ليبيا والمشهد الجديد… استقالة السراج ودموع أردوغان

ربى يوسف شاهين

«الربيع العربي» وتداعياته الكارثية، لم يرحم منطقة «الشرق الأوسط» من إرهابه، ولعلّ المشهد الشرق أوسطي بعموم جزئياته، يُفسّر جلياً عمق المصالح الدولية والإقليمية في ماهية هذا الربيع.

وعلى امتداد ساحات هذا «الربيع»، برزت الساحة الليبية بموقعها وتوسطها مناطق نفوذ إقليمي ودولي. ليبيا البلد الغني بثرواته النفطية ومساحاته الواسعة، لم يكن بمنأى عن مسرح الصراعات الداخلية والخارجية، والذي أدّى إلى انقسام الأطراف الليبية الى فريقين، وكلّ منهما بدأ بتركيب اصطفافات تناسبه وفقاً لتوجّهاته الايديولوجية ومصالحه السياسية، لتعمّ الفوضى في عموم ليبيا.

بعد صراع مرير بين قوات خليفة حفتر وفائز السراج، بدا المشهد السياسي بتفوّق فريق على آخر عسكرياً، وبالتالي سياسياً، فـ المُشير خليفة حفتر الذي يُعتبر حليفاً لروسيا وفرنسا ومصر والإمارات، يقابله فائز السراج الحليف لأردوغان، ووفق ما يتمّ إعلانه سياسياً من خلال الوقائع على الأرض، كان الدعم التركي للسراج دعماً لوجستياً وعسكرياً، وقد تزايد هذا التدخل، عبر دخول اقتصاديين ورجال أعمال أتراك، بغية الاستثمار في ليبيا، والاستفادة من التوغل التركي في الملف الليبي.

لكن الإعلان المفاجئ عن إمكانية استقالة رئيس حكومة الوفاق فائز السراج وفق مجموعة «بلومبيرغ ميديا»، والذي أكده السراج في مقابلة إعلامية بانه «سيترك السلطة قريباً»، فإنّ لهذا القرار انعكاسات على المستويات كافة على رئيس النظام التركي رجب طيب أردوغان.

يُمكننا قراءة تداعيات استقالة السراج من رئاسة الوفاق وفق مناحي عدة:

{ أظهر إعلان الاستقالة عدم جدوى قوة الدعم المقدّم من قبل أردوغان لحكومة الوفاق، نتيجة الاحتجاجات الشعبية في غرب ليبيا، جراء سوء الأوضاع المعيشية ونتيجة الضغوطات الأجنبية.

*نتيجة السياسة التي اتبعها جنود أردوغان من المرتزقة الإرهابيين بحق الشعب الليبي، عكس الأوجه السلبية لهذا التحالف مع السراج، فـ الصراع الليبي هو صراع داخلي ليبي ليبي.

{ إنّ ما يجري على الأرض الليبية نتيجة تواجد المرتزقة الإرهابيين، قد فتح الأبواب لنشوء جماعات أخرى متمرّدة، مما قد يُدخل البلاد في فوضى عارمة، ناهيك عن الصراع بين قوات حفتر والسراج.

{ الدلالة على أنّ العلاقة التحالفية بين حفتر وحلفائه، أقوى شعبياً، نتيجة الانتهاكات التي فرضها التواجد التركي على الساحة الليبية، وايضاً فإنّ عموم الليبيين أدركوا خطورة المخطط التركي، الأمر الذي شكّل ضغطاً شعبياً على حكومة الوفاق.

{ ضعف الموقف التركي نتيجة تعدّد الملفات الجيوسياسية الشائكة، التي يتحملها أردوغان بالنسبة لليبيا وسورية والعراق.

{ العنجهية التركية في الاستعراض العسكري البحري، حيث أبحرت سفينة بحرية تركية قبالة سواحل ليبيا، لتكون على شفا الصدام المسلح مع سفينة حربية فرنسية، الأمر الذي قرأه الجميع على أنه تهوّر تركي جراء التدخل في الشأن الليبي، وضرورة وضع حدّ للممارسات التركية في عموم شرق المتوسط.

{ خسارة أردوغان ليس فقط لساحة صراع وساحة عمل أمني وإستخباراتي، بل أيضاً ساحة عمل ونشاط اقتصادي لكبرى الشركات الاقتصادية التركية.

{ تجميد الاتفاق البحري الذي وقع مع حكومة الوفاق الليبية في 2019، وبالتالي حدوث صدمة سياسية دبلوماسية خطيرة في حال انتخاب طرف معادي للسياسة الأردوغانية، ما يعني خسارة مدوية لاستثمار أردوغان لوثيقة الاتفاق، لتبرير التدخل في شرق البحر المتوسط.

في المحصلة قد لا نرى دموع أردوغان في حال استقال السراج، ولم يستطع ثنيه عن قراره، ولكنه سيذرفها حتماً، لأنّ خسائره باتت تتالى، نتيجة سياساته المتخبّطة والغير مدروسة في الشرق الأوسط…

Mohammed bin Zayed’s Mission Impossible: Alliance with Israel

By David Hearst
Source: Middle East Eye

The Abu Dhabi crown prince wants to turn his statelet into another Israel

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed has extended the UAE’s reach across the region in conflicts from Yemen to Libya (AFP)

The mentor

Islamism in any form, political or militant, is a fraction of the force it used to be in 2011, and for the foreseeable future it is incapable of summoning hundreds of thousands onto the streets, and toppling regimes, as it once did in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen.

Islamism in any form, political or militant, is a fraction of the force it used to be in 2011

And yet the counter-revolution, unleashed when Mohamed Morsi was toppled as Egypt’s president in 2013, continues furiously. 

It produces identikit dictators: Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, Abdel Fatah el-Sisi in Egypt, Khalifa Haftar in Libya, all pour scorn on free elections, live like pharaohs, and create dynasties for their family and sons. 

They are all beholden to one man who has either funded, armed or mentored their rise to power. 

This man is the organising genius of coups in Egypt; he has become a major player in the civil war in Libya; he is leveraging his country’s ports to become a presence in the Horn of Africa; he has pushed the Saudis into a war in Yemen to promote late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s son, and then ditched that strategy to promote southern separatists; he was instrumental in launching the blockade of his neighbour Qatar; he introduced an unknown Saudi prince to the Trump clan and cast the CIA’s man in Riyadh on the scrap heap. 

There is no pie in which Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, doesn’t have a finger. He rarely makes speeches or gives interviews and when he does he comes across as casual, reticent, softly spoken.

On the rare occasions he talks to a journalist as he did to Robert Worth of the New York Times, he portrays himself as the reluctant first responder, the fireman dousing dangerous wildfires: the September 11 attacks (two of the hijackers were Emiratis) and the Arab Spring were two such galvanising events. 

This is an act, and largely for a Western audience.

MbZ’s ‘Islamist menace’

 As time has elapsed, this can not be the whole story. As MbZ has developed his counter-jihad, so have the ambitions expanded of this quiet, English-speaking, Sandhurst-trained prince. 

MbZ knows how to manipulate decisions in the White House. He can read their ignorance, arrogance, and personal greed. His money goes directly into their pockets

Thwarting the looming Islamist menace – as he describes it – can no longer account for the ambition, scope and cost of his dreams. The Islamist menace of his nightmares is largely dormant.

A shrewd observer, he can see, as clearly as anyone, the US crumbling as an organising power in the Middle East. He knows how to manipulate decisions in the White House. He can read their ignorance, arrogance, and personal greed. His money goes directly into their pockets. He can play on the chaos of real-time decision-making in the Oval Office like a mandolin.

It must have occurred to him that the Middle East needs a new ruler. Why not him? It’s time, he has judged, to move out of the shadows and lay out his own stall.

So what’s the mission?

Mission statement

This was, some might say boldly, put into words by MbZ’s best operator abroad, his ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, recently. 

The op-ed he wrote in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronot was ostensibly to warn Israel that annexation was a bridge too far. Writing in Hebrew, Otaiba posed to a Jewish audience as a friendly Arab – “one of three Arab ambassadors in the East Room of the White House when President Trump unveiled his Middle East peace proposal in January,” he reminded them.

The UAE and Israel are an item. No need for the loving couple to hide behind the bushes

In fact, the letter was no such thing. It certainly wasn’t a message from the Palestinians themselves. The UAE has no problems with the Israeli occupation and will overtly send two planes full of personal protection equipment (PPE) to Ben Gurion airport and make any number of high- profile trade deals with Israel to reinforce their intent to normalise relations. 

The days of disguising the flight plans of aircraft from Abu Dhabi to Ben Gurion airport by making them disappear over Jordan are long gone. The UAE and Israel are an item. No need for the loving couple to hide behind the bushes. Nor was it a message from Jordan, which regards annexation of the West Bank as an existential threat to the kingdom. 

It turned out to be a message from liberal Jews in America to right-wing Jews in Israel. The mastermind of this operation was the American Israeli billionaire Haim Saban, according to a report in Axios. A former adviser to Netanyahu, Caroline Glick called the letter Saban’s brainchild.

In any case, it had little to do with Arab opinion. It did, however, contain another more important message: MbZ’s mission statement appears in two key paragraphs Otaiba wrote.

“With the region’s two most capable militaries, common concerns about terrorism and aggression, and a deep and long relationship with the United States, the UAE and Israel could form closer and more effective security cooperation. 

“As the two most advanced and diversified economies in the region, expanded business and financial ties could accelerate growth and stability across the Middle East,” Otaiba wrote.

In these sentences, UAE not only claims to have a military stronger than that of both Egypt and Saudi Arabia but, fantastically, it also claims to have the strongest and most diversified economy in the Arab world.

Those are some boasts for the crown prince of a tiny Gulf city state to make. 

“Little Sparta” has big ambitions.

Israel’s junior partner

By comparing its military reach to Israel’s, the UAE is sidelining its allies in the Saudi and Egyptian armies. But this is of little importance. Mohammed bin Zayed wants to turn his statelet into another Israel.

Both countries are small in size and population. Both are deeply militarised societies. Israel’s “citizen’s army” is well known. The draft that MbZ introduced for Emirati men in 2014 and expanded from 12 to 16 months in 2018 is less well known.

Both countries have a military and economic reach which extends far beyond their borders and into the heart of Africa. If Israel has shown it has a long arm that can reach to Entebbe and all over the world to exact revenge, so too has UAE shown its long arm in Libya, Turkey, Syria – nations far away from the Gulf. 

Both have a dynamic population that can serve Western interests.They have common enemies – Islamism, Turkey, Iran. They have a common strategy to control the region. The two largest regional challenges for the Emirates and Israel are Turkey and Iran respectively.

The Emiratis confront the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan head-on. They funded an attempted Gulenist coup in 2016. They oppose his forces in Idlib by paying Bashar al-Assad to break the ceasefire arranged by the Russians, and the UAE confronts Turkish forces in Libya.

When unidentified bombers attacked Turkish air defence batteries in the newly recaptured Libyan airbase of Al-Watiya, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an advisor to the Emirati royal court, tweeted: “On behalf of all Arabs, the UAE has taught a lesson to Turks.”

There can only be one bulldog on the block and Israel has no intention of sharing that role with an Arab with ideas above his station

He deleted it afterwards.

But Israel itself stays in the background. It regards the Turkish military as its main threat. As I reported in January last year, Yossi Cohen, the head of Mossad, told a meeting of diplomats from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt in a Gulf capital that Israel considered Turkey’s military to be more capable and less easily containable that Iran’s. But Israel itself does not confront Turkey.

Similarly the UAE does not confront Iran, even when tankers are mined outside an Emirati port. The kinetic stuff is done by Israel, which is believed to be responsible for a large explosion in Natanz in workshops which assemble centrifuges to enrich uranium, and possibly for up to six other mysterious explosions in Iran too.

Regionally, the UAE and Israel work in tandem, each covering the other’s back. But this does not mean that the project itself is stable or long term. Israel may indeed find it useful to play along with MbZ’s ego to serve its own interests of keeping the Palestinians under permanent occupation.

But its national interests come first.

Otaiba’s chutzpah sparked a lively reaction from Glick who wrote in Israel Hayom: “No one is doing anyone any favors. And if we’re already on the subject of favors, the stronger side in this partnership is Israel. The Israeli economy is much more robust that the oil economies of the Persian Gulf. Who does Otaiba think he’s scaring with his threats when oil is selling at $37 a barrel?”

There can only be one bulldog on the block and Israel has no intention of sharing that role with an Arab with ideas above his station.

