From the early 1970s until Muammar Qadhafi’s toppling in 2011, Moscow and the Libyan Jamahiriya enjoyed cordial relations. During the Cold War, Libya played an important role as the forward base of Soviet interests in the Mediterranean. Although Moscow and Tripoli never entered into a formal alliance, Soviet military instructors were frequent guests in Libya, its military was equipped with Soviet weapons, and Qadhafi was supportive of Moscow’s highly-advertised efforts to back anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle around the globe. Even more important, both nations enjoyed substantial economic cooperation. The relationship became strained in 1992, however, as the government of the newly established Russian Federation joined the international sanctions regime against Libya. Yet, with the exception of this brief intermezzo, Qadhafi’s friendly regime was perceived by Russia’s foreign-policy makers as an important asset in the Mediterranean.
Unlike the West — particularly the United States — Russia backed the Jamahiriya for pragmatic reasons: it was oil-rich and willing to purchase Russian weapons. The two countries had a history of close relations. In 2008, Vladimir Putin went so far as to apply Libya’s Soviet-period debt of around $4.5 billion to a massive $3 billion purchase of sophisticated Russian weapons. Russian Railways, a national monopoly, and Qadhafi’s government also signed a $2.6 billion contract to build a 550-kilometer rail line between Sirte and Benghazi. Moscow would also benefit from $150 million in construction projects, in addition to an estimated $3.5 billion in energy deals. High-level contacts have remained active between Moscow and Tripoli ever since.
As a direct result of the Libyan uprising of 2011, Russia withdrew from this key North African nation, losing contracts worth an estimated nine to ten billion dollars.2 Wary of alleged U.S.-led interventions across the world, Moscow pointed to the West and NATO as the main source of unrest in the country. Top Russian officials, including President Putin and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, accused Washington and its allies of taking down Libya’s legitimate government, resulting in widespread bloodletting and the rise of jihadist groups.3 While Putin — in contrast to Qadhafi’s high-ranking personal friends from Italy and France — never turned his back on the Libyan dictator, Moscow joined the Western-led arms sanctions in 2011 against the warring sides. Yet, several months thereafter, Moscow sought to return to Libya, establishing close relations with a leader of the civil war, Marshal Khalifah Haftar, and unilaterally resuming the supply of military hardware to the country as early as 2012.
Since 2018, rumors have resurfaced in the media of Russia’s efforts to expand its Syria-based de facto military bases in Tartus and Hmeimim to Libya,4 in addition to deploying special forces to the country to support Haftar.5 While the nuances of Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war have been fairly well elucidated,6 little is known about Moscow’s engagement in the ongoing civil war in Libya. This article is one of the first systematic attempts to explain the motivations behind Russia’s policy in Libya, as well as its implications and shortcomings.
Why Libya Matters
A predominantly desert nation of 6.5 million, Libya is located in the central part of North Africa, around 390 nautical miles from Malta and 486 nautical miles from the southernmost Italian island of Lampedusa. With thousands of kilometers of shared — and easy to cross — borders with the neighboring countries of Algeria, Egypt, Chad, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia, the impact of Libya on developments beyond its borders, and the other way around, is enormous. Libya’s key location places it at the crossroads of the Sahel, southern Europe and North Africa.
