Even during the Chinese coronavirus crisis, the war in North Africa rages on, as various interests fight for control of Libyan territory, still trying to fill the power vacuum created by the death of former Libyan strong man, Muammar Gaddafi.
Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, backed by Russian mercenaries, has taken over most of the country except the capital region. France and UAE are also supporting Haftar’s Libyan National Army, along with Western-contracted mercenaries as well.
Both sides are fighting a propaganda war in the international press.
Libya’s UN-backed government has accused Kremlin-linked private military contractors for an alleged chemical attack in southern Tripoli, according to Arab and Turkish media, reported The Moscow Times.
Interior minister Fathi Bashaga’s charges turn the spotlight back on Russia’s Wagner mercenaries, who are reported to be unofficially helping eastern commander Khalifa Haftar’s year-long offensive to seize the Libyan capital. The Wagner Group is a private army linked to President Vladimir Putin through catering magnate Yevgeny Prigozhin.
“In [southern Tripoli’s] Salah al-Din axis, our fighters were exposed to nerve gas from Haftar’s forces, and were paralyzed and then sniped,” the pan-Arab outlet The New Arab quoted Bashaga as saying Wednesday.
“This deed can only be carried out by Wagner,” Bashaga claimed.
However, as he gets closer to controlling the country completely, Haftar may be moving away from Russian influence and forming his own path for autocracy, to the chagrin of the Kremlin.
“We did not approve the statement made by Mr. [Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord Fayez] Sarraj, who refused to talk with Field Marshal Haftar, and we do not approve the statement that Field Marshal Haftar will now single-handedly decide how the Libyan people should live,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, following an informal meeting of the BRICS member states’ foreign ministers in late April.
The Libyan National Army announced that it takes control over the country and disavows the Skhirat Agreement. Field Marshal Haftar promised to provide conditions for the establishment of permanent civilian state bodies in accordance with the will of the people. According to Haftar, the Skhirat Agreement has destroyed Libya, put it in danger, and “has become a part of its dark past.” In response, the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord called Haftar’s statement a farce and an attempt of another coup in Libya, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
“I think, this is exactly what we were talking about all these years — that the Libyans themselves must find mutually acceptable approaches to building a dialogue, and then to building their state, whereas foreign actors should encourage these exact approaches,” Lavrov commented.
The entire conflict has been complicated in the last year by the involvement of NATO member Turkey, who does not want Haftar controlling the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, which is Turkey’s sphere of influence. Ankara has supplied weapons, troops, and support to the Government of National Accord, the U.N.-backed entity.
Turkey issued a strong condemnation of the Libyan National Army (LNA) leader, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, accusing him of intensifying attacks on civilians, reported Zero Hedge.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cawushoglu said, “Egypt and the UAE, along with France, clearly support Haftar,” adding that “French hostility to Turkey has increased after the Peace Spring operation in northern Syria,” which was launched on October 9, 2019 against Kurdish forces, whom Ankara considers terrorists. Turkey is the largest external supporter of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), a political entity that is recognized by the United Nations.
At the end of the day, we must realize the consequences of the horrendous failure of Obama administration foreign policy. Former Libyan leader Gaddafi had given up his nuclear weapons to the Bush administration after the Gulf conflicts. Upon his death, spearheaded by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the North African region was opened up to ISIS terrorists and now control by Russian proxy forces.
Here is Hillary Clinton’s famous quote, “We came. We saw. He died!” Youtube would not allow the video to be embedded.
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