On Friday the 13th of November, 2015, militants massacred at least 132 people in Paris in a series of heinous attacks. Indeed, France (Paris in particular) has a long history with political terrorism. It seems that every generation experiences the tragedy of violence on at least a few occasions. In the early 1960s, the incidences were triggered by the Algerian War of Independence. In the 1970s, it was Palestine and Armenia. In the 1980s, the Iran-Iraq war and the Lebanese civil war created floods over the boulevards of Paris. Islamist terrorism re-surfaced in Paris again in the 1990s, triggered by the Algerian civil war. The latest terrorist attacks have come after 9/11 in more pronounced, more diffused, intensely devastating and bloody, and increasingly perpetrated by young radicalized Frenchmen. It seems that the answer lies in the failure of ‘multi-culturalism’, in Europe generally, and in France in particular. From a political perspective, the attacks are a reminder of France’s longstanding ethno-religious frictions.
In our last piece, we predicted a resurgence of terrorism in Europe. We based our analysis on the exacerbation of the situation in Syria and the consequence thereof, of mass emigration to Europe. We predicted also that some jihadists may find a way of infiltrating the refugees, with the intent of causing harm to Europe and as a way of revenge for the devastation of the Middle East, mostly by the West. True to our prediction, a Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the Paris attackers. What has happened in Paris is only a sign of worse things to happen. We still predict that until a political solution is found to the Syrian question; until the position of the US particularly, and the West in general, has changed on how global politics should be conducted; until there is an introspection of foreign policy on the Middle East by the West (led by the US); until global leadership is vested in the United Nations; no amount of witchery or prayers can stop the tide of terrorism.
In the wake of the Paris attacks, several commentaries have been made. Mainstream media is quick to blame Islamic radicalism. But a few others share with us our position: that “there are many layers of hypocrisy in the public reaction to the tragedy that must be sorted through in order to understand the larger context, in which these horrific attacks are situated – and, ultimately, to prevent such attacks from happening in the future”. I chanced upon one such headline: ‘Our terrorism double standard: After Paris, let’s stop blaming Muslims and take a hard look at ourselves. We must mourn all victims. But until we look honestly at the violence we export, nothing will ever change.’- Ben Norton
And Patrick Smith has this to say: ‘We brought this on ourselves: After Paris, it is time to square our “values” with our history. The West’s behaved horrifically in Middle East for decades. We can’t be surprised by Paris. Let’s look in a mirror’.
We have already said that the attacks, though shocking, are not completely surprising. Multiple individuals from France and other European countries have traveled to Syria to join extremist groups there. Why? The West’s insipid desire to destroy regimes that are perceived to be anti-West has resulted in the creation of instability, the vacuum of which has been filled by so-called Islamists. The West was quick to label any rebel groups in the Middle East bent on overthrowing anti-West regimes as ‘pro-democracy’ forces. Indeed, all forms of assistance is doled out to such forces (the Iraqi, Libyan, and Syrian rebels were openly given cash, in millions of dollars, and arms by the US and its allies). Who supported and armed the monster called Saddam Hussein and for what reason? Now, therefore, when Islamic radicals call on their compatriots the world over to ensure that Islam is not destroyed, the answer would be spontaneous. Thus, from Sunni to Shi’a, secular to conservative, Islamist to liberal, autocratic to democratic, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (the self-proclaimed leader of the ISIS) and his doppelganger of a Caliphate have united the Muslim world like no one else has – against both true Islam and against the world at large, but particularly, against Western values.
Meanwhile, nothing is being done to assure the Muslim world that the intention is not destruction of a civilization. At the same time anytime there is an attack on civilians in the post-9/11 West, demagogues immediately blame it on Muslims, usually depending on the blunt force of anti-Muslim bigotry to bolster their accusations. In the wake of the Paris attacks not less than 27 Governors in the US have indicated a reluctance to allow Syrian rebels into their territories. There have been widespread Islamophobic attacks generally in the West, and in the US, in particular, mosques have been targeted following Paris attacks. Suspected hate crimes, targeting Muslims and carried out as anti-Islam rhetoric, swell in the US. Just listen to Donald Trump, a Presidential candidate: ‘Refugees from Syria are now pouring into our great country. Who knows who they are – some could be ISIS. Is our president insane?’ He had earlier promised that if elected President of the United States, he would close down all mosques! Only 1,500 Syrians have been resettled in the US to date. The Obama administration had announced earlier this year that 10,000 more will be accepted throughout a one-year span. And Mike Huckabee, also a presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor, made similar anti-refugee comments during an interview with Fox News Monday November 16: “Can you imagine bringing in a bunch of Syrian refugees who’ve lived in the desert their whole lives that are suddenly thrown into an English speaking community? Where it’s maybe in Minnesota where it is 20 degrees below zero?” Other presidential hopefuls are alleged to have employed Islamophobic invectives.
It must be noted that the Paris attacks occurred during a Europe-wide political crisis over migrant flows from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. That a Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the Paris attackers is an indication that Europe and the West have invited unto themselves some evil, which they themselves had created over the years in the Middle East. It is the cost of Middle East-induced instability (especially the cost of the Syrian war) spilling into the West and beyond. Let us not make the mistake of labeling every terrorist attack as Islamist and/or religious. Indeed, less than two percent of terrorist attacks from 2009 to 2013 in the European Union were religiously motivated. In 2013, just one percent of the 152 terrorist attacks were religious in nature; in 2012, less than three percent of the 219 terrorist attacks were inspired by religion. The vast majority of terrorist attacks in these years were motivated by ethno-nationalism or separatism. In 2013, 55 percent of terrorist attacks were ethno-nationalist or separatist in nature; in 2012, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of terrorist attacks were inspired by ethno-nationalism or separatism. If these figures are anything to go by, then Europe cannot afford to compound its problems with additional religious attacks (i.e., additional to its own ethno-nationalist problems). The answer therefore, lies in a political solution to the Syrian crisis – an all-inclusive approach. Assad is as indispensable a variable in any matrix for a solution just as Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, and Russia. Meanwhile, Russia’s entry into the fray must be seen as a blessing. Pulling of efforts to defeat ISIS is necessary.