President Obama informed Congress on Thursday that the sanctions his administration imposed on Libya last February will continue.
The national emergency the president declared in an executive order on Feb. 25, 2011, "is to continue in effect beyond February 25, 2012," Obama said in a letter sent to the House speaker and the president of the Senate.
Sanctions imposed on overseas Libyan assets by the United Nations, the United States, and other nations have unwound slowly since Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi was killed last year, beginning with initial steps to free up money for humanitarian purposes last summer. In December, the U.N. lifted sanctions on the Central Bank of Libya and two other entities.
"We are in the process of winding down the sanctions in response to the many positive developments in Libya, including the fall of Qaddafi and his government," Obama said.
"However, the situation in Libya 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 president wrote.
Efforts to release overseas assets tied to the Qaddafi regime have proved complicated and controversial. Releasing the assets will be both politically and legally complicated, because the frozen funds include investments and property owned by private individuals, such as members of Qaddafi's family. Not only has the new Libyan leadership claimed all the frozen funds as its own but American victims of Qaddafi-era terrorism have also clamored for compensation from the assets.