Panic in Paris

Terror is global. So is America-sponsored anti-terror crusade. The latest violent eruption in Paris happened on a far greater scale than the Charlie Hebdo killings. In a span of just ten months Paris witnessed the most horrific act of brutality against innocent people. And the IS lost no time to acknowledge the responsibility while rationalising their medieval barbarism as an attempted revenge against US and its western partners, including France, for continuing air bombardment in Syria. As intelligence and security agencies in European countries are working overtime to measure the depth of IS penetration in Europe, preliminary investigation into the deadly Paris attacks points to the likelihood of a terrorist team, rather a suicide squad, led by French nationals, based in Belgium. They may have used a refugee route from Syria via Greece to execute their terror plan, possibly in a bid to open new fronts so that they could regroup and reorganise themselves in their ‘liberated zones’ of Iraq and Syria where air bombing, of late, has been intensified manifolds after Russia’s entry into the mid-east theatre of war. Elements pieced together so far suggest a well-organised and trained multi-national terror team backed by IS’s cross-border network was involved in the Paris massacre.

Details are only slowly emerging of the seven dead attackers and an eighth assailant still on the run, at the time of writing, who perpetrated strikes on Paris bars, a concert hall and a soccer stadium that killed 129 people, and injuring 349. And IS’s international reach prompted French Interior Minister Bernard Cazencuve to call for an urgent European Union Meeting to assess what new measures they need to combat global terror.

But the Syrian war scenario is not that simple as it appears from the western media. It’s not really the IS versus America and its allies. There are too many actors, working at cross purposes. Not that anti-terror crusaders too are united in their mission against terrorism. What a former security adviser to French ex-president Nikolas Sarkozy said the other day is self-revealing : ‘the increasingly coordinated character of much European criminal activity was not always matched by the work of police authorities’. They are targeting IS without the objective of eliminating it completely because they need IS to dislodge Assad. America has not yet changed its idea of regime change. It is unlikely for Obama to commit ground troops even if IS succeeds in striking in the very heart of Europe in the months to come. Rather than casting about for a new strategy Washington would like to intensify its current campaign of drone attacks in a selective way and arm ‘moderate forces’ to further its geo-political interests. They do it everywhere, putting one group against another, prolonging bloody civil war. They did it in Afghanistan, they did it in Iraq and now they are doing it in Syria and through Saudi Arabia in Yemen as well. As a result people are fleeing war-ravaged towns and villages to seek shelter in very countries that are responsible in the first place for their displacement. Syria’s population has nowhere else to hide, facing bombing from above and repressive threats from below. It’s a war on Syria’s civilian population, dying by the thousands, displaced by the millions. Everyday brings news of a new atrocity.

For one thing Russia too is unwilling to send combat troops at this juncture as their immediate aim is to save Assad from collapsing. No doubt Russian involvement has completely changed the Syrian reality. Unless Russia and America sign a deal on Syria, peace will not return to that hapless country. Negotiations on the political settlement should be resumed as early as possible, to make easing the humanitarian catastrophe.

Interestingly, a section of left in the West looks too eager to remove Assad while tacitly endorsing American actions. Using rhetoric of ‘‘war against IS’’, Russian attacks seem to have overwhelmingly targeted the ‘‘rebel groups’’ that are fighting, as per western left’s assessment, both Assad and IS.

Meanwhile, combined air attacks of America and Russia have reportedly created upto 100,000 new refugees. Many say IS is the main beneficiary of Russian bombing mission because their air strikes have allowed them to capture a number of villages near Aleppo. Putin knows that the US and European powers are in no hurry to see the overthrow of Assad if they cannot be the ones to manage the transition. And this transition in Syria can happen only when both Moscow and Washington agree not to disagree on the future power-sharing arrangement.

No doubt ‘‘Paris attacks’’ continue to polarise public opinion across the globe. Everybody condemns the mayhem but some people would like to go beyond ritualistic condemnation, without not really summarily rejecting rationale behind such attacks.

Nearer home politicians of all hues are in unison in condemning the Paris attack, as they did during the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, but all of them don’t see eye to eye in assessing the reason behind such attacks. ‘‘Whatever the terrorists did in Paris was wrong. But attack on Arab countries and killing of innocents there by US and Russia is also not justified’’. That was the redoubtable Azam Khan of the ruling Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh. And reacting to bloody Friday veteran Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer was somewhat candid enough to criticise the West for their anti-islam phobia which, in his view, to a large extent triggered the attack. In addition to expressing remorse Mr Aiyer urged the concerned people to think why such a situation arose in the Middle East. But the Congress Party apprehending a political leverage BJP might get from it, quickly dissociated itself from Mr Aiyer’s statement on ‘Paris’ while Samajwadi Party neither owned nor disowned Azam Khan’s remarks.

Syrians are struggling to find a way out of this multi-sided war of terror. Bombs from the air, occupying jihadists and US-drones. The revolutionary promise of Arab Spring for Syrian masses is now managed by counter-revolutionary action and thought and by civilian deaths in thousands.     


Vol. 48, No. 21, Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2015