ROME – DECEMBER, 18 – In an interview on Sunday with the newspaper La Repubblica, Italy’s Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti announced the withdrawal of half of the Italian military contingent from Iraq, a reduction of troops in Afghanistan and a “relocation” of armed forces to Africa, in the so-called area “Extended Mediterranean”, particularly in Niger.
“I can say with satisfaction that one of the goals has been achieved: Isis was defeated in Syria and Iraq, a country where we had a strong military presence, with about 1,500 soldiers. Italy intends to scale down its military presence by half, reducing our contingent in Iraq helping to protect the Mosul dam,” Minister Pinotti explained to Gianluca Di Feo, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of La Repubblica.
“Our principle is that the Army must deal with threats related to the country it belongs to. I believe that it would be important to review the missions in order to prevent a direct impact in the area, which we call the ‘Extended Mediterranean.’ The operation in Niger is the fruit of such a strategy, in the same way as our mission in Lebanon and our fight against ISIS in Iraq. In the Sahel region Special forces have been constituted by five African countries, with the support of the United Nations and the European Union”, continued Pinotti, highlighting that this African territory “has a fundamental importance for us, both in terms of the battle against terrorism and the neutralization of the criminal network that controls illegal migration” in the Mediterranean.
As far as it concerns the mission in Afghanistan, the Italian Defence Minister stated that “for years Italy has taken the leadership of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), the center that coordinates the reconstruction of the entire south-western area of the country. We can not abandon it because we would be proven to be irresponsible. So we will continue to hold the command in Afghanistan, but we asked to our allies to integrate our soldiers with units from other nations, in order to reduce our 900 soldiers located now in Afghanistan. ”
(@Onuitalia, December 18, 2017)