War 2020

Russia in the Middle East will fight on two fronts

Erdogan decided to recoup for his loss in Syria and is ready for a conflict with Moscow.

In the coming year, a “second Syria” may appear on the planet – this is Libya, which, after the murder in 2011 of Muammar Gaddafi, plunged into a civil war. But if before the war, it seemed, the world community almost did not care (although one of the largest countries in the world was actually divided into three independent states), then in recent weeks the situation has radically changed.

Washington, for many years apparently not showing interest in what was happening in Libya, unexpectedly accused Russia of “provocation”, namely, the destruction of an American military drone. Following this, American generals began to accuse Moscow of transferring “Russian mercenaries” to Libya.

And just the other day it became clear why Washington made such provocative statements. The hitherto silent President of Turkey Recep Erdogan joined in the “Libyan adventure”, who publicly announced plans for a military invasion of Libya (and this despite the fact that the two countries do not have a common border!).

Moreover, he explained this precisely by the fact that supposedly it was necessary to confront the very same “Russian mercenaries” whom the Americans fear.

The Turkish army intends to fight on the side of the Government of National Accord, which is headed by Fayez Sarraj (Russia supports the supreme commander of the Armed Forces of Libya, Khalif Haftar).

Erdogan’s warlike rhetoric has already caused a sharp exacerbation in the Middle East region. For their safety, they seriously fear in Cyprus, which lies between Turkey and Libya; Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria also strengthen security measures on the border with Libya.

About what is happening today in the Middle East, senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor Mikhail Roshchin speaks.

– Professor Roshchin, Why did Turkey suddenly need Libya, with which it does not even border?

– I get the impression that Russia’s successes in Syria have turned Erdogan’s head off, and he probably wants to repeat this model in Libya. To this end, in November he signed a memorandum of military cooperation with the government of Fayez Sarraj in Tripoli. Officially, his Government of National Accord (PNC) is recognized by the UN, but in fact today it controls a relatively small part of the country.

Most of the territory of Libya is controlled by the Libyan Parliament, whose headquarters are in Tobruk in the east, and the Libyan National Army, led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The army continues to advance to the center of Tripoli, and recently occupied the old international airport.

– But how will Erdogan be able to intervene in the military conflict if Libya and Turkey do not have a common border?

– Erdogan plans to obtain powers on January 9 from the Turkish parliament to introduce a Turkish military group in Libya for the defense of Tripoli. How so far is difficult to say.

In any case, both Erdogan’s statements and actions indicate a probable new exacerbation of Russian-Turkish relations. Whether this can be avoided will be shown by Erdogan’s visit to Sochi, scheduled for early January. But it’s already obvious that serious disagreements have emerged between the partners in resolving the conflict in Syria.

– By the way, what about our relations with other allies? Say with Iran? Cool too?

– Not at all! Allied relations with Iran continue to develop steadily, as evidenced by the joint naval maneuvers of Russia, Iran and China, the “Marine Safety Belt”, which began on December 27 and are taking place in the northern Indian Ocean and in the Gulf of Oman. At the same time, maneuvers take place against the backdrop of the failure of the US-planned naval operation Sentinel (Sentinel) in the same water area.

– And what position do other countries of the region take on the Libyan issue? I think hardly anyone is interested in starting a new war.

– On Friday, the head of the Libyan parliament, Agvila Saleh, arrived in Cyprus, as one of the countries that play an important role in this Mediterranean region and have problems with Turkey, which occupies part of the island. And in a joint statement with his Cypriot counterpart, Dimitris Silluris Saleh, noted that Turkey’s actions increase tension and destabilize the entire region.

– But what do the Turks need in Libya?

– Libya is a country rich in oil resources, and in this regard is of interest to different countries. The situation in the country is difficult, although in reality the initiative today is on the side of Marshal Haftar and the Libyan National Army. I can say that the government of the eastern part of Libya enjoys not only unofficial assistance from Russia, but also the support of Egypt, Greece and the UAE.

The Sarraj government does not have regular armed groups. Tripoli’s defense is based on the participation of disparate militants in the fighting. The increased activity of the parliament in Tobruk and the Libyan National Army suggests that the story with the Tripoli government of Sarraj is nearing completion.

– Do you have the feeling that Turkey is simply trying to win back for losing in Syria? By the way, in general today, what is going on there?

– In Syria, the civil war is obviously close to completion. These days, the Syrian army with Russian help is confidently crowding out the remaining Muslim extremist groups from Idlib. And it is possible that this causes dissatisfaction of the Turkish leadership, so far responsible for maintaining security in Idlib and, in fact, has not fulfilled its obligations.

– Americans in Libya, for whom will they fight?

  • I think Donald Trump will definitely not be up to Libya before considering the issue of impeachment in the Senate. In general, amid the aggravation of the situation in Iraq and a number of other countries, a weakening interest in the American presidential administration in the international agenda is observed.