The US is worried about growing Russian influence in Libya's civil war

Bullet Points
A picture made available on 22 August 2019 shows a fighter of Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) of Fayez Serraj, firing his rifle during clashes with forces of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, at Al-Yarmouk frontline. ( Amru Salahuddien/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

The U.S. is growing increasingly worried that the Russian government is exploiting Libya's five-year-old civil war for Moscow's benefit.


  • In a terse statement last week, the State Department called on Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar to cease his months-long assault on the capitol city of Tripoli out of concern over Russian meddling.
  • "The U.S. delegation, representing a number of U.S. government agencies, underscored support for Libya's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia's attempts to exploit the conflict against the will of the Libyan people," the statement said.
  • Those concerns aren't totally unfounded. According to Bloomberg, Russian mercenaries tied to the Moscow-backed Wagner Group that previously tangled with U.S. forces in Syria have been arriving in Libya in droves.

  • From Bloomberg:

A private army linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been fighting on the front lines of the Libyan war for nearly three months, the latest projection of Russian power following a decisive military intervention on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

More than 100 mercenaries from the Wagner group headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, also known as "Putin's chef" for his Kremlin catering contracts, arrived at a forward base in Libya in the first week of September to bolster Haftar, whose forces have been bogged down on the outskirts of the capital since April.

Their numbers have since risen to more than 1,400 troops involved in direct fighting and manning artillery, according to three Western officials. Wagner has also brought in pilots. One official said 25 pilots, trainers and support crew had been deployed. Two others said the pilots were flying missions in refurbished Sukhoi-22 jets belonging to Haftar.

  • The State Department's plea to Haftar came days after Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, leader of the UN-backed government in Tripoli, warned that the growing presence of Russian-backed foreign fighters in the country would "increase the duration of the war."
  • Since taking office, President Donald Trump has stepped up drone strikes against ISIS-affiliated militants in Libya. In April, U.S. forces there were briefly ordered to leave the country as the security situation on the ground had grown "increasingly complex and unpredictable," as a statement put it at the time.
  • In a phone conversation with Haftar earlier this year, Trump "recognized Field Marshal Haftar's significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya's transition to a stable, democratic political system," the White House stated at the time.


The FBI is treating the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a terrorist attack, several media outlets reported on Sunday.

"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," USA Today quoted FBI Agent Rachel Rojas as saying at a news conference.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing "everything" if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a "successful test of great significance."

"Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore," Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.

"He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November," he said.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Vaughan Dill/Released)

The three sailors whose lives were cut short by a gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, on Friday "showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil," said base commander Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella.

Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed in the shooting, the Navy has announced.

Read More Show Less

The Pentagon has a credibility problem that is the result of the White House's scorched earth policy against any criticism. As a result, all statements from senior leaders are suspect.

We're beyond the point of defense officials being unable to say for certain whether a dog is a good boy or girl. Now we're at the point where the Pentagon has spent three days trying to knock down a Wall Street Journal story about possible deployments to the Middle East, and they've failed to persuade either the press or Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to thwart any potential Iranian attacks. The story made clear that President Trump could ultimately decide to send a smaller number of service members, but defense officials have become fixated on the number 14,000 as if it were the only option on the table.

Read More Show Less

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members' use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military's leadership, rather than the individual troops.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a "clearer view" of the technology "than most people give them credit for."

"That said, I'd give us a 'C-minus' or a 'D' in educating the force on the threat of even technology," Berger said. "Because they view it as two pieces of gear, 'I don't see what the big deal is.'"

Read More Show Less