Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi has a history of sending letters to Congress. In the past, most letters have involved unusual, if not humorous, praises for President Obama. For example, he normally opens his letters with: “To our son, his excellency, Mr. Barack Hussein Obama.”
These letters have gone unanswered by Congress.
However, the Daily Caller is reporting that a June 23 letter just released indicated that the Libyan leader is willing to start negotiating on the release of $4 billion in frozen Libyan assets. These assets are to be used “to provide humanitarian relief to and for the benefit of the Libyan people in all cities and towns and through the agreed chain of supplies.”
Experts and foreign diplomats say this is a sign that Gaddafi is ready to come to the negotiation table and talk about relinquishing power.
However, according to the Daily Caller, the letter has remained unanswered by Obama.
The war and humanitarian missions in Libya, which began on March 19, have cost the US $715 million already. The frozen assets could help ease the financial burden on the US – already dealing with its own financial trouble – and perhaps bring an end to military operations in Libya.
A June 9th letter from Gaddafi to Washington, which states that he is “ready to sit at the table,” also went unanswered by the American president. A spokesman for Obama told the Daily Caller that, “we’re not publicly commenting on these letters.”
Obama restated his mission of ousting Gaddafi from power at his Wednesday press conference: “there is no doubt that Gaddafi stepping down from power is – from the international community’s perspective – going to be the primary way that we can assure that the overall mission of Libya’s people being protected is accomplished.”
It is, according to Obama, up to the citizens of Libya to figure out an agreement. In other words, it’s not the US’s responsibility to negotiate. It’s up to the Libyan people.
“Whether there’s the possibility of Libyans arriving at some sort of political settlement, that I think is something that ultimately the Libyan people are going to have to make a decision about,” Obama said.
At the moment, the question raised in the June 23 letter is how the US can legally gain control of Libyan funds frozen in US banks. In dealing with large sums of money, the government has to provide oversight and deal with concerns such as who manages the money, where it goes, how much is spent, etc. So the process of gaining $4 billion is more complicated than it may seem.
Senate Bill 1180, which was introduced by Republican Sen. Mark Johnson of South Dakota, if passed, would grant the federal government power to seize the money and use it for humanitarian purposes.