TURKEY RUNS OUT OF MONEY FOR ITS MERCENARIES

 South Front

01.01.2021

On Janury 1, dozens of mercenaries from Siryan Idlib staged a protest in Tripoli’s Police College in Libya. Militants demand payment of salaries from their Turkish bosses.

According to the Al-Saa’a 24 news channel, the Syrian mercenaries have not been paid for five months. Each mercenary’s late due reportedly amount to $10,000.

According to numerous sources, it is known that the amount of contracts for Syrian mercenaries ranges from $1,500 to $2,000, depending on their military specialties and responsibilities.

Despite the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) in October, Turkey intends to deploy a new branch of mercenaries in Libya to support the GNA, according to the recent claims by the Siryan Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

According to the SOHR, the number of mercenaries sent to Libya is estimated at 18,000. A significant part of them are under age of 18.

Turkey is actively deploying mercenaries from Syria to implement its national interests in different world regions. The recent Nagorno-Karabakh war, where more than 2,500 of its fighters were reportedly deployed alongside with Azerbaijani forces, demanded significant financial efforts from Ankara. Moreover, there are reports that Turkey is going to send mercenaries to Kashmir to fight against Indian forces.

At the same time, Turkish proxies have recently failed a large scale attack on the town of Ain Issa held by the Syrian Democratic Forces in Siryan Raqqa governorate.

Turkish desire to restore the greatness of the Ottoman Empire faces a lack of funds to carry out these ambitious plans.

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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…

Russia Just Lost One Of Fighter Jets Deployed In Libya?

Russia Just Lost One Of Fighter Jets Deployed In Libya?
Video

September 09, 2020

South Front

A video, allegedly showing a Russian-speaking pilot in Libya waiting for an evacuation helicopter after his aircraft had supposedly crashed, appeared online on September 7 causing a wave of speculation in mainstream media and among military enthusiasts.

The clip shows a white-and-orange parachute on the ground, in a desert-like environment, and the Russian-speaking person claims that his aircraft was shot down at around 70km and that he ejected from it at about 40km from the airfield. He claims that he is waiting for an evacuation group of helicopters while the enemy is searching for him. After a break the video resumed to show an approaching Mi-24 helicopter in colors close to those used by helicopters of the Libyan National Army (LNA).

The video does not show any wreckage, nor indications of the near crash site, nor clues about the type of aircraft nor the real date or location of the video. The Russian pro-government military blog ‘Fighter Bomber’, which originally released the video, also revealed no further details about it.

The video came following several reports by the US military claiming that Russia had deployed several MiG-29 and Su-24 warplanes to the LNA-operated al-Jufra Airfield. The US Africa Command then claimed that these warplanes were possibly operated by Russia-linked private military contractors.

At the same time, the color scheme of the filmed helicopter is close to that used by the LNA. In particular, an LNA Mi-8 helicopter, which recently crash landed west of Sirte and was captured by forces of the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) had a similar painting scheme.

As to the video itself and the actions of the alleged pilot on it, the situation looks pretty strange. First of all, if the jet was really shot down in combat conditions and the pilot ejected, the decision to film a video that may fall into the hands of the enemy is quite puzzling. The behavior of the pilot making such a decision raises questions about the real purpose of the move. In real combat conditions, the pilot would likely try to retreat from the crash site as much as possible taking the crash-position indicator with him to allow the rescue force to find him. Another factor is that despite the claims of the ‘pilot’, no smoke can really be seen in the video. Further, the pilot is not wearing a proper flight suit. On top of this, Russian sources say that the survival radio set, likely the P-855, which can be seen in the video, is of a different color than those used by the Russian Aerospace Forces.

These factors indicate that the video, regardless of the location, could be from some sort of combat search and rescue exercise. This would explain the strange behavior of the ‘pilot’ who was sitting near his parachute and waiting for somebody, like in peace time, instead of retreating from the alleged crash site. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that these details are likely to be ignored by mainstream media, which will probably soon be full of reports about how Turkish forces downed a Russian fighter aircraft in Libya. If the above mentioned fun clip was really recorded in Libya, by some Russian-linked private military contractors, their leadership is now apparently interested in improving the operational security of their forces.

Large demonstration held in support of Gaddafi family in northern Libya: video

Supporters of the Gaddafi family took to the streets of Bani Walid, Sirte, and Ghat to demonstrate in support of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi’s return to politics.

By News Desk -2020-08-25

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:35 P.M.) – Supporters of the Gaddafi family have once again gathered in Sirte, the birthplace of the former president, Muammar, to show their support for them amid ongoing turmoil between the two largest political blocs in Libya.

According to Ouais Hasairi, the Libyan National Army (LNA) clashed with members of the Gdadfa Tribe, which is the tribe of Muammar Gaddafi, over the arrest of 50 civilians in the city of Sirte.

The incident, according to Hasairi, took place in the coastal city of Sirte on August 24th, as the demonstrations in support of the Gaddafi family continue in this region of the country.

Supporters of the Gaddafi family can be seen waiving the green flag, which represented the Libyan Arab Republic under the former president Muammar Gaddafi.

Last week, three demonstrations were reported in Sirte and two other cities in north-central Libya, as dozens of people rallied in support of the Gaddafi family and the return of Saif Al-Islam to Libyan politics.

Related

Demonstrations held in support of Gaddafi family in 3 Libyan cities

By News Desk -2020-08-20

Supporters of the Gaddafi family took to the streets of Bani Walid, Sirte, and Ghat to demonstrate in support of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi’s return to politics.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:00 P.M.) – Dozens of people gathered inside three Libyan cities this week to demonstrate in support of Saif Al-Islam Al-Gaddafi, the son of the former president, Mu’ammar Al-Gaddafi.

According to Al-Wasat, the demonstrations were held in the cities of Sirte, Bani Walid, and Ghat, which are located in north-central Libya.

The participants reportedly held photos of the former Libyan President, along with his sons, Saif Al-Islam, Mu’tassem, and Khamis.

The protesters were reportedly calling for the return of Saif Al-Islam to Libyan politics, while announcing their support for his presidency.

The city of Sirte is the birthplace of Mu’ammar Gaddafi and was one of the main strongholds for the late president during the first phase of the Libyan Civil War.

Since Gaddafi’s death, the city has been controlled by the Government of National Accord, Libyan National Army, and Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh).

Sirte is currently under the control of the Libyan National Army and has been since they captured the city from the Government of National Accord in January 2020.

The Government of National Accord is now eyeing the recapture of the city, despite the Egyptian government’s announcement that Sirte is their “red line”.

Related News

Alleged Russian S-300 system spotted near strategic Libyan city: photo

By News Desk -2020-08-06

S-300 PMU-2 long-range air defense system deployed by the Algerian army in southern Algeria.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:10 A.M.) – A Russian-made S-300 air defense system has been spotted near the strategic port-city of Sirte in north-central Libya.

