Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Sarraj administration nudges Washington towards taking on Russia

The Government of National Accord in Tripoli advocates the resumption of US military presence in Libya, Minister of Interior Fathi Bashagha announced, suggesting that the Pentagon revive its military facilities on Libyan soil. The situation could help the US Department of Defense effectively counteract the growth of Russian and Chinese influence in Africa, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.

The White House previously announced plans to regroup forces around the world in order to deprive Russia and China of the opportunity to expand their influence. In particular, it was reported that Pentagon chief Mark Esper was looking into beefing up US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region by rolling back its contingent in other parts of the world.

Grigory Lukyanov, senior lecturer in the political science department at the Higher School of Economics, noted that Bashagha was talking not about creating a new military base, but restoring Washington’s military presence, which was in place before the outbreak of hostilities in April 2019. “Prior to this, US monitoring units were based in Tripoli that coordinated the war on terror together with local security agencies,” the analyst recalled. “This center was engaged in constant monitoring and, according to the United States, coordinating attacks against the forces of the Islamic State (terrorist organization banned in Russia). In 2019, these forces were evacuated,” Bashagha said.

Lukyanov noted the desire of the Tripoli government to take advantage of the general climate in Russian-American relations, and stimulate the continuation of the discussion on sending military aid to Haftar by various international players, including Russia. “On the other hand, this does not negate the fact that the United States, like Russia, is trying to take a balanced position between the conflicting parties, and the state does not make any particular preferences for either Tripoli or Tobruk — neither Prime Minister Sarraj, nor Marshal Haftar,” the expert said. “Both countries are trying not to interfere in the situation and not to take full responsibility for what is happening in Libya now,” he added. Radically, this policy of the US and Russia has not undergone any changes in recent months, even as hostilities in Libya intensified, Lukyanov noted.