Italy’s priority in Libya is the establishment of the Libyan unity government and not the undertaking of foreign operations inside the war-torn country.
Italian website, Italy Europe 24, reported that in a UN meeting on Monday Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told his counterparts, that the Libyan International Assistance Mission (LIAM) in Libya must start only after a clear request by the new Libya unity government.
The Italian side knows that a large part of the Libyan society (which is already fragmented) will perceive any foreign operation in Libya as a violation of the country’s sovereignty. This was evident when the Italian authorities criticized a week ago, reports which indicated that France, the UK and the US performed secret military missions in the war-torn country to hit the Islamic State. Then, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti had said in an interview on Canale 5 television that “Libya can be stabilized by local forces” and any “military intervention and occupation of the country (by Western forces) would be unthinkable.”
According to Italy Europe 24, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also recalled on Monday that Italy is the leading country on resolving the Libyan crisis and “the priority is to form a government in Libya.” He stressed that the US is the main ally of Italy on the issue stressing that both countries “share the opinion that before a mission all attempts must be made to form a government.” Renzi concluded saying that “we saw what happened when the French and the British intervened without a stable government framework.”
According to the Italian website, the UN envoy, Martin Kobler, is now assigned to step up his efforts in helping the Libyan officials to establish the Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez al-Serraj in Tripoli. After the UN talks, Kobler told the UN Security Council that he intends “to reconvene the Libyan Political Dialogue to explore the way forward in line with the Libyan Political Agreement.”
Kobler said that the overwhelming majority of the Libyan people are in favor of the Libyan Political Agreement, and support the formation of a Government of National Accord that can effectively address the existing threats. “The overwhelming majority want and deserve peace – now,” Kobler insisted and added. “Some of those politically responsible on both sides, however, still refuse to listen to the voices of the Libyan people and pursue their own narrow political interests. In my last briefing to the Security Council, I promised to broaden the basis of support to the Libyan Political Agreement.”
LIAM and Islamic State presence in Libya
Today, a UN official clarified that any foreign military operation in Libya will worsen the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country.
“Any military intervention or internal fighting inside Libyan territory will exacerbate the humanitarian situation there; this means more displacement and more destruction,” Ali Zaatari, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator and deputy envoy to Libya, told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency. “The urgent issue now is to quickly address the humanitarian crisis in Libya,” he stressed.
On Tuesday, Gentiloni stressed that Italy stands ready to coordinate operations for the security and stability of Libya and according to the Italian website, the LIAM will most probably be led by Italy. Gentiloni said that “the level of coordination and planning between different coalition countries on the possible contribution to the security of Libya is in a very advanced stage.”
Overall, LIAM is necessary as the Islamic State (IS) is taking advantage of the political and security vacuum in the country and expands to the West, East and to the South.
According to the UN, during an assault last week, IS reportedly killed 17 people, beheading several of them. The terrorist group has also continued to carry out multiple beheadings and atrocities in their stronghold, Sirte.
“IS in Libya constitutes an urgent and growing threat to Libya, the region and beyond. However, the fight against violent extremism can only be sustainable if it is led by a national unity government that puts in place and prioritizes a national agenda to address the country’s most immediate challenges and works to meet the aspirations and expectations of the Libyan people,” stressed Kobler in his speech.