No big step but signal expected for Russian mediation in Libya

Given the sharp contrast between the two sides in Libya's civil war, the achievement, if any, of Russian envoy's visit to the opposition base Benghazi is only sending a message to the embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi that his ally is moving further away from him.
Smoke is seen after a strong explosion in Libya's capital Tripoli as NATO airstrikes hit the area on June 7

Analysts in Libya are not expecting big success from the mediation efforts of Mikhail Margelov, Russian presidential envoy on Africa affairs, who arrived in Benghazi Tuesday and met with the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil.
The Gaddafi regime now is having less trust and confidence on Russia, which has changed its stance dramatically from criticizing the NATO-led air operation in Libya to joining the call for Gaddafi's departure, said Fathi Ali, a politics professor of Benghazi-based Garyounis University.
Russia forged a close tie with the Gaddafi regime through decades-long military assistance and emerging economic cooperation. Nearly all the weapons in Libyan arsenals were bought from Russia. The two countries also signed contracts in railway construction and oil exploration in recent years.
However, the announcement by Russian President Dimitry Medvedev at the recent G8 summit that Gaddafi must leave confused the Libyan government and suggested a step towards the opposition in Benghazi.
It seems that Russia wants to pay the price for abandoning its one-time ally in exchange with the West for more influence in other regions of the world, Ali said. "Thus, Russia does not have so much to offer in the mediation."
The disappointed Tripoli will even rely more on the African Union than Russia to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, analysts said.
There has been no confirmed information whether Margelov would travel to the Libyan capital Tripoli for talks.
For the opposition's side, whose firm stand to oust the current regime is fortified by military progress recently, Russia's mediation would not succeed unless it pressures Gaddafi to step down.
Opposition fighters aided by NATO air strikes have controlled the western mountain area, including Zintan, a city only 100 km from Tripoli.
In the deadlocked eastern front, attacks have also been launched to drive Gaddafi's forces from the eastern coastal city of Brega. Once capturing Brega and the key oil town of Ras Lanuf, the opposition's front-line is expected to push westward to Tripoli for 200 km.
The military advance plus increasing contacts with major world powers have boosted the opposition's determination that no initiative could be accepted unless it involves Gaddafi's departure, said Fathi Baja, head of the Politics and International Affairs Committee of the NTC.
If there is any significance of Russian envoy's visit, it is a message to push the people around Gaddafi and his inner circle to leave the regime as soon as possible, Baja said.
"Despite more than 10,000 NATO strikes in three months, Gaddafi will cling to power to the last second, but senior officials seeing the strongman losing more and more allies including Russia would consider where their future lies," he said, "Russian envoy's visit to Benghazi is an indirect pressure on Gaddafi."

0 Post a Comment: