The decision of the Chamber of Italian Deputies to block the sending of spare parts for Egyptian F16 fighter will, as confirmed by Cairo, a negative impact on all areas of cooperation between the two countries, from sensitive dossier as immigration, Libya and terrorism. Rises again the tension between Italy and Egypt on the case Regeni, which still seems very far away from a solution. The impact of the Italian political choice, on bilateral cooperation, is strong; the decision has provoked the immediate reaction of Cairo and the consequences will be felt also on the ongoing cooperation between Rome and Cairo in combating illegal immigration in the Mediterranean and in Libya. Not only that it also affected the common fight against terrorism.
The president of the Egyptian Chamber of Representatives, Ali Abdel Al, asked the parliamentary committees responsible for Human Rights, Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security to keep the "urgent meetings" in order to review the relations with Italy. It 'as reported by the Egyptian state newspaper "Al Ahram", citing Mohamed Anwar Sadat, head of the parliamentary Committee on Human Rights. According to him, the three parliamentary committees will meet soon to examine the "hostile attitude" of the Italian Parliament against Egypt.
This meeting is held not only on the orders of President Abdel Al, but also at the request for a complete overhaul of all economic agreements, oil and cooperation between the two countries. Without wishing in any way criticize the political choice, there has to be said, however, that this decision can turned against Italy, economically and geopolitically.
First of all, Eni discovers a supergiant gas field in the Egyptian offshore, the largest ever found in the Mediterranean Sea, as can be seen from the company's website: "The discovery, after its full development, will be able to ensure satisfying Egypt’s natural gas demand for decades. The field could hold a potential of 30 trillion cubic feet of lean gas in place, therefore representing one of the world’s largest natural-gas finds". The development plan envisages the start of production by the end of 2017, just two years after the discovery, with a progressive ramp up until reaching a volume of about 75 million standard cubic meters of gas per day (equivalent to approximately 500,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day) by 2019.
Furthermore Eni has been awarded with two new exploration licenses located in the Egyptian offshore of the Mediterranean Sea, North El Hammad and North Ras El Esh, in addition the Italian ENI has significant shareholdings in major Egyptian companies and business operators, also it runs projects for about 5 billion Euros. Egypt, in fact, has a huge energy asset that need to Italy. Rome is not independent from the energy point of view, Egypt has always been one of our partners, which is essential especially for the stabilization of Libya and the threat of Daesh and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
So who benefits from this situation between the two countries? The spare parts of F16 blocked by Parliament does not need any more to Italy, at least there would be a financial gain by selling them. Also politically it would be much more effective blocking exports of spy software to Egypt. Yes, because an Italian company, Area SpA, that operates in only Arab markets, asked to be able to operate in Egypt. Area has already worked for the Syrian security services, intercepting the internet and by monitoring web traffic. The contract was then terminated for ethical reasons.
What Area Spa should do in Egypt? The company offers Virtual Humint services, concretely conduct Human Intelligence operations in the virtual world or Virtual Humint.
Basically Virtual HUMINT is a methodology using virtual web-platforms to collect valuable intelligence from entities of interest in virtual cyberspace. The cyber intelligence generate alerts, collects and analyzes information on web traffic, on social networks, identifies suspicious traffic (via ad hoc filters) and can send malware or trojan through spam mail. HumInt in the cyber world includes the creation of virtual personae, or 'Avatars', planting them in attacker groups or in organized crime forums, passively 'monitoring' their discussions and reporting the information to the operator. A good cyber analyst can operate with multiple identities simultaneously.
The cyber intelligence in two words: Information Dominance. And what could be possibly better not to send spare parts for F-16 fighter, which could be hardly used for internal purposes, or blocking the sale of spy software able to control the Egyptian web? The export of dual-use technology, sensitive to the possible purposes, should be dealt with at the highest political level, not only through an Advisory Committee of the Minister of Economic Development.
The total control of information, in some countries, is crucial as and more than an Air Force fighter.