In the newspapers and on the TV news, there is barely any coverage on the meeting between Trump and Gentiloni. Yet this was an event that was anything but formal. For Gentiloni, the challenge was to dispel the doubts on the attitude of his government to the new US President. Such doubts were the legacy of the Renzi government (in which Gentiloni was the Minister of Foreign Affairs). For the Renzi government had not sought to disguise that it was supporting Obama and Clinton against Trump in the [US] presidential elections.

Gentiloni had done a fantastic job, confirming the “historic anchorage” of Italy to the United States, “the cornerstone of our foreign policy”, regardless of who is in office at the White House. President Trump gives credit to Italy, recalling that “more than 30,000 American soldiers and their families are based across your country” and that after the United States, Italy “is the second largest contributor of troops in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

The Italian contribution is actually far greater than what Trump acknowledges. This is evidenced by the increasing number of arms sent from U.S.A/Nato bases in Italy, to the Middle East, officially for the war against terrorism.

Such consignments can be traced if you follow the journey of specific ships: for example, the cargo vessel Excellent (flying the Maltese flag, but manned by an Italian crew), hired from the Ministry of Defense, left on 19 April from Piombino having uploaded an enormous quantity of armoured “Lynx” and weapons. It then made a stopover two days later at Augusta. This is a strategic point for resupplying fuel and provisions. It then made its way across the Suez Canal to the port of Gedda in Saudi Arabia. Here on 9 April, the US ship Liberty Passion had already docked. This ship was coming from Livorno, launching a regular monthly service for the transport of weapons from the US base of Camp Darby to the Middle East for the wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

During the press conference with Trump, Gentiloni said that “Italy is no longer involved in military operations in Syria except with regard to peripheral matters”. That Italy’s role is anything but marginal is demonstrated by the missile attack ordered by President Trump against the Syrian base of Shayrat: the military operation was carried out by two ships of the Sixth Fleet based at Gaeta, under the Command of the US Naval Forces, headquartered at Naples, Capodichino. It has been supported by the US bases at Sigonella and Niscemi in Sicily, flanked by the one in Augusta.

Furthermore, Trump thanked Gentiloni for “Italian leadership in stabilizing Libya” where, he specified, the US has no intention of intervening given that it has its fingers in too many pies. In other words, Trump confirmed that it is for Italy, in the US-led Alliance, to put boots on Libyan sands, shifting on account of the 2011 Nato War. Gentiloni is said to be “proud of the contribution that we Italians are making to the security of the Alliance, in so many areas of the world”. This includes the Baltic region where, in an anti-Russian stratagem, Italy is sending military troops. Yet at the same time, he considers “dialogue even with Russia useful, without renouncing our strength and our values”.

Gentiloni is said to be “also proud of Italy’s financial contribution to the Alliance’s security”, guaranteeing that “despite certain budgetary constraints, Italy will respect the commitment that it has assumed”. This commitment Trump insisted of bringing to his attention: to lift military expenditure to 2% of the GDP. This amounts to raising military expenditure from 63 million euro per day, the figure given by Pinotti (plus additional military expenditure that is not included in the Defence budget) to 100 million Euro per day.

“We Italians always honour the commitments we have undertaken”. So Gentiloni proclaimed, with a hint of national pride, to Trump.

The Anniversary of the Liberation of Italy, simply referred to as April 25th, is a national holiday in the Italian Republic. It commemorates 25 April 1945. This is a date of fundamental importance in Italy’s history, as it symbolizes the victorious struggle that the Resistance mounted from 8 September 1943 against the fascist regime and the Nazi occupation during the Second World War.

Anoosha Boralessa
Il Manifesto (Italy)