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About Carlo Ungaro

Carlo Ungaro is a former Italian diplomat. He spent sixteen years serving in Afghanistan.  Between 2000 and 2007, he served as political adviser to the Italian led ISAF forces in Herat

Articles by Carlo Ungaro

This week’s front page editor

Rosemary Bechler is a mainsite editor of openDemocracy

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Italian regional elections: and the winner is...?

Thanks to extremely complex electoral laws and the ease with which alliances are created and broken, as is usual in Italy, all sides claim victory. However, there are some striking conclusions we can draw from the results.

Regional elections in Italy: Could Renzi’s honeymoon be over?

On Sunday, 31 May, regional elections will be held in seven very sensitive regions in Italy. Though Renzi has been predicting a victory, the rise of eurosceptic parties in Italy and in Europe could have an unpredictable effect.

Italy: search for stability or authoritarian drift?

Italy has a recent history which tends to make it resistant to the very concept of “stability”, and the idea of a politically stable apparatus. This inevitably raises the spectre of a possible authoritarian drift.

The Caliphate, the Pope and the West: The “Clash of Civilizations” revisited

Over a decade and a half ago Samuel P. Huntington’s book, “The Clash of Civilizations”, had made a considerable impact on western public opinion, soon to be downgraded, however, to an all-purpose catch-phrase, with the result that the message itself became confused and, to a certain extent, discredited.

Afghanistan: history repeats itself when ignored

The invading NATO forces, in an action allegedly aimed at the defeat of terrorism in a country which had no tradition of terrorist activities, appeared to act with no inkling of the lessons that could have been learned.

Hubris and nemesis: the nine lives of Mr Berlusconi

In Italy, the European elections are gaining importance because they could well constitute a watershed in the long and chequered political career of Silvio Berlusconi. Euro elections landscape, 2014.

Berlusconi: has the Artful Dodger met his match?

Unlike Oliver Twist's friend, Berlusconi will not end up in a penal colony, or indeed in a prison cell, but will continue to be an uncomfortable presence in Italian political life. For how long?

All quiet on the Italian front?

After the seemingly unending crisis that followed this February's elections, Italian politics seem to have finally found some stability. And yet, recent events may be the sign of greater trouble to come.

The Italian government's doomed quest for stability

When the only thing holding a coalition together is fear of the voters, instability is just around the corner. 

Italy's political situation: hubris and nemesis in slow motion

The concept of a "grand coalition" in Italy is unlikely to work due to a history of distrust between the two main parties, and the emergence of Beppe Grillo's Five Stars Movement as a considerable political force.

Italy's 'Perfect storm'

More than a week after the elections, the situation in Italy is as hazy as ever, with no obvious way out of the political deadlock.

And the winner is... Reflections on post-electoral politics in Italy

With no clear winner emerging out of the election, a new era of uncertainty opens for Italian politics. How can the country get out of the post-electoral impasse?

The Pope is out, long live the Pope!

Benedict XVI's papal resignation, the first in almost 600 years, took the world by surprise. It is now time for the Vatican game of cloak and dagger to start, and for us to ask: what kind of successor will the conclave elect?

Consequences of military withdrawal on Afghan civil society

There will be a very large number of Afghans – primarily, but not only, women – who will be left to pay a heavy price for their “collaboration with the enemy”.  This, above all, will be the inevitable legacy  left by the hurried, unwise and poorly planned invasion of 2001.

Professor Monti's 100 days

In this new European era of technocratic majoritarianism, Italian voters are convinced by none of the political parties. They hope their new Prime Minister might fix things. And post-Monti? There are signs of a rallying around the 'Catholic vote'.

The December 2011 Bonn Conference: a farewell to Afghanistan?

Several new elements are added, almost daily, to worsen the complexity of the situation, and rumours of an imminent military coup in Islamabad do little to clarify matters.

After the fall of Berlusconi, who reaps the benefits?

