The Libyan move of Moscow

The main political and military leaders, members lasting for about six years of the conflict in Libya began to regularly visit Russia. Last week visited Moscow and held talks with foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the head of the national consensus government of the North African country Fayez Sarraj. This visit of the Libyan Prime Minister was preceded by Russia’s contacts with the representative of the opposite camp — field Marshal Khalifa the Haftarot.

Sarraj starts and…

Last year, he twice visited Moscow and met with defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.

Sarraj said before the conversation with Lavrov about his confidence that “Russia is supporting very good relations with several political forces in Libya will be able to play a positive role in the future of the Libyan settlement.”

This phrase concluded the two recognition of the important role of Russia, and that it maintains contacts with representatives of opposite political-military groups. She and the other task is difficult.

Libya torn by tribal and other conflicts between the contending power groups. The main three of them. This government of national unity Zarraga, in which the main role is played by the Islamists; they are supported by Turkey, Sudan and Qatar. This is the House of representatives of Libya — the country’s Parliament, which is also referred to as the “government in Tobruk,” because in August 2014, after Tripoli was captured by his opponents, he moved to the North-East of the country in the city of Tobruk. For this grouping are primarily the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. “The government in Tobruk” supports third force — group of Marshal Khalifa Haftorah, which controls a significant part of the province of Cyrenaica in the East. Apart from them, the country are the terrorists of the “Islamic state” (banned in Russia organization — approx. ed.) and the so-called regional “police” that are attached to one or the other group.

Remember that the name of Khalifa Haftar

That is the Marshal of the Haftorah was originally staked Russia. 73-year-old Khalifa haftar Belkacem good speaking in Russian. He twice studied in the USSR in 1977-1978 graduated from the courses “the Shot” in Moscow, and in 1983, was trained in the main military institution of Russia — Frunze Academy.

His biography is very colorful. In the late 80-ies he, being an officer in Gaddafi’s army, fighting in Chad and was taken prisoner. Gaddafi acknowledged that the Haftarah was performed in this African country, his order that led to the rupture of an officer with the Libyan leader. According to some, even in captivity Haftar had contacts with the CIA after his release he lived in Zaire, then moved to the United States. In 2011 he returned to Libya, where he participated in the fight against the Gaddafi regime, but after his overthrow came into conflict with Islamists and returned to America. In 2014, the Haftarot again at home, here he created a National army of Libya, which in contrast to Islamists in favour of a secular state.

The Russian leadership saw in Marshall a very promising ally for several reasons. He controls the largest territory of the country, which exceeds the part under the control of the Prime Minister Zarraga. He commanded the largest military forces. Under the control of main oil fields in the country and the ports through which its exports.

Finally, Marshall is ready to provide its territory to the Russian military to fight against the “Islamic state” in Libya. About Haftar said during his visit in January this year on the Russian cruiser “Admiral Kuznetsov”, which was returning home from Syria. In honor of the Libyan guest was given a welcome as the head of state, on Board sound anthems of the two countries, and the air trembled of the Russian and Libyan flags. There Haftar and announced that he is ready to cooperate with Russia in the fight against ISIS.

The Kremlin’s trump card

Russia’s interests in Libya very clear. Geopolitically, the Kremlin wants to gain a foothold in North Africa, along with Syria to strengthen its presence in the Mediterranean. And here Moscow has a number of trump cards. To strengthen its presence in Libya urged Italy, which are struggling to stop the flow of refugees to their country from North Africa.

The Minister of foreign Affairs of Italy Angelino Alfano in an interview with the newspaper Stampa stated their desire to build efficient interaction with the Russian authorities to resolve the crisis in Libya. “All Libya is of strategic importance — from the point of view of immigration and security,” he said. At the same time, Alfano urged to participate in the decision of the Libyan problem and Washington: “to the situation in Libya is stabilized, the participation of the United States.”

For his part, the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini at a press conference following the meeting of foreign Ministers of the EU in February issued a statement about the readiness to join efforts with Russia on Libya, where the task is to contribute to the achievement of a compromise between the army and the Haftarot and the government Zarraga. Perhaps that is this task among others and was decided during the visit of the Libyan Prime Minister to Moscow.

Of course, not all European countries welcome Russia’s participation in resolving the Libyan conflict. “We don’t want the Russian bear popped to their feet,” said the British defence Secretary Michael Fallon at the recent Munich security conference.

Russia sends America a trial balloon

But for Russian President Vladimir Putin is important, first of all, the United States and its new President, Donald trump. Moscow drew attention to the statement of senior analyst at the European Council on foreign relations Mattia, Toaldo that Vladimir Putin and trump can negotiate the support of the Haftarot on the ground of its fight against Islamists and jihadists.

“In favor of the fact that the new American President can support the Haftarot, says the enthusiasm with which the tramp met strong statements about the war on terrorism Egyptian President al-Sisi — says Russian political scientist, Deputy Director of the Center for political technologies, Alexei Makarkin.

And some foreign commentators go even further. As suggested by Israeli publicist Avigdor Eskin, in Libya may be tested the readiness of the United States and Russia to jointly fight against terrorism, and this would be two countries easier than in Syria.

“It is not excluded that the American President is preparing his solution to the problems plaguing Italy and other European countries. From informal, but reliable sources it became known that soon will be made the first steps to launch the project for reconstruction of Libya. And in the United States look forward to working on this project with Russia on a partnership basis, says Eskin in an article published in Russian by RIA “Novosti”. — The recent agreement with Moscow on Syria logically reinforcing the idea to make the upgrade of Russian-American relations in the reconstruction of Libya and ridding it from ISIS.”

Such comments in the Russian press every day it becomes more and more. The impression is that Moscow will allow Washington trial balloon with the proposal to negotiate a settlement in Libya. And his team of trump, although relations with the Russians are in America extremely sharp and toxic problem to climb up.

The return of lucrative contracts

But Libya is clearly visible and the element of rivalry between Russia and the West. In addition to strengthening geopolitical influence in the region Moscow is looking for a possible resumption of billions of dollars of contracts in Libya after the start of the reconstruction of the country. During the reign of Gaddafi, Russia was actively involved in the oil sector of the country, has implemented an ambitious plan of laying of railroads, and more.

Putin and Gaddafi

After the overthrow of the regime, as reported by Bloomberg, losing only to Rosoboronexport in Libya amounted to at least $ 4 billion. Almost as many received less and Railways. In the energy sphere, Russian experts note the loss of the Russian companies much more. It is therefore understandable desire of Moscow to at least partially compensate for the losses due to new contracts with the new Libyan authorities.

Thus, Russia seeks to solve two-fold task. On the one hand, it intends to prevent the creation of new bridgehead of Islamic terrorism in North Africa, especially in light of the loss of ISIS positions in Syria and Iraq, and expansion of geography of terrorist groups. Here Moscow needs cooperation with the US. On the other hand, Russia started to play a more active role in Libya, hopes ahead of us oil and other companies.

The situation for Russia is very favorable. Team trump only defines the contours of its policy in the middle East and North Africa. The White house’s hands are tied by a series of massive scandals involving Russian officials.

And the team of Vladimir Putin’s hands are free. During the reign of Barack Obama’s Russia completely outplayed America in Syria because, as one well-known American political scientist, “Moscow played chess there, and the United States in TIC-TAC-toe”. With trump will be another game, its laws are still unknown, for this reason, Moscow is both prepared as to cooperate with America, and to a possible confrontation with her.