Reports coming out of the civil war in Libya recently told of Russia mercenaries from the ‘Wagner Group’ leaving the fight in Tripoli, airlifted out to some other location. Russian-backed General Haftar’s Libyan National Army has been forced back by troops loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). This is an astounding turnaround on the geopolitical chessboard in North Africa.
“An Antonov 32 military cargo plane landed at Bani Walid airport to resume the evacuation of Wagner (Group) mercenaries who had fled southern Tripoli, to an as-yet unconfirmed destination,” pro-GNA forces wrote on Twitter, reported The Moscow Times.
The same thing is happening in Northern Syria as anti-Assad rebels take back territory, and hold on to other areas in the face of Assad’s Syrian army onslaught, backed by Russian airpower and mercenary forces.
So what changed? In one word — Turkey.
The ceasefire in Libya, declared in January 2020, failed completely, and prolongation of the crisis threatens catastrophic consequences to the country, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in late May, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
“We note that the situation in Libya continues to deteriorate. The ceasefire declared in January failed completely. The fighting resumed at full scale. Meanwhile, the situation on the ground is significantly different from what was at the time of declaration of ceasefire. Thanks to massive outside aid, the balance of powers has changed,” she said.
“We are certain that further prolongation of the ongoing crisis – which we characterize as a systemic crisis – threatens Libya and its long-suffering people with catastrophic consequences,” the diplomat added.
“President Trump reiterated concern over worsening foreign interference in Libya and the need for rapid de-escalation,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
As always, President Trump likes to be unpredictable, seemingly taking both sides in the battle. However, his comments could be for optics only. The truth is likely much more targeted.
As the LNA has promised to respond with a massive air campaign, diplomats have warned of the risk of a new round of escalation with the warring sides’ external backers pouring in new weaponry, reported Zero Hedge.
Turkey “will not bow to threats by Haftar or anyone else,” Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said separately in an interview on NTV.
From a 30,000 foot view, it seems Trump’s recent rarpproachmont with President Erdogan of Turkey may be working. Ankara now sees Russia in a negative light, encroaching on Turkey’s hinterlands with the idea of establishing military forward-operating bases to secure African and Middle Eastern resources.
Russia recently sent fighter jets to Libya to support Russian mercenaries fighting for strongman Khalifa Haftar, the U.S. military command for Africa (Africom) said Tuesday, in a major escalation in the long-running conflict, reported Reuters.
The military fighter aircraft left Russia and first stopped in Syria where they “were repainted to camouflage their Russian origin” before arriving in Libya, said Stuttgart-based Africom.
“For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict. Well, there is no denying it now,” said U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend in the Africom statement.
“Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favour in Libya,” he added.
“Just like I saw them doing in Syria, they are expanding their military footprint in Africa using government-supported mercenary groups like Wagner.”
Now reports are Erdogan is moving forces to tip the balance of power in the civil war in Yeman. Anti-government forces are supported by the Iranian regime.
|After Syria and Libya, Ankara makes moves in Yemen Turkey’s military and security apparatus, which is heavily mobilised in Syria and Iraq, Libya and increasingly Yemen, wants to go the distance against Russia on all fronts, despite the strain and internal strife, reported Intelligence Online.
Pulling Turkey back into the NATO orbit and getting Erdogan to fight needed battles in the Middle East and North Africa instead of sending tired American troops would be a master stroke of geopolitics by the Trump White House. One wonders what Erdogan was promised.
But then again, POTUS always said he was a ‘very stable genius’.