Tension between Italy and the United Arab Emirates: the strategic base in the Middle East at risk
Tensions with the United Arab Emirates could lead to the closure of a military base considered strategic by Italy, with possible repercussions on the entire Italian foreign policy in the Middle East. This was reported by La Repubblica, citing the diplomatic incident that in recent days prompted the Foreign Ministry to summon the Emirati ambassador as the latest episode in a confrontation that dates back to the decision to ban the export of weapons to the Emirates, taken by the Italian government last January. The United Arab Emirates are also contesting Italy’s growing collaboration in the naval sector with Qatar, Abu Dhabi’s historic regional rival.
According to the daily, the rudeness would represent “the last warning” to obtain the lifting of the embargo and an apology from the Italian government, before the closure of the military base of al-Minhad, in the emirate of Dubai. The al-Minhad base, consisting of an airport connected to a naval terminal, plays a strategic role in the logistics of Italian international missions and its closure would make withdrawal from Afghanistan much more complicated for Italy.
On Tuesday 8 June, the ceremony held in Herat, Afghanistan, for the end of the Italian military presence in the country was delayed by several hours after the ban on an Air Force flight from crossing the airspace of the United Arab Emirates . The Boeing 767, which was supposed to take 40 journalists from Pratica di Mare to Herat, was blocked for three hours at the Dammam airport in Saudi Arabia, despite the flight plan having already been agreed.
The case prompted the Italian Foreign Ministry to summon the Emirati Ambassador Omar al-Shamsi, to whom the Secretary General of the Farnesina expressed “the surprise and strong disappointment at an unexpected gesture that is hard to understand”.
At the end of January, the Italian government, chaired by Giuseppe Conte, revoked the export of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The two countries are the main members of the Arab coalition of countries that intervened in Yemen, a conflict that according to the United Nations has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
This was the first decision of this kind taken in the thirty years since the entry into force of Law 185/1990, which prohibits the export of weapons to countries that do not respect human rights.