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5 obstacles Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will have to address in their meeting

When Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet, they will have to overcome more than just the present political crisis in the US. They will have to overcome and understand history. Eurasia is the key.

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With all the fuss over Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meeting later this week at the G20 summit, many have conspicuously failed to grasp that the monumental task ahead of both leaders has little to do with their own period in government and even less to do with their personalities. These things of course do matter, but their importance is dwarfed by larger historical and present economic and geo-strategic concerns.

With that in mind, here are the giant obstacles that both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will be faced with when they meet.

 1. Spheres of Influence 

The modern day struggle between Washington and Moscow is an ideological conflict which masks an even more sinister competition for global influence. The fact of the matter is Donald Trump like many Americans, respects Russia’s Orthodox traditions and Russia as a satisfied Orthodox power does not seek to impose its culture or social system on anyone else.

But when it comes to economic and geo-strategic spheres of influence, both countries are in direct competition. This is largely due to America’s hegemonic view that the entire planet is it’s literal sphere of influence.

Russia would be all too happy for America to present Russia with an agreement whereby Russia is entitled to exercise economic, geo-political and commercial influence in its natural spheres of influence while allowing America to exert power over hers.

Russia’s natural sphere of influence is Eurasia including the Caucuses, central Asia, the Turkic world and much of the Arab world. Insofar as this is the case, Russia would have to and is willing and able to cooperate with Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India, countries which are all key regional powers themselves, though not superpowers as the US, Russia and China are.

America would not be asked to forfeit many of its existing goals in these regions, but America would have to go back to the drawing board and accept a commercial relationship rather than an overt political relationship with these regions.

This is of course nearly an impossible task given the geo-strategic thinking of American big business and the deep state. That being said, Donald Trump’s commercial sense means he is more ideally suited to at least discuss this reality than any other realistic would-be US President at this time in history or in the foreseeable future.

2. Asia 

Russia’s extremely important alliance with China is a major stumbling block to good US-Russia relations.

It could well be a permanent stumbling block for reasons which predate the existence of the United States and the British Empire from which the US seceded on the 4th of July.

With the exceptions of what in hindsight were minor periods of disquiet in the 17th century and 20th century, Russia and China have always had a good relationship. China and Russia will always be neighbours and the overall historical trajectory of this relationship indicates that China and Russia have generally served as complimentary rather than adversarial neighbours.

It is wise to remember that since the end of the Mongolian Golden Horde, Russia has generally had far better relations with the Asian powers than with any other powers of the world. Russia is largely an Asian/oriental power after all.

The fact that Russia and China have so completely patched up the disputes of the 20th century is a testament to the fact that the Sino-Soviet split was a period of aberrational rather than archetypal relations between the two great powers.

Between Russia and China, two of the three world super-powers dominate the geo-politics and economics of Eurasia and East Asia.

In this sense, the US is both outnumbered and geographically outmatched.

Russia’s relationship with India remains strong in spite of India’s ability as a post-non-aligned power to play China, Russia and America against each other.

While India will doubtlessly continue to do this for short or even medium term historical gain, India’s geography and her economic strengths dictate that in the longer term future, it will be necessary for New Delhi to economically cooperate with Beijing. Russia is of course the glue that could hold this marriage of convenience and also of necessity together.

Turning to the Middle Eastern edge of Asia, Russia has had an on-again off-again relationship with Iran. It’s past wars, particularly those of the 18th and early 19th century were territorial disputes which have long been put to bed. For this reason alone, let alone many other more pressing current matters, Iran and Russia’s partnership looks set to last.

Turkey by contrast has been Russia’s historic Eurasian enemy, one which often bound Iran and Russia together against a common foe.

Turkey’s position in NATO means that Turkey has the ability to play both sides against one another, but unlike India which has economic interests with China, Russia and the American led west, Turkey is increasingly finding its economic interests to be squarely in line with Russia and with Russian partners.

While Turkey is a key Eurasian power, ultimately she still needs to choose to be allied with one of the super-powers. Just as sure as America has pushed Turkey away, Turkey has learned that its economic future is more closely linked with Russia than with any of the other superpowers.

