Tunisia is one night’s rapid sail from Italy and the situation there is beginning to resemble that of Iraq and Syria.
By Dr. Mordechai Kedar for IsraelNationalNews.com (Oct 7) —
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena.
… Tunisia’s Interior Minister, Loutfi ben Jaddo, revealed that Al Qaeda has given its fighters in North Africa instructions to eliminate, yes, eliminate anyone who attempts to bring the idea of Islamic State to the region, whose control by Al Qaeda was unchallenged up to now. This echoes the bloody dispute going on between Jabhat al Nusra and Al Qaeda in Syria, a dispute whose victims are also the ordinary citizens that each attempts to entice to its side. The Tunisian government, and that of Jihad adherents, is convinced that a similar struggle on their soil will lead to mass murders as it has in Syria – not limited to the Tunisian borders with Libya in the east and Algeria in the west, but also inside the poverty stricken suburbs of its cities, whose residents are highly fundamentalist.
The most well known names among Al Qaeda supporters in the area are Abd al-malik Durkedal the Algerian and Louqman Abu Sakhr, the Tunisian. To their happiness, Islamic State has not officially declared its presence in Tunisia, but there are signs that more and more people are sympathetic to that entity. This is deduced from social media, where praise and awe at Islamic States’ accomplishments in Iraq and Syria are being posted, along with expressions identifying with its goals and the means used to achieve them.
The most immediate danger facing Tunisia comes from the hundreds of Tunisians who have returned from the Jihad fields of Syria and Iraq, having gained much experience in explosives, mine laying, terror and butchery, as well as being provided with additional training in the Libyan Jihad camps. If these returnees join Uqba ibn Nafi, they will turn it into the Tunisian branch of Islamic State. It is quite possible that this has already happened, because there has been a report that the Uqba ibn Nafi brigade has sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr, calling on him to “advance, cross the borders and destroy the thrones of the infidel despots everywhere.”
The Tunisian government has been fighting the Brigade from the day it began its activity in the mountainous areas on the Tunisian-Algerian border, especially Mount Ash-Shaʿnabī and succeeded in killing tens of soldiers and policemen. Destroying the organization is especially important in light of the government’s plans to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in October and November of this year.
… The Tunisian government is not a dictatorship, but it is in the main a game of political democracy, one in which the players are political parties, some of them secular liberals, some religious Islamic, with many of the politicians themselves steeped in corruption. That makes the system vulnerable and apt to crumble, and is the reason political crises have been frequent since President Ben Ali was deposed in January 2011.
Tunisia’s economy is shaky so that many sectors feel that democracy has not improved their personal and financial situations. The secular public still identifies with the country to a large extent, but those sectors closer to Islam tend to accept the Islamic solution to the ills of society and nation. The daylight between the Islamic solution and the Al Qaeda and Islamic State’s solution shrinks as the political crises which plague Tunisia last longer and longer.
It is unclear if the West can help the Tunisian government at this point, beyond providing secret intelligence data on the progress of Jihadist organizations. Any obvious Western aid weakens the already limited legitimacy of the government in the eyes of those loyal to Islam. It is, however, quite clear that if the government fails in its struggle against the Jihadists – whether Al Qaeda or Islamic State – the West will be drawn into the resulting chaos just as it was into the predatory swamp of Iraq and Syria.
The danger that Tunisia poses to Europe is in no small part due to its proximity to that continent, and an armed terrorist boat can reach Italy from Tunisia in one night’s rapid sailing. European intervention in Tunisia will take place much earlier than serious intervention in Syria or Iraq, which is why the Tunisian arena may turn out to be even more incendiary than that of Syria and Iraq.
Without doubt, the time has come to rewrite the rules of war and the international agreements that stand at the foundations of international law regarding conflict management. These were decided on when the world talked in terms of armies and nations, and they are irrelevant in the present wars, in which a modern nation finds itself fighting militias using methods taken from the seventh century.
Noble Ideas such as “distancing the war from civilians”, “human rights of fighters”, “the treatment of prisoners” that were laid down in post World War Europe have lost their relevancy in recent years. Most of the wars fought in the past twenty years were against organizations not subject to international law and unaffected by it. These militias attempt to paralyze the organized armed forces facing them, who,forced to battle fighters in civilian clothing who hide in populated areas, are prevented from hitting them effectively because of their extreme sensitivity to the possibility of harming peaceful citizens.
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