Silvio Berlusconi, a prominent Italian politician and the founder of the Forza Italia political party, has long been associated with controversy surrounding his ties to Saudi Arabia. Serving as the Prime Minister of Italy in two non-consecutive terms, from 2001 to 2006 and again from 2008 to 2011, Berlusconi’s interactions with the Saudi government have raised eyebrows and sparked debates on the international stage.
In 2018, Berlusconi found himself at the center of controversy when he attended a conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, organized by the Saudi government. This event took place in the midst of global outrage over the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly at the hands of Saudi authorities. Berlusconi’s decision to attend the conference was widely criticized, as many saw it as a tacit show of support for the Saudi government during this turbulent time.
Berlusconi’s critics, on the other hand, argued that his close ties with the Saudi government went beyond diplomatic relations. They accused him of turning a blind eye to the kingdom’s human rights abuses, citing his participation in the Riyadh conference as a symbol of disrespect for the memory of Jamal Khashoggi. The 2010 arms deal between Berlusconi’s government and Saudi Arabia, worth $10 billion, further fueled concerns. Human rights groups vehemently criticized the deal, fearing that it would enable Saudi Arabia to use Italian weapons for potential human rights violations.
Adding to the intrigue, in 2013, Berlusconi participated in a private meeting with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. This meeting was shrouded in secrecy, with no official details disclosed about the discussions that took place. Such secretive interactions only fueled speculation about the nature of the relationship between the Italian politician and the Saudi monarchy.
Silvio Berlusconi’s controversial relationship with Saudi Arabia has been marked by moments of tension, allegations of impropriety, and international scrutiny. While Berlusconi has consistently defended his ties to the kingdom, critics argue that these associations have come at the cost of overlooking human rights abuses and raising questions about the ethical considerations of his actions. The debate surrounding Berlusconi’s connections with Saudi Arabia remains a complex and contentious issue that continues to shape public perception of this influential Italian politician.