THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, USA

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Volume VII, Issue # 35, February 15, 2005
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor
Government Committed to & Acting in Accord with Conservative Principles
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DISSIDENT WATCH:  FATHI EL-JAHMI
From the Middle East Quarterly

THE RENAISSANCE IN RELATIONS BETWEEN LIBYA & THE U.S.A.:  WHAT IMPACT IS THE CHANGING RELATIONSHIP HAVING ON THE AUTHORITARIAN POLITICAL REGIME OF MU'AMMAR AL-QADHAFI?  IS THE CHANGE FURTHERING TRANSITION FROM TYRANNICAL DICTATORSHIP & REPRESSION TO CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY & INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM?  THE EVIDENCE INDICATES OTHERWISE
FULL STORY:   U.S. relations with Libya are undergoing a renaissance. On June 28, 2004, after a 24-year break, Washington and Tripoli resumed diplomatic ties. On September 19, 2004, President George W. Bush released $1.3 billion in frozen Libyan assets. Four days later, Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalqam, the first time in twenty-five years that a Libyan foreign minister had met a U.S. secretary of state. [1] The meeting capped almost two years of intensive diplomacy.

Libya may have abandoned its nuclear weapons program, but has Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi changed? A number of indications his rhetoric, his attempt to kill the Saudi Crown Prince, and his continuing repression of dissidents suggest not.

Take the case of Libyan dissident Fathi El-Jahmi, a Libyan bureaucrat imprisoned in Tripoli's Abu Salim Prison after he declared, at a 2002 "People's Conference," that reform in Libya would require free speech and democracy. [2]

On March 12, 2003, President Bush spoke on human rights:

    "We stand with courageous reformers. Earlier today, the Libyan government released Fathi Jahmi. He's a local government official who was imprisoned in 2002 for advocating free speech and democracy. It's an encouraging step toward reform in Libya. You probably have heard, Libya is beginning to change her attitude about a lot of things." [3]

Jahmi's release, however, lasted less than two weeks. Within ten days, Libyan authorities had cut his telephone line. On March 24, Assistant Secretary of State William Burns visited Tripoli and Libyan television broadcast his shaking hands with Qadhafi. Two days later, Libyan security arrested Jahmi, his wife, and his son. [4] None of them have been seen since. Libyans visiting Washington say the arrest of Jahmi is intended as a slap in the face to President Bush. [5]

Several U.S. officials, including diplomats and members of Congress, have since traveled to Tripoli to meet the Libyan leader. None have demanded a meeting with the Libyan official once deemed foremost among Libya's courageous reformers. But all have had their picture taken with Qadhafi.

NOTES:
[1] Washington Post, Sept. 24, 2004.
[2] Claudia Rosett, "Are We Keeping Faith?" OpinionJournal, Mar. 24, 2004.
[3] "Remarks by the First Lady and the President on Efforts to Globally Promote Women's Human Rights," White House, Mar. 12, 2003.
[4] Claudia Rosett, "Dial a Dissident," OpinionJournal, Apr. 7, 2004.
[5] Interview with Muhammad El-Jahmi and Husayn Shafei, June 28, 2004.
LINKS TO RELATED TOPICS:
The Middle East & the Arabs

The Threat of Radical Islam

War & Peace in the Real World

Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.

Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization

Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies

U.S. National Security Strategy



The foregoing article was originally published in the Middle East Quarterly, Fall, 2004, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum.


Republished with Permission of the Middle East Forum
Reprinted from the Middle East Forum News
mefnews@meforum.org (MEF NEWS)
February 13, 2005




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