Italy, the UAE and the 3rd principle of dynamics

(To Gino Lanzara)
19/06/21

Let's pick up on one of the news that fell too quickly into media oblivion, according to a scheme that, managed by the main stream, it easily tempts the master balconer singers towards the continental soccer championships; but there is who says no and jealously preserves the memories and, like Captain Bellodi1, keep thinking about it until break your head.

The news is reported so minimal: on the occasion of the withdrawal of the Italian contingent from Afghanistan, the military aircraft dedicated to transporting the journalists invited to the flag-lowering ceremony, was forced to a deviation from the route, previously communicated, due to the non-concession of the Emirate transit in its own space airplane, an act considered in international custom as hostile. A few correspondents, fascinated by the memory of Woodward and Bernstein of the Washington Post2, has conjectured a censorial attack on the freedom of the press: nothing could be further from a reality interested in the variable geometries of the OM, extraneous to Italian analysis and political sensitivity, as happened with the (unpredictable?) Agreements of Abraham between different Arab countries, between which the UAE3, and Israel.

The doubt that it was one diplomatic slap was immediately dispelled by the evolution of events, with the convocation of the Emirati Ambassador to the Farnesina, and the almost contextual invitation to free the Forward Logistic Airbase by al Minhad.

solo A series of unfortunate events? No, rather the demonstration that, in international relations, the 3rd principle of dynamics, for which an action is always opposed by an equal reaction.

What responsibilities, and above all on the part of whom, led to this impasse? If it is true that the head of Italian diplomacy was engaged in official visits to the UAE, renamed by James Mattis4 little Sparta, to discuss bilateral relations and the economy, with the project in the background InnovItaly UAE, which intends to deepen cooperation in 6 innovation-intensive sectors5 which leads(Va)no to innovative start-ups, it is clear that the core the problem is another; it is useful to consider that in 2020 the total commercial exchange reached the value of 8.4 billion euros, a factor that allowed Italy to establish itself as the eighth Emirati trading partner, with the addition of the purchase of gold from Abu Dhabi for an amount of approximately 4,18 billion, which led to the distortion of the balance of the Italian trade balance, which went from +3,7 billion in 2019 to -680 million in 2020.

The UAE, in the last period, proved to be the first supplier and first outlet market in the MENA area, with about 600 Italian companies active in the area. Not surprisingly, Etihad Credit Insurance, UAE International Investor Council, Dubai Exports, Italian Trade Agency and Confindustria, discussed the increase in exports and support for the financing of investments, encouraged by the initiative Make it in the Emirates. Just to remember that sentimental idylls never go hand in hand with economic ones, it is appropriate to recall the stormy farewell that at the time sanctioned the end of the relationship between Etihad and Alitalia.

That Abu Dhabi has long embodied the idea of ​​a regional power eager to expand its reach even at the expense of Ryadh beyond Aden, Hormuz, the Horn of Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, Syria and Lebanon, makes investments in Limassol understandable. , in Egypt in favor of al Sisi and in Libya in support of Haftar, a projection followed cautiously by Israel, Turkey6, Saudi Arabia and Egypt itself7. In this regard, it is impossible not to underline two aspects, the first concerning the Italian-Turkish relationship, marked by an ambivalence made up of political tensions8 and contemporary and significant investments, and the other more strictly concerning Abu Dhabi which, in the support offered to the Haftar militias, did not fail to show a marked interest in the gold extracted from da Gebel Auenat, on the Gilf Kebir plateau , in the south of the Libyan desert on the border between Libya, Egypt and Sudan. It is therefore not surprising the agreement signed in January between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Qatar, which put an end to the commercial and air, land and sea blockade imposed on Doha, thanks also to the skilled diplomatic work. Kuwaiti; although the Al Ula Agreement does not put the floor end, however, represents the beginning of a process of détente, given that the effective resumption of relations is subject to the solution of the political and strategic issues at the root of the crisis, to which the presence of Turkish soldiers on the territory of Qatar, perfectly functional to the disbursement of the funds with which Doha supports Anatolian companies, not least those in Libya.

