This is the Islamic holy month, the month of repentance and purification. It is a moment of prayer, of reflection, and of inner contrition, which is similar, in many aspects, to our Lent. But for too many peoples Ramadan, even this year, will be bloody. Wars are raging, devastating hundreds of lives: Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Nigeria and other African countries. Riots and revolutions, tribal fights or between different Koran traditions. There is no peace in the land torn by hatred and atrocity. Beautiful ancient places, where you should smell the scent of history, rather than the stench of death. For others, then, the month of fasting will be yet another opportunity to escape along the deserts in search of the sea, blackmailed by human traffickers. But what is really shaking the Middle East is Isis. It was just the first day of Ramadan in 2014, on June 29, when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaiming himself Caliph, announced the birth of a self-styled Islamic State, after that on June 10 Is’ jihadists had conquered Mosul, the second largest Iraqi city and – in the past – with a strong Christian presence.
Since then, the Daesh has grown up; it has conquered lands, killed thousands of people, beheaded journalists, Western people, or alleged “infidels”. That’s not all. According to the Financial Action Task Force, based in Paris, 4,500 archaeological sites are under the control of the group. Isis, known for an endless series of horrors and brutality, is bankrolling its funds with millions of dollars arising from the looting of sites in Syria and Iraq and from the sale of archaeological finds, and it is getting stronger despite the coalition raids, nearly 4,000 since the start of the operations. The jihadists killed by the coalition have been more than 10 thousand, according to latest data announced by the United States. And according to the UN the foreign fighters are more than 25 thousand, coming from more than 100 countries.
“Iraq is going through the worst humanitarian crisis in decades”, Doctors Without Borders said. Last month, the UN denounced the killing in Iraq of at least 12 thousand civilians. But according to the Iraq Body they would be over 17 thousand. And since the beginning of this year, the organization has already documented the death of more than 7,300 civilians.
In Syria, the situation is not different. The conflict in the Arab country in 2011 caused dozens and dozens of thousands of deaths. The latest analysis of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights speaks of more than 230 thousand victims, including more than 69 thousand civilians and about 11,500 children. Four years since the start of the war, Raqqa has become the stronghold of the jihadists. The alarms for the neighbouring Lebanon are increasing too. Analysts fear that the Is may launch a new offensive into Iraq and Syria, hitting the sacred places of the Shiite community up to Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is on high alert after the two bloody attacks in May against mosques frequented by the Shiite community in Qatif and Damman, both claimed by a local cell of the Islamic State. The neighbouring Yemen “is a clockwork bomb”, the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon affirmed. More than 20 million people in the Arab country, about 80% of the population, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Ban called for a two-week humanitarian truce, coinciding with the start of Ramadan. Since March 26 in the country, to hinder the advance of the Houthi (Shia) rebels that Tehran is accused of supporting, the Sunni coalition led by Riad has stepped in – a historic rival of Iran, which aims to reach a final agreement with the “5 + 1” group about the nuclear program by the end of June.
North Africa, especially Libya, is dominated by chaos. According to Libya Body Count, more than 3,400 people have been killed since – in May 2014 – General Khalifa Haftar launched its “Operation Dignity” against “terrorists”, the Islamic militias and their allies. A few days ago Is claimed to have taken full control of the city of Sirte and a nearby power station, removing them from the Islamic militia Alba Libya, allied with the Tripoli’s government.
Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo