Russia in Libya: Wasn’t that expected?

Mashari Althaydi
Mashari Althaydi
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The Russian Defense Ministry’s Tuesday statement denying media reports that special Russian forces were deployed in Libya is nothing new.

Reuters published an interesting report about Russian intervention in Libya’s internal struggle between parties affiliated with the Brotherhood, and its allies, and national army forces led by General Khalifa Haftar and his allies, the Tobruk and Benghazi government in East Libya.

In April 2016, in an interview with the Russia Today television channel, Russian foreign affairs minister Sergei Lavrov warned the international community of intervening in Libya without the UN Security Council’s authorization.

In brief, East Libya, i.e. on the side of Egyptian borders, is under the control of the Tobruk-led government. National army forces, under the command of Haftar, control most eastern areas. The West, including the capital Tripoli, remains under the control of a government that supports the Brotherhood and armed militias. The latter has pockets in the eastern region and the national army forces also have pockets in the western region.

The most dangerous development was the Benghazi Defense Brigades’ attack on the oil-rich region of Ras Lanuf, which led army air force to retaliate and shell the brigades.

On the political front, there is a Tunisian-Algerian-European vision that believes it is a must to include parties in Tripoli and Fajr Libya – the Brotherhood and those with them – in power as it is not possible to eliminate them from the scene.

Meanwhile, other parties, such as Egypt and Russia, think the focus should be on fighting armed fundamentalist groups via supporting the Tobruk parliament and the national army led by Haftar. This is why Haftar visited Russia.

Russia is drowning in the waters and sands of the Middle East, which no one exits from the way they entered

Mashari Althayidi

Egypt’s stake

Egypt is indeed a partner in the efforts of this Libyan political dialogue and it has hosted a Libyan dialogue in Cairo. It participated with Tunisia, Algeria and other countries in bringing about a consensus on Libya. However, there is a difference in priorities.

What matters here is that it is normal for Russia to have some sort of security, intelligence and military role on the ground. Western countries, including America, also have their interventions.

Egypt is rightly worried about the situation in Libya and seeks to defeat evil there especially considering it is in a state of war against terrorist groups in Sinai and that ISIS is strengthening its presence in Sirte, al-Bayda and other areas. Russia is drowning in the waters and sands of the Middle East, which no one exits from the way they entered.

In all fairness, what is happening in Arab and Islamic countries is what calls for all this intervention by others – whether this intervention is in our favor or against us.

Russians make statements about international laws and attaining authorization from the UN Security Council. However, this is their permanent excuse to reject others’ interventions when in fact they do the opposite of that, not just in Libya but also in other countries.

Moscow, welcome to our homes and the real world.

The article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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