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Sunday, July 30, 2017

An Angry, "Irritated" Italy Loses Patience With Macron Over Migrants, Libya

One week after the latest Ifop poll showed that French president Macron's approval rating tumbled by 10 points in his third month, with only Jacques Chirac sliding more from his May 1995 election to July of that year according to Journal du Dimanche...
... the young president's troubles are spilling outside France's borders, and as VoA reports, even as Merkel's political infatuation with Macron grows by the day, Italy is quickly falling out of love with Macron as  irritation with France’s president is mounting in Rome. At the center of the rising tensions is Italy displeasure with how Europe is handling the country's refugee crisis: tensions have crept into diplomatic relations between France and the government of Paolo Gentiloni, prompted by Macron’s response to Italian pleas for more European assistance with the mainly sub-Saharan migrants crossing the Mediterranean in record numbers and his largely uncoordinated diplomatic intervention in the past week over the Libya crisis.
On Tuesday, Macron oversaw a meeting in Paris of the leaders of two of war-torn Libya’s rival factions to discuss a political power-sharing deal to reunite the fractured north African country.

President Macron meets Italian PM Paolo at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 21, 2017
Italy is furious that the meeting between the head of the U.N.-backed government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj  - which has failed to assert authority even in the Libyan capital Tripoli - and General Khalifa Haftar - a warlord who largely controls the east of the lawless country - was not coordinated with the Italian government. As a result, Gentiloni’s ministers took the unusual step of openly criticizing the French president this week, voicing frustrations with Macron’s efforts, which they argue distract from a coordinated U.N. and European Union effort to engineer a political deal in Libya between three rival governments and dozens of militias. 
“There are too many open formats in Libya, too many mediators, too many initiatives,” Italy’s foreign minister, Angelino Alfano, told the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
Alfano and other ministers have been dismissive of the progress the Elysee Palace claimed to have made in the search for a deal in Libya. According to the French government, al-Sarraj and Haftar have committed to a cease-fire as well as to a continued political dialogue in an effort to achieve national reconciliation. The Italians also believe that Macron has fallen into a trap set by General Haftar, who has refused to accept the legitimacy of Fayez al-Sarraj’s government. Italian officials complain that the Macron-brokered meeting helps to legitimize Haftar, whom they see as a warlord and a strongman-in-the-making.
Separately, officials in the Italian capital say Italy is far more of a "front-line" state when it comes to Libya and suffers more immediate impact than France when it comes to political developments on the other side of the Mediterranean, which is why they have been infuriate by France's brash overtures to take the lead on political negotiations with the civil war-torn state, and have also accused Macron of brashness in waiving off Italian objections, arguing he’s being too high-handed.
It isn't just Italy.
Accusations of Macron's high-handedness were also echoed in France, on his approach to a range of issues, domestic and foreign, with one retired general, Vincent Desportes, accusing Macron of “juvenile authoritarianism.”

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