Libya sits on top of 46.4 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, the largest in Africa and the tenth globally. Its reserves of natural gas were estimated at 53 trillion cubic feet in 2018, which ranks it 22nd globally. With its seaports and oil terminals, Libya has, over decades, been the major source of energy delivered to Italy, southern France and other countries of Southern Europe. Unlike oil and natural gas transported from more distant areas, the cost of extracting fossil fuels from Libya and bringing them to Western markets has been quite low, attracting leading international companies, such as the French Total and the Italian Eni.7
The rise of the Islamic State in Libya following the resumption of civil war in 2014 brought the country back into the spotlight. In 2015, the Libya-based Islamic State released video of the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya. Support for Tunisia’s Islamists from jihadists based in Libya, a fractured country with little control over its own borders, has been considered a contributing source of turmoil in Tunisia.8 The rapid advance of the Islamic State, peaking in 2016, raised concerns in neighboring countries and worldwide, with locally operating jihadist groups seen as a major source of destabilization for the entire region. The widely shared assumption has been that, if allowed to strengthen itself and expand, the Islamic State-affiliated jihadists would use this civil-war-torn, tribally organized, and fractious country to stage crossborder attacks and support extremist groups in neighboring countries.9 The rise of the Libya-based Islamic State attracted foreign fighters from all over the Maghreb, raising fears of the establishment of a jihadist international in close proximity to the European continent.10 In fact, Libya has been one of the few countries in which Islamic State-affiliated groups have gained momentum since the mid-2010s, alongside Yemen, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Nigeria. Yet Libya has also, as a Western commentator noticed, “taken on an outsized importance because of its geographic location, its oil assets, ports — and the swift advance of ISIS on the ground.”11
Since the early 2010s, Libya has made headlines by turning into the major gateway for African immigrants en route to Europe. Annually, tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, predominantly from the sub-Saharan region, but also from Africa’s other areas, have entered Libya in an attempt to cross the deadliest stretch of their journey through the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Lampedusa and other islands. This has raised major concerns in Rome and other European capitals about Europe’s ability to deal with the large-scale immigration, smuggling, abuse and alarming lethality of these many immigrants, many of whom have lost their lives in the crossing. To regulate the inflow of immigrants, European governments considered establishing temporary migrant bases or processing centers on Libyan soil, an idea that Libyan authorities rejected.12 A key transit country on the path from Africa for now and for the years to come, Libya will have an immense impact on the scope and form of “southern” immigration to the European continent, no matter which of its competing governments consolidates control.
WHO IS WHO IN THE CIVIL WAR
Since the 2011 uprising, the internal struggle for power among Libya’s many rival factions has fractured the country into two major power centers along an east-west axis.13 Apart from these, what came to be known as Libya’s “second civil war” has involved groups claiming allegiance to the Islamic State and unaffiliated Islamist groups, as well as multiple tribal factions with rather fluid allegiances. In the eastern town of Tobruk, the Libyan National Congress (LNC), backed by Qadhafi’s one-time rival, Haftar, and drawing on the legitimacy of the major legislative body, the House of Representatives, was established in 2014, with Haftar challenging the authority of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli. Haftar’s LNC currently controls much of the oil-rich northeast, the so-called oil crescent, and the south of the country, along with some central and eastern areas. Following his military advances, Haftar has sought to restore oil production and export, being in charge of solid revenues and making Tobruk increasingly attractive for outsiders as a trade partner. Recently, Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) units have continued to consolidate control over the country’s major oil-producing areas, getting hold of the southern town of Sebhe in February 2019.14 A seasoned military commander and gifted politician, Haftar has acquired prestige for his recent victories over the jihadists. Generally, owing to his committed stance against fighting jihadist and Islamist groups, Haftar has been supported by Egypt — perhaps the most important external player in Libyan politics — as well as France, some Persian Gulf monarchies and Israel.
Tripoli is the base for the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj. The GNA is considered by most Western states to be Libya’s legitimate government, recognized as such by the United Nations. Recently, the GNA-controlled areas have shrunk, confined as of early 2019 to Libya’s northwest and center-west. While Haftar has quite successfully sought to centralize control over the loyalist LNA forces, as well as over allied paramilitary groups, the Tripoli government has only a weak voice in the decisions of formally allied forces, including tribal armed groups. For example, in August 2018, tensions between these GNA-allied rival militia factions erupted into armed clashes in Benghazi, claiming the lives of 100 fighters and civilians, leading the UN-backed government to declare a state of emergency.15 This recent spate of in-fighting further weakened the GNA militarily, internationally and domestically, spurring Haftar to seek control over the remaining parts of Tripolitania.16
