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Lavrov wraps up three-day North Africa tour with an eye on Libya

Photo: Sputnik/Vitaliy Belousov Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will wrap up a three-day North African tour today in Tunisia– following whistle-stop visits to Algeria and Morocco

Jan 26

11:18
2019

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will wrap up a three-day North African tour today in Tunisia– following whistle-stop visits to Algeria and Morocco– to shore up Russian influence in the Maghreb region. The visit comes as two rival governments compete for control of Libya.

Moscow maintains good relations with both camps to have greater sway over the one that eventually comes to power. The aim is to exert greater influence by tackling Islamist terrorists in a country with the 10th largest oil reserves in the world and a coastline in the southern Mediterranean.

For its part, Tunisia has decried clumsy Western policy in Libya, which it blames for the political instability and Libyan-based Islamist terrorist threats to secular Tunisia’s security.

Mr Lavrov Is expected to seek consensus with Tunis on the Kremlin’s aims in Libya.

This will likely be complicated by Maghreb nations traditional ties to the West—Morocco is a major American ally and free trade partner. However, as long as Libyan instability remains a security threat to Tunisia and beyond, expect Russian influence to increase in the Maghreb.

This may even mean a permanent Russian military presence that challenges NATO dominance in the Southern Mediterranean.