Libya, which was thrust into a violent, nine-year-long civil war in the aftermath of a militia uprising backed by NATO airstrikes in 2011, has returned to the forefront of international attention in recent weeks as major powers increase support for the two factions vying for control of the oil-rich nation.
The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord “wouldn’t mind” if the United States set up a base in the country with the express purpose of confronting and containing Russia, interior minister Fathi Bashagha has said.
“Libya is important in the Mediterranean: it has oil wealth and a 1,900-kilometre coast and ports which allow Russia to view it as the gate to Africa,” the minister, representing one of the two competing Libyan governments, told Bloomberg in an interview on Saturday.
“If the US asks for a base, as the Libyan government we wouldn’t mind – for fighting terrorism, organized crime and keeping foreign countries that intervene at a distance. An American base would lead to stability,” Bashagha added.
Saying that Tripoli wasn’t in the loop about US plans to redeploy forces on the African continent, Bashagha said he “hoped” that the redeployment “includes Libya so it doesn’t leave space that Russia can exploit.”
Bashagha’s comments following months of commentary and speculation about a possible redeployment of US forces in AFRICOM, the US military’s African Command presently containing about 5,100 troops and…