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1/2024

EDITORIAL

EDITORIAL - ATLANTIS

International Politics in the Labyrinth of Uncertainties

In the whirlwind of the current international political landscape, we find ourselves immersed in a vortex of events that require deep reflection and critical vision. Ongoing wars, political elections in Europe and the United States, uncertainties in the advancement of the European project and the increasingly evident confrontation between the Western bloc and countries hostile to liberal democracy outline a complex and sometimes disturbing scenario.
What clearly emerges is the inability of traditional information to adequately address the challenges imposed by new communication technologies. In an era where news spreads rapidly through social media and online platforms, public opinion often finds itself inundated with an incessant flow of information, often lacking context and thorough verification. This phenomenon undermines the ability to create critical awareness and accurate understanding of the complex problems we face.
One of the main consequences of this information crisis is the lack of awareness of the historical responsibility that each of us has in shaping the future of society. Without a thorough understanding of the past and the lessons we can learn from it, we risk repeating the same mistakes that led to tragedies already experienced.
Looking to the future, we find ourselves faced with a disturbing specter: the possibility that, after a century, tragedies already experienced could be repeated. History teaches us that divisions, hatred and indifference can lead to devastating consequences for entire nations and peoples. It is our duty, therefore, to act with determination to prevent this from happening.
In this context, it is essential to promote greater awareness and a deeper understanding of international political dynamics. We must commit ourselves to overcoming divisions and working together to address common challenges, with a watchful eye on the past and a confident look to the future.
Only through collective commitment and shared responsibility can we hope to build a more just, peaceful and prosperous world for future generations. The time to act is now.

DIPLOMACY AND GEOPOLITICS

DIPLOMACY AND GEOPOLITICS - ATLANTIS

Yemen, the Houthis and the Red Sea
Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte

