mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Libyan Afterparty
U.S. Confirms: Haftar Is Moscow’s Man in Libya

Marine General Thomas WaldhauserAmerica’s top general in Africa, yesterday confirmed the mounting suspicions: Russian troops are on the ground in Libya and supporting the strongman Khalifa Haftar. Reuters:

“Well I think it is common knowledge, certainly in the open press, the Russians and their desire to influence the activities inside in Libya… the Russian and Haftar, I think that linkage is undeniable at this point in time,” Waldhauser told reporters at a news conference.

There has been growing evidence that Haftar is Moscow’s man, including recent reports that Russia was using Egyptian airbases as a staging ground to back his forces in the east. Waldhauser’s official comment is a significant on-the-record confirmation that Russia is up to new tricks in Libya.

Russia has several reasons to back Haftar: oil is part of the story, as is Putin’s desire to sabotage the UN-backed government put in place by the 2011 NATO intervention he so despised. But as we explained last month, those expecting Russia to get trapped in a messy quagmire should probably re-adjust their expectations:

Like in Syria, it would be a mistake to think that the Russians are playing for control of the entire country, or that they care if it is ever reconstituted to its previous borders. Having a reliable client presiding over a hefty share of the Libya’s oil riches might be worth some amount of intervention. And again, like in Syria, with a partner willing to do most of the fighting, the Russians could get what they want on the cheap, relatively speaking.

Russia’s game in Libya is increasingly coming into clear view.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • D4x

    Is it yet clear what Egypt’s “game in Libya” is? Cyrenaica has historical and tribal ties with Egypt. Stability in eastern Libya is central to Egypt’s stability, at least for Egyptian jobs in Libya. “Take the oil” might also be at play for Egypt…

    • Ellen

      Frankly, given Egypt’s gross overpopulation, if General Sissi wants his country to survive economically and demographically he may have to take Eastern Libya. Then, he could transfer 10-15 million Egyptians into Libya permanently, paid for by rebuilding and running of the Libyan oil industry. Immediately, the Egyptians become a large majority of the population of Libya or a new state in Eastern Libya, and that is the end of Libya. It gives Egypt a breathing space of 5-7 years to implement economic and social reforms, and birth control, in Egypt proper, to stave off collapse of the country. I don’t see any other option for Sissi.

      The Gulf countries are no longer willing or able to provide 12 billion dollars a year for free to Egypt to keep it afloat, and no one else has the cash or desire.

      • D4x

        Agree that Egypt should annex Cyrenaica. ‘Libya’ was a most artificial ‘colony’. However, the AU insists on maintaining colonial borders to protect post-colonial national boundaries.

        Had not thought about such a large population transfer. Just makes sense, historically, and economically to ‘take the oil’.

        • Ellen

          Yes, we have now reached the point in the Middle East, as you say, where it is permissible to talk about one country or regime “taking the oil” of another country. All the boundaries of these countries, with a few exceptions, are artificial boundaries created by Europeans, that are not sensible or defensible by any existing standing army. Egypt and Israel are the 2 exceptions. Egypt is a historic country and society that has lived within roughly the same boundaries for thousands of years. Israel’s boundaries come from the Bible, although not recognized by the so-called international community (whatever that is), but were reconfirmed by being taken in defensive wars and can be maintained indefinitely, regardless of what John Kerry thinks.

          The survival of a somewhat civilized government in Egypt, based in Cairo, is of the first order of importance to international stability, and to prevent a massive “boat people” phenomenon which would strangle Europe. Would they like to see 30 million desperate Egyptians fleeing to Europe after the 5 million Syrians? Who cares about maintaining the borders of a fake country called “Libya”? Cyrenaica is the real historic entity here, and there is no reason it should not be ruled from Cairo, rather than from Tripoli in the West of Libya.

          • D4x

            In 1910, before Mussolini ‘created’ Libya, those future eastern oil fields were part of Egypt. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/baabb48e8ab874b7bac05380e202921f8e2b3e436f8b5c9ebd6c0ce457d1d44e.jpg

          • Ellen

            Thanks for that information. I didn’t know that.

          • D4x

            It is difficult to find historic maps of North Africa online. Lot of empires wanted Egypt along the Nile. I read a few years ago that the tribes in western Egypt and eastern Libya were split by the artificial border, which I had not thought of before.
            The AU’s insistence on maintaining colonial borders is thought to have led to many of Africa’s post-colonialism civil wars, still happening. I do hope THAT becomes an Issue in 2017. Might depend on what happens with Syria, Hafter in Libya, or my favorite self-determination project: Somaliland. Former British colony that joined Italy’s Somalia after independence, been a functioning nation for 25 years, keeping Somalia’s failed state at bay, solely denied self-determination by the AU.
            Somaliland has a port that China wants.

  • Suzy Dixon

    Well the US and EU are surely not in any position to criticize Russian games in Libya. The UN “government” GNA is not legitimate or popular either, and it just one of several entities vying for power in the vacuum Failed Secretary Clinton and Failed President Obama helped to create.

  • Pait

    If he is Moscow’s man in Libya, he can count on the supporters of Moscow’s man in Washington. See the other comments here if you have any doubt.

    • Proverbs1618

      I think Putin is personally surveying me. Like the man HIMSELF. Oh sure, he uses make up and stuff but I believe it is him.
      I bet my crazy Russian theory is crazier than your Russian theory.
      On a serious note, your TDS, while a tragedy to you, is a real comedy to us. Never give up the dream brother. Never give up the dream.
      also, the only person who is spouting nonsensical Russia theories is you. Get a hold of yourself man. Stop being a laughingstock.

      • Pait

        You have perhaps a heightened sense of your own importance. It is rather doubtful that the Tcheka has the interest necessary to check on you.

        • Proverbs1618

          So what you are saying spouting nonsensical theories makes one sound slightly deranged? I happen to agree with that statement. Now I’m going to copy and paste your comment: “If he is Moscow’s man in Libya, he can count on the supporters of Moscow’s man in Washington. See the other comments here if you have any doubt.”
          This is what you are saying. Now remember what we just agreed on about what spouting crazy conspiracy theories does to a person’s credibility. Now think. Really exercise that grey matter. Try to shake off TDS if you still can. Can you do that for me? Try to think? Don’t get me wrong. I know that answer to my question is no. But I feel like I’m doing a mitzvah to help somebody with mental illness. Anyway, have a good day. I’ll let you have the last word this time. I’m feeling generous and content this Sunday.

          • Pait

            I was just noticing the obvious enthusiasm for Putinesque schemes displayed by the enthusiasts of his man in the Kremlin West. Not planning to waste time on the details of their plans.

    • Unelected Leader

      “We came, we saw, he died” psychopath and disgraced SoS and twice failed POTUS candidate HRC on her involvement in a regime change in Libya.

      • Proverbs1618

        Zing Papi!!

  • Proverbs1618

    Why is this a bad thing exactly? As long as oil flows from that part of the world, who really cares? So Russia is taking over ensuring oil supplies reach world markets? Let’s redirect those resources somewhere else.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service