Terror attacks in Paris … and Beirut

The world is reeling after 129 people were killed in Paris by terrorist gun and bomb attacks at a concert hall, bars, restaurants and the main sports

Nov 20, 2015

By Anil Netto
The world is reeling after 129 people were killed in Paris by terrorist gun and bomb attacks at a concert hall, bars, restaurants and the main sports stadium on Nov 13 for which ISIS has claimed responsibility.

Pope Francis said such barbarity leaves us stunned as we wonder how human hearts can think up and carry out such atrocities which “have shocked not only France, but the whole world,” reported Vatican Radio.

Many have rightly condemned the horrific butchery which brought into sharper focus the reality of the threat, with messages of “We are all France” pouring in.

In the midst of the Paris attack, many may overlook that 43 people were killed in a double suicide bomb attack in Beirut on Nov 12, a day earlier. We should ask ourselves why they have garnered less attention while we are caught up with those killed in Paris. Why are there no “We are all Beirut” messages of solidarity?

Someone suggested we should draw a distinction as Beirut and other strife-torn areas lie in war zones. But who declared them war zones?

The situation in the Middle East is complicated, no doubt. And it has not been helped by colonial wars and superpower interventions for decades, all of which have muddied the picture.

The terror attacks in Paris cannot be viewed in isolation. They are an extension of the war raging in the Middle East. They come after ISIS suffered setbacks to its  control of territory in Syria following responses from Russia and the United States.

But let’s not forget the following either:

Both al Qaeda and ISIS arose as a consequence of the invasions by the superpowers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both these groups are under the influence of Wahhabiism.

The renowned intellectual, Noam Chomsky, has described the US invasion of Iraq as the worst crime of this century. “It’s had horrible effects; it spawned sectarian conflicts that are tearing the region apart.”

This crime has spiralled out of control, as many had predicted it would, having unintended consequences.

The US-supported administration of occupied Iraq reportedly sponsored El Salvador-style death squads to weaken the Iraqi resistance.

Indeed, Al Qaeda did not exist in Iraq before the invasion, it has now filled the vacuum left by the repressive Saddam Hussein who was, at one time, reportedly backed and financed by the CIA.

In fact, Guardian correspondent Seumas  Milne writes in a report, “Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq”: “…. there was no al-Qaida in Iraq until the US and Britain invaded. And the US has certainly exploited the existence of ISIS against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western control.

“The calculus changed when ISIS started beheading westerners and posting atrocities online, and the Gulf states are now backing other groups in the Syrian war, such as the Nusra Front. But this US and western habit of playing with jihadi groups, which then come back to bite them, goes back at least to the 1980s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which fostered the original al-Qaida under CIA tutelage.

“And the US has certainly exploited the existence of ISIS against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western control.”

In the meantime, major powers, including France, sell billions of dollars of weapons to undemocratic governments such as  Saudi Arabia.

And secular nationalist groups in the Middle East have been repressed by local regimes who are propped up by the superpowers.

Superpowers have also armed and trained rebel groups, some of whom invariably spin out of control.

So, things are not as straightforward as the mainstream media, such as BBC and CNN, would like us to believe. Indeed, many have weaved a tangled web in the Middle East.

Yes, we should express solidarity with the victims of terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and wherever else they occur. Just as we are outraged by the Paris terror attacks, we should not apply double standards e.g. in the case of innocent victims of drone strikes.

While we condemn terror groups, it is also important to look at how these terror groups first emerged, and who has been supporting and financing them.

There are lessons here for us as well: It is important to put a stop to fanaticism and religious extremism, whether at home or abroad. Cut the sources of funding for any such group here.

And at the same time, we should strengthen our resolve to protect our basic rights, including political, civil and religious rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related Covenants.

For, if we lose these basic rights, we have already lost before we can even start.

Total Comments:0

Name
Email
Comments