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frank_psaila
Frank Psaila

The war on terror

Terrorist groups, such as Isis, have dreamed of a showdown with the West. Donald Trump’s statement fills them joy.

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila
16 December 2015, 7:47am
US Republican Presidential candidate, property tycoon Donald Trump, has called for a ban on Muslims travelling to the US. Trump’s statement amounts to hate speech. This is no way how to fight the war on terror. It would only complicate matters and make the world a more dangerous place.

Terrorist groups, such as Isis, have dreamed of a showdown with the West. Donald Trump’s statement fills them joy. Trump was never fit for purpose, and by calling for a ban on Muslim travel to the US, a mind boggling proposal to say the least, he has rendered himself a persona non grata.

Nearly half a million people in the US have called upon the British government to ban the billionaire presidential contender from travelling to the UK. Trump is a menace to world order. Unfortunately, Trump’s statement has found the support of a large segment of the US Republican vote, although two thirds of US voters are afraid of the prospect of a Trump Presidency.

“Le choc”

Following the Paris attacks by a group of radicalised young men, which left 130 people dead, the French electorate turned to Marie Le Pen’s far right party, which is now the largest political party in France.

Leading French newspapers, Le Figaro and L’Humanite’, splashed: “Le choc” on their front pages in reporting the far right’s convincing win in the French regional elections. Le Pen’s surge is no surprise and French leaders, as the rest of the EU leaders, are mostly to blame for the rise of the far right in Europe.

For years, they failed to address citizens’ concerns. The economic and financial meltdown of 2007, which left hundreds of thousands of EU citizens unemployed, sluggish economies, corruption among the ruling elite, lack of opportunities and a block in social mobility for the young, this year’s refugee crisis and the inability of European leaders to deal with the crisis, together with the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and California, US, are largely to blame. 

A difficult war

The war on ISIS is unlike any other war. This is a war against an ideology which makes it a very difficult war to win. The bombardment of Syria by the French and their allies are knee-jerk, but understandable reactions following the Paris attacks.

It is known, for a fact, that terrorists rarely, if ever, isolate themselves – that would make them an easy target. Instead, they hang out with the local population – usually in apartment blocks that house families. In Syria too, Isis terrorists spend their time among the local population.

In Mosul, widely considered an Isis stronghold, it is estimated that there are at most 15,000 Isis terrorists among a population of 1.5 million. This makes it increasingly difficult for the Western allies to eliminate terrorists in Mosul without killing thousands of innocent civilians. 

Sirte, Libya

According to reports in the international press, Isis leader Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali alBadri al-Samarri, operating under the nom de guerre Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, has fled Raqqa, after sustaining life threatening injuries, travelled to Turkey for a medical intervention and is now in Sirte, Libya.

Libya, following the demise of the Gaddafi regime, has become a hotbed for terrorists. Warships in the Mediterranean and war planes over its airspace, indicate that Libya, like Syria, shall, soon be targeted by Western bombs. 

A battle for survival

Western bombs alone will not win the war on terror. George W. Bush’s war on terror is now widely recognised to have been an excellent recruitment programme for terrorists. Isis, a splinter of the terrorist organisation Al Qaeda, with the two organisations now reported to be at loggerheads – a battle for relevance and survival – is a result of the Western bombs on Iraq in their collective effort to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The US invasion of Iraq elevated the long suppressed Shi’a into political power. Al Qaeda in Iraq [AQI] saw this as an excellent opportunity for it to flourish and allied itself with the suppressed Sunni population of Iraq and in so doing attracted thousands of disenfranchised young people to its cause. Self-radicalised young people, including young Europeans, flocked to join AQI, passing through smuggling routes in Syria. 

No clear-cut solutions

Admittedly, there are no clear-cut solutions to the war on terror – but it is widely believed that the war against terror cannot be won by military power alone. 

America must walk the talk and stop rich Arab nations from delivering weapons to the terrorists in Iraq and Syria. 

The bickering between Russia and the US on Syria cannot drag any longer, if both parties are serious on eliminating the Isis terrorists. Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime is known for its cruel atrocities against its own people, however while the US and its Western allies are fighting a war against the Syrian regime and Isis, Russia supports the Syrian regime, arguing that it is best to fight Isis in Syria. World powers need to have a common enemy – if they want to fight it and demolish it successfully. 

The US and its Western allies need to pile pressure on Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, whose commitment to the war on terror leaves much to be desired. According to a report on CNN online this week, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are down to one mission against Isis targets each month. 

The integration of the Sunni population in Syria and Iraq is essential in the war against Isis. 

Terrorist groups do fade but they usually take a long time to fade away completely. Western bombs on Syria and Libya often result in catastrophic fatalities of innocent civilians. Banning Muslims from travelling to the US, as suggested by Donald Trump, is not only a serious breach of fundamental human rights, but a classic recruitment exercise for terror recruits and lone wolves – who, feeling suppressed and disenfranchised by Western powers, become more inclined to join terrorist groups and their causes.

European leaders’ inability to have a common policy on the refugee crisis plays in the hands of xenophobic far right groups with the latter seizing the moment to make significant, long-lasting political gains.

The war on terror needs to be fought on all fronts, without resorting to the erosion of human dignity of innocent civilians as that would only serve to recruit new terrorists.

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila, a lawyer by profession, anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV. He was formerly...
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