I am on Senate Armed Services Committee business with my colleagues, John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham. We flew all night and arrived in Tripoli, Libya, this morning where we were greeted by staff from our embassy and Libyan protocol officials.
We are scheduled to meet this evening with Colonel Muammar Qadhafi, who rules Libya, and separately with his son, Muatassim al-Qadhafi, who is the National Security Advisor. Our relationship with Libya has improved dramatically in the wake of Qadhafi's decision to forgo WMD in 2003 and his cooperation with the U.S. on counterterrorism efforts. Qadhafi views the extremist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as a threat to his regime.
Despite these common interests, there are obvious concerns. Qadhafi is a dictator who has ruled Libya with an iron fist for 40 years. Posters with the number 40 and Qadhafi's picture are everywhere in Libya in anticipation of a September celebration of his four decades of rule. Dissent is not tolerated; the press is state-owned, and the country's human rights record is appalling.
Senator Collins will be updating her blog from other locations throughout her trip.