Paolo Sensini, historian and author of an analysis of the 2011 war against Qaddafi, analyses the situation in Libya today and considers the roots of the crisis
Translation from the original by Alexander M. Synge
“Bin Laden will arrive at your gates, you’ll find yourself face to face with a jihad, in the Mediterranean”. This warning was uttered by Mu’ammar Qaddafi during his last interview, in 2011, just a few months before his murder. This was not the desperate gesturing of a dictator finally hunted down and cornered. In the light of today’s events, it sounds more like prophecy.
Militias marching under the banner of the Islamic State are making considerable headway in Libya, and Italian newspapers express concern over this development: “L’Isis è a sud di Roma” (Isis is to the south of Rome). ZENIT interviews Paolo Sensini − the historian and author of the books, Libia 2011 (publisher: Jaca Book) and Divide et Impera Strategie del caos per il XXI secolo nel Vicino e Medio Oriente (publisher: Mimesis) − on developments and scenarios in Libya. (Follow the links to purchase them)
Q : Tell us about these militias marching under the black flag of ISIS in Libya. Who are they?
A : They’re the same people who received full support in 2011, from France, Great Britain and the United States, and then, later, Italy. They were responsible for the so-called “Arab Spring”. Now presented to us as bogeymen, they were praised in 2011 as the ones who’ll bring democracy to Libya. We’re talking about roughly a million extremely well-armed individuals. At the moment they’re competing among themselves for their slice of the cake, Power. Nowadays everyone’s talking about ISIS, but thousands of factions have been active in Libya for a long time now, all inspired by Islamic fundamentalism. The black al Qaeda flag was raised in Libya more or less when Qaddafi was being murdered. During the revolt, it could be seen over the Court Rooms in Benghazi and over the city of Derna, where a Emirate was instituted.
In the meantime, these groups have become increasingly radical .
Q : What’s happening at the moment?
A : It looks like the Tobruk government headed by Abdullah alThani (i.e. the government which has received official recognition from the West) is incapable of managing this totally chaotic situation. This is why it’s trying to alarm as many people as possible, aiming for armed intervention on the part of the western powers and Egypt.
Q : Does that mean Italy might be involved too?
A : It would be madness itself if Italy were to join in. Italy can’t deal with a million guerrillas on the battlefield ready to engage in the kind of guerrilla warfare that the Italian army is unprepared for. Anyway, if any armed forces are to move in, they should come from those who brought about the Libyan disaster in the first place. Notably, France. They can’t expect Italy always to sort their problems out for them. Italy should, rather, stop the immigration flow from the area, and send back the boat people to the coast of Libya, after medicating the more serious cases. This would stop the human trafficking and the money the militias are making out of these desperate people.
The government seems to be saying that military intervention should be the very last resort or “extrema ratio”. Their first choice is diplomatic manoeuvres, appointing Romano Prodi as a UN mediator…
Romano Prodi was one of those who, in 2011, exerted pressure on Berlusconi in order to drag Italy into the war. Berlusconi was anything but eager. The person who bears the greatest responsibility is the former President of the Italian Republic, Napolitano. While a friendship agreement had been reached with Qaddafi in 2008 (an agreement that went so far as to include military intervention on Qaddafi’s side in the event of an attack on Libya), Napolitano was all out for Italy to join the war. We shouldn’t place our trust in the very people who’ve created the mayhem we’re now seeing in Libya.
Q : In an interview published by Corriere della Sera, Mons. Martinelli, the vicar-apostolic of Tripoli, said relations with Qaddafi also included “friendly exchanges” and that he was a personage who “was not to be feared”…
A : In 2011, Qaddafi did not occupy any political office. It was only through his great ability as a leader that he managed to govern Libya’s resources (oil, gas, water…) in full independence and within the ambit of cooperation with Italy. This was a situation that powerful players like France and Great Britain found most disagreeable. They wanted more influence in Libya. We may also note that Qaddafi was able to manage the country according to a ‘lay’ approach, with no reliance on religious criteria, such as we see instead among the western allies in the Gulf, where such criteria are applied with the West’s open approval. These are the real reasons behind the 2011 military campaign.
Q : In concrete terms, how great has the harm been to Italy. The harm caused by the 2011 war. What are the risks today now that things have come to a head?
A : Enormous. Take ENI for example: down from 1,500,000 barrels a day to 150,000. Then there were the deals for infrastructures that were part of the 2008 cooperation agreement. All this has gone up in smoke. There were plans for Italian construction companies to work on various projects. A major project was the seaboard highway that was to replace the via Balbia, built during the Fascist era. The dangers are clear for all to see today. Thousands of clandestine immigrants reaching the coasts of an Italy that can’t absorb them. Libya absorbed them. Six million Libyans and two million black sub-Saharan Africans.
Nowadays, things are very different. Thanks to the appalling “Arab Spring”, the entire situation is now in the hands of the militias who run the human trafficking trade.
SOURCES : Original by Zenit.org at http://www.zenit.org/it/articles/la-primavera-araba-ha-portato-l-isis-in-libia TerraSantaLibera.org at Italian on SyrianFreePress.NETwork at https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/?p=42668 Translation from the original by Alexander M. Synge This page at https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/?p=42689