From Lettere sul Mondo 2024 edited by the Circolo di Studi Diplomatici
Little was known about Yemen and the Houthis before the ferocious attack by Hamas on 7 October and the harsh Israeli reaction against Gaza.
A few months after that date, the Houthis are among the main protagonists of a feared widening of the conflict, with their repeated attacks directed from the coast of Yemen against merchant shipping in transit in that Red Sea, which for the English it was once the “jugular vein of the Empire”.
Yemen's recent history, since the end of World War II, has been marked by conflict and internal political turbulence, up until today.
The first serious crisis was the bloody civil war which for eight years pitted the monarchists of Imam Badr, strongly represented in the tribal groups of the North, against the republican revolutionaries who in 1962 expelled the dynasty of the Shiite Zaydi Imams, to found the Arab Republic of Yemen , with Saudi Arabia and Egypt as sponsors of the opposing parties.
For the next forty years, despite ups and downs, the government-regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh (1978-2012) guaranteed a certain internal stability and obtained international credit for the collaboration offered to the United States in the fight against Al Qaeda, which attempted to settle in the country at the end of the 1990s.
But, in the end, President Saleh's regime, after having vainly tried to militarily eradicate the Houthis, who appeared on the political scene in those years, and having been harshly contested by the "Yemeni Arab Spring", left the scene in 2011, passing every power to his Vice President Abd-Rabu Mansur Hadi, who found refuge in Saudi Arabia.
Thus, once President Saleh fell, now largely discredited, and the attempt at a painless transition to democracy through the "National Dialogue Conference" (2013-2014) fruit of the "Yemeni Spring" failed, the Houthis took power in September 2014 and control of the capital Sana'a, and of central-northern Yemen.
The arrival of the Houthis in 2015 provoked the intervention of an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which, with the support of the United States, the United Kingdom and France, began the conflict that devastated Yemen for the next eight years with indiscriminate bombings of infrastructures and urban centers, with the difficulty of hitting an elusive enemy.
The damage caused in Yemen by the armed intervention of the Gulf countries was so serious that it caused what the United Nations has defined as one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes ever seen in the world. An already poor country has been reduced to a state of extreme poverty, with four million refugees and 20 million of its inhabitants (or two thirds of its entire population) reduced to conditions of absolute food and health need.
Thus, Yemen today finds itself, once again, in a state of war (even if at the moment there is a truce, precarious but substantially respected), and is divided between armed political factions that are antagonistic to each other: the Houthis in the north (supported from Iran), the forces headed by the "Southern Transitional Council" in Aden (with the support of the United Arab Emirates) are opposed, while Tareq Saleh, nephew of the President of the same name (killed in a clash with the Houthis), leads of his "Guardians of the Republic" controls the city of Hodeida and its coastal strip on the Red Sea, not to mention other minor political groups.
To extricate themselves from this "tangle", induced by their own armed intervention, the Saudis created a "Presidential Leadership Council" in 2022 which aims to be the premise for a minimum of dialogue, capable of giving internal political stability and hopes for a negotiation of peace between the Coalition of Gulf Monarchies and the Houthis, which appears blocked by the intransigence of their respective positions.
But who are these Houthis and where do they come from?
The Houthi movement was born in the 1990s under the name of "Ansar Allah" (Supporters of God) among the most traditionalist tribal groups of northern Yemen, once defenders of the Shiite dynasty of the Zayidi Imam. Their leader Hussein Badreddin Al-Houthi, who in the meantime fell in the clashes against the Yemeni government, has relaunched the Zaydite identity and religious practice, of Shiite orientation, with the aim of spreading it throughout the country.
Zaydism is a local variant of Shiia and is widespread in northern Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia and boasts some doctrinal differences that are not secondary to the Shiia doctrine prevalent in Iran and other areas of the Middle East that practice it.
There are two reasons behind the birth and success of this movement: on the one hand, to fight widespread corruption under the regime of President Saleh and his collaboration with the United States in the Qaedist "war on terror" and, on the other, to oppose and react to the proselytism of the Sunni "Wahhabi" trend, actively pursued and generously financed in Yemen by Saudi Arabia, through the proliferation of mosques and Sunni Koranic schools.
The preaching of the militant Arab reformer Mohammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahab (who lived in the mid-1700s), centered on the return of the Sunni community to the original purity of Islam, found a formidable ally in the Saud Dynasty which, having conquered control of the The whole of Arabia, at the expense of the competing Hashemite Dynasty, have made this puritanical and fundamentalist doctrine the official creed of their Saudi Kingdom, and actively support its proselytism abroad.
In any case, the clash between Zaydism and Wahhabism has introduced in Yemen, for twenty years now, a further factor of instability and friction both within Yemeni society, already fragmented and backward in itself, and between Yemen and its powerful neighbor Saudi Arabia.
Thus, even in a country like Yemen, once secular, republican and religiously tolerant (where Shiites and Sunnis had always prayed indifferently in the same Mosques), the contrast between these two confessions of Islam was proposed, taking on highly radical political connotations.
The Houthi movement has in fact adopted as its political flag, following the example of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the slogan "God is great, death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, victory for Islam". The vaunted militancy against Israel and the United States is accompanied, on an internal level, by a failed management of the country's economy and a repressive policy towards journalists, peaceful demonstrations of dissent and women's rights: for many, a sad omen of the desire to establish a Islamic state.
Radical and intransigent words and behaviors which find full confirmation and credibility above all in the great military capabilities and in the great determination possessed and demonstrated by the fighters for the Zaydi movement, but also followed by young Yemenis.
If the Houthis have in fact managed to repel, first, President Saleh's repeated offensives, and then, since 2015, that of the Saudi-led Arab coalition, they do not owe it only to the military aid received from Iran and the inaccessibility of the northern regions of Yemen, but also and above all, to the adhesion of many young people to the resurrected Zaydite movement.
In fact, this movement proved to be a powerful catalyst of the widespread discontent that arose among the many Yemenis who, finding no space in the context of the dynamic, albeit disordered and corrupt Yemeni economy during the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, took refuge in radical religious militancy proposed by the Houthis.
Therefore, for religious reasons, for radical vocation and for the military capabilities acquired in twenty years of armed clashes both against the Government of Sana'a and against the Saudi-Emirati coalition, the danger of the Houthis cannot be underestimated.
Putting an end to the threat that the Houthis pose to merchant traffic in the Red Sea appears to be a very difficult objective, also given what has emerged in the last few months following the fateful 7 October.
First of all, not only do the tactics employed by the Houthi forces, based on the great mobility of their launch platforms, make it difficult for allied units to be able to neutralize them, but it is also difficult to intercept the armaments intended for them by Iran, which arrive through a myriad of small boats and fishing boats (Dhows) carrying all sorts of goods, legal and illegal, escaping any control.
But, beyond these operational aspects, no less worrying, on a political level, are the effects of the great popularity that these armed actions of theirs, declared in support of the Palestinian cause, have earned the Houthis among Arab public opinion and beyond. .
The widespread sympathies thus obtained could in fact make the Houthis even more intransigent and less willing to withdraw from their maritime attacks, even more so now that these actions are also directed against the air and naval forces of the coalition led by the "Great Satan", i.e. the United States.
But, above all, if the armed confrontation in Gaza were to continue, there is the risk that, as Riyadh in particular seems to fear, this state of affairs could have a series of unwelcome consequences: for example, highlighting pro-Palestinian militancy of the Houthis in the face of the substantial caution maintained by the Saudis, or further complicate the already difficult peace negotiation between the Houthis themselves and the Saudis, if not even lead to a resumption of hostilities between the irreducible Zaydi warriors and the Gulf Arab coalition, with the breaking of the truce in force up to now.
Hence the cautionary recommendations that Riyadh would have addressed to Washington, concerned that the reaction of the American forces in the Red Sea is appropriately calibrated while maintaining, as far as possible, a strict proportionality compared to those of the Houthis.
Furthermore, on the internal level in Yemen, the international popularity acquired by the Houthis by virtue of their attacks in support of the Palestinian cause, especially in the event of a possible escalation of the clashes in the Red Sea, could translate into a strengthening of the regime (hitherto at a loss of consensus) imposed by them on a population tired and devastated by eight years of war, inducing them to tighten repressive measures against any residual form of free expression.
The tools available to the United States and Europe to remedy the serious threat and danger of the attacks carried out on shipping in the Red Sea by these belligerent and politically intractable Houthi fighters do not appear to be many, nor of certain effect.
Certainly, the military counteraction appears more necessary than ever, although probably not decisive, given the effective guerrilla tactics implemented by the Houthis and the Arab concerns of unwanted political drift in the event of a possible escalation of the clashes. Even the effect of financial sanctions against their leadership does not seem to be able to play anything other than a complementary role.
As for the renewed inclusion of the Zaydi movement in the list of terrorist organizations by the United States, beyond its own merits, it could have unwanted secondary effects, such as making it more difficult for the Yemeni population to access much-needed international humanitarian aid, also with a view to preventing this measure from being perceived as "punitive" towards the entire Yemeni population.
However problematic it may appear, the dual task of contributing to limiting the threats in the Red Sea, but also of preparing a desirable re-establishment of conditions of stability and peaceful coexistence not only in Israel and Gaza, but also in Yemen and between this troubled country and its Gulf neighbors, once the current crisis is over.
With reference to the first objective, there is a hint of a possible diplomatic involvement of China to induce Tehran to stop the Houthis from jeopardizing a strategic sea route that brings tons and tons of Chinese goods from Asia to Europe and beyond: moreover, the outcomes do not appear to be obvious.
Much more decisive would be the cessation of the clashes in Gaza on the basis of truce agreements agreed between Israel and Hamas: the Zaydi warriors would in fact lack the main motivation for their aggressive actions, even if the state of strong opposition and the tensions forcefully emerged in southern Arabia in the last eight years and, in the Red Sea, in the last three months.
In essence, international diplomacy should solicit a multiplicity of additional diplomatic efforts, to bring, through negotiated solutions, stability and peace throughout the Arabian Peninsula.
Among these additional efforts, the first one should include relaunching the peace negotiations between the Houthis and the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia, as soon as the general conditions of the crisis allow it.
This is a passage, certainly difficult, but capable of steadily lowering tension throughout the region, even if the intractability of the negotiating positions between the parties and the impressive amount of damage left on the ground certainly do not give us hope.
The role of greatest responsibility, for the historically evident reasons mentioned above, certainly belongs to Saudi Arabia, already committed in this direction, well aware, it is presumed, of the advantages of closing the chapter of war with the Houthis and exiting a situation ranging from very uncomfortable to potentially very worrying.
A virtuous precedent exists and it is that which saw the pacification work which in 1970 put an end to the first Yemeni civil war thanks to an authoritative and respected Yemeni jurist, Abd Al-Rahman Al-Iriani, later President of the Republic who, with a spirit of compromise and the support of Yemeni civil society, found a way to put an end to hostilities and open a season of peace and substantial internal stability, which lasted for forty years, until 2011, the year of the "Arab Spring".
Further on, a successfully concluded peace negotiation could also open up the prospect of a peaceful integration of Yemen in a regional context from which this country differs due to a variety of factors: almost equal in population to Saudi Arabia, but poor, located in an Arabian Peninsula of very rich but sparsely populated countries, republican and so far secular (even if now governed in part by a Shiite movement) between monarchies of strict Sunni observance, as well as equipped with large oil and gas deposits, with the consequent excessive power geopolitical that derives from this condition.
Precisely by looking at the profound contrasts that still divide Yemen from the other countries of the Arabian Peninsula, one wonders whether the reformist tensions expressed by the current leadership in power in Riyadh, precisely due to the declared ambition of wanting to open a new chapter in the history of the Saudi Kingdom in sign of modernity and further civil and social progress, should not also have to deal with the attempt to resolve the Yemeni case, for once, with political and diplomatic means, and thus make a lasting contribution to stability and peace to the entire region.
Of course, the challenge promises to be difficult but ambitious: for Riyadh and the Gulf countries it would be a question of abandoning a consolidated policy of "containment" of Yemen based on the systematic use of a mix of political or economic and, if necessary, military pressure, whose dramatically negative results are now clear for all to see: the alternative being rather that of opting for a strategy of political and economic integration free from discriminatory or prejudicial factors of a religious or institutional nature.
A united rather than fragmented, developed rather than impoverished and integrated Yemen in the region it belongs to is clearly in the interest of both the Arab countries of the Gulf and, more generally, of the entire international community, like the crisis that has affected and continues to threaten even sailing in the Red Sea just proved it.

 

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In this issue

In this issue - ATLANTIS

Luca Baraldi, Researcher.

Elena Sofia Brandi, Reader of review Sconfinare.

Isabella Chiara, Researcher..

Enrico Ellero, Contributor..

Domenico Letizia, Journalist..

Eleonora Lorusso, Journalist.

Agata Lucchetta, Contributor..

Luca Mozzi, Contributor.

Cristina Pappalardo, Journalista..

Mamata Pasin,Contributor.

Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte, Ambassador..

Luca Volpato, Italian Office of Council of Europe.

