Big Powers Share out Their Military Lead-Roles: US in Libya – Russia in Syria
The symmetry between the roles Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin have agreed to assign their armies in two Middle East hotspots is not perfect. The big picture places the US in the lead of the fight against ISIS in Libya, while Russia seeks to strengthen the Syrian army ready for taking power in Damascus in place of the Assad dynasty.
“The Pentagon is considering fresh military action in Libya,” a US spokesman finally admitted Wednesday, Jan. 27. He added that officials are currently “looking at military options” to stop the Islamic State militant group from gaining ground in another oil-rich Mideast nation.
At present, “US efforts in Libya are focused on identifying local allies to work with, for what a senior military officer has envisioned as a ‘decisive ‘confrontation with ISIS,” he said.
This official picture does not represent all the facts on the ground.
According to DEBKA Weekly’s military sources, American Special Forces have taken up position at a base 25km east of Tripoli, the Libyan capital, while British and French forces are quartered in the Gemal Abdel Nasser military base south of Tobruk.
The Obama administration successfully concealed the second US-backed military campaign in Libya (until the secret was uncovered by DEBKA Weekly 692 on Jan. 1).
It now turns that the US-British-French operation in Libya is again being run from a special war room at French military staff headquarters, as it was in the first operation in 2011.
America’s role then was confined to blasting Muammar Qaddafi’s regime and military from the sea, along with heavy air raids. The game plan this time is different and designed to unfold in stages as the year wears on.
As for Russian involvement in the Syrian war, officials in Moscow continue to deny the presence of ground troops.
This claim is likewise refuted by the facts.
In the last ten days, Russian Special Operations forces, using artillery and backed by warplanes, are smashing rebel positions in the Latakia province of western Syria, to clear the way for Hizballah and Syrian army forces to advance against little resistance and root Syrian rebels out of every corner of the coastal province.
The rebels are taking enormous casualties.
Russian troops also fought this week alongside the Syrian army and Hizballah in battles for the key southern towns of Daraa and Sheikh Meskin, which command Syria’s borders with Israel and Jordan.