The War On Terror Is In Peril

The War On Terror Is In Peril

Updated on 13 May, 2019

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Article Suhasini Haider opined that the brutal attacks on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, for which the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, have reignited discussion on the global ‘War on Terror’. Important Analysis

  • Scholars and officials across the world are studying the links of the bombers to the IS’s former ‘Caliphate’ in Syria, where at least two of the bombers are believed to have travelled, and several leaders have now called for a greater focus on the global dimensions of the counter-terrorism effort.
  • The attacks in Sri Lanka underline the many cracks in the concept of a global ‘War on Terror’, and raise questions on what it has achieved in the time since the term was coined by the former U.S.
Analysis of global war on terror The number of global terror attacks (maintained in a Global Terrorism Database by the University of Maryland of events from 1970 to 2018) per year went up from 1,000 in 2004 to 17,000 in 2014. It is clear that the countries in question — Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq — are far from free of the spectre of terrorism. In Afghanistan
  • The coalition of about 60 countries that sent troops and offered logistical support for ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ failed to end terrorism in Afghanistan.
  • Though, it appears that it is preparing to hand the country back to the oppressive Taliban regime that it defeated in December 2001. This, despite the fact there is no guarantee that the terror groups living in safe havens in Pakistan will not also have the run of Afghanistan once the coalition pulls out.
In West Asia
  • 46 nations joined the ‘coalition of the willing’ to defeat Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003, and 19 were a part of the coalition that ousted Muammar Qaddafi from power in Libya in 2011.
  • The U.S. and allied countries were sidetracked by the ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011, which led them to bolster anti-Bashar al-Assad groups in Syria.
  • This eventually paved the way for the IS to establish a ‘Caliphate’ in territories in Syria and Iraq.
Against IS
  • The War on Terror appears to help the IS and al-Qaeda more, giving them a footprint far bigger than their actual abilities.
  • This helps them recruit and radicalise Muslim youth from around the globe, and allows them to own terrorists around the world as their own. Sri Lanka is the latest on that list.
Fight for Islam
  • According to the Global Terrorism Database, of the 81 terror attacks in which more than 100 were killed (high casualty) since 2001, more than 70 were carried out in Islamic or Muslim-majority countries.
  • In a specific search of high casualty terror attacks on religious institutions since 2001, 18 of the top 20 were by Islamist groups on mosques. Thus, the narrative of a “fight for Islam” is equally false.
Difference between east and west countries:
  • Comparing European states like the U.K., France and Belgium, where hundreds of immigrant Muslims have enlisted for the IS, to South Asian states like India, where Muslim populations are indigenous and only a few dozen are believed to have left for Syria
  • Indian officials have also claimed a higher success in deradicalising IS returnees because they have enlisted whole families, neighbourhoods and local Maulvis in their efforts.
Contradiction on defining terror The world has defined terrorism according to its national interest rather than global interest as for example
  • The U.S. is focused on billing Iran the “world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism”, while states like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that have funded and sheltered Islamist terror groups are still treated as “frontline allies” on terror.
  • Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar has been targeting Indians incessantly for years but China allowed his UN Security Council designation as a global terrorist only after mentions of his attacks in India were removed.
Steps to be taken
  • The world community must address contradictions in the War on Terror. For 20 years, the world has failed to agree on a common definition of terrorism at the United Nations. This has held up the passage of the Indian-sponsored proposal for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
  • Unless the world is truly united on the issue and resolves such contradictions, the global War on Terror will only be as strong as its weakest link.
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