Tripolitania and Cyrenaica are the scene of a new battle, this time not between the Commonwealth and Rommel's forces, but between the French and Italians. At stake is millions in revenue for various factions of people smugglers and Libya's oil and gas. Italy and its Eni SpA oil company, backing Fayez Sarraj, are promoting holding and clearance centres in Libya for African economic migrants, with Italy and the EU paying the running costs and Sarraj's tame smugglers charging African migrants a ransom migrant tax. Against them are France and its oil company Multi Total, backing General Khalifa Haftar who has his own tame people smugglers and controls the main oil port. Oil and sub-saharan Africans are now Libya's main exports.
The old regions of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica are the key to understanding Libya. Tripolitania to the West is home to a Maghrebi culture, common to Tunisia and Morocco, whilst Cyrenaica is home to a gulf arab culture, the Mashriq. Libya, in common with most ME nations, is not a natural country.
Into this mess wades German Interior Minister de Maizière. He wants a new EU armed force to operate far in the south of Libya, in the desert, stopping Migrants from reaching the coast in the first place, der Spiegel tells us. One can see the attraction of a desert campaign to the German mind; the French and the legion etrangere have recent experience whilst North Africa was the only Wehrmacht operational area not fouled by German war crimes and atrocities, and Rommel and the Afrika Korps one of the few 'clean' units. What better foundation for the Franco-German contribution to the EU army to build upon?