According to conflict observers, a photo taken east of Sirte allegedly shows the presence of an S-300 air defense system, which is something that Libya did not previously possess.

However, while some claim that this is an S-300 system, the Russian publication, Avia.Pro, said that the photo does not necessarily confirm its presence, as it is only possible to confirm the ownership of the radar.

“At the moment, there is no complete confidence that we are talking about the S-300 complex, since it was only possible to confirm the ownership of the radar; however, given the fact that Russian military aircraft regularly fly to Libya, landing at air bases controlled by the Libyan National Army. Moreover, we are talking about Russian military specialists, analysts are inclined to believe that we are talking about these complexes,” the publication said.

The Libyan National Army has not commented on the claims of the S-300 system’s deployment to Sirte.

It should be noted that neighboring Egypt does possess an S-300 system and given their alliance with the Libyan National Army, the deployment of this weapon could very well be possible.

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RIPPLE EFFECTS: GREECE AND TURKEY OPEN NEW NORTHERN FRONT ON LIBYAN CONFLICT

Source

 25.07.2020 

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Greece’s navy has declared a state of heightened alert and deployed ships to the Aegean Sea in response to a Turkish vessel conducting seismic surveys for energy exploration purposes close to a disputed maritime area.

On Tuesday the Greek foreign ministry issued a formal protest to Turkey following the announcement that a Turkish drilling ship would conduct explorations in the maritime area south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the south eastern Aegean. The foreign ministry also released a statement:

We call on Turkey to immediately cease its illegal activities, which violate our sovereign rights and undermine peace and security in the region.”

Following Turkey’s rejection of the protest, the Greek Navy has sent ships to patrol in the area.

“Navy units have been deployed since yesterday in the south and southeastern Aegean,” a navy source told AFP, declining to give further details.

Athens has stated that Turkish surveys in sections of the Greek continental shelf constitute an escalation of the tension in the region where the two countries dispute the boundary of their respective maritime areas. LINK

Experts cited in media reports have interpreted Turkey’s conduct as designed to test Greece’s determination to defend its interests in the eastern Mediterranean region, and believe that the Turkish leadership’s moves may also be linked to the Libyan conflict. According to this interpretation of the latest developments, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently seeks to “test” the reaction of his opponents. LINK

A report in Xinhua suggests that Greece’s response is to draw even closer to Egypt. Greece and Egypt have been holding negotiations over the demarcation of an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, however the boundaries of the area they are discussing overlaps with the area which was subject to a maritime agreement signed by Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in Libya late last year (the two parties also signed a military agreement pursuant to which Turkey has sent thousands of fighters and a large amount of weapons and supplies to the Government of National Accord).

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received a phone call from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, during which they discussed regional issues, with a focus on the Libyan crisis.

According to the Xinhua report, Sisi expressed Egypt’s opposition to “illegitimate foreign intervention” in Libyan domestic affairs, citing that they would further exacerbate the security conditions in Libya in a way that affects the stability of the entire region, said Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady in a statement.

For his part, the Greek prime minister also voiced rejection of foreign interference in Libya, while highlighting the political course as a key solution for the Libyan issue.

He hailed Egypt’s “sincere efforts” that seek a peaceful settlement to the Libyan crisis, according to the statement.

Over the past few years, the Egyptian-Greek ties have been growing closer, with their growing enmity with Turkey also resulting in them developing a similar position on Libya. The talks between Sisi and Mitsotakis took place just a few days after the Egyptian parliament approved a possible troop deployment in Libya to defend Egypt’s western borders with the war-torn country. LINK

A perceptive analysis of the emerging Turkey-Libya (Tripoli) relations published last month remains just as salient to describe the situation today:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gambled big in Libya and won big – so far. This victory portends important changes in the politics of the Mediterranean, for Turkey has succeeded not only in demonstrating its determination to become the dominant player in the Eastern Mediterranean, but also in showcasing its military prowess and wherewithal. The latter might precipitate a deeper conflict and crisis in the region, extending north toward Greece.

Erdogan threw his support behind the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) against General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which had besieged the GNA’s capital, Tripoli. Haftar suffered a humiliating defeat as Turkish drones, troops, navy vessels and some 10,000 Syrian fighters transported by Ankara to Libya stopped him in his tracks and then forced him to abandon bases and territory. A last-minute call for a ceasefire by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was rejected by the victorious GNA, which has set its aims at capturing other towns, including the critical port city of Sirte.

Indirectly, this was also a defeat for the countries that had backed Haftar: Egypt, the UAE and Russia. The UAE had contributed military equipment and the Russians non-state mercenary forces.

Turkey’s Libya expedition has to be seen from two perspectives. First, the GNA concluded a deal with Ankara that delineated their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in such a way that it divides the Mediterranean Sea into two sections. Turkey’s purpose is to hinder efforts by Egypt, Cyprus, Israel and Greece to export natural gas, either through a pipeline or on LNG vessels, to Europe. Turkey has aggressively interfered with efforts by these to drill for gas. Ankara claims that most of the waters around Cyprus actually belong to Turkey or to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a country recognized only by Turkey.

However, more important than simply preventing Eastern Mediterranean gas exports is the underlying strategy driving this push against Haftar. From the moment he assumed power in 2003, Erdogan has striven to elevate Turkey’s international role to that of a regional, if not global, power. Initially, his strategy was one of “zero problems with neighbors,” which served to emphasize Turkey’s soft power. The primary driver, however, was the desire for Turkey to assume a hegemonic position over the Middle East. This policy foundered and was essentially buried by the Arab Spring.

What has replaced it is a more aggressive and militarized posture that takes the fight to perceived enemies. That could mean anyone and everyone, since Turks tend to see most countries as a threat, even if they are allies. LINK

While Turkey has bet big and won big so far, it appears that the period of relatively easy victories is over and its aggressive moves are going to face more resistance in future. As Turkey continues to shows no sign of moderating its expansionist claims and manoeuvres, the region is now moving irrevocably towards a catastrophic military clash as Turkey and Egypt have drawn incompatible ‘red lines’ in Libya, with the coastal town of Sirte likely to be the detonator (or possibly the Jufra airbase to the south).

An international agreement promoted by the UN in 2014-2015 established an executive body and a legislative body to govern Libya and pave the way for a more permanent arrangement. However, fundamental disagreements between the two quasi-State organizations resulted in a complete split, with the executive arm becoming the ‘UN-backed’ Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and the House of Representatives relocating to Tobruk (thus the legislative arm is also ‘UN-backed’, though this detail is usually omitted from mainstream media reports).

