I must congratulate you on a job well done. Your website is an excellent source of information on Libyan affairs. I am pleased to see several comments by fellow Libyan expatriates regarding the latest meetings that took place in New York. I have a few comments of my own to add to the debate.
1. Libyan expatriates have established themselves without any assistance by the regime. As a matter of fact, there were lots of obstacles placed in their way by the same people who are now clamoring to engage them in a meaningless dialogue.
2. The Libyan-American Community is composed of independent-minded individuals who gained their independence through their own hard work, and will not give up their freedom in exchange for trivial promises of Libyan passports or business in Libya. The majority of us have U.S. passports that get us to all places without any hassles that one experiences with a Libyan passport.
3. I suggest to my friends that we identify our selves as Americans of Libyan descent. Being Americans gives us more say in American politics, and we can use this as a leverage to improve conditions for Libyans in Libya and elsewhere. The United States' influence and power has been felt everywhere, most recently by Milosevic of Yugoslavia. The regime acknowledges this fact, and recognizes the unique, strong position of the Libyan-American Community; so let's capitalize on our unique status.
4. I do not know how this desire to engage the Libyan-American community came about. Was it initiated by Dourda, or has it originated in Tripoli? How were the participants selected and who identified them? The fact that those meetings are shrouded in secrecy bothers me. Is the reason behind these meetings is to score a few credit points for Dourda, or is the motive to create division amongst us? Whatever the reasons or the motives are, we must proceed with care and caution.
5. Personally, I am not opposed to a genuine dialogue with the regime, but I do not wish it to end the way that ended Mansour Elkhikia's life. The trust factor is non-existent, and the regime has a lot of work to change that, if at all possible.
6. We can discuss issues amongst ourselves, maybe through the Internet, and elect a representative body amongst us, agree to an agenda and present it to the representative of Gaddafi. Agenda items could include: release of prisoners, restore civil liberties, appointment of an official government, rule by constitution, restore the economy, repair the health institutions, accounting for the dead and missing persons, return all confiscated properties, and strive to create an open society.
7. In the spirit of being American citizens of Libyan decent, I want to draw everybody's attention to the ongoing meetings of the Congressional Subcommittee on Africa to discuss Libya-U.S. relations. We should all introduce ourselves to our state representatives, both in the Congress and the Senate to initiate a lobbying campaign on behalf of the LIBYAN PEOPLE. We should express our concerns for the fate of the Libyan people, and insist on conditional ties with the regime. The conditions could be those in item #6 and others that we wish to add. This is a golden opportunity for us to make a difference in the lives of our relatives who have suffered tremendously for 30 years, let's not miss this opportunity.