The Catholic Church is seizing the advantage offered by the debacle suffered by almost all the Italian political parties, and therefore appears set to play a growing role in Italy’s political life, ending up as the principal, though perhaps occult, arbiter of future decisions and orientations.

Deepening Italian crisis: who reaps the benefits?

Italy's opposition has not gained in prestige due to Berlusconi's decline and the economic, political and social crisis afflicting the country. Into this political void the Roman Catholic church has stepped.

The crisis in Italy: the Vatican and the end of the Berlusconi era

Silvio Berlusconi's position in Italy seems weaker then ever. The Vatican however has renewed its dogmatic stance towards Italian politics and will step into the vacuum, increasing its influence and demanding a price for its blessing of the party that will take over from Berlusconi

Is Italy on the brink of debacle?

The austerity measures will be felt primarily by a lower middle-class, already tested by the ever-growing divide between rich and poor in Italy. But a bleak political prospect goes well beyond the sense of panic caused by the economic and financial problems which beset the country

Has Berlusconi reached the end of the road?

Having narrowly survived a vote of confidence, the Berlusconi government remains unstable. Carlo Ungaro develops three scenarios that could emerge.

Afghanistan betrayed

An overly obtuse and childish mentality by the Allied forces in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2006 has had devastating consequences for the mission. After destroying the country’s fragile social structure and abandoning the Afghan people, Carl Unargo argues that we will once again betray Afghanistan while celebrating with false confidence its “democratic” institutions.

An Italian “Gotterdammerung”

There are other players to take into account apart from Gianfranco Fini in the latest challenge to Berlusconi’s reign, not least a fickle Italian public and the small matter of parliamentary retirement pensions

A formula for failure: the Kabul Conference on the future of Afghanistan

The Afghan mission continues to flounder without direction, over a month after the "future of Afghanistan" was discussed at the Kabul Conference.

The Clash of Civilizations revisited

Samuel P. Huntington’s oft-pilloried work, “The Clash of Civilizations”, has long lost its original academic potency. However it has growing leverage at the grass-roots level where the clash has been reinterpreted to justify growing islamophobia

Petraeus's militias: the risk of civil war

Petraeus's proposed Afghan militias risk restoring the conditions that led Afghanistan to civil war in the 1990s. This, the Kabul conference and other initiatives have no hope unless civilian command of the military mission in Afghanistan is asserted, argues Carlo Ungaro.

Afghan civil society must not be abandoned

Afghan civil society and NATO war aims: talk to the Taleban and all traditional leaders

The antiquarian of Herat

Diplomatic reminiscences from Herat in the 1970s; delicate interventions, fragile civil society.

Italy's “business as usual”

There is a certain kind of drift into a regime that has nothing to do with the introduction of paramilitary stances, Roman salutes or party uniforms: more to do with television

Central Asia: the erupting volcano

The West turned a blind eye to the potential volatility of Central Asia because it was convenient, in Carlo Ungaro's view. Recent events in Kyrgyzstan show how dangerous this stance is. In adjacent areas of Afghanistan the discovery of mineral riches is likely further to complicate an already fraught situation.

Is the Afghan "Jirgah" the way forward?

The "Peace Jirgah" called by President Karzai convened amidst accusations that the process has being rigged. But rather than dismissing it as another government failure, Carlo Ungaro says it should be seen as an instrument to help reconcile respected and valid Afghan traditions to the country’s aspirations to be part of the modern family of nations

Afghanistan: stop prevaricating

Twenty years experience in Central Asia informs Carlo Ungaro's view that the allies should radically devolve power in Afghanistan and reconsider its international border with Pakistan

An "exit strategy" is little use in the Afghan labyrinth

We need to break old assumptions if Afghanistan and Pakistan are to be secured, argues Carlo Ungaro

Central Asia - the smouldering volcano

As the recent popular violence in Kyrgyzstan reminded us, Central Asia is strategically vital. The West needs to work with Russia, and China, to put in place a programme of pre-emptive damage control
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