The 23rd of last September brought an unpleasant surprise to the residents of the city of Sukna, located on the outskirts of the eastern section of the Libyan Al Sawda Mountains, where a helicopter carrying several explosions of other munitions fell for a few minutes, while the residents closest to the scene saw the bodies of four fighters who were On board a plane bound for one of the Libyan oil fields.
Residents of Sukneh near the Al-Jufra air base, controlled by the retired Major General Khalifa Haftar's forces, were not oblivious to the identity of the plane's owners, quickly realizing that these fighters belonged to the Russian private military security company, "Wagner", as they had previously seen some of those The masked officers buy some goods from a city shop, or watch their armored cars quickly pass by their old buggy.
This was not the first plane that crashed for the Russians since their entry into a major player in the Libyan territories, as two MiG-29 warplanes had crashed before that, one in June and the other in September.
At a time when these losses were largely due to the lack of technical skill and competence of Russian fighters in countries of a cruel nature such as Libya, they were clearly indicative of the intensity of Russian moves there, since the course of the war changed in favor of the "Government of National Accord" in Tripoli thanks to the Turkish military support that It enabled it to eject Haftar's forces from the vicinity of Tripoli and the Wattaya air base in June;
Since then, the Kremlin’s efforts have been poured into a melting pot that remedies the results of the military setbacks that its ally Haftar has suffered, and is now in the process of establishing a strategic foothold there, as it is not currently content with intensifying military engagement operations with Haftar’s forces only, but is seeking to increase its political support And the media to him, in addition to her tireless efforts to reach a solution with the Turks, who have become a major player there, which is an intensity that attracts attention to the extent of Russia's insistence on possessing the strongest cards in the game of international powers in Libya and raises many questions about the goals of the icy capital.
Last winter, specifically in January of the current year, five cargo planes full of weapons flew over the skies of North Africa in order to participate in the implementation of air strikes and support combat missions on Libyan lands. During that tour, the Crown Prince of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed, was the one who His country sent four of the aforementioned aircraft, sitting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after the end of the international discussion round within the conference discussing peace efforts in Libya, although the "lion's share" of those aircraft in particular was Emirati, as the data of those flights showed, and although the UAE was until some time Cousin is Haftar's biggest supporter, the owners of the fifth plane, the Russians, snatched that title after sending thousands of mercenaries from their citizens over the current year to the Libyan square.
The Russian plane was one of a total of 350 Russian military supply flights that arrived in Libya during the last nine months, and by following the Russian air bridge, we note that the eight flights recorded in December 2019 amounted to 75 flights last July, an increase that shows intentions Moscow is very serious about Libyan territory, and as Director of Intelligence of the African Command in the Pentagon Admiral Heidi Berg says, "Russian military cargo aircraft, including the famous" IL-76 "aircraft, continue to provide the Wagner Group forces in Libya with military armored vehicles and air defense systems" SA " -22 "And fuel, ammunition and other supplies, which increases the risk of ongoing violence in Libya," and Berg adds that the Wagner Group now has 3,000 soldiers and 2,000 Syrian mercenaries there, while Turkey has 5,000 Syrian mercenaries of its own, according to her statement to the "New York Times", The US Africa Command, "AFRICOM", had previously officially announced that Moscow had sent military fighters to Libya to support "Wagner", and last May published pictures of MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-24 fighters that were sent to the Al-Jufra air base.
At a time when dozens of Russian flights continue to land on Libyan soil, striking against the wall against the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), one of the most important Russian military developments there was what was revealed on August 8, when pictures were published in a report by Forbes magazine. "For radar, which suggested the presence of an advanced air defense system near Ras Lanuf in eastern Libya, and doubts are raised about the possibility that the" S-300 "or" S-400 "system is the newest, and analysts suggested following those pictures that Russia had published systems in Libya. Similar to what it has published in Syria, according to the report, the radar is very similar to the Russian "96L6E", which is a target detection and warning radar associated with the surface-to-air SAM system used with the "S-300", and can also be used with the "S-400 Triumf" missile system. The newest and most powerful.
