September 18, 2021

Interview with SEEMO member Marco Gombacci (September 2021)

Marco Gombacci

EU and foreign affairs journalist for The European Post, Il Giornale and Inside Over.

He reported from Mosul offensive (Iraq), battle to reconquer Raqqa, Deir Ezzor (Syria) and Nagorno Karabakh (during the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan).

Author of the book “Kurdistan. Utopia di un popolo tradito” (ed. Salerno, 2019). Opinions and articles have been published by Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Daily Express, TgCom45, TG5, Rai1, RaiNews 24, TRECE TV, FRANCE24, La Libre, Le Temps, and many others.

Tell us a little about yourself your family, including how you started as a journalist.

I am proudly Italian but with an International background. My hometown is Trieste, a city on the border with Slovenia. I remember when I was very young, the war in the former Yugloslavia, few kilometres from my house.

I remember the sounds of airplanes and my parents explaining what was happening, the images of child of my age suffering and starving and many journalists from Trieste going there to report about it. I was always fascinated by the courage of those people that risked their life to report in a dangerous situation.

You reported a lot from the conflict zones in Iraq, Syria and Nagorno Karabakh. How hard is to be a war reporter?

Being a journalist and going in person where something is happening is fundamental but at the same time very difficult. The crisis in the media business has changed the paradigm and now also big newspapers or media prefer to save money and avoid to send a reporter on the frontline. I think this is a huge mistake and the role of journalists can not be replaced by some video on social media without any double-proof of what is happening.

Personally, I have to arrange almost everything by myself. I have to find the correct (and trusted) contact, I spend my money to go there, I risk also my life being there. But being there ‘alone’ means having the capability to dive into the local culture, live 24/24 with locals, with soldiers, living their life, suffer for the losses and this means understanding better some dynamics that otherwise (or reporting behind a desk) cannot be understood.

How you see the situation in Afghanistan in September 2021?

The withdrawal was largely announced. What was a real shame was how the withdrawal took place. It is unbelievable that Western countries have so many difficulties to save the life of the interpreters and collaborators who had helped the International coalition during these 20 years. Under an humanitarian perspective, the attention should be focused on women’s and children’s rights. But according to the first acts of the new Taliban government, it is gonna be quite difficult for them to safeguard their rights to live a normal life. Under a geopolitical perspective, we should focus on how regional actors will act; this included China, Pakistan, Russia, India…

Can you tell us a little more about your book Kurdistan: Utopia di un popolo tradito. How you see the future of the Kudish population?

They have been forgotten many times in history. And now they have been forgotten again. They fought against DAESH for their (and our) freedom. There were women fighting against the black flag of Isis, women that gained the respect of their male soldiers for their braveness. The Kids in Syria created a society based on equality between man e women, religious freedom and coexistence among different ethnicity. But the West didn’t help them when Turkey decided to attack them. The West used them to fight the war against Isis in Kobane, in Raqqa, in Bagouz but forgot to help them when they needed it.

Has EU a future? Or is Brexit the start of the end of EU?

No, I don’t think that Brexit started the end of the EU. But the EU need reforms, need leaders who could be able to change it.

How important is work of SEEMO for you?

It is a great reality. Putting in contact so many journalists from different part of Europe, with different perspectives, different backgrounds and different political views bring a cultural enrichment to all its members.

Finally, as press freedom, human rights and democracy are very important in your life, can you give please some advice for younger journalists?

Be curious. Investigate. Try not to sit down. Be around and discover new stories and never, never, be scared to fail or to go against the stream. You will fail (probably more than once as I did). But at the end you will have always more experience; wisdom and you will know how to face the world.