After imposing Moscow’s will on the situation in Syria, Putin is moving on to Libya. And this new proxy conflict he is waging with the West has many of the same hallmarks of the last one: the West backs a pitiful attempt at a ‘democratic’ government with unfortunate Islamist leanings, Putin backs an authoritarian, militaristic autocrat, and ISIS sits squarely in the middle, a target of everyone’s rhetoric but too rarely of their weapons.
And once again, the West is being outmaneuvered. The Western-backed government of National Accord ruling from Tripoli is anything but democratic, and is barely held together with the ‘protection’ of Islamist ‘Libya Dawn’, a coalition which includes former Al-Qaeda jihadists, amongst other interesting characters. And the ‘protection’ also comes at the cost of Dawn steadily usurping the institutions of this government recognized by the West and the UN. A very thin veil of civility is masking a very chaotic and merciless struggle for power between groups that have very little in common and very little shared notion of what Libya should look like in the future.
Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Tobruk, the elected parliament of Libya, the House of Representatives, increasingly alienated from the government by the intrusion of Dawn into the political process in Tripoli, is being attracted into the sphere of influence of the rebel General Haftar who controls the East of the country, most of the oil fields, and who is backed by Russia.
If this ploy works, Putin is establishing a template for how to take Middle Eastern countries into his sphere of influenceAzeem Ibrahim