The second problem with MbZ’s mission is his Sunni Arab allies. When the Saudis and Egyptian military elites realise that their own national and commercial interests are suffering, they will start to look at MbZ’s pyrotechnic adventures differently. 

The maritime deal that Turkey signed with the UN-backed government in Tripoli gives Egypt greater access to maritime riches than it could possibly have in a deal with Cyprus and Greece, and yet Egypt denounced the deal as illegal.

Similarly the carving up of Yemen by the UAE, which has now occupied the Yemeni island of Socotra and is backing southern separatists in Aden, is not in the interests of Riyadh, which is primarily concerned about maintaining the security along its southern border and installing a puppet regime in Sanaa.

History lessons

Israel should not be fooled by expressions of support from the UAE’s satraps, like Abdul Salam al-Badri, deputy prime minister of the eastern Libyan-based government in Tobruk, or Hani bin Breik, the vice chairman of the Southern Transitional Council in Aden, who by the way is a Salafist.

History bodes ill for MbZ’s project. Every Arab state that has worked with or recognised Israel is today weaker and more divided as a result

History bodes ill for MbZ’s project. Every Arab state that has worked with or recognised Israel is today weaker and more divided as a result. This goes for Egypt and for Jordan, both of whose diplomats, who once thought of themselves as pioneering, regret what they did in the name of peace. It proved a bitter false dawn.

The economic miracle both countries were promised at the time never materialised, the Palestinian conflict is as intractable as ever, and historic Palestine is weaker and smaller than ever before. 

Jordan, which has worked more closely with Israel than any other Arab country, is tottering on the verge of bankruptcy, mass unemployment and social breakdown. Its strategic interests in the West Bank and Jerusalem counts for nothing with the dominant settler right-wing in Israel.

Fatah, which recognised Israel, is asking itself the same questions. Why did we do it at Oslo? What was it for? That debate is bringing them closer to their rivals Hamas. 

A doomed alliance

The reality is that the dalliance between Israel and the UAE is doomed. It is the work of individuals ,not peoples. MbZ’s plots and staretegems are his own, not his nation’s.

The Arab street is implacably opposed to recognising Israel until a just solution is found for the Palestinians, a solution involving their own land and their own right of return. 

MbZ’s mission is mission impossible and the sooner his Arab allies see that, the sooner they can prevent a second decade of regional war

The MbZ-Israel project is poison for the region. it is not Israel coming to terms with its neighbours. It is making fools out of them.

Before the Syrian and Libyan civil wars, Turkey did not have an interventionist foreign policy. It has one now. Similarly, Iran’s military reach never really extended beyond the Shia minorities of the Sunni Arab states, and that is taking its military support for Hezbollah and its financial support for Hamas into account.

Iran never actually threatened Israel’s military dominance as Cohen himself acknowledged in that meeting in a Gulf state over a year ago. Iran, from Mossad’s point of view, is containable. 

MbZ’s mission is mission impossible and the sooner his Arab allies see that, the sooner they can prevent a second decade of regional war.


By David Hearst
Source: Middle East Eye

Time is Not on Our Side in Libya

Photograph Source: Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni – CC BY-SA 3.0

by VIJAY PRASHAD

JULY 22, 2020

Ahmed, who lives in Tripoli, Libya, texts me that the city is quieter than before. The army of General Khalifa Haftar—who controls large parts of eastern Libya—has withdrawn from the southern part of the capital and is now holding fast in the city of Sirte and at the airbase of Jufra. Most of Libya’s population lives along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, which is where the cities of Tripoli, Sirte, Benghazi, and Tobruk are located.

Haftar, who was once an intimate of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is now prosecuting a seemingly endless and brutal war against the United Nation’s recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and led by President Fayez al-Sarraj. To make matters more confusing, Haftar takes his legitimacy from another government, which is based in Tobruk, and is formed out of the House of Representatives (HOR).

Ahmed says that the quiet is deceitful. Militias continue to patrol the streets along the Salah al-Din Road near where he lives; the rattle of gunfire is anticipated.

On July 8, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made a statement that could have been delivered at any point over the last decade. “Time is not on our side in Libya,” he announced. He laid out a range of problems facing the country, including the military conflict, the political stalemate between the GNA and the HOR, the numbers of internally-displaced people (400,000 out of 7 million), the continued attempts of migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea, the threat from COVID-19, and the “unprecedented levels” of “foreign interference.”

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to send a Fact-Finding Mission to Libya to investigate human rights violations in this war, including the mass graves found in Tarhouna. The credibility of the Council is in doubt. An earlier Commission of Inquiry on Libya set up in 2012 to study war crimes in 2011-2012 was shut down largely because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) refused to cooperate with the investigation. A second inquiry, set up in March 2015, closed its work in January 2016 with the political deal that created the Government of National Accord.

Guterres did not mention the NATO war in 2011. I am told that he wants to appoint a joint Special Representative with the African Union and he would like a full review of the UN mission. All that is well and good; but it is short of what is necessary: an honest look at the NATO war that broke the country, fomenting a conflict that seems without end.

Foreign Interference

Statements about Libya drip with evasion. These terms—“foreign interference” and “foreign-backed efforts”—are dropped into conversations and official statements without any clarification. But everyone knows what is going on.

I ask Rida, who lives in Benghazi (now under the control of General Haftar), what she makes of these phrases. “We all know what is going on,” she tells me via text. “The government in Tripoli is backed by Turkey and others; while Haftar is backed by Egypt and others,” she writes.

At the core, she says, this is a dispute between two regional powers (Turkey and Egypt) as well as a contest between the Muslim Brotherhood (Turkey) and its adversaries (Egypt and the United Arab Emirates). Wrapped up in all this are contracts for offshore drilling in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, which additionally involved Cyprus and Greece.

It is not enough that this is a regional conflict. There is accumulating evidence that General Haftar is being supported by armed mercenaries (from Russia and Sudan) and by arms shipments from France, while the United States seems to have hedged its bets with support to both sides in the conflict.

Last year, General Haftar’s forces moved swiftly toward Tripoli, but were eventually rebuffed by the intervention of Turkey (which provided the Tripoli government with military aid as well as Syrian and Turkish mercenaries).

In late December, Turkey formally signed a military and security agreement with the Tripoli-based GNA, which enabled Turkey to transfer military hardware. This agreement broke the terms of the UN resolution 2292 (2016), recently reaffirmed in UN resolution 2526 (2020). Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have openly been supplying Haftar.

Now, the forces of the Tripoli government have moved to the central coastline city of Sirte, which has emerged as the key hotspot in this contest.

The Tobruk government, which backs General Haftar, and a pro-Haftar tribes council urged Egypt’s General Abdul Fatah El Sisi to intervene with the full force of the Egyptian armed forces if Sirte falls to the Turkish-backed government. Egypt’s military drill—called Hasm 2020—came alongside the Turkish navy’s announcement of maneuvers off the Libyan coast—called Navtex.

This is a most dangerous situation, a war of words escalating between Turkey and Egypt; Egypt has now moved military hardware to its border with Libya.

Oil

Of course, oil is a major part of the equation. Libya has at least 46 billion barrels of sweet crude oil; this oil is highly valued for Europe because of the low costs to extract and transport it. Countries like the UAE, which are pushing the embargo of Libyan oil, benefit from the withdrawal of Libya, Iranian, and Venezuelan oil from already suppressed world oil markets. Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has stopped oil exports since January; from about 1.10 million barrels per day, Libyan oil production fell to nearly 70,000 barrels per day.

Neither Haftar nor the Government of National Accord in Tripoli can agree on the export of oil from the country. Oil has not left the country for the better part of the past six months, with a loss—according to the NOC—of about US$6.74 billion. General Haftar controls major oil ports in the east, including Es Sider, and several key oil fields, including Sharara.

Neither side wants the other to profit from oil sales. The United Nations has intervened to try and resolve the differences, but so far there has been limited progress. The entire conflict rests on the belief that either side has that it could win a military victory and therefore take the entire spoils; no one is willing to compromise, since any such agreement would mean a de jure partition of the country into its eastern and western halves with the oil crescent divided between the two.

Demilitarized Zone

UN Secretary-General Guterres has surrendered to reality. In his recent statement on Libya, he listed a series of “de-escalation efforts, including the creation of a possible demilitarized zone”; this “demilitarization zone” would likely be drawn somewhere near Sirte. It would effectively divide Libya into two parts.

Neither Ahmed nor Rida would like their country to be partitioned, its oil then siphoned off to Europe, and its wealth stolen by oligarchs on either side. They had misgivings about Muammar Qaddafi’s government in early 2011; but now both regret the war that has ripped their country to shreds.Join the debate on FacebookMore articles by:VIJAY PRASHAD

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015).

Assad Sends Pantsir Air Defense Systems To Counter Turkey In Libya

The Syrian government seems to be deploying Pantsir-S1 air defense systems to Libya to assist forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in their battle against the Turkish-controlled Government of National Accord.

An unusual Pantisr-S1 air defense system was for the first time spotted in Libya last week, when local activists released a video of a Libyan National Army convoy moving towards the port city of Sirte besieged by Turkish-led forces.

A spokesman for the GNA forces in the region, Brig. Abdul Hadi Draa, also said that the Pantsir-S1 systems and other weapons were deployed at the Sirte airport on July 11. One of the convoys moving towards the airport included the Pantsir-S1 system on the unusual KAMAZ-6560 8×8 chassis. Previously, all the Pantsir-S1 systems operated by the LNA were based on the German MAN SX 45 8×8 chassis. This variant was supplied by Russia to the UAE, which later supplied systems to the LNA.

Other discriminant marks of the filmed Pantsir-S1 were a desert yellow paint and the older passive electronically scanned array search radar. The only country in the Middle East that operates Pantsir-S1 systems with such specifications and supports the Libyan National Army is Syria.

Earlier in 2020, Syria officially established diplomatic ties with the House of Representatives, a democratically elected body that supports the Libyan National Army and manages the daily social and economic life in the territories controlled by it.

Damascus also sees the Libyan National Army and the House of Representatives as a natural ally because they also fight against the occupation of their country by Turkey.

In the last few weeks, Syrian Il-76 cargo planes made several unusual flights between Damascus International Airport and the al-Khadim Air Base in northeast Libya. The base is known to be hosting service members of the UAE that are involved in the assist and advice mission to support Haftar’s forces. The Pantsir-S1 system spotted on the road to Sirte may have been shipped from Syria to Libya during one of these flights.

At the same time, the Syrian government currently have good relations with Egypt, the UAE – the main backers of the Libyan National Army, and obviously with Russia – the producer of Pantsir-S1 systems and the country that provides background diplomatic support to the UAE-Egypt bloc in the conflict.

The Syrian Air Defense Forces operate dozens of Pantsir-S1 systems. Most of the Syrian systems are equipped with the advanced active electronically scanned array search radar. Therefore, Damascus may have opted to sell a part of its older systems to Haftar.

If this is confirmed, this move will likely allow Syria to improve its relations with the Libyan National Army, the UAE and Egypt, complicate Turkish plans to capture Srite, and last but not least strengthen the Syrian regional positions, which were significantly undermined by the ongoing war inside the country.

Related News

U.S. has admitted military and political failures in Syria: Russian academic

Source

July 8, 2020 – 15:26

TEHRAN – An associate professor in the Department of Comparative Politics at RUDN University believes that the United States has admitted its military and political failure in Syria.“The United States recognizes its military and political failure in Syria,” Vladimir Ivanov tells the Tehran Times.Ivanov says Washington’s main goal of overthrowing the Assad government has not been realized. However, the scholar says, Russia, unlike many other foreign powers, “has managed to maintain good (or at least normal) relations with all participants in major regional conflicts.” Following is the text of the interview:

1.    Turkey accuses Russia of increasing its military intervention in Libya. This accusation was made while Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar visited the Libyan capital, Tripoli. What is your comment? 

Recently, the Libyan national army has destroyed Turkish military equipment stationed at a strategically important airbase al-Vatiya. “The U.S. cannot influence the processes in a particular region of the world by military force,” Vladimir Ivanov says. 

The day before, it became known about Ankara’s intention to participate in the Libyan conflict openly. Turkey sides with the Government of National Accord and comes into conflict with France over Libya. 

Turkey is outraged by the attack on the al-Vatiya airbase in Libya, which the Ankara-backed Government of National Accord led by Faiz Saraj recaptured from the Libyan national army of Marshal Khalifa Haftar. 

