When the Kremlin finally get entangled in it?

Conflicts in Libya and Syria in recent weeks merge into one huge war in the greater middle East, which are more external players and more active a role everywhere plays Moscow, writes svoboda.org.

If all this is fraught with the threat of large-scale clashes of different Nations and how far can President Vladimir Putin, defending what he understood by “geopolitical interests of Russia”?

In a confusing war in Libya, obviously, there has been a new and rather frightening stage. 25 Jun Aguila Saleh Issa, speaker of the so-called Libyan Parliament in Tobruk, that is, the political support of the Libyan national army (LNA) self-styled field Marshal Khalifa the Haftarot, said that soon “the Libyan people will formally ask the Egyptian military intervention that would be legitimate – if there is a broken front near the city of Sirte”.

Military and oil the aim – Sirte

The armed forces of a recognized UN-Islamic national consensus Government (NTC) in Tripoli, headed by Faiz Sarraj a, with direct and very powerful military support of Turkey and its mercenaries in the recent strike of the army of Haftarot one crushing defeat after another, rapidly pushing them to the East of the country. In addition to Erdogan, the NTC receives funding and technical support from Qatar and Italy. On Khalifa the Haftarot are Russia, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and partly France.

In June, the NTC, after the defeat of the forces of the Haftarot on the outskirts of Tripoli, announced the beginning of a strategic operation “Path to victory”, to seize the rich oil fields around the city of Sirte – the birthplace and place of death of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, located about 900 kilometers from the border of Libya with Egypt.

#Libya #OOTT Things suddenly heating up in Libya. Egypt has warned Turkish-backed forces not to cross “red line” stretching from Sirte to Jufra, which is the western boundary of Sirte Basin oilfields. Declaring Saudi and UAE support for Egypt. No statement yet from Turkey. pic.twitter.com/hOdoSCf464

— Chris Stephen (@reportingLibya) June 20, 2020

At the initiative of Egypt this week was held dedicated to the events in Libya an emergency meeting of the Arab League, where most participants demanded the disbandment of the armed militias, the withdrawal of foreign mercenaries and an embargo on arms supplies to all parties to the conflict – which first and foremost has the interests of Turkey.

Another militant field Marshal

Earlier, the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for an inter-Libyan dialogue – after his meeting with the Haftarot that, a sober assessment of his position, once again seemingly expressed a willingness to agree to a truce. However, the NTC continues to develop the offensive on Sirte. After that, al-Sisi said that Egypt will not tolerate threats from “terrorists and mercenaries”, stressing readiness to send troops to Libya – with the support of the UAE and Saudi Arabia who supported the “right of Cairo to defend itself”. PNS all charges of the President of Egypt rejected and responded by saying that his speech is tantamount to a Declaration of war. Cairo has already deployed large tank units on its Western border. Their statements were also made by Ankara – calling plans al-Sisi’s call at any cost to save Khalifa the Haftarot.

Any interference of Egypt in the Libyan case can turn into an armed Ottoman-Egyptian conflict. Especially in the case that Cairo will actively support behind it UAE, Saudi Arabia (hating Erdogan after not forgotten in the Muslim world of the murders at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, a journalist and blogger Jamal Koshakji (Khashoggi), which was made public, the Turkish espionage), France and of course Russia. Moscow has recently deployed to Libya at least 14 of its combat aircraft, MiG-29 and su-35, Sukhoi su-24M and even the newest fighter bombers su-34, to support the Khalifa the Haftarot and Russian mercenaries from so-called “PMC Wagner” fighting on his side.

Makron against Erdogan

In this June 23, Turkey’s foreign policy received a blow from another side. The President of France Emmanuel macron has accused Recep Erodgan in “dangerous games” of Libya, and his actions in the Mediterranean sea called an example of “brain death to NATO”. He stated this during a press conference with the President of Tunisia Keyes said in Paris. Macron had in mind, in particular, a recent hazardous incident in the Mediterranean: connecting the Turkish Navy has not allowed a French frigate to inspect suspicious cargo ship bound for Tripoli under the Turkish protection. When the French ship approached, the Turkish sailors openly took aim at him, as evidenced by electronic data.

Ankara is the fact simulating the attack on the French frigate denies, claiming that he was performing dangerous maneuvers. Official representative of the President of Turkey said last week that NATO’s security is threatened just support Paris LNA Haftarot.

