President Barack Obama on Wednesday extended his 2011 declaration of emergency with regard to Libya, maintaining that the situation in the country "continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
The declaration allows the administration to extend sanctions on members of Moammar Qaddafi's family and former regime officials, asserting the need for the United States “to protect against this threat and the diversion of assets or other abuse.”
“We are in the process of winding down the sanctions in response to developments in Libya, including the fall of Qaddafi and his government and the establishment of a democratically elected government,” Obama said in the message to Congress.
“We are working closely with the new Libyan government and with the international community to effectively and appropriately ease restrictions on sanctioned entities, including by taking action consistent with the U.N. Security Council's decision to lift sanctions against the Central Bank of Libya and two other entities on December 16, 2011.
“The situation in Libya, however, continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and we need to protect against this threat and the diversion of assets or other abuse by certain members of Qaddafi's family and other former regime officials,” the message read.
On December 16, the United States and the United Nations Security Council lifted most of the sanctions imposed on Libya under the rule of the brutal Qaddafi dictatorship.
“[A]fter careful consultation with the new Libyan government, the United States rolled back most U.S. sanctions on the government of Libya… Due to the bravery and perseverance of the Libyan people, the Qaddafi regime was defeated and Libya is now undertaking a transition to democracy,” the White House announced at the time.
According to the U.S. Treasury, more than $30 billion of Libyan assets were released.
The president’s declaration to continue the national emergency status for Libya comes as a number of lawmakers are still demanding answers regarding the administration’s handling of the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and four other Americans.