Ankara tried to establish a military base located 140 kilometers south of Tripoli but deployed Turkish air defense systems (US-made Hawk anti-aircraft missile systems) were damaged in the air attack and couldn’t even protect themselves. 

Although Turkey has not yet openly accused any side of the air raid on al-Watiya, “transparent hints” are being made, that two “external” forces supporting the LNA are behind the strikes: Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, in Arab world several analysts describe the situation as “the UAE has taught a lesson to the Turks”. 

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was in Tripoli July 3 and 4, where he held talks with the military and political leadership of the Government of National Accord. Ankara is going to openly participate and intervene in the conflict in Libya after Faiz Sarraj concluded a defense agreement with the Turkish side. In accordance with the new Treaty, Turkey gets the right to place its military base on the territory of Libya.

2. What is your evaluation of the Astana peace process in regard to the Syria crisis? Was it successful cooperation between Russia, Turkey, and Iran?

For now, it’s obvious that Moscow’s actions in the region were more effective than those of its Western rivals, due to high-quality expert analysis and awareness of the real situation in the Middle East (West Asia). 

While the U.S. leadership often relied on biased assessments of pro-Western dissidents and political immigrants, the Kremlin always had the analytics of professional research scientists, and data from a broad intelligence network on the ground was inherited from the Soviet Union.

According to some experts, Russia (unlike many other foreign powers) has managed to maintain good (or at least normal) relations with all participants in major regional conflicts. Russia did not undertake numerous political and security commitments in the region and, unlike the United States, is not limited in flexibility by any rigid alliances. Thus,  Moscow is in a better position than Washington to serve as a mediator in negotiations between influential actors in the region.

3. How do you assess the presence of U.S. troops in Syria while Washington, besides some Arab capitals, blames Russia and Iran for supporting Assad’s government?

Having lost the confrontation in Syria, the U.S. intends to move to the second phase of aggression – to subversive work, including information. By entering the information war platform, the United States recognizes its military and political failure in Syria. The main goal of overthrowing B. Assad has not been achieved. The U.S. is announcing the deployment of psychological and subversive operations, which they are quite adept at. At the same time, American troops seizure Syrian oil fields. Another thing is that today the United States, as it seems, simply cannot influence the processes in a particular region of the world by military force. We can witness the acute desire of the U.S. government not even to change the regime in Damascus. The main aim for them now is to squeeze Russia out of its strategic position in Syria.

4. American sources claim Russia did pay extremists to attack U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. What is your analysis?

This “information” of American media is a typical fake and has already been officially denied by the American President. Russia has never cooperated with the Taliban and only those who either have a poor understanding of the situation in Afghanistan or deliberately distort the facts speak of any collusion between Moscow and the Taliban. The Afghan radical Taliban movement is conducting its own investigation based on media reports about alleged Russian collusion with the movement and calls these accusations baseless, invented by intelligence, and aimed at damaging the peace process in the country. Press Secretary of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov expressed regret that once the largest and respected world media promoted those fakes. The Russian Embassy in the United States demanded that the country’s authorities respond adequately to threats that come to diplomats because of news about Russia and Afghanistan. The white house, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence said that there is no confirmation of the reports at the moment and that D. Trump was not informed about them.

هل مصر ‏‎ ‎جاهزة للحرب؟

د. محمد سيد أحمد

ليست المرة الأولى التي نتحدّث فيها عن دقّ طبول الحرب التي بدأت تتعالى أصواتها في محيطنا المصري، فمنذ بداية أحداث الربيع العربي المزعوم في مطلع العام 2011 وكل ما يحدث سواء بالداخل المصري أو في محيطنا العربي ينبئ بأن هناك حرباً مقبلة لا محالة، وبما أن العدو الأميركي قد خطط أن تكون مصر هي الجائزة الكبرى في مشروعه المزعوم الذي يطلق عليه الشرق الأوسط الكبير أو الجديد فقد بدأت الحرب مبكراً عندما ساند جماعة الإخوان الإرهابيّة لتصدّر المشهد والقفز لسدة الحكم، وكان تحالفه مع هذا التنظيم الإرهابي مبنياً على أساس إيمان هذه الجماعة بأن “الوطن لا يعني الحدود الجغرافية ولا التخوم الأرضيّة إنما الاشتراك في العقيدة” على حد تعبير مؤسس الجماعة في كتابه “رسائل الإمام الشهيد حسن البنا” (صفحة 26).

ومن هنا وجد العدو الأميركي ضالته في تقسيم مصر وتفتيتها بواسطة جماعة إرهابيّة لا تؤمن بفكرة التراب الوطنيّ ولديها استعداد كامل للتفريط في الأرض وهي عقيدة منحرفة مخالفة للعقيدة الوطنية السليمة والتي دفعتنا لدخول حروب كثيرة للدفاع عن التراب الوطني. وبالطبع هذه العقيدة متجذرة وثابتة وراسخة لدى جموع الشعب المصري بشكل عام ولدى جيشنا البطل بشكل خاص. ومن هنا بدأت طبول الحرب تدق في الداخل المصري على شكل حرب أهلية، لكن الجيش المصري العظيم حسم الأمر برمّته في 30 يونيو و3 يوليو 2013 عندما خرجت جموع الشعب مطالبة بإسقاط الجماعة الإرهابية من سدة الحكم، فأعلن انحيازه للوطن ودخل في معركة مباشرة مع الجماعة الإرهابيّة التي حشدت أعضاءها في الداخل، واستدعت أعوانها بالخارج للانتشار على كامل جغرافية سيناء، وتمكن الجيش من حسم معركة الداخل في رابعة والنهضة وكرداسة، وتوجّه إلى سيناء وخاض معارك شرسة استمرت لسبع سنوات تمكّن خلالها من تجفيف منابع الإرهاب على أرض سيناء.

ومع حسم هذه الحرب مع الإرهاب بدأت طبول الحرب تدق من جديد عبر البوابة الغربية لمصر حيث ليبيا العربية التي وقعت فريسة للعدوان الغربي حيث تمّ اجتياحها بواسطة قوات الناتو في العام 2011 وأصبحت ساحة للصراع وهو ما يهدد الأمن القومي المصري بشكل مباشر، وفي الوقت نفسه بدأت طبول الحرب تدق عبر البوابة الجنوبية لمصر، حيث أعلنت أثيوبيا عن مشروع بناء سد النهضة والذي يشكل تهديداً مباشراً لشريان حياة المصريين وهو نهر النيل.

وبعد أن أطاح الجيش المصري بالجماعة الإرهابية بدأت مصر في إدارة ملف الأمن القوميّ المشتعل عبر حدودها الغربية والجنوبية وهى تدرك أن الأعداء يتربّصون بها وبكل خطوة تخطوها نحو تأمين حدودها المشتعلة، فالجميع ينتظر موقف مصر من ليبيا وأثيوبيا وهي الملفات التي يمكن أن تتورط مصر في حرب بسببها وهي غير جاهزة بسبب حربها مع الإرهاب بالداخل.

وهنا قرّرت مصر إدارة الملفين بوعي وهدوء فهي تعلم أن ليبيا قد تحوّلت لساحة صراع دولي ولا توجد قوى واحدة مسيطرة بعد اغتيال الشهيد معمر القذافي، لذلك كان على مصر أن تختار الوقوف بجانب إحدى القوى الموجودة على الأرض، وبالفعل وقفت داعمة للمشير خليفة حفتر الذى يسعى للسيطرة من أجل القضاء على الجماعات الإرهابيّة والحفاظ على ليبيا موحّدة على الرغم من شراسة المعركة، وكان خيار مصر بدعم حفتر من منطلق سيطرته على المنطقة الشرقية الليبية المتاخمة للحدود الغربية المصرية، وعندما تدخلت تركيا لدعم السراج وجماعاته الإرهابيّة، تحركت مصر سريعاً وأعلنت عن مبادرة للحل السياسي وقدّمتها للمجتمع الدولي، وأعلنت أن دخول القوات التركية إلى سرت والجفرة خط أحمر وهو ما يجعل تدخلنا مشروعاً للحفاظ على أمننا القوميّ.

أما ملف سد النهضة والذي يتقاطع مع السودان وإثيوبيا فقد تعاملت مصر معه بوعي وهدوء شديد، فحاولت دائماً إطفاء النيران المشتعلة بالداخل السوداني واستنفدت كل مراحل التفاوض مع إثيوبيا وعندما قرّرت إثيوبيا ملء السد بشكل منفرد من دون التوقيع على اتفاق دولي ملزم وتعالت الأصوات بضرورة ضرب السد وهو ما يعني قيام الحرب قررت مصر الذهاب بالقضية إلى مجلس الأمن ليوقف هذا العدوان على الأمن القومي المصري وإلا سيكون أي تدخل عسكري مصري مشروعاً ولا يمكن أن يواجه بإدانة دولية.

والسؤال المطروح الآن هو هل مصر وهي تدير ملفات الأمن القومي دبلوماسياً وبهدوء وحكمة كبيرة مستعدّة وجاهزة للحرب إذا استنفدت كل الوسائل السلمية ولم يعد أمامها خيار غير الحرب؟

والإجابة القاطعة تقول إن مصر جاهزة لكل الحلول، ففي أعقاب 30 يونيو 2013 بدأ الجيش المصري عملية بناء جديدة حيث تنوعت مصادر السلاح، وحصلت مصر على أسلحة متطورة للغاية، جعلت الجيش المصري يتقدّم للمرتبة التاسعة عالمياً.

ولتأمين حدود مصر الغربية والاستعداد لمواجهة أي خطر مقبل من البوابة الليبية قام الجيش المصري بتشييد قاعدة محمد نجيب العسكرية على مساحة 18 ألف فدان في مدينة الحمام في مرسى مطروح والتي وصفت بأنها أكبر قاعدة عسكرية في أفريقيا والشرق الأوسط والتي استغرق تشييدها عامين وافتتحت في 22 يوليو 2017 لحماية حدود مصر الغربية.

ثم قام الجيش المصري بتشييد قاعدة برنيس العسكرية على مساحة 150 ألف فدان في جنوب شرقي البحر الأحمر لتصبح أكبر قاعدة عسكرية في أفريقيا والشرق الأوسط على الإطلاق وقد تم تشييدها خلال عام واحد فقط وتم افتتاحها في 15 يناير 2020 لحماية حدود مصر الجنوبية.

ومن هنا يتضح كيف تتعامل مصر مع أمنها القومي بوعي وهدوء وتقديم الحلول السياسية والسلمية على الحلول العسكرية، لكن مع الاحتفاظ بحقها في استخدام القوة المشروعة في أي وقت للدفاع عن أمنها القومي. اللهم بلغت اللهم فاشهد.

TURKEY IS NOW RECRUITING MERCENARIES FROM YEMEN FOR ITS WAR IN LIBYA

Source

Turkey Is Now Recruiting Mercenaries From Yemen For Its War In Libya

Military and intelligence sources in Yemen have claimed that up to 200 mercenaries from that country have been sent to Libya by Turkey to fight on behalf of the Government of National Accord (GNA).

The claims, disclosed by the Yemen News Portal, allege that a militia affiliated to the Islah Party in Marib sent fighters to Turkey under the guise of receiving hospital treatment, and that they were then transferred to the Libyan capital Tripoli. The sources added that Libyan National Army (LNA) forces headed by General Khalifa Haftar have already captured a number of Yemeni mercenaries fighting on behalf of the GNA earlier this year. LINK

The latest disclosures follow several reports relating evidence that Turkey is increasing its involvement in Yemen substantially, providing training and material support to the Islah Party in particular in the hope of gaining control over key facilities and resources in the event Islah manages to secure control over parts of the war torn country. LINK

The increasing attention being paid to the possibility of significant Turkish intervention in the conflict in Yemen followed the dramatic battlefield successes of the GNA due to the massive support provided by Turkey after concluding an agreement granting Turkey expansive resource rights in the eastern Mediterranean. The latest reports raise questions as to whether Turkey might be considering expanding its involvement in Yemen, either as part of the ‘proxy war’ against the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in particular or in order to gain control over infrastructure, possible military bases, and/ or resources in the geo-strategically vital area. LINK

The rivalry between the regional powers intensified considerably after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed relations with Qatar and attempted to impose a blockade on the country in 2017, in response to which Turkey provided critical support and supplies to Qatar to enable it to withstand the pressure.

