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Russia’s influence in Libya is growing

23.08.2017 19:36

Russia’s interests in the Middle East are not confined to specific countries. Moscow seeks to build a strong network of connections with many players in the region, and to have a strong say in regional affairs. Russia has been strengthening its presence in the Middle East to fortify its position as a pivotal international player. This is written by Maria Dubovikova, a prominent political commentator, researcher and expert on Middle East affairs, in her article in The Arabnews.

She recalls that the collapse of the Qaddafi regime took place without the involvement of Russia, which abstained on the issue in the UN Security Council. The fall of Qaddafi brought years of severe disruption to Libya, and the spread of terrorism, harming and menacing the stability not only of regional neighbors, but also of the European continent. Russia was involved in attempts to restabilize Libya from the beginning, the political analyst said.

In her opinion, Russia, in its desire to increase its influence in Libya, can rely on Khalifa Haftar, who is the leader of the Libyan National Army.

The political expert pointed out that Haftar’s troops have seized control of Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and a former stronghold of extremist groups. Benghazi is near a number of key oil fields and is a hub for vital oil infrastructure.

Haftar has now visited Moscow twice. Moscow’s growing relations with Haftar signal its interest in establishing a more solid regional foothold, supported by an increasing naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean, including Syria, and off the coast of North Africa, the analyst said.

With its growing involvement in Libya, Russia is conveying to Europe and the US that it is not affected by issues in Syria, Ukraine or anywhere else, and it will act in support of its international strategies, the political scientist resumed.