To precis:, a group calling themselves Ansar al Sunna have written to several Norwegian politicians and newspapers, refering to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, Foreign Minister and Defence Minister Espen Barth Eide. TheNorwegian Police Security Service (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste - PST) is already familiar with many members of this particular terror group.
They demand that the Grønland district be handed over to them as an Islamic state. They do not want to be part of Norwegian society but they see no reason to move out of Norway when they were born and raised there because Allah's earth belongs to everyone. They want Gronland to be theirs; blocked off and controlled the way they want. (a bit like Savile Town I imagine) This is best for both societies as "We do not live with filthy beast like you."
If Norwegian soldiers can fly to Afghanistan then Mohammed and Osama can fly to Norway. The government must wake up and take some responsibility before they find that war has come to Norway. Do not confuse Muslim silence with weakness and do not try Muslim patience. This is not a threat but a promise - something like 9/11 or Norwegian soil of in excess of 22nd July. I think they must mean the jihad attacks on London of July 2005, either the one on the 7th which murdered 52 people, or the ones two weeks later on the 21st which were a failure and resulted in the perpetrators receiving life imprisonment for attempted murder.
Gronland is an old district of Oslo which has been described as a cultural melting pot. I have also read that gay couple are regularly chased away and sharia vigilantes are active. That's not very multi-culti, now is it?
Given our recent post on the rising Syrian Kurdish quest for regional autonomy, see here, there is a serious question about the viability of a unified Syria. Probably one of the most astute observers of the dynamics in sectarian torn neighboring Syria is Pinhas Inbari in Jerusalem who writes for the World Jewish Congress. He keeps a watching brief on developments in the region. He has the requisite linguistic and cultural understanding coupled with sources among the conflict ridden neighbors of Israel on which to base his analyses. Israel's neighbors are caught up in the rise of Sunni fundamentalism, whether Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist or, more dangerously, al Qaeda with the so-called Arab Spring. Add to that mix the US reliance on a coalition of Sunni Islamist neighbors led by Turkey with support from Wahhabist Qatar and Saudi Arabia seeking to perfect an enclave in northern Syria to funnel weapons to the opposition rebel forces, including the Free Syrian Army. At some stage the US with Turkish support might establish a no-fly zone. Some observers believe that if the northern Syria no-fly zone came to pass it might complicate air route planning a possible Israeli air assault on Iran's nuclear facilities.
From a Weekend Wall Street Journal report on the Sunni opposition in and around the embattled region of Aleppo, “Kidnapping, Spats on Docket of Rebel Syria boss”, the opposition appear to have meager weapons and munitions supplies and their hands full dealing with irredentist Kurds and domestic disputes in the region.
In his latest report issued by the World Jewish Congress, “Will Syria Split”, Inbari explains the realities behind the bloody sectarian divide inside Syria posing the question of could this lead to a split of the country along ethno-religious lines, post-Assad. He presents a more realistic picture than the filings from many mainstream correspondents in the field in Syria and Turkey.
Here are Inbari’s perceptive observations:
The latest reported defection of Syrian Vice-Prime Minister Faruq al-Shara has sharpened the nature of the struggle to control Syria and crystallized the fact that there is an ongoing civil war between competing Syrian sects.
President Assad’s Alawites, who control the army and the intelligence branches – the Mukhabarat – are fighting the Sunnis, who, while being the majority, lack the means to fight the mighty Syrian army and suffer from disharmony inside their leadership and disagree about the kind of Syria they want to arise out of Assad’s ashes.
Al-Shara’s departure signals the end of the Alawite-ruled Baath party, since he and other senior officials who defected, as Sunnis, provided Assad’s clan legitimacy with the Sunni majority. As a result, Assad’s regime is now split along sectarian fault line
[. . .]
While it appears that the regime is fighting for Syria as a whole, some signs signal its preparation for an eventual split. The first of these signs comes from the northern Kurdish region, where the Syrian army has retreated and has allowed PKK allies to take over several cities near the Alawite region, while other areas have remained without a defined ruler altogether. This seeming yield of territory to the Kurds may serve the Alawites in the future, should they find themselves holed up in the Nusseiri Mountain and facing a vengeful Sunni majority. The Kurds will then likely remember they were granted their territory by the Alawites without any bloodshed.
