Like the agreement in the making between the Taliban and US forces that is being hashed out in Qatar, the news of Italy’s upcoming withdrawal from Afghanistan—an electoral promise by the parties currently in government—has been gleaned from rumors so far. The Minister of Defense, Elisabetta Trenta, is said to have given “instructions to the Top Joint Operational Command (COI) to consider the development of a schedule for the withdrawal of the Italian contingent in Afghanistan, within a time frame that might be 12 months.”
Thus, after we were unable to reduce the size of the Italian contingent while the Americans wanted us to stay, now, after Washington gave everyone clearance to leave, we are rushing for the exits. And we’re in good company: the Germans, the British and all the other partners of the Resolute Support NATO mission will follow suit and are packing their bags.
A negotiated peace is always good news, no matter who the mediator might be or what the outcome is, as long as the weapons are finally put down for good. But it is a serious concern, and a sad situation, that Italian diplomacy—and European diplomacy generally—has not managed to get even one word in, afraid of disturbing the US, the true mover and shaker, toward which we Europeans have always been acting with total submissiveness, both political and military.
Especially military—to such an extent that we Italians have fully relegated all matters concerning Afghanistan to the Defense Ministry, especially since the time of La Russa’s tenure as minister (he who made popular the practice of ministers dressing up in camo gear). How long has it been since an Italian prime minister has gone on an official visit to Afghanistan? As a rule, the one who goes there is the Defense Minister, who never even meets with the head of state—as serious etiquette would require—but only visits the Italian military housed in the host country’s barracks. The yellow-green government has acted exactly like all the others in this regard.
It appears that within 12 months, we should see the return of our 900 soldiers, 148 vehicles, eight aircraft and several drones, mostly deployed in Herat and to a small extent in Kabul. This could also be an opportunity to demonstrate to the Afghans that civilian aid projects would be allowed to continue, which always depend on favorable political decisions. For years, NGOs have been kept away from helping out in Afghanistan, discouraged and disincentivized from setting up a presence there (with rare exceptions, such as Emergency or Pangea, who have their own funding at their disposal).
After losing the war, we might at least try to support the peace.