Extensive European media coverage of ISIS

Europe reporting daily on fears of extremist winds blowing in the turmoil of the Middle East.

Nato foreign ministers gather at the start of a meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Nato foreign ministers gather at the start of a meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
‘We will slaughter them!” could suddenly be heard from windows, in shops, everywhere in Baghdad’s prime neighborhood, Sadr City. The polished Kalashnikovs were prominently displayed in the hands of thousands of black-clad members of the infamous Shi’ite Mahdi Militia, German Deutsche Welle reported last Sunday. The notorious militia is said to be particularly ruthless and well-known for its death squads, bombings and kidnappings.
Simultaneously, 300 American military advisers scrambled to get on a plane from Washington to Baghdad. Their mission: Assisting the very same militia that surged in 2013 to crush the US occupation forces. But this time around, they will help the rebels carry out – from the rebels’ perspective – a religious war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a feared terrorist group hoping to erect a caliphate in Syria and Iraq.
European newspapers have been reporting almost daily on the ISIS rampage; nothing seems to slow down the terrorists’ capture of Iraqi cities and strategic points. The approximately 160,000 civilians in al-Askari had reason to worry, as a rumor had ISIS heading out to destroy the al-Askarian mosque, ubiquitous to Shi’ites.
Die Welt’s foreign policy chief, Clemens Wergin, explained in a five-minute interview why the Middle East had garnered so much space in European media last week: “The rise of ISIS is a catastrophe. The increasing terrorism will not only concern European military operations abroad, but domestically as well. There are currently thousands of combatants in Iraq originating from Europe, who are acquiring know-how in military tactics and bomb-building. That could lead to the same sort of violence that we saw in Belgium, where the museum blew up. The difference in regard to al-Qaida is that back then, America was present. Against ISIS, there is no coalition anymore.”
The necessity of a coalition seemed to bounce between commentators as well. Loay Mudhoon argued in another German daily, DW, that the West should make an effort to extinguish the sectarian fires and retain the Sykes-Picot borders (specified in the 1916 agreement in which France and the UK divided territories from the Ottoman Empire between themselves, Italy and Russia). Mudhoon went on to request far-reaching cooperation in order to resolve the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which he claims are using Shi’ite and Sunni groups as political instruments.
But cooperating seemed easier said than done, judging by German articles. For example, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen was asked if cooperating with the US was possible. “It was not possible in the past, and will not happen in the future,” she said. “Germany is only going to act with the support of the world community.”
An article in DW featured a quote from Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from last Sunday, further pointing out teamwork issues: “We strongly oppose the intervention of the US and others in the domestic affairs of Iraq.”
According to Le Figaro, the popular French daily, Israel is concerned about a rapprochement between the US and Iran on how they will deal with Iraq: “If Washington needs help from Tehran to resolve the crisis in Iraq, the US will be forced to be more flexible in negotiations on Iran’s nuclear [program],” a senior Israeli politician said. But judging by Khamenei’s recent statement, it would seem rapprochement between the two countries might not be a reality any time soon.
From Iran to the Israeli secret service
Die Welt, Germany, June 24
Anti-Semitism from mullahs in Iran has forced Iranian Jews to leave the country. Some of them now fight against their own country, albeit with mixed feelings.
S. is one of them. She does not disclose her full name, nor say how she escaped from Iran. She tells Die Welt how she immigrated to Israel after the revolution, learning Hebrew after only a few months, a task which proved more difficult for her parents. Today, she works as a professional soldier in a medical unit in the IDF.
Another person, M., 22, shares a similar story of what happened to her as a Jew in Iran. At school, her professors indoctrinated the children with hate propaganda, and her classmates said she befouled the Koran. M. is currently employed in the Israeli secret service.
As the search for the Israeli teenagers continues: the city that gets blocked
Der Spiegel, Germany, June 24
Reporter Rania Salloum begins his article on Hebron by profiling Shadi, a 31-year-old Palestinian tour guide and shopkeeper, shut up in his home while the IDF closes off the city in the search of the three kidnapped yeshiva students. A state of general mistrust is widespread among the Palestinians, as the IDF marches forward in the West Bank. About 300 Hamas members have been arrested, and five shot “by accident,” according to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“It’s all a lie. There is no kidnapping, that’s all just Israeli policy,” Shadi told Der Spiegel. He is convinced Netanyahu has orchestrated the kidnapping in order to create a rift between Hamas and Fatah.
Al-Awawi, 25, says he is disappointed in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s leadership. “I want somebody strong, not a pushover,” he says, having just gotten out of jail, where he was detained for 24 hours; his younger brother is still there for an undetermined period of time.
Syrian targets hit by Israeli aircraft
La Stampa, Italy, June 23
Muhammad Karaka, a 14-year-old Israeli Arab, was killed by a Syrian rocket on Israeli soil. The IDF has launched coordinated artillery and airplane strikes against Syrian targets in response; an attack of this scale has not been carried out since 2011. According to sources in Jerusalem, the attack was carefully targeted to strike Division 90, the command division responsible for the Golan Heights. In a speech, Netanyahu stated: “The terrorists do not care if the victims are Arabs or Jews. To them, the most important thing is to kill – and we are not going to let them.”
Israeli soldiers shoot 2 Palestinians in the West Bank
Ilta-Sanomat, Finland, June 22
Last Sunday, two Palestinians were shot in the West Bank. This occurred as Israeli soldiers searched the area for clues in the abduction case of the three Israeli teenagers, and were met by hostile locals. Israel is accusing Hamas of having orchestrated the attack; Abbas has condemned the kidnapping.