The conclusion of this is a ‘New Silk Road’ by default. The fact that China with Russia’s support is building such a project by design, the One Belt–One Road project, is simply a manifestation of how each of the aforementioned countries are aware of the inevitability of a new silk road as something necessary for the prosperity of each nation. While getting all the powers with their own histories of disputes to cooperate in respect of building the New Silk Road is no easy task, it is actually an easier task than getting Russia and  China to submit themselves to America. It is no longer 1989, such an idea is fantasy in 2017.

In this sense, while there will be some bumps along the New Silk Road, it will be build and Russia and China will lead the way with India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey leading very close behind.

In this sense, historic trends have automatically shut America out of much of Asia. The only two real Asian allies the US still has are South Korea and Japan.

Pakistan is increasingly looking for opportunities elsewhere and due to the wisdom of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines has decided to align itself more closely with China, which also allows Manila to develop close ties with Moscow as in the 21st century, having mutually good relations with Moscow and Beijing is no longer a conflict of interests for Asian powers as it was through much of the 20th century.

Duterte was the first leader of a medium sized Asian power to realise that the choice is between that of US post-colonial style domination or showing respect to the real king of the region, the super-power of China which in turn offers Asian countries more in pragmatic terms than the increasingly distant US is capable of offering.

In this sense, it is not up to Putin or Trump whether America gets its much coveted Asian prize. Asia is China’s and China and Russia are co-equal allies.

America can fight this if it wishes to experience infamy or it can accept this if it wants to play some role in the commercial future of a region it no longer has the ability to dominate or even subdue.

In other words, in respect of America giving up on Asia “We can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way”.

3. Europe 

Whereas America ought to realise that it has no overarching future in Asia or Eurasia, Russia has bravely realised it has no future with Europe other than a few commercial transactions, mainly in the field of energy.

Europe is one of the few places on earth where hatred of Russia is in the collective political DNA.

It was Europe which fought more wars against Russia than any other region. The hatred of Russia in the elite circles of its former battle field adversaries in Warsaw/Vilnius, Stockholm, Berlin, Vienna, Paris and London has not gone away. In recent years it has increased. Europe has increasingly little to offer Russia and the inverse is also largely true. Europe has willed it so.

The exceptions to this trend are in southern Europe. The Orthodox powers of the Balkans have always looked to Moscow as a spiritual guide and increasingly, as the EU’s position in the Mediterranean becomes untenable, it is highly likely that in future decades Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Cyprus and possibly even Roumania will look more to Moscow than to Berlin or Paris–let alone London. As this is a part of the world which holds no appeal to Donald Trump, he is better placed than many to allow this to happen without much of a fight.

His visceral hatred of the Germanic EU is yet another boon to such a future phenomenon.

Catholic Southern Europe may not feel a fraternal connection to Russia as the Orthodox countries of southern Europe do, but nor do they harbour any real ill will towards Russia.

Likewise, the two small Muslim countries of southern-Europe, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania are totally removed from the issue. Bosnia is already a neo-Turkish colony in all but name and if America eventually gives up on its aggressive project for an imperial Albania, Turkey would likely step in to fill the gap. In many ways Turkey is readying itself for such an eventuality.

The burgeoning relationship between Turkey and Russia means that a Turkish-Russian “partnership” could if anything help restrain Albanian aggression against Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Macedonia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted at such a stance when he publicly condemned the Greater Albania project for regional Albanian imperial aggression.

The recent spat between the major European powers and the US over possible US sanctions that would prohibit the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to the EU demonstrates just how weak and compromised Europe is vis-a-vis both Russia and the United States.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin could foreseeably bond over their ability to play Europe against itself in a tug of war between Europe’s pathological anti-Russian hatred and its greedy desire for cheap Russian gas delivered via a regional pipeline  vis-a-vis American liquefied natural gas which would be coming from the other side of the Atlantic.

