A two-month training program for Libya’s coast guard begins in Tunisia, and will subsequently move to Italy.
Italy has recently witnessed a decline in migrant arrivals, which fell 85% in August from the previous year. This drop has been attributed to local militias working to keep migrants from departing Libya’s shores, rather than Italian efforts to police the Mediterranean. Some have accused Rome of paying the militias to do so, an accusation the government vehemently denies.
In either case, Libya’s fluid political situation leaves local militias vulnerable to losing power. A more stable option could be General Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army controls the country’s east. He has promised to police Libya’s southern border in return for aid and military equipment from Europe.
Italy’s centre-left government will likely continue to court Haftar—it needs migrant flows to stay down ahead of elections due by May 2018. If not, populist parties could make gains off a xenophobic campaign.