Several Western foreign ministries, including the UK and US, have issued travel warnings for the Middle East and North Africa following US President Donald Trump’s announcement that his country would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The move, designed to satisfy Mr Trump’s domestic right-wing voter base, has been met with anxiety and furious protest in the rest of the world.

People took to the streets in demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza as well as in Amman, Rabat, Beirut, Cairo and as far afield as Pakistan.

Of all the US’s shocked allies, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had perhaps the sharpest rebuke for what he said was Mr Trump’s “reckless” move.

Mr Trump should “retreat from that decision in order to stop a dangerous escalation that leads to extremism and creates an atmosphere which helps terrorism,” the Iraqi leader said.

With ISIS almost defeated in the country – with the help of US air power – Mr Abadi’s words should serve as a strong warning.

Islamist movements across the world view the recognition of the Holy City as Israel’s capital at the expense of Muslims as a call to arms.

“Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital presents opportunity for jihad,” Oxford University analyst Elisabeth Kendall warned on Twitter.

ISIS’s daily media dump on Thursday released mocked-up images of Mr Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed, blaming them for the destruction of the holy Muslim site.

Al Qaeda also quickly moved to capitalise on the current outrage with a statement designed to garner support. “Jerusalem is not Trump’s property to give away to Jews,” one release read.

Al Qaeda-linked Nigerian group al-Shabab also urged “all Muslims to raise arms and defend the blessed al-Aqsa from the Zionist occupiers supported by America, because what was taken by force can only be restored by force”.

Similar statements were issued across several Taliban media outlets in Afghanistan, while Hezbollah-friendly Lebanese newspaper al Akhbar declared “death to America” from its Thursday front page.

Closer to home, on Thursday Hamas’s leader Ismail Haniyeh called on the Palestinian people to rise up in a new intifada – or uprising against oppression.

“We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy,” he said in a speech from Gaza.

Palestinian official on Jerusalem: Trump ‘is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims [and] hundreds of millions of Christians’

“This will not stop until the liberation of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

Palestinian and Israeli civilians, as well as the Israeli armed forces, are bracing themselves for Hamas’s declared “Day of Rage” on Friday.

Whether any violence tomorrow will morph into a full-blown uprising remains to be seen.

The Independence


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