– TURKEY HEADING TO MILITANCY
At a weekend meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, ended on Monday 02/16/2009, 200 religious scholars and clerics met senior Hamas officials to plot a new Jihad centered on Gaza (see – Cast-Lead Diary).
In a hall crowded with conservative Sunni Muslim sheikhs and scholars, in a hotel close to Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport speaker after speaker called for jihad against Israel in support of Hamas.
The choice of Turkey was significant. Arab hardliners were keen to put aside historic differences with the Turks. One organizer said – “During the past 100 years relations have been strained but Palestine has brought us together”.
Many delegates spoke appreciatively of the protest by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who stormed out of a Davos debate on Gaza two weeks earlier.
The conference, dubbed the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign, also gave impetus to Sunni clerics concerned about the growing power of Hizbullah, the Shiaa movement backed by Iran, which rose to international prominence in its own war with Israel in 2006 (see – ABYSS IN ISLAM ).
“Gaza is a gift,” the Saudi religious scholar Mohsen al-Awajy said. He and other delegates repeatedly referred to the Gaza war as “a victory”. “Gaza,” Mohsen al-Awajy continued, “gives us power, it solves our differences. We are all now in a unified front against Zionism”.
In closed meetings after sessions delegates focused on the creation of a “third Jihadist front” – the first two being Afghanistan and Iraq. The intensity of the Israeli attack had “awakened all Muslims,” Mohsen al-Awajy claimed.
Mohammed Nazzal, a senior Hamas leader based in Damascus, challenged Arab governments to “open their borders and allow the fighters to come”. Delegates from all over the Middle East, and from Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan and Indonesia applauded as Mohammed Nazzal stabbed the air with a raised finger and declared: “There will be no agreement with Israel… only weapons will bring respect.”
For the hardline sheikhs, it was an opportunity to underline what they see as the growing gulf between Arab regimes which are hesitant to back Hamas and the people of the region who, they say, embrace Hamas as heroes fighting against overwhelming odds.
* Similar rhetoric against Israel and a promise of Arab jihadists to mobilize themselves and others against Israel is a common phenomenon in the Arab and Muslim world. So far they resulted in nothing but talks basically because the common resentment against Israel is not enough to overcome the growing rift in the Arab and Muslim world, especially between Sunna and Shiaa. The Hamas, the usher of the conference, is basically supported by Hizbullah and Shiites and not by Sunnis. .
* The real concern should be the slow growing tendency of Turkey toward Islamic militancy from the secular heritage and legacy of Atta Turk. Turkey, recently still a candidate to join the European Union and considered to be a bridge between West and East, between Islam and Christianity, between democracy and religious belief and between Israel and Arabs became a host to a Jihadi terror conference supporting not only Jihad against Israel but the basic perception of Global Jihad. It is Europe, the Western democracies and the Turkish people themselves who should be worried much more then Israel.
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