, unfortunately many dissenters they came through African countries to kill our people. Then the challenges also we have, we have to remove these arms from the street. Libyan, we never seen that Libya, Libyan people they are carrying arms in their hands except the police or the Gaddafi’s soldiers, but now unfortunately there are arms everywhere. And we need help. We need help for these kind of weapons which Libya they will not be able to collect like these missiles, like the other weapons, which is now at large.

We need to secure our borders. Libya has no army. No police except security brigades formed under Gaddafi’s son’s leadership, their purpose not to protect the country, but to protect the regime, to protect the family. Then we need help from the international community. We need to reconcile among ourselves. There are so many wounds, so many hurts, so many suffering. The Libyan witnessed not for the last eight months, but for the last forty-two years, but what happening in the last eight months, it equal for the forty-two years of suffering.

Then we have to be careful how we are going to absorb, how we are going to get the Libyan together to unite. It is possible; it is not impossible. I am sure that the Libyan will carry the guns to fight Gaddafi; they will be able to carry in their heart the reconciliation for the people. Two people that really have to face justice; the one who corrupted and the one whose hands are with the blood of the Libyans. But from that, we need reconciliation among ourselves.

The media, of course, carried many stories about Libya. Carrying the Islamists, what’s going to happen to Libya? There are some Islamic rogue, they are worried about their agenda. From the beginning, Gaddafi is using Al-Qaeda, from the beginning. If there is no al-Qaeda in Libya during Gaddafi times, then who brought them to Libya? He is the one who is responsible for that. But believe me, the one who had been claimed as a member of Al-Qaeda, of the Libyan fighting group, they came back for Libya for a long time, and they are living their normal life. But when they see the Libyan, their families, their houses, being raped and being killed and being taken by the regime who are using only the live ammunition to kill his own people, then you can’t blame them. But there is no worry about Libya to unite. There is no worry that one group will take over. All the Libyans, they paid a very high price for one thing they want to achieve in their lives, democracy. And they have to thank God that I am still alive to see this regime is ousted by the Libyan people.

There are also, talking about Sharia, Mr. Abdul Jabril mentioned in his speech on the twenty-third of October, also don’t worry. This is the excitement of the celebration, Mr. Abdul Jabril, the chairman he was the Minister of Justice, and to now the process to make the laws it will go completely different than during Gaddafi’s time. That we have to elect their council, their council is the only because later will be involved in the law according the interest of the people.

Then I want the international community and the media to take it easy with the Libyans. Libyans, they are not aggressive. Libyans, they are conservatives, this is true. Libyans, they are dreaming to have a normal relation with the world. We want normal relation. Fifty years ago, Libyans, they used to travel to Europe without visa, many European countries for the Libyan is without visa. Now, during Gaddafi’s time, to get a visa, this is a nightmare. We want to have a normal relation. We want Libya to be an active member in the international community, to help security, to help countries who are suffering under also the dictator regime. Our responsibility completely is different from what has to been under Gaddafi.

What we expect from the United States, what we expect. We expect of course that to build a confidence which has not exist for the last thirty, thirty-five years. I came to this country in 2004, trying to help as much as I can to normalize the relation for the same reason I mentioned just a few minutes ago. But my job never been difficult. This relation, it never been stable. Any statement, any to do with Gaddafi, and he is not happy with it. This means we go back to the first square. I hope this period of non-confidence, that it is over. We want the participation of the United States in the reconstruction of our country. We want also the American think-thanks and democratic institutes to help us create the atmosphere of how the Libyan they can practice their rights to vote the government.

I must mention here that I’m really grateful to Secretary Clinton and to Senator John McCain and Senator Rubio and Senator Graham, and Senator Kirk. They’ve been to Libya a few days ago, and now there is a deal that the first Libyan wounds, they will arrive to Boston tomorrow about six o’clock for the treatment in the United States hospitals. This is a very important an urgent issue for the MPC to deal with, the injures, the weapons in the street, the security of the country, and because the security of Libya is very important; we have Tunisia in the east, in the west, we have Egypt in the east, and we have to work together for the stability of the region.

The illegal immigrants, Gaddafi used to use this illegal immigrant as weapons and blackmailing the European countries for the last decades. If he’s happy with them, then he will stop the illegal immigrant, if he is not, then he opens the doors, and not only the doors, but he helped them with votes and ways to go.

