Libyan rebels fight to win recognition

The rebel forces that are fighting Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya have set up an office in Washington to win recognition for their government.

The Transitional National Council of Libya filed a registration form this week with the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Unit to conduct political activities in Washington. 

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The office “will advocate for the interests of the Transitional National Council of Libya and the Libyan people to agencies or officials of the Government of the United States,” according to Justice records.

The filing says Ali Aujali will be representing the opposition group as the council's ambassador and official representative to the United States.

Aujali resigned as Libya’s ambassador to the U.S. last month after Gadhafi tried to quell the rebel uprising. 

Aujali has been making the rounds in Washington to push the Obama administration to become a “major player” in the Libya conflict by formally recognizing the opposition government. 

Other governments such as France, Italy and Qatar have already granted recognition to the Transitional National Council, of which Aujali is a member.

Aujali says formal recognition by the U.S. would give the council the legitimacy it needs to be granted control of Gadhafi’s frozen assets, which amount to billions of dollars. 

The filing says the office’s advocacy efforts will include “meetings with U.S. government officials, members of Congress, scholars, policy makers, and other individuals and organizations.”

“Activities will also include speaking engagements hosted by members of Congress, academic institutions, and other organizations, as well as media appearances,” the filing said.

The opposition government in Benghazi, Libya, has also signed up a well-connected D.C. public relations firm to help them get their message out. 

The Harbour Group will be working with Aujali on a pro-bono basis to implement a public diplomacy program, according to Justice Department records. 

Richard Mintz, Harbour’s managing director, told The Hill in a recent interview that helping the council was “the right thing to do.”

“They need help and we are pleased that we are able to do that. It is in the U.S.’s interest, in the world’s interest,” Mintz said.

Kevin Bogardus and John T. Bennett contributed.

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