Washington D.C., Asharq Al-Awsat- The Libyan Foreign Ministry yesterday summoned US Charge d’affaires to Libya Joan Polaschik to protest against comments made by US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley. Libyan Secretary for European Affairs Abdul Ati al-Obeidi protested to Polaschik about the comments made by Crowley on the speech given by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at the fifth rally of the Islamic Challenge that took place in Benghazi last Thursday.
The US State Department spokesman had ridiculed Gaddafi’s call for Jihad against Switzerland, saying that this reminded him of Gaddafi’s speech before the UN General Assembly last September.
Crowley said “I saw that report and it just brought me back to a day in September, one of the more memorable sessions of the UN General Assembly that I can recall – lots of words and lots of papers flying all over the place, not necessarily a lot of sense.”
The Libyan Foreign Ministry said that “the statement from this US official reveals his lack of awareness and ignorance of what was said in this speech.”
Libya has asked for an “apology and a clarification” from the US State Department with regards to the remarks made by its official spokesman. Libya also stressed that the US failing to take any action on this issue would adversely affect the political and economic relations between the two countries, especially as this relationship has recently made great stride forwards in all areas.
The Libyan Foreign Ministry also clarified that US President Barack Obama was always treated with “appreciation and respect in the interviews that Colonel Gaddafi conducted with local and international media outlets.”
In this context, and in response to inquiries made by Asharq Al-Awsat on Crowley’s comments, a spokesperson for the US State Department confirmed that Crowley’s statement “were general remarks” and that their intention “was not a personal attack” against the Libyan leader.
She added “Despite this, a call for Jihad against any country or individual may lead to harm, and this is an issue that the US does not take lightly.”
The US State Department spokesperson also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “We will continue our dialogue with Libya, but we will not hesitate to express our concern over the statements or actions of any state.”
She added “we are very committed to the US – Libya relationship, and there has been a request to the Charge d’affaires in Tripoli to discuss this case.”
An official Libyan newspaper yesterday launched a sharp attack on the US and the West, and called for politics to be tied to economic interests. This comes against the backdrop of the crisis with Switzerland and the comments made by the US spokesman.
The Libyan al-Shams newspaper said that the crisis with Switzerland “and its resulting consequences has confirmed once again the mistake of soft policy” being implemented by Libya.