Italy blames France for Libyan conflict

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Rome, Sep 5 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s Defence Minister Elizabetta Trenta has blamed France for the deadly violence in Libya, claiming that when Paris pushed for military intervention in 2011 against then dictator Muammar Gaddafi it put French interests before those of the Libyan people.

“It cannot be denied that today Libya finds itself in this situation because someone, in 2011, put its own interests ahead of those of Libya and of Europe,” Trenta wrote in a Facebook post.

“Parliament speaker Roberto Fico is right – in this sense, France is to be blamed, at least in part,” he continued.

She was referring to comments made on Monday by Italy’s lower house of Parliament speaker, who like Trenta, belongs to the populist Five-Star Movement which is currently governing Italy with the far-right League party.

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“I am very worried about Libya, because it’s a tinderbox and a very serious problem that France undoubtedly left us with,” Fico stated.

Trenta ruled out the despatch of a military taskforce to Libya, which was an Italian colony from 1910 to 1947.

“It is Italy’s job at this time to facilitate dialogue and to aid this, also by strengthening state security forces,” Trenta wrote.

“We all need to work in the same direction, that is towards the cessation of hostilities (between rival armed groups) and therefore to launch at the earliest possible date a peace process in which Libyans play the leading role.”

At least 50 people have been killed including at least 19 civilians while over 120 people have been wounded in clashes that began on August 24 between rebel militias and those supporting Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

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The GNA declared a state of emergency on Sunday.

An international coalition, led by the US and Nato, intervened in Libya in 2011 on the basis of a UN mandate to protect civilians, leading to Gaddafi’s ouster.

Italy allowed Nato forces use its airbases although then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he opposed the operation.

–IANS/AKI

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