"Playing with Molecules": The Italian Approach to Libya Etudes de l'Ifri, April 2018
This paper aims to analyse the many ways in which Italy is trying to play with the many Libyan “molecules”, the different parties of a fragmented and collapsing country, and the possible implications of the strategy adopted by the Gentiloni government and its Minister of Interior, Marco Minniti, towards the country and the migratory crisis.
Rome engaged a patient strategy of “mending” with the two main national actors and with a plethora of local players, tribes, municipalities, city-states, and militias struggling in the quest for power. For Italy, a stable Libya is crucial to manage the flow of migrants leaving the country and crossing the Strait of Sicily, to ensure energy provisions, and to manage licit and illicit economic activities in the Mediterranean. Trying to assess the resilience of this strategy is of the utmost importance in order to have a measure of which kind of responsibility Rome assumed over the past two years and what kind of accountability would be inherited by the incoming government. Indeed, the “molecular” approach carried out by the Gentiloni Government in the country should be viewed as a double-edged strategy: while the migration flow dramatically shrank over the past months, economic relations recover and informal cooperation forges new spaces for dialogue, promoting ambiguous players, without a comprehensive approach and a clear political vision, could undermine prospects for peace in the country, Italian national interests and the future of Italy-Libya relations.