Italy’s Foreign Minister has warned Libya risks becoming “another Somalia” if the various warring factions in that country cannot broker a peace. The comments were made as Italy joined the US and other allies in a joint statement condemning the “barbaric” acts carried out by the Islamic State (IS) in that country.
“…it needs to be clear that we are racing the clock in efforts to strengthen what was put together on 12 July, i.e. Tobruk, Misurata, Zintan and the majority of the municipalities of Tripoli, and, hopefully, extend it to include the GNC.
“Time is crucial and is not unlimited, especially now that the Daesh presence in Sirte has taken on some alarming features. Either we conclude in the next few weeks or we are going to have another Somalia a few steps from our coast and will have to react differently.”
The July peace deal brokered by the UN to which Gentiloni refers was aimed at restoring stability, however leaders of the Islamist-backed General National Congress (the GNC referred to above) sitting in Libyan capital Tripoli boycotted the pact. Since then violence in the country has worsened.
Explaining what he meant by reacting “differently”, Gentiloni sounded an ominous note for Libya saying it would mean:
“…placing Libya on the international anti-Daesh coalition’s agenda, in the knowledge that it would no longer be a question of stabilising the country but of containing terrorism.”
Libya’s descent into chaos began when a 2011 uprising, backed by Western air power, drove Muammar Gaddafi from power. Since then two rival governments and several Islamist militias have fought each other for control of the oil-rich country. Asked whether that intervention was a mistake, Gentiloni told La Stampa:
“It was, without a doubt, a mistake not to associate the intervention with any idea about how to manage the aftermath. Italy could have made itself heard on this, but unfortunately we joined that operation with what was perhaps the weakest government in our history as a republic – I am talking about the final stage of the Berlusconi government.
“Today, any new intervention has to be launched within the framework of peace negotiations that include all Libyans. Italy will contribute, but only on that condition.”
In early July the French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, spoke during a trip to the US about the prospect of Libya becoming a ‘failed state’ harbouring international criminals and terrorists. As Breitbart London reported then, Le Drian noted that the day IS takes control of Libya is the day IS takes charge of migrants coming to Europe, adding:
“…and then terrorism is going to be strengthened in Europe because there’ll be two new elements for [IS]. First they’ll have more and more financial assets, because of all the taxes that are going to proceed for the crossing of the Meditterranean, and then terrorist infiltration among the migrants. So we are facing, now, a serious situation and the political situation does not exist today and if we do nothing this is exactly what is going to happen.”
Two months later it appears Le Drian’s warnings are yet to be heeded.
The International Business Times reports Arab states, led by Egypt and Algeria, are now considering military intervention in Libya. This follows the Islamist group’s “vicious crackdown” on a Salafist Muslim group and armed residents in Sirte. That IS action ended with the public beheading of 12 resistance leaders and as many as 70 dead.
The Arab League met today after Libya’s internationally recognised government warned it is unable to deal with IS on its own. It pledged military support to help fight IS, but did not publicly agree to a request for air strikes.