Europe will again try to block the road of migrants from Libya across the Mediterranean sea, but Russia, it seems, is not going to help make this job easier.
Much had been done, and it helped a lot. The flow of migrants in overcrowded boats off the coast of Libya to Italy have decreased. But he still is keeping the migration crisis in Europe.
Now have to make another attempt. On Thursday at a meeting in Brussels, ambassadors of EU countries discussed a plan to create a so-called defensive line, for which the Libyan authorities must obtain a “strong and lasting” support of the EU.
The idea as such is simple, according to diplomatic sources. The Libyan coast guard must stop and send back the boats before they leave Libyan territorial waters. This should close the main door to Europe and prevent a new migration crisis that spring will once again allow boats to go this route.
Last year the main part of the 181 thousands of mostly economic migrants should have a route that runs from Libya to the Central part of the Mediterranean sea, turning the Mediterranean into a cemetery on the water. Only for the first two weeks of 2017 drowned, at least 219 of migrants.
Italy is in the lead
Italy is a leader in this work with Libya (which was also the main topic of the informal meeting of EU leaders on Malta in early February). After the murder of the American Ambassador in Tripoli in 2012, Italy was the first to open its Embassy in the Libyan capital to strengthen political ties with this country.
But there is one big problem. The coalition government headed by Prime Minister Fayeza al-Karriem (Fayez al-Sarraj), supported by the United Nations, constantly fighting for control over the country competing-government militias.
Therefore, the Libyan government is unable to fully suppress criminal organizations, who earn good money on the illegal transportation of refugees.
Russia in turn seems to be support of General Khalifa the Haftarot (Khalifa Haftar), educated in the Soviet Union, He going to create his own army to the West, Libya to grab its share of power in Tripoli, or even something more.
Last week, Haftar was invited on Board a Russian aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov” in the Mediterranean sea, where he had a video conversation with Russian defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
In Brussels fear that Russia is thus trying to strengthen its influence, which she received in the middle East after the intervention in Syria.
According to well-informed Moscow, “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”, Russia is unlikely to violate a ban on the supply of arms or create their base in Libya.
“This will be possible only if Russia finds a common language with Donald trump, and if he and other Western leaders will make a bet on the Haftarot,” reports the newspaper.
Russian hand on the steering wheel
However, this can be achieved and the actions of a smaller scale, indicate the observers. Support the Haftarah gives Russia an important share in the conflict and, thus, influence on the migration flow to the EU. This only reinforces concern in EU capitals.
“Great game around Libya is the background of the discussions ongoing,” says an EU diplomat.
The Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat, who on a rotating basis just took over the EU presidency, believes that the EU should be more ambitious, to conclude an agreement with Libya over the type, which was concluded with Turkey, and stop the flow of refugees to the EU through Greece.
Without such agreement, “Europe will face a major new refugee crisis,” said Muscat this week in the European Parliament.