Washington, Dec. 31 2004 (INS News) — The war on terror is a key term when defining the US foreign policy, or the interaction between West and East. A very used and sometimes even exploited word, yet without a clear definition. Should the terrorism be defined by the manner it acts, or by its purpose? In the West we understand the term as of a premeditated act of targeting civilians to reach a commonly declared goal.However, many Arab leaders claim that terrorism should not be defined by the forms it takes, but rather by its purpose.
In other words it is all right to kill innocent children, women and men if it suits the goals of a group or another. To be more specific, if we call our goal liberationthen we can do whatever it takes to achieve our goal. In the light of this definition, terrorism on behalf of good causes is acceptable, many times is even morally justified and terrorism on behalf of bad causes is bad. But, who can decide what is good or bad, what is moral or immoral? Where does the resistance end and terrorism starts?
That is the question that Arab leaders should find an answer to, and share their wisdom with the people who have lost friends and family members in the 9/11 tragedy, with the families who have lost their children in Beslan siege, with the people from Darfur, Spain, Israel and the list can go on and on.
It is hard to imagine why a rational Arab leader would find acceptable to excuse the acts of terrorism of Bin Ladens group, Al Zarqawis group, Hamas or any other group that acts as the above ones.
The Arabs who find themselves so attached to the liberation cause should pay attention to what is going on in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Kingdom used to be, or for what we know, it can still be the major supporter of the so-called resistance groups. Now, that the terrorists want to liberate themselves from the hegemony of the Al Saud family, the political elite is trying hard to switch sides.
The point is that the terrorisms actions should not be supported by any country or leader. Simply put, it is just not in their best interest. Terrorism activity is a boomerang that will come and bring down its supporters when terrorists will get tired of attacking the United States and the European countries.
Some have said that terrorism is related with the lack of education, unemployment and poverty. While these reasons are important – none is sufficient in itself to motivate a person to become a cold blood criminal. If we were to take only poverty into consideration, then most of the African countries should be breeding grounds for terrorism, yet terrorism is not spread there.
A high percent of the soon to be jihadists are well-educated, internet savvy and from middle class homes. They are definitely not poor, but find comfort in joining a group, no matter how atrocious the aims of the group are.
The social and psychological need to freely express one selfs views and opinions, together with the freedom of adhering to a group or association, requires a pluralistic political stage. Moreover, it indicates that the root of radicalism, terrorism and blind hate comes from the lack of political diversity and social tolerance.
The Arab leaders, instead of criticising US foreign policy and supporting financially and logistically the various terrorist cells, should take bold action to reform their obsolete, thus dangerous political systems. Recognize the natural right of their people to information; creating jobs, thus encouraging foreign and local investors to open businesses in the region; recognize womens rights; amend the educational curricula from all madras (Islamic schools) across the region and spread a policy of social tolerance and political diversity.
A serious stroke to the terrorism would be a campaign aimed at eradicating, or at least reducing the political and social abuses.
What strategy can the West find to counter the threat of terrorism? Reshape the regimes which are supporting terrorism or change them? For many reasons, reshaping is a wiser option. The strategy of the United States and the coalition in Iraq and Afganistan to bring down the terrorism was less successful than expected. Mainly because the foreign military presence is widely perceived as illegitimate. The terrorist cells either working under the patronage of Al Qaeda, or independently are exploiting the general state of mistrust and opposition to Bush administration policy. The enemy does not make a distinction between the American government policy and the American people, considering the individuals merely as collateral damages. A mean to achieve their aim. In Pakistan, the US policy failed short to point out its interest. The whole idea of cooperating with Pakistan started from a false premise: that a pro-American general can track down and stop the terrorist cells of Al Qaida based inside Pakistans borders. However, in spite of his full of pathos pro-West and anti-terrorism speeches Musharraf’s power and influence within the country seems to be limited. The prove is that the top Al Qaeda leaders are alive, safe and still sending warning messages to US from Pakistan. Another fact that raises questions on the Pakistan political elite loyalty towards the United States is the evidence of Pakistans support of Irans mullahs to acquire nuclear power.
Did US gain something from looking the other side when Pakistan became a de facto nuclear holder? Not much. Can it afford to keep as allies, countries and leaders who are publicly saying one thing and practically doing the opposite? Not at all. The war on terror is hard enough to be fought without having to wonder which of your allies are not in fact your worst enemies.
An effective policy would be a common policy of the US, EU, UN and NATO together with the Arab countries to counter terrorism, to determine its roots and to prevent it. No matter how different the aims of the West and East may be, all countries need a secure and stable environment in order to develop.
— Manuela Paraipan – INS News Contributor reporting from Arad, Romania