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The aftermath at London Bridge
The aftermath at London Bridge

"Enough is enough."

Theresa May's remarks after Islamists killed seven and wounded dozens Saturday evening in London — the UK's third major terror attack in three months — amounted to both a new message and a new tone. The British Prime Minister took aim at the "evil ideology of Islamist extremism" and boldly took a swipe at the political establishment (to which she belongs) for having allowed "far too much tolerance of extremism" in the UK.

"We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are," May said. "Things need to change."

The strong words were also smart politics, likely to resonate among increasingly angry and anxious British voters just days before national elections Thursday. A report published today in Le Monde quotes several Londoners calling for their leaders to "get tough." One woman, who lives just next to Borough Market, where the terrorists Saturday night shouted "this is for Allah" during their stabbing rampage, says "we're not going to take it for much longer." The woman added that Britons "never have the right to speak their mind" and "let themselves be pushed around."

But the deeper challenge implicit in Theresa May's remarks — which carries far beyond Britain to the many other countries targeted by Islamic terrorism — is that stopping radicalized individuals and potential terrorists is merely treating the proverbial symptom. Defeating the disease, the "evil ideology" that drives them, is the hard part. Opposing, undermining, eradicating an ideology is a long and subtle process. It requires going after those who promote and spread the ideology without threatening democratic precepts as freedom of speech and religion.

In the case of Islamic terrorism, the ideology goes well beyond organizations such as ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the London attack, or al-Qaeda.For years, and especially after terror attacks, experts remind us about the toxic results of Western countries' ties to the founders and funders of terrorism in and around the Arabian peninsula. The main doctrine fueling the "evil ideology" Theresa May denounced has long been identified as Wahhabism, which originates directly from Saudi Arabia and is intimately linked to the country's ruling Saud dynasty. And yet, just last week, the British press reported that an inquiry into terror funding, and said to focus on Saudi Arabia, was likely to be shelved by the government. Perhaps it is a coincidence that this should happen shortly after Britain, like the U.S. and others, approved a multi-billion-dollar arms export deal to Saudi Arabia.

Such is the context that the latest piece of "terrorism" news arrived on our screens: the surprise announcement this morning that Saudi Arabia and several other Sunni Muslim countries were cutting their ties with Qatar over its support for terrorism, which seemed to be a reference both to Muslim Brotherhood organizations and to regional Shia power Iran. Connected or not to the dramatic events that unfolded in London, the move unmistakably looks like a case of the pot calling the kettle black. One way or another, the British and the West should think twice about drinking from that brew again.

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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