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    Russia's Position in the Med Prompts One More Arab Country to Seek Moscow's Help

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    All major forces engaged 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, Lev Dengov, who heads a contact group on intra-Libyan settlement comprising officials from the State Duma and the Russian Foreign Ministry, told Radio Sputnik.

    "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 said.

    Dengov also said that "everyone wants to see Russia on their side," referring to key forces embroiled in the Libyan conflict.

    "We have met [tribal leaders] recently. They told us that they want Russia to support them. In January, we went to the Libyan city of Misrata, home to several key stakeholders. They were the ones who organized the operation to destroy Daesh in the city of Sirte," he said, adding that one Libyan field commander told them that dialogue with Russia could be a success since not a single Russian has spilled Libyan blood and vice versa.

    Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 NATO intervention which led to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi being overthrown and killed. The country, torn apart by warring tribal militias, was ruled by two parliaments and two governments until December 2015 when they established the UN-backed Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. One of the parties later refused to cooperate.

    "I have not met a single person in Libya's south, west or east who told us that they don't need Russia," Dengov observed, adding that Moscow has been in touch will all key forces in the conflict-ridden Arab country.

    This is something that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavorv said on March 2 during a meeting with Prime Minister Sarraj. "We are in touch with absolutely all Libyan parties that must reach an agreement under the UN Security Council resolution," he noted.

    Dengov further said that he came to Libya in 2008.

    "It turned out that at that time I met people who are currently key players in different political movements in Libya. In May 2015, I brought a delegation comprising Khalid Haftar, the son of General Khalifa Haftar, and his first military advisor to Russia. Following that visit, Haftar and Moscow have been increasingly in contact. He visited Moscow twice and met with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to discuss numerous issues," he narrated.

    The Russian official also mentioned the September 2015 incident which saw the crew of the Mekhanik Chebotaryov oil tanker detained off the Libyan coast.

    "When it happened, I was fortunate to get in touch with Sarraj. Due to his direct involvement the last three seamen from the Mekhanik Chebotaryov oil tanker were freed. My opinion of him is that of a rather good politician. The fact that he came to Russia is important to us since Russia has adhered to a position of communicating will all key players instrumental to the peaceful resolution of the Libyan conflict. This is why I think that this is a positive visit," he said.

    During his visit to Moscow, Sarraj reaffirmed that Libya is determined to foster political, economic and military dialogue with Russia, calling on foreign partners to help the conflict-ridden country tackle its troubles. "We are convinced that Russia could play such a prestigious part taking into account its ties with various forces in Libya," he said.

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    Tags:
    geopolitics, conflict resolution, Libyan Government of National Accord, Khalifa Haftar, Fayez al-Sarraj, Sergei Lavrov, Mediterranean Sea, Middle East, Libya, Russia
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