Go after IS, but don’t fall into a trap

Hollande has said his country is now ‘at war’, and the response against will be ‘pitiless’

Friday night’s horrific terrorist attack in Paris, for which IS or Daesh has claimed responsibility, cannot be said to be related to anything in particular, unlike the January 2015 Islamist hit on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose cartoonists apparently offended Islamic sensibilities.

Paris was obviously chosen for reasons of relatively less complicated logistics, though its greater lure for Islamists than other European metropolises may have to do with its stature. After 9/11, America has become a lot more difficult to attack.

Of the democracies in the developing world, India is a particular prize for jihadist terror, thanks chiefly to the politics and policies of Pakistan, and violent extremists are continually on the lookout for opportunities. We are a lot less secure in spite of the 26/11 Mumbai experience than the US after September 11, 2001. The jihadis don’t like countries like Saudi Arabia even if they are Islamic. But attacking them in a big way raises the risk of dividing the ummah.

The similarities between Mumbai’s 26/11 and Paris’ 13/11 are superficial, in that the attackers split up into groups to target multiple locations simultaneously to produce a big impact. More fundamentally, elements of the Pakistani state were complicit in the case of Mumbai, as subsequent developments eloquently showed. Paris, on the other hand, appears to have been hit by non-state actors without the serious backing of any government.

French President Francis Hollande has said his country is now “at war”, and the response against perpetrators will be “pitiless”. The political mobilisation around this will be interesting to watch.

Daesh occupies territory in Iraq and Syria. Can a coalition be brought together to militarily attack just these areas, while pursuing a serious negotiating track with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad? So far anti-Islamist Western efforts have suffered as these have been divided between fighting Mr Assad and Daesh. In Vienna, on Saturday, the US and Russia indicated a “ceasefire” in Syria, except against Daesh and other groups.

This is a useful starting point. Wider anti-jihadist politics will be bolstered if Paris is able to avoid xenophobia against Muslim communities in France and against refugees fleeing war zones in the Muslim world, and thus deprive the terrorists of a new fertile recruiting base.

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( Source : deccan chronicle )
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