We have to build of course our institution, we need your help, we need your support, and of course there is a very important issue, we have to handle them. In among ourselves as a Libyan, as a nation, reconciliation, the Libyan people know they are ready to establish a new democratic country, believe in freedom, believe in human rights, believe in the freedom of the press, but they need your support. They need your support. They need the support of the United Nations of course. We need to know where our money there are, some in the Europe, some in United States. We are not worried about this, but we are worried about the other money, which may be in African countries, which we don’t know where they are. We hope that we elect our government in eight months after the reform of the temporary interim government. We hope that the Libyan people they made the right choice. If they didn’t second time they will learn. Thank you very much.

[Moynihan] Mr. Ambassador, thank you for your comprehensive and thoughtful remarks. I am certain I can speak for this audience that the best wishes of the National Council and our friends are with the people of Libya at this time.

Sir, just one or two questions. You seem to have a wonderful appreciation that the apparatus of government that remains may have extraordinary difficulties in dealing with the challenges of creating a new state, and indeed that seems to be the experience of the world when these things come. There are specific concerns about the weapons, the weapons that may have become misplaced during the time of the uprising. And as you mentioned, there’s the question of will you be able to get the money? As we know sometimes when tyrants depart, and even when their families depart, they manage to bring a lot of the resources and riches of the country with them, and one can only wonder how much money has transferred to Niger in recent days with the family. Sir any thoughts on these subjects would be appreciated.

[Aujali] Thank you. Of course the weapon is a main concern of Libya, and if you watched the ceremony in Benghazi on the twenty-third of October, that you see the military group, they presented Mr. Jabril with their pistol. This is a symbolic asking the Libyan, the Libyan fighting group that they have to do the same. And we start to see that many groups are giving up their weapons, and this is a very good sign. And it is important of course to encourage them and to do whatever we can to collect all these weapons. But maybe this is not the main issue. The main issue the weapons, which we don’t know where they are. And the weapons which are there but we need some technical help to get them. I believe this is United States and Great Britain, I think they are giving the help and support.

Concerning the money, of course now after the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2016, Libya now, they have more access to their money. They are working with international banks and other financial institutions how to get this money. But the problem is not only how to get this money, the problem what we are going to do with this money and how can we keep them away from any corruption. This is an issue. And I believe that the money, which we get from an institute or any banks, they have to go directly to the Libyan Central Bank or to the Libyan banks in Libya. I think the Libyans now they’re mature, they know what corruption means, they know also that the new official, they know very well that the Libya now, they are free people, that they can raise against any corruption anytime, but not on the same way I hope that there is against Gaddafi.

[Moynihan] Sir, one more item please. A previous speaker mentioned the possibility of a defense relationship between the United States and Libya. And of course the United States has just formed a new command called Africa command, that seeks to establish relationships not only throughout Africa, but also specifically with the Arab Maghreb. And one knows that just when Colonel Gaddafi came to power, the U.S. Air Force departed Wheelus Air Force Base just outside the capital of Tripoli, and there were those who remember those days and wonder if the new government of Libya would seek a defense relationship, or be open to negotiations concerning one with the United States?

[Aujali] I think that the military relations between the United States and Libya, it will be one of these issue, but we will never think of course that the United States one day they will have base in Libya, this kind of idea they are not on the table at all. We want to have a very respected and equal relations with the west and with the United States. We want of course their technology and we want their experience to help to establish the Libyan National Army. This is very important. The relations between Libya and the United States in the past we established relations in 2003 that military relations is very slow. But I think after this, that will be completely different. We will work with them; we will try to train our people in the right institution and right colleges. We Libya do understand very much what the west and what the United States did for us, but in the same time, the Libyan sovereignty and the Libyan decisions have to be respected. With this, we can keep the relation; with this we can keep the interest. With this we will not be blamed as we are being used by the countries who support us, and the countries who support us must also not be blamed that they are coming for certain interests and they want to dominate the Libyan political decision. I’m very sure we reach understanding between our leadership even on this time that we have to build in a better way as opposed than before, that we have to build the confidence between our countries, between our peoples, and of course our economic and our trade relations. It will be taken into account the countries who came to support us when we were desperate. I’ll never forget, on the 19th of March, when Mr. Jabril and the acting Foreign Minister, they called me and they told me if there is no action tonight from the NATO, then Benghazi next day it will be the biggest cemetery in the region. And I’m glad that the French they strike just in the right time. If they are late one hour, I think that Benghazi will be a cemetery. That’s true.

