Saturday, February 18, 2006

Egypt of Escalation

Latest reports tell about ten people being killed in connection with riots against the Italian consulate in Benghazi in Libya.

The trigger for these was evidently a minister in the Italian government representing the Lega Nord party saying that time for dialogue was over and dressing himself in a T-short with Mohammed cartoons.

His days in the Italian government will now obviously come to an end.

But meanwhile there has been published in Denmark interesting information on how the entire thing started to escalate.

Previously, it has been assumed that it was the journey undertaken by a group of Muslim firebrands from Denmark in December that escalated the conflict to its present level.

But now it turns out that it might have been the government of Egypt that has played a crucial role.

Early on, it made its views known to the government in Copenhagen. And only four days after Denmark's Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen in October refused the request for a meeting by 11 Ambassadors from the Muslim countries, Copenhagen received a stern warnin delivered by the Egyptian government to the Danish ambassador in Cairo. There was the explicit warning of a "possible escalation" of the situation.

It was after these warnings were ignored by Copenhagen that Cairo seems to have started to circulate both the cartoons published in Jyllands-Posten and other material to both international organisations like the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic States and to other governments.

It was then in all probability this action that transformed the nature of the entire affair and paved the ground for the outbursts we have been living with since then.

Extremists on both sides as well as the regimes in Damascus and Teheran have certainly played their role.

But if the information published in Politiken is to be believed - and there is no reason why it should not - it was really the government in Cairo that started the true escalation - and the government in Copenhagen that failed to see it coming.

We will probably learn more about what really happened as the conflict started to get out of hand. Posted by Picasa