Rome, ACCRA, MARCH
30 - (dpa/GNA) - The protracted failure to install a national unity government
in Libya might push the international community to bomb Islamic State
strongholds in the country, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said
In December 2015, Libyan lawmakers signed a UN-brokered peace agreement, including a unity government, aimed at ending years of instability in the oil-rich country. But several politicians and militias have rejected the deal.
In an interview with the Corriere della Sera newspaper, Gentiloni said his country supported the efforts of the national unity government of Fayez Serraj to take up office in Tripoli, but said this must happen within a "reasonable amount of time."
"Otherwise we risk that the approach will prevail of those who argue that stabilizing Libya is a pipe-dream and that therefore we need to launch massive air raids against jihadist positions," the minister added.
Europe and the United States have been concerned for months about the expansion of the Islamic State terrorist group in Libya, which has been in chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi.
Italy, a former colonial power in Libya and the biggest buyer of its oil and gas, has a strong interest in pacifying the North African country - and also in stemming the flow of migrants that cross over from there to its shores.
But Gentiloni said a "military only" response to the Libyan crisis "risks being counterproductive," pushing 200,000 local militias to join forces with 5,000 Islamic State jihadists against a common Western enemy.
Separately, the La Stampa newspaper reported that Italy remained opposed to deploying ground troops, but may cave in to pressure from the US and offer small special units and fighter jets for possible operations in Libya.
La Stampa said US President Barack Obama may discuss Libya with European allies on the margins of Friday's Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.