Moscow dreamed of getting another country after Syria – but so far has not succeeded.
Syria is Russia’s main foreign policy success in recent decades: Moscow has maintained and strengthened the regime of Bashar al-Assad, having received from him a priority right to major investment projects and post-war reconstruction of the country.
But Moscow diplomats failed to repeat the “Syrian” success in warring Libya: yesterday’s peace talks ended in complete fiasco. And it was precisely the Moscow protege who tore them off.
Turkish blackmail failed again.
Since 2015, Russia has strengthened its military-political presence in the Middle East. Only recently has it achieved yet another success in the diplomatic field in Syria: on January 11, an agreement was reached on a complete ceasefire in the province of Idlib (Russia, Turkey, official Damascus and the groups of Syrian rebels participate in it).
In addition, the Kurdish leaders of the Syrian democratic forces formally turned to Russia for help: until recently, the United States supported them, but then the Americans turned away from the Kurds. And now they are asking Moscow to stop Ankara, which intends to carry out the movement of entire communities and ethnic groups from its border regions. And we are talking about about 1-1.5 million people!
And with these figures, the Turkish leader Recep Erdogan, in his usual manner, is blackmailing European leaders, demanding additional preferences for refugee accommodation. But with Russia, such blackmail doesn’t work anymore …
However, it is obvious that all these are already the last echoes of the civil war that has been going on since 2011. And now the main task is to prevent the humanitarian crisis in Idlib, refugees from which arrive in Turkey.
Perhaps the ceasefire in Idlib was a condition that Moscow set for Ankara to resolve the issue with pro-Turkish rebel groups. It was their Turks who intended to transfer to Libya to support the Government of National Accord (PNS) led by Fayez Saraj. And this could mean a real military conflict with Russia, which supports the supreme commander of the Armed forces of Libya, Khalif Haftar.
Encouraged by the successes in Syria, Russian diplomacy was ready to act as an arbiter in Libya. A conference on a peaceful settlement began in Moscow yesterday, at which it was to sign a ceasefire document prepared with the participation of the Russian Foreign Ministry …
But the conference ended in complete fiasco, as Field Marshal Haftar refused to put his signature on the document, criticized it and urgently left for Libya. And the next morning the battles resumed with renewed vigor. Thus, all the efforts to reconcile several parties at once, including Turkey, went down the drain.
About what is happening today around Libya, we were explained by our permanent expert on the Middle East, senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor Mikhail Roshchin.
– In fact, Moscow yesterday tried to seize the initiative to resolve the situation in Libya by holding a peace conference with the participation of all the warring parties – and this has not been done to anyone since the start of the civil war in 2014.
– Yes, we tried to open the window of opportunity. In fact, it was about freely promoting our creations – Marshal Khalif Haftar and the Parliament of Eastern Libya. They became subjects of formal negotiations.
But the government of Fayez Saraj has a vulnerable position, there is no regular army. He has no choice, and a truce would guarantee the safety of his government. Haftar, by contrast, comes from a position of strength. For him, there is no special meaning in a truce! In fact, he only loses time on this. But he, apparently, sooner or later will have to give in, as the senior patron – Russia – insists.
– Do you think the Turkish operation in Libya in support of Saraj, for which the parliament gave the go-ahead on January 2, will nevertheless take place?
– Turkey was not in a very favorable situation, since Libya has become the object of close international attention. In such a situation, it will be more expensive to start a large-scale military operation against Haftar, and the value of retaining the Tripoli metropolis and the small surrounding territories (including the port of Misurata) looks rather dubious.
By connecting Germany to the solution of the Libyan problem, our president is clearly replaying Recep Erdogan, unless, of course, in exchange for concessions to the Turkish leader, he promised something.
– And what is the role of Germany in solving the Libyan issue?
– Putin suggested that Angela Merkel, who arrived in Moscow on January 11, hold a conference on Libya in Berlin to enable Germany to prove itself in the international arena. Merkel, by the way, had already called Donald Trump and invited him to the Berlin conference.
– But what will Russia get in Libya besides strengthening foreign policy weight? Surely, the struggle is also for a rich Libyan resource base.
“Well, that is certain!” Of course, Libya with its rich oil resources (as well as Sirya) looks very attractive. And Russia more than gained practical experience in military-political operations during the civil war in Syria.
If you approach the matter wisely, then Russia, which supports Haftar, can gain control over part of Eastern Libya right up to Sirte (and this is more than half of the territory).
– The morning recently the fighting resumed. What will be the further course of the war?
– Haftar clearly should not get into the Tripoli metropolis. It is already obvious that his attack on Tripoli, begun in April, was drowned. I think that Putin publicly intervened in the course of the Libyan events in order to correct them.
But as for Saraj, the chances for him can appear only if the Turkish military, along with the Syrian militants from Idlib, start to fight for the government.