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DECEMBER 2020

Closer Look At Russian Stance Towards Conflict In Libya

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Closer Look At Russian Stance Towards Conflict In Libya

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During the World Economic Forum in Davos, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned world business and political leaders that Libya could become the new Syria. The warning followed the Berlin peace conference aimed at de-escalating the situation and setting a foothold for a political settlement of the conflict. This is a clear demonstration of the fact that no breakthrough agreements were reached.

“We made a first attempt and that’s only a first attempt to find a solution for Libya, before Libya itself also falls into this trap of proxy war as we have seen it in Syria,” Merkel said. “Let us all get together when those countries ask us to fight terrorism in their part of the world as we have done this with the overall coalition in Syria.”

Merkel’s remarks are a useful example of the West’s public doublethink. The German leader claims that the “coalition” defeated the terrorism in Syria, while in fact this “coalition” was the reason of the growth of al-Qaeda and ISIS influence in the country thrown into chaos by Western regime change attempts.

The same situation happened in Libya in 2011, when the NATO coalition overthrew the country’s government and destroyed its statehood. Since then, Libya has been in a state of the constant chaos with various foreign players exploting the seized energy resources. The main reason of concern of Germany, France, Italy, the US & Co is that they are loosing their influence there. The Libyan National Army, supported by the UAE, Egypt and partly Russia, took control of the most of the contry. At the same time, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord fell into a direct dependence on Turkey. So now, there is only a very little room for ‘mighty European powers’, and even the United States.

The interests of most of the key players in the conflict is clear. EU powers seek to keep their control over the Libyan energy resources and prevent the expansion of Turkey, Egypt and the UAE. Turkey sees its maritime zone agreement with the GNA as an important part of its strategy to increase own economic and diplomatic influence in the Eastern Mediterranean. Egypt and the UAE want to secure own economic and political interests in the region. These include the access to the Libyan energy resources and the removal of the terrorist threat (including groups affilated with the Muslim Brotherhood).

As to Russia, the ordinary explanation is that Moscow seeks to get a share in the Libyan energy business in exchange for its military and diplomatic support. However, a wider look at the situation puts this exlanation in question. The Russian national interest is to keep high oil and gas prices, as well as to guarantee a stable demand to its energy export. The stabilization of the situation in Libya, one of the key oil producers in the region, does not fit with these goals. So, Moscow wants to achieve the aforementioned conditions, it could play a double game in the conflict. This also helps to explain the cooperation with Turkey and the the inability (unwillingness) of Moscow to force the LNA to accept the proposed ceasefire regime. This explanation could work if we use a straight logic in order to explain the Russian stance towards the conflict.

On the other hand, Russia often acts in a way that serves not its national interests only, but also interests of some groups and persons. In this case, the Russian policy in Libya could be influenced by these groups and persons that may have own interest in the Libyan question and may have some financial agreements with the LNA or its other sponsors.

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