Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni met his Libyan counterpart Fayez Al Sarraj in Rome on Monday hoping to win agreement on a deal to block Libya’s migrant smugglers, but how much leverage Mr Al Sarraj has back home is an open question. Italy has reaffirmed its willingness to stop the migrant flux, especially after the rescuing of 3,000 of them last week. Italy and Libya had concluded an agreement to repatriated Libyan’s illegal migrants in counterpart of an financial aid of E200 millions from the EU to implement refugees camps in Libya.
Italy will host a meeting between European and North African countries next week in a bid to strengthen support for an agreement it struck with Libya to fight people smuggling as migrant arrivals surge. The President of the GNA (Governement of National Agreement), al-Seraj will meet his Italian counter-part Gentiloni, and interior ministers of 8 EU countries. Italy will guide the operation, this recall its participation to the training of Libyan’s coast guards (duly criticized few weeks ago). The “Movimento 5 Stelle” had clearly expressed its opposition to the Italo-Libyan accord, and had called to the come back of Italian’s diplomats from Tripoli.
On Wednesday the Tobruk-based Libyan House of Representatives said that it considers a recent Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni and Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya Fayez al-Sarraj to be null and void. The agreement was for cooperation and development and against clandestine migration, human trafficking and smuggling. It also included measures to strengthen border control. The anouncement was made by the Tobruk parliamentary body itself in a statement through the Al-Wasat website, which said that the presidential council and its president did not have jurisdiction to make such choices on the basis of the constitution and judicial sentences. ”An issue like that of clandestine migration, ” the statement said, ”is one of the important issues linked to the choice of the Libyan people through the representatives that they elected democratically through voting, and not the interests of individuals that do not have the trust of the House of Representatives, which is the legitimate power, nor the interests of European countries, and especially the Italian Republic.” Italy, it continued, ”is trying to get rid of the burden and the dangerous problems caused by clandestine migration at the security, economic and social level in exchange for a bit of material support that it is forced to offer to reduce the number of illegal migrants.”
Eunavfor Med is ready for the operational phase B2. The war against the traffickers in the Mediterranean will be fought in Libyan territorial waters, «but many political and legal challenges must be solved before we can recommend this transition», says Admiral Enrico Credendino, head of the European mission. Critical issues depends on the failure of the executive of national unity, without which the United Nations can’t authorize the arrest of traffickers and the destruction of the means directly on the ground. On 7 October 2015, the European Parliament announced the strengthening of military missions in the Mediterranean, aiming to board, search and seizure the boats used by the smugglers. While the December signing in Morocco between some members of the Libyan social and political life for the formation of an executive of national unity turned out to be illusory, the head of mission of the United Nations Support (Unsmil), Martin Kobler, has welcomed the release of the establishment of the national unity government approved by the majority of the Libyan Parliament. But this announcement is not official. Waiting for a political stability that averts the threat of Daesh and legitimate EuNavFor Med to a local remedial action aimed to stop the migratory hemorrhage destabilizing Europe, the mission remains temporarily “suspended” at the stage 2, that of the war against smugglers within 12 miles nautical from the Libyan coast. Although the international community supports the prime minister Fayez Al Sarraj, received in Italy by Matteo Renzi, the situation becomes critical. France, America and Britain could intervene with future air strikes against Isis bases in Libya, favored by the current institutional chaos. The Foreign Italian Minister Paolo Gentiloni reiterates the urgency of the national government, and focuses on joint fight against terrorism. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pierferdinando Casini, shares the same opinion, and declares that «The attack on 7 January in Zlitan against a police training center is part of the Islamic State strategy to postpone the settlement of the national unity executive agreed between the parties and the UN». Without a government internationally recognized, Eunavfor Med is designed to stall. The command of the mission, however, suggests a future move to Stage 3, with operations even on the coast, in collaboration with the Libyan forces. The identification of objectives is necessary, to solve the intelligence gap on the smugglers’ business model. According Credendino, «When the stage 2B and 3 will start, other missions will be sponsored by the international community. Therefore the activities of EuNavFor Med and other operations should be coordinated in order to mitigate the risk of fratricide. The European operation’s mandate should be extended for the formation and training of the Libyan coast guard». The third step, which has not yet received the EU green light, would actually be the most effective, because the majority of the smugglers operate in Libyan waters. But as the Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni affirms, «The UN Security Council can’t authorize an intervention without an express Libyan request». As for the results actually achieved, the mission has contributed to the arrest of 46 traffickers and to the destruction of 67 boats. 14 European countries are participating in EuNavFor Med: Italy, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Slovenia, Greece, Luxembourg, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden. Currently, six European warships are engaged offshore Libya: an Italian one, an English one, a French one, a Spanish one and two German, but other ships should be made available from England, Belgium and Slovenia. Four helicopters, many drones and 1300 military will be added to these. The costs of military intervention – apart from an annually European contribution of 12 million Euros – are supported by the individual participating countries. Italy has contributed to the mission with a budget of 26 million euro and 1.020 soldiers.