If it can be verified that Turkey intends to increase its participation in the conflict in Yemen and is now recruiting large numbers of fighters from Yemen to send to Libya, it would demonstrate that Turkey’s already expansive geopolitical ambitions are surpassing all limits: enormously destructive military adventures in northern Syria and Iraq which seem set to pave the way for the annexation of substantial territories in each country adjacent to the Turkish border; followed by the transfer of thousands of its proxy militias and terrorists from the battlefields in Syria to Libya earlier this year to fight on behalf of the GNA, with which Turkey has signed resource agreements granting exploration rights in disputed maritime zones also claimed by Egypt, Greece and Cyprus.

Turkey has also been involved in recent military stand-offs with Greece and France in the Mediterranean.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Turkey has recruited over 10,000 Syrians to fight in Libya. South Front has previously reported that Turkey has cut off support to at least one of its proxy groups in northern Syria for refusing to send fighters to Libya. LINK

In turn, the GNA has accused the LNA of recruiting foreign mercenaries. On Saturday 27 June, Libya’s permanent representative to the UN called for the imposition of sanctions against Russian and Sudanese mercenaries in the country fighting on behalf of the LNA.

It is thought that the Islah Party in Yemen may be deepening a political and military alliance with Turkey, and that it may be sending soldiers to fight on behalf of Turkish interests in Libya in return for financial and military support provided by Turkey to the Islah Party, in particular to assist the group in its conflict with UAE-backed militia in the south of the country.

Also, according to the Yemen Press Agency:

The sources said the Islah party is trying to consolidate the military alliance with Turkey in fighting alongside it in Libya, in preparation for its call for intervention in Yemen, as the Saudi-Emirati coalition turned against the party. LINK

The reports provide additional corroboration that Turkey has no intention of backing off in Libya and is willing to risk provoking an all-out war with Egypt in its pursuit of foreign resources and military bases, apart from suggesting multiple motivations for its deepening involvement in Yemen.

MILITARY SITUATION IN LIBYA ON JUNE 30, 2020 (MAP UPDATE)

Military Situation In Libya On June 30, 2020 (Map Update)

A brief overview of the recent developments in Libya:

  • France and Russia denied their interference or military intervention in Libya;
  • The US Department of State declared its deep concern about the presence of Russian Wagner group in the al-Sharara oil field and facility;
  • A Russian-made IL76T military cargo plane that took off from Syria landed at the Khadim al-Marj airbase;
  • The GNA Foreign Ministry thanked security forces of Sudan for arresting 122 Sudanese armed young men who were going to fight in Libya as mercenaries;
  • The LNA redeployed large military reinforcements from Benghazi towards Sirte, 570km/354 miles to the west;
  • Clashes with heavy weapons between GNA militias broke out in the Alhadba area in the south of Tripoli ;
  • LNA warplanes conducted 3 airstrikes on “Campo 50” near Sadadah Bridge, south of Misrata. 36 GNA soldiers were killed and 17 others were injured.

Related News

Russian Private Military Contractors Took Control Of Libya’s Largest Oil Field

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Washington is concerned by the growing Russian influence in Libya as Turkish-led forces are preparing to storm the port city of Sirte, controlled by the Libyan National Army.

On June 26, the US embassy in Libya released a statement claiming that it condemns a “foreign-backed campaign to undermine Libya’s energy sector and prevent the resumption of oil production.”

The statement said that the US shares the “deep concern” of the National Oil Corporation affiliated with the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord about “the shameful interference” of foreign private military contractors against “NOC facilities and personnel at the al-Sharara oil field, which constitutes a direct assault against Libya’s sovereignty and prosperity.”

According to the NOC, on June 25 a convoy of vehicles of Russian private military contractors and other foreign personnel entered the Al-Sharara oilfield and met with representatives of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, a local armed organization allied with the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The NOC’s chairman Mustafa Sanalla claimed that foreign forces work to “prevent the resumption of oil production” there.

Al-Sharara is the largest Libyan oil field with total proven reserves of 3 billion barrels and an average output of 300,000 barrels per day. It indeed briefly resumed its work in early June when Syrian militants and forces of the Government of National Accord supported by the Turkish military reached the western countryside of the LNA stronghold of Sirte.

However, then, the production there was once again stopped as the LNA stabilized the frontline and demonstrated that it’s still the main power in the east and south of the country.

Earlier, Field Marshal Haftar ordered to block the export of Libyan oil saying that the GNA uses oil revenues to pay Turkey for mercenaries and weapons. The LNA also controls Sirte, the main Libyan port facility for oil exports. So, even in the case of the resumption of the oil output at the frozen oil fields, it’s still able to keep most of its export ban.

The LNA’s prolonged effort against the usage of the country’s natural resources to fund the Turkish intervention of Libya signals that its leadership is still committed to its project of uniting the country and restoring its sovereignty.

LNA forces are preparing to defend Sirte from the large attack for which Turkish-led forces are currently preparing.

Recently, GNA forces and Syrian militant groups deployed west of Sirte received a large batch of weapons and equipment from Turkey. According to photos appearing online, these weapons even included Chinese-made MANPADs of the QW-1 series.

Photos of these MANPADs appeared amid the wave of reports that the LNA Air Force received new combat jets from Russia. While the usage of these mysterious warplanes is still yet to be documented, MANPADs in the hands of Turkish-backed fighters are a confirmed fact.

The Turkish naval group deployed near Libyan shores in the Mediterranean conducts regular readiness drills. In its own turn, the LNA has reportedly prepared Gaddafi-era Scud tactical ballistic missiles for the upcoming battle. Trucks with ballistic missiles moving in the countryside of the city were spotted on June 27.

Pro-GNA sources also claimed that the LNA was deploying additional troops and 2 Pantsir-S air defense systems to Sirte on June 28 and June 29. Without direct military support from abroad the LNA has no resources to overcome the current status quo and deliver a devastating blow to GNA forces assisted by the Turkish military.

However, without larger Turkish involvement in the conflict, GNA forces and Syrian militant groups also lack the needed resources to capture Sirte in the near future.

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BATTLE OF SIRTE

South Front

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and Syrian militant groups with a direct support from Turkey are preparing for a new attempt to capture the port city of Sirte from the Libyan National Army (LNA).

After the first failed attempt earlier this month, Turkish-backed factions have deployed additional reinforcements to the frontline west of the city. This included artillery pieces, battle tanks and a large number of pickups equipped with weapons. LNA warplanes conducted several strikes on GNA military columns moving from Misrata in the area of Abu Qurayn. However, the existing LNA air power appeared to be not enough to stop the military buildup of Turkish-led forces. The intensity of LNA airstrikes also decreased, especially in the countryside of Tripoli, due to the Turkish efforts to set up an air defense network in the GNA-held part of coastline.

Over the past year, the Turkish military has sent a number of KORKUT self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air defense systems to Libya. These systems as well as electronic warfare capabilities of the deployed Turkish military contingent played an important role in breaking of the LNA siege of Tripoli and allowed Turkish combat drones operate relatively freely in its countryside. Now, Turkey is likely seeking to employ a similar approach to besiege and seize Sirte.

The city, with the estimated population of about 128,000, is an important logistical hub and Libya’s main oil export port. In the beginning of January, the LNA led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar shut down export terminals and stopped operations of pipelines from El-Sharara and El-Feel oilfields cutting off the exports of the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation by about 92%. Then, the LNA said that the GNA used the revenues obtained thanks to oil export to pay for Turkish weapons and Turkey-deployed mercenaries. This move demonstrated the determination of the LNA and the democratically-elected House of Representatives based in Torbuk to push forward their project of the united Libya regardless possible decrease of financial revenues from oil business.

Now, Ankara and its partners in Tripoli are eager to capture Sirte and restart a full-scale oil export under their direct control. If Turkish-led forces achieve this goal, Ankara will get an access to an additional source of revenue to compensate, at least partly, its expenditures for the Libyan intervention.

For the LNA leadership, the possible withdrawal from Sirte will mark the full collapse of its plan to unite Libya under a single administration. So, Haftar forces are also preparing for the battle.

EGYPT SENDS BATTLE TANKS TO LIBYAN BORDER AS HAFTAR FORCES RETREAT UNDER TURKISH STRIKES

South Front

After capturing Tripoli International Airport last week, GNA forces and Syrian militant groups with a direct support from the Turkish Armed Forces forced the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar to retreat from a number of villages and towns including Tarhuna and Dawun.

Retreating LNA fighters left behind dozens of weapons and pieces of military equipment, including T-55 and T-62 battle tanks and howitzers. Pro-GNA sources also showcased a destroyed Pantsir-S system, which the LNA had received from the UAE. The town of Tarhuna was looted and a large number of buildings there were destroyed by Turkish-backed forces. The residents of this town are known for their support to the LNA. A large number of civilians fled the town with the retreating LNA units.

On June 6, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced a new diplomatic initiative for Libya proposing a ceasefire from June 6 and the resumption of the political process. Egypt alongside with the UAE are key backers of the LNA.

Apparently, Anakra and the GNA saw this move as a sign of the weakness. The GNA even announced an advance on the port city of Sirte controlled by the LNA. However, Turkish-led forces failed to reach the city on June 6 and June 7 suffering casualties. According to local sources, over 30 Turkish proxies were killed. A Turkish Bayraktar TB2 combat UAV was also shot down. In response, Turkey shot down a Wing Loong II combat UAV operated by the LNA and conducted a series of airstrikes on LNA positions near Sirte. On June 8, the GNA and its allies conducted another attempt to advance on Sirte. Clashes are ongoing.

Egypt reacted to these developments by sending reinforcements to the border with Libya. At least 2 large columns with Egyptian battle tanks were filmed moving towards the border. The geographic location of Egypt allows its leadership, if there is a political will and a strong decision, to freely employ its ground and air forces to support the LNA in the conflict against Turkish proxies. Cairo could opt to choose the strategy of direct actions if Turkish-led forces capture Sirte threatening the LNA heartland in northeastern Libya.

The modern military political leadership of Turkey, in particular President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his inner circle, has views on the needed structure of the Islamic world, which are to a great extent similar to those of the Muslim Brotherhood. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood thinks that the leading Islamic states should be headed by leaders with a rather strong religious agenda.

Egypt traditionally has a complex and balanced cooperation of the religious and secular parts of their society. In the view of the Muslim Brotherhood, the religious factor should be developed further, even at the cost of the interests of the secular part of the society. This goes contrary to the current reality in Egypt, which is ruled by relatively secular leaders. Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood and armed groups affiliated with it are considered terrorist organizations in Egypt. Therefore, Cairo sees the expansion of forces ideologically close to the organization as a direct threat to its national security.

Turkey Dives Into Libyan Conflict

South Front

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and Syrian militants supported by the Turkish military have achieved more gains in their battle against the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

GNA forces have captured the areas of Asabiah and Mazdah from the LNA and besieged the town of Tarhuna. On May 23, pro-Turkish sources even claimed that alleged Russian private military contractors operating on the side of the LNA were withdrawn from Tarhuna to Bani Walid and then were evacuated from the country. arlier, the GNA claimed that a Russian military contractor was killed in the area of Salah ad-Din. On top of this, the LNA lost two Chinese-made Wing Loong II combat drones supplied by the UAE which crashed near Bani Walid and Qaryat. The total number of LNA fighters killed or injured in recent clashes in Libya’s northwest, according to pro-GNA sources, is over 100.

However, clashes that erupted north of Tarhuna early on May 24 demonstrated that LNA forces are not going to surrender the town without a battle. Meanwhile, the number of Turkish-backed Syrian militants killed in Libya reportedly reached 311. Additionally, the LNA claimed that its forces had shot down 13 Turkish unmanned combat aerial vehicles during the last 3 days. According to the LNA spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Mesmari, the army is now relocating its troops and preparing for a push to once again take an upper hand in the battle against Turkish-backed forces.

The LNA also shared a video documenting Turkish actions to supply military equipment and deploy members of Syrian militant groups in Tripoli. The scale of the Turkish military involvement in the conflict grows on a daily basis. Just recently, Ankara reportedly deployed a MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air defense system and military specialists in the city of Misrata.

Turkish military actions are a cornerstone of the recent GNA successes on the ground. At the same time, the very same approach is instigating instability in the region. Egypt and the UAE, which support the LNA, see the Turkish expansion and the strengthening of the GNA as a direct threat to its vital interests. Cairo is also concerned that, if radical militant groups operating under the brand of the GNA reach the Egyptian-Libyan border, they will become a constant source of the terrorist threat in Egypt itself.

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The ominous Jihadis war; From Tripoli to Tripoli:

The ominous Jihadis war; From Tripoli to Tripoli:

May 23, 2020

By Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

The ‘War on Syria’ is far from being over, and it will continue until all foreign forces illegally present on Syrian soil retreat; either willingly, or defeated.

And even though the American presence in Syria has no clear and realistic political purpose other than wreaking havoc. https://transnational.live/2020/05/19/america-exists-today-to-make-war-how-else-do-we-interpret/ and making it hard for Russia to help reach a decisive victory, in a twist of fate, the focus of the Russo-American conflict in the region may soon move away from Syria.

In reality, the outcome of the ‘War on Syria’ was never expected by the initial assembly of adversaries when they launched the attack. Furthermore, they had many deep differences and nothing in common other than a shared hatred for Syria, but the unexpected turn of events has intensified their internal conflict and seemingly catapulted the strife between those former allies much further afield to a new hub in Libya.

Whilst the world and its media are busy with COVID-19, a new huge struggle is brewing, and this time, it is drawing new lines and objectives that are in reality going to be fueled, financed and executed by the former once-united enemies of Syria; but this time, it will be against each other.

An array of regional and international issues lies behind the impending conflict; and to call it impending is an under-statement. It is already underway, but hasn’t reached its peak yet, let alone making any significant news coverage.

It is a real mess in Libya now, and the short version of a long story goes like this:

Soon after NATO hijacked the UNSC mandate to enforce a no-fly-zone decision over Libya and manipulated it in a manner that ‘legalised’ bombing Libya culminating in toppling and killing Gadhafi, the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the formal capital Tripoli on the Western side of the coast, was created.

But the ‘revolution’ against Gadhafi was launched in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi. After Gadhafi’s demise, another interim government was formed in Libya’s east under the name of National Transitional Council (NTC).

The NTC, whose flag is the flag of the ‘revolution’, did not recognize the GNA and regarded it as a Western lackey.

After a few years of squabbling, NTC strongman General Haftar decided to militarily disable the GNA.

With little concrete protection on the ground from the West, and under the guise of upholding UNSC mandates, Erdogan jumped into the existing void and the opportunity to grab Libya’s oil, and decided to send troops to support the GNA.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51003034

In return, Haftar is getting support from other regional players. Recently, representatives from Egypt, the UAE, Greece, Cyprus and France had a meeting and denounced Turkey’s involvement in Libya. https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/05/12/greece-egypt-cyprus-france-uae-denounce-turkey-in-joint-statement/. Erdogan perhaps borrowed a term from his American part-ally-part-adversary and referred to the meeting and its decree as an ‘alliance of evil’. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/turkey-accuses-five-nations-of-forming-alliance-of-evil/2020/05/12/a3c5c63a-9438-11ea-87a3-22d324235636_story.html Fancy this, a NATO member accusing other NATO members of being in an alliance of evil.

It must be noted that even though Saudi Arabia did not attend the meeting, it was there in spirit, and represented by its proxy-partner the UAE.

The USA took a step further and accused Russia and Syria of working behind the scenes and planning to send fighters to Libya to support Haftar. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-usa-syria-idUSKBN22J301

But this article is not about the geopolitical hoo-ha. It is about shedding a light on what score-settling is expected to eventuate in Libya, and who is likely to end up doing the fighting against who.

Even though the Afghani Mujahedeen were purportedly the first Jihadi fighters to engage in battle in the 20th Century, their fight was against foreign USSR troops. In terms of an internal force that aimed for fundamentalist Muslim rule, there is little doubt that the first event of such insurgency in the Middle East was the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) revolt that took place in Syria in the early 1980’s and which was quashed by the then President, Hafez Assad. After their smashing defeat, the fundamentalists kept their heads low until they lit the flame again in the Palestinian refugee Naher Al-Bared Camp at the northern outskirts of Tripoli Lebanon in 2007.

There are, for those who are unaware, two cities bearing the name Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast; one is in Northern Lebanon, and it is Lebanon’s second largest city, and the other Tripoli is located on the Western side of the Libyan Coast. They are sometimes called Tripoli of the East and Tripoli of the West, respectively.

Shaker Al-Absi, leader of Fateh Al Islam, a Salafist terror organization, declared jihad and engaged in a bitter fight against the Lebanese Army. He was defeated, remained at large, but any look at Lebanon’s Tripoli after his demise displayed a clear evidence of a huge build-up of Salafist presence in the city.

When the ‘War on Syria’ started only four years later, Tripoli became a major hub for the transport of fighters and munitions from Lebanon into Syria. Nearly a decade later, and with a few Jihadi pockets left in the Idlib province now, their defeat in Syria is imminent.

But who exactly are those murderous head-chopping radical elements that we talking about; past and present?

When the coalition that started the attack on Syria took form, it was comprised virtually of all of Syria’s enemies. Most of them were religious fundamentalists. In an early article, I called them ‘The Anti-Syrian Cocktail’.  https://intibahwakeup.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-anti-syrian-cocktail-by-ghassan-kadi.html

Back then, ISIS, did not exist in the form that it became known as. Furthermore, I have always advocated that there was no difference at all between Al-Nusra and ISIS and/or any other Takfiri organizations. They are all terror-based and founded on violent readings of Islam.

In time however, and this didn’t take long, it became apparent that even though the ideologies were identical, there were two major financiers and facilitators to those many different terror organizations. One was primarily funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the other by Qatar and facilitated by Turkey.

The former group is affiliated with what is known as Saudi Wahhabi Islam. They are also known as the Salafists. The latter group are the MB’s.

As the war was shifting in favour of Syria, their agendas diverged, the schism grew deeper and strong rivalries emerged; especially as the Wahhabis and their sponsors were sent home defeated. Part of this fallout was the ongoing Saudi-Qatari conflict.

But the rivalry that is least spoken about is personal. It is the one between Erdogan and Al-Saud.

They are both fighting over the leadership of fundamentalist Sunni Islam. But Erdogan also has his nationalist anti-Kurdish agenda, and of course, he is desperate to put his hands on oil supplies that he can call his own. He cannot find oil on Turkish soil or in Turkish waters, but he is prepared to act as a regional pirate and a thug and steal another nation’s oil. If no one is to stop him, he feels that he can and will.

Upon realizing that Turkey could not get in Syria either victory or oil, Erdogan is now turning his face west towards Libya. He finds in Libya a few scores that he hopes to settle after his failure in Syria. He wants a face-saving military victory, he wants to assert his position as THE Sunni leader who can reclaim glory, and he wants free oil. Last but not least, In Libya, he will find himself close to Egypt’s Sisi; the political/religious enemy who toppled his MB friend and ally, President Mursi.

On the other side, defeated but not totally out, Saudi Arabia wants blood; Erdogan’s blood.

The Saudis blame Erdogan (and Qatar) for their loss in Syria because he was more focused on his own agenda and spoils rather than the combined ones of the former alliance they had with him. They blame him for abandoning them and making deals with Russia. They hold him responsible for the breakup of the unity of Muslim fundamentalism. They fear his aspirations for gaining the hearts and minds of Muslims who regard him as a de-facto Caliph. As a matter of fact, it was Saudi Crown Prince MBS who used the borrowed word ‘evil’ first when he stated more than two years ago that Erdogan was a part of a ‘Triangle of Evil’. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-turkey-idUSKCN1GJ1WW. And how can we forget the Khashoggi debacle and the ensuing standoff between Turkey and Saudi Arabia?

We must stop and remember once again that not long ago at all, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were allies, who together, plotted how to invade Syria and bring her down to her knees. These are the heads of the two major countries that facilitated the war machine with Saudi money injecting fighters and munitions into Syria from the south, and open Turkish borders and Qatari money injecting them from the north.

Back to Libyan General Haftar. In his westerly advance along Libya’s terrain, he cleaned up the ISIS elements who stood in his way and hindered his progress.  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/02/libya-foreign-powers-khalifa-haftar-emirates-russia-us But ironically, he is now fighting their religious rival; the Turks, the protectors of the MB’s.

The USA may accuse Syria of sending troops into Libya, but where is the proof and why should Syria do this after all? And even though the Saudis and the Emiratis are warming up relationships with Syria, the Syrian Army is still engaged in battle and is not prepared to go and fight in Libya. There is nothing for it to gain. Once the war is over, Syria will be concerned with rebuilding a war-torn nation. Syria has no interests in Libya; none what-so-ever.

The role of Russia is not very clear on the ground even though there are clear indications that Russia supports Haftar ideologically. The support began when Haftar demonstrated to the Russians that he was adamant about fighting ISIS and exterminating its presence in Libya. He lived up to this promise thus far and gained Russian respect.

How will the situation in Libya eventually pan out is anyone’s guess. That said, apart from sending regular Turkish Army units, Erdogan is not short on rounding up fighters; and he has attained much experience in this infamous field of expertise from his vicious attack on Syria. With Qatari money in his pocket, he can recruit as many fighters as Qatar can afford.

Erdogan realizes that the West is not interested in backing him up militarily in Libya. The best deal he can get from America is a tacit support. And with France, a NATO member taking part in the above-mentioned five-nation conference, he will definitely have to stand alone so-to-speak.

He has Qatar behind him, but how powerful is Qatar? A ‘nation’ of 200,000 citizens? How can such a small state play such a big role and why?

Qatar is not really a nation or even a state in the true sense. Qatar is an entity, a ‘corporation’ owned by a ruling dynasty that serves the interests of the USA and Israel. https://thesaker.is/qatar-unplugged/. This family will outlay any sum of money to guarantee its own protection and continuity.

And Erdogan, the friend-and-foe of both of America and Israel, knows the vulnerabilities and strengths of Qatar, and he is using his deceptive talents to provide the Qatari ruling family with the securities that the shortfalls that America and Israel do not provide. For example, it was he who sent troops to Qatar after the Saudi threats. And even though Erdogan will never take any serious actions against his NATO masters except in rhetoric, the weak and fearful Qataris will dance to the tune of any protector and will sell their souls to the devil should they need to.

On the other hand in Libya, if Haftar finds himself facing a huge Turkish army, he will need assistance on the ground. Where will he seek it from?  His next-door neighbour Egypt? If so, will it be in the form of regular army units or hired guns?

Sisi is neither a religious nor a fundamentalist zealot, but this is not meant to be a complementary statement. He has not taken any serious black-and-white steps in regional politics. This does not mean he is a man of principles. He is probably waiting for dollar signs, and if he sees financial benefits in supporting Saudi Arabia in a proxy war against Turkey in Libya, he may opt to agree; if the price it right.

Whether or not Saudi Arabia can afford a new war, especially with current crude prices, is another story, but as the war on Yemen winds down, the gung-ho MBS is irrational enough to be persuaded. His regional enemy is no longer Assad. His current enemy is Erdogan.

To be fair to MBS, despite his vile, criminal and megalomaniac attributes, he never claims to be a religious leader, but Erdogan does, and many Sunni Muslims see in Erdogan THE leader they have been waiting for. This alone constitutes a huge challenge for MBS because neither he, nor anyone else in the whole of Saudi Arabia for that matter, is regarded anywhere in the Muslim World as a potential leader of the Sunni Muslims.

In reality, as far as Muslim leadership is concerned, the Saudis can only bank on the location of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Apart from this, they only have wealth that enables them to buy supporters, but their oil wealth is becoming increasingly vulnerable.

In the uphill fight against Erdogan within the Muslim World, both of the Saudis and the Turks realize that the fight between them in Syria is over. Actually, the Saudis have no loyal ‘troops’ on Syrian soil left to fight anyone with. This begs the question of whether or not the Turks and Saudis are moving the battle ground and the score settling from Syria to Libya.

This time around, such a potential battle between the two lines of Jihadis may have to morph from a fight between terror organizations to a war between regular armies; the Turkish Army against the Egyptian Army. Such a battle will rage over Libyan soil, with the Turks financed by Qatar and Egypt by Saudi Arabia.

Such a war will not necessarily bring in Iran into the fight. If it eventuates, it will be a fundamentalist Sunni-Sunni war, sponsored by fundamentalist Sunni states, each fighting for and against different versions of radical Muslim fundamentalism, under the watchful eyes of the USA and to the glee of Israel.

The jihadi war that was first ignited in Tripoli Lebanon between a rogue terror organization and the Lebanese Army did not end. It kept moving theatres and objectives and changing players. Is the final score going to be settled in Tripoli Libya?

A CLOSER LOOK AT QATARI-FUNDED PROPAGANDA OVER WAR IN LIBYA

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A Closer Look At Qatari-Funded Propaganda Over War In Libya

A Libya-related scandal is brewing in Qatar.

A secret letter from the Qatari Foreign Minister to the Qatari Ambassador in Canada was somehow leaked online.

In the letter, the former orders the latter to express support of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) on social media.

The document explicitly states the allocation of funds for propaganda materials against Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

A Closer Look At Qatari-Funded Propaganda Over War In Libya

It also mandates the dissemination of information about the control of territories by the GNA’s Turkish-backed forces.

The Twitter user made a joke out of it, that $6,000 wasn’t a little money and an armored “Tiger” vehicle was also included in the price.

Turkey, and then Qatar are the GNA’s most vehement supporters, with assisting it not only with propaganda in the media, but also with very actual equipment and weapon deliveries. On the part of Ankara, there’s also thousands of fighters being deployed from Syria to fight on behalf of the UN-backed government.

Qatar rejected the declaration by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar that he obtained a “popular mandate” allowing the military to govern Libya, considering this a new affirmation of his persistent attempt to stage a coup against international legitimacy and the Libyan national consensus as well as a clear disdain for the international community which have been watching for a long time without taking any action regarding the crimes committed against the brotherly Libyan people, especially since the beginning of the attack on Tripoli last year.

In a statement, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed that Khalifa Haftar gave a false pretext in his declaration reflecting his disregard for the sanctity of Libyan blood and the minds of those who listen to him.

“At a time when the world’s efforts are directed to stop the bloodshed in Libya and fight the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, we see the continuation of the militarization of the scene and attacks on civilians and on the political track, without any regard for the tragedy of the children, women, elderly, and displaced persons of the Libyan people,” it added.

The statement called on the international community and actors in the Libyan scene to shoulder their humanitarian and historical responsibility and to prevent Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his militias from killing more innocents and tearing the Libyan nation apart.

Essentially, it just repeated the same accusations that the GNA-affiliated media, and the Turkish propaganda network has been attempting to propagate for a while.

The Libyan National Army, in response, has repeatedly accused the Emir of Qatar of bankrolling the GNA’s militias.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Nearly 2,000 Syrian mercenaries have fled Libya for Europe: monitor

By News Desk -2020-04-29

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:00 P.M.) – Nearly 2,000 Turkish-backed Syrian militants that were transported to Libya over the last five months have fled the North African nation for Europe, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Wednesday.

“Some of the 2,000 Syrian fighters who were transported to Libya to fight with the UN-supported National Accord Government (GNA) against its competitor Khalifa Haftar have in fact fled to Europe, according to the Libyan National Army (LNA) from Haftar,” the monitor said.

SOHR first reported Syrian mercenaries fleeing Libya for Italy in February, and since then, several reports have surfaced that make similar claims.

Meanwhile, journalist Lindsey Snell of the Investigative Journal interviewed a fighter from Ahrar Al-Sharqiyah that recently returned to Syria after fighting in Libya for a few months.

In the interview, the fighter, who was identified as Zein Ahmed, said that Turkey promised the militants citizenship if they fought in Libya for six months; however, this turned out to be false.

“They told us first that if we stayed and fought for six months, that we would get Turkish citizenship,” he said. “That was lies. They told us if we died fighting in Libya, our families would get Turkish citizenship. Now that so many Syrians have died in Libya, we know this is also a lie.”

Ahmed referenced a case in which an Ahrar Al-Sharqiyah member was killed in February; his family received $8,000 in compensation, but the dead fighter’s family was not given citizenship.

Turkey sent the first batch of Syrian mercenaries to Libya in December and since then, thousands of others have been transported to the North African nation to help the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) forces.

ALSO READ  ISIS takes advantage of coronavirus crisis to launch several attacks against Syrian military

Erdogan Loses the Battle, But the War Is Far from Over

THE SAKER • MARCH 5, 2020


New Map of Idlib with Security Corridor

Following 6 hours of grueling negotiations, including direct negotiations between Putin and Erdogan, the parties have finally agreed to the following:

  1. A ceasefire will begin at midnight.
  2. Russia and Turkey will jointly patrol the M4 highway (M5 now belongs to Damascus). A 6km buffer zone will have to be created and enforced on each side of M4 by the March 15th (see map above)
  3. Both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  4. Both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to a create the conditions for a return of the refugees.
  5. Both parties have reaffirmed that this conflict as no military solution.

Furthermore, there was a lot of things which were left unsaid, but understood by all:

  1. The recent military gains of the Syrian military will not be disputed and otherwise challenged. The new line of contact has now become official.
  2. Russia and Syria will continue to fight all the organizations which the UNSC has declared “terrorist” (al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, and all their franchises irrespective of any “rebranding”).
  3. Moscow remains as committed to the protection of the legitimate Syrian government as ever.

From the above we can also deduce the following:

  1. Erdogan’s Blitzkrieg has failed. Initially, the Turkish drones inflicted major damage on the Syrian forces, but the latter adapted extremely quickly which resulted in what the Russians jokingly referred to as “dronopad” which can roughly be translated as “dronerain”.
  2. The Turks were clearly shocked by the Russian decision to bomb a Turkish battalion. What apparently happened is this: two Syrian Su-22 (old Soviet aircraft) bombed the convoy to force it to stop, then a pair of Russian Su-34 (the most modern Russian all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber/strike aircraft) dropped heavy ordinance on the convoy and surrounding buildings killing scores of Turkish special forces). Both sides decided to “blame” the Syrians, but they don’t fly Su-34, and everybody knows that.
  3. Erdogan understood that he either had to double down or declare victory and leave. He wisely chose the latter, at least as a temporary measure.
  4. Neither NATO nor the EU showed any signs of wanting to join Turkey’s war on Syria (because that is what we are really dealing with here), and neither did the US. Since I cannot call that decision “wise” (there is no wisdom of any kind left in western regimes), I will call it simply “prudent” as Russia was not about to allow Turkey to invade Syria.
  5. Iran, Hezbollah, and Libya all declared their willingness to fight the Turks for as long as needed and anywhere where needed.

In spite of these developments, it is pretty clear that internal Turkish politics will continue to force Erdogan to engage in what is politely called “neo-Ottoman” policies aka phantom pains for a lost empire. The obvious solution for Russia is to further arm the Syrians, especially with modernized versions of the Pantsir SAMs which have proven very effective against drones, MLRS rockets and even mortars.

The main Syrian problem is a lack of numbers. Until more forces are equipped, trained, deployed and engaged, the Russians need to provide a much stronger air defense capabilities to Syria. The Syrians have done miracles with old, frankly outdated, Soviet equipment (which, considering its age and lack of proper maintenance, has performed superbly), but now they need much better Russian gear to defend not only against Turkey, but also against the Axis of Kindness (US+Israel+KSA).

Furthermore, it is my opinion that the Russian task force in Khmeimim and Tartus is too big and not well balanced. Khmeimin needs many more Su-25SM3 and a few more Su-35S/Su-30SM to protect them. The naval base at Tartus lacks ASW capabilities, as does much of the Russian naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean. And while the Russian Navy has a number of ships with “Kalibr” cruise missiles onboard, their numbers are, again, inadequate, which means that the Russian Aerospace Forces need to deploy as many Kalibr-capable aircraft in southern Russia as possible. Both Tartus and Khmeimim are pretty close to the Idlib province (that is also were the “good terrorist” tried to strike Russian forces from which, thanks to the successful Syrian offensive, they now cannot do anymore!). This suggests to me that Russia ought to declare a larger exclusive air control zone over both of this locations, and beef up the numbers of missiles and launchers the Russian air defenses will have to enforce it.

Finally, I think that Erdogan has outlived his utility for Russia (and for Turkey, for that matter!). He clearly is a loose cannon which, according to some rumors, even the Turkish public opinion is getting fed up with. Russia should not neglect that public opinion. Then there are the Libyans, “Field Marshal” Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, whose forces seems to have been extremely successful against the Turkish forces in Libya. The Russians are, quietly, supporting Haftar who, while not exactly an ideal ally for Russia, can prove useful. What the Russians need to do next is to explain two things to Erdogan and his ministers:

  1. If you attack again in Syria, you will be defeated, possibly worse than the first time around
  2. If you mess with our geostrategic interests, we will mess with yours

The only party which the Russians should never arm are the Kurds, who are even more unreliable than Erdogan and who are basically an Israeli asset to destabilize Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Russia should, however, talk to the Kurds (all factions) and convince them to accept a large cultural autonomy inside Syria, Iraq and Iran. Turkey could be added to this list, but only once a trustworthy government comes to power in Ankara. Under no circumstances should Russia arm the Kurds.

Right now, the best Russian ally in the region is Syria. This is the country which Russia needs to make safe by creating a truly modern air defense network. The Russians have already done a lot towards this goal, including integrating their combat management and EW systems, but that is not enough. While Russian aid and Syrian skills have forced the Israelis to conduct mostly symbolic and ineffective air strikes, often with missiles shot from outside the Syrian airspace, and while many (most) Israeli missiles were destroyed by the Syrian air defenses, it is pretty clear that both the Turks and the Israelis feel that if they launch missiles from long distance they are relatively safe. That perception needs to be changed, not only to force the Turks and the Israelis to shoot from even further and accept even more losses, but also to show the US, NATO and Europe that the Syrian air defenses are capable of making anything short of a massive attack pointless (and a massive attack costly).

We should also note that the Turkish propaganda machine has been very effective. Yes, a lot of what they said was self-evidently “feelgood” nonsense (thousands of dead Syrians, hundred of tanks, etc.) , but their footage of a Turkish drone striking a Pantsir in Libya did, at least initially, impress those who don’t understand air defense warfare (destroying a single isolated first-generation Pantsir is not that hard, especially from right above it, but destroying a Pantsir position in which launchers protect each other is quite different. And if that Pantsir position is protected “below” (AA+MANPADS) and “above” (medium to long range SAMs), then this becomes extremely difficult).

This war is not over and it won’t be until Erdogan is removed from power. Frankly, Russia needs a stable and trustworthy partner on her southern border, and that won’t happen until the Turks ditch Erdogan. The problem here is that God only knows who might succeed him, should the Gulenists seize power, that will not be good for Russia either.

And here we come back to the murder of General Suleimani. Frankly, the Iranians are spot on: the two things which made the Middle-East into the bloody mess it has been for decades are 1) Israel and 2) the US. The end goal for the former is a one-state solution, whether accepted or imposed. The intermediate goal ought to be to get the US out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and, possibly, Turkey. Erdogan is crazy and desperate enough (not to mention vengeful) to at least bring this intermediate goal one step closer by alienating the US and NATO. So the Russian game plan ought to be obvious: first, use military means to “contain Erdogan inside Turkey” and, next, engage in long term efforts to prepare for a post-Erdogan Turkey. Then let the SOB destroy himself.

I don’t believe that peace is possible between a secular Syria and a Takfiri-backing Turkey. And I sure don’t believe that the Takfiris can be remolded into any kind of “democratic opposition”. Thus the real end-goal for Russia and Syria will always be military victory, not “peace” (assuming that concept of “peace with the Takfiris” makes any sense at all, which it doesn’t). The Russians know that, even if they won’t admit it.

For the time being, what we see is the first phase of the Turkey-Syria war ending and for the next couple of weeks we shall see a transition into some other phase which will probably be one in which, surprise surprise, the Turks fail to remove all the Takfiri nutcases from Idlib which will then give Syria and Russia a legal reason to take direct action again. In theory, at least, Erdogan could decide to pour the Turkish armed forces across the border, but the closer they will get to Khmeimim and/or Tartus, the more dangerous the stakes for Turkey and for Erdogan personally.

The key to success for the Axis of Resistance is to make Syria too tough to crack. I hope that Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq will continue to work together, hopefully with Chinese aid, to create such a Syria.

سورية تهشّم أنياب العثمانيّين في إدلب وموسكو

د. وفيق إبراهيم

معارك إدلب ليست حدثاً عسكرياً عابراً يندرج في اطار تطور الازمة السورية، بدليل ان الرئيس التركي رجب اردوغان يبحث عن وقف لاطلاق النار عند نظيره الروسي بوتين في لقائهما اليوم في موسكو.

هو لقاء فرضته التوازنات العسكرية الجديدة التي تنبثق يومياً من المعارك المستعرة في منطقة ادلب السورية بين جيشها العربي السوري وبين منظمات تضم إرهاباً منبثقاً من جبهة النصرة وجيشاً تركياً مكشوفاً للعيان. من دون نسيان حوامل النصرة من هيئة تحرير الشام والجيش التركستاني والايغور ومعارضات سورية لا تعمل إلا في محطات التلفزة.

