As Paris still mourns its numerous dead, the French government bombs ISIS strong-holds in Syria with the help from the United States- The innocent peace-loving people of the world are thrown into the vicious cycle of violence and war once again as French President, Francois Hollande, fulfils his promise to “lead with a pitiless war”. The French were already at war against both ISIS and groups like the ISIS, after the terrorist attack in Paris on Friday night, if the president’s words are anything to go by then, it is easily understood that, the French are not backing down anytime soon and will unleash a full-blown war.
The terrorists had chosen their targets with much planning and they were far from random. The places they had chosen signified places where strangers came together. The aim wasn’t only to take innocent lives but, it was also to send across a message, to provoke an ‘us-versus-them’ retaliation, to plant fear in the hearts of the people of Paris. But, as is expected, with messages of solidarity coming in from all over the world, Paris will bounce back as the spirited city it is, while it mourns its dead and injured.
But, it cannot be denied that with ISIS’s Paris siege they have issued a challenge to the governments in a more cruel and threatening fashion than was imaginable. The Paris attacks also go to show that, the IS jihadists are capable of attacking anywhere. The rapid rise of the terror profile of this group of perceptibly mindless mass murdered blinded by religion should put world capitals on the edge of their seats. The IS claims that the attacks on Friday night were in response to the French air strikes in Syria. This explanation is anything but new, terrorist organisations often blame the victims’ governments to justify their cruel acts of terror. But, if one were to gain an insight, their actions are rooted in extreme violence and hatred.
But, the French government does need to take a long hard look at itself. Paris’s Syria policy has actually contributed to the de-stabilisation of the West Asian country that created circumstances for the rise of groups such as IS. It has also been correctly theorised that the al-Qaeda and ISIS are a result of fall out of the imperial wars waged by Western super-powers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some people are taking the easy way out and blaming religion for the birth of these terrorist outfits. It must not be the intention to blame the innocent people who died in Paris for their own death. But one must look back into history and remind themselves of the western and Saudi-backed world Muslim league, who took it upon themselves to destroy the secular forces of the 1960s and 1970s in order to protect the Gulf Arab emirates and Saudi kingdom along with the West’s interest in the oil and power. In more recent times, innumerable lives were lost in the aerial bombardment of Libya in 2011. The wars on Iraq, then Libya and now Syria, have ravaged these countries and left thousands dead, but most importantly, they have opened up the field for organisations like the ISIS to breed. As Jeremy Corbyn points out in the wake of the Paris attack “ISIS did not come from nowhere. They have got a lot of money that’s come from somewhere. They’ve got a huge supply of arms that have come from somewhere.” Questions should be raised in everyone’s minds.
Even if Paris started bombing IS targets in Syria, there is no denying that, Paris was in the fore-front of the countries that backed the different rebel groups in Syria against the government of President Assad. France has been hosting a group of Syrian opposition leaders since the outbreak of the civil war in the country. France could have very easily used its influence to facilitate a political settlement in Syria that would restore order to the country torn apart by the on-going war and that eventually would have also led to strengthen the war against IS, but it decided not to. In the light of this information, the theories that France brought upon themselves the terror strike because it opened its borders to Syrian refugees can be countered, since the Syrian refugees are running away from the very monsters that orchestrated the attack in Paris on Friday night.
All of the terrorists who attacked the eight different locations in Paris were young French men and not refugees. France should introspect as to why radical groups are finding recruits from within its borders. France is said to have the largest Muslim population in the Europe. But, in recent times France has seen a collapse of its multi-cultural identity and narrowing of its view of secularism. This has most likely pushed the minority youth to volunteer of their own accord for radical organisations like the ISIS. One must not forget the Charlie Hebdo attackers who were all of French descent. France needs to integrate all sections of the French society into the national mainstream and broaden its vision of secularism, to tackle the issue of terror comprehensively.
Prior to the attack in Paris on Friday night, the IS organised a suicide attack on the city of Beirut, at least 40 people died and over 239 were injured. But, there was a glaring absence of global sympathy and Facebook filters to mourn the death of those people. Now, to some of us this did not come as a surprise that the Western media and social media was not at all vocal about the massacre in Beirut since, we are aware to some extent of the discrepancy in the value assigned to people’s lives on the basis of their nationality. But the selective outrage following the attacks in the two cities has brought this dichotomy of the western world to the fore-front. Belen Verso, an author and contributing editor of popular online magazine ‘Jacobin’, observes that, when President Obama characterizes the situation in Paris on Friday night as “heartbreaking” and an assault “on all of humanity”, “all of humanity” doesn’t necessarily qualify as human. There is also a prevailing notion in the west that – as far as bombs, explosions and killings go – Lebanon is simply one-of-those-places-where-such-things-happen. The same goes for Iraq and that is probably why Obama or anybody else does not mention the suicide attack on a funeral in Baghdad within the last week. The situation in Iraq is of course more complicated – not to mention other countries like Yemen, Afghanistan that have been bearing the brunt of US military atrocities. Why doesn’t it ‘break the heart’ of the US president to order drone attacks and other annihilating measures on these countries? Irfan Habib wrote in a Facebook status update soon after the news of the Paris terror attack broke “the West is NOT morally superior to the jihadis. Why is a public execution with a sword worse than an indiscriminate drone attack? Neither can and should be supported.”
Jeb Bush, the republican Presidential candidate in the US said “(the horrific massacres in Paris were) an organised effort to destroy western civilisation”. Rupert Murdoch tweeted : “Paris outrage not an attack on all humanity, but an attack on us, i.e. western civilisation”. The terrorists certainly had civilisation on their agenda. They spread chaos and unleashed blood-shed through a city famous for its culture, romancing of varied influences, and its freedom of expression. But, it is wrong of the prominent figures of the West to assume that they alone are under the attack of the ISIS. The ISIS hates civilisation, wherever it sees it, not just in the West.
Vijay Prashad writes, ‘Who else will be attacked? Will the strategy change? Will the western leaders be able to take a longer view than one constrained by the emotional reaction of the present and be able to see past the reflex of more war? Would the western intelligentsia and its leadership be able to acknowledge that some of the strategic choices made in the West have only exacerbated animosities and conjured up a great many threats? It is unlikely. Macho language about “pitiless war” defines the countours of leadership these days. Little else is on offer. It is red meat to our emotions.’