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Tuesday 20th March 2018

The Libyan Crisis Can Undermine the Survival of the European Union


Roberto Tumbarello

Sat, 08 Sep 2018 19:19 GMT

If European countries are unable to find a common line to tackle the Libyan crisis, the survival of the EU will be in the balance. It is therefore time to define this alleged unity while we are grappling with a series of important circumstances, including war. But even if everyone proposes peace, in reality, each party is defending its own interests, regardless of the consequences. 

Italy rules out sending troops to Libya in addition to those which are already there and are not operational. In Misrata, 300 of our soldiers preside over a hospital that is now unused, and in Tripoli 100 sailors are there to train the Libyan police and coastguard. But the clashes between the various Libyan militias could involve our Coast Guard, and these clashes may not be confined to Libyan territory. Nobody, at that point, will be there to watch over the safety of the coasts to prevent unauthorised landings. 

Therefore, the risk that the agreement reached by former Italian prime minister Gentiloni last year and recently ratified by the Government of Mr Conte on the control of migratory flows between Libya and Italy is very worrying. It is also possible that General Haftar has an interest in weakening Italy and letting all remaining migrants leave and cross the Mediterranean.

If there were mass arrivals, the pledge of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini that no boat may land migrants in Italian ports is likely to be ditched. The last Libyan crisis, in June 2017, caused the arrival of 12,500 migrants in a few hours in different ports in the South of Italy. There are more than 50 thousand people now ready to go on the Libyan coast. So far they have been blocked by the agreements between the two countries. But in this situation it is very easy for the agreements to fall apart. 

At that point neither Italy nor Europe will be able to watch. Especially since the problem has grown dramatically with the escape of 400 criminals from the Ain Zara prison. They are killers and former supporters of Gaddafi who are perpetrators of robberies and any kind of violence. There are now fears for the security of the Libyan jail that holds Isis terrorists. 

In addition, all refugees have now escaped from the detention and reception centres. Among them there were certainly people smugglers who no doubt have already organised boats for new crossings. Islamic fundamentalists, who would create further serious problems upon their arrival, may also be hiding among the refugees. 

This is why there are those who hope for an armed intervention by Europe precisely for humanitarian reasons, to stop the chaos and terror that reign throughout the region and that risk infecting Italy and the whole of the European mainland. There was an inappropriate attack on Libya in 2011, on the initiative of France to eliminate Gaddafi, who was, instead, a champion of European interests and peace. Now, 

when it would be particularly appropriate, there is no military intervention. But not intervening today means being a warmonger. If this time Italy and Europe are limited to witnessing the civil war in Tripoli, it also means that they do not hold to their own union, questioned by the interests of each one, in spite of the proclamations of peace and common proposals. 

The Italian government, instead, has decided to try to involve the whole of Europe in common interest and also to gain the support of the USA and Russia. Although the same Libyan rebels claim that Italy is the most authoritative country to take the reins of mediation, Rome does not take advantage of this natural role and often appears to be absent. An official statement admits that the main objective of the Italian government is to obtain more funds from Europe to invest in the socio-economic development of the countries from which migrants leave, in order to reduce departures.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of 7Dnews.

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