Turkey has allied itself with the Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt has allied itself with the House of Representatives (and its armed forces, the Libyan National Army – the LNA – headed by Khalifa Haftar). More generally, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are invariably reported as supporting the LNA, while the GNA is mainly backed by Turkey and Qatar.

Following the drastic changes on the battlefield over the last two months as the GNA swept the LNA from its positions around Tripoli following a failed attempt to capture the Libyan capital, both Turkey and Egypt have committed themselves to positions that are in direct conflict, indicating that a major armed clash is inevitable unless there is a major diplomatic breakthrough or one of the two sides accepts a humiliating backdown.

Specifically, Turkey and the Government of National Accord are demanding that the Libyan National Army (which recently gave Egypt permission to send its armed forces into Libya) withdraw from the two areas (Sirte and Jufra) and have expressed their determination to take the areas by force if necessary. The Libyan National Army and Egypt have stated that any attempt to capture the two areas will result in Egypt entering Libya in force, which would result in a direct confrontation between Turkey and Egypt. While Egypt has the advantage of sharing a long land border with Libya, in the event of a major conflict air and maritime power could be decisive.

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NATO 2020: A COALITION OF THE UNWILLING

 25.07.2020 

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watsont

The problem with alliances is that they ultimately either become victims of their own success, or cannot figure out what to do with themselves once the original rationale disappears. The original Cold War-era NATO was a relatively cohesive entity led by one of the two superpowers, with most of its members being the industrialized democracies of Western Europe, with West Germany being its eastern-most European member, and alliance planning revolving around USSR. But even then there were cracks in the alliance. Italy, for example, had nearly no role to play as it did not border any Warsaw Pact country and did not practice deploying its forces to West Germany to practice its defense against the anticipated Warsaw Pact invasion. And while Greece and Turkey were ostensibly part of that alliance as well, in practice they spent more time clashing with one another than planning for joint action against USSR.

The end of the Cold War made the problem of alliance cohesion far worse, for two reasons. One, it quickly added as many members as possible thus greatly expanding its geographical extent, and two, it lost that single unifying factor in the form of USSR. Today’s NATO is a patchwork of mini-alliances revolving around the United States which is determined to replace the alliance aspect of NATO which assumes that all members have interests that are to be taken into consideration, by patron-client relationships.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the goal of the United States is global domination. This goal is shared by the entire political elite and major portions of the population, though it is nearly never discussed openly or directly. Instead, it is framed in terms of “American Leadership”, “New American Century”, and of course “American Exceptionalism” which is used to justify any policy that violates international law, treaties, or agreements. Given that every country which has not recognized “American Leadership” is described as a “regime”, there is no indication the US elite is interested in anything resembling peaceful coexistence with other sovereign states.

NATO plays a double role in achieving that goal. First, it is a military alliance that projects military power against anyone refusing to accept “American Leadership”. Military contributions by European member states are certainly important, not least by giving America the veneer of international legitimacy, but the presence of US bases on the European continent is far more so. US forces stationed in or staged out of European naval, air, and land bases are indispensable to its efforts to control the MENA region and to promote the US policy of driving a wedge between Europe on the one hand and Russia and China on the other. Secondly, a European country’s membership in NATO means a sacrifice of considerable portion of its sovereignty and independence to the United States. This is a wholly asymmetrical relationship, since US bases its forces in European countries and sells its weapons to them, not the other way around. The penetration of a European country thus achieved allows US intelligence service to develop agent networks and to employ the full range of lobbying techniques which have been particularly visible in the US efforts to press F-35 aircraft into the hands of NATO member states.

America’s self-appointed task is made not easier or harder by the fact that today’s NATO is therefore fragmented along both geographic and national power lines. The geographical divide is plainly easy to see: Norway and Denmark mainly care about the Arctic, Poland and Romania obsess about Russia, Mediterranean countries freak out about what’s happening in North Africa. The wrangling over sending more troops to Mali or to Estonia is the reflection of the differing security concerns of individual members of the far-flung pact. The power divide is less easy to see but more problematic for Washington. V_3 (A2) Of the European powers, only four—Germany, France, Italy, and Great Britain—may be considered to be powerful and independent political actors with which the US has to contend on anything like an equal basis. The first three form the core of the European Union, whereas Great Britain opted for Brexit, likely in part because of the looming big power struggle between the US and the EU that has the potential of degenerating into a destructive trade war. It is doubtful that the skirmishes over Huawei and North Stream 2 are anything but the opening salvoes in the confrontation over whether the EU will emerge as a political actor independent of the US, or be reduced to a collection of client states. Unfortunately, America’s task is made easier by the fact of the intra-European divisions mentioned above.

United States is pursuing development of several hypersonic missile systems with the aim of ultimately fielding very large numbers of them in order to be able to launch disarming first strikes against Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals. Since the weapons themselves are relatively short-ranged (though that may change once the US allows New START to lapse), they require basing close to their intended targets. That means having to find countries willing to base them in Europe, where it is liable to provoke a  political debate of the magnitude comparable to that of the original Euromissile controversy of the 1980s. Since Germany is not interested in being reduced to the status of a US client, it has resisted the US on a variety of fronts, including the North Stream 2, the refusal to buy F-35s, and now also the lack of desire to host the new US missiles. Even the German defense spending increases are intended at least as much to counter US influence in Eastern Europe as the supposed Russian threat to NATO. The United States has responded using the usual array of tools: economic sanctions on any and all European entities participating in the project and even using the gas, apparently launching a cyber-attack that US-friendly German intelligence promptly blamed on Russia, and also threatening to move US troops out of Germany and possibly to Poland. There is even discussion and rumors that US nuclear weapons stationed in Germany might be moved to Poland.

The outcome of this so far is a power struggle between two NATO allies, US and Germany, over the political alignment of a third—Poland. While Germany has the power of EU institutions on its side and massive economic gravitational pull, US has cultivated a cadre of friends, possibly intelligence assets, as a result of post-9/11 collaboration in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in the realm of intelligence-sharing. This has produced a government more than willing to deploy US troops, missiles, and even nukes on Poland’s territory. The power of US influence is visible in Poland’s weapons procurement: Patriot, Javelin, HIMARS, F-35, and not a single comparable European system in recent years. The US weakness in this confrontation consists of the unwillingness to subsidize Poland economically which, combined with the ruling party’s fiscal irresponsibility, will make it difficult for the country to maintain its anti-German course in the longer term.

While in Eastern Europe US national security state is using Poland as a proxy against Germany, in the Mediterranean it has adopted Turkey as a proxy against France and Italy. After some hemming and hawing, the US hawks dropped the Kurds yet again, with Trump happily taking the blame, in order to piggy-back on Erdogan’s Libya ambitions to curtail French and Italian interests there. To be sure, Turkey retains far more autonomy in the relationship than Poland, which was unable or unwilling to play US and Russia and EU against one another in order to secure a measure of freedom of action. But the US Congress measures to allow the purchase of S-400 weapons from Turkey is an indicator that Turkey’s behavior is once again useful to the US. And even though Turkey was excluded from the F-35 program, its firms continue to make components for various assembly plants. The result has been a number of stand-offs between Turkish warships on one hand and French and Italian on the other off the coasts of Libya. And whereas France and Italy are backing the Marshal Haftar’s LNA, Turkey’s preferred proxy is the GNA, leading to a veritable “anti-Turkey” alliance being formed that includes Turkey’s old time NATO adversary Greece. While the US is officially aloof of the entire situation, in practice controlling Libya’s oil is part of the Washington strategy of “energy dominance” every bit as the North Stream 2 sanctions are.

The remarkable part of these two sets of conflicts among NATO powers is that in both cases Russia has sided with Germany and France against the US in both cases. It is Russia’s policies that are more beneficial to French and German interests than America’s, since Russia is not actually seeking to monopolize energy supplies to Europe in the way that the US clearly and openly is.

So far the US strategy consisted of steadily ratcheting up pressure through sanctions and proxies and occasional intelligence-generated anti-Russia provocations (sometimes helpfully delivered by British agencies), trying to find that happy middle of policies that actually force Germany, France, and Italy to change their policies and which do not force a permanent breach in the trans-Atlantic relationship. But the cracks in the relationship are clearly visible and they are not attributable to Trump’s erratic and brusque manner. It is the US Congress which passed the successive rounds of anti-North Stream 2 sanctions, with strong partisan majorities. It means the assertion of US control over European major powers is part of the US agenda. Since that agenda is motivated by a US political and economic crisis of a magnitude not seen since the 1930s, there is little likelihood Biden’s presidency would represent a radical departure from the current trend.

Of course, for Germany, France, and Italy to successfully resist US encroachment they would first need to transform the EU into something closer than a federation. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic crisis already providing considerable impetus for such a transformation, America’s insatiable appetites might provide the rest.

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).

محظوران أميركيّان في حروب الأمم على ليبيا؟

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تتوارى السياسة الأميركية خلف دول مرتبطة بها تتقاتل بِعنف شديد في ميادين ليبيا. فتبدو وكأنها محايد في هذه الحرب التي تغطي مساحات ليبيّة ضخمة تصل بين حدود مصر والبحر الأبيض المتوسط وتونس والجزائر وبعض جهات أفريقيا السمراء.

لماذا يختبئ الأميركيون عسكرياً في ليبيا وهم الذين يهاجمون عسكرياً أو بواسطة منظمات عرقية وإرهابية في أفغانستان والعراق وسورية والصومال واليمن والسودان وينشرون قواعدهم في معظم جزيرة العرب والأردن وتمخر بوارجهم وأساطيلهم بحار المنطقة من دون استثناء.

بداية يجب إسقاط فرضية عدم الحاجة الأميركية إلى ليبيا، التي تمتلك أكبر ثروات من الغاز والنفط وموقع استراتيجي هام يطل على البحر المتوسط الذي تتقاتل الأمم من أقصى الأرض على سواحله وأعماق مياهه التي تحتوي خزاناً كبيراً من موارد الطاقة.

للتوضيح فإن الدول المنخرطة عسكرياً تشمل تركيا وروسيا وفرنسا وإيطاليا والسعودية والإمارات مع إسناد مصري وجزائري. هذا إلى جانب القوتين الليبيتين الأساسيتين، دولة السراج في الغرب ودولة حفتر في الشرق مع بعض الإطلالات الإنجليزية والألمانية والصينية الخجولة.

إنها إذاً حرب عالميّة على ليبيا لربط صلة بثرواتها من جهة وبالصراع على البحر المتوسط من جهة أخرى.

فهل يمكن للأميركيين أن يغيبوا عن الوليمة الليبية الدسمة؟

لم يذكر التاريخ القريب عن أي ضمور في الشهية الاستعمارية الأميركية التي تمزق العالم على جثث ملايين المدنيين في شتى أنحاء الأرض من أجل الهيمنة الاقتصادية.هذه ليست تهمة افتراضية، بل حقيقة يعيشها حتى اليوم الكثير من الناجين.

لذلك فإن الغياب الأميركي في التدخل العسكري المباشر في ليبيا، يرتبط بفشل التدخلات الأميركية المباشرة في أفغانستان والعراق وسورية وكثير من دول أخرى.

وبما أن الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية أصبحت على بعد ثلاثة أشهر فقط (تشرين الثاني)، فهذا يعني أن أي تدخل عسكري أميركي مباشر لن يكون أكثر من تورط من دون إمكانية عقد أيّ حل مع الدول المتنازعة في ساحات ليبيا.

فالأميركيّ القادر على التعاقد هو رئيس باقٍ في منصبه لسنوات عدة على الأقل.

وبما أن الرئيس الأميركي الحالي ترامب المرشح لولاية جديدة لا يريد هدراً لدماء أميركية جديدة في ليبيا تنعكس فوراً على وضعه الانتخابي، فارتأى القتال من الخلف.

هذا إلى جانب القوى المختلفة المتورطة في حروب ليبيا، تحاول الاستفادة مما تسميه وقتاً ضائعاً يأتي عادة قبل الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية بأشهر عدة، وتعتقد أن الاتفاق حول ليبيا لن يكون إلا مع الرئيس الجديد.

لذلك تذهب الدولة الأميركية العميقة إلى التدخل بإدارة الحروب في الميدان الليبي إنما من خلال مشاركات الدول الصديقة وبناء على محظورين أنتجتهما بدقة لمنع أي خلل أو طارئ في هذه الحرب.

ضمن هذا الإطار يجب فهم عدم الممانعة الأميركية القاسية على التدخل العسكري التركي في ليبيا، وعدم رفضها لنقل أنقرة قوات إرهابية في ميادين سورية إلى ليبيا.

هذا الصمت على تورط أردوغان الليبي مطلوب من النفوذ الأميركي لاستكمال مشهد الصراع، ضد التدخل الروسي، وهذا من الأسباب التي ترعى فيها واشنطن تدخلاً عسكرياً مصرياً في ليبيا، وتبدو حذرة من احتمالات تدخل جزائري فيها.كما أن التدخل السعوديّ الإماراتيّ هو أيضاً بدعم أميركي، فتصبح حروب ليبيا، أميركية من جهة تركيا وأميركية من جهة مصر والسعودية والإمارات ولها علاقة نسبية بالتدخل الفرنسي – الإيطالي – اليوناني فيها.

