17:56 GMT +323 January 2020
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    Discord between France and Italy in Libya is only intensifying the conflict between rival factions in the country. Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute George Szamuely explained why he thought French policy was harming, not helping the situation in Libya today.

    Sputnik: Italian discontent at French involvement in Libya dates back some time does it not, George?

    George Szamuely: If you recall, at the time the Italians led by Berlusconi were not that enthusiastic at the intervention. They went along with it, as always, because they go along with the loyalty demanded by NATO. So they went along with it reluctantly, even though they had a pretty good idea it would end in disaster. And Berlusconi had pretty good relations himself with Gaddafi and I think he fully appreciated that once Gaddafi is gone there really would be a mad cap flow of migrants to Italy. So I think there’s a lot of resentment in Italy still going back to what happened in 2011.

    Sputnik: What do you think about the French insistence on early elections in Libya as early as December this year?

    George Szamuely: The Italians’ latest complaints go back to what the French are doing today, in that they seem to want to be the dominant political force in Libya. They’re pushing for early elections when really it’s an absurdity. The idea of having early elections in December when there’s a civil war raging within the capital Tripoli, as well as a civil war between the two factions — the official government in Tripoli as well as the government in the eastern provinces under Haftar – in these circumstances any election result would be meaningless. In fact, many of the elections we’ve had in Libya have proved to be completely meaningless. Yet the French are pushing for it, and I think the Italians have a reasonable idea that this is just going to lead to more instability and more refugees heading towards Italy.

    Sputnik: To what extent do you think opposing French and Italian policies are contributing to an escalation of the conflict in Libya?

    Gorge Szamuely: Well I think it’s probably escalating the crisis because the different factions are playing the French and Italians off against one another. But I think the French are being the more destructive here because I think that pushing for these early elections makes very little sense and I think at this stage the only sensible course would be to move towards some kind of reconciliation between the two so-called governments or at least try to bring the militants under control in Tripoli. It’s hard to see what exactly an election can achieve at this stage.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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