Unlike most European elites, America’s elites generally do not have a pathological hatred of Russia. They often adopt it with Hollywood like zeal, but many are personally unconvinced of it. Many more simply do not care, most Americans know nothing about Russia, something which is actually an asset when it comes to pragmatic businesslike relations that Europe is incapable of due to its inability to let go of the past.

The CNN producer who recently admitted that Russiagate is “bullshit” is typical of the American opportunist who will say and pretend to believe anything for publicity but in reality will share a beer with anyone at the local bar–including a Russian, something which cannot often be said for the more zealous Europeans. This applies to Donald Trump, only the beer will be a Diet Coke.

If Trump and Putin can exploit Europe mutually, it would go a long way towards calming tensions, especially on Russia’s borderlands which NATO seeks to subdue, though for little practical economic gain. Unlike Asia, eastern Europe has little of value in the 21st century for any major power. If anyone can realise this, it is Donald Trump. Asia is a prize America simply cannot win. The streets of Riga and Lvov are nothing to be desired for any major power at this stage–not Russia nor the United States. It is only the US who is trying to claim this non-prize at this point in history.

4. Latin America and Africa 

Russia’s post-Soviet relationship with Latin America and Africa is actually a very helpful model for what America’s relationship with Asia and Eurasia could potentially be.

Russia has economic interests and certain partners in Latin America and Africa, but Russia generally has not been a dominating political force in either continent, especially now that Russia is no longer a Marxist-Leninist power.

Russia’s modern relationship with the powers of both Africa and Latin America is commercial rather than ideological or even geo-strategic.

Since the collapse of Imperial Spain, the United States has generally become the domineering regional power in Latin America and this is unlikely to radically change even though many countries, particularly Venezuela refuse to buy into America’s geo-political ambitions for the region.

Likewise, Africa’s tragic post-colonial experience means that on the one hand, Russia and  China are seen as super-powers who did not torment Africa with imperialism, linguistically and legally, African states still are deeply beholden to their former European overlords and it is the United States, not least because it is an English speaking country with a Common Law legal system that has stepped in as Europe declined.

5. Two Men–Many Nations 

While Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin may well develop a good personal relationship (I’m inclined to believe that they will), the obstacles between the two have to do with not just the Russian and American political systems but with the realities of every continent in the world.

The western powers have always sought to subdue Russia in order to have a land-bridge to Asia. While this was more true of Europe than America, it is still the guiding force behind the neo-con/neo-liberal imperialist thought which dominates Washington.

The key would be for Donald Trump to accept that it is cheaper in the short term and more profitable in the long term if America develops a relationship with Asia that is similar to Russia’s relationship with Africa and Latin America.

Both countries are capable of economically dividing a broken Europe, much as they did after 1945.

If Putin and Trump can at least come to terms with this balance of power without coming to blows, this could be the start of a very good friendship.

For Putin, the job would be easy as Russia is comfortable with its existing and naturally expanding spheres of influence.

For any American President, the task would be monumentally hard–nearly impossible. But if anyone could listen to a pragmatic argument aimed at understanding that Russia and America have different roles to play in the world and that a lack of competition, rather than a more amorphous idea of ‘fighting terrorism’ is the key to making such an understanding take hold in the future, that man might well be Donald Trump.

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Major Syrian Army Assault On Southeast Idlib As Sochi Deal Unravels

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months. 

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Via Zerohedge


The Syrian Army unleashed a major assault across the southeastern part of Idlib province on Saturday, a military source told Middle East news site Al-Masdar in a breaking report. According to the source, government forces pounded jihadist defenses across the southeast Idlib axis with a plethora of artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles.

This latest exchange between the Syrian military and jihadist rebels comes as the Sochi Agreement falls apart in northwestern Syria, and in response to a Friday attack by jihadists which killed 22 Syrian soldiers near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major anti-Assad and al-Qaeda held region. The jihadist strikes resulted in the highest number of casualties for the army since the Sochi Agreement was established on September 17th.

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months.

