The festering nature of terrorism is a source for concern. Global watchers are more than worried that terrorism is gradually becoming the metaphor for conducting international relations in the 21st Century, just as the Cold War did, a few decades ago. Incidentally, it is precisely because the world is not fighting the war on terror with unity but through the lenses of the Cold War that terrorism is festering. State sponsored terrorism is still ongoing. Countries had in the past been accused of being pariah – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Cuba etc. But equally guilty today are countries that support sub-national groups against their perceived enemies. In that category countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey and others come to mind. The United States, for instance, has, at various times openly supported Iraqi, Syrian, Libyan, and Ukrainian rebel groups, at most points meeting them and offering cash and military assistance (in the form of arms and ammunition and intelligence, and training). We have had occasions in this column to condemn the $100 million doled out to Syrian rebels with the sole aim of ousting President Assad and his regime. We had equally condemned the Bush Doctrine, under which Iraq was invaded, leading to the ouster of Saddam Hussein. We did not spare the Americans and their Western allies in the drama that led to the ouster of the Libyan leader, Muamar Qaddafi. For the UK to have allowed meetings with rebels to take place in London most of the times, it is equally guilty of supporting terrorism. Today, in almost all the places we have mentioned, terrorism has taken root – a platform from which attacks are launched globally. Indeed, the West’s military failures in the Middle East and Afghanistan are mostly to blame for the rise and growth of terrorism today. In these areas the devastation, the human misery, and insane destruction are outrageous. For instance, in figures it calls “staggering”, the United Nations, in a report released this week, says that almost 55,000 civilians have been killed and more than 36,000 wounded in violence in Iraq since the start of 2014. And this is Iraq alone! The outpour of emigrants wanting to settle elsewhere may, therefore, be well understood. But well, this is also causing a redefinition of Europe. The EU, as a unit, is now hiccupping badly as individual member countries seek to protect sovereignty, which, hitherto, was gradually sinking away, because of the gradual crystallization of integration. Meanwhile, because of this phenomenon of unprecedented efflux/influx of migrants, terrorism has been brought closer to the shores of Europe. Who then is to blame for the 21st Century rise and growth of terrorism?
Obviously, the most glaring form of modern support for rebellion and, therefore, terrorism, is to be found in the Turkish behavior. Turkey, for a long time, allowed its borders to be violated by jihadists who entered Syria. Today, an estimated 3000 foreign fighters are in Syria fighting on behalf of the ISIS. They mostly entered through Turkey. And Turkey was supporting the West against Assad. Turkey wasn’t doing anything against ISIS, but supporting them with volunteers and giving shelter when Syrian army pushed them. It is a known fact that the Syrian Kurdish forces (YPG) is a US-backed Kurdish group that has pushed the ISIS back from areas along the border with Turkey. Yet the Turks tried to put impediments in their way in their broader war with the PKK (the Turkey Kurdish rebel forces, fighting for autonomy and independence from Turkey). No doubt a further strengthened YPG will anger Turkey, which has long feared that Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria would stir up similar sentiments among its own Kurdish population. Unknown to many, Turkey was allowing ISIS to operate on its soil, a situation which NATO warned about several times. It was only the advent of the Russians, glaringly on behalf of the Assad regime and pointedly against ISIS that Turkey joined the forces in flying missions together out of NATO Incirlik airbase. And why would Turkey down a Russian jet fighter in such circumstances, if the idea was to forge a common front against terrorists? Violating airspace for a mere 17 seconds shouldn’t ever need to be dealt with by shooting down the Russian aircraft. Quickly Turkey appealed to NATO which, as expected, promised full support. This angered Moscow to the hilt. The incident, the first conflict situation between a NATO member state and Russia since the peak of the Cold War half a century ago, caused global scare. Several speculative reasons were given: Turkey did not want Russia’s supremacy to be established; Putin himself criticized the Turkish leadership for its “Islamization” of the country. “Today’s loss is like a stab in our backs from accomplices of terrorism,” he had said; Turkey was accused of allowing ISIS to operate in its territory also by selling pirated oil, about millions of blood dollars, caravan of trucks driving from ISIS occupied territory; (was Turkey protecting this lucrative trade, an accusation which the Russian brought out vividly accusing the Prime Minister’s son of being behind this?). Again, it is speculated that Moscow seems to be moving closer to a group that has been the US-led coalition’s main ground force in Syria – a group which Turkey, itself a member of that coalition, calls “terrorists”. We are here talking about the YPG, earlier mentioned above. And Turkey did not like it. Of all the theories one striking reason given by Channel One News was: “The main reason for Erdogan’s deceit was, for once, not blamed on the Americans. Turkey’s motive for shooting down the Russian warplane, …was to scuttle French President François Hollande’s effort to build a broad international coalition to fight ISIS including Britain, the United States, and Russia”. This is what concerns us today. Why would terrorism not be fought with ‘one fist’ as proposed by the Russians and actively being pursued by the French? Why would a country or group of countries look at terrorism through the lenses of Cold War perception (alliances)? The Turkey action has provoked the deployment of the dreaded SS-400 anti-air missiles (affectionately called the ‘Russian Beast’) in Syria, and just 40 kilometers from Turkey. Does this not effectively make the whole of Syrian territory a no-fly zone and perhaps put NATO under pressure? Indeed, in case of hostility, the possibility of any plane or missiles taking off from Turkey is no longer guaranteed. In effect, instead of cooperating to defeat terrorism, our actions are being guided by parochial interests.
The whole globe is now a theatre of war. Public places – stadia, bars, restaurants, malls, hotels, etc. – have now become targets, innocent people being killed randomly. Let nations realize that the war against terror cannot be won by being discriminatory. Nations must stop sponsoring sub-national groups (rebels). The insipid desire to foster values, especially Western values, on the whole globe must cease. After all, democracy is not an event; it is a process. And as a process it can only manifest itself in the gradual evolution towards perfection and only brewed in the socio-historical and cultural realities of the people. Any attempt to universalize, especially through imposition, value-laden social theory like democracy is bound to yield a ‘Clash of Civilizations’ and, consequently, rebellion in the form of terrorism.