Huffington Post – Feb. 27, 2019
In recent years, the European Union has become a minefield where problems continue to grow from the absence of effective leadership that will end the anomalies and restore the shaky balance of this important alliance for the states of the Old Continent. Brexit ‘s announcement by the United Kingdom, followed by Germany ‘s energy crisis and the growing need for Russian gas and oil, the refugee/migrant crisis that has prompted the rise of populism in many EU countries and especially in Italy and, among all these, the increasing differences between the countries of the Union suggest that the collapse is the only future of the most important achievements of the 20th century in Europe.
With the onset of the Arab Spring, the international system, headed by some EU countries, felt that it had lost control of these world-important Arab states and that change was inevitable. So they decided to exploit it for their own personal interests and try to get the most profits.
When the Spring wave came to Libya, France and Italy sought to take advantage by urging Washington to accept direct military intervention under NATO’s endeavors, in order to impose their influence on one of the most wealthy North African countries in energy resources. NATO finally managed to drop the Gaddafi regime under the guise of democratization and liberation from the dictator. This was the cover of an organized plan aimed at stealing Libyan gas and signing long-term contracts with fictional amounts. Under the law of the jungle, when the wolves kill their prey they begin to crack for who gets the bigger part. This accurately describes what is happening now on the Libyan soil. The conflict between Paris and Rome has not been confined within the Libyan border but is further expanded.
Rome strongly supported the ruling Islamic party of the General People’s Congress of Libya in the capital, Tripoli. There are leaks about the signing of twenty-five-year contracts to sell Libya’s gas to the Italian government at lower prices, while Italian companies will be in charge of drilling, pumping and transporting gas.
France, on the other hand, finding itslef out of the game, promoted as alternative solution the support of General Haftar in the creation of a Libyan army to regain control of the country with the cover of the fight against ISIS and terrorism. French aircrafts supported Haftar and French Special Forces participated in the process of imposing it as the Libyan Supreme Commander. Over time, the conflict over the overthrow of the dictator and the development of liberties turned into a war against terrorism and then a conflict between Rome and Paris to control decision-making in the country. Victims, of course, are again the people of Libya, its economy and its resources. The controversy did not stop here, but it expanded further. Turkey and Qatar have been competing with Italy in support of the Tripoli government, while Egypt and the UAE have lined up with France and supported General Haftar.
Following the assumption of the French presidency by Emmanuel Macron, voices of populism grew increasingly in the Italian government, which in turn inflamed the fire between the two neighbors. The breakup by the Trump of the nuclear agreement with Iran and the re-imposition of financial sanctions has been a major blow to Italian and French businesses.
Thus, the two European governments have turned to the search for new opportunities in the energy sector. And when the long arm of the US is more than the Middle East, Paris and Rome put aim to get a piece of the huge reserves of the Eastern Mediterranean gas. In this context, France’s contacts with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey on the one hand and Israel and Egypt on the other have increased. This is actually the cause of the recent visit by far in Egypt and Cyprus and the announcement of the participation of Italy in the upcoming energy conference in Crete with presence in Cyprus, Israel and Egypt.
The two countries have tripped up one another. According to French diplomats, Italy has put its hand in supporting Yellow Vests during the recent mobilizations in France. Indeed, Italian Prime Minister Di Maio has met with the leaders of the Yellow Vests movement. Rome, on the other side, considers that Paris is directly responsible for maintaining migration flows from North Africa to the Italian coast in an attempt to destabilize the country. Eastern Syria is still a field of confrontation between the two countries. France and Italy keep military forces in the region not to fight against terrorists but to claim energy contracts each on its behalf.
The international system has entered a dark tunnel without showing light on its edge. The US leadership, which was the compass of world balance after the Second World War, is in a state of internal instability that affects its influence and international mobility in a way that has forced many international powers to redefine their strategy by putting priority their interests.
Moscow has returned to the international arena vigorously, while the United Kingdom emerges from the European Union and is starting to organize its international presence away from the vision of America and Europe. Finally, the absence of European leadership is clear from Germany’s engagement with its internal crises, a situation that pushes both Italy and France to move autonomously towards harvesting profits. Europe’s stability is also affected by Washington’s withdrawal from the agreement with Moscow on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the development of small and medium-scale missiles. We can therefore openly say that what is happening globally today is dance on the brink of the abyss.