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Middle East Front 2.0: Russia Enters New War

Moscow is trying to win another zone of influence from the West

Western media scare the average man with stories that Russian troops, following Syria, appeared in another Middle Eastern country engulfed in civil war, Libya. We already wrote about this. What, nevertheless, can be the military-political interests of Moscow?

How long will non-interference last?

Seven years in Libya, there is a civil war that began after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled the country completely for more than forty years. The victims of this war were at least forty thousand people (about an order of magnitude less than in neighboring Syria, also at war since 2011).

As in the Syrian conflict, many parties are involved in the Libyan: the most influential players today are France, the United Kingdom and Italy (they are in favor of “freezing” the conflict), as well as Egypt and the UAE (they see Libya as a springboard for attacking political Islamism).

The fact that the Kremlin also wants to play an ever-increasing role from the Libyan campaign has been long reported by Western media. This was indicated by the fact that Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan Armed Forces, as well as his special envoy Abdel Basit al Badri (the Libyan ambassador in Saudi Arabia) repeatedly visited Moscow. Haftar was even invited on board the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, where he held a videoconference with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The British claim that “several dozen” special forces landed in North Africa

In June 2016, Libyan dinars for about $ 3 billion dollars were printed in Moscow – then they were sent in several tranches to the Central Bank of Libya, controlled again by Haftar.

It is curious that in Moscow they accepted Western-backed Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj (opponent of Haftar) – but by diplomatic officials of a lower level than Field Marshal.

Now in the western, then in the Arab editions, information appeared every now and again that Russia is trying to circumvent the UN arms embargo to warring Libya in various ways – the weapon goes through Egypt (which, in turn, supports Field Marshal Haftar). Russian military experts were also seen on the Libyan-Egyptian border – but they did not take part in the hostilities, but were engaged in servicing weapons systems. But how long will non-interference last?

Professor Roshchin: Russia will not take control of Libya

The “Free Press” frankly spoke with our regular expert, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor Mikhail Roshchin about what is happening around Libya today.

– Mikhail Yuryevich, the civil war in Libya has been going on, like in Syria, since 2011. What really is this state today, what part of the territory are controlled by terrorists?

– If to speak really, today there is no single authority in Libya. Historically and in the past, the country was divided into Tripolitania (western part) and Cyrenaica, which in Arabic is called Barca. This division was successfully overcome during the reign of Muammar Gaddafi, but now everything has returned to normal.

Today a government of moderate Islamists, recognized by Western countries and officially the United Nations, operates in Tripoli, with its control limited to only a part of the territory of Tripolitania.

In Cyrenaica, the head of the Libyan Armed Forces, Khalifa Haftar, enjoys the greatest prestige and is supported by the Libyan parliament, which sits in Tobruk, a city located in the east of Libya.

The orientation of Russia on the Libyan army Haftar – the right. This man is the only one in Libya who today is saving there, what else can be saved. Unfortunately, recently there was information that Field Marshal Haftar was seriously ill.

– The European authorities in all the “Libyan” issues, it seems, are concerned only one question – is the “export” of migrants to Europe. How much does it depend today on the militants of the “Islamic State”, which since 2014 have been controlled by the port city of Sirt (where most of the migrants go to Europe)?


– At present, “Islamic State” no longer controls Sirte – the militants were fired from there in December 2016, and later Khalifa Haftar finished off in Ajdabiya and Benghazi.

As for the migrants. Libya remains important as a transit zone for the relocation of African refugees to EU countries. I think this is due to the geographical location that is objectively convenient in this sense.

The European Union today is essentially no one to negotiate with in Libya, except Field Marshal Haftar, and he, as I said above, controls only the eastern part of the country.

I think Russia’s task is not to take control of Libya (and in the foreseeable future this is hardly achievable), but to help the healthy forces that are trying to rebuild this long-suffering country. Some serious Russian initiatives in Libya would be useful so how could eventually lead to the strengthening of stability in the country. But I would recommend to act cautiously in this plan and not to rush, especially since work to resolve the situation in Syria has not yet been completed. “SP”: – Today in the Middle East – many armed conflicts: in Waziristan (Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan) Yemen, Iraq …

  • Do you think it is possible for the Russian army or PMCs to participate in these wars?

– Russian PMCs could in principle take part in various operations abroad, but as part of their private initiative. Yemen is a peripheral country for the Middle East, and I do not think that Russia would at least in some sense be useful and attractive to intervene in the civil war in Yemen. What I said about Yemen is even more true for Vasaristan.

– In Syria, Russia is faced with a tangle of contradictions, and first of all, with opposition from the NATO coalition and Israel. Is this possible in Libya – up to the direct military confrontation between Russia and the West? And in general, do you think that after the post-war “partition” of Syria (and everything seems to go to that in connection with the end of the civil war after the operation in Idlib) the whole world will take over the division of Libya? Barku) has actually occurred, and further this gap between the West and the East of Libya will only widen. And large countries (not only West and Russia, but also, for example, Egypt) will use this to establish their zones of influence.

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