 

 

 

 

 



ACTUALITY AND GEOPOLITICS

ACTUALITY AND GEOPOLITICS - ATLANTIS

Two years of war in Ukraine, between suffering and hopes of victory.
Interview with Oksana Amdzhadin, Minister Counselor of the Embassy of Ukraine in Italy.

Enrico Ellero

More than two years after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at a crucial moment for the fate of the conflict and for international balances, we interviewed Oksana Amdzhadin, Minister Counselor of the Ukrainian Embassy in Italy.

Minister, more than two years have now passed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the end of this conflict is still not in sight. What is the situation on the ground today?

The situation on the ground is difficult, we are talking about a front about 1500 kilometers long. The occupation forces have intensified their offensive actions, but are unable to achieve the desired strategic successes. The Russians have an air advantage, also given by the record number of drones used, and in terms of personnel, they actively conduct air strikes and bombard our positions with artillery. They used artillery shells in six times greater quantities than the Ukrainian forces. Nonetheless, the Ukrainian armed forces have shot down 13 Russian military aircraft in the last two weeks. In revenge for military losses on the battlefield, Russia continues to terrorize Ukrainian civilians by attacking critical infrastructure and residential areas. The latest horrible example of this barbaric behavior is the attack on an apartment building in Odessa, in which entire families, including children, were exterminated.

How crucial has the military support of EU and NATO countries to Ukraine been so far? Is it necessary to do more?

At the start of the invasion, EU and NATO countries responded immediately by providing aid to Ukraine and quickly imposing sanctions on Moscow. I believe that Russia, having witnessed a rather weak reaction to actions taken in Crimea and eastern Ukraine in the past, did not expect such unity from the West. Now let's work to maintain this unity and strengthen the coalition in support of Ukraine to ensure all the necessary means for our defense.
A total of 19 meetings of the Contact Group for the Defense of Ukraine (also known as the Ramstein Group) have taken place since the beginning of the conflict. The last meeting on February 14 was attended by representatives of almost 50 countries. International coalitions supporting the defense forces of Ukraine have been established, for example, the Air Force, Air and Missile Defense Coalition, Tank Coalition, Mine Clearance Coalition, IT Coalition and others. The new coalition for the supply of medium and long-range missiles to Ukraine was announced by French President Macron.
Despite this, our defense forces suffer from a lack of artillery ammunition and other types of weapons. The current Russian artillery advantage is 7 to 1. This is why the speed and regularity of military aid delivery remains paramount.​
It should be remembered that the war started by Russia against Ukraine is the largest in Europe since the Second World War. It is impossible for a country to defend itself from Russian aggression without help, knowing that Russia also receives military aid from countries like Iran and North Korea.

The Ukrainian government appears to be optimistic about the chances of winning this war. Is this optimism shared by the Ukrainian people?

Absolutely yes, despite being aware of all the difficulties. According to the latest polls by the Kyiv Institute of Sociology, 89% of Ukrainians believe in victory, 60% are definitely convinced of it. Other polls give approximately the same result. Then another confirmation of the population's optimism is given by the quantity of donations to the Ukrainian armed forces.

We often hear the term "just peace" used in reference to the fact that peace cannot favor the aggressor country and humiliate the attacked country. In your opinion, what are the minimum conditions for a just peace between Ukraine and Russia?

Our vision of just peace is represented by the Peace Formula of the President of Ukraine, in particular the points concerning the restoration of the territorial integrity of the State, the implementation of the United Nations Charter, the responsibility of those guilty of war crimes and compensation for damages.

What would be the consequences for Europe of a Russian victory in Ukraine? What would Italy risk?

Russia's victory in the war would not only lead to the end of Ukraine as a free, democratic and independent state, but would also radically change the face of Europe. First, it would be a signal to other authoritarian regimes and give the green light to further aggressive actions, consequently posing a threat of global destabilization. Second, it would expose the weakness of liberal democracies. Appetite comes with eating and there are no guarantees that Russia would stop once it defeated Ukraine. Indeed, unequivocal signals are arriving from Moscow. They understood this well in the Baltic countries and Scandinavia, so much so that Finland and Sweden decided to give a clear response to the Russian threat by joining NATO. The latest actions and statements by European leaders make us understand that this threat is very real.

The Meloni government has always supported the defense of Ukraine with great determination and firmness, however public opinion seems to be very divided on the issue. In your opinion, does Russian propaganda have a particularly strong influence in Italy?

Unfortunately in Europe, and in Italy in particular, Russian propaganda and disinformation have found fertile ground. In Italy, one of the most striking cases was the attempt to organize in Modena, with the help of Russian state institutions, a conference on the alleged "flowering" of the city of Mariupol under Russian occupation, precisely at a time when it is still the memory of the atrocities committed by Russia in this Ukrainian city is very vivid: from the bombing of a pediatric hospital to the destruction of the theater where families with children were hiding. Throughout Italy, screenings of a propaganda film are taking place whose sole purpose is to clean up Russia's image as an aggressor country and justify its war crimes in Ukraine. This film also failed at the box office in Russia and only four people went to the premiere in Belarus. In Italy, however, it is advertised by pro-Russian activists.
On the Internet, Russian propaganda is even more pervasive and denying an infinite number of fake news is very difficult as well as ineffective, particularly within spaces where anti-Atlanticism and anti-Americanism are widespread. As the ever timely Churchill said, "a lie has time to travel halfway around the world before the truth manages to put on its trousers".

How likely do you think Ukraine will join the European Union and NATO in the next 10 years?

In record time and in conditions of external aggression we managed to implement the recommendations of the European Commission. We are pursuing the necessary reforms without slowing down and expect to start negotiations under the Belgian Presidency in the near future. We understand that we still have a long process of reforms and negotiations ahead of us, but it is important to underline that European integration is a civilizational choice for Ukraine. A choice of field that triggered Russian aggression, given that Russia sees a free, independent, democratic and "European" Ukraine as a threat to its existence.
As for NATO, we have high hopes for this year's Washington summit. For our part, we have implemented all the decisions of the Vilnius summit and are constantly working on the practical level. We await a political decision. We are aware, however, that entry into the Alliance will not take place before the end of the war.

In recent weeks, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has said that the West is trying to turn Moldova into another Ukraine. Could the breakaway region of Transnistria be Putin's next target, thus opening a new front on Ukraine's southwestern border?

Moldova is our neighbor and our partner, we fully support its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. Since the beginning of 2023, Russian intelligence services have been trying to destabilize Moldova and overthrow the democratic government of Maia Sandu. For example, Russia uses Moldova's airspace to track the route of drones attacking Ukraine. The situation in Transnistria directly affects the security interests of Ukraine, therefore this region is the focus of our attention. Ukraine has been and will continue to be an active participant in the process of resolving the Transnistria issue and has as its main goal the full reintegration of this territory into the Republic of Moldova. Our resistance against Russian aggression to some extent shielded Moldova. The Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni spoke about it in the summer of last year, admitting that if Ukraine had not resisted the Russian invasion, Moldova could have already been attacked.

