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Where the West Fails, Russia wins

How to clear the Augean stables of Libya?

On Sunday in Berlin, an international conference on Libya was held. In addition to the hostess, Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, UN Secretary General António Gutterisch, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, African Union leaders, representatives of Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia.


It should be noted that, despite such a representative composition, many critics were skeptical about the outcome of the conference – “for all the good versus this bad”, the wording of its results is rather vague, the implementation and supervision mechanism is not clear.


But the special correspondent of the newspaper Kommersant, Andrei Kolesnikov, even announced the failure of the event.


He recalled that immediately after the meeting, the leaders of all countries left for the airport, only Merkel and the UN Secretary General remained at the briefing.

– But on the other hand, what else could Angela Merkel tell people? What is the expected failure of the Berlin Conference? – summed up the journalist.


Kolesnikov also recalled that the Libyans themselves, the topic of the meeting, were not invited at all.

– That is, at some point, it all began to look just comical, and it was unlikely that the audience did not feel this comic, – he said.


In addition, the journalist noted that the presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan in three minutes of bilateral negotiations said more about the conflict in Libya than all the other participants in the conference all day.


It is obvious that today it is Moscow and Ankara that are the main players capable of influencing the course of the intra-Libyan conflict. But whether they can independently resolve it. After all, as a result of the Moscow meeting of the parties, it was also not possible to achieve a sustainable peace? Or do not rush, and this is only the beginning? Maybe it’s wrong to talk about the failure of the Berlin conference?


– Initially, it was not worth waiting for a breakthrough, -said Mikhail Balbus, an expert at the Institute for Globalization and Social Movements on the Middle East.


– The interests of outside parties to the conflict are too divergent. In particular, before that, negotiations in Moscow were foiled by Egypt and the UAE. In addition, there are internal reasons. Haftar is in a more winning position – Sirte was taken, on the turn of Misurata. Plus, the Gaddafists said they would leave the alliance in the event of a compromise with Saraj.


– What are the interests of Russia and Turkey? What about Europe?


– Russia in Libya is interested in guarantees of the presence of domestic oil companies. And in this regard, it is more convenient to negotiate with Haftar. Turkey is interested in the opening of the Libyan market and in a friendly government that grew up, like the Turkish ruling AKP, from Ihvan Muslimin (Muslim Brotherhood).


In addition, Russia uses Libya as a field for bargaining with Turkey in Syria.


The interests of Europeans relate to two issues. Oil fields and the issue of migration. France, supporting Haftar, acts more independently in this matter than Italy.


– Will it be possible to find a compromise in the near future?

– The interests of the warring parties in Libya are too glade and at the moment they have no reason to agree among themselves. Accordingly, with a large number of external players with opposing interests in the context of the success of the Haftar’s LNA, it will be difficult to sit down in the near future.


Russia has no such influence on Haftar as Egypt and the UAE, which are determined to protect Libya from the “ichwanists” (especially Egypt). The presence of “ichwanists” in Libya poses a threat to stability in Egypt itself, as well as the Turkish presence.


– And which of the Europeans can influence the parties to the conflict and which ones? And what about the USA? What is their interest, and what is their influence in the country?


– Italy and France, but their contradictions are less defining than the contradictions of Egypt and Turkey.


The US interest is clearly not expressed and, in fact, during the Trump administration, the USA does not have an explicit strategy for this country. They can interact with any of the winning parties.


– Of course, you can talk about the failure of the conference, – said the orientalist Daria Mitina.


  • Moreover, if we discard all the diplomatic and propaganda husks, then we should only talk about it.


And how else can we talk about a conference on the intra-Libyan civil strife, at which the main heroes of the occasion – the Libyans themselves – either did not come or were not invited at all? Andrei Kolesnikov describes with bitter maliciousness how he tried to discern Field Marshal Haftar in every stately man passing through the building, but, since they were all in civilian clothes, he was not very successful. Quite distinct associations are being born with the Minsk talks on the Donbass, where one of the parties to the conflict – Donbass itself – was not asked about anything. True, the representatives of the Donetsk People Republic and LPR, that is, excuse me, the “Special Districts of Donetsk and Lugansk Regions”, at least offered to endorse the protocols in their personal capacity, no one here suggested this either.


Where did they come to? Opposing parties are solemnly promised to not fight each other. Of course, after such a tempting offer, everyone will immediately disarm, kiss, hug, live, live, and make good. And third countries – co-sponsors of the peace process – are invited to solemnly promise each other not to supply arms to Libyan friends. Given the fact that the arms embargo against Libya has been formally acting for several years, but they sent it to bloody hell and pumped Tripoli and Benghazi with “javelins” and “stingers”, the current “agreement” is acquiring an anecdotal character.


