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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.