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Tripoli Govt Invites US to Redeploy Troops to NATO-Ravaged Libya to Deter Russia

In the wake of plans voiced by US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to scale back America’s military presence in the region and re-focus its forces globally towards confronting adversaries such as Russia and China, Fathi Bashagha, the interior minister for the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), told Bloomberg that Libya would be happy to help. If the US asks for a base, as the Libyan government we wouldn’t mind – for fighting terrorism, organized crime and keeping foreign countries that intervene at a distance. An American base would lead to stability. Bashagha claimed that the Russians “have a big strategy in Libya and Africa,” emphasizing Libya’s strategic significance if Washington really is worried about Moscow’s push for global influence. The redeployment is not clear to us… But we hope that the redeployment includes Libya so it doesn’t leave space that Russia can exploit. Earlier this week, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu met with the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, to discuss the situation in Libya, stressing the need to fulfill the decisions made at the Berlin conference, and confirming the commitment to Libya’s independence, unity, and territorial integrity. Libya was thrown into chaos in 2011, when a revolt – backed by a NATO bombing campaign – led to the overthrow of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi, and turned the once prosperous North African state into a battlefield divided up by various militant factions. Over the past few years, Haftar’s forces have taken control of most of Libya, apart from the capital, Tripoli. With Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli stalled but still underway, the GNA and LNA finally entered into indirect talks in Moscow in January. This led to the implementation of a ceasefire which still largely holds in Libya, and paved the way for several other meetings between the sides.

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