Monday, November 16, 2015
Terror in Paris linked to the Syrian theatre of war
It is quite evident that at the moment Europe and America are facing Islamic terrorism, spearheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). There is a connection between the war in Syria and Iraq and the terror attack in Paris on Friday. This does not however imply that the solution to Islamic terrorism as wielded by ISIS is to be found either in a settlement with the political players in Syria, including President Bashar Al Assad and the ISIS, or in the military defeat of both Assad and ISIS. The prospect of total military victory against Assad and the ISIS looks difficult because Iran and Russia are supporting Assad, and Saudi Arabia is supporting, though unofficially, the ISIS.
The terror attack in Paris then is of specific origin. This is not an ideological war between Islamic fundamentalists on the one hand and modern West on the other. Most analysts and commentators in Europe and America are prone to interpret the Paris terror attack in abstract ideological terms. But the truth is that this terror war is related to the specific problem of the fanatical Sunni organisation of the ISIS, claiming to defend minority Sunnis in Iraq and majority Sunnis in Syria. European and American leaders and experts have to come to terms with the puzzle of political Islam in West Asia.
Commentators are also comparing the Friday attack with the killing of the editorial team of Charlie Hebdo, which carried the cartoons of Propher Muhammad, and drawing the conclusion that this is a fight between secular, modern, democratic West and a retrogressive Islam. There was no doubt an element of the clash of civilisations in the attack on Charlie Hebdo, but the ISIS-backed terror attack of Friday is rooted in the specific political situation in Syria and Iraq.
India is also making the mistake of identifying with the Western interpretation of the fight with Islamic terrorism as something that has to do with opposed civilisational values represented by the modern West and ‘medieval’ Islam. The Indian experience with terrorism also shows that it is part of a political tussle between India and Pakistan, and that Pakistan, unable to cope with the conventional military superiority of India, is resorting to terrorism using jihadi organisations like the Lashkar-E—Taiba (LeT) and its mastermind, Hafiz Sayeed. It is necessary to delink jihadi terrorism from the ideology of Islam in South Asia as well as in West Asia. It has to be fought on political and military grounds.
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