The U.S. embassy in Libya was evacuated with a military escort on Saturday, as chaos has descended on the capital of Tripoli.
A Pentagon spokesman said in a statement that military planes and spy vehicles assisted in the operation to protect American officials from a possible attack.
“All embassy personnel were relocated, including the Marine security guards who were providing security at the embassy and during the movement. The embassy staff was driven in vehicles to Tunisia,” Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
“The mission was conducted without incident, and the entire operation lasted approximately five hours.”
In recent weeks, fighting between the military and militia groups in Libya has killed dozens, three years after the uprising that ousted former dictator Muammar Gaddafi from power. Since that uprising, the government has largely been unable to take control and provide security throughout the country.
Violence against American diplomats remains fresh for many officials, and the evacuation highlights the Obama administration’s concern about diplomats’ security.
In 2012, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack at a CIA outpost in Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi. That attack is still a flashpoint on Capitol Hill, where the House has formed a special committee to investigate the incident. Democrats have criticized the panel as a political ploy.
“Securing our facilities and ensuring the safety of our personnel are top department priorities, and we did not make this decision lightly,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement. “Regrettably, we had to take this step because the location of our embassy is in very close proximity to intense fighting and ongoing violence between armed Libyan factions.”
The embassy evacuation was accompanied by a new warning from the State Department urging Americans not to travel to Libya and telling those already there to get out.
“The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable,” the State Department said in the warning. “The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution.”
Extremist groups have made “several specific threats” against Americans this year, it added, and many people have been able to get their hands on military weapons.
The West is looking for a few good “Authoritarian yet secular regimes”:
"In her autobiographical work, based on her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton makes a startling statement while explaining the need for U.S. intervention around the world, despite the “dangers” to American lives. “While we can and must work to reduce the danger,” writes Ms. Clinton, “the only way to eliminate risk entirely is to retreat entirely and to accept the consequences of the void we leave behind. When America is absent, extremism takes root, our interests suffer, and our security at home is threatened” (Hard Choices, p.387, Simon & Schuster, 2014)."
It is curious that Ms. Clinton thinks that extremism thrives when America is absent, as empirical facts and the patterns one can glean from them indicate that the opposite is truer. While Iraq and ISIS’ brutal advance on Baghdad is at the top of the news now, it must be remembered that each of the countries today at the centre of the world’s concerns over extremism is in fact a country that has seen direct or indirect western intervention, not western absence — Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq.
"There are other patterns to these interventions. In each of these countries, what the United States, along with allies sought to oust were authoritarian regimes that were secular. The Soviet-backed regimes of President Najibullah in Afghanistan, President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Qadhafi in Libya.
The movements these leaders set up were dictatorial; they controlled their people through stifling intelligence agencies, and crushed all political Islamic movements where they could. But a by-product of the secularism was that women and minorities had a more secure status under these regimes than under their Islamist and monarchist neighbours like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Unlike them, Mr. Assad, Qadhafi, Saddam and Najibullah had women and minorities in their cabinets, and a sense of Arab/Afghan nationalism overshadowed the sectarian divide in their countries….”