Objasnuva the hand of Moscow

Russia is increasingly drawn, or rather, all bogged down in a civil war in Libya in which alternately the upper hand is one or the other side. Officially Moscow repeatedly denied its involvement in the Libyan conflict. This past January, Vladimir Putin said that if Libya and are Russian citizens, they “are not there to Russia and money from the Russian state does not receive.”

However, it was not so long ago published an report to the Committee on sanctions against Libya the UN Security Council. It says based on data from open sources and observations on the spot that the group of Russian mercenaries entered Libya from October 2018 and is estimated to range from 800 to 1,200. “Vagnerovsky” mainly help the army of Haftarot to maintain and repair military equipment of both Russian and Soviet production. However, the soldiers “PMC Wagner” participated in combat operations, and “influence operations”, served as a gunner forward observation for artillery and aviation, specialists in the field of electronic combat and exploration and even as a separate sniper teams. However, at the end of may, when the LDF Haftorah beginning to suffer one defeat after another, the Russian mercenaries left the battle formations near Tripoli.

Fight for Blue Nile: conflict of Ethiopia and Egypt

As happens so often in history, the Nile, the second longest, the greatest river of the world – or rather, its water may become the cause of another war on the African continent. On the Blue Nile river, the right tributary of the Nile, near the border with Sudan in the North-West, the Ethiopian government is now finishing the construction of huge hydroelectric power station “Hedase” (“Revival”). Start filling the reservoir is scheduled for early July 2020. After commissioning of this hydroelectric power station will be the most powerful in the entire Africa. Against the construction of strongly in recent years were made by neighboring Sudan and Egypt, who fear that the creation of the reservoir will lead to the depletion of their own water resources.

A few days ago, the command of the army of Ethiopia suddenly declared that if Egypt in General will continue to talk about reservoir, their country will be able to “win this war”. One of the top Ethiopian generals added that Egyptian President al-Sisi would have to be aware of the military potential of Ethiopia: “the Egyptians and the rest of the world know too well how we are waging war when it started.” But Cairo continues to say that the filling of the reservoir will reduce the level of water in the Nile to such an extent that it will endanger water and food security of Egypt. So what of the potential for armed conflict in Libya or Ethiopia, can now choose Abdel Fattah al-Sisi?

How to understand the confusing tangle of contradictions with so many external parties and their political and military purposes, Radio Liberty again says an expert on the region, the analyst of the Agency “Rosbalt” Mikhail Magid:

– How big is the probability that in the Northern half of Africa will soon start a big war, and may participate in very many countries and forces from Russia and France to Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia?

I want to believe that after all the probability of this is small. Though, because all the mentioned powers are not very interested, to put it mildly, in this monstrous conflict. For them it is too dangerous and risky. But if the conflict will occur, its scale is likely to reach far beyond Africa. Moreover, the war in Libya and war in Syria are gradually merged in a single military conflict and military forces of the two regions are moved back and forth. Therefore, if we will clash, they will cover at least these two regions. But I still hope that it will be some local skirmishes, not full-scale war.

Video from Libyan Observer. Nazi and racist symbols in one of the Libyan mosques are left, presumably, the Russian mercenaries of the army of Haftarot:

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam #GERD latest Photos. Images: ENA pic.twitter.com/ICe0Nb3UVK

— MFA Ethiopia🇪🇹 (@mfaethiopia) October 17, 2017

– Why the city of Sirte, if we return specifically to Libya, was a “red line” for all parties to the Libyan conflict? The NTC in Tripoli and Turkey declare their readiness to step further in this direction, and Egypt is now threatening to directly get involved in the war, if there is a threat to Sirte.

East of Sirte is the so-called “oil Crescent societies of Libya,” where 60 percent of the oil reserves of the entire country. And in the same province are the main oil storage facilities, oil and gas pipelines, terminals, port facilities, from which you ship oil and gas for export to Europe. The force that controls the city gets the opportunity of access to key oil resources of Libya. If the NTC Pro-Turkish and Turkey will be able to take the city, it is obvious that he would be their key to mastering the entire Libyan territory. After that, the impedance of the LNA of the Haftarot can lose all meaning, because it will only be a few minor cities and a piece of the desert. And the rest of the wealth will go under the control of Ankara and its proxy government in Tripoli.

– Are there any other reasons, in addition to the officially named by Egyptian President al-Sisi, which led him to threaten direct military intervention in the conflict in Libya and the uprising against the NTC on the side of the Haftarot?

