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Selling Arms to Libya is The Least Bad Option Available

Russia’s and China’s decision to agree to a loosening of the UN embargo makes geostrategic sense.

Andrew Korybko

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Let’s start with the indisputable facts: the “Arab Spring” Colour Revolution created the pretext for NATO’s 2011 War on Libya and the subsequent murder of Gaddafi.  US foreign policy is fully responsible for all this and for the rise of terrorism in Libya and the present problem with Daesh in that country.

Having got that out of the way, this article is not a polemic.  It is an analysis of the reality that currently exists in Libya taking into consideration the geopolitical imperatives of all the sides.

The UN Security Council recently decided to relax the arms embargo on Libya.  Why did that happen and why did Russia and China support it?

For starters, illegal arms have been pouring into Libya for years.  It’s just that they have not been going to the Libyan government.

The arms embargo against Libya imposed by the UN Security Council is hurting the only forces that are legitimately capable of fighting terrorism in Libya, just as the unilateral Western embargo against Syria had been doing the same in Syria.

The UN Security Council’s decision to relax the arms embargo on Libya does not provide for a full resumption of unrestricted weapons sales to Libya.  Rather it permits “exceptions” to the embargo based on the Libyan authorities’ requests individually assessed on an “as-needs” basis.

The West created this mess and now wants to profit by “fixing” it by selling weapons to the newly formed Government of National Accord (GNA).  Of course it wants to do this for all the wrong reasons.  The main reason – other than the publicly stated one of “fighting terrorism” – is to equip a new loyal proxy enforcer.  However it is not guaranteed that will succeed.  it is not impossible that the person chosen – CIA-linked General Haftar – might get a massive ego boost causing him to turn on his unipolar patrons, especially if he feels he can play them off against potential multipolar rivals like Russia and China.  Already he is refusing to recognise the UN-approved government in Tripoli, so there’s a chance he might one day “go rogue” and become the second most disruptive factor in Libya behind Daesh.

Foreign Fighters

A widely expressed concern about the partial lifting of the UN arms embargo is that weapons might inadvertently end up in the hands of terrorists.  Presumably it was to prevent this happening that the embargo was imposed in the first place.

This is certainly possible. There is definitely a risk that undisciplined and/or untrained army units might hand over their weapons to terrorists some of whom they might just see as “local rebels” or even as “freedom fighters”.  There is also a very real possibility that army units might surrender them to the terrorists on the battlefield as the Iraqi military did during the summer of 2014.  However the presence of US, UK, French, Italian, and the (likely though unacknowledged) presence of Egyptian and/or Gulf (UAE) special forces on the ground should preclude this from happening at least on a wide-ranging scale.

In saying this I should make it clear that I do not support the presence of foreign troops in Libya.  I am simply stating a fact.  As undesirable as the presence of these troops may be for supporters of multipolarity like myself – and indeed for the Great Powers like Russia and China which support multipolarity – their presence is the current reality.

Whilst there is plenty to criticise in the presence of these troops, one possible ‘silver lining’ is their potential capacity to prevent weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists they weren’t intended for.  That does not of course mean that once Dash is defeated they won’t channel weapons to other terrorists and other non-state actors.  However that does not seem to be their intention at the moment.   

The Kremlin’s Calculations

Amidst all the outrage in the alternative media about the UN Security Council decision to allow a partial lifting of the embargo, it might be useful to remind everyone that this decision was also supported by the Russian and Chinese governments – the twin stewards of the emerging multipolar world order.  Whilst some criticisms of the decision are legitimate, it is doubtful Moscow or Beijing would have agreed to the loosening of the arms embargo if they did not have their own reasons for doing so.  These would certainly not be because Moscow and Beijing have “sold out to the West” as certain information provocateurs routinely say.  It is because Moscow and Beijing pragmatically understand the nature of the terrorist threat on the ground and realise that the only way it can possibly be defeated is if the legitimate UN-approved authorities are provided with the military means to do it.

