Italy Seen as Stalling Warship Deal with Egypt
Italy is reportedly delaying the approval of a deal to sell Egypt two warships, as the government weighs the potential political fallout given the alleged torture and murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo in 2016. Rumors that the agreement had been finalized prompted immediate backlash in Rome due to Egypt’s perceived lack of transparency with respect to the killing, in addition to President Abdel al-Fattah al Sisi’s controversial human rights record. During a parliamentary hearing on the matter, Italy’s foreign minister described Cairo as an important “interlocutor in the Mediterranean area” but qualified that Rome was waiting for progress in the Regeni investigation before green-lighting the arms deal. He added that experts were currently performing a technical and legal analysis to ensure the agreement complied with international law. The deal for the two vessels, which were originally built for the Italian Navy, is reportedly worth around $1.35 billion.