"By recognizing Italy's prominent role in the stabilization of Libya — a role which will materialize this coming September with the organization, in Rome, of an international conference over the future of Libya — Donald Trump has chosen to back Giuseppe Conte instead of Emmanuel Macron in Libya, and thus set Rome and Paris on a collision course," Italian journalist and political observer Daniele Pozzati told Sputnik.
According to the journalist, Washington and Italy appear to be "ready to take on France and Germany on a number of issues, especially those related to immigration and the handling of the economy."
Commenting on the July 30 summit between US President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Pozzati opined that it was "mainly about Libya."
"Libya is the gate through which mass immigration from sub-Saharan Africa reaches Italy — with a lot of help from a number of foreign NGO's ships, whose well-advertised 'life-saving' operations are largely seen by the new Italian government, especially Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, as mere people smuggling," the political observer elaborated, highlighting that the US president had recently endorsed Italy's migration policies.
However, that is not all, according to the journalist: "Conte had something more specific in mind: The organization, this coming autumn, in Rome, of an international conference on Libya — a country which, following NATO's ill-conceived 2011 military operation, still lacks a central political authority."
Judging from Trump's recognition of "Italy's leadership role in the stabilization of Libya and North Africa", Conte has accomplished his mission to secure US backing for a leading role of Italy in Libya, the observer underscored.
"Trump and Conte seem to get along well on a personal and on a political level," Pozzati presumed. Furthermore, "with regard to the EU, Italy and the US are now natural allies: Both resent a Germany-led EU and the Germany-backed euro," he added.
Italy is Likely to Play the First Fiddle in Libya
It appears that Conte has outplayed French President Emmanuel Macron, who not only previously boasted having "special relations" with Washington but also hoped to become a major broker in the longstanding Libyan confrontation.
However, on July 27, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told Corriere della Sera that Rome would not support the Libyan elections until the political consensus is reached in the war-torn country. Three days later the Italian Prime Minister announced that he was going to organize a new conference on Libya this fall "in agreement with President Donald Trump."
For Rome, Libya is the key to the resolution of the burning migrant crisis, Pozzati noted, adding that the refugee issue remains the bone of contention between France and Italy.
The Libyan crisis spun out of control in 2011 after a NATO coalition headed by the US, France and the UK bombed the North African state and facilitated the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan civil war opened the door to the huge influx of African asylum seekers into Europe.
"Relations between Paris and Rome have soured since the new Eurosceptic and anti-immigration Italian government came to power," the journalist said. "While refusing to take immigrants, Macron wants Italy to keep its ports open to all sorts of migrant-carrying NGO ships. This is unacceptable for Rome, especially since the hypocrisy of the EU was laid bare in the June 23 summit when all criticized Italy for its closed-ports policy, so to speak, while nobody opened theirs."
Backed by the US, Rome is likely to grasp an opportunity to call the shots both on Libyan political process and migrant issues, the journalist suggested.
The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.