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America’s strategic blunder with Tripoli

America’s strategic blunder with Tripoli

Based on the failure of secret talks that were supposed to lead to the normalization of diplomatic relations between Libya and Israel, there was a strategic error. An error that dates back at least as far back as last January, when William Burns, the head of the CIA, decided to stop in Libya soon after visiting Israel.. There, the head of US intelligence engages in negotiations with Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Tabaiba, convincing him to join the Abraham Covenant and officially recognize the State of Israel. For Dabaiba, a great connoisseur of the delicate Libyan internal balance, that would not have been easy to admit.

A hypothetical deal with Jerusalem would have brought considerable political goodwill to the Americans: You can trust me, but now support me to be your preferred interlocutor, which is Tabaiba’s message to accept negotiations with Israel. The Chief Minister was also aware of the dangers. His opponents were ready to take advantage of any misstep by the Tripoli government and sitting at the same table with representatives of the Jewish state could turn out to be the biggest misstep. Months went by, but, coincidentally, only last week – we know this because it was a clumsy message from Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, which told the press – negotiations between Tripoli and Jerusalem accelerated. And so we arrive at a secret high-level summit in Rome with the involvement of the foreign ministers of both countries and Italian mediation. The exact date of the meeting is not known, but it will be an interesting detail. Because last Tuesday, August 22, the day the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, gave a very harsh speech to the Security Council, the US actually dropped Dabaiba: “We are ready. A caretaker government of national unity”, says the diplomat, Libya. The position of Prime Minister is no longer considered transparent.

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The UN special envoy to Libya, Abdallah Bathili, reiterates: “There is control and insecurity in the West”, after 55 people were killed and hundreds injured in Tripoli a few days ago. Violent conflicts are his complaint. In an instant, every semblance of international law had disappeared for Dafaiba, the only one that still held him firmly in power, an internal one already abundantly questioned – his mandate theoretically expires in December 2021. For a week now, the Libyan prime minister has never been so alone and internationally weakened. But that is not enough. Last Saturday, apparently after the summit with the Israelis had already been held, the US Special Envoy to Libya, Richard Norland, reiterated to the Saudi press that “no one wants to see another interim government in Libya in office for years.”.

A few hours later, a damning Israeli report arrived, sparking anger in Libya and a coup d’état to Dabayba’s power. A fact that measures the failure of the American project: Even if negotiations to normalize relations with Israel had been successful, anger at the government would have been even stronger. Washington’s choice to delegitimize the government in Tripoli, while using its desperate quest for international recognition to force such a delicate negotiation, is a serious strategic mistake whose impact is yet to be determined, as the conflict in Libya continues for days. But it is Italy who will lose the most after Dafaiba.

Among the nations of the international community, we should be the greatest experts on Libya, so it would have been very prudent on our part to make America’s allies understand that there is more to lose than to be gained by a quick deal with Libya. Israel. Instead, deluding ourselves that we could achieve a diplomatic victory, we decided to go with the failed move.. With one difference, compared to the Americans: we are economically and strategically more exposed than we are in the North African country. A priority, perhaps, is another: Libya must normalize domestically before normalizing relations between Libya and Israel.

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