Weapons for All

Claudio Geymonat – Riforma

Italy is among World’s top arms exporters. Then, many of these arms end up in the Countries that we have been fighting against. Let us see where.

Is that the Third World War? Are those new creeping and undeclared kinds of conflict? Is the war on terror?

The current geopolitical context can be the subject of countless studies filling newspapers pages. It is difficult to find a position among the complex schemes that bond religion and money, territories and atavistic hatreds. However, we can detect a common factor to realize from which place come all those bombs that have been increasingly and closely reached our homes on TV.

The figures are official and are taken from the annual report of the European Union on weapons exporting and the parliamentary relations of our country. From 2001 to 2011, Italy has sold light and heavy arms, military equipment and vehicles for 36.5 billion Euro. That is a big quota of a market that has not experienced the economic crisis that hit the world since 2007. In fact, we could say that is quite the contrary. In some branches of this mega industry Italy is first-ranked: we are the world’s largest exporter of common weapons, guns (19.5% of all trade). These weapons are mainly produced in the industrial area of Brescia – district of Val Trompia. Beretta in the best-known brand, but certainly not the only one. In general, we are among the five top manufacturers of weapons in the world, and on the podium among exporters, ahead of global players as China. Those competitors have been pressing Italy but Italy is not going to lose positions.

In 1990, the Law 185 came into force. This law was to regulate the field of arms sales. It contains dispositions, such as surrender weapons of any kind to the nations in a state of armed conflict or where the policy contrasts with the precepts of Article 11 of our Constitution. The Constitution states that “Italy repudiates war as an instrument of aggression against the freedom of other peoples and as a means of settling international disputes; It agrees, on conditions of equality with other states, to the limitations of sovereignty necessary for an order that ensures peace and justice among nations; It promotes and encourages international organizations having such ends.”

Let us consider the current situation since then: we have sold weapons to 123 nations. Although the United States and other countries of the European Union are our preferred partners, the portfolio of customers still looks very wide and it includes hot conflict zones: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Kazakhstan, Russia, India, Pakistan, Chad, Eritrea, Nigeria, and Turkey.

In 2014, over 28 per cent of the Italian arms ended up to North Africa and the Middle East. At certain latitudes, Italy is not well known for our pizza-mandolino or even the Ferrari’s brand.

Let us talk about areas where all the major conflicts are ongoing and from which those current endless human flows are fleeing from Tens of thousands of people that die at sea or “invade” our beloved old continent.

Saudi Arabia is the first non-European Italian partner for military equipment. To Saudi Arabia from 2001 to 2011 we have exported aircraft and drones up to 1.3 billion Euro. Today this very rich country is engaged in a terrible conflict with Yemen and is accused of being one of the major IS’ pay-master.

In the same period Italy has been the first European country supplying weapon to Assad in Syria. Of nearly 28 million Euro of equipment, 17 million come from Italy, in particular tanks’ viewfinders… The United Kingdom is second-ranked with 2.5 million, far away. They are amateurs.

No need to mention the geopolitical situation in Damascus and how the use of these weapons certainly has involved the civilian population: the accuracy of the shots is all about us.

Turkey is the country that bought the largest amount of heavy weapons (i.e. a calibre bigger than .50) from Italy. The total exceeds 60 million Euro. The Italian helicopters of Agusta Westland – a company that is part of the holding Finmeccanica and one of the world giants in the industry, fire on Kurdish rebels and the heads of who knows who else.

We are the best partners in Europe including Israel that from Italy receive 41 percent of the armaments bought in Europe. Algeria is the first buyer of Italian vessels and submarines. From 2001 to 2011, sales of this equipment have exceeded 400 million Euro. Great manoeuvres. 100 million Euro in land vehicles are over Putin’s army, ready to be engaged when the strategies of the former KGB officer will take them.

Against, Italy is currently engaged in 26 international missions with approximately 5.000 soldiers in 38 countries. In 2015, this scenario costed us about 1.2 billion.

In addition, the weapons which often kill our kids, that we cry when the come back home in tricolour flags are produced in Italy.

We are in good company if it is true that only yesterday the US State Department has approved the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia for 1.30 billion dollars, including 13.000 “smart” bombs, weapons capable of hitting a satellite distance. Similar supplies make England, Russia, China and France happy.

We arm the nations and then we go to fight them. That is what we do well.