The New Project for the Mediterranean

Commentary: The current geopolitical and military realities require a redefining of the Mediterranean area. A committee for Mediterranean security and a Mediterranean bank could prove to be useful

Photo: Bigstock

In the future the Mediterranean issue will realistically be that of dividing it into zones of influence -albeit communicating with one another - and anyway capable of absorbing also the geopolitical and military tension that will emerge in other world regions.

The idea that the Mediterranean can still be a small "European lake" is now to be completely ruled out, because the European Union, but also its individual Member States, or NATO itself have shown they cannot credibly hold any Mediterranean area.

The key event of this demonstration of impotence - and often of frank and overt foolishness - was the Second Balkan War. 

As is well known, Tito, alias Josip Broz, died in May 1980.

The clash between Serbs and Slovenes immediately materialized in the Congress of the Yugoslav Communist League on January 20, 1990, but then the army harshly intervened in Slovenia, despite the fact that the secession of the various republics was envisaged by Tito’s Constitution, as also happens in all the Basic Laws resulting from the Communist tradition of the Third International.

We know the rest of the story, but we are interested in seeing how everything is concentrated and merged into that conflict: Islamist radicalization, at first in Bosnia and later in Kosovo, where petromonarchies and jihad - often combined - entered the scene immediately.

Therefore, the obsession for "minorities" - a naive Americanist dogma - ended up fragmenting Europe and later reducing it to a mockery of sub-optimal rights, laws and statelets.

In the 18th century Germany was made up of 350 small States.

France, Italy and Spain, are now prey to very strong tensions between ethnic groups, linguistic areas and more or less presumed "nations". 

If this fragmentation continues, together with an economic and legal slowdown of the European Union, connected to the very strong immigration from Africa and the Middle East, the European Union will be what Italy was in Count Metternich's mind, namely "a geographical expression". Nowadays, however, there will be no American or other troops to save it from the mistakes it has foolishly made and self-inflicted.

This is the first true historical fact. 

The second is the Western - especially European - attack on Gaddafi's Libya which was struck in 2011. A stroke of genius, so to speak, that France had above all against Italy, the true protector of Gaddafi's Libya. 

Jihadists from Cyrenaica, talk about the famous "human rights" - which, when Gaddafi was financing Sarkozy's election campaign were obviously not a problem - and another attempt to fragment a too big political system for the tiny brain of Western decision-makers: previously Yugoslavia, now Libya. 

Now, however, it will be good to say enough is enough. It will therefore be necessary to rethink the Mediterranean in another way, without attempting to make ENI collapse and end in the jaws of Total, or possibly move German companies to Slovenia or Serbia, the only real criterion - at the time - for the division of former Yugoslavia. Today it is not a matter of splitting up, but rather of uniting, if anything.

With a view to immediately rehabilitating Eastern Länder, after reunification, Germany kept its interest rates very high, thus ruining its European competitors. 

Germany also sought the break-up of Serbia, while Great Britain and France wanted to use the clauses of the 1920 Treaty.

It was exactly Serbia that strongly resisted the German Reich twice. These things matter. For those who still have it, unlike Italians, memory is a criterion also for judging the present time.

The first rule is to bring into the Mediterranean players capable of opposing the old European regional hegemonies. 

Certainly also China. The Belt and Road Initiative currently involves 71 countries, which account for half of the world population and a quarter of the global GDP.

It is hard for the United States to counter this extraordinary mobilization of resources and strategic actions. 

Since the United States does not even want to hear about the Chinese 5G, it will be a matter of establishing the areas of influence of the two different technologies. 

If the United States does not agree, it may as well go and palm off elsewhere their Five Eyes-style Intelligence Service documentation, which is anyway manipulated and often not fully relevant.

For Asia alone, the World Bank forecasts an investment requirement of approximately 26 trillion U.S. dollars until 2030. 

We poor Europeans do not even think of extracting this amount of money for the development of the Mediterranean on our own.

Therefore, it is first of all a matter of organizing a short and very effective "Conference on the Mediterranean", not only between governments but also between figures who often count more than governments - a Conference capable of redefining the lines of presence of other old and new powers in the Mediterranean region.

China will certainly be able to develop its economic and infrastructure projects in the Mediterranean, but in such a context as to envisage the presence of the Chinese Armed Forces also in the operations for controlling and containing legal and illegal immigration between the Sahel and the whole sub-Saharan region.

The fields of action can be easily defined: let us therefore forget about EUNAVFORMED which, with its very recent IRINI mission, has already demonstrated - if there ever were any need - the irrelevance sine remedio of the European Union. 

No ships, in this case, except for a French one, with Italy saying it is coming soon, but also Germany, which is officially distancing itself and break away, and finally Turkey, which is obviously doing its utmost to prevent the mission. 

Therefore, the EU is currently paying for the flaw it imposed in the past during the destabilisation phase of the Soviet East: the continuous State and hyper-State factionism. No one to blame but oneself. 

Therefore, first of all, a strong Conference for defining the areas of military influence, and hence of possible collaborations, in the Mediterranean region.

