• Libya, phone call between Luigi Di Maio and Mike Pompeo: "No more external interference"
  • Tripoli Minister: 8 Russian fighters for Haftar have arrived in Libya


by Leonardo Sgura 31 May 2020 The battle is raging at the gates of Tripoli. The National Accord Government heavy artillery is attacking Haftar militias inside the capital's airport. After almost a year of siege, Al Serraji's forces, thanks to the decisive help of Turkey, forced the Cyrenaean army to lose positions, abandoning the neighborhoods of the southern suburbs of Tripoli. By withdrawing, Haftar's men littered the buildings with explosive traps.

In yesterday's phone call with Prime Minister Conte, Al Serraji asked for Italian help to clear the mined areas, as well as renewing protests against the European naval mission Irini, underway off Libya to ensure compliance with the embargo on the weapons. According to Tripoli, Irini favors Haftar, which continues to receive reinforcements by air or across the border with Egypt, while the naval blockade only hinders the arrival of Turkish military aid by sea. But Conte assured that the mission, wanted by Brussels, is carried out with principles of absolute neutrality.

The Libyan question, in recent days, has returned to the center of diplomatic attention. The American secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, is in constant contact with Al Serraji and, after months of silence, he again makes Washington's support for the cause of the Government of national agreement recognized by the UN explicit. The US points the index against Moscow's support for Haftar. They accuse the Russian state-owned company Goznak of printing "counterfeit" Libyan dinars for the general of Cyrenaica, indicating as "evidence" the seizure, which took place in recent days in Malta, of a load of banknotes for 1.1 billion dinars destined for the central bank Benghazi. 

"The only legitimate central bank in Libya is that of Tripoli - says the State Department - Russia prints counterfeit dinars exacerbating the economic problems of the country". Moscow replies with a note from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Libya has two central banks because the country is in the hands of two different governments. Banknotes destined for Benghazi are tied to a regular supply contract. So the dinars are not counterfeited, but the declarations of America ”. 

This controversy follows for a few days that raised by the American embassy in Tripoli for the arrival of 12 Russian MiB fighter-bombers at the Al Jufra air base, in support of the LNA. "Destabilizing actions" say the US, which would be reflecting on the opportunity to deploy its own brigade in Tunisia. Intense contacts, in the last hours, also between Tripoli and Qatar, the other ally of Al Serraji. 

Today, French President Macron discussed the situation in Libya during a phone call with Egyptian President Al Sisi, both of whom have always been on the side of Haftar. Egypt, in particular, has been denouncing Turkey's entry into the conflict for months, considering it a new attempt to "Ottoman invasion" of North Africa. The evolution of the Libyan crisis has been the focus of telephone talks, in these hours, also between Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. 

On the ground, meanwhile, there are massive repositionings of troops and militants, as if the two contenders, and their respective allies, were preparing for operations that could lead to an imminent and definitive turn in the conflict. 

In all of this, Libyan oil production remains paralyzed, with wells and oil pipelines in hand, since the end of January, to the tribes loyal to Haftar. While the activity of human traffickers, along the controlled coasts supervised by Tripoli, continues undisturbed. Al Serraji would have asked Italy for additional "support" to allow its Coast Guard to fight the phenomenon more effectively.