Military Review

Caravan crossroads

The events in Syria on the eve of the National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, the war against Russia on the diplomatic front, the operation of the Turkish army in Kurdish Afrin and the cleansing of troops banned in Russia “Dzhebhat al-Nusra” in Idlib attract media attention more than anything that happens in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the situation in and around Libya is no less important for the future distribution of forces in the region.

The rivalry of domestic and regional players, among which are the UAE, Egypt and Qatar, moving to the former Jamahiriya weapon and mercenaries through Chad and Sudan, as well as France and Italy, not to mention the initiatives of the United Nations, fully demonstrate what the Middle Eastern contradictions are. Fortunately, to stop the flow of illegal migrants from Africa to the EU, Libya, even if we forget about its oil resources, is a key country. The article presented to the reader is based on the materials of the expert of the Institute of the Middle East A. Bystrov.

Road maps from the sleeve

Field Marshal H. Haftar stated that the Shiratskha Agreement (a political document on resolving the Libyan crisis, signed on December 17 on 2015 in the Moroccan city of Shirat by representatives of the main factions. - E. S.) has expired. All bodies created on its basis, “automatically lost their legitimacy.” Now the Libyan Presidential Council and the Government of National Accord (PNS), led by F. Saraj, and the Eastern Cabinet of Ministers A. Al-Thani, loyal to the House of Representatives in Tobruk, supported by the LNA Commander, operate in Libya. Field Marshal Haftar, considered a political opponent of Saraj.

The draft of the new “road map” is being developed with the participation of Algeria with the involvement of the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader R. Gannouchi. The latter consults on the acceptability of Haftar’s candidacy as the future Minister of Defense with the Tripolitan and Misuratov “brothers”. Moscow and Cairo guaranteed Saraj if he accepted such a project that Haftar and his forces would not attempt to take the Libyan capital by storm. Saraj and his foreign minister made it clear that in the event of such a scenario, a partial easing of the arms embargo is possible. The Government of Libya’s National Accord asks the UN Security Council to provide the coast guard and presidential guard.

From Haftar’s statement and the panic in Tripoli regarding the possible offensive of Tobruk’s forces against the Libyan capital, it follows only that Saraj did not respond to the Russian-Egyptian proposals before the expiration of the Schirath Agreement. The UAE and Egypt, who supported Haftar, did not believe him and were preparing for a forceful solution to the discussions on ways out of the Libyan impasse, including the transfer of agricultural aircraft of enterprises of E. Prins to agricultural aircraft, which can now be used as front-line bombers. the moment the initiative to conduct a military-police operation to combat the slave trade on the coast of Libya in the points around Tripoli ...

Neither election nor war

The upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya should be held before 30 September 2018, but it is clear that the House of Representatives in Tobruk and Hoftar will do everything to derail them. On paper and in official statements when negotiating with Western partners, he and Saraj agree on the need for a universal vote. At the same time, Saraj wants to preserve for himself the post of prime minister. Haftar, who claims that his army will only be subordinate to the newly elected president and parliament, understands that he and his supporters cannot achieve absolute success in the upcoming elections. The field marshal is not willing to obey Saraj, but he can neither subordinate militarily the main areas of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, nor dictate the terms and ensure the outcome of the vote. Most areas of the south of Fezzan are out of his control, like Tripoli. In Benghazi, battles with Islamists, supported by Misurata, periodically flare up.

Besides Haftar and Saraj, there are other centers of power. First of all, it is Misurata, where the positions of opposing compromises with Hoftar are getting stronger. The murder of 18 in December by the mayor of Misrata M. Estevi, who was a supporter of dialogue with him, testifies to this. Experts believe the commander of the strongest clan and armed detachment of the Misrata of the Al-Mars Brigade, S. Badi, who is concentrating troops in the Sirt region to organize an attack on Tobruk’s forces in the town of Jufra, a key point of control over the tracks. in Fezzan and oil crescent deposits.

Former Prime Minister of Libya M. Jebril appeared in November in the Libyan capital, where he revived the activities of the Alliance of National Forces party. He is supported by one of the most powerful armed groups in the capital, the NavaiSi militia, which protects the administrative buildings of Tripoli and the infrastructure of the city. Among other metropolitan politicians are the former ambassador to Abu Dhabi, A. Ali Nayed, associated with Tobruk, and his Libyan Institute for Advanced Study. Chairman of the Presidential Council under Saraj A.-R. Al-Swayli is stimulating an armed confrontation between Haftar’s forces and the missionaries, and at the same time is in talks with the former prime minister from the Islamist General National Congress, H. al-Guveyli. All of them, except Ali Nayed, are opponents of Haftar.

Gaddafi from the clan zintan

The son of the late head of Libya, S. al-Islam Gaddafi, intends to participate in the presidential election. About the beginning of his political activities became known in mid-October. The lawyer of the Gaddafi family, H. al-Zaidi, told Al-Arabiya TV channel that he was participating in the life of Libyan society and was in contact with the leaders of the tribes. 44, the eldest son of M. Gaddafi from his second marriage, was considered by his father as a probable successor.

By education he is an architect and engineer, he studied in Austria and the UK. He graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He headed the father’s international charitable foundation. He was arrested in November 2011 by militias from Zintan when he was driving to the border with Niger. The Court of Appeal in Tripoli on July 24 2015, in absentia, sentenced him to death, accusing him of crimes against the Libyan people committed during the "February 17 revolution." However, the Zintans refused to extradite the prisoner to the city authorities, with whom they had fought after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, and S. Al-Islam was released from prison in early June.

His return to the active political life of Libya is not a Western project to create a new compromise figure. In this capacity, he will not be accepted in Tobruk, Benghazi, Misrata and a number of Tripolitan clans. The advancement of Gaddafi’s son is an initiative of the Zintan clan to counterbalance Haftar. The military expansion to the west of the country and the seizure of the main oil fields of the “Libyan Crescent” the tribal elite of Zintan were alarmed, causing a rise in tension between recent allies. It was the Zintanovites who secretly stimulated the resistance of the tribal groups in central Libya and Fezzan to the military expansion of Haftar in the summer and autumn of 2017.

Al-Islam, in addition to controlling the holdings of foreign families of the former Libyan leader, enjoys the support of the Gadhaf tribe. He was behind the project of embedding Islamists into the political structure of the Libyan Jamahiriya at the last stage of his father’s rule and since then has not only established contacts with a number of Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leaders and jihadists (among them A. Belhadj, the former Libyan Islamic militant group) but compromising on them. Therefore, tripolitans demanded that Zintan issue al-Islam in order to execute it, to close the issue with the possible publication of the dossier.

The participation of Gaddafi’s son in the political process (despite the fact that the clan zintan is the strongest in the country in terms of combat potential) became known a few days after Khaftar’s statement that the army would not obey any political structure without legal support from the people. He called the dialogue between the Libyan parties, including the political agreement reached by them, "an agreement only on paper." According to the LNA commander, the government of national consensus "is endowed with a nonexistent power." According to Haftar, the LNA has been cooperating with the international community for more than a year, launching its own initiatives to achieve the advancement of the political process in Libya, but this “did not lead to any results.”

Haftar essentially disavowed his participation in any agreements with the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord, Saraj, behind whom are Italy and the UN Special Representative for Libya G. Salame. He emphasized the rejection of any schemes of the new Libyan government, where he would not be the commander-in-chief of the security forces. Such statements are supported by his sponsors UAE, Egypt and France. According to Haftar, "Libya is entering a dangerous period of worsening the situation inside the country, especially in the regions." This means a breakdown of peace initiatives and negotiations and a return to the triad power: the House of Representatives in Tobruk, the Tripolitan clans and the government of Saraj, as well as the Western Libyan clan zintan, which put forward its political alternative to break the stalemate.

Qatar provocateur

On January 15, Al-Baqara’s Islamist militants operating in the suburbs of Tripoli attacked a prison in Mitiga Airport and attempted to release prisoners, most of whom are undergoing terrorism cases, including Al-Qaida and "Islamic State" (prohibited in Russia). The attackers met with a rebuff from the airport's special forces deterrent control forces under the Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Saraj National Accord Government. 20 people died in battles and more than 60 were injured. The planes on the take-off field were damaged, and all flights were redirected to Misurata, located 200 kilometers east of the city.

Mitiga is a military airfield that also hosts international flights, as the main air harbor of Tripoli suffered during clashes that broke out in July 2014 between the armed rebels of the Zintan Brigade, loyal to Field Marshal Haftar, and the Dawn of Libya anti-Islamist alliance. Then the infrastructure of this transport hub was destroyed in the battles - 90 per cent of the aircraft were damaged or burned, the control tower was destroyed, the runway required major repairs. In the past, armed clashes have repeatedly led to disruptions in the work of Mitigi. But the forces of Huftar or the “Zintan Brigade” have nothing to do with the latest events.

The conflict was not exhausted by the desire of the Al-Bakar fighters to release the supporters arrested by members of the main police force in Tripoli of the Rada Brigade under the command of A. Qara, whose units are the main guarantors of the security of the Government of Saraj National Accord. It was precisely against the latter that armed provocation was directed. This was preceded by preparatory negotiation work between the commander of Al-Bakar, B. Khalfallah, and two representatives of the pro-Cathar platform in the Islamist wing of Tripoli, the former Prime Minister of Al-Gwayli and the radical mufti of Libya, S. Al-Garyani.

At the same time, Al-Bakar officially entered the Libyan army under the name "33 Infantry Brigade", which until recently was subordinated to the government of Saraj. Both of the above-mentioned Tripolitan warlords are currently trying to weaken Saraj in his attempts to coordinate with Haftar the creation of a unified government and army. Negotiations on this topic were held all January in Cairo under the auspices of the Egyptian President, and a tripartite meeting was held with the participation of A.F.A.-Sisi, Haftar and Saraj and the announcement of breakthrough decisions on this topic. Events in Mitig - an attempt to disrupt this process and discredit the powers of Saraj, demonstrating that he “not sufficiently” can control even his own army.

At the same time, the events in Mitigue made it possible to reorient the main air traffic to the airport controlled by Qatari and Turks in Misrata, blocking the supply of material and technical support from Italy and the United Nations to the Saraj government. Doha stands behind this, having strengthened recently the financing of subversive operations both by direct sponsorship of their creatures in Libya and by the transfer of caravans with weapons across the Sudan-Chad-Libyan border to controlled units. The main goal of Doha is to disrupt the general elections in Libya and avoid blocking supporters in Misrata.

Note that the attempt of the Qataris and their satellites failed. Saraj demonstrated the managerial potential and degree of influence on the troops in the part of the army under his control. On his side in the events, in addition to the "Brigade of the Rada", took part 10 of various armed groups. Among them are Tripolitans under the command of H. Tajuri and H. Al-Kikli. They received information about the situation directly from the Americans, who used the reconnaissance aircraft based on the Italian island of Pantelleria and patrolling over the Libyan capital during battles. This suggests that the United States has a direct channel for the exchange of intelligence information with relevant structures of Saraj.

Sudan, Chad and smuggling

The Libyan armed forces (with the participation of the Air Force) conducted a large-scale military operation against armed gangs from Chad south of the Jagbub oasis in the direction of Kufra, near the border strip with Egypt. A convoy of off-road cars was discovered by French pilots (a group of French combat aircraft and helicopters based on an air force base near Benghazi), which transmitted its coordinates to Libyan air forces. Kufra’s oasis lies at the intersection of logistic channels for arms smuggling and illegal migration flows. The main role in smuggling is played by the Sudanese corridor and the border areas of Chad. The attack shows that caravans with weapons (in this case, Qatari) continue to go to Libya.

About a month ago, under pressure from Riyadh, Khartoum announced a tightening of border control measures and threw new Janjaweed forces there, eliminating the insurrection of one of the field commanders of this formation, who decided to control the flow of weapons without instructions from Khartoum. The transfer of cargo to Chad and from there to Libya suggests that Sudanese intelligence services (they stand behind all the smuggling through the country - from weapons to fuel and migrants) changed the scheme, focusing on Chadian logistic routes. Thus, the formal role of Khartoum in these operations is minimized and Riyadh calms down.

The use of Chad transit for the Sudanese special services is not a big deal due to the transparency of the borders and the presence in the adjacent territories in this region of one tribal group - the Zaghawa. Of them consists of JEM. It was created during the struggle of ethnic Zahawa against Khartoum to obtain social autonomy and the incorporation of members of this group into the official security forces of Sudan. It was headed by I. Khalil, who was a member of the Zaghawa tribe and used Chad as a rear base.

At that time, he enjoyed the support of the Chadian president I. Déby (also Zaghawa) and was in contact with the leadership of the embassy residencies of the French and American intelligence services in N'Djamena. After Debi was reconciled with Sudanese President O. Al-Bashir, the need for Khalil from the Chadian leader disappeared. He began to fear him because of the struggle in the tribal top Zaghawa. Khalil was ambushed during a transition from Chad to Sudan after returning from Libya. Experts associate the awareness of Sudanese special services with a tip from N'Djamena. The group was headed by Khalil Hussein’s brother.

Soon, the JEM broke up, a significant part reconciled with Khartoum and joined the Janjaweed, while the rest, headed by Hussein, made their way to South Sudan, where they fought on the side of the authorities against the Nuer rebels of former Vice President R. Mashar. There, they are still part of the security system of the southern Sudanese President S. Kiir. In Kufra, a part of the JEM is “reconciled” with Khartoum. Libyan intelligence services from the time of Gaddafi fed the JEM and used it, among other things, to destabilize the situation in Sudan (Gaddafi’s relations with al-Bashir were ambiguous). During the overthrow of the Libyan leader, Khalil, along with his then still united group, fought on the side of Gaddafi. So the territory of Libya is well known to supporters of the JEM and they have established contacts with local tribes.

The fact that the French reconnaissance aircraft brought Haftar’s “Libyan Army” air force (or, more precisely, the PMC E. Prins planes) on caravans with weapons confirms once again: they were Qatari and the weapons were being dispatched to Misrata’s forces. This shows that Doha is not yet set to participate in the UN proposed plan for resolving the Libyan crisis and is trying to disrupt the elections. The use of smuggling to pro-gay groups of the Chadian territory (Debi is formally an ally of Huftar) is understandable: Doha pays well for services. Sudanese’s reorientation of part of the smuggling channels to Chad brings a considerable income to local authorities ...
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  1. andrewkor
    andrewkor 1 February 2018 06: 18
    For a long time, the murder of harmonious leaders will be echoed!
    1. jjj
      jjj 1 February 2018 14: 03
      Yesterday, Yevgeny Yanovich said that in addition to the existing forces, China is being drawn into future events in the Horn of Africa
      1. antivirus
        antivirus 1 February 2018 22: 04
        in short, Nigeria’s oil and gas weren’t divided and the main global players didn’t allow to build pipelines from the Gulf of Guinea through Libya (it is the weakest, which means it will accept transit payments for mines) - where:
        1) to Italy or
        2) to Greece (and where further?) - the United States (and not only them) are against, or
        3) immediately to France from Tunisia.
        "For you everywhere ..."
        Do they give the Persian Gulf to China (and the masterful Qatar)? not letting him into the Middle Sea and Europe.
        Where are the Persians and Azerbaijan in this tangle?

        ... "what is Russian doing?"
        - "warming up red"
    2. kush62
      kush62 3 February 2018 20: 31
      andrewkor February 1, 2018 06:18
      For a long time, the murder of harmonious leaders will be echoed!

      In the word, as many as 4 errors laughing
  2. Monster_Fat
    Monster_Fat 1 February 2018 08: 09
    Well, all these "emirates" are the main destabilizing factor. Once they are "removed" and the region itself will find a "stable" position, not without war and blood, but it will.