U.S. concerned as Haftar consolidates power in Libya backed by Russia

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Haftar family is consolidating its power in eastern Libyan, as the strongman Khalifa Haftar has named his son, Saddam Haftar, as the new chief of the Haftar-controlled Libyan Arab Armed Forces. Two other Haftar sons also have military posts.

In view of the latest developments, the rival western government in Tripoli is under pressure about the rise of this private family army in the east and who control eastern and parts of southern Libya.

In 2019, Haftar tried to take Tripoli. He failed and while he has lost some of his backers, including the U.S., he is a top priority on Russia’s list, and a key stomping ground for Wagner mercenaries and operations that extend beyond Libya.

Recently the Italian law enforcement carried out the operation at the request of the United States authorities and seized weapons worth millions of dollars allegedly bound for Benghazi in Libya. The large merchant vessel MSC Arina departed from Yantian, a port district in Shenzhen, China on April 30. US authorities decided to seize the arms shipment and requested Italian intervention upon its arrival in the southern port of Gioia Tauro, in Calabria. The cargo ship was destined for forces loyal to Russia-backed warlord Khalifa Haftar. The specific military equipment on board remains unclear, but some analysts suggest it could include armed drones.

The recent event underscores the growing geopolitical rivalry between the United States and Russia. Washington has been closely monitoring Haftar since his visit to Moscow in September. US intelligence officials suspect that the Kremlin wants to build its military port in Tobruk, which is controlled by Haftar in Libya.

The US is keen to prevent Russian expansion in the Mediterranean, especially in Libya, which has strategic importance due to its proximity to Europe and its resources. Russia’s potential establishment of a military base in Tobruk would significantly enhance its influence in North Africa and the Mediterranean.

A Russian military presence in Libya would also be a direct security concern for the EU, particularly given its proximity to the EU’s southern borders. This would not only disrupt the balance of power in the region but could also affect EU interests, including migration routes and energy supplies.

Meanwhile, the US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller expressed concern about Russian naval missions delivering military equipment to Libya.

On June 18, the General Command of the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced the arrival of two Russian warships at the Tobruk naval base for a “working visit.” The ships, the missile cruiser “Varyag” and the frigate “Admiral Shaposhnikov,” are intended to enhance cooperation and coordination between the Libyan and Russian navies. This visit aims to improve training, maintenance, technical and logistical support, and maritime security expertise.

The US State Department has expressed its concerns about recent reports that naval vessels belonging to Russia were unloading military equipment in Libya, considering that Moscow was seeking to use Libya as a base to destabilize the Sahel region.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told Al Hurra TV on Friday that the Russian move “comes five years after the deployment of Russian mercenaries who destabilized Libya and the region.” Miller said that Moscow “did not hide its ambition to deepen its foothold in Libya and use it as a base to further destabilize the Sahel region,” noting that there are approximately 1,800 members of a Kremlin-backed force currently in Libya. “The US will continue to respect Libyan sovereignty and the dialogue facilitated by the United Nations with the aim of unifying the country through political means only.” He added.

Libya has been a focal point of international conflict and intervention since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. The country has since been divided between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by different foreign powers.(ITALPRESS).

Foto: Agenzia Fotogramma

Source: medNews