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Libyan mayors visit Italy to discuss cooperation

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17 Libyan mayors was present in Rome, this Thursday, they had a meeting with Italian ambassador to Libya, some representative of Foreign Minister, and some representatives. They talked about global situation in Libya, how to manage the crisis. But they talked also about “an agreement [which] was reached to facilitate Italian visa for Libyans and resumption of Tripoli-Rome flights”, Zuwara Municipality reported.

Catania’s prosecutor: check NGOs for any links with the smugglers

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Italy is looking more closely at the role of privately-funded rescue operations that have been plucking migrants from the seas off Libya and into the possibility that there may be collusion between smugglers and some of the rescuers. A Sicilian prosecutor has told the news agency AFP that the cost and sophistication of the rescue operations had attracted attention. “There is an abnormal proliferation of NGOs [Non-Government Organisations] operating “ said Carmelo Zuccaro, Catania’s prosecutor, “I’m not talking about the big, prestigious organisations, but all the small ones that seem to have sophisticated hardware, such as drones” Zuccaro said that in 2013 his office had begun its own monitoring of migrant trafficking. Because of their expensive equipment and its interest in their sources of funding, it had now started to check NGOs for any links with the smugglers. It seems clear that the European border security force Frontex has been watching the movement of rescue vessels just as it has been seeking to monitor the trafficking gangs that have been launching migrants from the coast of western Libya. Such observation will have included the interception of radio traffic.

Libya still without national unity government

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Not even today. After that HoR representatives failed to attend vote for national unity government, also on March 8 UN Peace Deal is still pending.

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Since several weeks, Western countries are waiting for national unity government to intervene in Libya. And while Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi denied a military operation without Libyan approval, today the New York Times reports that the White House has a plan to immediately go in Libya to stop ISIS expansion.

Indeed United States, France and United Kingdom are on the ground since at least one months. So Italy, after the verbal crossfire between Renzi and the US ambassador John R. Philips, must decide soon if it wants to lead international coalition or if it wants to be slipped away.
Giacomo Pratali

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Libya: Rome, two Italian hostages killed

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“In connection to the circulation of several images of the victims, apparently Westerners, of a shootout in Libya’s Sabratha region, the Farnesina informs that from the images, albeit in the absence of bodies, it could be possible to identify two of the four Italians who worked for the Bonatti construction company and who were kidnapped in July 2015.  More specifically, the images could be of Fausto Piano and Salvatore Failla. The Farnesina has already informed the families. However, despite efforts to verify the news, confirmation thereof is made difficult due to the absence of the bodies ”. On March 3, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday confirmed that Fausto Piano, 61, and Salvatore Failla, 47, were killed in Libya. While the other two Italian coworker kidnapped last July, Filippo Calcagno and Gino Pollicardo, “are still alive “, as reported by the president of Copasir Marco Minniti.

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On March 3, Fausto Piano and Salvatore Failla were probably killed during a shoot-out near Sabratha between Tripoli’s security forces, led by Fajr Libya, and an ISIS brigade. According to local sources, the two Italians would be hit while they were traveling aboard a jihadist convoy.

Images on web and the statement of Italian government certified their kill. But there are two doubts. The first one is about the kidnapping of July 20, 2015 because the four Bonatti employeers returned to their home not by sea, but by car. An unusual choice seeing that Eni and Bonatti workers generally choose the first option.

The second one is about imprisonment during the following months, when a claim never arrived. Even until late February, local sources excluded ISIS responsibility. But what happened last Wednesday showed the opposite because jihadists used the two Italians as a shield. While men Fajr Libya were not aware that in Daesh convoy were present Fausto Piano and Salvatore Failla.
Giacomo Pratali

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Libya, US: new Iraq on the horizon?

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Yesterday Tobruk parliament once again postponed voting on new government until February 29. Meanwhile, the US and its European partners are thinking about a military intervention without Libyan approval: Islamic State’s stabilization and about 6,000 enlisted were changing Libya in the new Iraq.

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During February, several news about the US, UK and France landing at Libya were been reported by international press. The last one is about France which, as written by Le Monde, should have send about 180 soldiers against Daesh.

Even United States is preparing a military plan. After agreement with Italian government, which allowed US drones to fly out for attacks on Daesh, Barack Obama is pressing not only Libyan factions to ratify national unity government, but also Rome to play an active role in an always more probably military intervention in Libya.

The risk is especially one: repeating the same mistake of 2011. But the hesitation of Libyan House of Representatives could cause a plan B. A scenario which could exclude the Italian leadership in international operation and unpopular with al-Sarraj government and the majority of population. Indeed, they would want a military training and assistance from foreign countries.

If United States and its partners decided to intervene without new government approval, Islamic State could increase its popularity among foreign fighters and Libyan people because the war could become a war between Islam and West.

Beyond these doubts, Obama’s political consultants push to immediately go in Libya, as reported by Washington Post. Indeed, Libya is becoming new Daesh headquarters, where always more jihadists are enlisting them. In this way, it could repeat the same context of Iraq in 2014, when the White House didn’t intervene until the next 18 months and Islamic State strengthened its positions.
Giacomo Pratali

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Libya: what’s the real role of Italy?

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Syria more than Libya was the main topic during the Rome meeting of the anti-ISIS Small Group on February 2. Summit was held chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni, the summit was attended by 23 foreign ministers, including the EU Representative Federica Mogherini.

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During the press conference after meeting, Kerry told about a global battle against Daesh in Syria, Iraq and Libya: “This theater of war will be longer, more than a war between two states”. He excluded the possibility of a ground intevention of US armed forces, but ensured logistical and training supports when new Libyan government will approve international military operation. Moreover, Secretary of State remembered that Italy is “one of the most active countries anti-ISIS”.

And Libya? Political impasse to create new government in Tripoli is not only favoring once again
the radicalization of Daesh, but is causing knock-out effects. Risk is only one: Western countries could repeat the same error of 2011 if did not wait for new government approval for military intervention.

As revealed by the Sunday Times, intelligences of the United Kingdom, United States and France would be active at a base near Tobruk, where they are already planning interventions on the ground and the introduction of a permanent headquarters. So, what this possibile UN military intervention really is? A support to local forces? Several bomb raid? Or even a ground intervention?

Last December, writing to his Italian counterpart Roberta Pinotti, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said: “I hope that Italy will take part in raid against Islamic State. “ Conflicting words compared with Kerry and Gentiloni recent statements.

Ultimately, this summit did not change anything about Libyan crisis. Moreover, this deadlock could relegate Italy to subordinate role during the probably UN military intervention.
Giacomo Pratali

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