Libya is a point of contact between Italy and the US where friendship between the two countries becomes practical cooperation and commitment in defense of shared values and objectives. Regional stabilization among the themes of the Draghi-Biden meeting
There is little doubt that between Italy and the United States the Libya dossier – the current paradigm of the situation in the Mediterranean – is a point of contact. When this afternoon, Saturday 12 June, Mario Draghi e Joe Biden will meet (on the sidelines of the G7 in Cornwall), the situation of the North African country will be one of the issues on the table. Because Libya – where a ceasefire and a process led by the UN have produced a government of national unity that has the task of stabilizing the country towards the essential and sensitive elections in December – represents a broad international political issue.
These are the evolutions underway in the Mediterranean. Until a few months ago the basin was the scene of clashes between regional powers (Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Egypt) while – also thanks to a Biden effect – now a process of dialogue has begun which aims at a generalized relaxation. All satisfying the wishes of the Democratic White House, but also needs related to the recovery post pandemic, on which Draghi is invested with responsibilities and hopes by that region of the world, Europe, which finds its maritime dimension in the Mediterranean.
Libya is a test. The regional process actually started thanks to the Libyan ceasefire, the first context in which Turkey and Egypt – at war on the two Libyan fronts, in clash in the very delicate eastern Mediterranean, in deep ideological-cultural friction to be prominent in the Sunni world – they have started openings. Italy has the task of protecting as leader the path started by the Tripoli government born after the stop to arms, with a role recognized by the United States. Who understand the importance of the process by framing it within regional dynamics (aware that a generalized tranquility can be a value for strategic needs: that is, concentrating on the compact anti-China front).
Washington has recently formalized an increase in interest in what is happening in Libya and in North Africa-Sahel: interest no longer only connected to the need to repress the jihadist organizations that find shelter in those areas (where the laws are loose and the borders are lost in the deserts ). Now Washington – which recently appointed a special envoy for Libya and moved a senior State Department official to visit Tripoli after years – seems to be attentive to geopolitical developments. It supports the Libyan government because it perceives it as a vector of regional stability.
It is not just Biden, but the maturation of a sentiment that has long pervaded some US apparatuses, such as the Pentagon. Actively engaged with AfriCom, present on the ground both in anti-terrorism operational missions and as forms of military-diplomacy contacts, the Defense are perfectly clear about the context. Libyan stability coincides with the stability of the area; the stability of the area is a matter of national interest for Europe, therefore for the allies (see how much Brussels suffers from the recoil of the migratory crises in the Mediterranean); the stability of the allies is necessary to compete adequately, as a whole, against the penetrations and interests of rivals (Russia and China, also in the framework of a technological competition which is the basis of cultural development).
Draghi is as clear on this mechanism as Biden. The US-Italy dialogue is to be considered as an element of stabilization, if we consider that within the Mediterranean there have recently been aggressive moves by Turkey against Greece, bitter controversies between Ankara and Paris, geo-cultural crises between Turks and Arab monarchies in the Gulf, and all have found an outlet in Libya. Issues on which Italy has always played a third, relaxing and dialoguing role: much appreciated by Washington. If from Libya the path in which the diplomatic conversation prevails over the threat (and sometimes use) of weapons restarts, then Italy can only be one hub, a port from which the Americans can move their power.