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Thread: Russia's involvement in Libya

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    The Un-Holy One The Man's Avatar
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    Russia's involvement in Libya

    As tensions between the United States and Russia escalate, Vladimir Putin has evidently decided to try to open a new front of competition with the West in Libya. Taking advantage of the chaos that has gripped the Mediterranean country since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, and also taking advantage of the near-complete American withdrawal from the country, Putin has thrown his support toward Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who is currently in control of the eastern portion of Libya.

    This extension of Russian influence into the Mediterranean has profound and dangerous consequences for both the United States and NATO. Putin’s current actions all but compel the Trump administration to abandon the president’s promises of significantly improved relations with Russia. While there are many important differences between the foreign policies of Putin and of his Soviet forebears, one vital similarity is his propensity to bring periods of improved relations with the United States to an abrupt halt with aggressive actions.

    During the Cold War, Dwight Eisenhower’s “spirit of Geneva” gave way to bloodshed in Budapest. Lyndon Johnson’s attempts at rapprochement were terminated by a Soviet-backed coup in Czechoslovakia, and Jimmy Carter’s détente ended violently with the invasion of Afghanistan. Following in the Soviet leaders’ footsteps, Putin turned aside George W. Bush’s gestures of friendship by dismembering Georgia, and did the same to Barack Obama by seizing Crimea from Ukraine. In a sense, Putin’s actions are even bolder, since he has violated American allies.

    On the other hand, Putin’s boldness can be seen as nothing more than accepting the invitation proffered by the previous Administration. After Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad crossed Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons in 2012, Obama chose to invite the Russians to take the lead in dealing with the Syrian civil war. This invitation allowed Moscow to play its most active role in the Middle East since Anwar Sadat expelled their troops and advisors from Egypt in 1972.

    Putin immediately used this new access to the Middle East to help Assad decimate the Syrian opposition, beginning with the Kurdish opposition groups, which had been most likely to move Syria in a more pro-democratic and pro-American direction. More recently, the Russian leader has managed to completely reverse Sadat’s action. Russian troops (at least six military units, according to one observer) are stationed along Egypt’s border with Libya. This deployment was Putin’s first foothold in the Mediterranean.

    A firmer and more permanent foothold now exists in eastern Libya, as Putin’s Libyan ally Haftar consolidates his position and openly challenges the U.N.-backed Libyan government in Tripoli. Haftar has seized control of major Libyan oil fields, now back in production, and waged a brutal (and largely successful) campaign against Islamic extremist factions in the country. Both of these operations serve U.S. interests as well, meaning that the Americans might have made common cause with Haftar first, but are now reduced to a Johnny-come-lately diplomatic position (at best).

    Because Libya is not an immediate threat to the United States, President Trump might be tempted to acquiesce in Putin’s newfound Mediterranean power. This would be a mistake, since the threat to Europe is very immediate and very real. As one observer put it, noting Putin’s aggressive claims to the Arctic Ocean, his thinly-veiled threats to the Baltic states, his seizure of Crimea (which turned the Black Sea into a Russian lake), his entry into Syria and his advances in the Mediterranean, Putin is placing Europe in an “arc of iron.”

    The importance of Libya in this arc is indirect, but unsettling. The partnership with the only part of Libya producing and selling oil, combined with control of the Black Sea (where one oil tanker passes every 15 minutes), only serves to increase Putin’s energy-based leverage over America’s European allies. With a presence in North Africa and Syria, Putin can also place himself in a position to improve or worsen the refugee flows into Europe, giving him a potential threat perhaps even more potent than the oil and natural gas threats he already has.

    The only possible outcome is increased hesitation on the part of Europeans to oppose, or even to condemn, Putin’s ongoing aggression in eastern Ukraine and looming aggression in the Baltics. Put differently, by paralyzing Europe, Putin can isolate the United States and make united action, or even credible deterrence, impossible.

    Thus, Obama’s “red line” failure is still producing ripple effects with enormous potential impact. President Trump must take a firm and consistent line against Russia’s encroachments into Europe’s periphery. Far from damaging U.S. relations with Putin, an unswerving show of determination would place those relations on a more realistic and sustainable basis.

    Edward Lynch, Ph.D., is chair of political science at Hollins University. He served in the White House Office of Public Liaison during the Reagan administration.
    Trump must stop Putin's sprawling 'arc of iron' outside Russia | TheHill

    Russian and Egyptian troops near the Libyan border, supposedly for some joint drills


    General Khalifa Haftar


    Haftar in Moscow, last year

    and visiting the Russian aircraft carrier "Admiral Kuznetsov" in the Mediterranean in January



    Russia has pushed the new Libyan government to give him a bigger role: Russia Urges Libya Leadership Role for UN-Defying Military Chief

    Funny thing is, he used to be YOUR government's guy:

    Haftar was born in Tarhouna, Libya. He served in the Libyan army under Muammar Gaddafi, and took part in the coup that brought Gaddafi to power in 1969. He took part in the Libyan contingent against Israel in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.[3] In 1987, he became a prisoner of war during the war against Chad after being lulled into a trap and captured, then a major embarrassment for Gaddafi and represented a major blow to Gaddafi's ambitions in Chad. While held prisoner, he and his fellow officers formed a group hoping to overthrow Gaddafi. He was released around 1990 in a deal with the United States government and spent nearly two decades in the Langley, Virginia in the US, gaining U.S. citizenship.[4] Haftar lived comfortably in Virginia, relatively close to CIA headquarters, from the early 1990s until 2011.[5] In 1993, while living in the United States, he was convicted in absentia of crimes against the Jamahiriya and sentenced to death.

    Haftar held a senior position in the forces which overthrew Gaddafi in the 2011 Libyan Civil War. In 2014 he was commander of the Libyan Army when the General National Congress (GNC) refused to give up power in accordance with its term of office. Haftar launched a campaign against the GNC and its Islamic fundamentalist allies. His campaign allowed elections to take place to replace the GNC, but then developed into a civil war.

    Haftar's campaign attracted opponents to the GNC to join him as well as armed groups including Zintan's al-Qaqaa and Sawaaq brigades, regional military police, the Saiqa special forces group in Benghazi, the Libyan air force and Ibrahim Jadhran's federalist militias.[6]

    Haftar has been described as "Libya’s most potent warlord," having fought "with and against nearly every significant faction" in Libya's conflicts, and as having a "reputation for unrivalled military experience".[7][8]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalifa_Haftar

    But, I guess America didn't give him what he wanted; so he has turned to Putin.
    Thanks from res

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    The Un-Holy One The Man's Avatar
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