GEOPOLITICS AND NEWS

GEOPOLITICS AND NEWS - ATLANTIS

WHY YOU MUST NOT LOSE SIGHT OF THE MAGHREB

Luca Mozzi

Last November, a historic conference of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was held in Ryiad, with the aim of responding to the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip. Despite the very marked divisions within the two organizations, a document was unanimously approved calling for an immediate ceasefire, an embargo on arms sales to Israel and an appeal to the International Court of Justice to investigate the Israeli war crimes.
This 'unanimous condemnation of the Israeli invasion' in reality remains deliberately very vague and is the result of the divergences that in recent years have broken the unconditional consensus of Arab and Muslim countries towards the Palestinian cause. During the negotiations at the Ryiad summit, Algeria had in fact proposed much harsher tones towards the Jewish State, which included the severing of diplomatic relations, the blocking of energy exports and active resistance to arms exports against Israel. These much more assertive, almost bellicose positions, supported by ten other countries of the Arab League, including Tunisia (therefore 11 states out of the 22 total), were instead toned down by Morocco and some Gulf countries which, despite the necessary condemning Israeli military operations, they took a much less aggressive tone. It is not surprising that the latter are precisely the countries involved in the US-led process of normalization of relations with Israel that began in 2020, known as the Abraham Accords. These agreements represented a real watershed in the sociopolitical balance of the Middle East, so much so that many analysts agree that they were one of the founding reasons for the terrorist attack of 7 October.
Going back a month, at the dawn of Hamas's nefarious operation 'Al-Aqsa Flood', Algeria and Tunisia had similarly refused to sign an Arab League document condemning the actions of Hamas, wanted by Saudi Arabia and from other Arab countries including Morocco itself, thus implicitly approving the actions of Hamas. An increasingly profound fracture is thus emerging in the Arab-Muslim world, which not only involves Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries on one side and Iran and its proxies on the other, but also the Maghreb, a reality that is historically as well as geographically close to Italy.
In recent years, a very delicate situation has arisen between the countries of the area. Algeria and Tunisia, united in their unconditional support for the Palestinian resistance and in their economic-military ties with Russia and China, see themselves opposed to the Kingdom of Morocco, traditionally close to the West, in particular to the States, as well as the third country to have signed the aforementioned Abraham Accords. The different strategy of the two countries in terms of foreign policy is inevitably also attributable to the long-standing conflict in Western Sahara, in which the two neighbors find themselves on divergent positions. The latter is a territory whose independence Algeria (and indirectly Tunisia) supports, but which Morocco considers its own region, benefiting in this from the American approval. Precisely from here the foundations for the partnership between Morocco and the USA were born, which will then lead to the agreements with Israel. On the other hand, the diplomatic relations between Morocco and Algeria, already damaged for some decades precisely because of Western Sahara, were definitively interrupted in August 2021. Likewise, the diplomatic relations between Morocco and Tunisia have been nothing short of limping in recent years.
Morocco's closeness to the United States and Israel is such that, just a year after the start of the normalization of relations with the Jewish state, the African country has undertaken an increasing exchange of war material with Tel Aviv, culminating in the participation of Israeli troops to joint military exercises in Morocco, always under the watchful eye of Washington. The People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, as well as Tunisia, on the other hand, have never had diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Very active in supporting the Palestinian cause, both Arab nations have hosted important members of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Tunisia in particular, in whose capital the headquarters of the Palestinian organization was rebuilt, after its leaders were forced to flee Lebanon in 1982.
In the two North African states, united by solid political ties and economic cooperation, the memory of support for the PLO is still very much alive. The harsh tone towards the Jewish State is a direct consequence, among which stands out the proposal of the current Tunisian president Kaïs Saïed to institute a sentence of 6 to 10 years in prison to punish those guilty of the crime of 'normalization with Israel'. Not too veiled affront to the Abraham Accords.
Observing the bilateral relations of Algeria and Tunisia with countries outside the Mediterranean basin, as inextricably connected to the current global unrest, their closeness to the so-called 'enemy of the West' countries, primarily Russia, should be noted. In this context, the relationship in terms of armaments between Algiers and Moscow is significant, as it supplies the Algerian army with 80% of its components, making Algeria the third largest importer of Russian weapons in the world. Similarly, in recent years, both Tunisia and Algeria have seen a surge in the import of Russian agricultural products, especially cereals, wheat and fertilizers, coinciding precisely with the war in Ukraine.
Viewed from an Italian perspective, recent developments in these two countries, located just a few hundred from our southern borders, are not to be taken lightly. While benefiting from a traditional political and economic closeness between Italy, Algeria and Tunisia, it should be noted that these two countries have positioned themselves on camps clearly opposite to those in which Italy is aligned, especially in the two most relevant active conflicts of these times: the Russian-Ukrainian one and the Israeli-Palestinian one.
Nonetheless, in recent years, Italian cooperation with Tunisia and Algeria has been increasingly growing, for geographical and political reasons. The abrupt move away from Russian gas has in fact led Italy to rely on gas imports from Algeria, which has become the first gas supplier for Italy and the second for the European Union. At the same time, the growing influx of migrants from Tunisia has made it necessary to have an increasingly structured dialogue with the Maghreb country, which has demonstrated to a certain extent that it holds the keys to stability within our borders.
From the Italian, therefore European, point of view, it will therefore be essential to take into consideration this region, which embodies the dilemmas of peoples and nations that are evolving, often going beyond ideologies or religion. Only time will tell how relations between Arab states and Israel will change: Morocco itself, for example, despite the country's official position, has seen very active popular involvement in the Palestinian cause. The same can be said for other Arab countries close to the West: the risk of a disconnect between pro-Palestinian public opinion and an establishment that aims to normalize relations with Israel is a possibility that cannot be ruled out.
The growing Italian involvement in the area, whose commitment is demonstrated by the newly created 'Mattei Plan', must therefore necessarily adapt to this rapidly evolving situation, which simultaneously represents a threat and a resource for our country. The stakes are high and it is necessary to move with caution in this complex scenario, under penalty of losing control of our southern border and the establishment of rival powers in the area.

GEOPOLITICS AND ENVIRONMENT

GEOPOLITICS AND ENVIRONMENT - ATLANTIS

Cop28 and climate geopolitics
Climatologist Fazzini: “Europe is still not very effective. Attention to India, where the new Silicon Valley is already based"

