The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Italy’s Corriere della Sera: “Pentagon…consider Tunisia a country on the brink of collapse;” Radar stations

On July 29, Corriere della Sera posted a report by Giuseppe Sarcina: “The US, the Niscemi Radars and the Passage to Tunis”

“”Finally they have got it too.” In diplomatic environments, people say that the Americans have read with a burst of interest the final document on Tunisia approved by the Council of EU Foreign Ministers on Monday 20 July, after they had already lost hope. The Europeans are committing to “mobilize the totality of the tools they have available in the fight against terrorism.” The ministers entrusted Federica Mogherini, the high representative for common foreign and security policy, “to explore all the possible options, bringing them before the EU Council as soon as possible.” The EU counts on being ready with a package of concrete measures by September, while the United States has already offered Tunis the armed drones that last April President Barack Obama refused Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

The point is that the US Administration feels it is already running late. The Pentagon and intelligence specialists consider Tunisia a country on the brink of collapse, and therefore an easy prey for terrorists: after the “lone wolves phase,” the ISIL’s black flags could arrive soon. For weeks, the US Government has been repeating this to the Europeans: We must rush to help Tunis, weapons, military material, and intelligence are required. First we annihilate terrorist cells, and then we will talk about business, gas, passports, and olive oil.

The acuteness of this sense of urgency was clearly revealed in the last few days, when the rumor spread that the Pentagon could move elsewhere the Navy’s MUOS (Mobile User Objective System) base that is being built in Niscemi, central Sicily. This is a vitally important structure for the United States and the Western counties, with this installation of a new radar platform in the heart of the Mediterranean completing the global satellite protection network that is based on the installations in Virginia, Hawaii, and Australia.

Niscemi was chosen in 2011, but the work on it, which is almost completed, has been stopped several times because of a series of disputes connected to the impact on health and on the Sughereta natural reserve. The latest freeze was ordered by the TAR [Regional Administrative Tribunal], which on 13 February 2015 endorsed the appeal that had been presented by environmentalists. Now, the Sicily Region’s Administrative Justice Council (the equivalent of the State Council) has just started assessing the appeal presented by the Defense Ministry, with this assessment expected to be concluded in September. In the event of a definitive “No”, Washington will focus on three options: Tunisia, first of all, then Greece or Spain.

But it is not easy for the United States to cooperate with Tunis either. The analysis on terrorism made by the secularist Prime Minister Hadid Essid does not convince the Pentagon entirely. The Tunisian Government says it is facing a threat that is mostly being fueled from Libya, which is from where the jihadis come and where they train, regardless of their nationality, therefore the solution is to build a wall along the 160-Km border across the desert from Ras Jedir to Dehiba. But US intelligence is following another lead: Granted, Libya is a source of threats, but Tunisian Islamist terrorism is for the most part an endogenous phenomenon with thousands of young extremists in the country now ready to strike. The mortal threat is already at home…”

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Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 31, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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