During a press conference yesterday with Italian President Gentiloni, President Trump was asked about the future U.S. role Libya.
QUESTION: President Trump, do you see a role for your administration in helping stabilizing Libya? And do you agree that stabilizing Libya means combating terrorism and ISIS?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: “I do not see a role in Libya. I think the United States has right now enough roles. We’re in a role everywhere. So I do not see that. I do see a role in getting rid of ISIS. We’re being very effective in that regard. We are doing a job, with respect to ISIS, that has not been done anywhere near the numbers that we’re producing right now. It’s a very effective force we have. We have no choice. It’s a horrible thing to say, but we have no choice. And we are effectively ridding the world of ISIS. I see that as a primary role, and that’s what we’re going to do, whether it’s in Iraq or in Libya or anywhere else. And that role will come to an end at a certain point, and we’ll be able to go back home and rebuild our country, which is what I want to do.”
President Trump is taking the smart and strategic approach toward Libya having previously discussed the North African country extensively with President al-Sisi of neighboring Egypt.
The smart play is for the U.S. to maintain diplomatic relationships with Libya, while supporting Egypt and al-Sisi’s position of influence. Libya’s factional and tribal government is still missing the core elements needed for success – a stable central figure with broad moderate following.
History has shown that injecting U.S. opinion toward a centralized government that exists without leadership only brings a worse outcome.
Like Syria, Libya is a tribal nation with diverse ideological and regional perspectives. If there isn’t an existing structure of regional representation when the dictator is removed chaos is the outcome. However, once regional representative leaders are established, the bottom up approach can work better to find a unifying central figure.
That’s also the goal in Syria.