Eleonora Lorusso

Over 6 out of 10 Italians (61%) believe that the activities implemented by Italy to combat global warming and the climate emergency in general are insufficient, regardless of the "colour" of the governments. When it comes to making individual sacrifices, 2 out of 3 say they are ready, but only a third declared they know the topics at the center of the United Nations World Climate Conference which took place in Dubai in December 2023. The climate remains a a leading issue, therefore, both among ordinary citizens and at a global level, but when it comes to giving concreteness to actions there is a risk of struggling to achieve the objectives, especially if they are ambitious. The COP28 conclusions are a demonstration of this, as well as showing that this is an area in which geopolitics plays a fundamental role.
In fact, as we saw a few weeks ago, there are many interests at stake that make a common synthesis difficult. From the start of the conference, the aim was to cut fossil fuels, a "phase-out". But it was necessary to extend the work for 24 hours to find a mediation that would lead to a "transition away", therefore a path towards abandoning coal, gas and oil, by 2050. The president of Cop28, Sultan al Jaber (oil and Minister of Industry of the United Arab Emirates) spoke of a "historic agreement", while the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said she was convinced that it could mark "the beginning of the post-fossil era". Yet there remains some skepticism among the experts: "Unfortunately one of the problems of that negotiation was precisely the role of the UN, which first accepted the economic enticements of the oil-producing countries, such as the United Arab Emirates which hosted Cop28, then he tried to impose his own idea, that is, a cancellation of fossil fuels that is impossible to demand from a country that is among the main oil producers. It was an own goal, we couldn't have expected a very different response from the OPEC countries. Declaring oneself surprised at their refusal may even appear hypocritical,” comments climate scientist Massimiliano Fazzini, head of the climate change group at Sigea, the Italian Society of Environmental Geology and professor at the University of Chieti.
Yet for days the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, had continued to press governments, explaining: “Our planet is a few minutes away from midnight as regards the 1.5 degree limit. And the clock continues to tick", indicating among other goals to be achieved the reduction of 1.5 degrees in global temperature by 2050. "Setting objectives is correct, but it must be remembered that today it is not possible to know with exactly how much the temperature has increased compared to 150 years ago, i.e. the pre-industrial period to which we refer - explains Fazzini - The reason is simple: of the 5,500 weather stations that should be used for the calculation and point of mathematical models, less than 20% is homogeneous and suitable for serious studies. In fact we remedy this with simulations, which however do not provide certainties: the figure relating to 1.5 degrees could actually fluctuate between 0.8 and 1.7. If this were the case we would have already passed the infamous point of no return. This is why I think we need to do everything possible and immediately.”
The mediation was long and difficult, and required the intervention of representatives of the world's main governments, starting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. “The document released by COP28 has once again proven to be very vague and years late. We are still largely working on the databases, which we should have created at the beginning of the 2000s. Another critical issue - adds the climatologist - is the resistance on the part of the countries of the Brics bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China and the South Africa) and oil producers. On the other hand, the United States and China, which represent the two major world powers, have taken a neutral attitude and have not expressed themselves. The US Secretary of State himself, Blinken, spoke of 'compromise', which means everything and nothing. Unfortunately, in this context, Europe's lack of incisiveness also emerged, as it attempted to raise its voice, but without great tangible results", observes the climate scientist.
The climate, therefore, is a game that sees multiple global players on the field, who struggle to yield in a field in which economic interests play a leading role. There are also many differences between global players. “It should be considered that a 20-page text like the one released by COP28 is far too brief for such an important topic. I believe that one of the most important points, however, remains that relating to the acceleration of the reduction of emissions from road travel: we urge the implementation of rail transport, as we climate scientists have been repeating for 20 years. Part of Europe has done it and is doing it, but also China itself, thanks to the high speed it uses for both people and goods." In the meantime, a new protagonist emerges precisely on future climate policies, India: "Despite being in great economic and demographic expansion, it is implementing a policy of very low emissions - explains Fazzini - It can, in fact, count on favorable climatic conditions: it is one of the windiest countries in the world, thanks to the winter and summer monsoons; it enjoys significant sunshine all year round, due to the geographical position it occupies, but it also has at its disposal the potential of the energy deriving from the waves and the Ocean. I believe that within five years India will be able to become the leading technological power in this field: already today the technological giant of Bengalore is superior to that of Silicon Valley".
Precisely regarding the future, electric does not seem to represent the real answer: "It is no coincidence that a car company like Porsche is already abandoning electric for hydrogen. We must believe in it, because it is the other alternative solution to fossils, certainly actionable. An alternative is new generation nuclear power, at least third generation although the ideal would be fourth generation, with fission. The question is: where to invest? I believe that it is necessary not to waste resources, concentrating them on a few potential winning technologies", concludes the expert.

GEOPOLITICS AND STRATEGIC ANALYSIS

GEOPOLITICS AND STRATEGIC ANALYSIS - ATLANTIS

National interests in the Arctic, a "cold" part of the Wider Mediterranean

Isabella M. Chiara

Italy's geostrategic reference space, the Wider Mediterranean - a concept born between the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s within the War Institute of the Italian Navy - expands, as the name suggests, well beyond the borders of the Mare Nostrum. To the east it includes the Black Sea, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Horn of Africa, as well as the Indian Ocean, while to the west it extends up to the Gulf of Guinea, but not only: to be part of this in fact, there is also space for the "great North": the Arctic.
The presence of national interests in this region is, of course, not recent history: it has its roots in some oceanographic expeditions undertaken at the end of the 19th century. Already in 1899, in fact, Luigi Amedeo of Savoy put himself at the head of a polar expedition to reach Franz Joseph Land, discovered by Austrian explorers sixteen years earlier; this was followed by Umberto Nobile's two missions to the North Pole (the first in 1926, while the second - and last - in 1929), which became famous throughout the world. Since then, national interests in the region have been divided into three levels: the first is scientific, in relation to maintaining a primary role in Italian scientific research on site (of which Umberto Nobile was undoubtedly a pioneer); the second is economic, due, first and foremost, to the activities of important Italian companies which represent a fundamental pillar for national commercial interests in the Arctic; the third, finally, is the political-diplomatic level, which is based on Italy's role in the geopolitical dynamics of the region.
As regards Italian scientific activity in the Arctic, a fundamental milestone was the establishment of the Dirigibile Italia base on the island of Spitsbergen (one of the largest in the Svalbard archipelago).

This multidisciplinary research centre, active since 1997 and managed by the National Research Council (CNR), deals with the study of the different components of the Arctic environment. Furthermore, in more recent times, the CNR has also financed another important project for local scientific research, alongside the Dirigibile Italia base: this is the Amundsen-Nobile Climate Change Tower, a tower approximately 34 meters high which allows the collection and the study of atmospheric parameters inherent to climatic phenomena. In the region, the issue of climate change is particularly thorny: just think that between 1971 and 2019, the increase in the average annual temperature of the land and ocean surface in the Arctic was three times higher than the increase in the global average in same period. Everything that derives from it - first and foremost, the melting of the polar ice cap - requires accurate analyzes that can only be carried out by cutting-edge institutes: among these, in addition to the CNR, our country boasts, in the Arctic region, the contribution of the Agency National Institute for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) and of the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics (OGS). Furthermore, in recent years, a fundamental contribution has also come from the armed forces: in 2017, the Navy launched the multi-year Arctic Research Programme, the flagship of which was the High North campaign. The activity - repeated for seven editions, until 2023 - was conducted and coordinated by the Navy Hydrographic Institute, in concert with some national research bodies - CNR, ENEA, INGV - and international ones - such as the Center for Maritime Research and Experimentation of NATO and the European Research Institute (ERI). On board the Alliance ship, various teams of researchers conducted multiple expeditions among the Arctic ice, monitoring and mapping the region to study its changes.

By promoting cooperation in the fields of environmental protection, scientific research and exploitation of resources - a true tool of soft power -, our country has progressively established itself in the Arctic, developing structures that today constitute prestigious centers of scientific excellence. technology in the region: the CNR, consequently, is now a fundamental part within the local governance mechanisms.
The exploitation of resources represents one of the key points of the second level on which Italy moves in the Arctic, namely the economic one. The lion's share, in this sense, is certainly the activity of ENI, which, following the discovery of approximately 250 million barrels of oil in the Barents Sea, inaugurated the Goliat platform in 2016, defined as "the largest floating oil production and storage unit to tackle the Arctic.” In addition to ENI, other important Italian companies operate in the region, such as the Leonardo Group, Finmeccanica and Fincantieri. Thanks to these companies, our country can advance its commercial and economic interests in the region: just think of the satellite monitoring activities of local environmental phenomena, made possible by the technologies of the Leonardo-Finmeccanica Group, or the oceanographic icebreaker Kronprins Haakon, built by Fincantieri for the Norwegian Polar Institute.
As regards the diplomatic-political aspect, it is now known that Italy has been an integral part of the discussion on the Arctic for more than a decade. In 2011, the Arctic Table was created at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, an informal consultation group that connects the MAECI to the main national stakeholders, updated on political developments in the Arctic region. Since 2013, these updates have resulted from Italy's participation, as a permanent observer member, in the working groups of the Arctic Council (AC), the most important intergovernmental forum leading cooperation in the area. No small privilege, therefore, given that there are only seven states that currently boast the title of permanent observers (in addition to Italy, these are China, South Korea, Japan, India, Singapore and Switzerland). In any case, to further formalize its interest in the far north, in 2015 Italy published the first Strategy for the Arctic, aimed at highlighting the country's role in the region. Within the Strategy, the MAECI has outlined some guidelines to reaffirm Italy's cooperation, in both the scientific and institutional fields, not only with the coastal countries, but also with some non-Arctic states which, in the Arctic, have launched multi-year programs.
In conclusion, therefore, it is now clear how our country is inextricably linked, in various aspects, to the Arctic region, which has fully entered the "umbrella" of the Wider Mediterranean. The presence of national interests - at a scientific, economic and diplomatic level - makes the Arctic a region in which Italy will have to continue to invest, to consolidate the prestigious technical leadership that it has achieved in recent decades.

