Russia moving into Libya

– – Wednesday, July 11, 2018

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jul/11/russia-moving-into-libya/

Libyan National Army forces, under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Khalifah Haftar, is pushing for a Russian military presence in eastern Libya. (The Washington Times/File) more >

U.S. intelligence agencies are closely monitoring Russian military activities in Libya for signs that Moscow may soon build a military base in the divided North African state.

Intelligence reports indicate that Russia is planning to expand its Syrian bases at Tartus and Hemeimeem to Libya.

The possible Russian move into Libya represents the most recent failure stemming from the policies of President Obama that backed Islamist rebels who overthrew and killed Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Mr. Obama has said that the failure to prepare for the aftermath of the ouster of Gadhafi was the worst mistake of his presidency. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also came under fire for failing to provide security for Americans who were attacked and killed in Benghazi after Gadhafi’s fall.

The push for a Russian military presence in Libya is being led by retired Maj. Gen. Khalifah Haftar, whose militia forces, the Libyan National Army, control eastern Libya. Russian private military forces have been operating in eastern Libya since March 2017, including the RSB Group that has deployed several dozen armed mercenaries to join forces with Haftar militias.

News reports from Libya stated recently that the RSB Group mercenaries are engaged in advance work, scouting locations for a Russian military base in Tobruk or Benghazi.

In addition to RSB, the notorious Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries also is operating in eastern Libya, reportedly to service Gen. Haftar’s Russian-supplied weaponry. Wagner mercenaries also are helping set up an intelligence network for the general’s forces.

Libya under Gadhafi supported international terrorism, including the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 259 people over Lockerbie, Scotland. In 2003, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, however, Gadhafi decided to collaborate with the U.S. and Britain in giving up his nuclear weapons program in exchange for closer trade and diplomatic relations with the West.

The regime came down in 2011 as the result of the Obama administration’s policies that opposed the Gadhafi government and backed Islamist rebels.

The country spiraled into a failed state and since 2014 has been divided between two governing bodies: the Council of Deputies based in Tobruk and the Islamist General National Congress based in Tripoli. Sections of the country, which has large oil reserves, remain under the control of numerous Islamist militias.

The head of the Libyan government in Tobruk, Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thini, said in an Arabic news interview June 27 that the U.S., Britain and Italy are “enemies of the Libyan people” because they have backed the forces promoting political Islam in Libya. Observers say the United States should back Gen. Haftar in a bid to prevent Russia from taking control over Libya.

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