The influence of ISIS is gradually expanding from its stronghold in the Syrian city of Raqqa to extremist groups which have taken North Africa as their headquarters.
Red: Areas of ISIS influence (estimate)
- Egypt: Ansar Beit al-Maqdis – formed in 2011, it is made up of 2,000 fighters; after announcing it joined ISIS in November, it is now known as Wilayat Sina’ (Sinai Province)
- Eastern Libya: Extremists in the coastal city of Derna – population 80,000 – announced their alliance with and allegiance to ISIS and the establishment of Wilayat Barqa (Cyrenaica Proince) in October
- Tripoli: Since August, the Libyan capital has fallen under the control of the Libya Dawn extremist militia, designated as a terrorist organisation; Mitiga International Airport is used as the centre for thousands of fighters from Europe and Africa seeking to join the fighters in Syria
- Tunisia: Birthplace of the Arab Spring, source of the largest number of foreign fighters joining ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, estimated at about 3,000 fighters; the cause is believed to be their resentment with the political process in Tunisia
- Algeria: Extremist group Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria allied itself with ISIS in September after breaking off from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
- Morocco: The terrorist organisation affiliated with al-Qaeda calling itself Salafiyya Jihadiyya may have influenced the recent announcement of loyalty to ISIS by Moroccan fighters in Syria
Translated by Kevin Moore.
Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, said that the attacks the Egyptian army is currently being subjected to are being perpetrated by terrorists aiming to weaken its spirit but that everyone is confident that the leaders of the armed forces are leading the military in high spirits. He stated that the lowest soldier in the army is well aware of his role and responsibility.
In his discussion with Russia Today (RT), Pope Tawadros added that confronting extremism and terrorism is the responsibility of governments and officials, indicating that the fire of terrorism will reach everyone in the Middle East and beyond and whoever plays with that fire will inevitably get burned.
The Pope indicated that it will not be easy for the Egyptian army to be defeated because it is completely different from the Iraqi or Libyan armies, or others that were weakened. He added that the Egyptian people always say that “our army is made up of men,” because it is the strongest Arab army, has a very regimented structure, is a prestigious institution in Egyptian history and has always been the voice of truth.
In his interview, the Pope said that after the Russian church showed its kind feelings towards us it was his duty to come to them in order to thank them and strengthen relations between the two churches. The Pope also confirmed that the Russian church is considered the biggest Orthodox church in the world in terms of numbers, making it an influential voice.
The Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church also explained that the dialogue that occurred during his visit to Russia included the situation of Christians in the Middle East, and he pointed out that their situation is dangerous and unacceptable to the Russian church and government. He explained that the situation is almost tragic in Iraq Syria, whereas Libya and Lebanon are on the brink of falling into the same position, adding that God intervened and saved Egypt at the appropriate time before it became like Iraq.
On the other hand, Pope Tawadros confirmed that the church serves society by building schools and hospitals, participating in community events and sending Coptic businessmen in force to the economic arena, in addition to the use of Coptic expertise and personnel in national projects.
Translated by Kevin Moore.
Original article available here.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thanni called for not forcing the people to choose between “terrorism” and “tyranny,” and demanded that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to distance itself from “selective policy” and to pass a decision under Article 7 of the UN Charter forcing Israel to stop its occupation since 1967 of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Wednesday, Sheikh Tamim acknowledged that “the takfiri interpretations employed by terrorism is an affront to religion” and stressed that it is Arab society that is most afflicted by it. He said that in order for these societies to stand against it, discrimination and deprivation must not be practiced against them.
The Emir of Qatar demanded serious action to put an end to the bloodshed in Syria, and formed that he had previously warned that not supporting the revolution in this country would push Syrians to defend themselves through force of arms.
He said that the Syrian people are living between the jaws of the Syrian regime and terrorism; between the threat of the Syrian regime’s terrorism and the acts of genocide it has undertaken against the Syrian people and the threat of terrorist forces that have exploited the state of misery that these people are going through.
He stressed that the first danger (the Syrian regime) contributed to the second (terrorist forces), and called on the international community to support the Syrian people against the Syrian regime and terrorism.
On the Iraq portfolio, the Emir of Qatar called on the international community to stand firmly with this country against terrorism and to help it out of its ordeal. He also called for all spectrums of Iraqi society to participate in the political process without exclusion or the practice of any discrimination against any segment of society.
Sheikh Tamim acknowledged that international peace and security in the world will not be achieved without dialogue relying on equality and international law, pointing out that the Middle East region is going through an extremely dangerous stage, especially after the most recent war against the Palestinian people
He described the latest Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip as crimes against humanity, stressing that the arrogance of power will not conquer the Palestinian people’s resistance.
He confirmed that the legacy of this aggression and unjust blockade necessitates that the international community forces Israel to implement international resolutions.
The Emir of Qatar also called on the international community to support Libya to overcome the ordeal it is going through by respecting the will of the Libyan people and meeting their aspirations.
He urged Libyans to achieve comprehensive reconciliation including all political sides and to enter into a national dialogue to reach an agreement preserving the interests of all.
The Emir of Qatar also lauded the Tunisian experience and said that it bodes will due to Tunisians’ insistence on the success of the experience, despite conspiracies against it.
As for the Yemen portfolio, Sheikh Tamim said that a successful experiment was conducted in this country under UN supervision, but it appears that there are forces that have become entwined with it in an attempt to make it fail. Some of them yearn for the previous regime and oppose any changes, and among them are those would would prefer sectarian war over good governance.
He acknowledged that the use of violence is sectarian or factional logic and constitutes a threat to the country and called upon the UN to implement its resolutions on the national dialogue, rebuilding the Yemeni army and dismantling armed militias.
Translated by Kevin Moore.
Original article available here.
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