Forty-two journalists from different newspapers, the medal for valor Gianfranco Paglia, the spokesperson for the Minister of Defense Nicoletta Santucci, staff of the Public Information offices of the ministry and the General Staff, a general and several Italian soldiers were blocked yesterday for a few hours in the airport in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, since the United Arab Emirates denied, despite the previously approved flight plan, the authorization to fly over an Air Force Kc-767 bound for Herat, Afghanistan for the mission closing ceremony. At the basis of the decision, which appears more a whim on the part of the Emiratis, there could be, according to foreign sources, the messes made in recent months by Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who in the recent past gave authorization (on a decision of the government, but apparently on his recommendation) to Uama (the National Authority that controls arms exports) to stop new contracts and supplies (even already authorized) of ordnance to the United Arab Emirates and also to Saudi Arabia.
The head of the Farnesina clarified: «Do you remember the photos of bombs that left Sardinia to be used in the conflict in Yemen? We worked on it for a year and today in the Council of Ministers the process that from now on will tell the National Authority that deals with arms exports to block any existing contract or new contract that sees the export of air bombs or missiles or weapons structures that can go towards Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and be used for the conflict in Yemen ”. And again: «Here everyone talks about the last mile of migrations, but no one talks about the causes. If we start to stop exporting bombs that are used to destabilize some areas of the world, we will be able to slow down immigration too ”.
On April 25th, perhaps realizing the diplomatic crisis that was going to be created with this decision, almost heedless of the irritation of the Emirates, Di Maio went to Dubai where, visiting the Expo, he also inaugurated a copy of the statue of Michelangelo’s David. But the media show was obviously not enough to reassure the Emiratis. So the journalists were forced to stop for several hours in Saudi Arabia and Minister Lorenzo Guerini, already based in Herat for the lowering of the flag to greet the contingent in Afghanistan, had to postpone the ceremony for a few hours. Moreover, in the Emirates, Italy has the operational base of the Al Minhad Air Force, where even the stopover has not been allowed. Only thanks to the commander of the aircraft, a pilot of the 14th flock of Pratica di Mare, who worked professionally to find an alternative route, after refueling the plane, the group was able to leave again. Di Maio, having learned of the incident, asked for clarification from those directly involved.
The Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry Ambassador Ettore Sequi summoned the Emirati Ambassador Omar Al Shamsi. But no satisfactory answers have been provided regarding the matter. Is it really the fault of the pentastellate pacifist strategy or that there are other reasons? For now it remains a mystery.