The UAE, which intend to benefit from ample and autonomous room for maneuver, and which follow a scheme that aims to develop the conditions necessary to become a power capable of influencing regional balances, must therefore be seen as a proactive and independent political entity. , thanks to the development of bothhard power military, both of soft power based on culture and interreligious relations, both of skills that allow for significant economic diversification.

It must be said that the vision about to Emirati strategic then has another particular aspect, that of rpositioning, thanks to which it offers itself as a precious bank for the various hegemons, not necessarily only the USA, as shown by both the interest in the BRI and the grabbing of ports between the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean9. In this context, Emirati's rudenesses seem to be determined by the returning Italian pro-Americanism, prompted by the re-adoption of a traditional Atlantic policy as early as the end of 2020, in light of the reactions triggered by the decisions taken regarding the Silk Road; from the whirlwind that ensued, the cancellation of the agreements signed for the export of war equipment for the UAE emerged, officially to stop the war in Yemen from which Abu Dhabi had already withdrawn, in reality so as not to find them perhaps embraced by the militias of Haftar, or in the hands of enemies adverse to Italian interests themselves.

That the UAE actually withdrew from Yemen, where they also fought against Qaedist formations, or that they opted to exercise different forms of control thanks to forces proxy trained and equipped by them is another matter, supported by the possession of numerous areas of geostrategic influence10.

While the Americans begin to stigmatize the Emirati foreign policy, guilty of financing the Russian mercenaries of Wagner between Tripolitania and Cyrenaica and of supporting the Chinese penetration of the BRI, Abu Dhabi strikes the weaker actor, certainly not being able to turn his arrows against Washington which, aiming to weaken all the regional players, is again in the JCPOA negotiation phase with Tehran. In this regard, an element that should certainly be valued by Rome concerns precisely the new form that the regional balance of power relations between the Sunni Ryadh (in turn hit by an Italian embargo) and the Shiite Ayatollahs are taking on thanks to Iraqi mediation, which they could open to new and unexpected perspectives even if in the long term.

If Rome has opted for a low profile, limiting itself to calling the ambassador, the same cannot be said for the Emirates; it is therefore evident that, once a diplomatic path had been decided and evaluated in advance, it would have been desirable to rely on a policy aware of the possible consequences deriving from the aforementioned 3rd principle, taking into account that a break in diplomatic relations, whether complete or partial, is never at no cost.

A first consideration, therefore, concerns the constancy and coherence of the political lines adopted by any country, where, realistically, ecumenisms do not find any space, unless one is seized by sudden startles when any counterpart makes use of the not always pleasant principle of reciprocity. It is obvious that any executive has the right / duty to act as it deems appropriate but, in the case of the UAE, the failure to consider in advance what the possible and colliding interests were, cannot fail to recall the maxim of Fouché that, on the occasion of the execution of the Duke of Enghien, said: "It's worse than a crime, it's a mistake".

The situation is even more complex when one remembers to take into consideration the Russian and Turkish factors, the latter conditioned both by the difficult internal economic situation and by an excess of uncontested volatility, which has induced the USA to rebalance the situation. Ankara expansionism favoring the liaison that unites Athens, Nicosia and Tel Aviv.

The Turkish Emirati rivalry, for Rome, is and will be such a problem as to strongly discourage a marginal and wait-and-see posture, which could cause the exclusion of Italy from the most notable events, relegating it to a mortifying side effect in theaters of particular importance, such as the Libya. As we have seen, albeit briefly, the OM moves along clear lines where, in the broadest sense of strategy, objectives and tactics must be included to achieve them; what remains to be explored is to understand what strategies Italy is cultivating, and above all with what tactics it intends to pursue them.

