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Regular version of the site

Article

Libya, the United States and Russia in the Never-Ending Game of Checkers

Russia in Global Affairs. 2021. No. 3. P. 50-63.

During the short period of Donald Trump’s presidency, U.S. foreign policy underwent significant changes. The visible decline in the activity in the southern and south-eastern Mediterranean in previous years gave way to Washington’s increased diplomatic activity in the settlement process. Although the lion’s share of U.S. foreign policy in the MENA region was aimed at resolving the Arab-Israel confrontation, it did not ignore local conflicts such as the Libyan crisis, which at first glance has little to do with the main goals of the U.S. policy the region.

Washington’s participation in the August 2020 negotiation process made it, along with Moscow and Ankara, a guarantor of a truce between the two main camps: the “Western bloc” represented by the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Sarraj, and the “Eastern bloc” represented by Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar. In many ways, the U.S. efforts facilitated the election of Libya’s interim government, which came as a peculiar result of Trump’s regional policy and charted a new vector to developments in Libya.

Even though Russia did not get involved in settling the Libyan crisis immediately after the civil war broke out in the country in 2011, it has strengthened its position on the Libyan track as a mediator in negotia- tions while formally remaining barely interested in supporting a particular Libyan side.

In this regard, two questions arise: How will the change in the U.S. policy in the region affect Moscow’s position on the Libyan issue and on the developments in the eastern Mediterranean in general? And what new threats and challenges will Russia face in the event of a radical change in the United States’ role in the region?