First published October 29, 2014

Italy will send arms and soldiers to the region of Erbil in Iraq, in order to reinforce «the Kurds’ capacity to defend themselves» against the advance of Isis: so announces the Minister for Defense, Roberta Pinotti, to the Committees of Foreign Affairs and Defense in the House and the Senate.

It was no coincidence that the announcement is made two days after the Chief of Staff for Defense, Admiral Luigi Binelli Mantelli, represented Italy at a meeting held at Andrews military base, near Washington. This meeting was attended by the highest military experts of the 22 countries forming the coalition. The official mission of the coalition is «to degrade and destroy Isis». At the meeting - chaired by General Martin Dempsey, the US Overall Chief of Staff – President Obama intervened. He emphasized that the United States will intensify «actions against the objectives both in Syria and in Iraq», in the context of an international coalition. In addition to carrying out air attacks on both countries, the US allies provide «weapons and assistance to the Iraqi forces and to the Syrian opposition» (against Assad) and «billions of dollars in aid», defined as «humanitarian». In circles close to the White House, it is considered that, despite the official commitment by Obama not to use soldiers in combat missions in Iraq and Syria, the United States is preparing to send special forces (Green Berets, Delta Force, Navy Seals), in addition to the «advisers» and «trainers » already on the ground, with the task of carrying out covert operations. At the same time, Washington turns up the heat so that its allies take on board more duties, including ground operations.

It was not made known what commitments the Chief of Staff has undertaken for Italy at Andrews. But this much may be deduced from Pinotti’s announcement. Italy will not only provide «further stocks of ammunition of the former Soviet Model, derived from material confiscated in 1994», but also «arms and anti-tank ammunition used by the Italian army», plus an airplane KC-767 for resupplying in flight the fighter bombers and two Predator airplanes with remote piloting, soon flanked by «other piloted formations for air recognition». Italy will also send 280 soldiers to train and develop Kurdish forces and, a fact that is even more important, «a cell of officials for planning activities». It is, in other words, an a priori command for further covert military operations carried out by Special Italian forces, today empowered by the birth of a new unified commander established at the barracks at Folgore, Pisa.

The Italian military intervention in Iraq forms part of the US strategy. The Kurds that Italy is going to support are those of the Autonomous region of Kurdistan. This is an oil rich centre in rapid growth and home to tens of US and western companies. President Masoud Barzani, the head of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan governs it and he is fiercely loyal to the United States. It is no coincidence that, while the US strikes the ISIS forces that threaten the region where Barzani holds sway, the US aviation and the allied forces shirk from action when it comes to striking ISIS militants that attack PKK areas. It is the PKK whose forces are genuinely fighting Isis on the Syrian border; yet they are increasingly bombarded by Turkish aviation. It is significant that at the meeting in Andrews, Turkey’s Chief of Staff had participated; it is also significant that the White House had downplayed Turkish air attacks against the PKK Kurds, guaranteeing that they are in the course of discussions on «additional commitments» of Ankara. The same thing happens in Syria, where the US aero-naval attacks are demolishing not ISIS but Syrian oil producing installations in order to make the government of Damascus collapse.

After the meeting at Andrews, Obama remarked that «destroying Isis remains a difficult mission» and that «we are barely at the inception of a long-term campaign». There is no doubt that Isis – constructed by Sunni countries in the Gulf from Saudi Arabia and by the front of the «Friends of Syria», including the USA, Turkey, Great Britain – is functional for the US strategy, that, after having demolished Syria by war, aims at the balkanization of Iraq, cutting it up into three semi-autonomous regions (Kurds, Sunnis and Shi-ites) or in three distinct States. In this long and costly war Italy had been brought in. Funds are not lacking: in the Stability Law, funds for «international peace missions» (see missions of war) are defined as «expenses that are urgent».

Anoosha Boralessa
Il Manifesto (Italy)