Italy to Stand for Its Gains in Libya as France Is Plotting Revenge

Last week Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini once again lashed out at France and personally the French President Emanuel Macron, saying that Paris was not looking to bring calm to violence-ravaged Libya because of its energy interests which area at odds with Italy’s own.

Well known for his intransigent position of stigmatizing France, Salvini added yet another strong statement to the long list of accusations that have become more and more frequent over the past few months. However, this one was special as it provoked a verbal attack of Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio who blamed Paris for creating poverty in Africa and thus instigating migration to Europe. Criticism toward the French policy in Africa, where Paris holds a traditionally significant presence, caused an extremely swift reaction and forces French president and his Foreign Minister to summon Italy’s ambassador for clarifications.

As a war of words between two parties seems to keep going on with the focus on Africa and Libya in particular, there are growing doubts about what these two European powers are planning to do in the North-African country given a long standing context of continued failure to turn initiatives, hopes and aspirations concerning the future of Libya into reality.

Palermo conference which was designed to pull the rug out under France allowed Italy to reclaim primacy and took the lead in the Libyan issue after years of dominance marked by Macron’s Paris agreements. Although the conference was as controversial as its outcomes were vague and unclear, it has brought the two crucial points on the way of resolving the Libyan political crisis. It proved the need to convene the so-called National Conference in order to complete national reconciliation and pushed the date of presidential elections by either spring or summer with no respect for precision.

But, as it usually happens to most plans proposed by European States seeking to advance their own interests rather than to establish a solid peace in Libya, the implementation of any of stated objectives hasn’t been started yet and is unlikely to be started in the recent future. And the longer these goals remain unresolved, the less chances Italy has to continue orchestrating the Libyan deal, preventing other external actors, particularly France, of (re-)interfering in the game.

Beside of fear of losing control over Libya that took tremendous diplomatic effort to establish in the first place, Rome seems to observe with concern the latest developments “on the ground”. Sporadic deadly clashes in Tripoli and Haftar-led LNA’s anti-terrorism operation in the South have significantly altered the security landscape in whole Libya, further complicating the situation. The increase in violence in Tripoli and decisive stepping up of the Libyan armed forces deeper into Fezzan raise doubts whether Libya can pursue the peace process according to the outcomes of Palermo conference.

The Libyan Parliament – House of Representatives which enjoys the backing of LNA already voiced discontent with the reluctance of UNSMIL’s Ghassan Salame with respect to general elections and pushed for intensifying efforts to hold them as soon as possible. In turn, Ghassan Salame said afterwards that “he wishes elections more than Libyans themselves”, but the lack of constitutional basis endorsed by all Libyans through referendum creates problems that postpone them.

In addition, there are also no time limits for convening the Libyan National Conference that constitutes the main outcome of Palermo conference and an integral part of UN sponsored plan aimed to gather the Libyans despite their multi- ethnic and social grounds and give an opportunity to find out concrete ways out of political division. In light of recent developments, especially given security challenges, the precondition for successive and comprehensive National Conference are not present in Libya at the moment.

Thus, recent setbacks in achieving meaningful progress in the Libyan issue cast a shadow over Rome’s leading role and will probably push France to jump to action and to become more involved in Libya with a view of recovering its leadership in the North-African country. Taking into account that French president’s position is weakened by ‘yellow vests’ protests, Elysee needs a diplomatic victory in the international arena more than ever, and rivalry between Paris and Rome will persist and may even escalate in the coming future.

Over 150 Libyan Media Activists Addressed Collective Note to Libyan Unity Government to Stop Violations Against Journalists

Over 150 journalists and reporters in more than 20 media organizations presented a collective note to the Prime Minister of Libyan government, stressing the need of putting an end to the attacks on journalists and ensure their safety. Continue reading “Over 150 Libyan Media Activists Addressed Collective Note to Libyan Unity Government to Stop Violations Against Journalists”

Former Head of Sabratha Security Council Detained on Criminal Charges

Former Head of Sabratha Military Council Taher Al-Gharabli has been arrested on Thursday night, the Anti-ISIS Ops Room in Sabratha confirmed.

The Security Ops Room of Sabratha, formerly known as Anti-IS Ops Room, announced that its fighters at the Dahman checkpoint, south of the city, captured Al-Gharabli and immediately hand over him to the unit’s headquarters.

According to a statement released by the unit, Taher Al-Gharabli who allegedly has a strong connection to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group has been accused of a number of criminal cases.

“He is supposed to be transferred to the military prison in the neighboring city of Sorman,” statement reads, adding that “members of the Ops Room treated Al-Gharabli well in accordance with the law without exposing him to any violations or ill-treatment.”

Yesterday, some local media reported that an armed group kidnapped the Brigadier General Tahir Al-Gharabli while he was taking his son to school.

Libya To Extradite The Brother of Manchester Bomber Before Year-End

The brother of Manchester bomber Salman Abeidi will be extradited to the UK by the end of this year, head of UN-backed Libyan government Fayez Sarraj said.

Hashem Abeidi was arrested in the capital Tripoli shortly after the Manchester arena bombing in 2017 that killed 22 people. After which, he admitted to supporting his brother to gather all the components of a bomb and assemble it.  As the UK accused Hashem of murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to cause an explosion.

Al-Sarraj stressed in an interview to the BBC that Libya was “fully cooperating” with the British authorities and denied that Libya had delayed Abedi’s extradition.

“Sometimes it takes a long time, even in other countries,” Sarraj told the BBC. “We cooperate fully because we understand the suffering of the families of the victims of this terrorist attack,” he added. “We are working together with the British Embassy.”

In November last year, Britain issued an arrest warrant against Hashem Abeidi on charges of colluding with his brother Salman who blew himself up at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 killed and many injured, among them children.

A legal dispute over Hashim’s nationality has delayed his deportation to Britain as he held double nationality – British and Libyan. And it was not clear whether he will be tried in Britain or Libya.

Tukey’s Ruling Party Explained Why the Turkish Delegation Withdrew From Palermo Conference

The Turkish governing party of Justice and Development explained the reasons that had led Turkey to withdraw its delegation from Palermo conference on Libya.

According to the spokesman of Justice and Development Party Ömer Çelik, the Turkish delegation decided to leave the international conference, held in the Italian city of Palermo, in protest of mistreatment that had been accorded to the delegation.

In contrary, there are reports saying that the decision to pull out from the Italian-led conference was made by Turkey after the Presidential Council’s head Fayez Sarraj, Parliament’s president Aguila Saleh and HCS’s chairman Khaled Mishri issued a joint statement that preserve the role of Egypt as a main guarantor of the unification of the Libyan army.

A statement shared their solidarity to continue work on unifying the Libyan military institution under the aegis of Egypt instead of turning over the issue to the United Nations as Turkey was expecting.

Ankara is believed to be as the Egypt’s main rival for leadership in the process of Libya’s army unification. Prior to Palermo conference, Turkey held a vast number of high-level meetings with the GNA officials to discussed the military cooperation between two countries and offered to contribute to the fields such as defense, military personnel training and arming.