Snub by Libyan Leader Seen Damaging Italian Mediation Effort
Fayez al-Serraj, prime minister of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), canceled a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome this week after discovering that Italian officials had also invited a renegade Libyan general. The general, Benghazi-based Khalifa Haftar, has been advancing on GNA-held territory with his Libyan National Army (LNA), refusing to accept the authority of the UN-backed Tripoli government, which is now receiving assistance from Turkish troops being sent to Libya as of this week in an advisory and training capacity. Italy is keen to end fighting, something it hopes would allow the North African nation to devote more time to controlling the movement of African and other migrants who use it as a staging point in their efforts to reach Europe, their cross-Mediterranean travels often taking them first to Italian soil. Both Serraj and Haftar have been touring Europe of late in separate quests for support. Critics say the canceled meeting and resulting embarrassment could have been avoided if Rome’s right-leaning and often fractious coalition government were capable of working in tighter coordination.