Government Meloni’s away victories

Patrick Zaki has been released from prison. The Egyptian activist and University of Bologna student received a pardon from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday after being sentenced to three years in prison a few hours earlier. Arrested in February 2020 on charges of criticizing the government in an article for its treatment of the Coptic Christian community, Zaki had already served a year and 10 months in prison before the most recent sentence that did not allow for appeals. A result therefore that was unhoped for and celebrated by most as a major diplomatic victory for the government led by Giorgia Meloni, who appears to have been discussing the issue with al-Sisi since their first meeting last November. Although neither Egypt nor Italy has yet provided details on how this decision was arrived at, there is growing speculation that the pardon was “facilitated” by the increasingly intense diplomatic relations established between the Egyptian and Italian governments in recent months. Instead, specifying how there was «no bartering, no under-the-table negotiations» was Council Vice President Antonio Tajani, as if to rule out that there was an exchange between the Italian and Egyptian governments between Zaki’s freedom and silence on the case of Giulio Regeni, the Italian researcher kidnapped and killed in Cairo in 2016. The pardon granted to Zaki and the subsequent permission to return to Italy can then be read as a signal of détente wanted by Egypt, which wishes to maintain a good balance with Rome and confirm the economic interests that bind two of the major players in the Mediterranean. On the other hand, even the Melonian executive has never made a secret of its willingness to intensify bilateral relations and cooperate with al-Sisi on several fronts, from energy to agriculture, from migration flows to trade. An interlocution, the one with Cairo, that will continue on two tracks: the one from Egypt to Italy on migration flows, also on the occasion of the international conference on migration organized in Rome, and the one from Italy to Egypt on the food emergency, especially in light of the recent developments in the war in Ukraine. 

In fact, Russia is back to exploiting one of the most powerful extortion weapons it has at the moment, that of wheat, not renewing the pact that had hitherto allowed its shipment and distribution around the world. It was a decision made in the wake of the new Ukrainian attack on the Kerch Bridge in Crimea, used by the Russians to resupply their troops in the territory. The international community accused the Russian government of «holding humanity hostage with the blackmail of hunger» while Meloni harshly condemned the choice stating how it is «further proof on who is the friend and who is the enemy of the poorest countries. Let the leaders of those national ones who do not want to distinguish between the attacked and the aggressor reflect. Using the raw material that feeds the world as a weapon is another offense against humanity». At the same time, Russian aggression against Kiev is further aggravated with a new wave of missile and drone attacks aimed at bringing civil society and its economy to its knees. Sirens have also returned to sound incessantly in the capital region, which is responding as best it can to the attack.

Fibrillations also in Italian politics, where there is certainly no shortage of internal tensions within parties and coalitions. In fact, the PD was divided over the proposal tabled forward by Riccardo Magi (+Europa) to vote in favor of an amendment for “solidarity” surrogacy, that is, non-profit surrogacy. For the party it became a symbolic and ethical issue and finding a balance was no easy task. After several hours of confrontation, a “halfway” solution was reached by proceeding toward an abstention to the vote on the amendment, which, however, seems to have pleased no one and confirmed the internal rift within the party. All this while the M5S instead scored a victory with the scheduling of the motion of no-confidence on Tourism Minister Daniela Santanchè, set for July 26 in the Senate. A day when the majority will necessarily have to come together for the no vote. In fact, the motion is destined not to pass, but both the majority and the oppositions know that the real game will be played in the near future: the M5S is convinced that by early September the Milan prosecutor’s office will spring into action with a request for indictment of the minister for the alleged illegal management of her companies. At that point, the Movement hopes, the premier will have to take political responsibility for confirming the Minister «even though she knew how the affair would evolve, judicially and otherwise» Giuseppe Conte said.