Baraq-Hillary smart power at work:https://www.wsj.com/articles/nato-official-sounds-alarm-on-russia-libya-role-1490458620
By Laurence Norman
March 25, 2017 12:17 p.m. ET
BRUSSELS—Russia’s role in Libya is causing growing concern at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a senior official said Saturday, with the Kremlin appearing to throw its support behind Gen. Khalifa Haftar, a rival of the United Nations-backed coalition government in Tripoli.
“I am very concerned about Russian forces seemingly gathering to influence the situation there. It troubles me very much,” said Rose Gottemoeller, a deputy secretary general at NATO.
Speaking at the Brussels Forum annual foreign policy conference, she noted that Russia had backed the United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at gathering international support behind the fragile national unity government. However, she said it seemed that “there was a decision made in the Kremlin to simply toss out that” resolution.
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“The fact that they have turned to the General now—to General Haftar—and they’re putting an emphasis on working with him…that’s not the attempt at establishing a government of national unity that was established by the UN Security Council resolution,” she told reporters later.
European countries have lobbied Russia to use its influence with Gen. Haftar, who has received support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, to get him to reconcile with the UN-backed Tripoli Government of National Accord, led by Faiez Serraj.
“I actually hope we could get Russia to recommit to the UN Security Council resolution,” Ms. Gottemoeller said. “They voted for it and they are a respected member of the UN Security Council. Why are they suddenly heading off in another direction?”
Gen. Haftar, seen by critics as a would-be autocrat in the mold of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, has traveled to Moscow twice in the past eight years and has requested weaponry, people close to the Kremlin have said, despite a U.N. arms embargo.
Moscow says it maintains contact with all sides in Libya in the interest of finding a political solution to divisions in the country. Russia has denied that it has sent any Russian soldiers to aid Gen. Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which controls much of the eastern part of the country.
Ms. Gottemoeller cited media reports suggesting Russia was building up forces in Egypt, near Libya. The Russian Defense Ministry declined to comment on her remarks.
Washington has largely kept its distance from Gen. Haftar, who has had links to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and was part of an effort to oust Gadhafi in the late 1980s.
U.S. forces in Libya have focused on fighting Islamic State. They have conducted aerial strikes and last year U.S.-backed forces ousted Islamic State from the coastal city of Sirte, the group’s stronghold.
The Government of National Accord sent a request to NATO in February for help to improve its security and defenses.
NATO had agreed at a summit last year that it would offer support to the government, which Europe wants as a bulwark against migration from the North African country.
Ms. Gottemoeller said the alliance is “looking for ways to help” build up national institutions in the country, possibly through training the national army. NATO is also working with the EU in a naval operation in the Mediterranean to help fight migrant-smuggling gangs.
—Thomas Grove in Moscow contributed to this article.
Write to Laurence Norman at email@example.com