أي أن الأميركيين يضبطون الأطراف المتقاتلة في حروب ليبيا من جهتيها المتقاتلتين ولا يخرج عن نفوذهم إلا شركة «فاغنر» الروسيّة التي توالي السياسة الروسية.

هذا ما جعل وزير الخارجية الأميركي بومبيو يحذّر من الهيمنة الروسية على ليبيا، لكن الروس ينفون علاقتهم بالشركة مضيفين بأن الغرب الأوروبي – والأميركي سرق ليبيا من نفوذهم السوفياتي – الروسي عندما قتل رئيسها السابق معمر القذافي فاتحاً أبواب فوضى عميقة في معظم صحاريها وبحارها.

الروس إذاً هم الوحيدون الذين يخرجون عن النسق الأميركي لحرب ليبيا، وهذا سبب إضافي يضاف إلى حاجات واشنطن باستمرار إدارة الحرب.

هناك إذاً محظوران أميركيان يؤكدان على أن الإدارة الأميركية تريد تأجيل حسم ما في ليبيا أو توقيع هدنة مع الطرف الروسي.

المحظور الأول هو ضرورة مراوحة الحرب عند خط جبهة سرت النفطي واندلاعها بشكل حاد في مختلف المناطق الأخرى.

أما المحظور الثاني فيتعلق بمنع أي حسم في هذه الحرب انتظاراً لاستكمال الانتخابات الرئاسيّة الأميركيّة.هذان المحظوران هما اللذان فرضا على الدولة الأميركية العميقة الاستنجاد بالرئيس المصري السيسي ليرسل جيشه إلى منطقة ليبية من الحدود مع مصر حتى جبهة مدينة سرت.

بذلك يطوّق التدخل الروسي من جهة ويتواصل القتال في عموم ليبيا من جهة ثانية، وذلك للزوم التفرغ الأميركي المقبل لإدارة اقتسام الغنائم على الساحة الليبية بين أميركيين أولاً، يليهم الأتراك والأوروبيون وبعض الفتافيت المتساقطة لمصر السيسي والكثير من الولاءات السياسية على سبيل الوجاهة والمعنويات للإمارات والسعودية.فهل يقبل الروس بهذا الأمر؟

قد يتم إقناعهم بشيء من التعاقد لشركاتهم في ميادين النفط والغاز، مقابل احتمال آخر صاعد يرى أن ليبيا مقبلة عن «كنتنة» كبيرة لأن مساحتها تصل إلى مليون وأربع مئة ألف كيلو متر مربع لشعب لا يصل إلى خمسة ملايين نسمة، تزعم تركيا أن بينهم نحو مليون من التركمان، ينتمي إليهم السراج حاكم دولة غرب ليبيا حالياً.

يتبين بالاستنتاج أن حرب ليبيا طويلة بقرار أميركي يمنع توقفها وحسمها في آن معاً، وهي قابلة للتقاسم لافتقارها إلى دولة وطنية قوية على المنوال السوري تجسد الطموحات الفعلية لأهلها، فحفتر أميركي – مصري – روسي – سعودي – وإماراتي – وأوروبي فهل بقي مكان عنده لليبيا؟

كذلك فإن منافسه السراج إخواني – تركي من أصول تركمانية تعود إلى عصر الإنكشارية الذين كان يحتلون ليبيا فأين ليبيا من انتماءاته؟

يبدو أن حلفاً روسياً – جزائرياً مع تيارات ليبية شعبية هو الحل الوحيد لمنع تحويل ليبيا إلى أشلاء تنهشها الأمم وتحذفها من تاريخ الدول، لتصبح مشيخات تعود إلى عصر الإبل والنوق وسط تصفيق سعودي إماراتي يصر على ربط العرب بالقرون الوسطى ومسابقة أجمل بعير في سباق الهجن.

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

Eastern-Based Libyan Parliament Gives Green Light to Egyptian Army to Interfere in Libyan Conflict

Egyptian army members wearing protective face masks, amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) complete a new area at the Ain Shams field hospital prepared to receive COVID-19 patients in Cairo, Egypt June 16, 2020

Source

 13.07.2020

CAIRO (Sputnik) – The eastern-based Libyan parliament, which supports the Libyan National Army (LNA), has given go-ahead to the Egyptian armed forces to intervene in the Libyan conflict.

In early June, Egypt put forward the Cairo peace initiative, outlining a path for a political settlement in Libya and calling for warring parties to cease fire since 8 June. The proposal was welcomed by the Arab League, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but was rejected by the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Turkey.

“We call for joint efforts between the two brotherly nations – Libya and Egypt – in order to defeat the occupier and maintain our common security and stability in our country and region,” the statement read.

It added that the parliament “welcomes the words of the Egyptian President, spoken in the presence of representatives of Libyan tribes.”

“The Egyptian armed forces have the right to intervene to protect Libyan and Egyptian national security if they see an imminent threat to the security of our two countries,” the statement added.

Last week Egyptian armed forces conducted an exercise near Libya’s border. The drills, codenamed Resolve 2020, took place in the northwestern district of Qabr Gabis, some 37 miles (60 kilometres) away from the Libyan border.

Libya has been suffering from internal conflict since its long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011. At the moment, the east of the country is ruled by the parliament, while the west is controlled by the Tripoli-based Government of GNA, which was formed with the help of the United Nations and the European Union. The authorities in the east cooperate with the LNA, which has been attempting to take control of Tripoli.

Related

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.

WAR PREPARATIONS: EGYPT AND TURKEY KICK OFF LARGE-SCALE DRILLS NEAR LIBYA

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Turkey and Egypt are flexing their military muscles off the Libyan shores as chances of a potential war in the eastern Mediterranean continue growing.

Firstly, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense announced that soon it will hold large-scale naval exercises off the Libyan coast. The official statement said that the drills, called “Naftex”, will take place in three different regions: Barbaros, Turgutreis and Chaka Bey. Turkey says that the exercises will involve 17 warplanes and 8 ships proving “Turkey’s ability to control the region by air and sea”.

The current stalemate on the frontline between pro-Turkish forces and the Libyan National Army, backed up by Egypt and the UAE, near the port city of Sirte did not stop Turkey from sending new weapons and equipment to the frontline. The Turkish military also deployed additional equipment to the al-Watiya Air Base in western Libya. The airbase, which earlier this year became a strongpoint of Turkish forces, was recently bombed by the LNA Air Force. At least one MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air-defense system and a KORAL electronic warfare system of the Turkish military were reportedly destroyed. Pro-Turkish sources claim that the equipment recently deployed to the base included air defense systems that will give the LNA a ‘lesson’.

On July 9, the Egyptian Armed Forces kicked off its own drills in the region involving land, air and naval forces deployed near the Libyan border. The land component of the drills, codenamed Resolve 2020, took place in the northwestern district of Qabr Gabis. By this move, Egypt sent Turkey and its proxies a signal that an attempt by Turkish forces to capture Sirte is a red line and if crossed, they will face a Egyptian military response.

Taking into account, the logistical difficulties of Turkish forces and the apparent Egyptian military advantage in the event of a confrontation near its western border, the open intervention of Egypt into the conflict will put an end to Turkish hopes to consolidate its recently increased influence in Libya.

Meanwhile, ISIS have been trying to exploit the escalation for their own cause. According to reports, ISIS cells that still hide in the desert area in central Libya have recently increased their activity and resumed attacks on civilian targets mostly looting small villages and robbing civilian convoys. ISIS’ self-proclaimed Caliphate deteriorated into just a loud brand used by various gangs to justify their criminal behavior. Despite this, even such gangs will become a serious security issue if the conflict in Libya enters a new hot phase.

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions

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July 11, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a news conference following political consultations between the foreign ministers of Russia and three African Union countries (South Africa, Egypt and the Congo) via videoconference, Moscow, July 8, 2020

Colleagues,

Today, we held the first political consultation meeting at the foreign minister level between Russia and three members of the African Union. This mechanism was established after the first Russia-Africa Summit held in Sochi last October. These countries are the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are the former, current and next presidents of the African Union.

Russia and Africa are linked by traditional friendly relations, strong political dialogue and extensive trade, economic and investment ties. We have even more ambitious plans in all of these areas. Today, Russia and these African countries expressed their reciprocal interest in further building up cooperation in all areas, including the economy, humanitarian ties and political consultations.

We discussed the priorities of developing cooperation through the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum established by the Russian Foreign Ministry. It was set up for daily contact with the foreign ministries of various African countries and the mechanisms of the African Union and other integration associations in Africa. The Secretariat will oversee the organisational and practical preparations of new initiatives for the next Russia-Africa Summit scheduled for 2022 in accordance with the Sochi agreements.

Having met in Sochi, the heads of state decided that it was expedient to hold these summit meetings once every three years.

We also discussed the energy requirements of the African states. They are growing fast given the African countries’ development rates. We reviewed opportunities for enhancing the energy security of African countries, in particular, by supplying them with hydrocarbon resources and especially by developing the nuclear power industry. Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev gave a relevant presentation. Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Alexey Gruzdev spoke about industrial cooperation at our videoconference.

The issues formulated by our African partners today and initiatives on the best ways to develop investment, trade and economic ties will be discussed at the Association of Trade and Economic Cooperation with African Countries. This was established last month by the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum. Large Russian companies are members of this association. They are interested in developing cooperation with African states. In addition to Rosatom, it brings together ALROSA, Gazprombank, Transmashholding, and the Innopraktika development institute, to name a few. As I mentioned, the association will be used as a platform for helping Russian companies that want to work in individual African countries or with the integration associations on the African continent.

We also discussed humanitarian issues focusing, for obvious reasons, on the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic has made a tangible impact on many aspects of interstate relations and has done harm to the economy. This is also being felt in Africa. Our African colleagues expect this damage to be heavier than it is now.

They expressed gratitude to the Russian Federation for the assistance that our departments have rendered to African states. We continue receiving requests for additional aid. Over 30 countries have sent requests. We are reviewing them as quickly as possible. Deputy Head of Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare) Alexander Simanovsky talked about this in detail today.

We agreed to continue our assistance in countering the coronavirus infection, in part, via African and global multilateral associations. We will support the adoption of decisions that favour the African nations at the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

We emphasised our mutual interest in further cooperation in developing vaccines against such pandemic threats, in particular, by using the very helpful and effective experience of our cooperation (several years ago) in combatting the Ebola virus.

As part of our political dialogue, we focused on the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. This anniversary is marked this year. It is a historically meaningful document that played a critical role in breaking down the world colonialist system. It was the Soviet Union which played the lead role in adopting that declaration. We stressed the need for preserving the historical truth about colonial times. Now, many of our Western colleagues, who have a colonial past on the African continent, prefer to forget where the problems of contemporary Africa largely come from. We believe it is unacceptable to forget about that period or turn a blind eye to the neocolonial practices that continue in Africa, the harmful effects of which were mentioned by our interlocutors today.

We agreed that the establishment of the UN played a decisive role in the upcoming process of decolonization, and the UN itself appeared as a result of defeating Nazism and the Victory in WWII. There is an interesting connection: the countries that try to rewrite the history of World War II try, at the same time, to forget the consequences of the colonial past on the African continent.

We shared the opinion, and Russia made it a point, that decolonisation cannot be declared completed. UN General Assembly resolutions and the International Court of Justice demand the completion of this process, specifically, with respect to the Chagos Archipelago. Mauritius’ sovereignty over it should be restored. The sovereignty of Madagascar should be restored over the Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean and Comoros’ sovereignty over the island of Mayotte. This French territory preserves its status despite numerous UN General Assembly resolutions.

We think it is important to continue these discussions at the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonisation. Together with our African and other partners we will promote implementation of the existing decisions made by the world community.

In general, the talks were very useful. We agreed to draft relevant proposals that would let us start working on the agenda for the next summit, which, as I have said, is scheduled for 2022 pursuant to the understandings reached in Sochi last October. I mean that the next summit will be held in Africa.

We have adopted a joint statement following our discussions which will be distributed to the media. You are welcome to read the document.

Question: I would like to ask you about the situation in Libya. This is a source of constant concern for the international community because of the differences between the confronting parties and the discord among their supporters. Moscow keeps talking about the need to conduct a direct dialogue based on the Berlin Сonference. Russia has also backed Cairo’s initiative – recently the Foreign Ministry has started talking about the need to enhance the UN role in a Libyan settlement. How can this be done in practice when nothing really changes?

Sergey Lavrov: In practice this can be done in only one way – both sides must immediately stop the hostilities and their attempts to move armed units westward and eastward, respectively, or in any direction. Regrettably, the statement of obvious fact by our partners, notably, that the Libyan conflict has no military solution, is not leading to practical actions. At some point, last January before the Berlin conference, we invited the main parties to Moscow: Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar, Head of the Presidential Council and the Government of National Accord Fayez al-Sarraj, and Speaker of Parliament in Tobruk Aguila Saleh. At that time, the LNA believed in its superiority on the ground and did not want to sign a document that suited al-Sarraj. In our estimate, the LNA is now willing to sign a document on an immediate ceasefire but the government in Tripoli is now reluctant to do so in the hope of a military solution once again. This is the main reason for what is happening there.

In the framework of a dialogue as sanctioned by our presidents, we and our Turkish colleagues are coordinating approaches that would make it possible to immediately announce a ceasefire and embark on resolving the other issues, including those mentioned at the Berlin Conference and reaffirmed at the meeting in Cairo in the so-called Cairo Declaration. This is the main problem now.

