Paris Terror, the Policy Ramifications

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Attack Confirms Iran's Call Against Extremism

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

The gruesome murder of several journalists in Paris and the ensuing manhunt has already triggered a tsunami of questions about the connection of this blatant act of terror and the broader fight against terrorism. Even before the dust settles, the French right has called for death penalty laws and some French law enforcement officials have hinted that they will soon confront the government on its policies that limit their surveillance of the French Muslim communities. The French Foreign Ministry officials have already linked the attack to France's role against the 'Islamic State' and Al-Qaeda, vowing to continue the policy, which now is bound to have even a higher level of public acceptability in the aftermath of the Paris attack. 

At the same time, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called for cooperation with Russia in the fight against terrorism, a new development that can play a positive role in lessening the current tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine. 

With respect to Saudi Arabia and some other member states of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), suspected of funneling arms and money to the radical jihadists in Iraq and Syria, the Paris terror will without doubt serve as yet another reminder of their atrocious policies that have had the net effect of strengthening the cancer of terrorism throughout the Middle East. That cancer has now spread to Europe, hardly any surprise given the large number of jihadi recruits from the Muslim population of Europe, who will definitely feel the brunt of acts of terror perpetrated by some fringe elements with loyalty to ISIS or other similar extremist groups in Iraq and Syria. A rude awakening, the Paris terror lays bare with extreme clarity the fundamental error of some Western governments in providing direct support to the extremist groups in Syria who are fighting the government in Damascus, not to mention the similar atrocious, and short-sighted, policies on Libya, nowadays scene to the post-Qadafi civil war led by the extremist jihadi groups. In other words, the Paris terror attack calls for a wholesale rethinking of the hitherto tolerant policies of the West with respect to the extremist groups in Syria, who have made the inroad into Iraq since last June and pose an imminent threat to their own Persian Gulf sponsors. 
In terms of Iran's initiative of a "world without extremism," showcased both at the UN and at a recent international conference, the Paris terror is yet another sad reminder of how big a danger this threat is, the inadequate preparations by the international community to deal with it, and the requirements of policy change by various governments, both in the West and the region, in order to compensate for the current shortcomings of a viable international coalition against the scourge of terrorism. For the simple, yet disturbing, fact is that the Paris terror attack should be viewed as a 'blow back' for misguided policies above-mentioned, one of which is the failure of Western governments to declare all those extremist groups as outright terrorist and to institute severe punishments for those aiding and abetting them. In France, only recently a feeble move in this direction was initiated by the French Parliament, in other words, the government of Francois Hollande is responsible for the tardiness on this matter, a function of the misguided French policy on Syria.

To conclude, as President Dr. Rouhani rightly stated recently, these terrorists represent a threat to humanity, they represent a trans-national threat with their dangerous absolutist worldview that legitimizes the physical eradication of whole sects and minority groups, tantamount to quasi-religious fascism. As in the WWII struggle against fascism, this phenomenon also calls for a unified global strategy, crystallized in Rouhani-led UN General Assembly resolution on a "world without extremism and violence."  In a word, the sad and brutal reality of the Paris terror attack is a confirmation of the fundamental soundness of Iran's approach to this problem.

*Kaveh Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of several books on Iran’s foreign policy. His writings have appeared on several online and print publications, including UN Chronicle, New York Times, Der Tagesspiegel, Middle East Journal, Harvard International Review, and Brown's Journal of World Affairs, Guardian, Russia Today, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Mediterranean Affairs, Nation, Telos, Der Tageszeit, Hamdard Islamicus, Iranian Journal of International Affairs, Global Dialogue.

Key Words: Paris, France, Terror Attack, Policy Ramifications, Extremism, Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi Arabia, NATO, US, World without Extremism and Violence,Dr. Hassan Rouhani,Iran, Afrasiabi

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*Photo Credit: Crook and Liars

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