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Senior White House foreign policy official Sebastian Gorka reportedly drew up a plan to partition Libya into three parts on a napkin and presented it to a European diplomat, The Guardian learned.
The diplomat called the plan “the worst solution” for Libya, according to the newspaper. Gorka is vying for a position as White House special envoy to Libya, a country that has been immersed in conflict since the death of its Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 upended its political order.
The Guardian reported that Gorka has “alarmed” diplomats with his views on Libya. Mattia Toaldo, an expert on Libya for the European Council on Foreign Relations, scorned Gorka when he learned of his plan to partition the country into three sections based on the old Ottoman provinces of Cyrenaica in the east, Tripolitania in the northwest, and Fezzan in the southwest.
“This is like a litmus test of how much you know about Libya. If you the only thing you know is that it was cut into three, then it shows you are clueless about the situation in Libya,” Toaldo told The Guardian. Most experts are in consensus with Toaldo’s assessment, noting that dividing the country up in the way Gorka suggested would likely ignite another civil war.
Gorka, a controversial figure in his own right, is widely disdained within his own field, and several national security experts have cast doubt on his credentials, questioning whether he has the experience to give advice on national security in the White House.
Michael S. Smith II, a terrorism analyst who has advised members of Congress and White House officials, said “no one has anything nice to say” about Gorka and that his level of expertise is “one would expect from a Congressional intern.”
Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, also said he has reservations about Gorka influencing policy in the White House.
“Gorka does not have much of a reputation in serious academic or policymaking circles,” Walt told Business Insider’s Pamela Engel. “He has never published any scholarship of significance and his views on Islam and US national security are extreme even by Washington standards. His only real ‘qualification’ was his prior association with Breitbart News, which would be a demerit in any other administration.”
Gorka was an editor at Breitbart before joining the Trump administration and is reportedly close with White House chief strategist and former head of the controversial news organization, Steve Bannon.
Known for his fringe opinions on Islam, Gorka has said that accepting Muslim refugees would be “national suicide,” that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the US government, and that religious profiling of Muslims is “a synonym for common sense.”
Pamela Engel contributed to this report.