by John Galt
January 23, 2017 21:50 ET
In the waning days of the Obama administration one aspect of his disastrous foreign policy that went ignored was Libya. Hillary Clinton and her Soros sponsored assistants coordinated this hare-brained idea that if they helped to overthrow Qaddafi, the Arab Spring would spread there and the leftist version of “democracy” would occur. Also it just so happened it would help George Soro by taking the Libyan oil production off the market after he invested billions in the now flailing Petrobras and he needed oil above $100 per bbl to profit from that investment. That’s just the old news so let’s focus on what happened in the last two weeks.
The General in the picture above is one Khalifa Haftar and apparently he has had enough of the United Nations, Obama policies, and European Union impotence with the ongoing fight against ISIS and Islamist militias in the western regions of the country. So much so, he was flown out to the Russian aircraft carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov to meet with Russian defense department officials on board and the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, via videoconference while on board. From the Reuters story on January 11, 2017:
Haftar was welcomed on board the aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, as it was on route from the coast off Syria, where it has been taking part in operations, back through the Mediterranean to Russia.
He was greeted by the ship’s officers, given a tour, then spoke via video-conference from one of the ship’s wardrooms with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s RIA news agency cited the defense ministry as saying.
“They discussed pressing issues in the fight against international terrorist groups in the Middle East,” the agency quoted the ministry as saying.
Libya splintered into rival political and armed groupings after the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. It remains deeply divided between factions based in the east and west that back rival governments and parliaments.
Haftar, who is aligned with the eastern parliament and government, has been fighting a two-year military campaign with his Libyan National Army against Islamists and other opponents in Benghazi and elsewhere in the east. Many suspect he seeks national power.
While this seems innocent enough, Russia thus far has agreed to abide to the U.N.’s arms embargo against supplying any side in the Libyan conflict. That however may be changing.
Italian television network RAI reported that this was not just another chance meeting as Al-Jazeera reports:
Haftar visited a Russian aircraft carrier off the coast of Tobruk from where he held a video conference with Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu. Italian State TV RAI reported that Haftar signed an agreement whereby Russia would build two military bases near Tobruk and Benghazi.
Russian state media did not mention the agreement, but confirmed that Russia would get a foothold in the south of the Mediterranean. The move would also step up the foreign presence in the Eastern part of Libya, where Emirati and French air forces have been reportedly operating since March from the Al-Khadim Airport in the city of Marj, Haftar’s headquarters.
General Haftar refuses to acknowledge the political authority of the UN-sponsored Presidential Council led by Fayez al-Sarraj and has engaged in a power struggle with Tripoli that has strongly weakened prospects for a unification of the country.
While it is unlikely that Russia will lift the arms embargo on Libya to aid Haftar, that would not prevent the Egyptian government from sending arms to General Haftar via secondary channels which are widespread in the Eastern Libyan desert.
If the reports about future Russian military bases are true, it would provide the stability and foreign exchange necessary to complete the war against the Jihadists that remain in the Eastern portions of Libya then re-focus to attack ISIS and the provisional U.N. supported GNA government in Tripoli. From a NATO perspective, this is a nightmare scenario. If Russia is allowed to build these bases no only will Russia have two warm water ports in the Mediterranean, they would have locations to place S-400 anti-aircraft missile batteries which would cover most of the Central Med and provide additional cover for its base in Tartus, Syria; not to mention these systems plus aircraft based in Tobruk are capable of intercepting most aircraft heading towards Syria or the Med from NATO’s Italian bases.
The question thus becomes will the new Trump administration declare this unacceptable or will he naively accept the Putin excuse that those bases are in Libya to fight ISIS and Islamic terrorism. If Haftar suddenly launches a spring offensive which succeeds in securing the East and starts an offensive towards Tripoli, all bets are off as to what the U.S. and NATO response might be. With President Trump in charge and what could be a budding restoration of warm relations with Russia, the wildcard which might prompt General Haftar to act if he thinks Russia will back him as the leader of a reunified Libyan Arab Republic.