The Government’s game between autonomy and the Middle East

An intense week in national politics, dense with controversy and marked by the Senate’s yes to a very important reform for the center-right, that on differentiated autonomy. A flagship reform for the Lega, which aims to strengthen the federalist structure of the state, but one that gave rise to a heated debate, although basically confined to the parliamentary perimeter. Oppositions have united in the “no” front. The majority, for its part, appeared united in support of a law that was voted for perhaps more out of pragmatism than real conviction. There are many tables on which Meloni, Salvini and Tajani are dialoguing, from lists for the Europeans to those for the regionals to appointments for state-owned companies. This was not the time to pull the rope on one side or the other, and the shared yes to differentiated Autonomy represents the renewal of a common commitment to move forward united and cohesive. However, the path to Autonomy is still a long one, because after the green light from the Chambers, the consultation phase will begin between the state and the regions, which will request the transfer of subjects, 23 in all. At that point the Chambers will be back in action in the evaluation phase of the understandings reached. Then there will also have to be the work of technicians for the preparation of financial resources, the issuance of the Dpcms to guarantee essential services, and the further administrative contribution of a Committee set up ad hoc.

Instead, dominating the international scene are recent tensions in the Red Sea where Western merchant ships are endangered by continued attacks by the Houthis, the Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen. The attacks have an immediate reflection on the global economy, not only because of the vessels affected but because shipping giants are choosing to circumnavigate Africa to avoid passing through the Red Sea, exponentially increasing the cost and time of shipping. The special dossier landed Monday in Brussels, on the table of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, chaired as usual by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.  The meeting revealed substantial political support for the launch of the “Aspides” naval mission, the European military operation on the ground to safeguard merchant vessels. For now, the action is still shaping up as an empty “container” all to be filled. Technical details and rules of engagement have yet to be discussed but the official go-ahead is expected by the next EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Feb. 19. The confirmation came precisely from Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, one of the initiators along with Paris and Berlin of the European intervention. “It will be a defensive mission” where, however, the use of force is allowed in case of need, Tajani specified and then added, “it is not a war intervention and no targets in Yemeni territory will be hit. Exports account for about 40 percent of our GDP: we cannot allow an important part of our economy to be affected because of the aggression of the Houthi rebels”. The Minister then confirmed, given also the concerns raised in this regard by PD and M5S, that Parliament will be informed as soon as possible of the details of the operation, while stressing that it is “not an obligatory step” having the Chambers already approved the Agenor mission in the Strait of Hormuz. And it is along these lines that Tajani began his visit to the Middle East on Tuesday, with a first stop in Lebanon before moving on to Israel and the West Bank. It was a delicate and highly tense two days where the minister reiterated to his interlocutors on several occasions Italy’s efforts for a resolution of the conflict that includes the achievement of “two peoples and two states”.