I would like to share with the readers of Online Defense some reflections following the article published on 24 November by the UAE newspaper The National, Abu Dhabi's leading English-language newspaper. To understand the article, you can read it in following link, where the announced appointment of Luigi Di Maio as EU envoy in the Gulf is heavily criticized, we need to take a step back, at the end of January 2021...
Assuming that it is the prerogative of every government to be able to revoke or block export licenses already granted for military material sold to third countries, on 29 January when he was Foreign Minister, Di Maio recklessly published on Twitter e Facebook (following image) a post where he boasted that he had revoked the licenses of the UAE and Saudi Arabia involving contracts signed in 2016 and 2017 alleging that two countries would fail to respect human rights during the war in Yemen.
The immediate consequences of this decision were the loss of tens of millions of Euros for the company RWM Italia, while the Emiratis quickly replaced the old supplier with the Brazilian company AEQ.
However, the biggest problem emerged from the methods of communication of the revocation to the two countries which, instead of taking place through the reserved official channels, had become aware of it through the social media.
It is superfluous to highlight the disappointment, especially of the UAE, following the slight suffered, resulting in the expulsion of the Italian Task Force from Al Minhad Air Base and denial of authorization to land flights, "of state" with Minister Guerini and "military" with the press on board, headed for Afghanistan in June 2021.
Di Maio's wicked action has resulted in official relations between the two countries, especially in the defense sector, deteriorating to their lowest point in decades.
Given the above, we can return to the article of The National.
Anyone who knows the Gulf countries knows that the media are subject to government control and that all the news of a certain importance are approved in advance.
Having worked in this area for more than 20 years, upon reading the piece I immediately thought of the phrase "speak to daughter-in-law because mother-in-law understands".
The interventions of prestigious analysts, such as Cinzia Bianco, whom I have known and appreciated for some time, underline with different nuances the incompetence, weakness, lack of relations in the Gulf and its responsibility for having ruined relations with two of the main countries in the area, everyone deeming his eventual appointment a serious mistake.
But to a careful observer the message that the Emirate government wanted to give to the EU and especially to Italy must not escape: Di Maio's appointment is not welcome and will be the gravestone for relations between our countries.
EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell reportedly chose Di Maio from a shortlist. The curricula of some of them are light years away from the modest cultural, linguistic and experience baggage of the former minister and we struggle to understand this choice. Because he?
Unless, as Bianco wrote, for reasons unknown to mere mortals, the EU wants to place Di Maio at all costs, instead of choosing the best candidate to manage relations between the EU and the Gulf countries.
The appointment of Di Maio as EU envoy must be absolutely avoided. If you really want to rebuild the frayed relationship between Italy and the UAE, the first thing to do is to remove the person responsible for what happened from the international political scene (it already happened in Italy in the last elections).
The Italian government should do everything possible to oppose this proposal, born during the last days of the Draghi government, at European level, highlight the reasons for our opposition and return to protect our interests in the area.