France abandons Haftar, attacks Wagner | Eurasia Diary -

7 August, Friday

France abandons Haftar, attacks Wagner

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After having been one of the European countries to provide the greatest diplomatic and logistic support, and remaining silent regarding the thousands of deaths and massacres committed by its troops, France has finally abandoned General Khalifa Haftar. French President Emmanuel Macron, who has bet on Haftar to defend the interests of his country and its oil companies in Libya, reports citing Middle East Monitor.

At a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Macron clearly denied his support for Haftar and announced his disappointment regarding the latter’s attack on the capital of Tripoli, on 4 April 2019. Macron criticised Russia for the first time, his previous ally in supporting Haftar, and its security company Wagner. He indicated that he had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the subject.

The most obvious cause is that Haftar suffered a crushing defeat in his war against Tripoli, retreating from the east and south of a circle measuring more than 400 kilometres in diameter. Because “the defeated has no ally,” France abandoned Haftar, as did Sudan and Greece, as Italy did before them.

But the real reason behind Macron’s attack on Wagner and raising the issue with Putin, is the movement of Wagner’s mercenaries to the Sharara oil field in the far southwest of Libya, seized last week, after units allied with the Libyan government almost recuperated it.

This field is the largest oil field in Libya. Its production can reach 300,000, or even 400,000, barrels per day during peak periods, and its reserves rise to three million barrels.

However, the most important detail regarding this issue is that the French oil company Total holds shares in the Sharara field project, which is managed by the Libyan National Oil Corporation, in partnership with the Spanish companies Repsol, the Austrian OMV and the Norwegian Equinor.

When a Russian security company comes close to the Sharara field, in which the French oil and gas giant invested large amounts of money over many years, this means entering the French influence sphere in Libya, which explains Macron’s rage on Wagner.

Therefore, Macron called Putin on Friday to condemn Wagner’s activity in Libya, while Putin informed him that the “private entrepreneurs” (Wagner’s mercenaries) do not represent Russia.

In another context, specialised air traffic sites for the first time followed the launching of Syrian and Russian cargo aircraft on the Al-Khadim base, operated by the Emirates in Libya. The aircraft’s movement shows that it departed from Damascus to Latakia, and then to Egypt. It was off the radar after arriving to the west of Alexandria.  However, FlightAware, a website that specialises in aviation surveillance, posted photos showing the aircraft’s flight path after it entered Egypt, where it headed to Al-Khadim air base in Libya. The plane appeared again last Tuesday, west of Alexandria, as it left Egypt and returned to Syria.

The site also detected a Russian cargo aircraft of the same model, departing from Moscow to Hmeimim airport in Latakia, Syria, and from the airport to Egypt, then to the border with Libya.

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