Operation Sarissa

Or, in other words, the Italians’ secret war in Afghanistan.

translation: L. Bionda

The year 2007, ended with more than 7.000 casualties including at least 1.400 civilians mostly killed by NATO air bombings, has been the bloodiest since the Talibans’ defeat, also for the Atlantic Alliance, which has reportedly lost 232 soldiers. According to a recent statement from Senlis Council, Talibans control nowadays about 54% of the afghan soil, they are active in another 38% and threaten also Kabul, the defence of which is now the responsibility of the Italian troops.

Although in a limited way and largely without their fellow countrymen knowing it, the Italian troops have been taking part to military operations for nearly two years, precisely since the summer of 2006. From that period the Task Force 45 has been operating in the Western part of the country: it is “the largest special forces unit ever deployed by Italy since the so-called ‘Operation Ibis’ in Somalia” explained a military advisor. About 200 troops who, openly violating the Italian Constitution, are involved in the Operation Sarissa, fighting the Talibans jointly with the American Delta Force and the British Sas, especially in the Farah Western province.

During the Prodi administration, the Italian military units in Afghanistan have constantly increased in quantity (today Italy keeps there 2.350 soldiers, 550 more than those sent during the previous Berlusconi’s administration) and, most of all, in quality, with a really impressive deployment of equipment (for example, assault helicopters ‘A-129 Mangusta’, tanks ‘Vcc-80 Dardo’ used by Bersaglieri from Garibaldi Brigade, surveillance aircraft ‘Predator’ or transport helicopters SH-3d supporting Task Force 45). The Deputy Secretary of Defence Lorenzo Forcieri invited everyone not to be deceived, as “we will have to stay remain in Afghanistan for a very long period”. Thinking about the allocation of nearly 338 millions Euro during 2008, the idea of spending some other billions more than those already paid in the last five years does not reassure anybody.

We also want to underline the statement made by Italian Former Defence Minister, Hon. Parisi; with ‘astonishing’ insight and knowledge he remarked clear analogies between Italy and Afghanistan: “we cannot leave Herat and Kabul because it would be like our Police leaving Sicily and Campania in the hands of criminal gangs”.

That’s to say, Afghanistan like a security issue, to be solved with the help of some raids.

During this spring a very harsh Taliban assault is expected. What will Italy reply to USA/NATO demands for a still larger military involvement?

Italian version