Stop military exports to Sunni monarchies. That is to emasculate yourself to spite Renzi!

(To Antonio Li Gobbi)

On January 29, in full crisis, the Italian government revoked the agreements already signed for the export of missiles and aircraft bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. According to Minister Di Maio “A clear message of peace that comes from our country. Respect for human rights is imperative for us ”. According to the majority of commentators, the decision (opposite to that taken in this regard in June 2019 by the first Conte government) would not have its roots in a pacifist redemption of the government but in the intention of delivering a resounding media slap to Renzi.

I state that I am not an admirer of Matteo Renzi and that I do not appreciate some of his political stunts, which denote great mastery of parliamentary mechanisms but also an absolute lack of personal consistency.

Moreover, Renzi is not the problem! The biggest problem is not that a Senator of the Republic, leader of one of the governing parties, goes to give highly paid conferences in Saudi Arabia and can be perceived as a "testimonial" of a government that is certainly not an example of respect for human rights and which may be charged with actions that perhaps in Italy we consider repugnant. However, I believe that a similar argument could be made with regard to various other governments in the region (think of the Iran of the Ayatollahs, of Assad's Syria, of Yemen, etc.). Let us remember, however, that we maintain regular diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.

Certainly Renzi's activity was reprehensible, for ethical reasons (the exorbitant remuneration from foreign entities to an Italian party leader) and for political reasons (being in fact an expression of the government, even if not as a minister, his presence in Riyadh it could be understood as the support of the entire government for what he called the "new Arab Renaissance").

Moreover, these elements of censorship could be evident even when Renzi supported this shaky government. Of course it would have been opportune for the allies to forbid such activities beforehand, not to adopt measures today that seem to want to be punitive against those who have put the yellow-red government in crisis.

Having said all this, what does the ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have to do with it?

It is known that these are contracts that have already been in place for years. If there had been ethical reasons for canceling them, these were also there when Renzi was the fourth leg on which the most incapable government in our history was based (for almost a year and a half). Why notice it just now?

It is not new that respect for human rights in Saudi Arabia leaves something to be desired (at least on the basis of our standards of judgment), that the death penalty is in force and that it is applied in ways that we (rightly) believe aberrant, that women do not have equal rights to men, that homosexuals are persecuted, that foreign workers are treated unfairly, and we could go on with a long list. Very true!

Weapons are used in the Yemeni conflict. True, this too! Moreover, Saudi Arabia's commitment to the Yemeni civil war (as well as that on the opposite side of Iran) began in 2015.

The cruel and aberrant murder of Jamal Khashoggi, whose principals according to many are in the royal palaces of Riyadh, also dates back to October 2018.

In any case, these are elements already abundantly known when we committed to export. At the Farnesina, Minister Di Maio (photo at the bottom) and Undersecretary Di Stefano had never noticed it or it was a part of the world in relation to which, given their known difficulties with geography, they had delegated every decision to the Undersecretary Renziano Scalfarotto?

Given that Italy, unwillingly or willingly, continues to have an important industrial component that produces armaments and that despite all the good will it has not yet been possible to sell F-35s to Jehovah's Witnesses or wagons Leopard to the Vatican State, it must be borne in mind that the potential purchaser of weapons systems will probably be a nation that has today or could have in the future the need to use such "warlike" tools (whether they are weapons systems, ordnance or ammunition). The important thing would be to supply them at least, if not to a "friend" or "ally" country, to nations that have the same "adversaries" as ours ("the enemy of my enemy" may not be my friend but it can represent a fairly safe buyer ).

In this context, it should be noted that the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf (Saudi Arabia and also the United Arab Emirates) today seem to represent a shield against both the theocratic expansionism of the Ayatollahs and the Muslim Brotherhood and the so-called Political Islam. It is true that Saudi Arabia is the homeland of Wahabism, but sometimes it is necessary to know how to choose the lesser evil (despite the awareness of a possible rapid rotation in the ranking of the "worst"). Furthermore, both of these Arab countries, returning from the recent signing of the Abrahamic Agreements, can represent an element of stability in the wider Mediterranean region, an extremely important region for us Italians.

Without absolutely wanting to "absolve Renzi", I would say that from a geo-political point of view, the sale of weapons systems to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates was certainly not contrary to Italian national interests in the wider Mediterranean.

Obviously, then there are the economic aspects of the question, which do not even need much study.

At a time when our production system is in crisis, going not only to "clip the wings" of one of the few sectors that continued to march but also to voluntarily submit to the inevitable payment of penalties seems to me, at least, a questionable choice.

The worst is that it appears to be a choice dictated exclusively by "punitive" intentions towards Renzi: "you brought down the government and we damage your credibility with your customers ". Speech worthy of two three-year-olds who argue in kindergarten.

One cannot continue to leave national politics (which here is mortified in all its main components: international relations, security, economic, industrial and employment policy) in the hands of quarrelsome children who cannot think of anything other than their own childish personal spite !

Nor can the recent change of attitude of the White House towards Riyadh be a justification. It was foreseeable that the Biden-Harris administration would advocate a rapprochement with Iran and a more detached line from the Sunni monarchies and Israel. This is in the wake of the foreign policy carried out, at the time, by the Obama administration and, in particular, by Hillary Clinton, and (I fear above all) to overturn Trump's alliance policy in the region by 180 °.

Moreover, we Italians, before wagging their tails obediently to any indication we come from Washington (whether Bush, Obama, Trump or Biden are in the White House) should also evaluate what serves "our" national interests and the stability of the Mediterranean (where twenty years now, the US has certainly not brought stability).

Without wishing to excuse the certainly inappropriate activities of Senator Renzi, I believe that important foreign policy, security and economic choices of our country must be inspired by the in-depth analysis of our national interests and not be dictated by the infantile desire to spite the enemy of our house.

We can't emasculate ourselves to spite Renzi!

Photos / frames: Twitter / Saudi Press Agency