The late US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was visiting Benghazi when he was killed yesterday. But he was based out of the capital Tripoli. In 2011, the US opened a new embassy in Tripoli. Prior to that, and following the resumption of US diplomatic relations with the country in 2004, the US had a “special interests section” at the Bab el Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli. When I travelled to the country in 2006 to report — on the opening up of Libya, and a total solar eclipse of the sun that was passing through its desert — I happened to stay at the Corinthia.
On one of my last days in Tripoli, I arranged a background interview with then-interim Ambassador Gregory Berry. At that time, it seemed security at the hotel/embassy was impenetrable. You had to pass by security guards at the hotel’s reception area, gain permission to board the elevator, and special permission to go to floor 3 (the only public access point for the embassy offices on floors 3, 4 and 5).
Apparently, a newfound freedom for Libya seems to imply newfound risks.
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