Monday, March 13, 2017

AFRICOM commander voices concern over Russian meddling in Libya

AFRICOM commander voices concern over Russian meddling in Libya: Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of U.S. Africa Command, raised the alarm Thursday about Russian interference in Libya during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill.

“It is very concerning, senator," Waldhauser said in response to Arizona Sen. John McCain's question about Russian involvement in the region. "General Haftar has visited, as you said, on the carrier with the Russians. He's also visited in the country of Russia. Also, this week it's reported in the open press, [Prime Minister Fayez al-] Sarraj from the Government of National Accord has also visited Russia.

In January, Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar — a former general whose militia opposes the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli — was invited onto the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov for a tour and video conference with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army has been waging a battle against ISIS militants and rival political factions in the Libyan city of Benghazi.

The situation in Libya right now is highly “fractured,” Waldhauser told lawmakers.