Italy blinks in obelisk controversy

Italy has finally blinked. Afer two generations of delay, the first of three pieces of a third-century Ethiopian obelisk plundered by the Italian fascist occupation in the 1930s has touched ground in the ancient city of Axum, where it was met by a cheering crowd and pealing church bells. Engineers extended the runway to accomodate the four-engine cargo plane carrying the precious cargo from Rome. The remaining pieces are to arrive shortly, Italian authorities pledge. (UK Telegraph, April 21)

The move comes exactly as Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, his government coalition in deep crisis, has faced the music and resigned. If he cannot assemble a new coalition, snap elections could be called as early as June. (Financial Times, April 21)

The timing loans vindication to WW4 REPORT’s speculation that the supposed technical considerations which delayed return of the obelisk were bunk, and Berlusconi was really playing politics–unwilling to alienate the fascist-nostaligists on his right flank, or oversee a symbolic retreat from past military/imperial ambitions at a time when his involvement in the Iraq escapade is under fire,