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foreign meddling

Russia is reportedly 'going all in' on Libya conflict

Russia is looking to amp up its influence in the Middle East and North Africa by sending about 200 mercenaries in recent weeks to Libya, where they may be turning the tide in the country's conflict in a trajectory reminiscent of Moscow's role in the Syrian civil war, The New York Times reports.

Russia — alongside the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and occasionally France — is backing the militia leader Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who is battling the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli. While there is fear Hifter would rule Libya as a military strongman, Russia and the other foreign powers appear to appreciate that attribute. They believe he's the best chance to stave off the rise of political Islam in the country.

"It is very clear that Russia is going all in on this conflict," said Gen. Osama al-Juwaili, the top commander of the Tripoli government-aligned forces. Al-Juwaili criticized Western countries — many of whom (including the United States) technically support the U.N.-backed government — for doing nothing to mitigate the attempts to push Hifter into power by Russia and the other foreign governments. President Trump has reportedly praised Hifter's fight "against terrorism," despite Hifter's airstrikes on former U.S. allies.

"Why all this pain? Just stop this now and assign the guy to rule us," al-Juwaili "sardonically" told the Times, referring to Hifter. Read more at The New York Times.