Italy warned Libya of 1986 airstrikes

The AP reports:

The Italian government gave Libya early warning of the 1986 U.S. airstrikes launched in response to a deadly attack on a disco in Germany, Libyan and Italian officials said Thursday.

Libya’s Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalgam was quoted by the ANSA and Apcom news agencies as saying the Italians warned him of the raids launched from a NATO base on Italian soil because they were opposed to the action. Shalgam said the Italians informed him personally since, at the time, he was Libya’s ambassador in Rome.

“I don’t think I am revealing a secret if I announce that Italy informed us a day before — April 14, 1986 — that there would be an American aggression against Libya,” the agencies quoted Shalgam as saying.

Shalgam was quoted as saying that the United States launched a strike from a NATO base on Lampedusa, a tiny Sicilian island close to the African coast, “against the will of the Italian government.”

The agencies also quoted veteran politician Giulio Andreotti, who in 1986 was Italy’s foreign minister, as saying that the attack was “a mistake” and confirming that the Socialist-led government of Bettino Craxi warned Libya.

(Emphasis mine.)

This seems to be a persistent problem.  Years later, during the Kosovo campaign, France leaked information on bombing targets to Belgrade.  (To be fair, France prosecuted an army intelligence officer for the leak.  But the crime was clearly not seen as serious.  The officer, despite being convicted of treason, was sentenced to little more than time served.)

POSTSCRIPT: Shalgam’s talk about Italian bases is strange, since the raid was launched from aircraft carriers and British bases.

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