Russia is the only party that really wants Libya for a peaceful settlement. Rightly noting that the chaos in Libya is completely man-made, and its perpetrators today with hypocritical faces pour crocodile tears in Berlin over the lost world in a country rapidly disappearing from the world map, Russia insists on a full-fledged format of negotiations, with the participation of all interested parties, and above all – various influence groups in Libya itself. We are driven not only by narrowly selfish interests – for 9 years, Russia has learned to negotiate with various Libyan institutions, personalities, influence groups, and Rosneft today concludes multi-billion dollar contracts with the puppet Government of National Accord of Faiz Sarraj in Tripoli and the House of Representatives in Tobruk , and with enterprises controlled by the Libyan National Army Commander Khalifa Haftar in Cyrenaica. But Russia is interested in a real, not imaginary, settlement, proceeding primarily from the strategic interests of the region. And it is no coincidence that Russia as a mediator is trusted to one degree or another by all parties to the conflict. It is with Moscow that the uncontrollable Haftar agrees to speak, who believes in his star and does not want to retreat from his gained positions. But it would be naive to believe that Russia is uniquely disposed to support Haftar. In this regard, the Libyan situation is not at all symmetrical with the Syrian. In Syria, all these years there has been a legitimate government based on the support of the majority of citizens. In Libya, statehood is almost destroyed, there is a vacuum of power, so Russia insists on involving all forces with at least some support in the country in the peace process. Negotiations are underway with the son of the murdered leader of the Jamahiriya, Saif Gaddafi – Russia, through the lips of Sergei Lavrov, has already announced that Gaddafi Jr. should be able to participate in the upcoming elections. True, when these elections take place, nobody knows now …


Turkey’s interest is, firstly, to get economic preferences from the hands of someone who doesn’t mind giving them, even if the National Accord has extremely dubious legitimacy, nevertheless it controls the Libyan capital and a number of trade and logistics important Mediterranean cities. In addition, Turkey quietly signed an agreement with the Libyan National Accord Party on the delimitation of the Mediterranean waters, which will allow it to conduct the development of the continental shelf. Moreover, Erdogan is interested in transferring his own “violent” to Libya, since it is in the army that anti-Erdogan conspiracies and coup attempts ripen — let the generals better engage in war than intrigue. Erdogan’s internal political situation is very precarious, so he needs a small victorious war like air.


Europeans today are reaping the fruits of their crimes 9 years ago, when they combined efforts and destroyed the sovereign country, villainously killed its leader and even 150 thousand of its citizens. The result is a threefold increase in the migration flow from North Africa, from which all countries of Southern Europe, France and Germany suffer. True, the Europeans prefer to fight for their interests in the old fashioned way, like a hundred years ago – the absolutely neocolonial approach prevails: to solve the Libyan problem (or rather, their investment in it) without the participation of the Libyans themselves.


When billions of dollars are at stake, it’s not up to some natives there. Unfortunately, Russia failed to reverse this situation today, and therefore the result is more disastrous for us than for the rest.


What will the collision in the Middle East result in and how will oil prices be affected?


– Why were the Libyans themselves not invited to discuss their conflict?

– Neocolonialism is manifested in neglect of the interests of the Libyans themselves – all further settlement processes will take place without them, on the territory of third countries. The economic working group, which is entrusted with the mission of reforming the Libyan Central Bank, developing investment policies and all agreements with the national oil company, will meet in Tunisia. The Libyan Military Committee will meet in Geneva in a “five by five” format – Merkel said that both Haftar and Saraj seemed to agree to delegate five people there, but when they managed to agree to this, it is not clear – they were not at the conference. But even if this is so and their absentee consent was obtained, Russia cannot please it – the proposed format clearly narrows the range of those allowed to decide the country’s military fate. But what about the military units obeying the children of Gaddafi? But what about the militias under the command of other military leaders? But what about Fezzan, where in general walk-field and power belongs to field commanders and tribal leaders? Today’s conference did not even try to answer any of these questions. The “international community” is exclusively concerned about its oil revenues.


– Can we form a new “Astana format” for Libya? Is Syrian experience applicable here?


– Not a single format will be viable without involving the entire spectrum of intra-Libyan forces in deciding its fate. Precedents in Rome, Moscow and Berlin showed that the location of the site itself does not matter, unlike the composition of the participants and the conditions of participation. Russian diplomacy is ready to work even in Moscow, even in Astana, even in Geneva, even in Paris – the readiness of all parties to be guided by the interests of Libya and the Libyans, and not their own capital, is of paramount importance.


The Syrian experience, of course, should be considered as undoubtedly successful. And there it all began, too, as a brawl between NATO member countries and the Persian Gulf monarchies. Pay attention to how masterly Russia gradually ousted all outsiders from the process, turning the peaceful settlement into a Syrian one. It will also take years to settle in Libya, but it is in Russia’s power to ensure that the years do not turn into decades.

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