Game Changer :: Russia May Have S-400 Air Defense System In Libya .. https://t.co/uAs83zvhwF
- Libya News (@Libyan_News) August 6, 2020
In the same context, Libyan military analyst Adel Abdel Kafi tells us in his interview with
that the Russian military build-up is in the interest of consolidating their presence and enhancing their combat capabilities in the redeployment towards the oil fields and Al-Jufra strategic base, an arrangement intended to give them a tactical advantage over the capabilities of the Al-Wefaq forces Scattered near Sirte and Jufrah and officially supported by Ankara based on the military and security agreement signed between the two countries, Abdel Kafi added to "
": "The Russians are now keen not to lose the strategic location in the south of the Mediterranean in North Africa, a location that is a great concern for Europe and also a guarantee of their economic interests in Libya, and secures $ 4 billion in Russian arms deals to various African countries. "
The Russian-Turkish meeting that took place in mid-September was not the first between Ankara and Moscow to discuss the Libyan file, as the two countries' diplomatic efforts are continuing to reach consensus there, the most important of which was the announcement of a ceasefire initiative from Istanbul last January. And this after the opening of a new pipeline to transport gas to Europe.
However, the September meeting was the most important because of its timing. On the one hand, an unprecedented conflict appeared in the internal Libyan house, the most prominent feature of which was so far the emergence of the name of the Tobruk Parliament Speaker “Aqila Saleh” strongly in the race for control of the Libyan sovereign positions, as the head of the recognized government of reconciliation announced Internationally, Fayez al-Sarraj is ready to hand over power before the end of this October, and some observers have linked the announcement of al-Sarraj to the possibility of a political settlement requiring the departure of Haftar and al-Sarraj together, with speculation of possibilities that would lead to these internal differences out of control, especially since there is a conflict within the government. Al-Wefaq itself was highlighted by the dispute between Al-Sarraj and his interior minister, Fathi Bashagha, who enjoys the support of the powerful Misrata militia, as it is not unlikely that this dispute will end into a kind of internal armed conflict.
Libyan Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha
On the other hand, this meeting came at an important time for Moscow, which still views Haftar as the best military partner in Libya, especially with the Russians feeling a greater danger in this period due to the increasing American presence in Libya, as the steps that indicate Washington’s desire to control the Libyan file coincide with Carrying out diplomatic moves, whether on the political, military or security levels, and through the messages conveyed by the collection of "AFRICOM" reports that shed light heavily on the Russian role in deploying military equipment in Libya and delivering unprecedented supplies to the Wagner Group.
However, what can be considered an important motivation for Moscow to cooperate with Ankara, which has played pivotal roles in the Libyan crisis, is the importance of resolving the points of disagreement related to the oil crescent area and the Sirte Al-Jufra line. During the aforementioned meeting, this sensitive file of those two strategic areas was attended by Ankara through its support. The Government of National Accord has the right to expel Haftar's forces to their borders, and the two sides are interested in identifying mechanisms that are satisfactory to both of them based on disarming the two cities and then working on a ceasefire to achieve the proposed demilitarized zone, and imposing a situation that takes into account the interests of the two capitals in the large African oil country.