GEOPOLITICS AND COMMUNICATION

GEOPOLITICS AND COMMUNICATION - ATLANTIS

The banality of good: the strategic role of humanity in times of war

Luca Baraldi

The history of diplomacy is, before anything else, a history of communication. History of the way in which cultural matrices crystallize and define themselves in relation to what is different, and of the way in which characterizing traits are selected and intentionally recombined, in the process of composing an identity. History of the way in which information is produced, manipulated, filtered and received, in the fluid and elusive dynamics of contamination and interdependence between emitting subjects and receiving subjects, between subjects legitimized to say something and subjects condemned to disappear from the scene, between subjects aligned and dissident subjects. History of the way in which the events of the past have been archived, metabolised, selected, sometimes reworked, and of the way in which memory can become a structural element in the aggregation of a society and in its transformation into a nation. History of the way in which reputation becomes a strategic weapon, in the global scenario of cognitive competition, data warfare, and the conquest of attention.

At the moment in which democratic interaction abandons the squares to concentrate on platforms, at the moment in which geopolitical consensus is influenced both by events and by the way in which they are told, communication management no longer represents an auxiliary activity, but a structural activity of a diplomatic strategy. The digitalisation of complexity and the dematerialisation of reality support the mythology of efficiency and the sensation of data-driven control, accepting and nourishing the rules of a new cognitive ecosystem based on the fragility of attention, founded on the randomness of opinion, on correspondence between consensus and reaction (social, but not only). Non-manifest thought becomes irrelevant, while polarized collective thought acquires relevance only as a function of visibility, views and the possible monetization of information flows.
Byung-Chul Han, in his recent The Crisis of Narration, states that "reality decays into information, whose temporal extension consists in an increasingly punctual actuality", in which the life of the information itself "does not go beyond the stimulus of surprise ” (p. 38). In some way, the enlightening, certainly challenging, vision of Dominique Moïsi seems to resonate, who in 2008 spoke for the first time about the "geopolitics of emotions", proposing an almost archetypal interpretation of the competition between emotional geopolitical imaginaries, polarizing the dialectical tension around three main emotions: fear, humiliation and hope.

In a world in which the circulation of information is also influenced by economic drivers, in turn based on mechanisms for granting attention (expressed through viewing times, willingness to react, choice of sharing), that stimulus of surprise which speaks Han becomes anything but marginal, determining, indeed, that activator of media empathy which leads us, automatically, to choose to be followers of a cause or promoters of a vision of the world. The great challenge that diplomacy faces today goes far beyond temporary access to digital contents, or partial use, or their automatic sharing. Faced with such rapid dynamics of production, consumption and waste of information, we risk that even the physiological times themselves, necessary for the development and weaving of constructive diplomatic ecosystems, are sacrificed to unprepared strategies of unconscious fast diplomacy. Yet, beyond the way in which people seek momentary emotion in the use of digital content, outside the screen, the slowness of existences remains, their complexity and their fatigue, their inevitable intensity in imagining life projects , in seeking one's own space, one's own community, one's own meaning. Looking beyond the speed of disposable information, the political challenge of cultural activation remains, which can be an instrument or inspiration for those existences.

On 5 September 2023, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, in a speech held at the Institute for International Relations in Kiev, clearly highlighted the interconnection between the construction of collective imaginaries, self-representation and the central relevance of public diplomacy, especially in a war context. He did so by defusing the temptation of proverbial banalization, which wants "Ukraine never to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity", evoking individual and collective responsibility in reactivating the ability to influence, with the activation of a new imaginary, the will to claim and create a new destiny: “You are reality. You are waging a war for reality, and victory will be determined by your core beliefs, your knowledge, and your ability to put them to use.” The rehumanization of free will, in some way, intervenes to stem the risks deriving from the automation of information, whose functioning and impact are poorly controllable at a technological level, restoring, in a way that might seem dangerously naive, the centrality of critical thinking.
The so-called wartime diplomacy, introduced for the first time in such a ramified, multi-channel and multi-level manner by the Ukrainian Government, has shuffled the cards of diplomatic tradition, forcing formal protocols and customs, not to delegitimize their function, but to experiment with the new role of diplomacy - and to highlight its new challenges - in the hybrid world of the infosphere.

If it is true, as Mario Calabresi rightly says in his introduction to the book A eyes open, that "there are facts [...] that exist only because there is a photo that tells about them" (p. 9), in the world of The unverifiable nature of events and information polarization, the ability to distinguish - and make others distinguish - between reality and representation takes on an absolutely fundamental strategic relevance. The great challenge that the Ukrainian Government has launched to the world is precisely that of the multiplication of perspectives, internal and external, to guarantee that the description of events could escape mechanisms of control, alteration and manipulated polarization. To ensure that attention was fed both by the institutions and by the global community, recomposing institutional authority not only according to the attack suffered, but according to the evidence of social strength. Wartime diplomacy, which certainly must weave international relations and create heterogeneous, often informal, models of involvement, has nevertheless chosen to be based on a principle of involvement that is perhaps more anthropological than strategic. In a world of fragility of information, adrenaline-filled visibility and random polarization of public opinion, Ukrainian diplomacy has chosen to promote the "slow value" of its nation and the courage of its history. Outside of all protocols, he chose to base his positioning in his own geopolitical future through the narration of a form of involuntary heroism of ordinary people. It has chosen to build an unprecedented imagery, fueling nation branding strategies by giving an institutional voice to the banality of good.

