CIA director visits Libya to discuss ties with Russia and oil export to the EU

William Burns, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States, paid a surprise visit to Libya. In Tripoli he met the government of the war-torn Libya, according to a statement released by the country’s authorities. 

By visiting Libya, William Burns became the highest-ranking American government official to travel to Libya under the presidency of Joe Biden.

The CIA head met with notorious businessman Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, the prime minister of the Government of National Unity, according to sources in the Libyan media (GNU). Burns also had meetings with the GNU’s head of intelligence, Hussein al-Ayeb, and the minister of foreign affairs, Najla al-Mangoush. 

The head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), which ostensibly backs the GNU’s parallel government in eastern Libya but is not recognized by the UN, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The CIA director also met with him during the tour. Notably, Burns avoided meeting with the self-proclaimed “prime minister” of the GNS, Fathi Bashagha.

The chief of the Libyan National Army, which backs the GNU’s parallel government in eastern Libya, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, was another person the CIA director spoke with. It is not recognized by the UN, in contrast to the GNU. Importantly, Burns avoided meeting with the self-proclaimed “prime minister” of the GNS, Fathi Bashagha.

According to Al-Monitor, Burns discussed Libya’s oil exports to Europe and the GNU’s relationship with Russia. Given that the GNU turned over Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi to American officials last month, counterterrorism was also on the agenda. 

According to Politico, the United States is interested in tracking Russia’s Wagner private military company, particularly its activities in Syria and Northern Africa.

Owned by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Putin, Wagner participates in Russia’s war against Ukraine, and has 50,000 fighters in other countries. The Kremlin uses Wagner for operations abroad, linked to its political and military projects.

Libyan government support can help the West to counter Russia’s military influence in Northern Africa. At the same time, Libyan oil can help Europe to get rid of the dependence on Russian energy resources.

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