However, the Kurds harbor bitter memories of the long history of persecution they suffered at the Baath Party’s hands. Furthermore, Assad does not enjoy the support of all Alawites. The silent minority of Assad’s opponents inside the Alawite community fears retribution from the Sunnis should the civil war’s tide turn against them. Once the war is over, there is no guarantee that they will stand behind Assad.
While the Kurds favor an autonomous government within federated Syria and the Alawites may be preparing to defect, other Syrian factions have their own view of the post-war situation. The Druze, for example, are alarmed by the possibility of a splintered Syria.
Unlike the Kurds, they feel safer as shy partner of lager political entity. Their long history of persecution has taught them not to stand out, not to provoke, and to blend in with the ruling nation. They have learnt to keep their own identity to themselves and avoid displaying it to the public. Hence, the idea of a separate Druze government that would emphasize their separate sectorial existence and control over specific territory may well toss them into territorial disputes with their neighbors who could prevail and lead to dramatic destruction of the Druze community.
For their part, the Arab Sunnis are intent on keeping Syria together as a centralized regime based in Damascus. Their vision has always been that of looking out rather than in, determined to control the region through the pan-Arab ideology of the Baath Party propped up by the Assad clan. The ideology dictates the unification of all Arabs in one great Arab empire that would, as a first step, encompass Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine.
Bashar al-Assad is keenly aware of the Sunnis’ pan-Arab ambitions.
Part of the strategy used in current battles aims to keep the Sunnis busy on their own turf with infrastructure restoration that would not give them the chance to proceed with an expansion plan. Assad will also not retreat from Damascus to the Nusseiri Mountains before destroying the city to a degree that would prevent it from becoming the epicenter of a future Sunni political center that could serve as a launch pad against the Alawites.
Pakistan shut down mobile phone networks overnight in major cities to prevent Taliban and al-Qaeda attacks as celebrations began for the biggest Muslim festival of the year.
The draconian security measure was imposed on Sunday at 8:00 pm, at a time when millions ordinarily telephone friends and relatives with greetings for Eid al-Fitr. Networks were working again on Monday mid-morning.
Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan's two largest cities, and the troubled city of Quetta, in the insurgency-torn province of Baluchistan, were among the places where networks were suspended. "We regret that it had to be suspended in some cities due to the risk of terrorist attacks," Rehman Malik, the country's interior minister, was quoted as saying by state TV.
Terrorists were plotting to target "a few areas of Punjab province", of which Lahore is the capital, the minister said. Sindh province, where Karachi is the capital, and Baluchistan were also targets, he added. Authorities feared that mobile telephones could be used to coordinate attacks or trigger a remote-controlled bomb. The country has been on alert for Eid and security forces stepped up their presence in major cities as celebrations got under way.
An early morning call from Malaysia. It's an old friend enquiring about London's best halal hotel.
Enthused by the coverage of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, the London Olympics and Mo Farah's double gold wins, he has decided to visit London with his family as soon as Ramadan finishes this month.
He would like to stay in a Muslim-friendly hotel, do I have any suggestions?
I ask a few friends and search some Muslim websites - only to draw a blank. The closest London can offer is a vegetarian-friendly hotel. But it's not just the assurance of halal food that my friend is hoping for.
He'd like to go somewhere which is considerate of his family's other needs as Muslims, such as guidance on finding the direction of Mecca inside the hotel room for prayer times, alcohol-free dining areas, perhaps separate spa facilities for men and women...
A Prediction Come True: â€œRemilitarization of the Sinaiâ€�
Egyptian Armored Vehicles in Sinai
In early May, prior to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood election victory, I made the following prediction in an Iconoclastpost on the IDF reinforcing its Southern border:
There is a small Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), including a US contingent, positioned in the Sinai established under the 1979 Camp David Accords to monitor the demilitarized area. Given the rise of terrorist group activities in the Sinai Peninsula and Egyptian statements by political candidates and Muslim Brotherhood leaders for an end to the 1979 Peace Treaty between the two countries there could be a demand for ending the MFO and the remilitarization by the Egyptian Army.