Hence China can move in the sub-Saharan area, but for what aim? To obviously have the possibility of exploiting the entire primary sub-Saharan region. And to protect its African development regions in the East. I think China will accept.

France will still be able to endure its African Francophonie. Certainly, but with a series of integrated military mechanisms, present between the Djibouti base, where there is also Italy, but also in other ones, as the one in the Ivory Coast, or the one in Senegal, in the military port of Dakar and in Ouakam. 

Here, the mechanism of the New Treaty on the Mediterranean will envisage a parallel presence of Italy, Spain and the United States - if it ever agrees - and also a possible Russian base in the Ivory Coast. 

Certainly, by now everything is heading for a new and silly Cold War, but hopefully rationality - at least the scarce and very residual one of the p Union - will make itself heard.

Hence what should the Russian Federation do? Meanwhile, Russia is already in Berbera, on the coast of Somaliland, but it is also interested in Eritrea, as well as in Cabo Delgado in Northern Mozambique. Russia is also present in the Central African Republic, but it also trains the Armed Forces of Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

Well, there is no point crying over the milk spilt by the Europeans’ clumsy pacifism. 

Within the new division of the Mediterranean, for the Russian Federation there could also be a naval base in Cyrenaica, but less relevant than the one planned together with General Haftar, as well as a new Russian economic presence in the West African coasts, in Benin, Cape Verde, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

For the Mediterranean coasts, we can think about a specific, but obviously not exclusive, development area for Russia, but between Egypt and Morocco.  

No one will ever have exclusive zones in the Mediterranean, but all the participants in the New Mediterranean Pact will have a "supervision zone" for their primary development areas.

With a view to ensuring the military stability of the region, we can also think about a Mediterranean Bank, which will be integrated with the primary Investment Banks of the participating countries and will evaluate the new candidates’ proposals. As Napoleon used to say, money makes wars.

A good option would also be a sort of "Integrated Allied Command of the Mediterranean" among all the present Forces. I am perfectly aware it would be a matter of having a unified Command with Russia and China, but the United States should tell us whether it wants to stay seriously in the Mediterranean or if it wants to leave -  as for NATO according to President Trump - because the issue is obviously essential. 

If others in the world think that the problem of the Mediterranean is only the sloppy and careless theory of "terrorism", it should be clearly said.

If, on the contrary, it is thought that the issue is broader and more complicated, then it would be good for the United States to participate in a non-NATO South Mediterranean Committee with other States and Organizations.

Also with this new Mediterranean Bank, Spain could stabilize both its old enclaves and enter the great sub-Saharan system, between Algeria and Morocco, which are traditional points of reference for Spain.

The Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea are essential for Spain both for military security and for the purchase of oil and gas.

For France, there are also 1,100 companies with over 2,109 branches in Africa.

The abandonment of the CFA Franc in favour of the ECO is a historic event, but the ECO will anyway be stabilized with respect to the Euro and guaranteed by France. 

Here there is a severe problem: either we create a "Mediterranean" currency, which runs parallel to local currencies (here we will not make the same mistake as the Euro), or we plan an area of non-fixed exchange rates. But the idea of a secondary currency would not be bad. 

France, however, would certainly not agree. The new Mediterranean currency could also be a mere currency of account, which remains in the Mediterranean but cannot be exchanged in sub-Saharan Africa.

What about Italy? There are approximately 30,000 US military and civilians in Italy. 

The problem is that the undeniable economic crisis will lead to a sub-optimal contraction of the Italian Defence budget compared to the U.S. and Italian needs in the Mediterranean region.

Greece may certainly not be a strategic substitute. Now Italy has very different interests in the Mediterranean region, but not necessarily in conflict with the United States.

Hence what can be done apart from the strategy of distributing Nutella to children? The answer is simple: immediately choose our own proxies in Libya - but I am afraid it is too late - and later think about an operational strategy for political and economic penetration in the Mediterranean region and hence also in Africa. 

Where? In Central and Southern Africa, but also in the South African Confederation. 

Hence Sahel, where most of the migration flows originate, as well as fight against the Islamic State in Southern Sahara, and finally Italy’s participation in the Takuba Force, again between Sahel and the neighbouring countries. However, it is a Force with European-style Rules of Engagement (ROE) - hence in this case reference is again to be made to the above stated Nutella strategy.

With a now superhuman effort of strategic imagination, Italy could pass through the Sahel and Sudan’s border to Tunisia and its neighbouring areas, thus avoiding the Libyan chaos, in which it should operate differently, and later reach the Southern borders of Egypt, Morocco and Algeria. 

In this new accurate division of areas of influence, Italy could deal mainly with the Mediterranean coasts and security, while other countries could deal - but obviously not without Italy - with the "poor" and immediate industrialization of the Southern Mediterranean coasts.

Both the new Committee for Mediterranean security, made up of all the countries bordering on the Mediterranean or anyway interested in it, and the above stated Mediterranean Bank, which could act both as a backer of coastal States and as a medium and long-term supporter of the national and international companies present in the Mediterranean Sea, could prove to be useful.

 

Professor Valori is President of the International World Group
 

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