The Government’s views on the imposition of an embargo on countries allegedly involved in arms trafficking with ISIL/Daesh and on common actions to counter terrorism

In the last quarter of 2015 the Government reported twice before the Chamber of Deputies on its arms sales policy to certain Middle East countries allegedly involved in illicit arms trafficking with ISIL/Daesh. The Government also explained which measures and actions Italy has undertaken in the fight against ISIL and foreign terrorist fighters. The most salient points from the two speeches follow:


On 26 November 2015, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Paolo Gentiloni Silveri, appeared before the Chamber of Deputies and answered a question regarding the trade in weapons between Italy and those countries of the Middle East allegedly involved with ISIL/Daesh. Mr Gentiloni Silveri explained:

[However] It is important to reiterate that Italy, obviously, acts in accordance with domestic law and EU and international rules on embargoes and prohibited weapons systems.

As concerns Saudi Arabia, which is a member of the anti Daesh coalition, I must point out that it is not at all the first destination country of our exportations. According to the briefing report to the Parliament, the most recent available data on trade, those for the year 2014, show that Saudi Arabia is the sixth country; according to the data for the previous year, which are the latest available providing a comparison with other big European countries, Italy is preceded in its exports to Riyadh by the UK, France and Germany. That is, among the four big European countries, Italy is the one exporting less to Saudi Arabia.

According to the latest data available, we have exported to Israel, a country friend to Italy, about three millions Euros, compared to 260 from Germany, 36 from France, 28 from Romania and 12 from Great Britain.

As far as countries such as Syria and Lebanon are concerned, the Italian government, clearly, fully respects the embargo on the supply of arms to these countries, which in both cases was imposed at the international level in 2011.


On 4 December 2015, the Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Benedetto della Vedova, answered a parliamentary question concerning the appropriateness of the imposition of an arms embargo on Qatar and Turkey, by reason of their alleged responsibility in weapons transit and deliveries to ISIL/Daesh. 

He stated:

First of all, on the issue of arms sales, I would like to remind that the Government respects both national legislation, as it is obvious, and EU and international rules. Moreover, for the granting of authorizations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation rigorously applies the eight criteria set forth in the common position 2008/944/PESC of the European Council of 8 December 2008 ‘common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment’. Such criteria establish a number of assessments to be made on the regional and domestic situation of those countries towards which the operations are to be conducted, including: the possible impact of exports and transit of technology and of military equipment on the recipient countries and on the regions nearby; the end use of the material; the possible risk of diversion or transfer to third parties; and the respect of international peace and human rights by the recipient governments. Furthermore, the Government scrupulously respects embargoes and other restrictive international measures adopted at the international level.

And that:

In the context of the international coalition against ISIL and of the enhanced cooperation [by the] small group, created by the most active countries in the fight against Daesh, Italy co-chairs, along with the United States and Saudi Arabia, the Counter-ISIL Finance Group. The aim of this group is to formulate and adopt concrete measures to drain Daesh’ financial resources, to jeopardize its ability to transfer and receive funds and, more generally, to undermine its economic sustainability. […]

The working group, which consists of 28 countries and four multilateral institutions (the European Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the International Financial Action Task Force and the Egmont Group) can count on the support of partners in the Middle East and the Gulf, as well as Turkey and Qatar. Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and United Arab Emirates also actively participate in the works of the Counter-ISIL Finance Group. The direct involvement of these countries constitutes an important element in increasing the effectiveness of actions contrasting financial flows to Daesh and its affiliate and represents a useful tool fostering the harmonization of national legislations toward the highest international standards in the field of anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.

As to foreign terrorist fighters, the related countering actions are directly monitored by the same anti-ISIL coalition, as part of a specific working group coordinated by the Netherlands and Turkey. The working group also includes Qatar, which has approved an action plan setting out the necessary measures to be taken to contain this phenomenon.

Among these, it is worth emphasizing the comprehensive sharing of intelligence – with regard to which every possible step must be taken to strengthen the coordination efforts at the European level-, the effective implementation of the UN Security Council resolution n. 2178 of 2014 and the urgent need to engage in capacity building measures in favor of least developed countries, designed at contrasting such phenomenon.

He then concluded:

In this context, Italy has actively promoted a greater efficiency in the sharing of intelligence, in particular within the European framework. At the UN level, our country has promptly assured full enforcement to the Security Council resolution n. 2178 of 2014 on foreign terrorist fighters through the antiterrorism decree and the  international missions of last February.

The full Italian versions of these statements can be downloaded here and here.

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