Valeurs Actuelles, March 15, 2016
Translated from French by Tom Winter
“There is a major risk that Daesh is organizing the passage of migrants into Lampedusa.”
Addressing the chaos now reigning in Libya, the defense minister judges that the Islamic State is directing the traffic of migrants in the Mediterranean.
To try to combat this, the tenant of the Hotel de Brienne is hoping for an extension of “Operation Sophia,” set up by the European Union to fight against the smugglers, but whose powers remain for the present, very limited.
“The framework is ready but “Sophia” can not go into Libyan territorial waters without a request from the government or an international accord,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian. And he insists on this point in particular. “We can only act if the government calls on us.”
Then when asked about the controversial reports of the presence of French forces in Libya, the Defense Minister preferred to punt, arguing that France was present on Libyan territory* through Operation Sophia and is conducting reconnaissance flights but he “could not say more.”
*This is the opposite of the part of the interview that Le Fig has put on line: “Addressing the role of France in the country, he added: “It’s not a question of being there on the ground … We’re making surveillance flights. I can’t say more.”