What role do Paris and Rome play in the Libya war?

Rival militias have been engaged in heavy fighting around Tripoli for more than a week. The internationally recognised national unity government under Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has declared a state of emergency but has been unable to stop the hostilities. Commentators argue that France and Italy share some of the responsibility for the escalation.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Macron is on the wrong side

Italian government politicians have accused Paris of wanting to put General Haftar in power to give French companies access to Libya's oil reserves. Corriere della Sera concurs:

“Without the slightest hint of chauvinism one can say that by supporting General Haftar's ambitions for power, Emmanuel Macron has resolved to bring to completion the operation begun with Nicolas Sarkozy's initial intervention seven years ago. At our expense. And at the expense of the formal legality of the government of Prime Minister Al Sarraj, who, with our support and that of the international community, remains our only diplomatic success in the region to date.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Italy must be sensible

Rome must resolve its conflict with France over oil, warns Corriere del Ticino:

“Any false step by Rome, dictated by the imprudence of the moment, would immediately by exploited by the French president. If Rome doesn't want to further weaken its position on the Libyan chessboard (on the pretext of doing something about the insecurity of the refugee routes) the only path is rationality and diplomacy. Only in this way can a key prerequisite for reconciliation, also between the militia, be created.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Europe ignoring the war

While the worst battles in years rage in Tripoli, with its refugee policy Europe is clinging to the illusion that Libya is a safe country, Der Standard writes:

“For the foreigners held in camps near Tripoli by the Libyan government at the EU's behest, the last vestiges of a supply chain are breaking down. We are rightly horrified by the crimes committed against the Rohingya people in distant Myanmar. There, the violence is structured differently: the state is the perpetrator, whereas in Libya it's criminals with no ties to the state. But one thing's for sure: when migrants - and female migrants in particular - manage to board a ship in Libya, they are often fleeing a situation that is similar to the Burmese genocide.”