Currently, following a series of defeats at the hands of warring parties — most notably after the loss in late 2016 of the coastal town of Sirte in the central part of the country — the Islamic State-affiliated groups control only a thin strip of land in the country’s northwest. Importantly, the remaining cells of the Islamic State have been targeted — primarily from the air and through special operations units based in the GNA-controlled town of Misrata — by U.S. military forces. While the Libya-based Islamic State is critically weakened, it still comprises experienced military commanders, some of them veterans of the Syrian civil war, and is appealing to a part of the local population.17 It has also attracted foreign fighters, predominantly from the Maghreb.18
MAKING SENSE OF MOSCOW’S AGENDA
Commentators have routinely designated the renegade commander Haftar “Moscow’s man,” as opposed to the Tripoli government, backed by the United States and the West.19 Indeed, since the mid-2010s, Russia’s top officials, including the ministers of defense and foreign affairs, have met Haftar on multiple occasions, implicitly recognizing his status as a legitimate foreign leader. The Libyan marshal has been a frequent visitor to the Russian capital. Important arms deals have been discussed between him and high-ranking Russian officials, with Haftar openly calling on Moscow to support him politically, militarily and economically in the ongoing civil war — and likely offering Libya’s assets in exchange.20 In 2017, Haftar clearly confirmed that he and the Russian diplomats “discussed [the issue of military aid]. I am sure Russia remains a good friend of ours and will not refuse to help.”21 Possibly, Russian elite forces deployed in western Egypt have been involved in the civil war on behalf of Haftar.22 In an effort to stabilize Cyrenaica economically, Moscow has issued to the Tobruk government four billion Libyan dinars — an alternative currency to the already existing one controlled by the legitimate Tripoli government.23 Moscow has dispatched dozens of technicians to the Haftar-commanded LNA to help renew and restore its predominantly Soviet-era weaponry and has possibly also provided additional weapons to the Haftar government through Egypt.24 According to some sources, Russia has already established a military presence in Libya’s east,25 allegedly deploying S-300 air-defense missile systems and Kalibr anti-ship missiles to the Haftar-controlled area,26 in addition to deploying several dozen to hundreds of the Kremlin-associated Wagner Group “mercenaries.”27
Given Moscow’s increasingly potent backing of Haftar, and what appears to be Washington’s support for the Tripoli government, some analysts have come to consider the Libyan war as yet another scene of fierce international competition, second only to Syria.28 Yet what has been going on in Libya has very little to do with a proxy war, or even with straightforward diplomatic confrontation. Upon closer inspection, Russia’s engagement in the Libyan civil war appears utterly pragmatic and rather balanced.29 From the onset of the war, Moscow has sought to keep an equilibrium in its relationship with the representatives of both major warring camps, only recently tilting to Haftar’s favor, a turn explained by the latter’s military successes.30 In fact, for the course of the civil war, Moscow officials have kept continuous contact with representatives of the Tripoli government as well. On several occasions, Moscow has expressed willingness to support the Sarraj government while formally recognizing it as Libya’s legitimate authority and calling for a Libyan dialogue.31
Likewise, the Western backing of the Tripoli government appears to be rather declaratory and in some ways elusive. While Paris and Rome — driven by energy security-related considerations and in an effort to hold the uniform Western line — have played both camps, favoring Cyrenaica economically and Tripolitania politically, Washington has had a complex relationship to Haftar. He was America’s asset for years, paid and armed by the CIA to lead an anti-Qadhafi rebellion in the late 1980s, indicating that some sort of collaboration likely persists between them to this day.32 According to Karim Mezran and Elissa Miller, Haftar’s bond with Moscow may be rather instrumental; he may “view engagement with Russia as an opportunity to draw the United States to his side by threatening to provide the traditional American rival with an opportunity to establish a foothold in the central Mediterranean.”33 Likewise, while Washington has established a limited military presence in Libya’s west — to combat the locally operating Islamic State — some evidence shows it has also sought to collaborate with Haftar in an effort to gain a foothold in areas he controls as well.34
Economic interests appear to be dominating Russia’s agenda in Libya. In fact, according to several sources, Haftar has pledged to renew Qadhafi’s key contracts with Russia, should Moscow back him.35 Renewal of important deals worth nine to ten billion dollars — or even more, given Libya’s destruction after years of civil war — is a strong motivation for Moscow to support either part of Libya. Likely, Moscow has discussed the same possibility with the Sarraj government.36 While Moscow’s goal of expanding its military sales has become imperative to its Middle East agenda,37 indirect control over Libya’s energy resources through a friendly and indebted government may increase Russia’s role in Mediterranean politics and security.
Political Interests and Status
President Barack Obama once famously considered Libya the “worst mistake” of his presidency.38 The power vacuum that established itself following the Western withdrawal from Libya, months after the NATO bombing of the Qadhafi regime critically facilitated its toppling, has since been filled by Moscow in an effort to project its influence as an important global player. In fact, given Russian elites’ great-power aspirations, a history of collaboration with Libya, and the ongoing conflict with the West, it would have been odd for Moscow to not utilize this unique opportunity. Establishing a presence in this key part of the Mediterranean is seen as a matter of prestige by Russian analysts.39 Apart from tangible economic interests, it may turn Russia into an important actor with a say in the issues of international immigration, conventional security, and energy policy, all in close proximity to the European continent. Nikolay Kozhanov observes in this regard that “having entered the Libyan conflict, Moscow shows to Europe and the USA that it will not limit itself to Syria and Ukraine, and that its ‘success’ in Syria is not accidental.”40 While Moscow is not interested in direct confrontation with the West, it may use its relatively successful Libya endeavor to accrue status benefits in its negotiations with Western nations, trading certain aspects of its Libya presence off for other unrelated assets, as it has possibly done in the case of Syria.41 An important player in Libya, Russia is to be reckoned with by Western powers, in the North Africa region and globally. Following Russia’s isolation from the international community after its annexation of Crimea and its “hybrid war” in eastern Ukraine, this has been a salient objective of Russian diplomacy.42
Key Honest Broker
During the course of the Libyan civil war, Moscow has sought to portray itself as an honest broker, backing neither side. As Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, once stated, “Russia is interested in ensuring that Libya finally becomes a stable state after that barbaric external interference which had catastrophic consequences for the Libyan state and the future of the Libyan people.”43 While Moscow, as previously discussed, initially sought to stay equidistant from the competing camps in the civil war, it has recently come to increasingly favor the winning side, Haftar — for a variety of possible reasons. First, siding with the underdog might have provided Moscow with more prospective gains in the case of his success. Second, given Russian diplomacy’s inclination to strike comprehensive “package deals,” it might have been easier for Moscow to negotiate with a strongman who is more or less in charge of his force than with a fragmented government. Russia’s efforts to act as a key broker extend beyond the borders of this North African republic. In fact, Moscow’s Libya affair might help it regain great-power status in the world in general, and in the Arab world in particular. As pointed out by a Russian commentator, “Libya has offered added value compared to Syria” in that Moscow’s engagement in North Africa has “brought it closer to the Gulf countries, primarily Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as Egypt. Here, support for Khalifa Haftar in Libya is no longer perceived as negatively as support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”44 Libya is a desirable scene in which Russia’s power may be demonstrated in sharp contrast to the “destructive” and essentially weak presence of the United States and its allies.
A fragmented country with strong tribal allegiances and regional loyalties, Libya is unlikely to see the end of civil war in the short run. Low-level hostilities are likely to continue, even after much of the country is consolidated under Haftar, for a variety of reasons. A representative of a Cyrenaican tribe, Haftar lacks popularity across the country, and many local factions are fiercely opposed to his rule. At 75, Haftar has been sick for some time now; in early 2018, he suffered a stroke, and slipped into coma following a resultant lung disease.45 The question of his political successor is already urgent; once Haftar is gone, his relatively consolidated power base may collapse, jeopardizing Moscow’s half-hearted gains. In spite of Moscow’s increasingly pro-Haftar stance, it is thus still willing to keep all doors open as it offers support to whoever offers more in exchange for it. This may explain Russia’s reluctance to back Haftar formally and explicitly.
Although Libyan oil is an important asset, it is by no means vital for Moscow politically or economically. Whichever government comes to control Libya will inevitably seek to sell its oil and natural gas resources to Western (European) markets. And there is plenty of Libyan oil, potentially leading to a win-win situation. Moreover, unlike Syria, dragged into the vortex of fiercely antagonized neighbors and regional powers with competing interests — Israel, Iran and Turkey — Libya is a relatively minor area of confrontation. For Egypt, the biggest regional player, whether Russia or the United States has a larger say in Libya is not a vital question; there is still room for compromise. And Russia, driven by economic and political motives, will opt for much more cautious — and politically inclusive — scenarios that will help it achieve its economic and status-driven objectives while avoiding direct confrontation with key Western powers.
1 “Skolko Rossiya Poteryaet v Livii?” [How much will Russia lose in Libya?], Rosbalt, September 6, 2011, http://www.rosbalt.ru/business/2011/09/06/886817.html.
2 Stasa Salacanin, “What Is Russia Really Up To?” Qantara, January 1, 2019, https://en.qantara.de/content/civil-war-in-libya-what-is-russia-really-….
3 “NATO Interference in Libya Caused More Casualties - Lavrov,” RT, October 6, 2011, https://www.rt.com/russia/lavrov-nato-libya-victims-201/.
4 Bill Gertz, “Russia Moving into Libya,” Washington Times, July 11, 2018, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jul/11/russia-moving-into-lib….
