The proxy war in Libya: foreign interests take center stage / News / News agency Inforos
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The proxy war in Libya: foreign interests take center stage

Europe and the Arab Gulf choose partners and plan for profits

26.04.2019 13:31 Steven Sahiounie, Middle East political observer

The proxy war in Libya: foreign interests take center stage

Choosing Sides

The second Libyan civil war, now being fought in and around Tripoli, is a proxy war.  On one side there are US, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE pitted against Turkey, Qatar and the global Muslim Brotherhood.  This is about oil resources, power and the Radical Islamic political ideology, which came to the forefront during the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring was not a popular uprising of the people yearning for greater freedoms, it was about the spread of a political ideology, Radical Islam, which hid behind the western mantra of “freedom”.

Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar is a Libyan American, former CIA asset, and legendary military commander.  He started out fighting a revolution which brought Gaddafi to power, then fell from grace, and ended up living decades in USA.  Eventually, he returned to oust Gaddafi in a US-NATO regime change operation.  Now, he sees his final chance to leave his mark on the shifting sands of Libya: he commands troops which have been supported by France in a bid to oust a UN backed administration, with the goal to lead Libya into a secular government.  His goal is stability for the nation and oil resources. One of the lessons learned by the failed Arab Spring experiment: a strongman is needed, and Pres. Trump is backing him.

In the west of Egypt, the Mohammed Najib military base hosts UAE fighter jets who deliver airstrikes in support of Haftar, and the base has a war-room for following the progress of Haftar’s move to control Tripoli.  Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, has met with Haftar and has given him support, which came by Saudi request.

The French Connection

French secret agents were discovered in Tunisia on their way to Libya, using diplomatic passports, and with communication devices connected to Haftar, as well as weapons and ammunition.  Pres. Emmanuel Macron jumped into the Libyan fray by hosting both sides in a meeting: Presidential Council head, Fayez Al-Sarraj, of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), and Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar.  Pres. Macron made the decision to back Haftar because of French oil interests, which ignored the oil interests of his EU partner Italy, who has borne the brunt of the Libyan refugee crisis arriving in boats in Lampadusa.  Weapons, training, communications and special agents have made their way from France to Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

The U.N. estimates at least 264 people, including 21 civilians, have been killed in Libya since April 5, and 1,266 wounded, including 69 civilians.  At least 32,000 civilians have become internally displaced due to the fighting.

History Repeats Itself

French President Nicholas Sarkozy was the chief architect of the US-NATO attack on Libya in 2011, under the guise of ‘Humanitarian Intervention’.  Once again, we see a French President take the lead in the further attacks on Libya, and the motivation remains the same: the Libyan oil resources.  The 2011 ‘Designed -in-Paris’ war involved President Barack Obama, and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was later exposed by leaked emails to have been focused on the gold bullion in Libya’s Central Bank.  Obama decried his predecessor Bush for bringing the US to war in Iraq based on a lie, and yet Obama repeated the same war crime based on a lie, and for the same reason: stealing resources.  Obama and Clinton are now safely returned to private life; however, Sarkozy faces legal proceedings involving taking millions in cash from Col. Qadaffi which was used to win Sarkozy’s election.

Lessons From Syria

In the 8 year international attack on Syria, the same cast of characters was involved.  They started out as a united front, supporting terrorists as their ground forces, but the various countries split and began fighting each other. Former prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, explained in an interview that all support of fighters in Syria was done in cooperation with US and Saudi Arabia. 

"Anything that went, went to Turkey and was coordinated with US forces. All distribution was done through the US and the Turks and us and everyone else that was involved, the military people," said Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani

However, in the midst of the ‘regime change’ project in Syria, the various countries fought amongst themselves and split-up, forming alliances which last until now, and we can see them in Libya today.

Another game changer was when Pres. Trump was elected and decided to stop support of the terrorists on the ground, and told Saudi Arabia that they were to fight terrorism, not promote it.  Qatar was singled out as the bad kid in the Gulf neighborhood, and his neighbors shunned him.  Suddenly, the Muslim Brotherhood was on the back foot, and Turkey started to feel pressure.  Even though Pres. Obama helped to engineer the Muslim Brotherhood win in Egypt under Mursi, the tide turned against him and he sits in a jail cell, while a secular military leader is ruling Egypt. 

The Russian Position

Pres. Vladimir Putin was a vocal critic of the US-NATO intervention in Libya, and likened it to a ‘crusade’.  After the country was plunged into chaos and destruction, Moscow could have said, ‘I told you so.’  In late 2018, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the former Libyan leader, communicated his vision for a new Libya to the leadership in Moscow, and was met with a welcoming response. 

“The West did everything it could to plunge this country into chaos,” said Alexander Dynkin, head of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, a state-run research group that advises the Kremlin. “Now all parties to the conflict trust Moscow.”

In light of the current fighting raging in Libya, many people feel the only way to save the country is through Saif al- Islam Gaddafi, and this growing perception comes just days after a tweet posted by Africa Research Centre reads, “Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Son of the late Libyan Leader Col Muammar Gaddafi is to run as a candidate in the country’s presidential elections this year.”

The battle to take Tripoli is far from over, and it is not yet apparent who will be victorious.  Could this chapter in Libya see a secular military leader’s victory, an ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood from political power, and a presidential election of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi?  

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