Terror in Europe: The enemy no longer at the gates
Attacks are part of a larger war to subdue EU and the western world values and ethos
A lot has been written and will be written about terrorists penetrating western cities and societies and their efforts to destroy, disrupt, hurt and kill those in their way. Yes, free and democratic societies are difficult to defend as they are open environment and ensure innocence of suspect until they are proven guilty.
The acts of terror and violence, exploding bombs in trains and airports are soft targets carrying a message beyond the lowly origins and creed of those criminals carrying the heinous acts in the name of a religious war. Those attacks are part and parcel of a larger war to subdue EU and the western world values and ethos dedicated toward promoting freedom, democracy, human rights, and free choice in the world.
The attacks are indiscriminate and target civilians and as many leaders in Europe and beyond have stated that this war with agents of anarchy will be a long and protracted one. Therefore, it is important to see and execute the defense strategy beyond chasing few cells scattered around Europe and the US. The challenge is to identify and eliminate parties who stand behind those sent to kill.
The EU and the western world need to realign its strategy and identify those forces, state and non-state actors bent on sewing dissent and division aimed, one day, at putting a check on Europe’s power in the world. This is in a bid, the next day, to divide the western civilization and rid it of hard earned values that have called for centuries for the protection of the weak, and to stand with the Right against the Wrong, and support those aspiring to be in their own eyes more free.
Whether the EU likes it or not the floodgates have opened and some enemies are inside the house and no longer at the gates. Though ISIS is the main protagonist in this violent chapter, the real enemy remain state actors facilitating and directing some of ISIS efforts toward western cities and peaceful neighborhoods.
Since the onset of the Syrian revolution in March 2011 against Assad’s rule, his regime never shied away from warning that if threatened the regime will make sure that regional and international peace will be breached. Now after 300,000 dead, and millions exiled in refugee camps in neighboring countries, and millions more displaced internally, the Assad regime continues to be in power with help from its allies such as Iran and Russia.
It is important to analyze and execute the defense strategy beyond chasing few cells scattered around Europe and the United StatesMohamed Chebarro
Few articles published in western media since 2011 carried those threats by pro-Assad officials, the threats were also included in many interviews that the embattled Syrian president gave to handpicked western media outlets. Whichever way the regime or his cronies have put it, it is summed up that the fire will not be limited to Syria and the regime.
In May 2011, shortly after the start of the uprising in Syria, Assad’s cousin was quoted as saying: “If there is no stability here… there will be no stability in Israel.” Rami Makhlouf, Bashar al-Assad’s maternal cousin, went on to say: “No way, and nobody can guarantee what will happen after… I didn’t say war”, he said adding “What I’m saying is don’t let us suffer, don’t put a lot of pressure on the president, don’t push Syria to do anything it is not happy to do...”
In Sep 2013, President Assad himself alluded asymmetrical action if his country is attacked by the west after finding his regime guilty of using chemical weapons against civilians near Damascus, in an interview he said that his response “...may take different forms, direct and indirect. Direct when governments want to retaliate, and indirect when you are going to have instability and the spread of terrorism over the region that will influence the west directly...”
Such threats seem to have slowly metamorphosed into bloody action. In the past few years they got executed through third party entities, one day it is Sunni extremists bombing Saudi and Kuwaiti Shiite mosques. In Turkey the PKK Kurdish suicide bombers have been shooting at the state and bombing civilian and tourists areas. ISIS also joined the fray with suicide bombings on Kurds and Turks. In Europe, Paris was attacked twice, Brussels once, the US once. Other cities are braced for the worse, as lone wolves, thugs, petty criminals from disenfranchised background in Europe and beyond are returning from self-styled Jihad causes in Syria and or Iraq.
The western world must evolve in the way it looks at the war on terror and redefine its successes and failures as the enemies are no longer at the gate. After the EU worked out a plan with Turkey to slow the immigration traffic to Greece and mainland Europe, the minister of defense in France has warned that 800,000 plus immigrants are waiting to cross to Southern Europe from Libyan shores this time towards Italy.
Again the floodgates of migration are a distraction as many security officials have testified in recent months. Those who are encouraging it are well known. This tactic is used to deflect western countries’ attention from promoting democracy and freedom and undermine its impact in conflict resolution and management of world crisis, and by then weakening its influence, stature and posturing in peace and war questions.
Three factors contributed to the increased vulnerability of EU and the western world and check their ability to face up to terror and violence on their soil. The first factor is eight years of United States’ disengagement policy “a la Obama”. The second is the reawakening of a “Tsarist” ambitious Russia under President Vladimir Putin. The third is an emboldened Iran after its latest nuclear deal and its renewed efforts to seemingly spread radical Islam as a tool to interfere in regional and international state affairs. These factors have resulted in a toxic recipe that the world will take decades to eliminate.
Against such a landscape security agencies in Europe and America continue to publish warnings that many terror cells remain at large and could strike at a short notice anywhere in Europe’s key public events and or installations. After two years of an uneven and flawed war against terror the world, or at least a part of it, feels helpless and lacks means and capacity to fight this monstrous enemy, which is no longer at the gate.
Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London. He tweets @mochebaro