The Al-Masdar source said the primary targets for the Syrian Army were the trenches and military posts for Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham in the towns of Al-Taman’ah, Khuwayn, Babulin, Haish, Jarjanaz, Um Jalal, and Mashirfah Shmaliyah. In retaliation for the Syrian Army assault, the jihadist rebels began shelling the government towns of Ma’an, Um Hariteen, and ‘Atshan.

Damascus has been critical of the Sochi deal from the start as it’s criticized Turkey’s role in the Russian-brokered ceasefire plan, especially as a proposed ‘de-militarized’ zone has failed due to jihadist insurgents still holding around 70% of the planned buffer area which they were supposed to withdraw from by mid-October. Sporadic clashes have rocked the “buffer zone” since.

Russia itself recently acknowledged the on the ground failure of the Sochi agreement even as parties officially cling to it. During a Thursday press briefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova admitted the following:

We have to state that the real disengagement in Idlib has not been achieved despite Turkey’s continuing efforts to live up to its commitments under the Russian-Turkish Memorandum of September 17.

This followed Russia also recently condemning  “sporadic clashes” and “provocations” by the jihadist group HTS (the main al-Qaeda presence) in Idlib.

Likely due to Moscow seeing the writing on the wall that all-out fighting and a full assault by government forces on Idlib will soon resume, Russian naval forces continued a show of force in the Mediterranean this week.

Russian military and naval officials announced Friday that its warships held extensive anti-submarine warfare drills in the Mediterranean. Specifically the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Essen conducted the exercise in tandem with deck-based helicopters near Syrian coastal waters.

Notably, according to TASS, the warships central to the drill are “armed with eight launchers of Kalibr-NK cruise missiles that are capable of striking surface, coastal and underwater targets at a distance of up to 2,600 km.”

Since September when what was gearing up to be a major Syrian-Russian assault on Idlib was called off through the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement, possibly in avoidance of the stated threat that American forces would intervene in defense of the al-Qaeda insurgent held province (also claiming to have intelligence of an impending government “chemical attack”), the war has largely taken a back-burner in the media and public consciousness.

But as sporadic fighting between jihadists and Syrian government forces is reignited and fast turning into major offensive operations by government forces, the war could once again be thrust back into the media spotlight as ground zero for a great power confrontation between Moscow and Washington.

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Trump Quietly Orders Elimination of Assange

The destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government.

Eric Zuesse

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On June 28th, the Washington Examiner headlined “Pence pressed Ecuadorian president on country’s protection of Julian Assange” and reported that “Vice President Mike Pence discussed the asylum status of Julian Assange during a meeting with Ecuador’s leader on Thursday, following pressure from Senate Democrats who have voiced concerns over the country’s protection of the WikiLeaks founder.” Pence had been given this assignment by U.S. President Donald Trump. The following day, the Examiner bannered “Mike Pence raises Julian Assange case with Ecuadorean president, White House confirms” and reported that the White House had told the newspaper, “They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward.”

On August 24th, a court-filing by Kellen S. Dwyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Alexandria Division of the Eastern District of Virginia, stated: “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure [than sealing the case, hiding it from the public] is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged. … This motion and the proposed order would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.” That filing was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. On November 15th, he posted an excerpt of it on Twitter, just hours after the Wall Street Journal had reported on the same day that the Justice Department was preparing to prosecute Assange. However, now that we know “the fact that Assange has been charged” and that the U.S. Government is simply waiting “until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter,” it is clear and public that the arrangements which were secretly made between Trump’s agent Pence and the current President of Ecuador are expected to deliver Assange into U.S. custody for criminal prosecution, if Assange doesn’t die at the Ecuadorean Embassy first.

On November 3rd (which, of course, preceded the disclosures on November 15th), Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Ann Hawkins, described in detail what has happened to her son since the time of Pence’s meeting with Ecuador’s President. She said:

He is, right now, alone, sick, in pain, silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact, and being tortured in the heart of London. … He has been detained nearly eight years, without trial, without charge. For the past six years, the UK Government has refused his requests to exit for basic health needs, … [even for] vitamin D. … As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. … A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes. … They will stop at nothing. … When U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Ecuador, a deal was done to hand Julian over to the U.S. He said that because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high, the plan was to break him down mentally…   to such a point that he will break and be forced to leave. … The extradition warrant is held in secret, four prosecutors but no defense, and no judge, … without a prima-facie case. [Under the U.S. system, the result nonetheless can be] indefinite detention without trial. Julian could be held in Guantanamo Bay and tortured, sentenced to 45 years in a maximum security prison, or face the death penalty,” for “espionage,” in such secret proceedings.

Her phrase, “because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high” refers to the worry that this new President of Ecuador has, of his cooperating with the U.S. regime’s demands and thereby basically ceding sovereignty to those foreigners (the rulers of the U.S.), regarding the Ecuadorian citizen, Assange.

This conservative new President of Ecuador, who has replaced the progressive President who had granted Assange protection, is obviously doing all that he can to comply with U.S. President Trump and the U.S. Congress’s demand for Assange either to die soon inside the Embassy or else be transferred to the U.S. and basically just disappear, at Guantanamo or elsewhere. Ecuador’s President wants to do this in such a way that Ecuador’s voters won’t blame him for it, and that he’ll thus be able to be re-elected. This is the type of deal he apparently has reached with Trump’s agent, Pence. It’s all secret, but the evidence on this much of what was secretly agreed-to seems clear. There are likely other details of the agreement that cannot, as yet, be conclusively inferred from the subsequent events, but this much can.

Basically, Trump has arranged for Assange to be eliminated either by illness that’s imposed by his Ecuadorean agent, or else by Assange’s own suicide resulting from that “torture,” or else by America’s own criminal-justice system. If this elimination happens inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, then that would be optimal for America’s President and Congress; but, if it instead happens on U.S. soil, then that would be optimal for Ecuador’s President. Apparently, America’s President thinks that his subjects, the American people, will become sufficiently hostile toward Assange so that even if Assange disappears or is executed inside the United States, this President will be able to retain his supporters. Trump, of course, needs his supporters, but this is a gamble that he has now clearly taken. This much is clear, even though the rest of the secret agreement that was reached between Pence and Ecuador’s President is not.

Scooter Libby, who had arranged for the smearing of Valerie Plame who had tried to prevent the illegal and deceit-based 2003 invasion of Iraq, was sentenced to 30 months but never spent even a day in prison, and U.S. President Trump finally went so far as to grant him a complete pardon, on 13 April 2018. (The carefully researched docudrama “Fair Game” covered well the Plame-incident.) Libby had overseen the career-destruction of a courageous CIA agent, Plame, who had done the right thing and gotten fired for it; and Trump pardoned Libby, thus retroactively endorsing the lie-based invasion of Iraq in 2003. By contrast, Trump is determined to get Julian Assange killed or otherwise eliminated, and even Democrats in Congress are pushing for him to get that done. The new President of Ecuador is doing their bidding. Without pressure from the U.S. Government, Assange would already be a free man. Thus, either Assange will die (be murdered) soon inside the Embassy, or else he will disappear and be smeared in the press under U.S. control. And, of course, this is being done in such a way that no one will be prosecuted for the murder or false-imprisonment. Trump had promised to “clean the swamp,” but as soon as he was elected, he abandoned that pretense; and, as President, he has been bipartisan on that matter, to hide the crimes of the bipartisan U.S. Government, and he is remarkably similar in policy to his immediate predecessors, whom he had severely criticized while he was running for the Presidency.

In any event, the destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government; and, just like in Khashoggi’s case, the nation’s ruler controls the prosecutors and can therefore do whatever he chooses to do that the rest of the nation’s aristocracy consider to be acceptable.

The assault against truth isn’t only against Assange, but it is instead also closing down many of the best, most courageous, independent news sites, such as washingtonsblog. However, in Assange’s case, the penalty for having a firm commitment to truth has been especially excruciating and will almost certainly end in his premature death. This is simply the reality. Because of the system under which we live, a 100% commitment to truth is now a clear pathway to oblivion. Assange is experiencing this reality to the fullest. That’s what’s happening here.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Libya’s Peace Process Dies in Palermo

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet to sort out their differences.

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Authored by Richard Galustian for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:


“Resounding flop” was the verdict of Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi on this week’s Libya peace conference held in Palermo. He’s not wrong. The conference hosted by Italy’s new government achieved the remarkable feat of making Libya’s tensions worse, not better. Acrimony broke out between the parties, and Turkey’s delegation walked out, its vice president Fuat Oktay accusing unnamed States of trying to “hijack the process.”

Some sources in Palermo suggested, yet to be verified, that the US thought the Conference was not too bad: a joke if true.

Moreover the mystery we might ask is what “process” is there to hijack? Because the truth is, the peace plan the conference was supporting is already dead.

That plan was the brainchild of the United Nations, launched more than a year ago with the aim of ending Libya’s split between warring Eastern and Western governments with elections in December.

Even before the first delegates set foot in the pleasant Sicilian city of Palermo this week, the UN admitted the election date of December 10 they had decided to scrap.

The eastern government, led by the parliament in Tobruk, had made moves in the summer to organize a referendum on a new constitution which would govern the elections. But no referendum was held, and most Libyans agree it would be pointless because Tripoli, home to a third of the country’s population, is under the iron grip of multiple warring militias who have the firepower to defy any new elected government. Hours after the delegates left Palermo, those militias began a new bout of fighting in the Tripoli suburbs.

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end of the talks was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet in a grand conference to sort out their differences – and this after four years of civil war. To say that chances of this are slim is an understatement.

Dominating the Palermo talks, and indeed Libya’s political landscape, was and is Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army, the country’s most powerful formation. In four years, the LNA has secured Libya’s key oil fields and Benghazi, its second city, ridding most of the east Libya of Islamist militias.

Haftar met reluctantly negotiators in Palermo, but insisted he was not part of the talks process. The Italian government press office said Haftar was not having dinner with the other participants nor joining them for talks. Haftar specifically opposed the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood champion, Qatar, at the event along with Turkey.

Haftar clearly only attended because he had a few days before visiting Moscow – which sent to Sicily Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – and because also of Egyptian President Sisi’s presence along with his allies.

Possibly Haftar was simply fed up. Twice in the past two years he has attended previous peace talks, hosted each time in Paris, giving the nod to declarations that Libya’s militias would dissolve. Yet the militias remain as strong as ever in Tripoli.

Haftar is detested by the militias and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) but supported by a large segment of the population – 68 percent, according to an opinion poll by America’s USAID. His popularity is based on a single policy – his demand that security be in the hands of regular police and military, not the militias.

Not everyone is happy, certainly not Turkey, which is backing Islamist, MB and Misratan forces in western Libya who detest Haftar. Yet Turkey’s greatest statesman, the great Kamal Ataturk, was a champion of secularism: After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War One Turkey faced the prospect of utter disintegration, and it was Attaturk who rose to the challenge, defending the country’s borders, while ordering that the mullahs, while responsible for spiritual welfare, have no political power.

Political Islam is not popular in Libya either. Libya is a Muslim country, its people know their faith, and most want government to be decided through the ballot box.

The problem for Libya is what happens next with the peace process broken. Haftar has in the past threatened to move on Tripoli and rid the militias by force if they refuse to dissolve, and it may come to that – a fierce escalation of the civil war.

The second possibility is that Libya will split. The east is, thanks to the LNA, militarily secure. It also controls two thirds of the country’s oil and operates as a separate entity, down to it banknotes, which are printed in Russia while the Tripoli government’s are printed in Britain. A formal split would be an economic boon for the lightly populated east, but a disaster for Tripolitania, its population losing most of the oil, its only source of export income.

Yet with the failure of peace talks, and no sign of Tripoli militias dissolving, military escalation or breakup seem more likely than ever.

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