بالمقابل يدعم حلفٌ من حزب الله ومستشارون إيرانيون وسلاح جوي روسي عند الضرورة عمليات الجيش السوري.

لقد كان الأتراك يعتقدون ان هجمات الجيش ليست إلا مجرد تسخين للاوضاع من دون أي إمكانية لتغيرات في الميدان وهدفها التعجيل في المفاوضات الروسية التركية.

لكنهم أصيبوا بذهول لأن المعارك السورية تنفذ تدريجياً خطة لتحرير أرياف حلب وادلب، وخصوصاً ما يتعلق منها بالخطين اللذين يربطان حلب مع البحر المتوسط عند اللاذقية ويصلانها بحماة وحمص ودمشق وحدود سورية مع الأردن والعراق.

لقد حاول اردوغان استعمال الوسائل العسكرية فلم يفلح، متجهاً نحو الأساليب السياسية بتهديد روسيا وايران شريكتيه في سوتشي وآستانة، فجوبه بمواقف قاسية أفهمته أن شريكيه يغطيان الهجوم السوري بتبريرات متنوّعة ومرتبطة بتفاهمات لم ينفذها الجانب التركي، فاتجه الرئيس التركي مستنجداً بالأميركيين والأوروبيين وحلف الناتو الذي يجمعه بهم وصولاً الى «اسرائيل».

الا انه لم يلق الا جعجعة اعلامية لم تؤثر في الاندفاعة العسكرية السورية في ادلب.

الامر الذي دفعه الى الاستثمار في ورقة النازحين السوريين، كما يفعل منذ سنوات عدة.

وذلك لتهديد اوروبا بهم لعلها تدعمه في احتلاله لقسم من سورية، وتدفع بالأميركيين الى دعمه عسكرياً بالمباشر او عبر الناتو.

ان كل هذه الحركات الاردوغانية لم تؤدِ الى ما اراده الاتراك فعادوا طائعين الى كنف «الروسي» يبحثون عنده عن وقف لإطلاق النار يحفظ لهم عمقاً في سورية بذريعة الدفاع عن أمنهم القومي. فيطالبون بعمق على طول حدودهم مع سورية لا يقل عن ثلاثين كيلومتراً. وهذا ما ترفضه سورية قطعياً وسط محاولات روسية لجعل هذا العمق لا يزيد عن 8 كيلومترات إنما بمدة متفق عليها وليست مفتوحة.

هذا ما يناقشه أردوغان اليوم مع بوتين ويربطه بدور للمعارضة السورية المؤيدة لسياسات بلاده في إطار اللجنة الدستورية قيد البحث لتأسيسها والمفترض ان يناط بها إجراء تعديلات على المؤسسات الدستورية السورية.

هل هناك إمكانية لتحقيق «هلوسات» اردوغان؟

لا بد من الاشارة الى ان المطالب التركية المتعلقة بإشراك المعارضة السورية في الحكم، ليست جديدة.

وسبق لأردوغان وناقشها مع الرئيس بشار الاسد في بداية اندلاع الأزمة السورية في 2011، لكنه تلقى في حينه رفضاً سورياً قاطعاً حول مشاركة الاخوان المسلمين المدعومين من انقرة في مؤسسات الدولة السورية.

فإذا كان النظام السوري رفض أي مشاركة للاخوان في تلك المرحلة التي كانت صعبة عليه، فكيف يقبل اليوم وهو يكاد يحرّر كامل بلاده ومسجلاً انتصاراً واضحاً على الادوار السعودية والاردنية والقطرية، دافعاً بالاميركيين الى الشرق ومقلصاً من حجم العدوانية الاسرائيلية ومحطماً داعش وإفرازاتها.

بأي حال يحمل اردوغان معه بدائل لطلباته السورية تكشف عن مدى انتهازيته وبراجماتيته.

ويبدو انه مستعد للقبول بتراجع كبير في ادلب مقابل دعم روسي له في ليبيا التي يدعم فيها دولة السراج في طرابلس الغرب فيما يدعم الروس دولة حفتر في بنغازي.

بما يوضح الأصرار التركي على الانخراط في الصراع العالمي المندلع للسيطرة على منابع الغاز في البحر الأبيض المتوسط.

هنا يجد التركي نفسه قوياً، فهو يحتل منذ 1974 القسم التركي من جزيرة قبرص مؤسساً هناك جمهوريّة لا احد يعترف بها إلا تركيا ويرفضها الاوروبيون عموماً واليونانيون خصوصاً الذين ترتبط قبرص بهم في النسب الإغريقي والجوار والتاريخ.

فيبدو هنا اردوغان شرهاً يسعى للاستئثار بقسم من موارد الغاز في قبرص البرية والساحلية وكذلك في ليبيا السراج الداخلية والبحرية. بما يجعله طرفاً اساسياً في تقاسم ثروات الغاز النائمة في اعماق البحر المتوسط من كل جهاته.

فهل بوسع روسيا منحه ما ليس من ممتلكاتها؟

يعتبر الروس معركة البحر المتوسط جزءاً مركزياً من اهتماماتهم الاستراتيجية ربطاً بأنهم الدولة الاولى في الغاز إنتاجاً واحتياطاً ومبيعاً، هذا الى جانب أسباب أخرى تعود الى حيازتهم على حق التنقيب عن الغاز في سورية البرية والبحرية المطلة على البحر المتوسط. كما أن روسيا لا تقبل بأي سيطرة للاميركيين او الأتراك على هذه الثروات، بما يهدد من مركزية تصديرها لهذه المادة الى اوروبا عبر الخطوط الاوكرانية والتركية.

يمكن هنا التأكيد بأن بوتين حريص على امكانات الغاز في ليبيا وسورية وحقوقهما في مياه المتوسط.

فلا يتبقى امام اردوغان الا قبرص الاوروبية وهذه مسؤولية أوروبية في معالجة الغزو التركي.

فهل يفشل اللقاء بين أردوغان وبوتين؟

المعتقد ان هذه المحادثات لن تتعدى مسألة ادلب انما في اطار الالتزام بمتغيرات الميدان والانسحاب التدريجي التركي منها، على قاعدة تأمين منطقة عازلة مقابل موافقة تركيا على القضاء على حلفائها في «النصرة» وهيئة تحرير الشام.

اما إذا رفض اردوغان هذا الحل بإيحاءات اميركية، فإن للميدان الكلمة الفصل حيث يحقق الجيش العربي السوري وحلفاؤه الانتصارات ولن تتأخر روسيا في الزج بقواتها النوعية في معركة تحرير سورية وتدمير الأحادية القطبية.

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Syrian-Libyan relations in a panel discussion: Establishing a strategic partnership that serves interests of the two countries

ST

Created on Tuesday, 03 March 2020 20:59

Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Abdul- Hadi al-Hawaij and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Dr. Faisal al-Miqdad  affirmed the compatibility of political views and positions between Libya and Syria regarding various issues, especially the Turkish aggression targeting the sovereignty, unity and independence of the two brotherly countries.

In a political panel discussion  held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates at Al-Assad National Library in Damascus on March 3, al-Hawaij said that the return of normal relations between the two brotherly countries is a historic and important step because our battle, challenges and goals are one, confirming we will win, regardless of the challenges.

Al-Hwaij paid tribute to Syria and its people, army and leadership, noting the great sacrifices made by the Syrian Arab Army in order to defend its homeland.

Al- Hawaij said that Libya is part of the Arab world and the Libyan legitimate government seeks to restore its role.

On the Libyan internal level, al-Hawaij reiterated that his country seeks to eliminate armed militias and achieve security and stability.

Al- Hawaij said that the Libyan government, chaired by Abdullah Al-Thani, believes that Libya is for all Libyans and it provides its services to all of them without discrimination.

Al- Hawaij referred to the battles the Libyan Arab Army led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in various Libyan regions to liberate from terrorism.

Al- Hawaij emphasized the legitimate government’s rejection of the existence of any American bases on Libyan soil, indicating that the battle that the Libyan Arab Army is fighting is for sovereignty and independence.

Al- Hawaij said that most of the goods  in Libya were imported from Turkey, but the legitimate government wants to change towards the Syrian products and companies.

For his part, al-Miqdad described the results of the talks between the Syrian and Libyan sides as ‘excellent’, indicating that these results would anger the Turkish regime, the common enemy of both brotherly countries, which seeks to separate them.

Al-Miqdad said that the war that the Syrian and Libyan armies are fighting against terrorism and its supporters expresses the unity of the path between the two brotherly countries.

Al-Miqdad said that Syria’s enemies in the United States and the European Union are trying to complicate life in Syria and prevent Syrians from achieving the final victory against terrorism.

Al-Miqdad emphasized that Libyan delegations will visit Damascus during the coming days, and Syrian delegations will also visit Libya  to discuss relations in various aspects and ways of enhancing them, especially the sectors of the economy, tourism, transportation and aviation.

Al-Miqdad stressed that the Libyan people are capable of resolving the crisis that their country is going through without any external interference.

In conclusion, al-Miqdad called on all the displaced Arab citizens not to submit to blackmail by the hostile western powers and Erdogan’s regime and to return to their homeland to live a free and dignified life in it, indicating that the Turkish regime exploits the refugee crisis.

Al-Miqdad, said the two countries agreed to activate eight joint Syrian-Libyan companies as well as 46 bilateral agreements between the two brotherly countries.

O. al-Mohammad / Inas  Abdulkareem

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HAFTAR’S FORCES DOWNED 6 TURKISH UAVS AND KILLED 10 SOLDIERS AT MITIGA AIRPORT

South Front

On February 28th, the Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, reported that it had downed 4 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) belonging to the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) forces.
عاجل | الجيش الليبي: إسقاط 4 طائرات تركية مسيرة أقلعت من مطار معيتيقة
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There are photographs showing the downed UAVs.
+++Libyan army announce it have shot down another 2 Turkish UAV drones over Tripolis…
The total number of UAVs downed since February 27th sits at 6, as 2 more were downed on the previous day.
– in this thread, photos of / UAVs purportedly shot down by south of .
Seem to be 2 focal points and photos of at least 2 different UAVs (LNA spox claim 6 were downed)- in Qasr bin Ghashir & Wadi al-Rabea
I.Ds are welcomed
1/
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Commander of LNA’s western military operations room, Maj. Gen. al-Mabrouk al-Ghazwi confirmed the downing of a Turkish drone south of Tripoli after it took off from “Turkish base in Mitiga,” saying it was a violation of the ceasefire declared in the region.
LNA spokesman, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Mismari quoted Ghazwi as confirming his units’ readiness to deal with any threat that puts the security and safety of the capital and forces at risk.
On the next day, al-Ghazwi said that the number of downed drones had reached 6.
“The Turkish drones tried to launch a major air operation against the army forces and target more civilian targets,” al-Ghezwi added in a press statement on Saturday morning.
He indicated that the army air defense forces “are still conducting radar reconnaissance operations in order to hunt any enemy drones in the military operations zone in western Libya.”
The LNA is carrying out a heavy push on GNA and Turkish forces, especially in around Mitiga airport.
More than 60 Grad rockets landed on the airport.
over than 60 Grad rockets landed on the airport and other nearby places this morning and a woman was injured as a result of today’s attack, according to pro-‘s Media.
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According to Al Arabiya, 10 Turkish soldiers were killed in the shelling of Mitiga airport.
مواقع ليبية نقلا عن مسؤولين عسكريين: مقتل 10 جنود أتراك بضربة على قاعدة معيتيقة https://www.alarabiya.net 
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On February 29th, heavy clashes are continuing south of Tripoli, and shelling with Grad rockets is on-going.
Breaking News: Heavy clashes erupt in Hira region, southern , between government forces and Haftar militias
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The GNA said that the LNA is being pushed back by its forces, or at least stopped.
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لماذا تدهورت العلاقات الروسيّة التركيّة؟

ناصر قنديل

خلال الشهر الماضي كان كل شيء يبدو مستقراً في العلاقات الروسية التركية، فموسكو تنجح بترتيب أول لقاء رسمي علني على مستوى أمني رفيع بين سورية وتركيا جَمَع في موسكو، اللواء علي مملوك رئيس مجلس الأمن الوطني في سورية مع الجنرال حقان فيدان رئيس المخابرات التركية، تم خلاله التوصل لتفاهم على خريطة تضمن فتح الطريقين الدوليين بين حلب ودمشق وحلب واللاذقية بتنسيق تركي روسي سوري أمني وعسكري يُنهي دور الجماعات الإرهابية شمال سورية. وكانت تركيا بعد تموضعها في لبييا تفتح الباب لرعاية روسية تركية لدعوة رئيس الحكومة المدعومة من تركيا فايز السراج وقائد الجيش الليبي الجنرال خليفة حفتر إلى موسكو لحوار من أجل وقف الحرب.

