When France cohabited with Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group in Libya


Lhe Russian invasion of Ukraine has aroused, in many European capitals, an examination of conscience on the extent of the blindness of the leaders in place in relation to the ambitions, however displayed by Vladimir Putin. In Berlin, it is Angela Merkel’s bet on the integration of Russia through trade that is called into question, as it has accentuated Germany’s vulnerability rather than encouraging a virtuous cycle with Moscow.

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In France, the debate remains indulgent towards Emmanuel Macron and “the security and trust architecture between the European Union and Russia” which he proposed in August 2019 to Putin, welcoming him to his summer residence in Brégançon. Shortly after, the French president stigmatizes in ” deep state diplomats who dare to cast doubt on his desire for a strategic rapprochement with Moscow. This thinly veiled threat helps to stifle any internal criticism of Elysian voluntarism. However, it is not in Europe, but in North Africa, that one of the most disturbing episodes of such a sequence took place.

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All united for Haftar

Libya’s first civil war, from February to October 2011, resulted in the overthrow and elimination of Muammar Gaddafi, after four decades of absolute power. It was not until May 2014 that the second civil war broke out, on the initiative of a former general of Gaddafi, Khalifa Haftar, soon proclaimed “marshal”. He dreams of emulating the Libyan ex-marshal Sissi, who has just been “elected” with 97% of the votes at the head of Egypt, after having overthrown the Islamist president. Denouncing all of its adversaries as “terrorists”, Haftar establishes in Tobruk, in the east of the country, rival authorities of the government installed in the capital of Tripoli. He refused, in March 2016, to join the government of national unity of Faïez Sarraj, yet recognized by the UN as soon as he took office in Tripoli.

Haftar is openly supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which violate the international embargo to continue to arm him, and more discreetly by Russia and France. For the Kremlin, it is a form of revenge on the NATO campaign in 2011 in Libya. For François Hollande, cooperation with Haftar is part of the logic “counter-terrorism” throughout the Sahel. In 2016, three French soldiers died in ” service ordered in the fall of a helicopter of Haftar’s forces in Benghazi.

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Emmanuel Macron, two months after entering the Elysée, reunites Sarraj and Haftar in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, in July 2017, in the name of reconciliation between Tripoli and Tobruk. It does not matter that the government recognized by the UN and the de facto authorities of the rebel leader are thus placed on the same level, the essential thing is for the French president to break the impasse, a hope quickly disappointed. But the bias of Paris in favor of Haftar persists and it is even accentuated by the very close proximity between Macron and Mohammed Ben Zayed, the strongman of the United Arab Emirates, whose French leaders willingly embrace the quarrels, in particular his obsession with anti – Islamist.

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