“Last October 21st the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano published an article by Italy’s ex Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mario Giro, which seems to gather some scattered, nontheless relevant, suggestions about the Italian role in Libya between late 2015 and 2018.” According to from Italian journalist Alessandro Pagano BetweenLibyaandItaly.
To properly get that, it may convene not to consider the three-columned article’s main and explicit theme of the November 2018 upcoming conference in Palermo and of the risks any “somalized” Libya could pose to Italy: the very first column, indeed, working as a premise to the whole piece, may merit a further and different attention, Pagano added.
When: 2015 – 2018.
First of all, even though Italy’s Ministry of Interior is never explicitly mentioned in the article, it is Mr Giro himself who underlines from the very beginning that
“in the following three years [after the 2015 Skhirat agreement] Libya has become a question of internal policy”
letting therefore the reader focus on the Italian Ministry of Interior’s own policy over Libya between late 2015 and 2018. It is indeed the Ministry of Interior that, in Italy as well as in any other Country in the world, is in charge of the internal policy of a State.
December 2016: government reshuffled.
Over some of the indicated timeline, exactly from December 2016 to June 2018, the head of the Ministry of Interior was Marco Minniti, who was previously the Undersecretary of State “delegated with the safety of the [Italian] Republic” – and therefore charged with communicating with Italy’s secret services – since May 2013 and February 2014, official decrees from the Presidency of the Republic show. December 2016 was when the government of PM Paolo Gentiloni (December 2016 – June 2018) suceeded the one headed by Matteo Renzi (February 2014 – December 2016) with no parliamentary elections: which means the executive changed while the Parliament did not.
Back then, Renzi and Gentiloni were members of the same party, the Partito Democratico, so that some continuity was established between their two executives: indeed, Paolo Gentiloni himself was Minister of Foreign Affairs under Matteo Renzi, while Gentiloni’s own Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano was Matteo Renzi’s Minister of Interior. Both Renzi and Gentiloni‘s governments charged Mario Giro, the author of the article, with being the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Eventually, Marco Minniti succeeded Alfano at the Interior. Renzi, Gentiloni, Minniti and Giro were, back then, all from the ruling Partito Democratico.
What and who: “everything” and “everyone”.
According to Mario Giro, in the three years Libya was “a question of internal policy” to Italy
“everything was done (and everyone was talked to) so that migrants could be kept in the detention centres. Beyond any moral consideration, this choice turned into a boomerang: we let the Libyan militias the possibility of extorting us”
The article shares no eventual clarification of what those “everything” and “everyone” Italy would be responsible of, “so that migrants could be kept in the detention centres” of Libya, effectively mean or may be, but Giro states clearly this “everything” has at least empowered not better detailed “Libyan militias” to an extent these could even “extort” Italy.
How: the “non-transparent market”.
The article reads soon below:
“It was accepted to negotiate with ambiguous personalities at their own conditions, through a non-transparent market and without considering that only a reunified Libya could really have solved (our and their own) problems”
Again, there is no explicit mention of description of “what” and “who”, but there’s a well mentioned “how”: Italy was allegedly“negotiating with ambiguous personalities at their own conditions, through a non-transparent market”.
Is ex-Deputy Minister Mario Giro talking about Sabratha?
So, gathering together all the scattered hints Mario Giro’s article provides, we eventually learn that: from December 2015 Skhirat agreement on, when Libya was “a question of internal policy” and thus – it seems correct and likely to add as an interpretation – of competence of the Ministry of Interior, Italy “accepted to negotiate with ambiguous personalities at their own conditions, through a non-transparent market” “so that migrants could be kept in the detention centres”, but this eventually “turned into a boomerang” and “let the Libyan militias the possibility of extorting” Italy.[Read about the 2017 crisis of Sabratha and the allegations of an Italian engagement with the local armed groups on Between Libya and Italy]
What is former Deputy Minister Giro talking about, exactly? No clear response in the article; yet, the description above let think at least of the late 2017 Sabratha case, when some international and Italian press accused Italy of dealing with Sabratha’s Dabbashi militia. The armed group was pulled out of the city after weeks of clashes within that year and in June 2018 UN officially sanctioned and accused Ahmed Dabbashi, the leader of the aforementioned group, of being
“a significant leader in illicit activities related to the trafficking of migrants. […] The al-Dabbashi clan, and the connected Anas al-Dabbashi militia, have long-standing links with Islamic State in the Levante (ISIL) and its affiliates. Several ISIL operatives have been in their ranks, including Abdallah al-Dabbashi, the ISIL ‘caliph’ of Sabratha”
UN does not mention Italy and Italy itself has always rejected any allegation on the matter.
2018: Libya finally back to Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In his article former Deputy Minister Mario Giro welcomes the Palermo international conference on Libya as Libya’s comeback to “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the only one, along with the Presidency of the Council of the Ministers, charged with leading Italy’s foreign policy”, so that it seems he is implicitly exonerating his own Ministry from any possible responsability of what Italy did in Libya between late 2015 and 2018.
Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mario Giro and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni have both recently joint the catholic group Democrazia Solidale inside the Partito Democratico, while former Interior Minister Marco Minniti could now run for the secretary of the party itself. Former Minister of Interior and Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano quit politics in 2018 and is now reportedly working as a lawyer.