In the meantime, Ankara is trying, through joint work teams with Moscow, to reach understandings about the strategic area of the Sirte Basin specifically, and the Russians understand the importance of this region to the Turks, as the researcher on Middle East conflicts at the "Bridges" Center for Studies "Firas Fahham" tells us, and adds that they have made offers that allow Turkey has expanded in the Sirte Basin region in exchange for evacuating the military sites south of the M4 highway in northwestern Syria, but the Turks have not given the Russians approval so far, because they realize that the Sirte and Jufrah file does not only concern the Russians, but rather other players that Ankara probably does not want in it. In any form.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Faham added to "
" that Turkey "wants to obtain a Russian commitment to a cease-fire because it is afraid that Haftar will escalate again, regardless of the decision of Aqila Saleh, who decided to enter negotiations in order to reach an understanding over the sovereign positions, and so far there is nothing concrete about it." The ground regarding the issue of stabilizing the ceasefire. "
As for the editor in charge of the Libyan case report in the Libyan Organization for Policies and Strategies, Ismail Al-Quraitli, he assures
that Russia, which is concerned as much as possible with preserving its national security by expanding the concept and scope of that security, is keen to have an acceptable level of relations between it and Turkey The member state of NATO, and adds: "If we go to the issue of energy, we will find it of the same importance in Libya, considering that the energy discovered in the eastern Mediterranean will mean a large store of gas that began to talk about in 2010, as Moscow is trying hard to be present in Libya and Egypt as they own them." Borders in economic zones in the eastern Mediterranean, along with its alliance with Turkey. "
Al-Quraitli clarifies during his interview with "
" that the Russians and the Turks are closer in the Libyan issue, and are trying to find understandings similar to what they reached in the Astana track in Syria and then the Sochi agreement. Al-Quraitli believes that Russia's short-term strategy is based on stability in Libya through an understanding with the fearful Turks. Those who impose sanctions on their country by the European Union, and Turkey may find itself forced to reorganize its stay in Libya with Russia, especially since the two countries will take advantage of the state of stability in which Washington will enter due to the administration's likely preoccupation with the presidential elections at the end of this year, and concludes by saying: "Who Here, for the end of the year, I expect that Turkey and Russia will try to reach a calming of the situation in Libya and then go to more understandings between them that lead to a sharing of influence. "
On September 18, when Haftar’s forces' siege of oil installations approached its eighth month (the blockade was imposed since last January), both Haftar and the reconciliation government man, Ahmed Maitiq, who is known for his close positions on Russian politics, announced that they had achieved a breakthrough regarding the fate of Those facilities, after two days of negotiations that took place in Moscow, were represented by an agreement to resume oil production and export. Indeed, Haftar, who represented his son Khaled in those negotiations, gave his forces an order to resume production and export of Libyan oil.
What happened later was expected, as the reconciliation government disavowed those negotiations, as well as Washington, and the National Oil Corporation in Tripoli chose to refuse to lift the blockade on oil fields and ports as a result of this agreement, and in a statement condemned what it considered “the politicization and use of the oil sector by a non-competent authority. A bargaining chip in fruitless negotiations to achieve political gains without taking into account the ABCs of professional work, "as far as it was stated. The Corporation also did not hesitate to confirm its position on the Russian presence behind those negotiations, and most importantly the Russian presence in the Libyan oil fields, and it stipulated the restoration of the Libyan oil machine" the exit of all armed groups. And Wagner mercenaries "from the oil fields there.
The talk about the presence of Russian mercenaries in the Libyan oil fields and ports goes back to last June, when a number of Pantsir (air defense systems) Russian and Syrian mercenaries were monitored to Sirte, and they entered the Sharara field to prevent the resumption of oil production. Wagner and armed groups that obstruct Libyan oil extraction activities are commonplace.
Moscow quickly joined the group of those seeking to stay in the Libyan scene by seizing the oil card that Haftar offers to his allies in exchange for his military support, and this bargaining suited the Kremlin, which is concerned with expanding his country's presence in the Mediterranean by establishing bases in Libya as an extension of the Russian naval base in Tartus and the base Hmeimim is on the Syrian coast, and this bargaining appealed to him as well, given the development of Russian energy projects and the economic revival of the country.
A picture published by Libyan activists on social media shows elements of the Russian security company Wagner in Libya
In his interview with
researcher Firas Fahham tells us
that Moscow, on the journey of strengthening its military presence in Libya during the past months, has focused on deploying Wagner elements in military areas in the Sirte Basin and the Libyan Oil Crescent region, and has supported these combat groups with Pantsir and S 300 in addition to being reinforced by warplanes stationed at Al-Jafra base, and he explained to "
" that "Russia has a strategy based on controlling the energy flowing to Europe, so it wants to establish its influence in Libya, especially in the north and east of the country, and Libya is also forming points alongside Syria." Anchorage for Russia in the Mediterranean region. "
Through the above, it is clear that Moscow, which entered the Libyan arena with its eyes set on controlling the movement of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to southern Europe, is a pressure card on the old continent;
It is now interested in moving more towards countering any American trend that targets its presence in Libya, which it wants to achieve by intensifying its military, diplomatic and logistical presence in this great way, taking advantage of the reasons provided to it by Libya of the reasons of strength that is growing by imposing its political and military influence recently, and may be exploited during the period The coming state of conflict between the different Libyan factions that control Tripoli to impose its political reality that suits its interests and gives it the keys to the Libyan lands as it wishes.