Psaki: We Messed Up Our Libya Policy

State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki admitted that the US’ policy in Libya has not succeeded in an interview broadcast on Thursday’s “Kelly File” on the Fox News Channel.

After she was asked “the problem that the United States has now is it appears that the policy we pursued in connection with the Arab Spring from December 2010 forward has failed, and at a minimum is in the midst of failing. We had to pull out of Syria, our embassy. We had to pull out of Libya, our embassy. Now, we’ve had to pull out of Yemen, and it seems very clear that American influence in that region is diminishing while that of Iran is on the rise. Is that not correct?” Psaki responded “well, first, I think we have to look at each of these countries individually. As it relates to Libya, you’re right. The president and others in the administration have spoken about what more we could have and should have done, and as have other countries.”

She continued “Syria’s in the middle of a civil war with a brutal dictator who’s killed hundreds of thousands of people…these are hardly exactly the same circumstances. and we’re dealing with each of these countries separately. Do we want a return to Yemen? Absolutely. That’s why we suspended our operations. We plan on returning when we can. The Houthis have said they are not threatening, they don’t want to go after the United States.”

Earlier, Psaki discussed Yemen, which she said “has long been a high threat post. It wasn’t just the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and we certainly expect others will follow. The situation, as you’ve referenced in your opening, here is just too volatile to be on the ground right now. That’s not about American leadership. That is about the situation on the ground and concerns about the future of Yemen for the Yemeni people.”

She also addressed the president referring to Yemen as a counterterror success story, arguing “first, what the president was referencing was our efforts to cooperate on counterterrorism. That’s ongoing. Is it impacted by the volatility on the ground? Absolutely. Is it impacted by the fact that we don’t have a diplomatic staff on the ground? Absolutely, but we still have means of communicating and working with a range of contacts and sources we have on the ground, that’s continuing.”

Psaki also denied that the evacuation of the embassy in Yemen was “hasty,” stating “just because everybody in Yemen didn’t know what the plans were, it didn’t mean the plans weren’t in place for weeks. We have been planning for weeks, a range of contingency options, you referenced the ships. Obviously, we worked with the Omanis on getting a plane. We always have a range of options we can take when we’re talking about a high threat post.” She also said that neither the State Department nor the Ambassador ordered US Marines to destroy their personal firearms before boarding the flight out of Yemen, but would not say who gave the order.

On ISIS, Psaki stated “the fact is that there are a number of areas of Iraq, including the one you referenced, that have been highly fought back and forth over the past several months. We have been able to push back in several areas of Iraq, with the Iraqi security forces, on ISIL. We’ve also killed a range of military–ISIL military leaders. They are also having a harder time having access to funding. Is there more work to be done? Is this a long road? Absolutely it is.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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