5 “Russia Sends Troops and Missiles into Libya in Bid to Enforce Stranglehold on the West,” Fox News, October 9, 2018, https://www.foxnews.com/world/russia-sends-troops-and-missiles-into-lib….
6 Emil A. Souleimanov and Valery Dzutsati, “Russia’s Syria War: A Strategic Trap?,”Middle East Policy 25, no.8 (2018): 42-50; Emil A. Souleimanov, “Globalizing Jihad? North Caucasians in the Syrian Civil War,”Middle East Policy 21, no. 3 (2014): 154-62.
7 Aidan Lewis and Ahmad Ghaddar, “Libya Examines Total-Marathon Purchase, Casting Doubt on Deal: Source,” Reuters, April 23, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-oil-waha/libya-examines-total-…; and Ahmad Ghaddar, “Eni to acquire half of BP’s Libya oil and gas assets,” Reuters, October 8, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-oil-libya-bp-eni/eni-to-acquire-half….
8 Anouar Boukhars, “The Potential Jihadi Windfall from the Militarization of Tunisia’s Border Region with Libya,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, January 26, 2018, https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/01/26/potential-jihadi-windfall-from….
9 Djallil Lounnas, “The Libyan Security Continuum: The Impact of the Libyan Crisis on the North African / Sahelian Regional System,” Menara Working Papers no. 15, October 2018, https://www.iai.it/sites/default/files/menara_wp_15.pdf.
10 “Jihadists Returning Home to Tunisia,” The Economist, January 18, 2017, https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2017/01/18/jihadists-r….
11 Dan De Luce, “Why Libya Matters – Again,” Foreign Policy, February 12, 2016, https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/02/12/why-libya-matters-again/.
12 Patrick Wintour, “Libya Rejects EU Plan for Refugee and Migrant Centres,” The Guardian, July 20, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/20/libya-rejects-eu-plan-for….
13 The jihadist-backed National Salvation Government, headed by Prime Minister Khalifa al-Ghawil, was established in 2014 and disbanded in late 2016 after its military losses to GNA in Tripoli.
14 Samer Al-Atrush, “Libya’s Haftar Plans to Secure Oil Areas in Southern Push,” Bloomberg, January 15, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-15/libya-s-haftar-plans….
15 “Libya Government in Tripoli Announces State of Emergency,” Arab News, September 2, 2018, http://www.arabnews.com/node/1365506/middle-east; and News Wires, “Tripoli Government Calls for UN Help as Fighting Continues,” France 24, September 22, 2018, https://www.france24.com/en/20180922-libya-un-action-tripoli-guterres.
16 Whitney Webb, “Despite U.S. Support for ‘Official’ Gov of Libya, Competing Gov Led by CIA Asset Benefits from Chaos in Tripoli,” MintPress News, September 3, 2018, https://www.mintpressnews.com/despite-us-support-for-despite-us-support….
17 Frederic Wehrey, “When the Islamic State Came to Libya,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February 10, 2018, https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/02/10/when-islamic-state-came-to-lib….
18 “How the Islamic State Rose, Fell and Could Rise Again in the Maghreb,” Middle East and North Africa Report no.178, International Crisis Group, July 24, 2017, https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/north-africa/178-h….
19 “U.S. Confirms: Haftar Is Moscow’s Man in Libya,” American Interest, March 25, 2017, https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/03/25/u-s-confirms-haftar-is…; and Thomas Grove, “In Push for Influence In North Africa, Russia Seeks U.S. Backing for Libyan Strongman,” Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-seeks-u-s-support-for-libyan-genera….
20 “Libyan Strongman Haftar Visits Moscow, Discusses Restoration of Statehood and Possible Military Aid,” RT, August 15, 2017, https://www.rt.com/news/399618-libya-haftar-visits-moscow/.
22 “Moscow Apparently Has Forces at Egyptian Base: U.S. Official,” New Arab, March 15, 2017, https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/3/14/moscow-apparently-has-….
23 “Libya’s Parallel Central Bank Issues Banknotes Printed in Russia,” RT, May 26, 2016, https://www.rt.com/business/344475-libya-prints-banknotes-russia/.
24 Lincoln Pigman and Kyle Orton, “Inside Putin’s Libyan Power Play,” Foreign Policy, September 14, 2017, https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/09/14/inside-putins-libyan-power-play/.
