Italian arms exports, Qatar is atop the list of the recipient countries. But Doha is accused of financing terrorism…

By Souad Sbai

More than a half of the Italian arms exports go to Islamist regimes. The analysis of UniMondo.org titled “Report on authorized and executed operations for the control of the export, import and transit of armament materials in 2017,” leads to a wide reflection, although nobody knew about this document.

Think of the 4.2 billion euros related to Qatar and to Turkey’s 266 million. Doha, in particular, is accused of financing international jihadism in collaboration with the proselytism of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West and beyond. An allegation that is now being made almost unanimously by the international community.

Needless to say that Doha is considered a “rogue state” at global level, but in the abovementioned Report, which shows to which country and at which price Italian arms are exported in the world, we can read that Qatar is the first recipient.

The author of the article presenting the findings of the Report, rightly underlines that the document does not allow to understand how and why certain choices are made, how the decision to supply some country or not is taken, what the criteria are.

In this regard, he makes the example of the greater transparency of Andreotti´s governments, which were used to “accurately list, in the reports sent to the Parliament, all authorized operations, the specific types of armaments, the quantity, the value of every single license, clearly indicating the destination country”. However, also in that case the arms sales, and the treatment of related information, were a vague matter to figure out.

It is obvious that an amount of discretion in such sensitive areas is always advisable, but the credibility of certain choices to the eyes of the public opinion is equally important. If you stand for human rights, and often join absurd sanctions and embargos toward countries that perhaps somebody else deems uneasy to deal with, then it is not clear why a country that is accused on both sides of the Mediterranean to finance jihadist movements, even ISIS, is at the top of the list. And Erdogan´s Turkey, which arrests and silences dissidents and opponents without trial, did not certainly rank in a secondary position.

The author makes no mistake in highlighting the almost total lack in the document of references to the ban on arms exports “to countries whose governments are responsible for serious violations of international conventions on human rights,” and “to countries against which it has been declared the total or partial embargo of war supplies.”

This lack is evident, it is not a detail, and would be spotted not only by those examining the subject of Italy’s arms exports thoroughly.

However, those who read the Report are under the impression that human rights, in front of other kinds of considerations, are a detail for both states and governments.