ROME – Western powers are prepared to fight Islamic State in Libya even if the North African country fails to agree on a unified government soon, Italy’s defense minister said on Thursday.
“We cannot imagine the situation in Libya remaining in a stall as
spring comes and goes,” Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said in an interview with the newspaper Corriere della Sera. Her spokesman confirmed the comments. Since 2014, Libya has had two competing parliaments and governments, one set based in Tripoli and a second, internationally recognized one in the east. Both are backed by loose alliances of armed groups and former rebels who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. At a Paris meeting last week of defense ministers from countries in the anti-ISOS coalition, Pinotti said, there was “total agreement” that a Libya unity government should ask for help to fight militants, to avoid fuelling “jihadist propaganda” of yet another “Western invasion”. But she went on to say that Islamic State was strengthening in the current political vacuum, prompting Italy and its allies to prepare for an “emergency”, adding that the United States recently has expressed “a greater concern” over ISIS militants in Libya.