Antonio Tajani travels to Egypt. On Wednesday, the Italian Foreign Minister undertook a diplomatic mission to Cairo. There, he met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his local counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, as well as the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit. While there, he also had phone conversations with his counterparts from Morocco (Nasser Bourita) and Algeria (Ahmed Attaf). The through-line of his contects: de-escalation, containment of the crisis, and saving hostages (including the Italo-Israeli couple believed to be in Hamas’ hands).
- Rome and Cairo are “attuned” on the need for de-escalation, wrote FM Tajani on X (formerly Twitter), speaking of the “common will in preventing the conflict from widening” – including by working to prevent the involvement of Hezbollah.
- The two capitals will also strengthen cooperation on migration issues, begin “fighting together” against human trafficking and jointly strive to tackle the root causes of emigration in concert with the EU and other institutions, said FMs Tajani and Shoukry in a joint presser.
- On its part, Italy – whose approach to Africa aligns with the outcomes of this presser – called to strengthen economic support to Egypt.
Playing the field. Leveraging the regional influence of Egypt and the Arab League is a major part of Italy’s approach to the crisis in Israel. Moved by a shared desire to prevent the crisis from spreading across the Middle East, Cairo is also in contact with a plethora of partners (including a raft of Western powers, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Jordan).
- Egypt was responsible for negotiating several ceasefires between Hamas and Israel, including in 2021 and, most recently, in the spring of 2023. Along with Qatar, it’s trying to attain a similar de-escalation this time around as well. In FM Tajani’s words, Cairo is “crucial for peace” in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
- As the only other country bordering Gaza, Egypt is also faced with dilemmas (and no easy option) about border control: either relaxing the measures to allow the flow of refugees and aid – hampering Israel’s siege in the process – or reinforcing them and indirectly contributing to the plight of Gazan civilians.
Comprehensive approach. On Tuesday evening, as FM Tajani readied his mission, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni spoke over the phone with the United Arab Emirates President, Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan. Then, on Wednesday, she spoke with the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani. The leaders agreed on the need to pursue a quick de-escalation and avoid the conflict’s widening while also supporting ongoing mediation efforts for the release of hostages.
- That call was also part of Rome’s drive to liaise with its allies in Africa, the Persian Gulf and Middle Eastern partners to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of stabilisation.