Bashagha Claims Russia Supports Gaddafi Loyalists to Regain Power – Al Marsad

Bloomberg revealed Saturday an upcoming visit to the United States by the Interior Minister of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Fathi Bashagha, without specifying the date of the visit, noting that he is currently in Tunisia. In a sudden change in rhetoric, Bashagha now accuses Russia  of assisting the supporters of the late Muammar Gaddafi.

[Libya, 10 November 2019] – The US-based news network said it had interviewed Bashagha in Tunis before heading to Washington, noting in its report that he asked the United States to stop “Russian intervention” in Libya, but did not indicate whether the visit was coordinated according to diplomatic protocols, or through US public relations firms that received millions of dollars from the Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

Bashagha accused the Russians of meddling in the months-long ongoing battles in Tripoli to extend their sphere of influence to the North African oil rich country.

The GNA Minister of the Interior referred to the counter-terrorism Cooperation between Libya and the United States. “The counter terrorism cooperation with the U.S. that led to a series of devastating airstrikes on Islamic State in September was continuing, but the war launched by eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar provided fertile grounds for the terrorist organization to regroup,” Bashagha told Bloomberg.

According to Bashagha the “United Nations-led efforts to persuade regional powers that have intervened on both sides of the conflict to deescalate have been complicated by a growing deployment of Russian mercenaries who are now fighting alongside Haftar’s forces on the stalled battle lines near Tripoli. The mercenaries are employed by the Wagner Group, headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an associate of President Vladimir Putin.”

The GNA Minister of the Interior said, ”the Russians have intervened to pour fuel on the fire and enhance the crisis rather than finding a solution. The proof is their deployment of Wagner to Libya. They had sent it to Syria before, and central Africa, and wherever Wagner goes destruction happens.”

In this interview Bashagha changed his usual rhetoric of accusing Moscow of backing the Libyan National Army (LNA) to now that of Russia assisting the supporters of the regime of the late Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. He told Bloomberg that the Russians are supporting what he described as the remnants of the former regime in their alleged quest to regain power after their regime was toppled in a ‘rebellion’ backed by the NATO air forces in 2011.” He told Bloomberg that the alleged Russian support aims at “boosting its influence in Africa and on Europe’s southern flank.”

Bashagha called on the United States to play an ‘active role’ in the Libyan conflict. “The US has an obligation, moral and legal, toward Libya. The US was a strong partner in bringing down the old regime. It should cooperate with us Libyans to restore stability and security. We call on the US to play an effective role, and we are prepared for full cooperation with the US and the United Nations.”

Russian officials have denied all such allegations about the presence of Russian mercenaries in Libya. “I categorically reject speculation of this kind,” the state-run TASS news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying. “We don’t believe there are grounds to make assertions and speculations like this.”

The Libyan National Army’s Brigadier General Khalid al-Mahjoub, said that the accusations of the presence of Russian mercenaries in the ranks of the army by GNA officials lacked any credible evidence, and Tripoli is trying desperately to keep the focus of the news away from the severe losses that GNA-aligned militias are facing on the ground.

@ Al Marsad English (2019).