As usual, Al-Bahgdadi proves that, like all other cult leaders, he is dangerously delusional but far from being an imbecile. Now that he has been “appointed” as the Caliph, he has become a public figure par excellence, and we should expect regular such addresses from him at least to commemorate important religious occasions and address critical developments. In time, that will add to his appeal in the world Jihadi circles, and his impact could rival that of Bin Ladin, if not surpass it. Al-Zawahiri and other current Jihadi leaders on the scene do not have his charisma, his stature, or the kind of resources that he has under his disposal.
True, Malta’s willingness to sell passports for a tidy sum comes as a “reminder that the world we live in today isn’t the democratic and liberal utopia that we sometimes like to think it is —and it won’t be until it’s as easy for an 18 year old Turk to bum around the US for a summer as it is for US college kids to see Istanbul over the break.” This is exactly why democracy promotion outside the geographic confines of the West is important, this is exactly why those who label it as a form of an illegal intervention in other peoples’ affairs are wrong, and this is exactly why intervention to prevent or stop genocide should not be considered as meddling in other people’s civil wars. Certain types of crises are always global: genocide is one.
Reducing the current proxy-war situation in Syria to a Saudi-Iranian competition over regional hegemony is a gross oversimplification and overlooks serious involvement by other actors, including Turkey, Qatar, Israel, U.S., France, the U.K. and Russia, to name but the most visible operators. There is much at stake in Syria for many different powers around the world. The Saudi-Iranian proxy-war could not unfold without support, or lack thereof, from these other players.
Sweden and, to a certain extent, Germany have set a good example for how Europe should deal with Syria’s refugees arriving onto her shores. Bulgaria, Italy and Greece are setting a bad one. The United States, reflecting the thinking of her President, remains of a few minds about the situation. Meanwhile, hundreds of Syrians die every day and thousands join the ranks of refugees as the world turns its back, insistently, as if by doing so the problem would just disappear. On this Christmas Days, let me just say: “Fuck You World.”