Such reasons are several. Primarily the fact that Egypt was involved in a very serious gas conflict with Turkey, which takes place in the Eastern Mediterranean. Here was found a large offshore field of hydrocarbons, which Cairo considers to be his. Egypt forms, along with several other countries, Greece, Cyprus and Israel, a huge gas hub for the supply of fuel to the EU. But Turkey also claims to be a part of these deposits – and therefore signed with the government in Tripoli an agreement on the “delimitation of Maritime boundaries”, according to which at least some of these deposits were in the region of Turkish control. This is a very serious conflict over gas resources.

#Libya #OOTT Egypt-Turkey tensions in Libya mirror their tensions over East Med gas fields. (Map: the Petroleum Economist) pic.twitter.com/U69B5gYnlF

— Chris Stephen (@reportingLibya) June 20, 2020

The second reason is that in Egypt there is an internal conflict that is directly linked to the events in Libya. In 2013, the late Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a representative of the fundamentalist Islamist organization “Muslim brotherhood” (or “Muslim brotherhood”), was deposed in a military coup and the authorities in Cairo came the current head of the country Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who appropriated to himself as Khalifa Haftar in Libya, the rank of field Marshal. After this “Muslim brotherhood” was forbidden throughout Egypt, there was a very large-scale street clashes, and most of their members were killed or imprisoned for the bars. Nevertheless, the “Muslim Brothers” are still inside Egypt supporters, and I think a lot of them. And the national consensus Government (NTC) in Tripoli is directly related to the international Islamist organization that wants to establish Sharia law in Egypt, and in several other States. And if the national consensus Government, and with it, Turkey will get control over a huge, leaky Egyptian-Libyan border (approximately 1100 kilometers), it could destabilize the situation inside Egypt itself. Because through this border rush fighters and weapons and it is unclear what will happen to the regime of al-Sisi. This is generally the most important point for Cairo, since we are talking about the survival of the Egyptian regime.

Third reason: the United Arab Emirates actively oppose Turkey. Their struggle is for control over the entire greater Middle East. And the UAE may have this information from many sources, promised several billion dollars al-Sisi, if he will bring his troops into Libya and stop the offensive on Sirte. Unfortunately, this may be true – and it makes the Egyptian military intervention is quite likely. In February of this year a similar situation was observed in Syria, where the UAE has offered about $ 5 billion Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad for the attack on Idlib area, where Turkish troops and Pro-Turkish militants. We all remember what there was a large battle. So if UAE is ready to Finance such an operation against Egypt Turkey and Pro-Turkish forces in Libya, and maybe a new simultaneous operation of Assad against Turkey and Pro-Turkish militants in Northern Syria, then in this case really possible full-scale battle.

– So how big is this probability that Egypt will impose its troops to Libya? It may be that it was just a threat and a way to exert pressure on Tripoli to Ankara?

– The probability of this is quite high. But Egypt, for example, may be limited to those that impose some kind of military compound in Sirte, just putting the Turkey in front of the fact that “we are already here.” In this case, Ankara may be, will not dare to start a full-scale war with Cairo. But it depends, in particular, how likely is the intervention of the UAE, as is the truth that they really give al-Sisi a large sum for these operations. And it also depends on the determination of Erdogan and the government in Tripoli still try to take Sirte. But given the fact that this situation involved several strong factors, I will repeat that the probability of Egyptian military operation is high. And the likelihood of major clashes around Sirte is also very high.

– If the situation develops under the worst scenario, what are the consequences of a full-scale war between Turkey and Egypt?

– This is determined by the military capabilities of these countries. In principle, on paper, the armed forces of Egypt and Turkey are roughly comparable in the number of tanks and combat aircraft. However, the Turkish army is at a much higher level of training, coordination and planning of operations. After all, as is commonly believed, Turkey is the second power of the NATO army. The Egyptian army is likely to significantly worse managed, and in this sense, Turkey has, of course, there are benefits.

But, on the other hand, Libya is located in the neighborhood of Egypt, and because al-Sisi can go throw a rather large connection. But Turkey is still at a great distance, and Erdogan will have to transfer troops to Libya by sea and air from its territory. So it is very asymmetrical, very ambiguous situation, and to predict the consequences of such a collision is impossible. In addition, such a conflict might include not only Libya, but Syria, where the Turkish army is also involved, only against Assad’s forces, and partly against the Russian forces. And because of all this complexity is absolutely impossible to predict which way this conflict can develop if he will go to the military phase.