At the end of the International Conference on Libya in Rome, the US secretary of State John Kerry discloses the new government is to be formed within 40 days . While “the implementation of UNSCR 2213 and other relevant Resolutions to address threats to Libya’s peace, security, and stability” will be voted on December 17.
“We affirm our full support for the Libyan people in maintaining the unity of Libya and its institutions that function for the benefit of the whole Country. A Government of National Accord based in the capital Tripoli is urgently needed to provide Libya the means to maintain governance, promote stability and economic development. We stand with all Libyans who have demanded the swift formation of a Government of National Accord based upon the Skhirat Agreement, including representatives of the majority members of the House of Representatives and General National Congress, Independents, Municipalities, political parties, and civil society who convened in Tunis on December 10-11. We welcome the announcement that the Libya political dialogue members will sign the political agreement in Skhirat on December 16. We encourage all political actors to sign this final agreement on December 16 and call on all Libyans to unite behind the Libya Political Agreement and the Government of National Accord.”
This is the most important passage in the joint communique publish after the International Conference on Libya, occured in Rome on 13 December and endorsed by Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This public statement was signed by the EU, UN, LAS, AU and the 17 participating countries: Algeria, Saudi Arabia, China, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Jordan, Italy, Morocco, Qatar, United Kingdom, Russia, Spain , United States, Tunisia, Turkey. The next step will be the signing in Morocco on December 16 and the UN Security Council Resolution on December 17, when permanent member will vote the humanitarian military intervention.
The rapid advance by Daesh, the rise of Sirte as Caliphate stronghold and the failed institutions imposed a global solution. Moreover, other enemy countries, which fight in Libya through local groups, were present: Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Qatar and Turkey. Just as the same representative of Libya factions, including GNC and Tobruk-based parliament leaders.
Rome, as Syria peace talks in Vienna, followed the same method. Europe, the US, Russia and China worked together to support stabilization in Libya, in order to stop Daesh.
“We cannot allow the status quo in Libya to continue. It is dangerous for the viability of Libya, it is dangerous for Libyans, and now, because of the increase of the presence of Daesh [Isis] purposefully migrating there, it is dangerous for everyone,” the US secretary of State John Kerry said. Italy’s foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni believes that “time is fundamental and we must speed up the solution to the Libyan crisis in the face of threats that also come from terrorism.”
Therefore, Italy comes back protagonist of international scene, after cautious attitude towards Syrian front. After over a year of negotiations in Libya, the UN delegate Martin Kobler, succeded Bernardino Leon, wants to force more than 200 yes from Tobruk-based parliament representative on December 16, despite their scepticism.
The UN military operation nature is still to explain. Because of Daesh radicalization, it will not probably be a peacekeeping mission: “We reiterate our full support for the implementation of UNSCR 2213 and other relevant Resolutions to address threats to Libya’s peace, security, and stability. Those responsible for violence and those who obstruct and undermine Libya’s democratic transition must be held strictly accountable. We stand ready to support the implementation of the political agreement and underline our firm commitment to providing the Government of National Accord with full political backing and technical, economic, security and counter-terrorism assistance, as requested.”
Crucial week for the composition of national unity government. Italian Foreign Minister Gentiloni and the UN ambassador Leon are pressing Tripoli Prime Minister Abusahmin. After the agreement, International Community could decide on military operation. But Isis has published a video against Tobruk executive branch.
“This is a warning to Haftar and his companions, the atheists who gather in Parliament, we will not be tolerant, we will have pleasure to slit yours throats.” These are the words of jihadist Abu Yahya Al-Tunsi in a video posted (“Message of Sirte”) on internet by ISIS. The threats to the Tobruk government have arrived in crucial week for the formation of the national unity government because Tripoli will must decide if it wants to sign deal.
Last 1st August, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni Bernardino Leon and the UN mediator met Prime Minister Nuri Abusahmin Tripoli in Algeria. They tried to follow up Shikat agreement of two weeks ago, when all factions, except the government supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, agreed on Libyan national unity government. Despite many difficulties in the negotiations in recent months, Tripoli has continued to negotiate: so agreement could be not so far.
This deal is urgent for International Community, especially for the Eu. After institution of Libyan national unity government, an Un military mission could start. It could include Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain and the United States which, according to La Repubblica, would provide only logistical support to the operation.
Meanwhile, on August 3rd another video was broadcast on internet. It documents torture suffered by Al-Saadi Gaddafi, the Rais second son, in Tripoli prison. These bloody images bring the opening of an investigation by the Attorney General of Tripoli.