The most recent programmatic statements of the executive in office, while enjoying one found e pleasant intellectual clarity corroborated by contacts with Anthony Blinken, representative of the current dominus of the golden rules of stability, do not depart from the reiteration of fundamental multilateral principles11, a factor that brings national politics back to a generalist riverbed where concepts find it difficult to materialize into objectives, and where the foundations are based on the questionable assumption that it is necessary to find a balance such as to allow global friendships and an (impossible) absence of friction.

Realistically, the Mediterranean, in any more or less enlarged and multipolar version we intend to decline it, has risen to an even more significant importance, especially with a view to maintaining a stability jeopardized by the emergence of new (Chinese) and old ( Russians) hegemons, and where naval power, in order to operate effectively, requires concrete and constant support.

And the feluccas? Unlike other geopolitical actors, Italian diplomacy, albeit from the top of its indisputable and superior preparation technique and academia carefully separated from daily political practice, in compliance with the executive indications outlined following the path traced by the Western hegemons who aim at the realization of their own interests, it does not propose itself with genuinely autonomous initiatives which, especially in the south-eastern quadrant of the Mediterranean, mark a difficulty in interpreting a proactive and mediating role that facilitates de-escalation and protect energy and security interests. Moreover, if the persistence of a European political and systemic problem is established, how could Italy appropriate a role to be great power which since the end of 2 GM has never belonged to it and which it cannot cover, given the lack of one strike force?

to count it would be advisable to define the areas of intervention, identifying the most suitable ones, adopting coherent and wide-ranging strategies, based on a network of paying and reliable alliances, and above all determining and defending national interests. It is inevitable that, wherever it happens, the constant fragility in foreign policy determines the loss of the positions conquered over the years, as it is inevitable that it is often a congenital anomaly, caused both by an insufficient exchange of objective perspectives between analysts and politicians , both from the lack of a constant strategic basis, prolonged over time, outlined, constantly updated, a defaillance determined by the difficulty in declining national interests, opting for a comfortable but asphyxiated menage.

The Boeing episode, on closer inspection, is coupled with the kidnapping of Sicilian seafarers by Libya, or with the violent disturbance operations that Turkish boats have recently operated against Italian fishing vessels, all events that have highlighted a level of consideration in suffering, despite handshakes and protocol ceremonies; even more significant was the minimization of these events at national level, which highlighted the low level of general appreciation.

Stealing wit and jokes from a well-known Italian film of some time ago, in weighing the guilty squandered florins and those to be paid, perhaps, really, we just have to cry.

1 L. Sciascia, The day of the owl

2 See All the President's men

3 The first UAE ambassador to Israel, Mohammad Mahmoud al-Khajah, was sworn in on February 14 before the Emirati premier, Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, also governor of Dubai, although it is not yet clear when he will be able to start exercising. their functions. According to al-Monitor, the volume of investments between the two countries has already reached one billion dollars recorded at the end of 2020. In September 2020, the Israeli bank Leumi and Dubai Ports World, an Emirati logistics company, made public the signing of a finalized MoU to increase trade between Israel and the remaining countries of the MO, with a value that could reach 5 billion dollars.

4 US general and politician. After a distinguished career in the Marine Corps, he held the position of US Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019. Resigned due to political differences with the President, he later returned to service in the Marines.

5 Cyber ​​security, space, smart cities and sustainable mobility, "life sciences", food technologies, circular economy and agritech.

6 perceived as an existential danger as a symbol of political Islam

7 The UAE offered their mediation to settle the GERD dispute in the name of the safety of the Red Sea. The UAE intends to facilitate a negotiation that will allow Ethiopia to fill the dam while ensuring sufficient access to Nile water for downstream countries.

8 The Turkish presence in North Africa defines the question of the enlargement and exploitation of the Libyan EEZ. It is worth recalling what happened in Cypriot waters, where Eni's Saipem 12000 was removed by a Turkish unit despite being in possession of a regular permit.

9 seaports in Yemen, Somaliland, Sudan, Eritrea, Egypt, Libya and Cyprus

10 ports and oil and gas terminals

11 Membership in NATO and the EU

Photo: Farnesina