25 Paul Goble, “Moscow Laying Groundwork for Deeper Military Involvement in Libya,” Jamestown Foundation, Euroasia Daily Monitor 15, no. 162, November 13, 2018, https://jamestown.org/program/moscow-laying-groundwork-for-deeper-milit…; Mariya Tsvetkova, “Exclusive: Russian Private Security Firm Says It Has Armed Men in East Libya,” Reuters, March 10, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-libya-contractors-idUSKBN16H2….
26 “Russia Sends Troops and Missiles into Libya in Bid to Enforce Stranglehold on the West,”Fox News, October 9, 2018, https://www.foxnews.com/world/russia-sends-troops-and-missiles-into-lib….
27 Neil Hauer, “Russia’s Favorite Mercenaries: Wagner, The Elusive Private Military Company, Has Made Its Way to Africa — with Plenty of Willing Young Russian Volunteers,” The Atlantic, August 27, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/08/russian-merce….
28 Karim Merzan and Elissa Miller, “Libya: From Intervention to Proxy War,” Rafik Hariri Center for Middle East, Atlantic Council, July, 2017, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/images/publications/Libya_From_Interven….
29 Maxim A. Suchkov, “Is Putin Getting Serious on Libya?” Al Monitor, November 15, 2018, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/11/russia-libya-putin-m….
30 Elena Chernenko and Maxim Yusin, “V Livii my ne khotim associirovatsya s odnoi iz storon konflikta” [In Libya, we do not want to associate with any of the parties to the conflict], Kommersant, August 3, 2017, https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/3374208?utm_source=kommersant&utm_medium=….
31 “Russia Urges ‘National Dialogue’ at Libya PM Meeting,” Daily Mail, March 2, 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/arti- cle-4276066/Russia-urges-national-dialogue-Libya-PM-meeting.
32 “Profile: Khalifa Haftar,” Al Jazeera, April 19, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/haftar-vies-power-libya-shifting…).
33 Karim Merzan and Elissa Miller, “Libya: From Intervention to Proxy War,” Rafik Hariri Center for Middle East, Atlantic Council, July 2017, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/images/publications/Libya_From_Interven….
34 Jason Ditz, “U.S. Likely to Establish Permanent Military Presence in Libya,” MPN News, July 11, 2017, https://www.mintpressnews.com/us-likely-to-establish-permanent-military….
35 Robert Cusack, “Russia’s Man in Libya: Moscow Wants to Renew Qadhafi’s Contracts with Haftar,” The New Arab, August 4, 2017, https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2017/8/4/russia-wants-to-keep….
36 “Libyan PM Visits Moscow as Russian Mideast,” Financial Times, March 2, 2017, https://www.ft.com/content/2b9b91e8-fe9b-11e6-96f8-3700c5664d30.
37 Stasa Salacanin, “Weapons Sale: The Key to Russia’s Middle East Agenda,” New Arab, March 13, 2017, https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2017/3/13/weapons-sales-the-k….
38 “President Obama: Libya Aftermath ‘Worst Mistake’ of Presidency,” BBC, April 11, 2016, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36013703.
39 Maxim A. Suchkov, “Is Putin Getting Serious on Libya?” Al-Monitor, November 15, 2018, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/11/russia-libya-putin-m….
40 Nikolay Kozhnov, “Moscow’s Presence in Libya Is a New Challenge for the West,” Chatham House Analysis, May 30, 2017, https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/moscow-s-presence-libya-new….
41 Emil A. Souleimanov and Katarina Petrtylova, “Russia’s Policy toward the Islamic State,” Middle East Policy 22, no. 3 (2015): 66-78.
42 Emil A. Souleimanov, “Mission Accomplished? Russia’s Withdrawal from Syria,” Middle East Policy 23, no. 2 (2016): 108-18.
43 “Libyan PM Visits Moscow as Russian Mideast Ambitions Grow,” Financial Times, March 2, 2017, https://www.ft.com/content/2b9b91e8-fe9b-11e6-96f8-3700c5664d30.
44 Leonid Isaev, “Why Might Russia Need Libya?” Riddle, January 28, 2019, https://www.ridl.io/en/why-might-russia-need-libya/.
45 “Libya Strongman Haftar Hospitalised in France for ‘Heart ConditionTtreatment,’”New Arab, April 12, 2018, https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/4/12/libya-strongman-haftar….