Berlin: "You had to choose between war and dishonor. You have chosen dishonor and you will have war."

(To Gino Lanzara)
19/01/20

The Berlin conference, called to settle the Libyan question, presented itself with a program, unbalanced in favor of General Haftar, as ambitious as it is unrealistic, and in any case approved by the assembled international Commission.

For the implementation of the 6 points of the draft of the final document, it was proposed both the creation of an accompanying mechanism that allows the mediating countries to meet once a month, under UN auspices, in order to present a report on the results achieved, and the establishment of special working groups which will have to meet in Libya or Tunisia in order to deal with individual issues.

The 6 points provide for the maintenance of a ceasefire with the end of all forms of hostility, at the moment the only point that has found the approval of the Libyan leaders; compliance with the arms embargo provided for by the UN resolution 1970/2011 as well as the subsequent Security Council resolutions which are asked to sanction violators of the agreements; the resumption of a full internal political process under the aegis of Unsmil1 with the request to the UN, the African Union, the EU and the Arab League to take action against defaulters; the restoration of state control over the FFAA; the recovery of economic-structural reforms; respect for human rights according to norms and customs of international law.

We started with unreality, and we also add scarce expertise diplomatic; the civil war that has ignited the country since 2014 has seen a massive intervention by external powers to which the internal actors have referred.

There are several points that lead us to believe that the meeting is absolutely not definitive, and whose aim seems to be to maintain a balanced status quo which allows, as a truce, the implementation of the latest diplomatic-circus balances agreed between the parties, not least those concerning the redefinition of the Libyan, Turkish, Greek and Cypriot EEZ.

Frankly, seeing representatives of the countries that, in 2011, started the Libyan chaos in XNUMX, bitterly smile, now sitting at a table pleading very high intentions of civilization and peace; those same countries that, while calling for respect for the embargo, continue to sell weapons, allowing new subjects, who entered the Libyan arena by arrogance, to put pressure on them to exclude actors who are in any case more entitled than others to take the floor: let's talk about invasive Turkey and excluding Greece, not to mention the obvious Egyptian opposition in the face of the usual inanity of the EU, both fearful of a balkanization of the conflict, and torn by internal conflicts between countries that support, according to their sovereign interests one or the other of the competitors; a Europe aimed at accounting dogmas, but completely fearful and unprepared on the foreign political level thanks to the menage French, aimed at maintaining a situation of instability and inclined to support Haftar who wants to champion transalpine interests and guardian of the jihadist threat.

In an increasingly broad game of the parts, there are therefore, in spite of themselves, the Americans; the Russians, who did not skimp on sending mercenaries; President Erdoğan, in support of Sarraj as a key to unhinge the otherwise foreclosed East Med lock, and representatives of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, lined up with Haftar; then there are representatives of the EU, the Arab League, the Congo, the African Union and the 5 member countries of the UN Security Council; good last Italy with the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the Foreign Minister of Maio.

Haftar had no qualms about sending a very clear message, a few hours after leaving for Berlin, closing the Sirte oil terminals and consequently reducing the exportable quantities of crude oil from which Sarraj derives financial support, not without having made direct contact with the Greek premier Mitsotakis, who has threatened, due to the close maritime agreements between Tripoli and Ankara, a veto on any peace agreement that should emerge from the Berlin process; rival Sarraj for its part has spared no criticism in defining the EU constantly out of time.

The Berlin meeting follows those of Paris, Palermo, Rome (which should have been organized in a more "prudent" way), and Moscow, deserted by Haftar which was explicit: the armed factions of Western Libya must be dismantled, and must the maritime agreement between the Sarraj government and Turkey, projected to the Cypriot deposits of the East Med, be withdrawn.

Sarraj, for his part, asked to send international protection troops, according to one of the intentions expressed by the Italian delegation. Erdoğan defined the Berlin conference as an important stage in guaranteeing a ceasefire, and the scruples for sending irregular fighters to the area, nor the not so veiled threats of jihadist terrorist resurgence in the event of defenestration, certainly do not seem to worry him. from Sarraj. Having excluded Athens from the negotiations could prove to be a boomerang in the short term, given the difficulty of containing Turkish regional expansionism which certainly does not intend to be limited.

A Swiss summit could take place in Berlin, which suggests that, in the immediate term, we do not intend to look for lasting solutions, such as tampons and warm cloths. It is clear that Ankara certainly cannot let go, given the energy issue at stake, as it should be equally clear that at the moment, despite the propaganda beating, it is not easy to allocate troops on the Libyan lines; this does not mean that Turkey, the main referent of political Islam, cannot supply the lines themselves with their own equipment, but the arrival of Syrian fighters in the theater suggests that it intends wisely keep the fear of further proxy conflict awake.

Tunisia, snubbed by the great diplomacy and sought after by Turkey for its geographical position, is preparing in the meantime for the Libyan escalation, declaring the state of emergency in the face of a greater flow of refugees, of possible jihadist infiltrations and growing foreign interference.

In summary: a delegitimization of Haftar does not seem feasible, given the allies it has available.

Italy has meanwhile decided to carve out a role of mere support for mediation between the two Libyan leaders, leaning towards a diplomatic solution which, however, appears difficult to understand and feasible, at least in this theater, for which he hopes for the establishment of an international interposition force: once again he leans towards the postponement of the decisions, given that it is not at all clear whether the meetings that have taken place in the last period have a real and effective political project behind them, or it is not clear whether Italian politics has acted on its own behalf or following a script agreed with Brussels; we therefore run the real risk of being overtaken by much stronger actors who can only push us out of the rectangle of play, burning a diplomatic line which is, moreover, quite uncertain, since it does not know what the politics actually want, it cannot identify those responsible on the ground with to deal with, and because it does not have the necessary economic - military resources, indispensable to assert its reasons.

Berlin, for those who can understand, can mark the moment when we take note of the end of our political relevance in North Africa. In light of the possible Libyan balkanization, and the deployment of forces that could be brought a short distance from our borders, whatever we say, we run the risk of finding ourselves in the condition stigmatized by Churchill after the Munich conference: you had to choose between war and dishonor. You have chosen dishonor and you will have war.

1 United Nations support mission in Libya

Photo: Presidency of the Council of Ministers