[Moynihan] In the interest in moving along with our agenda this afternoon, we are going to as we did in the past consider some of the twenty odd questions in a more thoughtful way, check with our friends from the Libyan delegation, and provide answers electronically on our website. We’re most appreciative of the Ambassador’s remarks this afternoon, but also his willingness to adjust his schedule as we needed to adjust ours’ to look after the events as they unfolded. Please join me in expressing our appreciation to not only the Ambassador from Libya, but to the Libyan people for their freedom.



Ms. Harriet Mayor Fulbright

Ms. Fulbright is the founder of Harriet Fulbright College and President of the J. William & Harriet Fulbright Center, a non-profit organization which serves to advance the work of Ms. Fulbright’s late husband, Senator J. William Fulbright, and to continue her own lifework. The purpose of the Fulbright Center is threefold: to spread the recognition of the Fulbright legacy, to globalize education, and to promote world peace and nonviolent means of resolving conflicts through international collaborations and education programs. The Fulbright Center partners with higher education institutions and interested individuals (students, teachers, scholars, and leaders) throughout the world in a range of services from assisting in building enriched study abroad programs to actively engaging higher education institutions in international peace making. The Fulbright Center has completed production on an hour-long documentary on the life of Senator J. William Fulbright. This documentary, available on DVD, is titled: “Fulbright: The Man, the Mission, and the Message”.

Ms. Fulbright has a Bachelor’s Degree from Radcliffe College and a Master’s Degree from the George Washington University. She has also received Honorary Degrees: a Doctorate in Law from William & Mary College and the University of Scranton, Doctorates in Humane Letters from Long Island University, Arcadia University, the Bank Street College of Education, Pace University, and the University for Development Studies in Ghana; and a Doctorate in Philosophy and Physics from Stevens Institute of Technology. She was inducted as an Honorary Bennett Fellow of the School of International Studies, Oklahoma State University. Panama presented her with its highest civilian award ‘El Orden de Manuel Amador Guerrero’ and the Republic of Hungary gave her a similar honor – the Middle Cross of the Order of Merit. Ms. Fulbright was awarded the Order of Australia by the Governor-General of Australia, for service to educational and cultural exchange between Australia and the United States.

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H.E. Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali

Ambassador Aujali presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on September 9,2001 as the first Ambassador to the United States from a free Libya. He was previously Official Representative of the National Transitional Council (NTC) to the United States.

Ambassador Aujali became Ambassador of Libya to the United States in January 2009, following four years of service as Charge d’Affaires of the Peoples Bureau of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in Washington, D.C., but resigned from his position as Ambassador on February 21, 2001 in protest of Qaddafi’s killings of Libyan citizens participating in peaceful demonstrations. He previously served as Charge d’Affaires of the People’s Bureau in Ottawa, Canada from 2001 to 2004. While serving in Canada, he founded the Libya-Canada Business Council.

Ambassador Aujali began his career in 1971, serving as Third Secretary at the Libyan Embassy in London. In 1976, he moved to the Libyan Embassy in Malaysia, where he served as First Secretary until he was appointed Ambassador in 1981. In 1984, he was appointed Libya’s Ambassador to Argentina, followed by similar appointment in Brazil.

When not on diplomatic assignments outside Libya, Ambassador Aujali held a variety of positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tripoli including Deputy Director General of the Americas Department (1994-1998). Director General of the North and South Americas Department (1998-2000), and Director General of European Affairs (2000-2001).

Ambassador Aujali joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in December 1968. In his capacity as a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he actively participated in numerous United Nations General Assembly sessions, led Libyan delegations to the Forum for Dialogue in the Western Mediterranean (also know as the 5+5 Dialogue), chaired sessions of the Joint Libyan Swedish Committee, and participated in several summits of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Ambassador Aujali received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Benghazi.

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