– But Egypt has now emerged, and large-scale conflict with another African country Ethiopia because of the Renaissance dam. The parties have already exchanged a very aggressive threats. How serious is it? And that Egypt is ready to wage war on two fronts?

– Control over water resources is gradually becoming one of the key factors of destabilization in the greater middle East. There are many examples. In the past Turkey has built a cascade of hydropower plants on the Euphrates river, and as a result this river, that part of it which passes through the territory of Syria, became shallow. This led to the fact that more than a million Syrian farmers have no access to the water needed for irrigation of their fields, went bankrupt and were forced to migrate to the city and contributed to the emergence in Syria of huge areas of poverty and became one of the causes of the Syrian uprising against Assad in 2011. Now a very similar situation exists in Iraq is because Iran is siphoning some of the water from the Karun river, a tributary of the river Shatt al-Arab, which is three million Iraqi town of Basra. The city began a big problem with clean water, with occasional mass poisoning, and now Basra has become one of the centers of social conflicts and protests in Iraq.

And now in North-East Africa, we are witnessing a similar situation. Because, according to the assessment of Cairo, is filled when the Ethiopian reservoir and to plan this will start on 2 July, millions of Egyptian farmers can go broke and it can cause in Egypt will repeat the “Arab spring”. Therefore, al-Sisi is, again, a matter of survival. But it is a matter of survival and for Addis Ababa, because this was the largest power plant in Africa will have to provide electricity for about 60-70 percent of Ethiopia’s population that today lives without electricity. Accordingly, it is the basis for the industrialization of Ethiopia, without which the country, in turn, will be in the chaos and social conflicts. That is, it is a question of survival for both countries.

Egypt and Ethiopia are at odds over Blue Nile dam: September 17, 2019 — #BlueNileDam #Egypt #Ethiopia Egypt says Ethiopia has “summarily rejected” its operating plan for the $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that Ethiopia is building on the… https://t.co/YEJPhI9JEa pic.twitter.com/HAlx28WIMi

— Graphic News (@GNgraphicnews) September 17, 2019

And therefore military threats by Egypt and counter the military threat from Ethiopia should be considered seriously. But these countries have no direct common border. Egypt may try to act against Ethiopia through its allies or through their proxy in the Sudan. Al-Sisi can also organize raids on these buildings or some commando raids. But I still think that Cairo will try to avoid such a terrible scenario. Moreover, because Ethiopia is, of course, will respond with military force, but it had quite a powerful army. Both Egypt and Ethiopia – the country, the population of each of which already exceeds 100 million people. Imagine what the consequences of such a conflict!

On the one hand, of course, al-Sisi is afraid of war on two fronts and cannot be aware of danger. But, on the other hand, the challenges at the same time arose for him in Libya and in Ethiopia, make his regime more aggressive. At least, in the words of Cairo begins to use military rhetoric, literally growling at Addis Ababa and growl at Tripoli and Ankara. Let’s see how their words or deeds. I would like to believe that everything will remain at the level of rhetoric.

– What is Russia’s role in all this? Vladimir Putin has deployed its warplanes to help the Caliph Haftarot – so is Moscow ready to use them? How seriously its confrontation with Turkey at this moment?

– Russia involved in the conflict with Turkey and Syria, and in Libya at the same time. Moscow has deployed, according to various estimates, from 10 to 14 combat aircraft and, possibly, at least thousands of mercenaries from “PMC Wagner” to support the Haftarot in Libya. And in Syria, the Kremlin all the power support Assad, while Erdogan is anti-Assad fighters in Idlib. On the one hand, Turkey in Libya airlifted more than 12 thousand anti-Assad fighters, to help the Pro-Turkish government. But on the other hand, transferred to Libya and the supporters of Assad to fight on the side of the Haftarot. I repeat that this war which merge into one war.

In principle, Russia and Turkey such a complicated system of relations that sometimes they are a step away from war, but then always negotiate a cease-fire, as it were, for example, in Syria on March 5 this year, and it seems to be is discharge. But all these Russian-Turkish agreements are fragile and short-lived, and then again starts acute phase. And given the fact that the acute phase is now engulfed both Syria and Libya, and we also observed in the region of Idlib, again, the concentration of the forces of Assad, then there is another very dangerous situation. We can assume that again, maybe there would be some discharge, and then again some aggravation, as it happens all the time. How much longer can this go on? Could all over again the incident in the spirit of November 2015, when the Turkish air force shot down a Russian military aircraft and the parties literally stood on the brink of full-scale war? I think a similar incident sooner or later again, alas.