Libya asks for help for oil wells. G5 shows support

Renzi speaks to Sarraj: 'Italy ready to lend a hand'

26 April, 12:00

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, APRIL 26 - Libya's government has asked for foreign help to protect its oil wells from the threat posed by the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group and the international community has shown signs of support.

    From Hanover, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi guaranteed the 'unanimous support' of the G5 for Fayez al Sarraj's government and that Italy would be 'sensitive' to its requests when they are formalised.

    In Tripoli, the presidential council led by Sarraj continues to make small steps forward to establish some order within the country. On Monday it sent a request for help to the United Nations, to European countries and to African states on its border to ask them to help protects its oil resources. This followed a warning of possible attacks on installations on land and at sea. ISIS militants also recently launched a new offensive against the wells in Brega, in the east of the country.

    The Libyan dossier was on the table at a meeting of the G5 in Herrenhausen castle, Lower Saxony. Renzi, who spoke to Sarraj before the meeting, explained at the end of the meeting that the G5 (USA, France, Britain, Germany and Italy) expressed "unanimous support" for Sarraj's work and agreed that "everything needs to be done to ensure its success". He reaffirmed however that all initiatives "will have to be requested" by Tripoli. And he said when they are "formalised, and not just announced, Italy will be a sensitive partner, ready to lend a hand within the overall project". He also specified that the wells in question are not those owned by Italian oil major Eni.

    No concrete measures were agreed in Hanover, while specific requests from Tripoli are awaited. But Renzi noted a "change in direction of the international community compared to what was happening a year ago, when the Libyan and immigration questions were not European priorities". He said that on the immigration front, an agreement with Libya like the deal the EU has made with Turkey could "reduce the number of migrants leaving from Africa".

    The real obstacle up to this point is the fragility of Sarraj's executive, which has not yet received support from the part of the country led by the parliament of Tobruk, and is opposed by General Khalifa Haftar.

    Haftar is focused on preparing an offensive against ISIS in its stronghold, Sirte, counting on the support of Egypt. This impasse is causing concern for the international community and the U.N., whose special envoy Martin Kobler on Monday asked Tobruk to show support for the national unity government within 10 days.

    In the absence of an executive with full support of the whole territory, any potential military intervention, including peacekeeping, is considered premature by western governments.

    Undercover European and American forces have nevertheless been actively helping local troops to fight ISIS. According to British media, UK forces are preparing to launch an attack against jihadists in Sirte along with American and French troops. (ANSAmed).

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