The ISIS has already given a call to all terrorist groups including Al Qaeda to develop a common strategy. This should prompt the world leaders to give up the distinguishing between ‘good terrorists’ and ‘bad terrorists’ and take a unified approach to all forms of terror.
Recent carnage in Paris is enough a caution that the world leaders need to do away with the pet words – “good terrorists and bad terrorists.” This approach has done no good so far. Rather it has vitiated the atmosphere and created an environment for grooming of terrorists. Patronising some as “good terrorists” and others as “bad terrorists” is nothing but a political ploy to disadvantage one’s adversary. It is, therefore, high time that world leaders should push for an early conclusion Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism at the United Nations. This proposed treaty is held to hostage due to the insistence of some countries demanding a definition of terrorism. It is but logical that terrorism should be defined in clear terms.
But the action of those who take a toll on innocent civilian lives on the pretext of fighting against the state or the established order, however repressive it may be, cannot be justified. There are yet several ways of fighting for civil rights or freedom for any ethnic group instead of gunning down innocent lives.
What happened on 26/11 in Mumbai, 29/11 in New York and 13/11 in Paris are but a few of some parallels in the history of what few men of evil design can do to perpetuate terror leading to loss of innocent human lives. The terrorists, not satisfied with the Paris carnage, enacted another Black Friday at Radisson Hotel in Bamako Mali where some Europeans were staying.
The ISIS claimed to be responsible for the Paris carnage. It was also responsible for gunning down a Russian plane in Egypt. The reason for their action was to avenge French and Russian bombing of their stronghold in Syria, which it has illegally occupied by force.
But what were the US and the NATO powers doing when ISIS was growing from strength to strength? Last year the ISIS began occupying large parts of Iraq and NATO powers did little to prevent its advance. The ISIS still continue to hold to hostage several foreign nationals including Bharateeya. Pentagon which had earlier occupied Iraq and set up a democratic regime after dethroning Saddam Hussein could also do little to checkmate ISIS. They forced a change in regime and replaced Nouri al-Maliki with Haider al-Abadi, but this did not improve the situation.
The US and NATO powers further insisted that the Syrian President Basher al-Assad be removed. Russia and Iran backed Assad regime while Pentagon and its allies backed the rebels most of whom belong to splinter terrorist groups. Here is an example where the US drew the fine distinction between “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists” Even when Russia began its operations in Syria with “no boots on the ground”, the US began blaming Russia of choosing to attack Assad’s opponents instead of targeting only ISIS. Syria, thus became a chessboard for political rivalry between Russia and Iran on one side and Pentagon and its allies on the other side. This shadow boxing is doing more harm than good.
It is totally a wrong judgment to seek removal of Assad by outside force. The process of removal or acceptance of Assad should be totally a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process under the supervision of neutral powers designated by UN. No head of the state or government should be removed by any external power. The US attempted change of Maliki regime in Iraq had not improved the situation in that country.
Initially most of the rebels opposed to Assad were splinter terrorist groups and these groups recruited men from across the globe, the practice which ISIS is following today. The US and the NATO powers were not interested in eliminating these terrorists. Ultimately they weakened Assad regime and paved the way for the ISIS to occupy large parts of Syria.
Next came the crisis of mass exodus of refugees from ISIS occupied parts of Iraq and Syria to Europe. Countries like Germany, France, Greece, Turkey and others opened their doors on humanitarian grounds, while other like Hungary and Austria resisted. It is good to give shelter to refugees on humanitarian grounds, but in a warlike situation proper mechanism should be put in place – like segregation of refugees and keeping surveillance on them. This did not happen and as a result terrorists sneaked into the ranks of the refugees and created carnage in Paris killing 129 persons and injuring several people.
Comparatively, during 1971 war with Pakistan, Bharat gave shelter to millions of refugees from erstwhile Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and even aided Mukti Bahini in its liberation struggle. Bharat managed the refugee crisis effectively and no untoward incident occurred.
The crisis in West Asia is complicated by deep sectarian divide between the Sunnis, the Shias and the Kurds. The Sunnis has the support of the US and NATO powers. Saudi Arabia and GCC countries have also sympathise with them. The Alawite Shia regime led by Assad in Syria and Houthis in Yemen has the support from Iran and Russia. The Syrian Kurds who are asserting their control over northern part of the country aligned with the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party – PKK – which both Turkey and Pentagon have deemed a terrorist organisation. This annoyed Ankara that even differed with US bombing ISIS targets when the latter took over Syrian Kurdish order town of Kobani. However, the issue of US defending Kurds was later sorted out and Turkey reluctantly came to terms with Pentagon. The US and NATO powers now singularly target ISIS.
The world leaders are divided on targeting terrorist groups. The situation, therefore, calls for a unified approach against all forms of terrorism. The G 20 leaders recognised UN’s central role in the matter but fell short of backing the proposal for backing the proposed Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism. The world body is not yet effectively armed with adequate legal framework to deal with the menace of global terrorism except some stray laws like UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, some UNSC resolutions, international laws relating to human rights and refugees. The G 20’s Financial Action Task Force (FAFT) should take effective measures to curb terrorist financing.
The ISIS has already given a call to all terrorist groups including Al Qaeda to develop a common strategy. This should prompt the world leaders to give up the distinguishing between ‘good terrorists’ and ‘bad terrorists’ and take a unified approach to all forms of terror. The recent gunning down of a Russian warplane by Ankara, about one km from the Syrian border is likely to lead to a division in the ranks of global coalition against terror. It may escalate into a war between two opposing forces that are differing on their approach and terror targets. Such unfortunate situation should e avoided and terrorism in all forms should be nipped in the bud
and efforts should be made for a Comprehensive Convention
on Terrorism at the UN as early as
Ashok B Sharma (The writer is a columnist and writes on strategic and foreign policy issues)