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The Giorgia Meloni’s mystery trip in Saudi Arabia



The Giorgia Meloni mystery trip in Saudi Arabia

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is a bit embarrassed about a trip to Saudi Arabia, first scheduled and then canceled, always kept confidential and almost secret.

Giorgia Meloni is not going to Saudi Arabia. Officially, they say from Palazzo Chigi, because the mission was never on the agenda. A version that does not coincide with what was reported to the Italian newspaper La Stampa by two high-level diplomatic sources and two sources from the delegation of Fratelli d’Italia parliamentarians who went to Riyadh a week ago, who were also surprised that the trip was not later confirmed.

Not only that, even the organizers of the FdI convention to be held in Pescara over the weekend were convinced as late as yesterday that the premier would fly directly to Saudi Arabia from Abruzzo, at the end of the rally in which she will announce her candidacy for the European elections as a chief candidate.

It is not easy to reconstruct what might have happened. What is certain is that on April 28-29 Riyadh will host a special meeting of the World Economic Forum, a meeting that, perhaps, the Italian right does not like too much because it reeks of globalism and Soros. But that would simply be the setting for talks between Iran’s Prime Minister and the Saudi monarchy.

Meloni would have met with Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, complete with photos, smiles and a handshake. And it is this – according to what they confirm from FdI – that convinced her to give up the mission. With just over a month to go before the vote, at the height of the campaign, Meloni would have to justify herself for a series of contradictions.

She would have been reminded of her words against Bin Salman, but also of the fact that the government had reactivated the arms business with Riyadh, a link that had already come into the crosshairs of pacifist oppositions, the left and the M5S after the lifting -last summer- of the export ban that had been imposed by the yellow-brown executive led by Giuseppe Conte.

Last February, the development phase of the Global combat air program (GCap), a joint venture for the production of sixth-generation fighter jets participated by Italy (with Leonardo), Japan and Britain, and which Saudi Arabia would like to join, was formalized. Tokyo is against it because it fears sharing industrial secrets with the Saudis, while Italy is pushing for their involvement.

GCAP project

The country of the Wahhabi dynasty has already been visited by Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, Leonardo Chairman Stefano Pontecorvo, and Fincantieri top management will go in May. Instead, Antonio Tajani will arrive in the days when Meloni’s visit was scheduled, for a meeting with his Saudi foreign minister counterpart. In the Middle East powder keg, Riyadh’s role is crucial: it is a U.S. ally and an indispensable balancing factor in preventing escalation between Israel, Iran and ayatollah-controlled militias in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

For the next four weeks, however, Meloni must measure every move in electoral terms. Minutes after she landed, the battery of videos and memes would start on the web to recall her derogatory words directed at Matteo Renzi for his friendships with the Saudi regime.

The last joke was on the Senate floor in November about gasoline price hikes: “If he wants to give us a hand with his friend Bin Salman….” But there is an endless archive of videos on the Web, starting from the years when the future premier led only a small troop in opposition. At every news about Riyadh, Meloni went wild: with sit-ins and banners in front of Palazzo Chigi, year 2016, when Renzi was Prime Minister: “We denounce the shame of a government – attacked the sovereignist leader in openly Islamophobic tones – that goes to Saudi Arabia and comes home with rolexes and gifts, because we from the Islamic world do not want gifts but respect for women.”

And again, more recently, year 2021, after the praise for the Saudi Renaissance pronounced again by Renzi, but when he was no longer chairing Palazzo Chigi: “Saudi Arabia is an Islamic fundamentalist state,” wrote the then FdI president, “that applies sharia to the letter in which women are not free and their rights are constantly violated. We doubt, however, that Saudi Prince Bin Salman, who is a man of the world and knows nenissimo how politics works, would have held these words against her. He has received friendly reception from leaders who had said far worse.

If the reasons are those mentioned above, Meloni’s caution was excessive: Leonardo’s role in Arabia is also on the one hand a way to make commercial profits, and on the other hand also a way to maintain a modicum of influence in a strategic area that is very important for Italy. If Italy will not be the one to sell GCAP to Arabia, the competing Franco-German consortium will take care of supplying VI generation aircraft. If anything, Meloni does not want to alienate herself from an election landscape that promises to be very heated, and she does not want to lose a single day of presence in Italy.

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