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Reason Behind Pentagon's Concerns Over Increasing Russian Influence in N Africa

© AFP 2023 / Abdullah DOMA A picture taken on a boat of Libyan naval forces during a patrol shows a view of buildings, including abandoned Omar Khayyam hotel, in the port district in Libya's second city Benghazi on November 20, 2016
A picture taken on a boat of Libyan naval forces during a patrol shows a view of buildings, including abandoned Omar Khayyam hotel, in the port district in Libya's second city Benghazi on November 20, 2016 - Sputnik International
The Pentagon’s concerns over Russia’s increasing contacts with Libyan politicians and military officials stem from the fact that the United States is losing control over the situation in North Africa, according to military expert and journalist Igor Korotchenko.

Earlier, Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of US Africa Command, expressed concern about contacts between Russian and Libyan politicians and military officials.

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"It is very concerning. […] Russia is trying to exert influence on the ultimate decision of who becomes, and what entity becomes, in charge of the government inside Libya," Walhdauser said during a Senate hearing.

The reasons behind such statements by the Pentagon is the fact that Washington is losing control over the current military and political processes in North Africa and in the Middle East, Igor Korotchenko, a Russian military expert and editor of "National Defense" magazine, told Sputnik.

According to the expert, the statement was "biased" because Russia endorses the responsible forces in Libya, in order to establish order and end hostilities between various armed groups controlling different parts of the country.

"First of all, contacts between the Russian and Libyan militaries are aimed at initiating broad dialogue on security and contributing to stabilization in the region. This would be helpful not only for the region, but also for southern Europe, taking into account the scope of the ongoing refugee crisis," Korotchenko said.

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After in 2011 Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled and killed, the country has been plunged in a deep crisis. The country is currently ruled by two governments, by a nation-wide elected parliament in Tobruk, in eastern Libya, and by the General National Congress in Tripoli. At the same time, some parts of the country are not controlled by the government as they are seized by armed groups, including Daesh.

Backed by the UN, a government of national accord led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj was established. However, it was not supported by the parliament in Tobruk.

The Libyan National Army is not under command of the UN-backed government in Tripoli. Gen. Haftar is supported by the Tobruk-based government.

In recent years, Moscow has been building ties with Libyan National Army commander General Khalifa Haftar controlling the east part of the country.
Earlier this month, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it is ready to work closely with all parties in Libya in search of mutually acceptable solutions toward ensuring sustainable development and a resolution of the crisis in the country.

According to Lev Dengov, the head of a contact group on intra-Libyan settlement comprising officials from the Russian Parliament and the Foreign Ministry, all major forces involved in the power struggle in Libya have been interested in winning Russia’s support due to Moscow’s rising influence in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

"Libya needs support at the moment. In particular from Russia since everyone understands that Russia has improved its stance in the Mediterranean. Following the Syrian scenario everyone understands that Russia has strengthened its geopolitical positions and is the key dialogue partner on the matter," he told Radio Sputnik.

Commenting on the ongoing crisis in Libya, Korotchenko underscored that the situation is a result of the "reckless policy" by the US and NATO.

"At the time, they used a UN resolution on no-fly zones in Libya for its extended interpretation and for a military aggression against the Libyan government led by Gaddafi. As a result, there is chaos and loss of control," Korotchenko said.

He continued: "Russia is ready for contacts with the Libyan military in order to strengthen those forces in Libya that want to take the responsibility for the country’s future."

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