التدهور الحاصل اليوم في العلاقات التركية الروسية، والذي بلغ حافّة الحرب، بعدما لعب الرئيس التركي أوراق ضغط في ساحات محرّمة، كزيارته لأوكرانيا وما رافقها من كلام تلويحاً بالانقلاب على علاقته بروسيا، أو إعادة تشغيل خط معلن لتعاون تركي أميركي في سورية بعد طول انقطاع، وبالمقابل انتقال روسيا من حصر غاراتها الجوية بالجماعات المسلحة المدعومة من تركيا إلى قصف مؤلم يستهدف القوات التركية مباشرة داخل الأراضي السورية، وحديث روسي علني بلغة التحذير عن الدعم الكامل للجيش السوري في حال تعرّضه لأي استهداف تركي، إشارات تعني أن العلاقة تدهورت إلى ما يوازي لحظة إسقاط أردوغان للطائرة الروسية عام 2015.

تقول مصادر روسية إن الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان، تلاعب بالتفاهمات التي تمّت بينه وبين الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين حول سورية وليبيا، وقام بتحويلها إلى أوراق اعتماد لاستدراج عروض أميركية أوروبية حول سورية وليبيا طمعاً بالمزيد، وقد تلاعب به الأميركيون فتورط في ارتكاب خطأ لا يُغتفر، وهو المراوغة والخداع واللعب من وراء ظهر الرئيس بوتين، وبعدما كان أردوغان قد حصل من الرئيس الروسي على ضمان الحفاظ على دور تركي في العملية السياسية في كل من سورية وليبيا، شرط التزام حدود الدور العسكري بالحد الأدنى في ليبيا لزوم هذا الدور، والاستعداد للعودة إلى اتفاق أضنة تحت سقف سيادة الدولة، بالنسبة لسورية، حصل على إغراء أميركي للانقلاب على التفاهم، واستعمال الوقت لنقل الآلاف من المقاتلين السوريين إلى ليبيا، وتسليم مواقعهم لجبهة النصرة، التي يُفترض إخراجها من مناطق سيطرتها وليس توسيع هذه المناطق. والوعود الأميركية هي تقديم الدعم لتشكيل إطار دولي إقليمي للحل السياسي في سورية وليبيا، تكون لتركيا كلمة حاسمة فيه، وما يستدعيه ذلك من إسقاط صيغة أستانة بالنسبة لسورية. وهذا مطلوب من أردوغان، وضمان نقل القضيتين السورية والليبية إلى مجلس الأمن. وهذا ما ستفعله أميركا وأوروبا عندما يؤدي أردوغان ما عليه.

جاء الردّ الروسي السوري الاستباقي بالعملية العسكرية في محافظتي إدلب وحلب ليُجهض كل ألاعيب أردوغان، ويضعه مرة أخرى بين خيارين لا ثالث لهما، التموضع في قلب مسار استانة والرعاية الروسية والتأقلم مع خسارة الرهان على التلاعب بالجغرافيا السورية، والعودة للانضباط بالتفاهمات بخصوص ليبيا، أو البديل الثاني وهو التموضع مع الجماعات الإرهابيّة وخوض الحرب بجانبها أو بالنيابة عنها. وهذا سيعني تموضعاً روسياً حاسماً في ليبيا إلى جانب الجنرال حفتر وتقديم كل الدعم اللازم لتقدّمه العسكري، ومواصلة شرسة للمواجهة في سورية من دون أي مراعاة للوضعية التركية، وجعل أردوغان الخاسر الأكبر في الحربين.

مشروع أردوغان للقمة الرباعية التي تضمّه مع الرئيس بوتين والرئيس الفرنسي والمستشارة الألمانيّة مواصلة للعبة المراوغة، بينما تجاهله لدعوة إيران لقمّة ثلاثية روسية تركية إيرانية في طهران ضمن مسار أستانة، إعلان استمرار في اللعب على حافة الهاوية، ولذلك سيستمرّ العقاب حتى يعود أردوغان إلى بيت الطاعة الروسي في سوتشي، أو يدفع الثمن الأكبر، بعدما تكشّفت له الوعود الأميركية أنها مجرد أوراق مخادعة، فقد ترك وحيداً كما حصل معه من قبل مرتين، مرة بعد إسقاط الطائرة الروسية ومرة بعد بدء معركة حلب الأولى، ولم يحصل من واشنطن إلا على الكلام والبيانات، عساه يؤخر نهاية الجماعات الإرهابية فتشتري واشنطن الوقت بواسطته لترتيب انسحاب هادئ بلا هزيمة مدوّية، من شرق سورية.

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Trump Plans to Keep U.S. Troops Permanently in Iraq

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

A reliable and exceptionally knowledgeable source, who doesn’t wish to be publicly identified, has confidentially informed me that an agreement has been reached in which U.S. troops will remain permanently in Iraq but under exclusively NATO command, no longer under the command of CentCom (US Central Command in the Middle East).

On February 12th, NATO’s defense ministers agreed to increase operations in Iraq. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has been working ever since Fall of 2019 to prepare this plan (Trump had been pushing for it even before that), and Stoltenberg has consulted in Jordan with King Abdullah, and also in Brussels with Sabri Bachtabji, Tunisia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, because Tunisia is a key part of Trump’s plan, to use other NATO nations as America’s proxies controlling the Middle East.

On February 1st, pro-Muslim-Brotherhood Turkey agreed to the plan, and will be transferring jihadists (al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, plus some ISIS) from Syria’s jihadist-filled Idlib Province, into Libya, via Tunisia, so as to boost the forces of Fayez al-Sarraj (former monarchist now backed by U.S., EU, and Turkey) to defeat the forces of Khalifa Haftar (former Gaddafi-supporter, now in the Libyan civil war claiming as his objective the defeat of all jihadists there). Whereas U.S., EU, and Turkey, back al-Sarraj, Russia isn’t involved in the war, except trying to negotiate peace there, but al-Sarraj rejects any involvement by Russia. Turkey’s interest in Libya is to win Libya’s backing so as to be in a stronger position to win turf in the emerging competition for rights to oil and gas under nearby parts of the Mediterranean Sea. To have Libya beholden to Turkey would be to increase the likelihood of Turkey’s getting that offshore oil.

America’s position regarding the jihadists that Turkey has been protecting in Syria’s Idlib province is that they can be useful as proxy boots-on-the-ground to defeat Haftar, whom America too opposes, favoring al-Sarraj, whom Turkey likewise backs; so, Turkey and U.S. are cooperating on this effort in Libya.

America’s interest is in overthrowing Syria’s secular Government and replacing it with one that would be acceptable to the fundamentalist-Sunni Saud family who own Saudi Arabia. In order to do this, America will therefore need to keep its forces in Iraq. Otherwise, Russia and Iran, both of which America and the Sauds hope ultimately to conquer, would have stronger influence in the Middle East, which neither America nor the Sauds want. America invaded Iraq not only directly for its international corporations to profit, but also in order to have its hundreds of bases there from which to control the entire Middle East — bases that are supplied out of the world’s largest Embassy building (from which even other U.S. embassies are supplied), which building was constructed in Baghdad after the 2003 invasion. Trump’s plan now is to bring in NATO allies, so that they will help out in the Middle East, more than in the past. Trump wants America’s vassal-nations to absorb some of the financial burdens of imposing empire, so that America’s taxpayers won’t need to fund the full cost of it, for the benefit of the billionaire owners of international corporations that are based in the United States and in its allied (or vassal) (including other NATO) countries. This is why Stoltenberg has been working, for months, to effectuate Trump’s plan.

On February 1st, the veteran Middle Eastern reporter David Hearst headlined at his Middle East Eye site, “EXCLUSIVE: US military offers Iraq a partial pullback”, and he reported that,

A representative of the US military told the Iraqis present that the United States was prepared to leave positions in or near Shia-majority areas, such as Balad Air Base, which is located 80km north of Baghdad and houses US trainers and contractors.

Washington, the Iraqis were told, could even consider reducing its presence in Baghdad.

We are prepared to leave some of the Shia-majority areas, like the base in Balad. Maybe we could reduce our presence in Baghdad,” the military representative told his Iraqi counterparts, who understood from this that the US presence in the Iraqi capital would be reduced to guarding its embassy and the airport.

However, the US side categorically ruled out withdrawing from their biggest air base in Iraq, and indeed the whole Middle East, Ain al-Assad. …

For the US side, Ain al-Assad was its “red line”.

The representative said: “We cannot even start talking about withdrawing [from that base]. Withdrawal is out of the question.”

Such was the sensitivity of these discussions that they were held well away from Iraq. The meeting took place in the private residence of the Canadian ambassador to Jordan in Amman, Middle East Eye was told.

Present at the meeting was a representative of the US military, a Nato official and a senior Iraqi security adviser.

America needs the vast Ain al-Assad base in order ultimately to overthrow Bashar al-Assad (no relation), Syria’s secular President, who is allied with Russia and with Iran. NATO will increasingly be taking over this function of assisting the war for regime-change in Syria.

On February 15th, Middle East Monitor bannered “Iraq: Washington to strengthen presence of NATO to disengage militarily from Baghdad” and reported that America’s allies will take over there but “This will only work if the NATO mission includes a strong US component.” So: America’s withdrawal will be only nominal. This will help NATO by assuring that Trump won’t abandon NATO if he wins a second term, and it will also help Trump to win a second term by Trump’s claiming to be withdrawing from the Middle East even without actually doing any such thing.

The aim of this is to fool the public everywhere. In international affairs, this is the way to win: first, fool your own public; then, get your allies to fool theirs. That builds a “coalition.” Donald Trump is doing precisely this.

Trump is continuing Barack Obama’s wars, just like Barack Obama continued George W. Bush’s wars. The plan for America to control the Middle East remains on course, now, ever since 2001. As Obama often said, “America is the one indispensable nation.” (All others are therefore “dispensable.”) It is certainly the leading nation. And America’s aristocracy possess patience. They know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. In order to be the leading nation and the biggest international aggressor (so that “America is the one indispensable nation”), what is essential is to treat every other nation as being “dispensable” (make them fear you), so that either they will do as the leading nation wants, or else they will be dispensed with — they will become added to the list of target-nations to be conquered. They are dispensable; they are disposable. A disposable nation is aware of its subordinate position. On February 15th, the International Institute for Strategic Studies reported that

the US dedicated a significantly higher proportion of its defence budget to procurement and R&D than its NATO allies. European countries are increasing their defence investments as a share of their total spending – for those countries with available data, funds rose from 19.8% in 2018 to 23.1% in 2019 – but the equivalent category reached 29% in the US. The United States’ defence investments were thus worth around four times as much as European states’ combined.

A nation which spends 29% of its GDP on “defence” might be weak in other ways, but everyone in the world will fear it, and all other nations will know that they are “dispensable,” because the country which spends that high a percentage (and there is only one which does) also happens to have the world’s largest economy. Any other country, which isn’t one of its vassals, will be viewed by it (or by its aristocracy) as being an “enemy” — a nation that is targeted for “regime-change,” instead of for being a market. And being a targeted nation is very different than being a target market. It is to be only a target — a target of sanctions, a target of coups, and, if those fail, then a target of invasion and military occupation, like Iraq is.

(Howsever, actually, the U.S. spends only around 7% — $1.5 trillion divided by $22 trillion — of its economy toward the Pentagon and the rest of America’s military. Still, it might be the highest percentage on Earth. Because around $1 trillion yearly in U.S. military spending is off-the-books, that ‘defence’ figure could actually be closer to 10%. But it’s not 29%. Right now, around 20% of U.S. GDP goes to buy healthcare, which is the very largest percentage for healthcare of any country on the planet. America’s quality of healthcare is at or near the lowest of all industrialized nations; so, the wastage in its healthcare is even larger than in its military.)

Iraq and Iran and Syria — and every other nation that is friendly toward Russia — all of them, are targets of the U.S. regime. That’s why Trump plans to keep U.S. forces in Iraq: Iraq was conquered in 2003, and he wants it to stay that way.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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