Published: November 07, 2019
As a land mass, Libya is enormous. It's three times the size of Texas and about seven times larger than the UK. And yet, we know so little about this North African nation. You probably don't know this, most people don't, but for the past five years Libya has been enveloped by a civil war. It is the Tobruk (the House of Representatives) versus the General National Congress.
While it may sound purely political, this is true military warfare.
Who does know about it? Vladimir Putin, for sure!
For years the Russians have been investing money and weapons in order to sway the outcome of the conflict. They are rooting for and supporting the Tobruk. And now — and I mean right now — Russia hasput specialists with experience on the ground in Libya.
The numbers are, of course, fuzzy. This is Russia we are dealing with.
But we do know that there are dozens of Russian snipers, Russian hardware and at least 200 Russian soldiers in Libya. Russian weaponry includes guided missiles and fighter jets. And there are many, many Russian mercenaries.
These mercenaries function as a private Russian army and they are extremely useful.
Because they are not soldiers, the mercenaries are unshackled and can do things an army cannot do. They are not bound by the Geneva Convention or, in many cases, their consciences.
Loyalty does not comprise their methods of operation.
They are, quite literally, hired guns and they are in it only for the money.
Hundreds of drones are also being used by the Russians in Libya. The drones are operated by people with great experience in civil wars. Their training ground was Syria. And these Russian soldiers and the mercenaries came to this civil war after having gained vast experience and bona fides in that civil war torn country.
What is the reason for Russia's interest in Libya?
It's more than just another example of how Putin and Russia are outsmarting everyone else. And it's more than another illustration of Russia's flexing of mighty military muscle and increasing its influence in the Mideast.
The answer has three letters: O-I-L.
Oil reserves in Libya are immense.
Despite internal conflict, Libya is still pumping 1.3 million barrels of oil per day.
Compare that to Iran which is pumping 250,000 barrels per day, or even to Saudi Arabia the second largest producer of oil in the world which is pumping 12 million barrels, that is 12% of the entire world's oil, per day.
All this with a war being waged within.
And getting oil from Libya is much easier than getting it from those countries.
Libya sits only 300 miles off the coast of Italy so its proximity to Europe is another very important reason to secure those oil fields.
Moving the oil via pipeline or tanker is simple.
In other words, Libya is a valuable asset to acquire.
So why, you may ask, hasn't the United States stepped in?
We are after all, stronger smarter and more powerful than Russia. The answer to that question is: Isolationism.
There are important reasons for a country, even a powerful country like the U.S. and even in the year 2019, to practice isolationism. Some are selfish reasons, but admirable nonetheless. Keeping U.S. troops out of harm's ways is about as primary as you can get and it seems to have become a priority for President Donald J. Trump.
Unlike the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin does not care about these issues or these troops like the United States does. That means that the United States is engaging in foreign policy with a disadvantage from the outset. U.S. foreign policy is becoming more and more a diplomatic mission and less a military mission. It will take years before we can properly evaluate the success or failure of that strategy.
In the meantime, in the here and now, Russia knows what it wants and has figured out how to get it. Russia knows what is at stake in Libya and beyond. Putin has his eye on the money and on the oil. In Libya he can get both and reap a tremendous profit for a very tiny investment. All that with almost no opposition and no contenders.
For Putin, the civil war tearing Libya apart is an advantage. It was his easy way in.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now. source