martedì 5 aprile 2011

Italy and the Libyan crisis.


The fluctuating decision-making process of the Italian government during Operation Dawn Odyssey is the result of obligations towards its allies in NATO and its long-standing economic ties with Libya. To this we must add the role that Libya has taken control of migration flows to Europe through the shores of beautiful country, and the subsequent Italian interest in the maintenance of a strategic partnership with Libya. Only by starting from these assumptions one can understand why the foreign policy moves to Rome with open minds to all the players involved.
The difference in strategic vision of Italian, French and English on Libya and North Africa was not born on the occasion of this campaign but at the Congress of Berlin in 1878 when Britain expanded its sphere of influence on Cyprus and France Magrebh on, areas that were already of the Ottoman Empire. On that occasion Italy advanced very strong reservations about this new structure in the Mediterranean Sea and was offered as a counterpart's influence on Libya.
The Italian foreign policy in those years did not allow the acquisition of benefits resulting from the weakening position of the Ottoman Empire. But in 1911 when the Italian press, which is strongly influenced by the new government, began a media campaign focusing on the theme of the great Libyan natural resources and poor defensive capabilities that the Ottomans were able to put up in case of war. So begins the adventure in 1912 Italian invasion of the provinces of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan to form the Italian colony in North Africa.
The settlement, which opposed the resistance movements led by the Emir Idris of Cyrenaica, which had consequently also the deaths of thousands of Bedouins. In 1930 began a period of relative peace in the Italy of Benito Mussolini committed to building an empire. Libya officially became the colony with the name that follows the ancient greek word used to describe North Africa, except Egypt. As history reminds us of the fascist empire was short and unhappy life because of World War II. The British and the French comeback on the international scene as well as Libya where the Allied forces in 1943 they occupied the territory. Four years later definitiavamente Italy renounced its claims to the former colony now. In 1951, after negotiations by the United Nations, Libya declared its independence and established a hereditary constitutional monarchy and Idris as a ruler.
The Libyan monarchy has not had much luck for various reasons: the huge oil revenues from the production of the fields discovered in the late 1950s and desstinati to a small elite, as well as the Nasser and Arab unity has become popular in Libya. Accrued time in 1969, Muammar Gaddafi with a coup deposes King Idris, abolishes the monarchy and becomes, it still has today, in fact, the unofficial leader of a state. One of the first initiatives taken by the new leader was the expulsion of foreigners forcing thousands of Italians living in Libya to leave the country.
In terms of foreign policy, with the passage of time, Qaddafi became a name in the West associated with the bloodiest acts of international terrorism, the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 and one in the Berlin discotheque La Belle. In addition, the Rais stated various terrorist organizations so that its foreign minister will describe the attacks of 1985 in Rome, and Vienna airport attacks the following year, as acts of heroism.
Rome, however, continued to maintain this trade relations, mainly in the field of energy resources, oil and gas by the Italian company ENI and Libya due to investments in the Italian company Fiat Auto. After the incident in Berlin's U.S. imposed severe economic sanctions on Libya when President Ronald Reagan authorized Operation El Dorado Canyon, which provided a series of air strikes on Libya. Italy, at the time, refused the United States use of its bases areas. Libya, for its part responded by firing several missiles towards the Italian island of Lampedusa, the colonel was able to escape the air raids so much dichiarasi victorious in this war.
In October 2008, the Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham was revealed that Italian Prime Minister Craxi warned that Gaddafi's arrival in the raid and give him the time to reach safety.
He later opened a season of talks with Libyan rais which allowed the ratification of several treaties of friendship, partnership and cooperation until 2008 when Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi went to Benghazi to sign a treaty of friendship, partnership and cooperation. The Treaty deals with three important issues: the principles shared past and partnership. Italy promised the construction of basic infrastructure such as reimbursement for damage done during the colonization and Libya decided to collaborate in the management of illegal immigration and energy.
Economic relations in both directions between the two countries are dated and consistent. In 2009, Libya has been accredited to export more than $ 34 billion of crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas and chemicals; Italy, which traditionally is the largest purchaser of Libya, has purchased the approximately 38%. Of the 22 billion dollars of Libyan imports in the same year, almost 19% from Italy. The Italian ENI has a number of important activities and interests in Libya including Greenstream pipeline, which supplies 15% of imported natural gas in Italy. ENI also has major holdings in the largest offshore oil field in the Mediterranean Sea which lies off the coast of Tripoli and in two other large oil fields in southwestern Libya.
Gaddafi, for his part, has always given priority to Italian companies that wanted to operate on Libyan soil and expressed the goal of concentrating 90% of its foreign investments in Italy. Perhaps this can be a given too, but the Libyan sovereign wealth fund owns more than 7% of Unicredit, the largest Italian bank, 1% and 2% of ENI's Finmeccanica.
Another important file in the relations between Italy and the Libyan national security concerns in relation to the problems of illegal immigration, very sensitive topic in Italian public opinion. Libya's role in stopping the flow of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa and in route to Europe via the Italian coast, is of first importance. In 2008, 40,000 immigrants attempted to enter Italy illegally. Libya's Gaddafi had agreed to patrol its 2,000 km now it is stalled because of the riots in North Africa.
Italy has much to lose in the crisis, and Libya is again carefully on a very fine line between the duties to its allies and its own national interests. Libyan Opposition leaders have made it clear that economic ties with an option to be governed by reason of the support received. If Gaddafi has lost its power, Italy will have to speak with a new actor and a very competitive environment again.