Italian MP criticizes the Italian Senate’s Decision to halt the Supply of F-16 Fighters to Egypt

In the light of the Italian Senate’s decision to halt the supply of F-16 fighters to Egypt, some voices in Italy seem to prioritize the security concern at the expense of human rights.

According to the Italian AKI news agency, the vice president of the Italian senate Maurizio Gasparri has criticized the senate’s decision to halt the supply of F-16 fighters to Egypt, describing the decision as “dangerous and irresponsible,” reported Daily News – Egypt.

Gasparri continued that “The international community needs to know that the government of Matteo Renzi chose to lower the caution level in counter-terrorism.”“The decision not to send Egypt, which is fighting Islamic State, F-16 fighter jets is dangerous,”he said.

Gasparri, who is a member of the Forza Italia party, didn’t deny Italy’s right to seek the truth on Regeni’s murder. However, he believes that Italy should also put into consideration the Egypt’s role in the war on terrorism.

He said that “Italy has the right to ask about the murder of Giulio Regeni, pointing out that Italy has already taken diplomatic measures towards Egypt.”Gasparri added,”But choosing not to supply them with F-16s is mysterious… It is good to know that the Italian government is obstructing the fight against terrorism.”

Italy has perceived Egypt as an important strategic partner in the fight against terrorism especially in Libya with the expansion of ISIS power over its territories.

Moreover, Italy believes that Egypt is an important partner in resolving the illegal immigrants that flow through its maritime borders where ISIS militants can diffuse to the European borders to carry out terrorist attacks.

On Wednesday, the Italian senate voted to halt the supply of F-16 fighter jets to Egypt as the first commercial “pressure signal” of repercussions following the murder of Regeni.

159 votes in the Italian Senate favored the decision in what is known as “Regeni amendment”.

According to ANSA (Italy’s State run News Agency), the senate’s decision to halt Italy’s supply of fighter jets and parts to Egypt will now go to the house.

The Italian move came after recalling the Italian ambassador Maurizio Massari from Egypt two months ago in the light of the unresolved murder of the PhD student Giulio Regeni.

Last month, Massari was replaced by Giampaolo Cantini. Italy’s foreign minister Gentiloni said that Cantini will stay in Italy for the time being in order to continue investigations on the Regeni case.

He added,”The government recalled the ambassador two months ago, and this decision has not changed.”

Gentiloni continued,”It’s a very serious initiative that I don’t think has a precedent. For the moment we are sticking with this decision,” he added.

Since Regeni’s murder, Italy has repeatedly expressed  its dissent from the Egyptian authorities which have been accused of not cooperating to find those responsible for Regeni’s brutal death.

The Egyptian authorities have narrated several stories about the Italian student murder. They previously claimed he was killed in a traffic accident. Then, they claimed he was kidnapped and murdered by a gang specialized in killing foreigners. Four suspected men were shot dead by the Egyptian security forces.

Gian Carlo Sangalli, the Italian politician, considered the Italian Senate’s decision as a rightful pressure saying,”It is not a hostile act against Cairo but rather our country’s title and our right to continue to keep pressure on public opinion and even Egypt.”

In response, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry expressed its concern over the vote, which was closely related to the Regeni case, and not “convenient to the cooperation between the two countries’ investigation into the matter since the beginning, as well as to Egyptian-Italian relations”.

“Egypt will closely follow up with developments in Italy to make the right decision regarding the management of those relations, which it hopes will continue on good terms,” the FM added.

Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni previously stated that Italy will continue inquiring into the Italian researcher’s murder. “If anyone thinks that we will stop demanding the truth about Regeni’s murder as time goes on, they are wrong,” he said in April.

Giulio Regeni, the Ph.D. student who was doing postgraduate research into Egyptian trade unions, disappeared on the fifth anniversary of January Revolution.The Cambridge University student’s body was found brutally tortured in a roadside ditch on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital, on February 3, 2016. His mother said that she could only recognize him by his nose.