Consistent with this approach Russia is planning to sell its own weapons to the Government for National Accord if an agreement to do so can be reached.

This would be a major development.  It would offer a whole new set of opportunities for Russian diplomatic engagement in Libya.

One of the traditional means through which Russia cultivates strategic relationships is through “weapons diplomacy”.  This entails selling weapons, training local troops to  handle them, and providing maintenance as needed.

Such “weapons diplomacy” often prepares the groundwork for more robust and comprehensive relations in other fields.  It is regularly used by Moscow as the first step in reaching out to non-traditional partners.

Whilst Tripoli has historically always been close to Moscow, it would have been unthinkable just a few years ago for its new pro-Western regime – created as a result of a Western military intervention in the country – to look to Moscow for help in fighting terrorists.  That it is doing so is a sign of the exceptionally strong impact in the region of Russia’s anti-terrorist intervention in Syria and of the way Libya’s authorities have come to think of Russian weapons as a game change in their struggle.

China’s Takeaway

As for Beijing, it probably won’t get as involved on the ground as Russia, the West, and Washington’s Arab allies are.  However Beijing undoubtedly hopes it can recoup some of the losses it has suffered since the Western backed conflict in Libya began 5 years ago.  

When the Libyan conflict began China dramatically evacuated all its citizens from Libya, leaving behind billions of dollars in capital investments.  However, when the situation improves, China will doubtless seek ways to reintegrate the country into its global network of investment bases and turn it into a key node along the One Belt One Road (New Silk Road) project.

The Chinese will probably continue with their usual policy in these situations, which is to remain quietly on the sidelines while the other Great Powers sort the mess out, and then quietly come forward with a raft of win-win deals in order to clinch the strategic partnerships that everyone else had previously competed for.

Taking into account the nature of the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership, this would also work out to Moscow’s benefit.  The Libyan conflict in fact provides an excellent example of how Russia and China, by playing to their individual strengths, are able to compliment each other in achieving shared objectives.

Russia will provide the Government of National Accord with the arms and diplomatic support it needs in its anti-terrorist struggle, which will have a disproportionate psychological effect despite their likely small scale since they will be supplied by the military power whose actions have had such a dramatic impact in the Syrian conflict.  China will then – as it always does – step in after the situation has been stabilised, reaching out to the Libya elite and striking deals that – at least to a certain extent – will partially realign Libya with the multipolar axis led by Russia and China and away from the exclusive control of the unipolar system dominated by the US.

As for the US and its partners, once the conflict is over (which could take years) they could find themselves deprived of at least some of the ‘booty’ they assumed would be theirs.

Concluding Thoughts

Libya will likely remain a mostly colonised, strongly pro-Western state for the foreseeable future.  The enormous scale of the Hybrid War the West has waged against Libya since 2011 – culminating in the killing of Gaddafi and the subsequent years-long anarchy – realistically allows for no other possible scenario.

The US and its allies seem to have made a strategic decision to refocus on Libya and to rebuild it into the sort of occupied state they want it to be.  Such a state will not of course be one that works for the benefit of all the Libyan people.  However reconstituting the Jamahiriya is impossible unless pro-Gaddafi “Green” elements both return to power and remain in power for decades.  That obviously is something the West will not allow.  The only possibility is that the West might at some point in the future permit some sort of “pseudo-Green” elements claiming a notional fealty to the idea of the Jamahiriya to return to power, but only provided they actually continue to collaborate with the West.

The EU for its part had previously wanted to participate in Libya’s reconstruction.  This despite the fact the EU was party to the US-led war which destroyed Libya in the first place.   It was not until the US-engineered Immigrant Crisis came crashing on the EU’s shores and Daesh began to attack Europe – under very suspicious circumstances – that the EU changed its mind and fell in with the US plan for Libya.  Today in Libya the EU is a fully paid up ally and foot-soldier of the US.

The scale of the anti-terrorist war in Libya is gigantic.  The myriad of non-state actors and openly terroristic groups like Daesh that are operating in Libya is so large that it would be impossible for a “secret war” to root them all out. 

This is what forced the US’s hand, obliging the US to “go public” by turning to the UN Security Council to seek approval for a loosening of the UN arms embargo.  That required the backing of Russia and China, which in turn has led to the door into Libya being re-opened for them.

Moscow and Beijing supported the loosening of the embargo in part primarily because of their unwavering commitment to fighting all forms of terrorism no matter where they happen or who is behind them and regardless of whether their Great Power counterparts are fully committed to the struggle or are pursuing it for some ulterior purpose.  However, although the prospects are limited, there is now also a real chance that Russia and China might be able to capitalise from the anti-terrorist struggle in Libya to reach out to those sectors of Libyan society that might be interested in seeing Libya integrate with the broader multipolar world once the conflict is over.  If done intelligently, in a properly thought out way, drawing on the respective strengths of the two partners in the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership, this could open up a way to at least a partial re establishment of Russian and Chinese influence in a country that had appeared to be completely lost to Western influence. 

Though there are risks inherent in this strategy, given the threat of Daesh turning Libya’s North African coast into a terrorist oasis, easing the UN arms embargo on Libya is the least bad of option available.  The Russians and the Chinese no doubt also see it as the only way to draw Libya back towards a multipolar alignment.  As such their support for the loosening of the embargo can be seen as a long term investment which might pay dividends one day in the future.

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Honest liberal says he is NOT INTERESTED in policy explanation [Video]

When news anchors try to act like prosecuting attorneys instead of actually interviewing people, we all lose.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One characteristic of modern-day television “news reporting” is that the political news is not truly reported. Rather, if the interviewer disagrees with the one being interviewed, the session turns into interviewer grandstanding. Regrettably, this tactic is used by liberal and conservative journalists alike. However, it is usually not admitted, as the interviewer usually chooses to say things like “I want the truth” when he or she really wants to force the other person to admit the correctness of the interviewer.

Over the weekend, Fox News’ Chris Wallace grandstanded against White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller. However, Chris Wallace at least was honest about his wish:

STEPHEN MILLER: … At a fundamental level, we could go down into the details, and you know, Chris, I can go down into details as much as you want to, but the bottom line is this…

CHRIS WALLACE: Please don’t! (laughs)

This is a big problem. The responsibility of any good journalist is to get full and accurate information about a given topic. Isn’t it?

Not in the press of our day. Chris Wallace is a valued personality for the Fox News Channel. As a former CBS anchor for 60 Minutes, Wallace brings a well-known face and voice of the mainstream media to Fox, even though he is quite liberal politically, as are many in the entertainment and information professions.

The problem is that the topic here, the facts justifying President Trump’s National Emergency declaration on Friday over the still permeable US-Mexico border, are present in abundance. But Mr. Wallace did not want to know these facts, or perhaps worse, he did not want to let his viewing audience know this information, so he tried to prevent Mr. Miller from talking about those details.

Stephen Miller, thankfully, was not having it. He insisted on giving a full and informed response to Mr. Wallace’s questions, even though Wallace did not want to hear any information.

The rest of the interview is comprised of Mr. Miller trying to dissemimate information and Mr. Wallace trying to block it and refuse it in order to sustain his own preferred narrative.

Chris Wallace’ point of view is that the President called a National Emergency for no good reason, and that President Trump is breaking the law by appropriating money for the Border Wall, something which only the House of Representatives can do, legislatively.

However, the point of view expressed by Mr. Wallace and President Trump is that as Chief Executive of the United States of America, the President is responsible to preserve the country from invasion. For the President, the never-ending waves of illegals coming into the country and not being deported, but rather, released into the US pending trials that they often never attend years later, amounts to a slow invasion.

Strictly speaking, President Trump is correct. The illegals are not (usually) armed representatives of a foreign power, but neither do they become American citizens. Many of them take advantage of generous provisions and loopholes in the law (Mexico teaches them how to do this!) and they therefore earn money but usurp the country of resources.

It has been exceedingly difficult to move the level of interest in stopping illegal immigration in the US. Rush Limbaugh rightly stated in his program on Friday, February 15, what the problem is, and we include some of the details (as we should) for why Mr. Limbaugh says what he says here:

There is a limit on a number of detainees. There is limit on how much of border and fence can be built. There’s a limit on what kind can be built. There’s a limit on modernization. This bill is filled with congressional edicts telling the president of the United States what he cannot do. Now, it authorizes $23 billion for Homeland Security, but it specifies $1.375 billion for fencing and bordering.

But there are so many limits on this as to make this practically irrelevant — by design and on purpose, because I firmly believe that what members of Congress (both parties) actually want with this bill is to send a message that nothing is ever gonna happen as long as Donald Trump is President. The attempt in this budget deal is to send a message to you Trump voters that it’s worthless voting for him, that it is a waste of time supporting him, because they are demonstrating that he can’t get anything done.

This is Pelosi in the House and Schumer in the Senate getting together, because they know when it comes to illegal immigration, these parties are unified, folks. For the most part, the Republicans and Democrats are for open borders. There are exceptions on the Republican side. But there are a lot of Republicans that don’t want Trump to succeed even now. There are a lot of Republicans just after he was inaugurated who don’t want him to succeed. So they come up with a piece of legislation here that is outrageous.

It is outrageous in its denial of the existence of a genuine emergency at the border. They don’t care. They will deal with whatever mess they create. They don’t care how bad it gets because in their world, the only mess is Donald Trump — and since the Russian effort and the Mueller effort and everything else related to that has failed to get his approval numbers down (and that has been the objective from the get-go), this is the latest effort, and it won’t be long… You mark my words on this.

There is an emergency at the US-Mexico border. Last year almost half a million people were apprehended by the Border Patrol and ICE. Many, if not most, though, are still in the United States. They were not all sent back. Some were, and some of them probably have come back in yet again. The fact that our nation’s borders are unrestricted in this manner is absolute folly.

The more American people know the details about what is actually happening at the border, the more they support the wall’s construction and President Trump’s policies. We have seen evidence for this in polling even by liberal network outlets. President Trump managed to call attention to this topic and bring it into the center of the discussion of US domestic policy. Rasmussen reported that the level of approval of Trump’s work to close the border is high – at 59 percent, with only 33 percent disapproving.

The President made this an issue. Chris Wallace tried in his own program to deflect and dissuade information from being brought to the attention of the American viewers who watch his program.

This is not journalism. It is reinforcement of propaganda on Mr. Wallace’s part, defense against facts, and an unwillingness to let the American people have information and therefore to think for themselves.

Unfortunately, such practices are not limited to Mr. Wallace. Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and others all utilize this form of questioning, and it is a shame, because the news reporter no longer reports the news. When a talking head on TV or radio places himself or herself as the Gatekeeper to allow or prevent information from reaching the American people, this is highly presumptuous, ego driven and almost always, dishonest.

Worse, such an approach reinforces this message to American people: “You cannot think for yourself. It is too hard, so we will do your thinking for you. Trust us!”

This style of journalism became more and more popular over, under the “appearance” of “tough questioning.” However the usual course of “tough questioning” is ideologically aligned with whatever the journalist thinks, and not at all about what is actually important. Chris Wallace is notorious for doing this with conservatives, and he does aggravate them, but he reduces interviews to an argument between the journalist and the person interviewed.

And usually, this is not the story. This was made absolutely clear in the interview with Stephen Miller, even to the point that Mr. Wallace actually voiced the request, “please don’t (give us all the specifics of this issue.)” 

Good journalism respects the fact that different people have different points of view. Agreement or disagreement with these points is what Op-Ed writing is for. But when Op-Ed is treated as hard fact journalism, we all lose.

We included the whole interview video from the beginning here so that the viewer can take in the whole course of this discussion. It is well worth watching. And as it is well-worth watching, it is also well-worth each person’s own personal consideration. People are smarter than the media would like us to be.

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Macron pisses off Merkel as he tries to sabotage Nord Stream 2 pipeline (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 177.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss an EU compromise for Nord Stream 2 where EU member states, the EU Parliament, and its Commission will give the bloc more oversight on gas pipelines, with one caveat…the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia will not be threatened by the new regulations in the agreement.

Macron pushed hard to have the new regulations include (and derail) Nord Stream 2, an action which annoyed Angela Merkel, who eventually got her way and delivered another blow to Macron’s failing French presidency.

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Via The Express UK

Angela Merkel hit back at Emmanuel Macron over Russia and Germany’s pipeline project, declaring it would “not be a one-sided dependency”. The German Chancellor explained that Germany will expand its gas terminals with “liquified gas”. Speaking at a press conference, Ms Merkel declared: “Do we become dependent on Russia because of this second gas pipeline? I say no, if we diversify. Germany will expand its gas terminals with liquefied gas.

“This means that we do not want to depend only on Russia, but Russia was a source of gas in the Cold War and will remain one.

“But it would not be one-sided dependency.”

Via DW

The EU parliament and its Council are set to adopt new regulations on gas pipelines connecting the bloc members with non-EU countries, the EU Commission announced early on Wednesday.

The upcoming directive is based on a compromise between EU member states and EU officials in Brussels. The bloc leaders agreed to tighten Brussels’ oversight of gas delivery and expand its rules to all pipelines plugging into the EU’s gas distribution network.

“The new rules ensure that… everyone interested in selling gas to Europe must respect European energy law,” EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in a statement.

For example, owners of pipelines linking EU and non-EU countries would also be required to allow access for their competitors. Brussels would also have more power regarding transparency and tariff regulations.

Russian ambassador slams US

Brussels has repeatedly expressed concern over the controversial Nord Stream 2 project which would deliver Russian gas directly to Germany through a pipeline under the Baltic Sea. Many EU states oppose the mammoth project, and the US claims it would allow Moscow to tighten its grip on the EU’s energy policy.

Berlin has insisted that the pipeline is a “purely economic” issue.

Speaking to Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung daily, Russian ambassador to Berlin, Sergey Nechayev, slammed the US’ opposition as an attempt to “push its competition aside” and clear the way for American suppliers of liquefied gas.

“It’s hard to believe that a country that is destroying the rules of free and fair trade, that is imposing import tariffs on its competition, that is flying slogans like ‘America First’ on its flags and often threatens biggest European concerns with illegal sanctions, is now really concerned about European interests,” the Russian envoy said in remarks published in German on Wednesday.

Last week, France unexpectedly rebelled against the project, but Berlin and Paris soon reached a compromise. Thanks to their agreement, the latest deal is not expected to impede the ongoing construction of Nord Stream 2.

Citing sources from negotiators’ circles, German public broadcaster ARD reported that the deal left room for Germany to approve exceptions from the EU-wide rules.

According to the EU Commission, however, exceptions are “only possible under strict procedures in which the Commission plays a decisive role.”

The Gazprom-backed pipeline is set to be completed by the end of the year.

 

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UK Defence Secretary looking for a fight with both China and Russia (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 87.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson’s idea to deploy hard power against China and Russia, starting with plans to send Britain’s new aircraft carrier to the tense sea routes in the South China Sea.

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“Britain’s Gavin Williamson places Russia & China on notice, I’m not joking,” authored by John Wight, via RT

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is itching for conflict with Russia and China. He’s not mad. Not even slightly. But he is stupid. Very.

Unlike former fireplace salesman Gavin Williamson, I am no military expert. But then you do not need to be one to understand that while Britain going to war with Russia and China might work as a video game, the real thing would be an exceedingly bad idea.

So why then in a speech delivered to the Royal United Services Institute in London, did Mr Williamson’s argument on the feasibility of the real thing elicit applause rather than the shrieks of horror and demands he be sacked forthwith it should have? This is a serious question, by the way. It is one that cuts through British establishment verbiage to reveal a country ruled not by the sober and doughty political heavyweights of years gone by, but by foaming fanatics in expensive suits

Placing to one side for a moment the insanity of the very concept of Britain deploying hard power against Russia and/or China, the prospect of fighting a war against two designated enemies at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Not satisfied with that, though, Mr Williamson is actually contemplating a conflict with three different enemies at the same time – i.e. against Russia, China, and the millions of people in Britain his government is currently waging war against under the rubric of austerity.

“Today, Russia is resurgent,” Mr Williamson said, “rebuilding its military arsenal and seeking to bring the independent countries of the former Soviet Union, like Georgia and Ukraine, back into its orbit.”

For Mr Williamson and his ilk a resurgent Russia is a bad thing. Much better in their eyes if Russia, after the Soviet era in the 1990s, had remained on its knees as a free market desert; its state institutions in a state of near collapse and tens of millions of its citizens in the grip of immiseration. Yes, because in that scenario Western ideologues like him would have had free rein to rampage around the world as they saw fit, setting fire to country after country on the perverse grounds of ‘saving them’ for democracy.

As it is, he and his still managed to squeeze in a considerable amount of carnage and chaos in the years it did take Russia to recover. The indictment reads as follows: Yugoslavia destroyed; Afghanistan turned upside down; Iraq pushed into the abyss; Libya sent to hell.

By the time they turned their attention to Syria, intent on exploiting an Arab Spring that NATO in Libya transformed into an Arab Winter, Russia had recovered and was able to intervene. It did so in concert with the Syrian Arab Army, Iran and Hezbollah to save the day – much to the evident chagrin of those who, like Gavin Williamson, prefer to see countries in ashes rather than independent of Western hegemony.

As to the facile nonsense about Russia trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine back into its orbit, both countries happen to share a border with Russia and both countries, in recent years, have been used by the UK and its allies as cat’s paws with the eastward expansion of NATO in mind.

It gets worse though: “The Alliance must develop its ability to handle the kind of provocations that Russia is throwing at us. Such action from Russia must come at a cost.”

“Provocations,” the man said. Since British troops have been taking part in exercises on Russia’s doorstep, not the other way round, one wonders if Gavin Williamson wrote this speech while inebriated.

It is Russia that has been on the receiving end of repeated provocations from NATO member states such as the UK in recent times, and it is Russia that has been forced to respond to protect its own security and that of its people where necessary. Furthermore, not only in Russia but everywhere, including the UK, people understand that when you have political leaders intoxicated by their own national myths and propaganda to such an extent as Britain’s Defence Secretary, danger ensues.

The most enduring of those national myths where London is concerned is that the British Empire was a force for good rather than a vast criminal enterprise, that Britain and America won the Second World War together alone, that Iraq had WMDs, and that international law and international brigandage really are one and the same thing.

Perhaps the most preposterous section of the speech came when Mr Williamson tried to fashion a connection between Brexit and Britain’s military strength: “Brexit has brought us to a moment. A great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass.”

Reading this, you can almost hear Churchill turning in his grave. Britain’s wartime prime minister had such as Gavin Williamson in mind when he famously said, “He has all the virtues I dislike, and none of the vices I admire.”

Mr Williamson obviously misread the memo talking up not the opportunity for increased conflict with China after Brexit but trade.

This was not a speech it was a linguistic car crash, one that will forever command an honoured place in compendiums of the worst political speeches ever made. As for Gavin Williamson, just as no responsible parent would ever dream of putting an 10-year old behind the wheel of car to drive unsupervised, no responsible British government would ever appoint a man like him as its Defence Secretary.

In years past, he would have struggled to find employment polishing the brass plate outside the building.

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