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

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora