The Italian newspaper La Repubblica monitored developments related to the attack launched by retired Major General Khalifa Haftar months ago on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and considered that foreign support could enable him to achieve gains even if he could not resolve the battle.
According to the newspaper, the repeated assurances by European ministers and officials - including the Italian foreign minister who met his Libyan counterpart in Rome on Thursday - that "no military solution to the crisis in Libya" may no longer be valid.
There are assessments in that direction by ambassadors and high-ranking officials of the Italian intelligence agencies who follow the Libyan file, as Laribubblica quotes one of them - and he asked not to reveal his identity or the apparatus he works in - that Hifter "was completely able to win the military battle that might be not Decisive. "
He explained that the battle "could topple the government of Fayez al-Sarraj even without controlling Tripoli", in reference to the internationally recognized national reconciliation government based in the capital.
According to Italian analysts, the nature of the support that Haftar was getting has changed, and this has improved his military plans. "In addition to the Egyptian and Emirati support, Haftar is now receiving decisive support from hundreds of Russian mercenaries who certainly helped to shoot down the two American and Italian drones two weeks ago in the skies." Libya. "
According to Italian sources, the Russians, along with the Egyptian army, also contributed to making Haftar's military operation more realistic. "For months, it is said that Haftar cannot control a capital inhabited by nearly four million people." But Haftar, according to the same sources, does not want to control Tripoli, but to topple the Saraj government by forcing him to flee and activating a mechanism at the United Nations to delegitimize that government.
Italian evacuation plans
On the other hand, sources in the Italian Ministry of Defense confirmed to the newspaper La Repubblica the development of emergency evacuation plans not only for workers at the Italian embassy in Tripoli, but even for the Libyan Prime Minister himself and for the most important officials of the National Accord government who may be at risk there.
"The Italian Air Force has ready plans, so it is constantly working to monitor the battlefield around Tripoli using drones," said those sources at the Ministry of Defense.
Minister Pashaga bells the alarm
The Minister of Interior of the National Accord Government, Fathi Pashaga, launched the first alarm last month when he said, "There are many Russian militiamen helping Haftar in his siege of Tripoli. Among them are snipers and trainers studying how to lead military operations."
According to Italian intelligence, the number of Russians is less than a thousand. But according to other estimates, the number of these people reaches two thousand.
It should be noted that, in the midst of this attrition game for the Libyan government, hundreds of Russian contractors from the "Wagner" company may bring about a change in the course of the game taking place at the gates of Tripoli.
The newspaper says that the critical element now in the ongoing battle is the control of airspace. On November 20, after the shooting down of the Italian plane in the city of Tarhuna, the Haftar militia announced an air ban in the sky over Tripoli. The availability of Russian mercenaries "Stinger" missiles may allow Hafter's planes to fly freely over the capital every night.
The failure of the Berlin Conference
Faced with the gradual erosion of the military front in Tripoli, the countries that support Haftar do not allow German diplomacy to achieve any success. Berlin has been working for months on a conference that was supposed to be held last October, then postponed to last November, and now it is supposed to be held next January.
It is a conference that all countries involved in the Libyan crisis are supposed to participate in, but it is noticeable that no one is negotiating seriously because many people are now counting on the possibility of achieving a military victory in Libya, according to the newspaper.
In terms of the balance of forces interested in the Libyan file, there are three axes working daily on this file, namely: The first axis: Russia, the Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where these countries pretend to negotiate but are working to arm Haftar.
The most prominent of these countries is Russia, which is the most conservative country in what it is doing on the ground now, as it has a strategic plan to penetrate Libya and then go to the Sahel region, for Niger and Mali, and even Burkina Faso, where anti-France demonstrations escalate.
As for Egypt, as well as the issue of the security of the western borders, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and his generals think, first of all, of only one thing, which is that Libya has oil they do not possess, as well as economic capabilities that would enrich the Egyptian leaders. For the UAE and Saudi Arabia, these two countries are less aggressive, according to some, and are ready to give up Haftar. But if Haftar continues to stay in the game, why would they give it up? Therefore, they continue to finance it.
On another axis, the United States stands, where the Pentagon and State Department officials understand the concerns of those who see that the Russians are advancing in Libya and Africa, but they are unable to direct President Donald Trump, who is still affected by the pressures exercised by Egypt and the UAE.
The Egyptian president, whom Trump calls "my favorite dictator," told him that Hifter was "our man in Libya." Thus, the only thing that can move the American system is the challenge with the Russians, but the Americans have not yet grasped how to manage this challenge.
As for the third axis, Italy, Germany and Britain, it supports Al-Sarraj only with words. Although this axis is opposed to Egypt and Russia regarding their support for Haftar's role in Libya, Rome, Berlin and London seem unable to understand the French position on the risks that Paris will face in the event of opening the Libyan African gateway to Russia.
Europeans are completely absent, or rather paralyzed due to internal crises or because of the inability to activate a common foreign policy. Italy's situation appears to be the most sensitive now, with one official following the crisis saying for years: "If we continue to do nothing, we will soon find off the coast of Sicily a system of generals in Cairo."