March 23, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6360

Arab Press Reactions To The Brussels Attacks: Blaming The West, Enemies In The Region For The Spread Of Global Terrorism

March 23, 2016
Special Dispatch No. 6360

The March 22, 2016 terror attacks in Brussels triggered a wave of condemnation from all Arab and Islamic countries, which stressed their opposition to terrorism. However, the condemnations and articles in the Arab press also highlighted the attempts, on the part of every country and every regional bloc, to place the blame for the attacks on their respective opponents in the region, while accusing the West of supporting this particular opponent.

Thus, for example, the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, and Hizbullah, both stated that the terrorism afflicting Europe was the same terrorism that is targeting Syria. They said that the responsibility for the spread of global terrorism lies with Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, as well as with the U.S. and the other Western countries that support them. On the other hand, the Saudi press and opponents of the Assad regime accused Iran and the Assad regime - in addition to the West, for turning a blind eye to their actions.

Meanwhile, articles in the official Egyptian press blamed the main opponent of the Al-Sisi regime there - the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) - as well as European countries that they say have supported the MB in recent years despite Egypt's warnings. The Palestinian press, for its part, blamed the West for encouraging global terrorism by supporting Israeli policy and by failing to implement international resolutions on the Palestinian issue.

"Europe" and "Middle East" attempt to unload the "ISIS" bomb (Al-Watan, Qatar, March 23, 2016)

Following is a review of these reactions:

Syrian Regime And Hizbullah: Europe, U.S. Responsible For Brussels Attacks - Because Of Their Support For Turkey, Qatar, And Saudi Arabia, Which Sponsor Terrorism

The Syrian regime, which regularly accuses the U.S., Europe, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar of supporting the rebel groups fighting it, held the same parties responsible for the Brussels attacks. Syrian regime spokesmen and mouthpieces claimed that the attacks in Brussels and worldwide were the result of the "misguided policy" of the U.S. and European countries that support the terrorism that is fostered by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel.

Thus, for example, an official Saudi Foreign Ministry source said: "The attacks in Brussels, and before that in Paris and elsewhere around the world, once again illustrate that terrorism has no borders, and that such attacks are the inevitable result of the misguided policy [of the West] and of [its] solidarity with terrorism. This is aimed at actualizing specific agendas and legitimizing terrorism by defining several terrorist organizations [i.e. Syrian opposition organizations] as moderate, although they ultimately emerged from the takfiri Wahhabi ideology..."[1]

'Ali Nasrallah, a columnist for the official Syrian daily Al-Thawra, attacked Europe for its tolerance vis-├á-vis countries that he said support terrorism, chiefly Saudi Arabia and Turkey. He mentioned Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Naif's recent visit to France - during which French President Francois Hollande awarded him the Order of L├®gion d'Honneur for his regional and global efforts fighting extremism and terrorism - and called on the French people to "not allow their president to harm their homeland's legacy and sell France's honor to the Wahhabis." He added: "They must immediately prosecute him [Hollande] for shaming the French decorations of honor by pinning them to the robe of Saudi extremism... Additionally, all the parliaments in Europe must prosecute their own governments for [their] policy of tolerance towards [Turkish President] Erdogan's Muslim Brotherhood regime...

"The blasts in Brussels are a ringing shout that calls to Europe to awaken from her slumber... They are a direct continuation of the terrorism that has targeted the Syrians, shed the hearts' blood of the Iraqis, and harmed many peoples in the region and the world. This terrorism would not have spread had its organizations and its supporting entities not received an American green light, and not received Western incentives that spurred and encouraged the Israelis to place their knowhow at the service of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, in order to intensify the strength of Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra, and ISIS..."[2]

Similarly, Hizbullah issued a statement blaming the Brussels attacks on "regional and international forces" that support terrorist groups, hinting at Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and also blamed the Western countries that support them: "The responsibility for these crimes, that target city after city around the world, lies with the attacks by the takfiris, as well as with the regional and international forces that stand behind them and provide them with doctrinal, moral, and material support. These attacks reaffirm the danger of these terrorist groups, and show that the fire that has burned Europe as well as the rest of the world is the same fire that was set by certain regimes against Syria and other countries in the region. Unfortunately, the entire world knows the source of this danger and who funds it - yet, despite this, the superpowers continue to support and defend the countries that sponsor and export terrorism."[3]

Saudi Press, Assad Regime Opponents: Iran, Assad Regime Are Responsible For Global Terrorism

On the other hand, the Saudi press blamed the Saudi enemies, Iran and the Assad regime, for the attacks, and blamed as well the Western countries that were allegedly turning a blind eye to Iran's support for terrorism.

In its editorial the day after the attacks, the official Saudi daily Al-Riyadh accused Iran, writing: "...The war on terrorism requires not only hunting down the terrorists in Iraq and Syria, where they are located, but also looking for those who afford them safe haven on their soil, and for those who spark the fire of sectarianism and aid the terrorist militias. [These militias] ceaselessly fan the flames of hatred among sectors [of the population], and push both the Syrians and the Iraqis to behave in extremist ways, after their countries were destroyed. This happened and is still happening, in both Iraq and Syria, which are in fact controlled by Iran's agenda. This is the same Iran whose cooperation with Al-Qaeda was proven in recently published American documents, and which explicitly adopts the activity of the terrorist organization Hizbullah. Failure to confront [Iran] will force the region to deal in future with difficult scenarios and ongoing terrorist attacks, like the ones in recent days in Istanbul and Brussels."[4]

Randa Taqi Al-Din, a columnist for the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat, accused the West of turning a blind eye in years past to reports that the Assad regime, and Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki, were collaborating with terrorist organizations, and that this is one reason that these organizations now pose a global existential threat. She wrote: "Undoubtedly the West, and particularly the U.S., have seen how, right under their noses, Nouri Al-Maliki transferred ISIS activists from Iraq to Syria, and later Bashar Al-Assad released them from his prisons and used them, to the point where ISIS is now his partner in burning and destroying Syria and threatening the world. This threat has become a true existential one."[5]

Syrian regime opponents supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar also blamed the Brussels attacks on the Syrian regime, launching the Twitter hashtag in Arabic "The Brussels Attacks Are An Assad Product." Syrian Al-Jazeera anchor Faisal Al-Qassem tweeted: "Do you remember the threats by Bashar Al-Assad's mufti, Ahmad Hassoun, to send suicide bombers to Europe? Has Bashar Al-Assad finally begun carry out Ahmad Hassoun's threats?"[6]

Syrian artist Hossam Al-Din Malas likewise tweeted his accusations against the Syrian regime: "Have you forgotten or ignored the source of terrorism?! Listen to the threats made by [Mufti] Al-Hassoun regarding attacks targeting European cities." In another tweet, he also blamed the West for the spread of terrorism: "It is the world that rewards Iranian terrorism and signs commercial deals with it that is responsible for the growth and spread of terrorism."

Egyptian Press: Europe Was Burned By Terrorism Due To Its Embrace Of The MB

The Egyptian press blamed the Brussels attack on the Egyptian regime's greatest domestic enemy - the MB movement - as well as on European countries that support it. Articles in the Egyptian press on the attacks linked ISIS terrorism to the MB and argued that the European countries that embraced the MB had ultimately been burned by it, because the MB is "the ideological hotbed for all extremist takfiri organizations."

Thus, for example, the editorial of the official Egyptian daily Al-Ahram stated: "These deadly attacks confirm that the Egyptian view was correct. For a long time, [Egypt] warned that terrorism would spread to the heart of Europe, and that the West's [flagrant] disregard of the war that Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries had for years waged against terrorism does not mean that the fire of terrorism would spare it...

"For many years, some European countries have maintained ties to extremist religious groups, embraced their leaders, and allowed them freedom of action and freedom of movement on their soil. These countries thought that they could use these organizations for [their own] political interests in the Middle East, and [believed] in the delusion that these organizations would defend the West from the evil of even more extremist groups.

"However, time has shown that the religious organizations embraced by the West, chiefly the [Muslim] Brotherhood organization, are the ideological hotbed for all extremist takfiri organizations... and that the presence of such elements on European soil has enabled them to attract young people to their radical ideology and to recruit them to carry out acts of terrorism.

"Egypt has repeatedly demanded the formulation of an international strategy to deal with terrorism, which would tackle all extremist organizations and ideas, without exception... This is what Egypt is [also] doing now. Will anyone heed the call?"[7]

Similarly, Egyptian journalist Mu'ataz Bellah 'Abd Al-Fattah penned an article titled "Brussels Pays the Price" in the Egyptian daily Al-Watan, in which he claimed that Europe was reaping the poison fruits of its leniency towards extremists: "The tree of terrorism only grows in the forests of extremism. Those who fight terrorism without fighting extremism will lose both wars... This is how Western countries operate when they allow extremism to blossom in their midst, on the pretext of freedom of opinion, freedom of speech, and the right to political asylum. Then they are burned by the fires of those who carry out extremist actions on their soil.

"For political terrorism, the adoption of political Islam is necessary, but not sufficient... The problem is that the West fails to realize that it is sheltering extremists, and it is then burned by the fire of terrorism, and does not hold itself accountable for that..."[8]

Palestinian Editorial: Western Support For Israel Encourages Global Terrorism

The Palestinian press included articles hinting at Western responsibility for the Brussels attacks because of its support for Israel. In its editorial the day after the attacks, the East Jerusalem-based Palestinian daily Al-Quds argued that the West, with its support for Israel and its "destructive policy," was encouraging ongoing global terrorism:

"The reasons for these contemptible terrorist actions are: the double standard employed by many countries that claim to champion democracy and human rights regarding certain peoples, chiefly the Palestinian issue, and the U.S.'s blind pro-Israel bias; the world's failure to take practical steps to force Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories; the failure to implement the international resolutions regarding the Palestinian issue; and the continued support of many countries for Israel's destructive policy. All these encourage global terrorism. The Western world, particularly the U.S. and Britain, should deal with the real causes [of this terrorism] rather than [merely] with its results, or else it will threaten not only Europe, but the entire world as well, and then no one will be safe from it..."[9]



[1] SANA (Syria), March 22, 2016.

[2] Al-Thawra (Syria), March 23, 2016.

[3], March 22, 2016.

[4] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), March 23, 2016.

[5] Al-Hayat (London), March 23, 2016.

[7] Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 23, 2016.

[8] Al-Watan (Egypt), March 22, 2016.

[9] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), March 23, 2016.

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