By Lorenza Formicola
Emmanuel Macron, with a real master stroke, gathered for the first time the two Libyan leaders who declared, after a meeting that lasted a few hours, that the two bitter enemies, Sarraj and Haftar, were committed to an immediate ceasefire and to hold elections. However, Italy keep looking without doing anything, confirming the international irrelevance. After six years of civil war and two leaders who have always despised each other, it is a political – but also a media – relevant result.
Macron made huge profits by being the only credible mediator who sent a specific message to all North African countries. The message also reached Germany and the other European countries: to control Libya means take away the leadership. On that occasion, in addition to the fact that our country lost another opportunity to play a relevant role in Libya, the defeat of the EU and Sarraj was declared.
Today, just over a year after that moment, Libyan situation has crumbled again. As expected, despite the sterile and high-sounding complaints from our policy, a new ceasefire agreement has been reached. The UN special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salamé, announced that “an agreement to end all hostilities, protect civilians, safeguard public and private property and reopen Mitiga airport, was reached and signed.”
The meeting that took place in Zawinya put an end to nine days of clashes that left 50 dead and 138 injured. Clashes that also took place on the airport road and Sahaladdin road where missiles were launched.
Where is Italy on this geopolitical chessboard? We know that the Italian government supports the Commission of the Libyan national agreement led by Fayez al Sarraj, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Moavero, who stresses that the next international conference will focus on security, “a precondition for the holding elections, the key goal of the United Nations’ plan”. We should take advantage of the moment and at this point, some parentheses should be opened.
First of all, it has not been said that behind the attack in Tripoli are only Haftar’s forces and France; remember that the French Foreign Minister strongly condemned the recent clashes. Haftar does not control the rebel militias that fight in Tripoli; any “flash-alliance” is just for show, especially considering that the claims from the Seventh Brigade instead of politis are economic. As for France, it may not be interested in triggering violence and chaos. Measures that by themselves are not sufficient to make al-Sarraj fall.
We must remember that France is not our only rival in Libya. It is also true that in this context – in which Sarraj, the man for whom we bet on, runs the risk of falling – if Italy wants to maintain a minimum of credibility in North Africa, Italy must show that is ready to use any kind of resources to help them. And also because it is in Tripolitania where we play the cards of our interests ranging from energy to blocking the flow of illegal immigrants. But it is also true that if there is a guarantee against the Islamist Libya, this is Haftar. The general – chief of the rival government and profound connoisser of the Libyan situation – calls for elections to be held, but Europe disagrees with him, although the vote would also allow to clean up local terrorism. Nowadays Libya, in the midst of a general silence, welcomes all terrorists fleeing from Syria, Tunisia and other Islamic countries.
Libya is more than just ISIS or the galaxy of Islamist acronyms increasingly rooted in the area to scare, but it is the progressive drift towards less secular forms of State to frighten even more. The spectrum of the Muslim Brotherhood sets the Islamist course of Libyan politics and society. For some time, the Muslim Brotherhood has been pressing to get more space and, until now, in Tripolitania they have achieved it. On the other hand, in Cyrenaica, Haftar – his main enemy – acts as a dam; something that Italy knows very well due to the proximity of their coasts. Our country should not worry about the Libyan immigration, Libyan people do not want to emigrate, it should worry about the risk posed by all those who went to fight in Syria, Iraq or Tunisia and who are returning to Libya in search of refuge after the defeat of ISIS. They are the ones who should worry us, not the Libyan people.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco or Tunisia do not want Serraj in power, precisely because he is too close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Haftar has repeatedly clarified who are the enemies: the jihadists of Ansar al Sharia (qaedist group) and the Misurata militias, ISIS’ hate preachers and the Muslim Brotherhood linked to the Government of national agreement. Who are the al-Sarraj’s jihadists is still unknown.