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Oil industry’s US-Libya business group sees website go dark amid violent uprising

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The website of the US-Libya Business Association (USLBA) was down on Monday as protests in the Arab nation targeting leader Muammar al-Gaddafi’s 41-year regime dramatically intensified.

USLBA, incorporated in 2005, describes itself as “the only U.S. trade association focusing on the United States and Libya,” and has organized policy conferences attended by senior US officials.

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A Web cache of the group reveals that over a dozen oil and energy companies and military contractors are members of its executive advisory committee, including Dow Chemical, Chevron, Halliburton, Shell, Raytheon and Occidental Petroleum.

The Bush administration lifted Libya from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism in May 2006, reopening diplomatic relations between the two longtime foes.

Sanctions were initially placed after Gaddafi’s government was implicated in terrorist attacks that led to the deaths of US soldiers. Libyan terrorists reportedly bombed a Pan Am flight over Scotland in 1988.

Libya has a rich supply of known oil reserves, and much of the country remains untapped. The US Energy Information Administration reports that Libya “has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa.”

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In 2009, USLBA announced that it had transitioned management to the National Foreign Trade Council, a free trade group.

It’s unclear when exactly USLBA’s website went down, but the group appears to have been active as recently as this month. USLBA’s executive director Charles Dittrich took part in a discussion weeks ago about US-Libya relations, and mentioned his ties to the group.

A call to USLBA’s Washington, DC office and an email to the group were not immediately returned Monday afternoon.

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Clashes in Libya grew violent on Monday as demonstrators crowded cities and regime officials reportedly used air strikes to fend off protesters fighting the military and setting government buildings on fire.

Stephen C. Webster contributed to this report.


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