Recently, we spoke in Moscow with Speaker of the Libyan Parliament in Tobruk Aguila Saleh. We stay in touch with Fayez al-Sarraj who heads the Government of National Accord in Tripoli and, of course, with Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the LNA commander. We express to them that an announcement of the complete cessation of hostilities must be the first, indispensable step and that this has no alternative. Our Turkish colleagues are working with the National Transitional Council towards the same end. I hope they will manage to achieve the only correct solution under the circumstances.

As for the UN’s role and the need to increase it, we do want the UN to be more active here. Unfortunately, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Libya Ghassan Salame resigned soon after the Berlin Conference, almost half a year ago. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been unable to appoint a successor so far. His first proposal to appoint Foreign Minister of Algeria Ramtane Lamamra was supported by most countries except our American colleagues. They refused to support his nomination. Almost two months ago a proposal was put forward to appoint former Foreign Minister of Ghana Hanna Tetteh but for some reason Mr Guterres has failed to have her nomination approved. We tend to think that the US representatives are trying to “hobble” him.

Now the situation is like this. After Salame resigned, the UN mission was headed by the acting special representative. By circumstance, this position is now occupied by an American citizen. We don’t want the US to hold the UN Secretariat by the hand and prevent the appointment of a full special representative in the hope that their compatriot will resolve some objective that we fail to understand.

I say this in the open because it is no secret. I am hoping that commitment to multilateral principles will still prevail in this case, and that the UN Secretary-General will fully display his responsibility for the functioning of this mechanism. I am convinced that this position must be occupied by a representative of the African Union.

Question: Can you comment on the UN commission report that says Russian and Syrian aircraft strikes against civilian infrastructure in Idlib are equated with military crimes?

Sergey Lavrov: You, probably mean the commission that calls itself an international independent commission of inquiry on Syria. This commission was not set up by consensus decision, and its mandate raises many questions as does its methodology. The decision to establish this commission was pushed through primarily by the Western countries, which wanted to change the Syrian regime. They didn’t hide this. Using a vote at the UN Human Rights Council, they provided a mechanism with the established purpose of searching for evidence against and discrediting Damascus and those whom they call its allies.

The commission never went to Idlib like many other entities employed by the West in the non-government sector to gather information compromising the activities of the legitimate Syrian authorities. This so-called independent commission uses facts taken from social networks, from some sources they ask to remain anonymous referring to security considerations. These are the same methods as are currently used by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Our Western colleagues are trying to jam through a resolution based on the report prepared in gross violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention based on information taken from social networks, civil society partners, whose names and addresses they refuse to give saying that it would subject their security to risk and threat. This is why we proceed from the exclusive need to resolve and consider any issue concerning the Syrian or any other conflict based on hard facts alone, and on information for which the relevant entity is ready to be responsible. This independent commission just cannot be responsible for its statements, as has been proven on many occasions.

Question:  Mark Esper has said that in the year since he became head of the Pentagon the US Department of Defence successfully restrained Washington’s main strategic rivals – Russia and China. How would you comment on this statement?

Sergey Lavrov: I do not see that there is anything to comment on here. If he thinks the Pentagon’s main objective is to “restrain” Russia and China, then this is the philosophy of the current US administration. It is really burning with a desire to “restrain” everyone except for themselves, and is seeking to get rid of everything that could restrain its freedom to act with impunity on the international stage, such as the INF Treaty, the TOS, the CTBT, UNESCO, the UN Human Rights Council and the WHO. If this is the case, this is rather regrettable. We believed that the military act much more carefully than politicians in situations that can erupt into a conflict, especially a hot conflict.

This mood and this philosophy of the Pentagon chief are really regrettable, because we are interested in developing a normal dialogue with all countries, including the United States. Telephone contacts between Mark Esper and Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu were highly professional and based on mutual respect.  We would like the foreign policies of all countries not to be aimed at “restraint” but at strategic stability based on a balance of interests of all states, including the world’s leading powers. The phrase “strategic stability” is being replaced with “strategic rivalry” in our dialogue with the Americans. In other words, this philosophy shows that the Americans are preparing for conflicts with any country that will attempt to defend its interests.

This is bad for the United States itself. Maybe Washington is using the alleged threats coming from Russia and China to distract the Americans from the incredible problems we see unfolding in that country. Maybe this is part of the election campaign, for the contenders need to gain points. It would be regrettable if they did this by removing all checks and balances on the international stage and by taking the freedom to venture into risky projects in the hope of getting more votes. We stand for dialogue and strategic stability, as President Putin has noted, including when he proposed a summit meeting of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Question: It has been reported today that Ukraine plans to withdraw from the 2012 memorandum on counterterrorism cooperation with Russia. The interpretative note reads that “this decision will allow for the creation of additional legal and political grounds for protecting the national interests of Ukraine in conditions of Russia’s armed aggression and enhancing Ukraine’s prestige.” Will you comment on this, please?

Sergey Lavrov: I am not aware of our Ukrainian neighbours’ decision to withdraw from the memorandum on counterterrorism cooperation. They are withdrawing from many documents now, which they have a right to do. They also have a right to present their decisions to terminate cooperation in any way. If they think this will help them to protect their national interests more effectively, be that as it may. But it is obvious to us that counterterrorism must not be a victim and hostage of geopolitical games. Any more or less well-read person can see that the Ukrainian authorities are playing geopolitical games. Just look at the statement made by President Vladimir Zelensky, who has said that the Minsk Agreements are only needed to ensure Western sanctions against Russia. This statement is self-explanatory. I leave this on the conscience of the Ukrainian leadership.

We continue our contacts in the Normandy format. The advisers and political aides of the Normandy format leaders have recently had a meeting. It has reaffirmed that the Ukrainian side categorically refuses to honour the Minsk Agreements, which have been approved by the UN Security Council. It has refused to answer the direct questions of our representatives to this effect. We hope that Germany and France as the parties of the Normandy format will take their share of responsibility for Kiev’s position regarding the vital document titled the Minsk Package of Measures.

Question: Is there any chance of a ceasefire in Libya and that the forces of the Government of National Accord will not cross the Sirte – Al Jufra red line, given yesterday’s reports of attacks in Al Jufra, which neither side in the conflict has confirmed?

Sergey Lavrov: I cannot say if the ceasefire has a chance or not. There is always a chance, but it is difficult to say if it will be used. There was such a chance half a year ago, as well as two, three and four years ago when conferences on Libya were held in Paris, Palermo and Abu Dhabi. A conference was also held in Berlin half a year ago, and before that there was a meeting held in Moscow. A document was adopted, an open and simple document that was only a page and a half long, which stipulated a ceasefire in the first place. One of the sides invited to Moscow and Berlin did not use that chance. Now the other side does not want to use this chance, which still exists. As I have mentioned, it is not simply a chance but a demand which has no alternatives and which must be implemented if we want to start settling the situation in Libya.