GEOPOLITICS AND ECONOMY

GEOPOLITICS AND ECONOMY - ATLANTIS

Europe, European planning and policies for internal areas and mountains

Domenico Letizia

The European continent aims to promote and enhance internal and peripheral areas. An interesting political path that attempts to experiment with innovative, sustainable and replicable economic development options even on a small scale. The elections for the renewal of the Community Parliament are a moment of profound reflection on the state of things within Europe itself, a litmus test not so much for the parties, but also for civil society, youth participation, the state of existing relations and perceptions towards the European Union on the part of the active population. Connections that are made with projects financed by Euro-planning, Erasmus+ calls and regional cohesion funds. Crossroads and synergies that come about through the meeting, and sometimes clash, between people from the most diverse countries and from the very varied socioeconomic realities that characterize our contemporary society. Internal areas have always been at the center of analysis and political debate in Europe. Italy well represents an economic and sociological model characterized by numerous internal and peripheral areas with all the opportunities and concerns that may emerge. Fragile territories, distant from the main centers of provision of essential services and too often abandoned to themselves, which however cover a total of 60% of the entire surface area of the national territory, 52% of the Municipalities and 22% of the population. The most "real" and also most authentic Italy, whose primary need is to still be able to reside there, or return.
The existence of the internal area is therefore in strong contrast with that of the large metropolitan area, and it is no coincidence that the rural area is in fact the non-urban area par excellence. The city has a dominant role in the development of human civilizations, beyond the Western European one. It is also important to underline that the city is also the place not only of services, but also of mixing and human contact where progress and the future, until now, have always been developed. Yet the internal areas exist, they survive with their ever-increasing difficulties and have their own reason for being, which is contained not only in their varied, lively and rich cultural, social and also economic heritage, but in their ability to represent the stimulus for a life that follows a different rhythm from the ultra-dynamic one of contemporary cities, and which at the same time features a series of connections between secondary urban centres, such as minor provincial capitals, and the different realities of the rural space itself. The internal areas have their own intrinsic value which is not spent in just being the non-urbanity of the continent, and which at the same time is not just that pleasant "slow life" to be sold to foreign or national tourists. It is the set of knowledge: cultures, traditions, history and contextualized and small-scale economic models. An important step to understand and develop the needs of the territories and to guarantee internal or mountain territories all the necessary support, ensuring interventions and promoting initiatives to safeguard and enhance forests, woods, mountains and sustainable agriculture. Supporting and relaunching internal areas, a process long requested by numerous organizations and territorial associations, becomes extremely useful for combating depopulation and creating new opportunities for growth and development. Recently, the Italian Association of Europlanners - Eu Project Manager (Assoeuro) welcomed the signing of the decree for the Fund for the development of Italian mountains, recalling the importance of planning and Euro-planning for virtuous growth and development sustainable internal areas. The important in-depth course launched by Assoeuro in Brussels (from 8 to 10 April 2024) open to all operators who deal, both directly and indirectly, with European tenders and Next Generation Eu, represents a useful tool for companies and institutions to understand the new skills used by the European Commission for the two-year period 2024/25, training in new and dynamic ways to access European funding and accelerate the development of Italian communities and the beautiful villages of our Peninsula. The Assoeuro association leaders continue to highlight the attention on new opportunities coming from the economy and from European planning for internal areas and the mountains, which increasingly sees these internal communities investing in slow and experiential tourism, personal services, on breeding and food and wine production. All this by marrying modernity and ancient knowledge, innovation, technology and solidarity. Scholars are wondering about this slow but continuous repopulation of the highlands, a qualitative migration that leads to establishing a closer relationship with the environment. This is how new forms of business are born, often in the form of cooperatives. The micro-economic analyzes of the European continent are optimistic in configuring investment practices in the tourism sector, not hit-and-run tourism, not mass tourism but slow, experiential tourism and forest therapy and forest bathing services, livestock farming and sustainable production.
For a European mountain economy
Mountain areas in Europe occupy 18% of the Union's surface area with almost 2 and a half million agricultural companies, equal to almost 20% of the total European companies. The weight that mountain agriculture plays is different in individual EU countries: in some it has an important role in terms of cultivated surface area, livestock raised, number of employees and wealth produced. The progressive abandonment of the mountains and of agricultural activities practiced in the mountains does not seem to be stopping at the moment and is linked to geographical, ecological, agronomic, socio-economic and demographic causes, often interacting with each other: the consequences for the entire community are significant the numerous supply, regulatory, cultural and support services provided by the mountain are no longer available. To try to overcome the structural limits of mountain agriculture, the European Union provides specific financing to mountain farms and subsidizes development projects. Experts believe that we need to develop a European planning model that is able to bring out the best economic practices of internal areas, creating synergies and replicating these models in other European contexts, contextualizing and implementing sustainable production processes. The scenarios regarding the developments and possible future trends for agriculture in the Alpine arc are different depending on the country and region and will vary significantly depending on the degree of market liberalization and the amount of public contributions made available to companies mountain farms. Fourteen EU member states include mountain territory within their borders.
According to Eurostat's European territorial classification, Italy is the first country in the European Union by GDP made up of mountain provinces, territories in which at least half the surface or population is in mountain areas: in 2019 it amounted to 805.6 billion euro, 44.9 percent of the national total, a share more than double compared to the 20.7 percent recorded by the average of mountain areas in the EU. The value of the Italian mountain economy exceeds the 776.3 billion euros of Spain (which has a share of 62.4 percent of GDP), the 417.5 billion of France (17.1 percent of GDP) and the 241.5 billion of Germany (7.0 percent of GDP).
In 2021 the mountain economy represented 44.9 percent of the national added value and in a sectoral perspective it presented a higher share for the added value of construction (48.8 percent) and extended manufacturing (48.6 percent ), sectors in which the artisan vocation is highest. In the perimeter of the provinces representing the Italian mountain economy, micro and small businesses represent 69.4% of the employees of the total businesses in these provinces, a share well above the continental average.
In particular, in the mountain provinces there are 536,282 active artisan businesses with 1,349,075 workers, equal to over half (53%) of the Italian craft workers and 18.2% of the national workers, a share higher than 14.8%. than the national average. The widespread diffusion of crafts and micro and small businesses represents a factor of economic and social cohesion in mountain areas, as explored in depth by an important and complete analysis of the entrepreneurial structure carried out with the Observatories of Confartigianato Lombardia and Confartigianato Emilia- Romagna. Thanks to the widespread presence of manufacturing companies, the mountain economy achieves national exports amounting to 232.6 billion euros.
Friuli and the interesting planning of the wood economy
Another authoritative example is that of Friuli Venezia Giulia and the development of the wood economy. The Chair Industrial District or Chair Triangle is a district located in the heart of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and located in the province of Udine, relevant for the Friulian economy. The three municipalities that constituted the vertices of the Triangle were: Manzano, San Giovanni al Natisone and Corno di Rosazzo. The original industrial nucleus has gradually expanded to now include eleven municipalities in the Province of Udine. The range of products made by the Italian Chair District companies is vast: from refined design products to modern chairs, from leather armchairs to office chairs. A production capacity united by the guarantee of know-how capable of combining tradition with the most modern technology. Among the prevailing economic activities, a prominent place is occupied by the numerous activities in the wood-furniture sector which have been operating in the area for over 100 years with seriousness and reliability. The know-how that makes the District unique does not mean uniformity, but rather an extraordinary richness of expressive variety, since the needs and ways of experiencing the home, the office, the contract and relaxation are different. Innovative interpretations of classics and modern proposals that match tables and furnishing accessories. Analyzing the numbers, processed by sector experts, the Chair District includes 2,500 furniture companies and 500 companies specialized in production. Strengthened by its industrial experience, today the Region looks to community projects to establish a new economic development of the chair triangle, through urban regeneration and the reconversion of industrial sites, enhancing forests, wood and the digitalisation of production.
On the other hand, in the mountain economy territories there is a greater propensity for entrepreneurship and a higher presence of self-employment: in the mountain provinces, compared to the 47.3% of total employed in 2021, 49% are concentrated, 8% of the self-employed - entrepreneurs, professionals and self-employed workers - who represent 23% of the employed in these provinces, a share 2.2 points higher than the 20.8% of the other non-mountain provinces. Being able to develop an economic and sociological model suitable for the internal and mountainous areas of Europe represents a priority of the European institutions. A relaunch of European planning and European tenders for internal areas which can become suitable tools for bringing European institutions closer to the citizens of small villages. Europe can and must present itself precisely where it appears furthest away.

GEOPOLITICS AND RIGHTS

GEOPOLITICS AND RIGHTS - ATLANTIS

Free of or free from?

