Libya could become new Somalia – Italian foreign minister

Libya Dawn fighters fire an artillery cannon at IS militants near Sirte. © Goran Tomasevic
Italy has warned that Libya could turn into “another Somalia” if its warring factions fail to reach an agreement.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Monday that Europe would find itself “with another Somalia two steps from its coasts” if peace talks did not succeed in a few weeks.

“Time is limited, particularly now that IS in Sirte has become alarming,” he told Italian daily La Stampa as cited by AFP.

Italy signed a joint statement with the USA, the UK, France, Germany and Spain on Sunday condemning “ongoing barbaric acts by ISIL-affiliated terrorists in the Libyan city of Sirte”.

The clashes in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte between Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and local militia erupted last week and killed about 200 people.

Italy's Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni. © Tiksa Negeri

“We are deeply concerned about reports that these fighters have shelled densely populated parts of the city and committed indiscriminate acts of violence to terrorize the Libyan population,” said the statement

The six countries also called on Libya to unite the nation by peaceful means in order to combat the terrorist threat. “The deplorable developments in Sirte underscore the urgent need for parties in Libya to reach agreement on forming a Government of National Accord,” the statement says.

The ongoing crisis in Libya started in 2011 when the US-led coalition carried out airstrikes against Muammar Gaddafi’s troops, supporting the rebellion which was a part of the Arab spring.

“The Pentagon as well as NATO armed extremist organizations that served as a surrogate ground force during the war … they didn’t take into consideration that these are the same interests, the same social elements, I wish they had described as terrorist prior to the war of regime change in Libya,” Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, told RT.

“So by empowering extremist organizations you will only come up with a result which you have now,” he added.

READ MORE: ‘Probability of US again bombing Libya is always there’

Along with permanent instability in Libya, the intervention also led to a sharp migrant crisis in Europe which is especially urgent for Italy to resolve.

“Another grievous consequence of the chaos in Libya is a refugee/migrant crisis that has seen tens of thousands desperate to escape the hell the country has become, willing to risk a perilous voyage across the Mediterranean in barely-seaworthy vessels in order to do so, ” John Wight, regular commentator on RT, said.

“Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have drowned in the attempt thus far with more sure to follow,” he added.

READ MORE: ‘Chaos & lawlessness’: The West’s Libyan legacy