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Al Shabab fighters
Al Shabab fighters

- Editorial-

PARIS - Should the three massacres perpetrated this past weekend in Kenya, Pakistan and Nigeria be approached separately? The incidents would appear to be unrelated, but all is not so simple.

In Nairobi, it took nearly three days to finally end the Westgate siege after al-Shabab, a Somali terrorist group, began their attack against the vast shopping mall in the Kenyan capital. Al-Shabab left a toll of 62 people dead and some 200 wounded.

In Nigeria, newspapers reported on Sunday that the Boko Haram militant group had attacked a small town called Borno, in the northeast of the country. Pillaging, setting fires to force families out of their homes before shooting them: 150 people have reportedly been killed by the attackers.

In Pakistan, a double suicide bombing against a Christian church in Peshawar during Sunday services killed more than 80 people and wounded dozens of others.

The circumstances are different from one country to another. Al-Shabab claims to have acted in retaliation to the Kenyan military intervention in Somalia. Boko Haram wants to establish an “emirate” in a region of Nigeria. The Pakistani Christian minority, already hounded by the law, also increasingly are the victims of various attacks.

A disturbing silence

There are no organizational links between al-Shabab, Boko Haram and the Pakistani group Jundallah. But all three claim to be products of Jihadism. They consider themselves to be part of the same movement: radical Islamism. They belong to this vast nebula that more or less follows al Qaeda’s example. They claim to act on behalf of Sunni Islam. They brandish slogans against the Christians, the Jews, the infidels.

At the very least, these references are those given by their spokesmen. They often conceal tribal conflicts, local ethnic wars, or even the actions of groups that purely and solely use armed banditry.

Each situation has its own singularity that too hasty a generalization might overlook. “Globalizing” and imagining one single mythical entity looking to pursue a common objective everywhere would be a mistake.

Still, one aspect remains constant: the phenomenon that Jihadism or the Jihadist tendency has an attraction in the Muslim world.

The young who leave to fight the Damascus regime rarely join the Free Syrian Army: they mostly enlist in the myriad of Jihadist groups that are now an important part of the rebellion.

This “ideological” totalitarian jumble has become the flag around which young people in the Muslim world are ready to take up arms . Glorified and mystified on the Internet, it authorizes any type of violence – and it is deadly. The strong voices of Islam should condemn it relentlessly. But we do not hear them.

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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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