Cristina Pappalardo

Linking the issues of personal freedom as female citizens to the struggle for national independence is what exponents of the Tal'at feminist movement have recently been saying almost everywhere in the territories between the West Bank and Israel. This is how even the concepts of personal freedom and gender issues mix with geopolitical ones.
After decades of battles and struggles to obtain equal rights and fair treatment in all fields from the workplace to the personal sphere, Palestinian women are now protesting for their cultural and national identity and against an Israeli regime which they say is separatist and patriarchal.
According to this "pink" movement, gender violence must be treated as a social crime, a reflection of a society and politics that must be profoundly rethought at its root. According to pro-Palestinian feminists, the causes of violence, of the separation of women and children from their families and of the majority of feminicides lie in the Israeli occupation. This position of the Tal'at movement can be shared up to a certain point. Gender discrimination and colonialism have existed since the dawn of human history.
Every violence is generated by other violence and so on. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the victim from the perpetrator also because perhaps everyone is a victim when it comes to violations and abuses. Since the death of Israa Gareb, a teenager killed by beatings from her family for refusing an arranged marriage, there has been a resurgence of protests from feminist movements which, however, must not sin of being markedly biased or too contradictory in terms. There is in fact a sort of parallelism that also filters through the mass media between the fight for the individual independence of women and the liberation from the suppressor colonizing Israeli. A total overlap has been created between these two narratives which however does not include variables or other points of view. Therefore, one might think that the positions of the pro-Palestinian feminist movement are becoming extreme and that it is even starting to limit the freedom of others to express their opinions, even if they are different.

CULTURE AND SCHOOL

CULTURE AND SCHOOL - ATLANTIS

The first cycle of the PCTO "Introduction Course to Geopolitics" concluded

Agata Lucchetta

With the fourth edition of the International Festival of European Geopolitics (Venice Mestre, M9 Museum, 9-11 May 2024) the first cycle of the "Introduction course to geopolitics" ends, a three-year training project started in February 2024 and effect of the protocol of agreement (DGR. 1507/2023) between the Veneto Region, the Veneto Regional School Office, the M9 Foundation and with the operational collaboration of the magazine “Atlantis” and Mazzanti Libri.
“A beautiful example of public and private synergy” said Prof. Marco Bussetti, Director of the Regional School Office and former Minister of Education and Merit, in his initial greeting to the students connected online.
The course, which was held in synchronous online mode on the zoom platform, saw the participation of over four hundred students from upper secondary schools in the Veneto region and their teachers.
Divided into four training moments, the PCTO aims to provide the basic elements to bring high school students, the citizens of the future, closer to the large and complex geopolitical issues in order to understand the current situation in order to "know how to move in the world”, as underlined by Prof. Serena Bertolucci, Director of M9 - Museo del Novecento.
Specifically, the first moment provided students with the minimum basis to orient themselves and understand the complex historical-legal dynamics underlying the geopolitical context thanks to the two lessons "Foundations of the History of International Relations and International Organizations" held by Ambassador Maurizio Melani and which will remain unchanged in subsequent editions of the PCTO.
The second proposed in-depth analysis on various general topics affecting geopolitics thanks to the interventions of Alfonso Tardi, Head of the “Local and Regional Democracy and Good Governance” Department for the Council of Europe, focusing on conventions between states and legal bodies present on the global scene. Then it was the turn of Mario Caligiuri, Full Professor of the University of Calabria, President of the Italian Intelligence Society, who spoke about Intelligence and Information and Roberto Papetti, Director of "Il Gazzettino", who spoke about international journalism , information and freedom of the press. Ambassador Piero Benassi, however, explored the concept of interdisciplinarity in geopolitics.

NEWS AND ART

NEWS AND ART - ATLANTIS

The dark side of beauty: the problem of stolen art

Màmata Pasin


There were more than 23 thousand thefts of works of art in 2021 in the 71 countries included in Interpol's annual report "Assessing Crimes Against Cultural Property", the most recent source of information on so-called stolen art at an international level. The English encyclopedia Britannica in its online version then reports that the American Federal Bureau of Investigation has estimated that the value of art thefts fluctuates between four and six billion every year. Although some of the stolen goods end up on the black market, most of the stolen works simply disappear after the raid.
The German digital platform “Statista” published a report in August 2023 entitled “Europe Remains Art & Cultural Theft Hotspot”.
Founded in 2007 and currently considered a reliable source of data by many internationally renowned newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, the data revealed in the Statista investigation reveals that 78% of reported art thefts come from European countries. Furthermore, again according to Statista data, obtained from various Interpol reports, it would seem that, contrary to what is commonly thought, the majority of the stolen goods do not consist of pictures and paintings, and indeed are mostly made up of numismatic objects, easy to hide and at the same time extremely lucrative. Suffice it to say that a single “Brasher Doubloon” from 1787, an 18th century American coin, was sold at auction in 2021 for ten million dollars.

In Italy, the situation seems to be improving slightly, as highlighted by the annual report of the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (TPC).
In 2022 for example, compared to 2021, there was a slight decrease in crimes against cultural heritage, going from 346 to 333, and at the same time an increase in recovered assets, also due to massive rescues, as in the case of paleontological finds, where the growth was notable, from 166 in 2021 to more than 21 thousand in 2022.
Furthermore, there was an increase in individual stolen objects, going from 3904 in 2021 to 4144 in 2022. The Italian regions most involved, again according to the TPC report, in 2022 were Lombardy (47 thefts), followed by not far away Lazio (43) and Tuscany (39).
The phenomenon of stolen art represents a significant problem on a social and cultural level, which not only undermines the artistic property of individual countries and of humanity, but also requires joint action by law enforcement and the information sector, in order to counter it and inform the population, with a view to including international cooperation.
It was precisely on these themes that it was decided to focus the attention of the training course for the Order of Journalists of Veneto 2024, organized - as usual - by our magazine Atlantis. This year's event will be held on Friday 29 May 2024, at the M9 Museum in Mestre (Venice), with the title "Stolen art: protection of a common good between safeguarding and prevention. Works abroad and restitutions. The role of information”.
Experts from various sectors will take turns discussing the topic during the day, providing food for thought on key topics for understanding the topic in question.
Fabrizio Magani, Director of the Superintendency of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the Municipality of Venice and the Lagoon, restoration expert and art historian, will discuss the issue of protecting a common good, through safeguarding and prevention practices.
Following this, Emanuele Meleleo, Commander of the Carabinieri Unit for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Venice, will dialogue with Andrea Mazzanti, Co-Director in charge of the magazine. The discussion will focus in particular on legislative aspects and tools for investigations and international collaborations. The Carabinieri Unit for the Protection of Cultural Heritage carries out functions of information and analysis hub, also for the benefit of the other Police Forces, and is present in the area with an Operations Department based in Rome, which is assigned investigative coordination tasks in national and international scope, as well as with sixteen units on a regional basis.
Antonio Franzina, journalist and director of the Veneto Region, will address the topic of the roles of institutions and local bodies in the management of artistic and cultural heritage.
Ambassador Giorgio Radicati will discuss the condition of works abroad and restitutions, in particular referring to the case of Rodolfo Siviero, initially an agent before and during the Second World War and later, in the post-war period, as a diplomat, protagonist of the recovery of works of art stolen and taken mainly to Germany. Ambassador Radicati is in fact the author of "Secret Agent 1157. The fictional life of Rodolfo Siviero, a formidable hunter of stolen works of art", published by Mazzanti Libri.
The last panel of the training course will be the one conducted by Roberto Nardi, journalist and author of the book “Why me. The mystery of the theft of Bellini's Madonna and Child in Venice", published by Mazzanti Libri, with the moderation of Carlo Mazzanti, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine.
An appointment, also that of 2024, which promises to be an opportunity for a multidisciplinary dialogue on the situation of stolen art and the role of information in relation to this phenomenon.

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