On September 13, Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq will travel to Russia to make preparations for peace talks in Libya, a source told Kommersant. The source clarified that Maiteeq’s trip will begin with a visit to Grozny, after which the Libyan guest will be received in Moscow, Russia’s RBC news agency reports.
In the Chechen capital, Maiteeq will hold talks with Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen republic, and Lev Dengov, head of the Russian contact group on Libya. Dengov confirmed that preparations are being made for the trip. “Akhmed Maiteeq’s arrival is a new stage in the development of the Russian peacekeeping mission in the context of the Libyan resolution. I want point out separately that the trip is being organized after General Haftar’s visit. This once again reflects the position of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the head of the Chechen Republic: in the Libyan settlement, we must collaborate with all participants in the conflict in order to reconcile them and proceed to a peaceful resolution of the Libyan crisis,” Dengov told the news outlet.
The newspaper’s source explained that one of the visit’s goals is to discuss Russia’s role as mediator in the political resolution in Libya. However, there is another goal – to prepare for the possible visit of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
Sarraj’s primary rival in Libya, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), comes to Russia quite often. He was last in Moscow in August 2017. Haftar held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, whom he assured of the “spirit of cooperation”, as well as Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu. Haftar met with the Russian defense minister without press presence.
As reported previously by RBC, on July 25, French President Emmanuel Macron met with Sarraj and Haftar, which resulted in them agreeing on a resolution “road map”, and both sides consenting to a ceasefire. Italy expressed displeasure with the negotiations. Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano told La Stampa in an interview that he supports the French president’s initiative, and pointed out that just like France, Italy supports the government in Tripoli (NTC) and is in constant contact with General Haftar. Nevertheless, according to him, in the Libyan conflict there are “too many formats, mediators and initiatives, from the Persian Gulf to Egypt, from Algeria to Tunisia, from the EU to the interests of individual countries”.
One of the key matters of interest to Europe is to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, who come primarily from Libya and arrive in Italy. Since the start of 2017, roughly 130,000 refugees have arrived there from Africa. As Kommersant newspaper writes, Haftar has offered to be responsible for stopping the flow of refugees to Europe. The field marshal said that his army can close a section of the Libyan border spanning 4,000 km. Haftar has asked the EU for $20 billion in order to implement this plan.
Earlier in July, Haftar said that after three years of fighting, his army had liberated Benghazi – the second biggest city in Libya – from Islamic State Islamists and militants (a group which is prohibited in Russia).
Kadyrov has already participated in negotiations with Libyan delegations regarding the release of the detained Russian sailors from the Merle cargo vessel in April 2017, and the Mekhanik Chebotarev oil tanker in 2015.