Man Without Qualities

Saturday, July 23, 2005

On The Sharm el-Sheik/Paris Express

The blasts ripping through Sharm el-Sheik dramatically indicate how misguided Continental European appeasement efforts really are. Over 80 people had been confirmed dead and many more injured. The victims include Britons, Germans, Italians, Czechs, Dutch, Kuwaitis, Saudis, Qataris, Spaniards, Austrians and Israelis.

Abdullah Azzam Brigades, al-Qaida, in Syria and Egypt, claimed responsibility for the Sharm el-Sheik attacks. The group was one of two extremist groups that also claimed responsibility for October bombings at the Egyptian resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan that killed 34 and for a Cairo bombing in late April. The authenticity of the claim has not been verified. Earlier this month, Dr. Ihab al-Sherif, Egypt's top envoy to Iraq was murdered and an Islamic web site claimed responsibility for al Qaeda in Iraq. Diplomats from other Muslim countries were attacked at the same time. The Bahrain charge d'affaires was wounded, and the Pakistani ambassador was assaulted, but escaped injury. The Pakistani foreign ministry consul in Iraq was kidnapped a few weeks ago.

None of Egypt, Bahrain or Pakistan has troops in Iraq. Egypt opposed the American-British invasion of that country. Pakistani did not permit the US to use its territories to invade Iraq. The cooperation of all of these Islamic countries with the US's efforts in Iraq following the invasion has been real, but quite modest. Iraq and Egypt have been "cooperating in the security field, with Egypt offering Iraq technical aid and training." Bahrain has publicly opposed any American move to establish democracy in the Middle East.

So it comes to this: A nation's merely opposing the US verbally and providing even the most modest cooperation gives no immunity to al-Qaida insanities. Being an officially Islamic nation doesn't help. It appears that nothing short of a defacto cold war against America satisfies these terrorists - and perhaps not even that. Any nation not joining arms against the US and its democratic efforts will have its territories bombed and its citizens and diplomats kidnapped and murdered in quantities by al Qaida thugs. And the resorts favored by such nations are targets: Very few Americans visit Sharm el-Sheik, that resort is popular with wealthy Arabs and Europeans - as the casualties list indicates.

Yet, most "old" Continental Europeans persist in believing that appeasement will eliminate the risks of al-Qaida bombs in Madrid, Paris and Berlin. It's bizarre, but that's what many Europeans continue to think. And the blasts in Sharm el-Sheik will probably just make them bury their heads more deeply in the sand.

UPDATE: Pete Dupont has some interesting, related thoughts.

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