As for the military situation on the ground and which side’s forces are preparing to cross any lines, this is of secondary importance. If we agree – and it appears that all sides agree that there is no military solution in Libya – the only thing to do is to stop fighting now. Next we can use the tried and tested mechanisms such as the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission and the proposals sealed in the Cairo Declaration, including the proposal recently advanced by the head of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives Aguila Saleh, who has recently visited Moscow. I am referring to the establishment of truly collective and equal bodies of power where all the three historical regions of Libya will be represented based on a balance of interests. I regard this as an absolutely reasonable proposal.

Question: Is Russia ready to act as a mediator in the conflict around the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?

Sergey Lavrov: We have offered our assistance, including in the form of technical support, to the conflicting parties. We can do useful things. They know this. The United States has offered its assistance as well. Several meetings have been held in the United States. We welcome the progress achieved so far.

It is encouraging that the sides have recently agreed to stimulate contacts between the concerned ministries. This topic has been discussed at the UN Security Council upon Egypt’s initiative. During the discussion held there, we proposed accelerating the coordination of mutually acceptable approaches based on the existing norms of international law and the interests of the parties involved in this dispute.

‘We expect a Turkish attack at any time’: Libyan Army

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By News Desk -2020-07-10

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:00 P.M.) – The Libyan National Army spokesman, Ahmed Al-Mismari, said at a press conference this week that his forces are prepared for any provocation by the Turkish forces, especially near the city of Sirte.

Turkey and the GNA are expected to launch a big attack to capture Sirte and Al-Jafra in the coming day,s despite warnings from Egypt and the Libyan National Army.

On Thursday, the Egyptian Armed Forces launched a powerful exercise along the Libyan border that showcased their air, sea, and land strength.

Last month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi warned the GNA and Turkey that his country will not idly by as they attempt to capture the city of Sirte and nearby Al-Jafra.

Sisi declared Sirte and Al-Jafra as a “red line” for Egypt, pointing out that his country has the “international legitimacy” to intervene in neighboring Libya.

Turkish Forces Lick Wounds After Airstrikes Hit Their Base In Libya

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After a short break, the military confrontation between the Libyan National Army mainly backed up by Egypt and the UAE and the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord has once again entered an open phase.

On July 5, aircraft of the Libyan National Army conducted nine pinpoint airstrikes on the Turkish-operated al-Watiya Air Base in western Libya. According to the LNA, the strikes destroyed a Hawk air-defense system, several radars and a KORAL electronic warfare system. The Hawk system and other equipment were deployed to the base by the Turkish military in early July.

Turkish state media confirmed the incident saying that the strikes “targeted some of the base’s equipment, which was recently brought in to reinforce the base, including an air-defense system”. Pro-Turkish sources claimed that the airstrikes were carried out not by the LNA, but rather by the Egyptian or UAE Air Force. According to them, the warplanes took off from Egypt’s Sidi Barrani Air Base. However, according to the LNA, the strikes were delivered by its aircraft deployed in Libya. Commenting on the situation, the GNA said that it would respond at the “right place and at the right time.”

While the GNA in fact has no resources to conduct extensive airstrikes deep inside the territory controlled by the LNA, Ankara will have to respond to this attack in some way if it really wants to demonstrate that Turkey is committed to achieving a military victory (or at least a partial military victory) in the conflict in Libya.

At least 5,250 Syrian militants out of 15,300 originally deployed in Libya have returned to Syria, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The SOHR claimed that 300 Syrian child soldiers are still fighting in Libya. All of them range in ages between 14 and 18. Most of them were recruited by the Turkish-backed al-Sultan Murad Division. It’s interesting to note that the numbers provided by the SOHR mostly fit other sources that argue that about 10,000 Turkish-backed Syrian militants are currently deployed in Libya.

Therefore, Ankara is apparently set to continue its offensive operations by the hands of the GNA and Syrian groups in the countryside of Sirte. This strategic port city is now the main priority of Turkish-led forces.

On the other hand, if Turkey continues escalating the conflict, it may force Egypt and the UAE, the main backers of the LNA, to provide direct military support to the LNA and directly intervene in the conflict. In this case, the Libyan ‘civil war’ will officially turn into a war between Turkey and the UAE-Egypt bloc.

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

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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.

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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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US STATE DEPARTMENT IS CONCERNED BY PRESENCE OF ALLEGED ‘RUSSIAN MERCENARIES’ AT LIBYA’S LARGEST OIL FIELD

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27.06.2020 

US State Department Is Concerned By Presence Of Alleged 'Russian Mercenaries' At Libya's Largest Oil Field

The US State Department seems to be very concerned by the supposedly growing Russian influence in Libya. On June 26, the US embassy in Libya even released a statement claiming that “foreign-backed campaign to undermine Libya’s energy sector and prevent the resumption of oil production.”

“We share the NOC’s deep concern about the shameful interference of Wagner and other foreign mercenaries against NOC facilities and personnel at the al-Sharara oil field, which constitutes a direct assault against Libya’s sovereignty and prosperity. The Embassy also regrets that Libyan parties have been unable to reach a solution that would lift the needless oil and gas blockade and allow the NOC to resume its vital work across the country on behalf of all Libyans,” the US embassy wrote in a statement.

Allow the NOC to Resume Its Vital Work on Behalf of All Libyans
The Embassy reiterates full U.S. support for the National Oil Corporation (NOC) amid an unprecedented foreign-backed campaign to undermine Libya’s energy sector and prevent the resumption of oil production. We share the NOC’s deep concern about the shameful interference of Wagner and other foreign mercenaries against NOC facilities and personnel at the al-Sharara oil field, which constitutes a direct assault aga…
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The comment followed a report by the National Oil Corporation, based in Tripoli and thus loyal to the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), that forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) and ‘Russian mercenaries’ entered the Al-Sharara oilfield on June 25. Earlier in 2020, the LNA ordered to block the export of Libyan oil saying that the GNA uses oil revenues to pay Turkey for mercenaries and weapons. The Al-Sharara briefly resumed its work in early June but then was closed once again.

The strong stance of the LNA against using the country’s natural resources to fund the Turkish invasion of Libya demonstrates that its leadership is still committed to its long-pushed project of uniting the country and restoring its sovereignty. This effort faces a strong criticism of the US and some other Western states.

It’s interesting to note that while the US State Department remains a vocal opponent of the Russian presence in the Libyan oil sector (which goes in a close and official cooperation with the local administration), Washington sees nothing wrong with US agressive actions in the Greater Middle East, for example the occupation of Syrian oil fields.

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