The photo opportunity and the handshakes of our Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister with the principal and director of the kidnapping of the 18 fishermen of Mazara del Vallo is by far the lowest point of our international credibility. By forcing Conte and Di Maio to take photos, handshakes and a political interview in order to get the hostages back, Haftar has obtained new recognition as a leading actor in the Libyan scenario. And he got it from those who dared to snub him three months ago
By now we are quite used to it: in cases of international kidnappings, a joy, a celebration for families and for us Italians, to know that our kidnapped compatriots can return home and hug their loved ones again, for the country it is punctually transformed into a burning humiliation, a distinct loss of credibility. It is because the kidnappers have managed to get what they wanted, most of the time money they will use to endanger other human lives; either because our governments have bowed to indecent spectacles, as in the last case before this, the return of Silvia Romano.
Not only were millions paid to the Islamic terrorists of al Shabaab , affiliated with al Qaeda and among the most bloodthirsty, perpetrators in Africa of horrendous massacres of men, women and children. Our premier and our foreign minister also lent themselves to jihadist propaganda: the image of the girl, converted to Islam during her imprisonment, as she got off the plane covered from head to toe with a green sheet, the tunic worn by women Somali Islamized, it was in itself a priceless political spot for al Shabaab .
But let's come to yesterday, to the case of the 18 fishermen of Mazara del Vallo for 108 days locked up in Benghazi, the longest kidnapping by Libyan hands that Italy can remember.
Conte and Di Maio were unable to be photographed with the freed hostages, whom they could not even meet. They had the photo opportunity – an absolute novelty – with the head of the kidnappers, General Khalifa Haftar. We had never gotten so low yet.
It is as if Craxi, in addition to preventing the Americans from capturing Abu Abbas, the director of the hijacking of the ship Achille Lauro , had himself photographed with the Palestinian terrorist aboard the Sigonella runway.
It is superfluous to underline the political victory of Haftar, whose international weight had considerably reduced after the defeat of the Tripoli campaign. Many of its sponsors in recent months had also distanced themselves. Forcing Italian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to take photos, handshakes and a political interview ("the government continues to firmly support the stabilization process of Libya, this is what President Giuseppe Conte and I reiterated today in Haftar , during our interview in Benghazi ”, Di Maio declared), in order to get the hostages back, he obtained new recognition as an important actor, however not negligible, in the Libyan scenario. And he got it from those who dared to snub him three months ago.
As Mauro Indelicato recalled yesterday on InsideOver , in fact, the seizure of the Medinea and Antarctic fishing boats and their crews, last September 1st, took place just as our foreign minister was on his way back to Rome after a visit to Libya, before in Tripoli then in Cyrenaica. Where, however, he had decided not to meet General Haftar, who had recently retired from Tripolitania, but the President of the Parliament of Tobruk, Aguila Saleh, considered "the new man of Cyrenaica" after the adverse fate that had struck the general. However, an "affront" unacceptable for Haftar. In those hours the idea of kidnapping probably took shape, concluded with the "reparation" in terms of political recognition claimed, and yesterday obtained, by Rome.
A mistake not having met him in September? Maybe, but a choice that had its own logic and that had to be defended. Instead, we dropped our breeches. Nor is it said that the political one was the only ransom paid to the general.
The counterpart could have been supplemented with money or with the release of some Libyan cutthroats from our prisons. In fact, Haftar's request to free five Libyans detained in our country after being convicted of human trafficking and the murder of 49 migrants was well known.
In any case, yet another capitulation that puts Italians who are abroad, for work or tourism, even more at risk.
The pathetic aspect of the story is that perhaps Conte and Di Maio have even thought of a return of image, close to Christmas and in a particularly delicate moment for the government. But unlike Silvia Romano's return, this time the photo was taken with the head of the kidnappers, not with the kidnapped back in Italy.
But were there any alternatives to bring the 18 fishermen home safely? Certainly: we could free them by military force. We have one of the most powerful navies in the Mediterranean and elite corps of absolute excellence, but we don't use them. An operation a stone's throw away. We even knew where the hostages were held for all 108 days of imprisonment (in the Benghazi Port Administration building).
Perhaps the threat alone would have been enough, a credible statement that the option would remain on the table and that anyone who abducts an Italian citizen becomes a legitimate military target. It is not just a question of the attributes of our political class, but of the lack of the slightest knowledge of national interest and dignity. Apparently, the highest aspiration of our rulers in foreign policy is the honors of the French Republic …
There remains another humiliating detail. As mentioned, Conte and Di Maio were unable to be photographed with the 18 fishermen, because they were unable to meet them. Nor, therefore, did they take them back to Italy by plane, as might have been expected. No, they will have to return by sea aboard their fishing boats. The engines of which, as it happens, are broken down, they do not start. So, still no return, no hugs with family, still waiting. And who knows that after yesterday's political humiliation, the real solitary will not arrive, as they say in Rome …
This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Atlantico Quotidiano at the URL http://www.atlanticoquotidiano.it/quotidiano/per-18-famiglie-la-vita-per-litalia-ennesima-umiliazione-la-foto-di-conte-con-il-capo-dei-sequestratori/ on Fri, 18 Dec 2020 05:02:24 +0000.