Given the recent Islamist attacks in the Sinai that the IDF repulsed, see a highly informative Jerusalem Post article, “An Intelligence Black Hole”. Egypt’s military under Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi has announced that it is planning to insert combat units and anti-aircraft systems in the Sinai. Further, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood concocted a propaganda explanation of their military’s actions that triggered by the deaths of 15 security personnel on the Israel border near Gaza. It blamed Israel’s Mossad for the attack.
Egypt has moved forces into the Sinai beyond what was agreed to in the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. Getting them in wasn't that difficult – Israel agrees that security in the Sinai has deteriorated. Getting them out again later may be another matter. And how the U.S. positions itself to safeguard the treaty itself will be crucial.
[. . .]
The MFO, clearly, is not a fighting force; it is a peacekeeping force with an agreed-upon peace to keep.
So how odd it is that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has announced that the U.S. "is providing additional military assistance to peacekeeping forces in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula to strengthen security in the region."
Panetta said no additional troops had been sent to Sinai, but that the U.S. was working closely with Egyptian leaders "to determine what additional help they may need in order to ensure that the area is secured."
To change the mission of the MFO from monitoring the Israel-Egypt peace treaty to helping Egypt secure the Sinai from terrorists/jihadists/al Qaeda is a change that cannot be undertaken lightly – and should not be taken unilaterally. To change the force from the touchstone for both Israel and Egypt into an ally of Egypt in military operations will undermine its status in the future.
The MFO does need to secure itself in the face of rising violence. Longtime Egypt-watcher David Schenker notes that it has already made adjustments.
The force has upgraded its vehicles in recent years, and many of them are fully or partially armored. Yet growing abduction fears have led to the cancellation of many patrols, and reconnaissance flights have reportedly been scaled back due to concerns about terrorists or other actors fielding man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). Should the situation continue to deteriorate, the MFO might reduce its patrols even further.
[. . .]
Over time, the MFO's mission will simply become untenable unless security improves in the Sinai -- or unless the rules of engagement are changed, which seems unlikely.
Bryen goes on to confirm my prediction:
Changing the rules of engagement is much more likely now. Secretary Panetta is not talking about how the force protects itself while it does the job it was designed to do. He is talking about helping Egypt do something forbidden by the Camp David Accords – bring large-scale military forces into Sinai.
The fact is the U.S. and Israel have been somewhere between sanguine and cautiously happy regarding increased Egyptian concern about jihadists in the Sinai, and have accepted an Egyptian buildup that includes aircraft and helicopter gunships. Israel Radio reported Friday that the deployment includes anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles near the border. Israel's longer-term concern will be whether at some point Egypt removes the additional forces and returns to the agreed-upon restrictions and demilitarized zones. Recent comments by Egyptian government officials suggest they will not.
Former presidential contender Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh called for President Morsi to reject limitations on Egyptian forces, saying, "The blood that has been spilled should force Egypt to assume full control of Sinai without the restrictions and obligations stipulated by this inequitable treaty that prevents Egypt's armed forces from deploying on Egyptian territory."
Mohammed Gadallah, a legal advisor to Morsi, said the Egyptian government is considering "amending" the Camp David Accords "to ensure Egypt's full sovereignty and control over every inch of Sinai."
It is hard to imagine a circumstance in which the United States should support the restoration of "full sovereignty and control" of Sinai, including military control, to the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt. Israeli analyst Ehud Yaari said if the Egyptians want to go in that direction, "Israel should have its answer ready" and that the mechanism for negotiating change is the MFO.
Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled the predecessor to the MFO, the UN peacekeepers in the Sinai, a prelude to the Six Days of War in June 1967, Might Egyptian President Morsi do the same should circumstances warrant it? One of those circumstances might be a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Under a possible counter attack scenario, Hamas could launch massive rocket and missile barrages against Israel in support of Iran. We question whether those new predictions might be behind Morsi’s upcoming visit to Tehran on August 30th . He will be attending the plenary sessions of the Non-Aligned Movement and holding a summit with President Ahmadinejad. This will be the first time that an Egyptian leader has visited Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In an NER interview, to be published in the September edition, with former CIA-spy in Iran's Revolutionary Guards and author of the Time to Betray, Reza Kahlili, points out the long term support that the Iranian Islamic regime has given the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Thus, should Israel undertake a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear program, could an Egyptian demand for the removal of MFO result in Israel facing the daunting prospect of fighting a multi- front regional war?