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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Where Russian Libyan sadness


Scenes from the Syrian desert has ceased to dominate the news of the Russian TV channels in Moscow, once again visited the Libyan field Marshal Khalifa Haftar — a potential candidate for the role of “new Gaddafi”. Western experts believe that this is no accident: Vladimir Putin, in their opinion, has little interest in Syria and turned their attention towards Libya, hoping to regain lost due to the negligence of Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s influence in this strategically important Middle East and Europe country.


For 6 years in Libya’s civil war. Photo: flickr / Nasser Nouri

Vladimir Putin, as you know, is willing to forgive a lot to his partner in the tandem, but not Libya. People in the know say that at every opportunity he reminds the Queen about the major mistake of his presidency: in 2011, Russia abstained in the UN security Council on a resolution authorizing the conduct of foreign military operations in Libya, and that decision proved fatal for the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. After the leader of the Libyan Jamahiriya was killed, this country was plunged into the abyss of bloody internecine strife, which continues to this day. To date, Libya has developed two centers of power: one in Tripoli, the seat designed with the active participation of the West and, therefore, accept them as legitimate government of national unity headed by Faiz by Sarraj; second in Tobruk, home to the head of the Libyan national army, field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

Once he rigidly clashed with Gaddafi, was hiding from him in the USA then supported the Western coalition, but in the end ended up being brought together supporters of the former dictator, who made of them an efficient and very successful unit. Now under the control of the army of the Haftarot is a large part of the territory of Libya. The field Marshal managed to achieve tangible benefits in the fight against ISIS (banned in Russia as a terrorist organization), knocking out extremists from Benghazi and other key points of the country and to take control of the largest oil fields. Not surprisingly, after such success the West (especially Italy and France) decided to reconcile the Haftarot with the government of national unity, which, by the way, does not have its own armed forces and try to unite the two centers of power in one, offering field-Marshal the post of defense Minister.

Until recently, all seems to be going well: Haftarot with Sarraj sat down at the negotiating table and on 25 July even agreed to hold the spring of 2018 national elections in Libya. However, just a few days, the situation suddenly changed under the false, according to the West, the pretext. Haftarot is not like that Italian military ships entered the territorial waters of Libya to control the flow of refugees, which became a real nightmare for the southern regions of Italy. He ceased all contact with the government of national unity and its European supervisors. And deliberately went to Moscow, where he held talks with foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Western analysts suspect that by itself to take such a step, the Haftarah could not. Him to it is clearly pushed, with the person concerned for a long time did not have to look — it was unanimously declared Vladimir Putin. “Russia wants to secure his influence outside of Syria. In Libya, it occupies the position of mediator and shows that can do that has failed the West after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, paving the Haftarot the road to power” — said a senior researcher on Libya at the European Council on foreign relations Mattia, Toaldo. Cooperation of the Kremlin with the Haftarot, in his opinion, looks perfectly natural — “his anti-Islamist intransigence makes him a reliable player in the fight against terrorism.”

In Moscow, too, does not hide the fact that the Haftarot according to his merits a little post of defense Minister, but, of course, the choice has to do with the Libyan people. Completely loyal to the regime will allow Russia to gain access to the ports and oil fields. Gaddafi in 2008 offered the Russian authorities to place a naval base in Tripoli and Benghazi. But then Dmitry Medvedev tried to flirt with the West, and the proposal of the dictator was greeted without much enthusiasm. However, in the current situation, the establishment of a military Outpost on the Mediterranean sea (just 700 miles from the US base in Sicily) could be a worthy response to the expansion of NATO to the East.

What the Haftarah is clear: the ambitious field Marshal in the new political system of Libya clearly doesn’t want to settle for second roles. It is not clear how Vladimir Putin will go to the target. Mattia Toaldo believes that the final decision in the Kremlin, has not yet been taken — “Europe may yet tip the balance of Russian policy towards peace or escalation”. Haftar himself acknowledges that in Moscow discussed not only political support but also military assistance. “We agreed on what we need. And received a positive response to our requests,” he told the TV channel RT about the meeting in the Ministry of defence. According to him, despite the existence of an international embargo on arms supplies to Libya, Russia is going to “work out an acceptable solution to provide all the necessary Nazario directly or through any third country. Russia is well versed in this.” The defense Ministry does not comment the situation. French security experts argue that the supply chain has long been used by Egypt — it allows Russia a legitimate way to circumvent the embargo. In addition, recently in Libya have revealed some Russian experts allegedly helping in demining operations. Under their guise, as I suspect the French, unable to escape military instructors and intelligence officers. Also in the army of the Haftarot are fighting the Chechens.

However, further escalation of the conflict and the more direct intervention of Russia is hardly included in the plans of Vladimir Putin. First, this solution is again its quarrel with the West, including the Kremlin’s most loyal Italy and France. Second, after the operation in Syria to Russia’s military might more no doubt, and now it’s time to showcase your abilities on the diplomatic front. By the way, it is already known that after the Haftarah in Moscow awaiting the visit of Faiz Saraga.

Read the opinions of the experts: why in Libya, Russia will not use the “Syrian scenario”

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