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Luisa Vieira

Should NATO watch its southern flank?

As NATO leaders gather this week in Madrid for their first summit since the war in Ukraine began, they will talk mainly about the immediate bogeyman, Russia, and the long-term strategic rival, China. Meanwhile, host Spain is seizing the opportunity to get the alliance to pay at least some attention to Africa and parts of the Middle East, where Russia and jihadists are stirring up trouble that could impact Mediterranean countries.

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The Graphic Truth: Russia arms Africa

Russia has been trying to regain political and economic clout across Africa, a continent where the Kremlin yielded great influence during the Cold War. For years, Moscow has been upping its investment in African countries to gain a strategic foothold on the continent. As part of this effort, it’s been sending mercenaries to support counterinsurgencies in West Africa, as well as flooding some African states with weapons. We look at Russia’s arms exports to Africa’s largest economies and compare them to military exports from the US and China.

Libyans are seen through a Kingdom of Libya flag during a celebration rally in front of the residence of Muammar Gaddafi at the Bab al-Aziziyah complex in Tripoli on September 13, 2011.

REUTERS/Suhaib Salem/File Photo

What We’re Watching: Libya’s future, Russia vs UK in Black Sea, US blocks Iranian news sites

Peace in Libya? Representatives from several outside players with a stake in Libya's future are meeting in Berlin with the country's interim unity government to chart a path toward peace after a decade of bloody internal conflict. Since 2011, the energy-rich North African country has been split between areas controlled by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army, a militia headed by warlord Khalifa Haftar. It's long been a proxy war as well, with Turkey backing the GNA and Gulf states and Russia supporting Haftar. One major concern is what to do with the 20,000 foreign troops currently in the country, which include Turkish soldiers and Syrian fighters on Ankara's payroll in Tripoli, as well as Russian mercenaries. Western powers want the Turks and Russians to withdraw their forces, but Ankara and Moscow would rather wait to see how things play out. Another thorny issue is how 75 UN-appointed Libyan lawmakers will agree on the legal basis to hold a general election in December without a constitution in place. We'll be tracking progress on both.

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