Libya seems to be sinking into civil war again: forces under the control of the Cyrenaica strongman General Khalifa Haftar have launched a military strike on Tripoli. The capital is held at the moment by militias supporting the Government of National Accord led by Fayez al-Sarraj with UN backing.
Fighting at Tripoli’s international airport was still under way when, in July 2014, the diplomatic missions of European countries, the United States and Canada were shut down. At that time Italy decided to maintain a pied-à-terre in place in order to preserve the precarious balance of its assets in the two-headed country, strengthening security at its local headquarters on Tripoli’s seafront. On the one hand there was no forsaking the Mellitah Oil & Gas compound, controlled by Eni and based west of Tripoli.
After the 1969 revolution, Libya’s previously close links to the United States quickly deteriorated. At the same time Muammar al-Gaddafi sought closer links to the Soviet Union. The clear majority of the equipment of the “Armed Forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” originated from the Soviets or the Eastern Bloc. Many of the officers of all services were educated at military training facilities of the Soviet Armed Forces. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia remained as one of Libya’s key allies.
The Mediterranean is not only an area of conflict and crisis, but also a space for momentous opportunities. Overcoming pessimism and developing a positive agenda for the region is the ultimate goal of Rome MED 2016, the conference organized from 1 to 3 December by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ISPI. On this occasion, ISPI published the MED Report to build upon the four pillars of the conference (shared prosperity, shared security, migration, and culture & civil society) and provide a useful tool to stimulate debate during Rome MED and beyond.
The Report is meant to launch new ideas to “leave the storm behind” and design a positive agenda for the future building on experts’ insights and policy suggestions. The volume is enriched by infographics and maps depicting the main regional trends. The goal of the Report is not to delve exhaustively into all the questions and the issues that concern the region and on which its future depends, but to provide in-depth insights and to formulate concrete proposals.
For more than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the core of European security has been unchallenged. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, NATO looked for a new rationale inside a new strategic global framework. For the Atlantic Alliance, the end of the Cold War implied less deterrence and territorial defense and an increase in strategic volatility beyond its borders.
The Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings culminated peacefully because their respective national armies ensured as much as possible an orderly transition; on the contrary, in Libya the national army collapsed and the uprising rapidly turned itself into civil war among armed Libyan factions. While the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings challenged the regimes at their center stages, symbolically occupying the heart of respective capital cities, in Libya the rebellion was located in Benghazi far away from the center of Qadhafi’s power.
The vulnerability of Italy to revolutionary changes on the southern Mediterranean shore has been very high, if not the highest among its European colleagues. The initial shock of the massive influx of Tunisian migrants and refugees (specifically, the famous case of the 20,000 Tunisian refugees arriving to the 5,000-inhabitant Italian island of Lampedusa in early 2011), was followed by a gas disruption tragedy when Italy’s main gas supplier, Libya, started to live its own revolution.