There are four governments in Libya now:
- One is the old Congress in Tripoli that won’t go away;
- Another is General Haftar’s gang that rules the East;
- Another is the internationally recognised government;
- And the fourth is the UN-sponsored amalgam whose remit is to bring peace to the country.
And the international powers watch Libya burn. None bar Italy actually have an embassy in Tripoli. The rest of us watch from afar, though it was us who created this mess.
Italy has her reasons for being more proactively engaged of course, the migrant issue being chief among them. The river of migrants from Africa cuts for the coast through chaos-ridden Libya, and hence through the Med to Italy.
A side-issue here. Italian PHD student Giulio Regeni was beaten to death in Egypt in January 2016. Apparently overzealous members of the security services had been prompted to ruthless murder because of his having met Muslim Brotherhood members as part of research for his thesis on trade unionism.
Italy broke off diplomatic relations with Egypt in protest. So Egypt used its influence over General Haftar of Libya to get him to turn off the tap and stop the migration to Italy. Which Haftar, who had clout with the traffickers, rapidly did. As a consequence, Italy renewed its diplomatic ties with Egypt in September 2017.
Meanwhile, ironically, someone Haftar had no power over re-commenced the trafficking. Haftar had cut migration to a trickle. Now, once again, it is a flood.
We the people of Europe pay a price for the Anglo-French adventure in Libya. Unless, that is, you favour the continuation of this gruellingly cruel migration route
But have any of us the courage to have a diplomatic mission in Tripoli, Libya? No. Well only Italy amongst the countries of the world, and they have no real choice.
Understandable, perhaps. They all left for good soon after the US ambassador was murdered in Benghazi.
But now the killing of the wonderful Chris Stephens in 2012 must be put behind us. It’s time to go back, and go back we must. It is an easy and economical step for which there may be huge dividends, and without which the tide of migrants will almost inevitably continue. It is a step we can and must take.