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POLITICS

Italy’s pro-Trump parties condemn Syria air strikes

Italy's far-right Northern League and anti-establishment Five Star Movement have spoken out strongly against US President Donald Trump's air strikes on Syria, while the country's foreign minister said he "understood the reasons" for the attack.

Italy's pro-Trump parties condemn Syria air strikes
File photo: Emmanuel Dunand, Andreas Solaro/AFP

Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano described the air strikes, carried out in response to a suspected chemical attack, as a “proportionate response in time and manner” which would act as a deterrent against further chemical attacks.

However, two of the main Italian oppostion parties – both of which have previously shown support for the American leader – appeared to distance themselves from Trump on Friday morning with comments condemning the missile strikes.

Northern League leader Matteo Salvini said Trump's decision was a “bad idea, big mistake, and a gift to Isis”.

“Haven't the disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya taught them [the US administration] anything?” he asked, writing on his Facebook page. 

Meanwhile, the Five Star Movement said the attacks were “likely to constitute a clear violation of international law” and added: “After 20 years of mistakes, it seems that nothing has changed, unfortunately.”

Leader Beppe Grillo had on Thursday called for an immediate UN investigation into the apparent chemical attack on Syria, and the note on Friday criticized the US administration for “preferring to bomb before the independent inquiry.”

“The solution to war cannot be another war,” the party said.

Friday's criticism was a contrast to previous shows of support for Trump from both parties. In November, Salvini posted a series of jubilant tweets celebrating Trump's victory in the US elections, saying “Americans, thank you, thank you and thank you!” 

He has previously hailed Trump as “heroic”,  and shared photos of the pair grinning and doing a thumbs-up sign together. However, Trump snubbed the far-right leader following the meeting, saying: “I didn't want to meet him, I don't even know him”.

Five Star Movement leader Beppe Grillo did not formally endorse Trump, but praised him on his victory in a blogpost saying that it represented a “fuck you” to the establishment.

Elsewhere in Europe, France's far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen also said she “strongly condemned” the strikes on Syria. 

READ MORE: Le Pen shocked by Trump's decision to bomb Syria

And the French President Francois Hollande issued a joint statement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad bore “sole responsibility” for the US strike.

READ ALSO: Five things President Trump could mean for Italy

What does President Trump mean for Italy?
Photo: Jim Watson/AFP

POLITICS

Italy’s government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

Italy's new government issued a decree on Thursday to continue sending weapons to Ukraine through 2023, continuing the previous administration's policy of support to Kyiv.

Italy's government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

The decree extends to December 31, 2023 an existing authorisation for “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine,” according to a government statement.

Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly voiced her support for Kyiv while underlying the importance of the Atlantic alliance.

In her first speech to parliament, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party pledged to “continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine.”

Her predecessor Mario Draghi was a staunch supporter of Kyiv, but the issue of sending arms to Ukraine split the biggest party in parliament during his coalition government, the Five Star Movement.

That friction led to the early elections that brought Meloni to power.

Parliament now has 60 days to vote the decree into law.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Despite Meloni’s efforts to reassure her Western allies of Italy’s support for the EU’s and NATO’s Ukraine strategy, including sanctions on Russia, the close ties to Russia of her two coalition partners have come under scrutiny.

Both Matteo Salvini of the League party and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who leads Forza Italia, have long enjoyed warm relations with Russia.

In October, an audio tape of Berlusconi was leaked to the media in which the former premier described how he had received a birthday present of vodka from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the tape, he also expressed concerns about sending weapons and cash to Kyiv and appeared to blame the war on Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Berlusconi later issued a statement saying his personal position on Ukraine “does not deviate” from that of Italy and the EU.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Salvini, too, has come under fire for his relations with Moscow, including a report that he dined with Russia’s ambassador to Rome just days after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Salvini, who has criticised EU sanctions as ineffective, has long admired Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face.

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