Tension is growing between Italy and the United Arab Emirates after a flight departing from Pratica di Mare and arriving in Herat was authorized for the entire route, but at the last minute the Emirates did not give the ok, forcing the commander to find an alternative airport to land, refuel and change the route accordingly. All this cost 4 hours to stop. The ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Omar al Shamsi, was therefore summoned to the Farnesina today. “Surprise and strong disappointment for an unexpected gesture that is hard to understand“, declared the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ettore Sequi. Minister Lorenzo Guerini was also present at the ceremony.
Now Fernesina wants to investigate the reasons that led the United Arab Emirates to prevent the overflight of the Italian plane with a flight plan already agreed. The C130 of the Air Force was traveling with 40 journalists on board, who from the Pratica di Mare airport were heading to Herat for the ceremony of dropping the flag of the Italian contingent, and soldiers. The aircraft was stuck on the runway in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, for almost four hours and from there it was able to resume its journey to Afghanistan to land in Herat.
During the stop in Saudi Arabia, the on-board personnel in contact with the Italian defense authorities considered the possibility of not continuing the journey to Herat and canceling the presence of the press at the ceremony, which in the meantime had been postponed by some hours. The C130 then continued its journey to Afghanistan but had to plan a new route to avoid the United Arab Emirates route. Also, always for the restrictions on the flight plans, the Italian military plane had to follow another route to avoid the Saudi military bases. As a result, the route and thus the travel time to reach Herat was further extended.
“The issue did not depend on us, some diplomatic initiatives were taken, the Emirati ambassador to the Foreign Ministry was summoned to ask for explanations and to express all the disappointment and amazement at having denied the overflight with respect to decisions that they had already been communicated, hired and guaranteed“said the defense minister Lorenzo Guerini on the sidelines of the flag drop ceremony in Herat.