United World Project

Workshop

A bomb factory and our sovereignty

 
 
Yemenis inspect the damaged site of an alleged Saudi-led airstrike targeting the Houthi rebel-controlled Defence Ministry, in Sanaa, Yemen, 11 November, 2017. Photo by: Hani Al-Ansi/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

By Carlo Cefaloni.

The media spread harrowing images of the war in Yemen, but in Italy, the company that produces the bombs sold to Saudi aviation wants to grow. The opposition of the Rwm reconversion committee and a new initiative at the national level.

Newspapers around the world have relaunched the harrowing image of little Amal, the Yemeni girl who died at 7 out of severe malnutrition, due to the ongoing humanitarian disaster in that country where an armed conflict is in progress between a vast Saudi-led coalition and an army of rebels linked to Iran.

A war in which Italy is involved because, as we have repeated many times in our review, our country sells aircraft bombs whose final destination is the army of Saudi Arabia.

Several resolutions of the European Parliament have asked the EU countries in vain to block all arms supplies to the parties in conflict. Reports by UN experts denounce war crimes perpetrated on the civilian population, with direct attacks on schools and hospitals.

Despite the wall of silence raised by national politicians, on July 19, 2017 the City Council of Iglesias voted in favor of the economic reconversion of its territory declaring itself “city of peace“, before the request by Rwm Italia to extend its production of bombs beyond the nearby town of Domusnovas.

A declaration against the current and in line with the Constitution, which culminated in May 2018 with a meeting in Iglesias between Mayor Emilio Gariazzo and Jamal Bonyana, representative of an NGO that advocates human rights in Yemen. During a series of rallies and debates, Renato Soru, former President of the Sardinia Regional Government and a current member of the Democratic Party in the European Parliament, took a clear stand against any compromise of his island and our country with an arms supply chain that goes from Germany (home of Rheinmetall Defence that controls Rwm) to Saudi Arabia.

Even the current President of the Sardinia Regional Government, Francesco Pigliaru, former pro-Rector of the University of Cagliari, played for time to analyze the situation, as did the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Parliament, who convened for a hearing several members of humanitarian NGOs, direct witnesses to the serious violations underway in Yemen.

Meanwhile, as reported by some local sources, it seems that the current City Council of Iglesias has decided to authorize the construction of two new production lines of bombs for aircraft within its territory. This decision was taken despite the findings presented during the service conference by the Rwm Reconversion Committee and the section of Italia Nostra Sardegna. The protest has also turned into a sit in before the town hall of this ancient city of Sardinia.

In this case, issues of a landscape and ecological nature contribute together with humanitarian motivations, such as the lack of prior assessment of environmental impact of the works that have allegedly been authorized.

The political will that backs the whole operation remains on top of everything. As declared in a joint statement by the Rwm Reconversion Committee and Italia Nostra, “We are at a historical turning point. Either we find a participatory and sustainable solution for a worthy job, or we remain entangled in a logic that leaves the decision to others who, in this current scenario of a fragmented world war, are those willing to do anything at any cost.”

Local bodies invoke a stance at a national level because, as usual, the tendency is to manage every dispute as a local issue to be kept out of a general debate that calls into question the responsibility of Italian and international policy makers.

Saudi Arabia remains the United States’ strong ally on the global stage. So much so that the clamor aroused by the recent barbaric killing of journalist Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey seems to be fading away.

The recent journey to Saudi Arabia of some evangelical supporters of President Trump, as reported by Nena Agency, goes in this direction. The same applies to the invitation of TV preacher Pat Roberson, as reported by the Huffington Post, to consider the importance of the Saudi order of US$ 110 billion worth of arms produced in USA: “Something we cannot lose, like it or not.”

Italy as a whole, with its civil society and its political institutions, must decide, although we are talking only about crumbs of a great banquet, whether or not it wants to be part of this explicit morality.

The same associations that proposed, in June 2017, a motion to stop selling weapons for the conflict in Yemen and, instead, allot funds for the economic reconversion of Sulcis Iglesiente, will re-propose in Rome, in the coming days, the same petition, but updated and supplemented by further crimes committed in the meanwhile, such as the bombing that hit a schoolbus last August causing more than 40 young casualties.

The previous petition, adopted by some members of the Italian Parliament, was rejected on September 19, 2017 by the previous Parliament, with a majority vote of the House of Parliament.

The point is now is to verify the political options of a new Parliament that claims the full exercise of national sovereignty on other fronts.

This is the link to support the petition of the Rwm Reconversion Committee.

 

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