Italy sending troops into Niger, Libya, and Tunisia

Italian troops in Libya

ROME - Italy has announced plans to increase the number of troops in Libya and Tunisia. The plans follows the recent announcement that 470 soldiers will be sent to Niger in order to tackle the issue of human trafficking.

 The mission, like that in Niger, will be to stabilise the region. Italy has a clear vested interest in a safer and economically viable Libya, one that can wield the rule of law with greater authority and hopefully reduce Libya’s role as a gateway into Europe.

 Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni’s approval for the Niger mission, undersigned by the Minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti, marks a shift towards interventionist policy in Africa. Combating the militia groups, rented out by traffickers to defend the routes to northern Libya, is a key part of disrupting the uneven flow of migrants into Italy.

 In the words of the Prime Minister: "We must continue to work by focusing our attention and energy on the mix of the threat of human trafficking and terrorism in the Sahel. For this reason, part of the forces in Iraq will be deployed in the next months in Niger, and this is the proposal that the government will make to Parliament for a mission to defeat the trafficking of human beings and terrorism."

 While historically, the stabilising effect of foreign military intervention appears to be a pipedream, if done right there is a chance that it may act like a band-aid under which the open wound can heal.

 Of course, making the home countries of those who are considering migrating to Europe better places means that less will be forced to leave yet interventionist tactics often lead to unforeseen ramifications.

 Gentiloni was keen to emphasise that the putting troops into Niger does not mean that dialogue will not be a crucial component in repairing the situation: "We protect our national interest and we always do it in friendship with other countries, never in opposition. The task of our military has never been to find an enemy. We want to build dialogue, friendship and peace in the Mediterranean and in the world."