Foreign relations / Security and defence

Libya, has Italy really ruled out the military option?

After the unusually belligerent statements by his Ministers, the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi quickly clarified that Italy is not going to go to war in Libya.

However, during the emergency meeting held by the UN Security Council on the Libyan crisis, the Italian Permanent Representative Sebastiano Cardi said that his country is ready to play a “leading role” which could include “ceasefire monitoring”, “peacekeeping”, “military training” and the “integration of militias in the regular army”. These are still bold words for the Italian standards.

So where is the truth?

In the end, any Italian military role is unlikely to go beyond an aerial campaign. The Government and the Parliament are very unlikely to take responsibility for sending Italian ground troops in Libya, especially since Egypt looks willing to take matters in its own hands.

The use of resolute tones is probably due to a hope to reestablish a sphere of influence or at least a privileged relationship with the former colony of Libya, something which was accomplished in Albania and temporarily in Somalia.

The Italian colonial heritage, of course, is not the only issue. Libya is the main door to the Sicily Channel, whose control is becoming a nightmare for the Italian Navy and Coast Guard. Finally, there is the Libyan oil, which has been purchased by the Italian State oil company ENI.

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