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Exclusive: Russia appears to deploy forces in Egypt, eyes on Libya role - sources
Russia appears to have deployed special forces to an airbase in western Egypt near the border with Libya in recent days, U.S., Egyptian and diplomatic sources say, a move that would add to U.S. concerns about Moscow's deepening role in Libya.
The U.S. and diplomatic officials said any such Russian deployment might be part of a bid to support Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar, who suffered a setback with an attack on March 3 by the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) on oil ports controlled by his forces.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States has observed what appeared to be Russian special operations forces and drones at Sidi Barrani, about 60 miles (100 km) from the Egypt-Libya border.
Egyptian security sources offered more detail, describing a 22-member Russian special forces unit, but declined to discuss its mission. They added that Russia also used another Egyptian base farther east in Marsa Matrouh in early February.
Published on Oct 10, 2016
The Russian military holds negotiations with the Egyptian authorities on rental of a Soviet military air base in the Egyptian town of Sidi Barrani. Restoration of the base will evidence a new stage of cooperation between the two countries as well as help to settle geopolitical tasks in the Middle East and the North of Africa. The talks on Russia’s participation in renewal of the Egyptian military facilities on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea are being held successfully. As a source in the foreign policy circles said, ‘in case both parties agree upon the terms, the base may start operating as early as in 2019. Cairo is ready to agree upon its rental by Moscow to solve major geopolitical tasks, which meet the interests of Egypt as well. According to agreements that have been already reached, Russia will deliver equipment by sea. Moreover, a permanent military contingent of Russia will be deployed’. Thus, Russia will return to Sidi Barrani after 45 years. Until 1972 the Soviet Navy used the base in this Egyptian town to monitor the US Navy.
A visit that was paid to Moscow by the Prime Minister of the Libyan Government of National Consent, Fayez al-Sarraj has once again drwan the public attention to the problems of this country, that undergoes the crisis of duality of powers. Fayez al-Sarraj is representing the government that is situated in Tripoli, while the other government of Libya can be located the east of the country, in the city of Tobruk. Each of these powers has their own military capabilities, which only aggravates the situation.
According with the agreement concluded by the opposing parties in Morocco, the National Consent government was supposed to become the basis for the process of transition to a unified national governing structures. Yet, in spite of the support provided by the United Nations, the United States, the EU and other countries to the National Consent government, it wasn’t approved by the parliament in Tobruk, which resulted in further instability. This government has no authority in the eastern part of the country, which is under the control of General Haftar – the commander-in-chief of the Tobruk army. What is even more important is that the absolute majority of oil reserves, along with the ports that enable it to be exported from the country are situated in the east.
The country is being plagued by a long list of problems, including internal feud and the plundering of its cities and villages by various radical groups that remains virtually unopposed. In 2016 alone, clashes between warring groups resulted in the death toll of over 1500 people, independent sources say. journal-neo.org...
There are are no Russian special forces units in Egypt contrary to media reports, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said Tuesday. MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Late on Monday, Reuters news agency reported that Russia deployed 22-member unit of special forces and several drones to an airbase in Egypt near the Libyan border, citing unnamed US and Egyptian military and diplomatic sources. The Egyptian Defense Ministry has already denied the reports. "There are no Russian special forces in Sidi Barrani. Certain Western media have been stirring the public with such mud-slinging from anonymous sources for years," Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
The Battle of Sidi Barrani (10–11 December 1940) was the opening battle of Operation Compass, the first big British attack of the Western Desert Campaign. Sidi Barrani on the Mediterranean coast in Egypt, had been occupied by the Italian 10th Army, during the Italian invasion of Egypt from 9–16 September 1940 and was attacked by British, Commonwealth and imperial troops who re-captured the port. While retreating from Sidi Barrani and Buq Buq, Italian forces crowded on the coast road and were easy targets for HMS Terror and two gunboats, which bombarded the Sollum area all day and most of the night of 11 December. By late on 12 December, the only Italian positions left in Egypt were at the approaches to Sollum and the vicinity of Sidi Omar. The British took 38,300 prisoners for a loss of 624 men and prolonged the five-day raid on Italian positions in Egypt, eventually capturing Cyrenaica and most of the 10th Army.
Aria of the Suez guest. Oil redistribution and the return of Russia in Egypt
After the Egyptian revolution (1952) and the nationalization of the Suez Canal (1956), Britain with the support of France and Israel tried to regain control of the Suez by using military means. The war was ended by the joint efforts of the USSR and the US, which hoped to establish their control over the canal.
Abdel Nasser made a bet on the USSR, but in 1967 as a result of the Six Day Arab-Israeli war (this time with the support of the United States) the canal was blocked by Israeli troops. Each year, Egypt was losing 4-5 billion dollars (still backed by gold at the time) due to the idle canal.
After the death of Nasser in 1970 and the coming to power of Anwar Sadat, Egypt was forced to change its priorities moving from an ally of the Soviet Union to an ally of the United States. In 1972, Sadat expelled from Egypt all the Soviet specialists and closed the military base in Sidi Barrani. And two years later Israel withdrew its troops and Egypt began restoring the Suez Canal.
Since then, the conjuncture of the oil market changed radically. The US abandoned the gold standard, limited the domestic oil production and turned from an exporter to the main importer of oil. Suez Canal as the main oil route now runs in the opposite (reverse) direction – it serves to supply raw materials to Europe and the United States, and the control of it is a strategic priority for Washington.
Today, the world has entered the era of a new oil assets redistribution. Previous redistributions have been associated with revolutions of local colonels (Gaddafi, Saddam) in the oil-rich countries with the tacit support of the Soviet Union and the nationalization of the oil-extracting concessions of the United States and Britain. Now there is a reverse process – the “color revolutions” and the return of oil production and transportation under the direct control of the United States.
If the information on the return of Russia to the Sidi Barrani is confirmed, it would mean that the alternative proposal that Russia made to the world oil market in Syria, have been heard not only in China but also in the Arab countries.