In Libya, Isis/Daesh has taken control of Sabratha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site 70 kilometers west of Tripoli.
It is true that, as claimed by the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, the Caliphate tends to exaggerate its successes, but there is no doubt that there are Al Baghdadi’s people in Libya.
The Russian stance of building a broad coalition against the “sword jihad” is certainly right but, as a poem by Cafavy reads: “the barbarians are coming today” and it takes too long time for diplomats to build a large coalition – as it happened to defeat the Axis Alliance. It takes inevitably too long time not to favor, also indirectly, the Caliphate.
Meanwhile, the Libyan political representatives gathered in Rome on December 11, 2015 for the Rome Med Forum 2015. The Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Habib Essid, has supported the UN agreement for the creation of a national unity government in Libya.
Obviously, if the situation between Fezzan, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania is not stabilized soon, Tunisia rightly perceives there is a threat to its national security – which is also Italy’s security, because Tunisia is the real strategic “opportunity” for penetrating the peninsula.
Good old days when a great Director of SISMI, Admiral Fulvio Martini, drew up a plan to support “our” candidate to succeed Habib Bourguiba, namely Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.
Now we are faced with the Italian preliminary refusal of military intervention, while some elements of our Special Forces, along with France, Germany and the United States, are evaluating the potential strengths and weaknesses of an attack from the sea, without envisaging, however, subsequent support and protection from the ground.
The atavistic fear and the 1968-style pacifism of some of our politicians are likely to thwart a possible operation against fanatic jihadists who, however, are scarcely armed and have bad logistics.
It would have been better for the Italian government to avoid spreading and publicizing future plans for Libya and rather build a military coalition to arrive in Libya with the consent of both local governments for a specific, and anything but peaceful, purpose.
The purpose of eradicating jihad areas as soon as possible, by also calling for the strategic and logistical support of Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt – all friendly countries directly interested in wiping out the sword jihad.
Not to mention the Italian Defense Minister in office, who defined the Isis members “fascist”, probably misled by the color of their flags, thus getting laughed at by all historians, including the leftist ones.
A bad imitation of the US domestic propaganda, which uses the word “Nazism” only because it is the only word known by most of its people.
Hence if Tunisia wants the implementation of the UN proposal to be managed by the new UNSMIL representative, Martin Kobler – who is more effective than his predecessor Bernardino Leon – the proposal put forward by some groups of the two Libyan Parliaments pointing to a national unity government without the implementation of the UN platform is less likely to be successful.
However, why should Libya accept the UNSMIL stance?
The agreement does not envisage any negotiation – which has not taken place so far in Tunisia – between the United Nations and the many political and tribal realities that are possibly armed and are at war with one another, but are not at all related to ISIS/Daesh.
For example the Warfalla or, as reported by some analysts, the union between black groups of Southern Libya and the pro-Gaddafi armies that want to “liberate Libya from the NATO forces” – to put it in the same words as their propaganda.
Their base is Sabha, and it is yet unclear whether some attacks on Ali Zeidan’s government have been launched by jihadists or by the post-Gaddafi “green” guerrilla warfare.
The black tribes of Tawergha and Toubou have been subjected to “ethnic cleansing” actions by Arab militias and are not represented in the two more or less legitimate governments.
The Toubou and Tuareg want to directly control the El-Sharara area, in the Fezzan, where also important oil wells are located.
Because, if we talk about legitimacy, they are both rather weak.
Moreover all the “independent” armies (40 approximately), which have not been involved in the discussion of the UNSMIL agreement, will not accept it until they deem it useful also from the economic viewpoint.
Furthermore the recently-signed UN agreement makes no explicit reference to the security of the region. The last document on the UNSMIL website refers to the good will of the members of both governments and to the people “to refrain from any attempt and manoeuvre to block the democratic process and endanger the results of dialogue”.
We all know the role played by good will in politics, especially in foreign policy. “Better to be insane for one’s own account, than wise for others’ will”, as Nietzsche said.
Hence if UNSMIL does not ensure concretely – with a military agreement – territorial security and a regular and lawful political process, which shall involve all the non- jihadist tribal groups, Tobruk and Tripoli will continue to fight against each other through a proxy faction.
And obviously so: the long power void, encouraged by the inertia and sometimes stupidity of Westerners, who recklessly attacked Gaddafi’s regime to take ENI away from Italy, has meant that every faction of the two governments is the Libyan reference counterpart of external powers: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Turkey.
Either a project for stabilizing Libya is studied, by harshly speaking and dealing with these players or no result is reached, except for a mere cosmetic peace between the two “legitimate” governments, which will keep on dividing tribes, ethnic groups and militias for their own purposes.
Certainly, in the Saudi plans, Libya is a gun aimed at a Europe no longer willing to support Saudi Arabia’s oil and non-oil projects in the Greater Middle East.
For Turkey, Libya is the opportunity of conquering strategic maritime depth in the Mediterranean, which is essential to its neo-Ottoman expansion in Central Asia. Turkey does not trust at all its NATO allies.
Qatar plays its contrast game with Saudi Arabia – a game which has both geoeconomic and ideological foundations: the Emirate is a point of reference for the Muslim Brotherhood – which, in the past, spawned the groups which have merged into the Turkish party currently in power, namely President Erdogan’s’ AKP – and which is banned in Saudi Arabia.
The Muslim Brotherhood also means to have a strong hold over the cycle of Islamic finance, where the “Muslim Brothers” are well represented.
Obviously Egypt does not want jihad infections along its borders and, above all, it does not want such an Islamist power in Libya as to radicalize the many Egyptian workers present in that country.
Hence, at first, quick programming – within NATO and the United Nations – of a Libyan Stabilization Force which, however, shall be equipped with Rules of Engagement (ROEs) better suited to war than to tea parties – as the first ROEs for Afghanistan – a Stabilization Force in which Italy shall play its rightful role.
Secondly, dealing seriously with all Libyan non-jihadist actors, also to limit the excessive power of the two governments, which we do not know to what extent are lawful and legitimate at electoral level.
Thirdly, use also those that have been excluded from the negotiations of Skhirat, Morocco, to balance the Libyan internal policy and make sure no one breaks the agreements.
Finally, stop thinking that the Libyan crisis is a regional issue, because it involves all the future structure of the Mediterranean region and regards Italy’s internal and external security.
Furthermore ,the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov shall be supported so as to create a broad political-military coalition.
The issue of the sanctions imposed on Russia is only part of the problem.
The issue lies in the fact that we do not border on the Russian territory and we do not need – as other countries – a credible protection towards the Slavic East. Hence our national interest lies in supporting Russia within a new hegemony of Western civilization in the Mediterranean, which does not wash Washington and not even New York.
Credible multilateralism, military posture and threat, careful control of the sea, since the supplies to ISIS/Daesh come to Sirte by sea.
I cannot say whether international law allows a military action against a ship going to supply the Libyan Caliphate, but I can remember that, in Mao Zedong’s words, “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”.
Giancarlo Elia Valori (@GEliaValori)
Honorable of the Académie des Sciences of the Institut de France.