News / Africa

Russian Envoy Tries to Mediate Libya Civil War

Russian envoy Mikhail Margelov (2009 file photo)
Russian envoy Mikhail Margelov (2009 file photo)
James Brooke

An envoy of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meets Tuesday in Benghazi with leaders of Libya’s opposition.

But the envoy, Mikhail Margelov, is not expected to travel onward to the Libyan capital, Tripoli. In fact, foreign policy analysts in Moscow are not predicting much success for the Russian mediation effort in Libya’s civil war.

Fyodor Lyukanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, says, “Russia does not have so much to offer Libya. Gadhafi is not an exclusive partner of Russia. Russia has not much leverage on him, and I would even guess that Colonel Gadhafi maybe would prefer not Russian, but African mediation.”

Lyukanov says that Libya’s leader, Moammar Gadhafi, now sees Russia as taking the side of NATO in the conflict. After abstaining in the United Nations vote in March authorizing NATO to enforce a no-fly zone, Russia basically sat on the fence during the first two months of NATO’s military action.

Then, 10 days ago, at the recent Group of Eight summit in France, President Medvedev had a long talk with U.S. President Barack Obama about Libya.  Emerging from the meeting, the Russian president said he had agreed to try to mediate, but he also told reporters, “Gadhafi’s regime has lost its legitimacy - he has to go.”

After that comment, Libyan officials in Tripoli started to say that Russia was now aligning itself with Western powers in their attempt to unseat Mr. Gadhafi.  As a result, the Russian envoy has not won permission to travel to Tripoli.

Finding new home for Gadhafi

Margelov has said his job is to find a new home for the Libyan leader, mentioning Qatar and Saudi Arabia as countries that might offer asylum. The Russian envoy has said that Western officials have talked about different possibilities for the Libyan leader - “from a quiet life as a simple Bedouin in the Libyan desert” to becoming a defendant at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Evgeniy Satanovsky, president of Moscow’s Near Eastern Study Institute, predicted that Mr. Gadhafi will cling to power as long as possible. He compared the Libyan leader to dictators like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein or Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who fled his country Sunday after being wounded by a rebel attack on his palace.

“People like Saddam Hussein, or President Saleh, he want power to the last second," said Satanovsky. "He want to be on the top as the leader of his country. But Russia has a chance.”

Russia: Striving for neutrality

While Libyan officials say that Russia now sides with NATO, Russian officials have strived to stay neutral. Russian officials worried openly about the fate of $4 billion in arms contracts with the Gadhafi government.

Early in the campaign, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin compared the European attack on Tripoli to “a medieval call to the Crusades.”

On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that NATO attacks were “either consciously or unconsciously sliding towards a land operation."

The comments were triggered by NATO’s first use on Saturday of attack helicopters inside Libya. Previously, NATO relied on attack jets generally flying above 4,500 meters.

In reaction, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Sunday that NATO is moving beyond its mandate to control Libya’s airspace.  He said, “We think it clearly takes one side of the conflict."

Russia split over Libya?

Russia’s seeming split over Libya reflects a wider, conservative approach to the street revolutions generally known as "the Arab Spring."

Satanovsky says the “so-called Arab Spring is not a spring. It opened the gates to power for radical islamists.”

Russia’s caution toward revolution comes from having experienced two major revolutions in the 20th century - the communist uprising in 1917 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

“Experience how quickly euphoria about revolution disappears and will be replaced by completely different reality," said Yukanov. "This is the Russian experience.”

With this deep skepticism of revolution prevailing in Moscow, some analysts there see President Medvedev’s move to break with Mr. Gadhafi as a victory for President Obama’s policy of engaging Russia - a policy known as the "reset."

You May Like

Sunni-Shi’ite Divide Threatens Middle East Stability

Analysts say ancient dispute that traces back to Islamic Revolution is fueling modern day unrest More

Shifting Demographics Lie Beneath Racial Tensions in Ferguson

As Missouri suburb morphed from majority white to majority black, observers say power structure remained static More

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Restriction is toughest since Soviet era, though critics reject move as patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid