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When France cohabited with Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group in Libya

lThe Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to an examination of conscience in many European capitals into the degree of blindness of the leaders present in relation to the ambitions, in any case shown by Vladimir Putin. In Berlin, Angela Merkel’s bet on Russia’s integration through trade is being questioned as it has accentuated Germany’s vulnerability rather than encouraging a positive cycle with Moscow.

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In France, the debate remains indulgent towards Emmanuel Macron and “the security and trust architecture between the European Union and Russia” which he presented to Putin in August 2019, welcome him to his summer residence in Brégançon† Shortly afterwards, the French president stigmatizes in ” deep state diplomats who dare to question his desire for a strategic rapprochement with Moscow. This thinly veiled threat helps quell any internal criticism of Elysian voluntarism. However, it is not in Europe, but in North Africa that one of the most disturbing episodes of such a series took place.

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All united for Haftar

The first civil war in Libya, from February to October 2011, resulted in the overthrow and elimination of Muammar Gaddafi, after four decades of absolute power. It was not until May 2014 that the second civil war broke out on the initiative of a former Gaddafi general, Khalifa Haftar, soon proclaimed “Marshal”. He dreams of embodying Libya’s ex-Marshal Sissi, who was just “elected” to the head of Egypt with 97% of the vote after he ousted the Islamist president. Denouncing all his opponents as “terrorists”, Haftar establishes in Tobruk, in the east of the country, rival authorities of the government installed in the capital Tripoli. He refused in March 2016 to join the government of national unity of Faïez Sarraj, which was recognized by the UN as soon as he took office in Tripoli.

Haftar is openly supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which are violating the international embargo to continue arming him, and more discreetly by Russia and France. For the Kremlin, it is a form of revenge for the 2011 NATO campaign in Libya. For François Hollande, collaboration with Haftar is a logical part “counter-terrorism” through the Sahel. In 2016, three French soldiers died in ” service ordered in the fall of a helicopter belonging to Haftar’s forces in Benghazi.

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Emmanuel Macron, two months after entering the Elysée, reunites Sarraj and Haftar in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, in July 2017, in the name of reconciliation between Tripoli and Tobruk. No matter that the UN-recognized government and the rebel leader’s de facto authorities are put on the same level, the important thing is that the French president breaks the deadlock, a hope that is quickly disappointed. But Paris’s bias in favor of Haftar persists and is even accentuated by the very close proximity between Macron and Mohammed Ben Zayed, the strongman of the United Arab Emirateswhose French leaders willingly embrace the quarrels, especially the anti-Islamist obsession.

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