Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan civil war has clarified the emptiness of one of the most abused refrains of Italian politics in recent years, regardless of who sat at Palazzo Chigi or the composition of the associated ruling coalition: “There is no military solution to the war in Libya”.
The sensational reversal in the balance of power observed in recent months, the breaking of the siege of Tripoli and the counter-offensive of al-Serraj’s troops to the gates of Sirte and the Libyan oil crescent – tangible evidence of the Turkish armed involvement – demonstrate, if anything, there can be no political solution to any conflict without a military commitment on the ground, whether direct, menaced or indirect. Furthermore, the fact that this occurs in the face of a national public debate fully focused on the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic or, better yet, on the political opportunity to convene yet another conclave of experts in Rome should make us reflect upon our (residual?) capacity to read world events around us. All the more so if we talk about events taking place at the doorstep of Italy and in the middle of a region that once saw us protagonists, given a favorable geography and relevant security, economic and energy interests to defend.
Consequence is that tomorrow the new Turkish, Russian and Arab masters will decide the Libyan future, regardless of the leading role that has been entrusted upon us several times by our American patrons and without being really able to develop a 360° strategy worthy of the name, putting together economy, intelligence and military assets to achieve the stabilization of Libya.
It is news of these days the kickoff of the large Turkish contract in the north African country, with the possible concession of air and naval bases overlooking the Mediterranean and profitable reconstruction projects that range from the business of oil extraction at sea to construction and infrastructures initiatives. All of this led to the postponement of the meeting in Ankara between Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Di Maio and Turkish counterpart Cavusoglu just to allow the Turkish delegation to make its own Tripoli blitz.
Difficult not to grasp the symbolic implications of the setback. For Italy, many problems arise from the profoundly serious introversion of our ruling class, now completely unaccustomed at reasoning in strategic terms, hostage to an embarrassing economism and used to wield the most disparate dossiers only to regulate internal power relations. This is demonstrated by the evolution of the possible sale to Egypt of two advanced Fincantieri warships, a story hostage to a self-defeating and ideologized debate, as well as seasoned with the naivety of those who in the ruling coalition are under the illusion they can exploit the deal to force the indictment and extradition to Italy of five Egyptian secret services agents involved in the Regeni case. Also in this case the risk of blowing up the deal is maximum, with strong interest of France and Germany who are ready to take over Italy in the multi-billion sale of modern weapon systems to Cairo. Moreover, it must be said that the very same “exaltation” of Egypt as the new Italian partner in the Mediterranean should be assessed more carefully, in light of Cairo’s attitude in Libya where it supports our opponent, general Haftar.