While France, Britain, Qatar and the United States played crucial political and military roles in the alliance of countries backing Libya's ‘spring’ revolution from the beginning, Italy's early stance towards the Libyan revolution was somewhat hesitant and vague. Its initial reticence was due to national security considerations, Italy's calculation of its national interest and the complexity of contemporary international relations. However, as events unfolded, the Italian position became clearer and firmer, such that in time Italy played a leading role that helped the global efforts to rebuild the new contemporary democratic Libya post-Qadhafi.

The focus of this study is on the Italian role during the course of the Libyan ‘spring’ revolution, known now as the revolution of 17 February 2011, after the agreed date of its inception. Notwithstanding Rome's initial hesitancy, Italy is considered among the leading actors that participated in the alliance galvanized to act under the terms of UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973. Here the contention is that Italy's full participation in the global alliance that carried out the UN mandates represented a process of transition in the Italian orientation from that of a soft power to that of a hard power as well. Thus, it is argued, when Italy's national security and interests are challenged in a global context, Italy is willing to use both soft and hard power.

The findings of this study supported, by and large, the initial expectations concerning the important types of internal and external elements influencing the role of Italy in the Libyan crisis. Thus, Italy's position towards the Libyan revolution of 17 February 2011 may be attributed, among other factors, to its discernment of its national security and national interests in the context of competition in the Mediterranean region and the Middle East as well.

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