Tag Archives: Terrorism

Here we are again, human beings suffering and politicians clueless on how to react


Here we are again, after Ankara and Bruxelles, but also Ivory Cost and Nigeria in the last ten days, speaking about how to fight ISIS and terrorism in general. And here we are again with politicians and leaders missing the point of the whole picture. We cannot “fight” or “battle” against terrorism, as it is like to fight against guns or worst, again ourselves. We can only defeat it or succumb to it. Terrorism is a human product and as Giovanni Falcone, Italian judge killed by the Mafia, once said about Mafia we can say today of terrorism: “is a human phenomenon, and as all human phenomena has a start, an evolution and will have also an end”. We will defeat it in time, the point is how to do it earlier instead than later, that means how to prevent it working on its roots instead of reacting to it just working on its fruits.

If we don’t want to succumb to it for the next decades there are three paths to start, as I already wrote on this blog after Paris last November and Egypt last February 2015: diplomacy, inclusion and protection, which means new approaches to foreign policies, integration policies and security policies.

To change foreign policy in the Middle East, Europe will need to invest in mediation and diplomacy efforts and disinvest in bombing and trading arms to the region: we cannot expect to build sustainable peace and economic development if we keep with the old colonialist approach of wars and power politics, “divide and rule” and profit from selling weapons. Foreign policy should mean first of all diplomacy, this should be the real goal of a successful foreign policy, but after the two world wars Western foreign policy meant mostly military invasions and arms trade. And terrorism is the direct result of this. We need instead change direction, start to support negotiating efforts, like we did with Iran, to help to build a new regional order, involving the regional powers of the Middle East, first of all Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as all the other actors, including the non-state actors on the ground, often defined terrorist groups because of their fight for self-determination, like PKK/PYD for Kurds, Hezbollah for Shia in Lebanon and Hamas for Palestinians.  Unless we will be able to involve all of the legitimates needs and request of all the actors on the ground, we will never have peace in the Middle East, as these groups will never abandon the armed struggle and transform from armed groups to political parties or social movements.

We will also need to stop fueling sectarianism in the region with identity construction discourses and weapons sale. This will require both a change in the political and media discourse of Western powers and also their industrial transformation in the long run, from economies based on arms production and resources exploitation to new technological productions and green industries. Europe need to stop the flows of money and weapons from some of the Middle East powers, often our allies like Saudi Arabia or Turkey, to DAESH/ISIS and its affiliated terrorist groups, forcing instead these allies to make a real military battle to defeat the ISIS armed group that is controlling the territory between Syria and Iraq, with our external support in particular protecting civilians and minorities. If they will not be able to do it, because of their opposed interests (Sunni versus Shia dominated powers, or Turks versus Arabs versus Kurds), then the external powers, in primis US and Russia, will have to intervene in force, asthey did in the past for common enemies like Nazism. And finally the EU needs to integrate Turkey: only with Turkish membership we will shift towards a real pluralistic Union, not anymore a religiously homogeneous continent but a pluralistic one, as in its ideals, that will welcome moderate Muslim countries and will increase its Muslim population from the current 45 million to 120 million, making the narrative of “clash of civilizations” just a ridiculous rhetoric of the past.

Second, to change the type of integration we have today in Europe we need to create a new social contract in the continent, based on real inclusion and participation and not anymore on the isolation of communities of immigrants that has been created by both multiculturalism and assimilationism, in particular now with the arriving of millions of refugees. This marginalization created the humus for the terrorism, and often not only in the streets or houses but in the prisons, where small criminals become terrorist for a lack of a better future. It is not a case that the last attack has taken place in Bruxelles, the capital of European Union, and Belgium in general, a place where pluralism should be the basic factor but where the “European bureaucrats” don’t create a real Belgium identity, that instead is divided between Fleming and Walloon, making the integration of immigrants, their feeling of belonging to a state, even more difficult. The European Union therefore need to re-discover again its meaning, the foundation of a continent “United in diversity” as its motto says, respecting the differences but giving to everyone the same European identity and equal access to resources, following closer the United States example, who has been more able to put in practice the principles of its Declaration of Independence that says: “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. Until now these unalienable rights have been given only to some part of the European population and so the European dream is still to be realized.

Finally, even if this is the least important of the three, to change the approach to security we will need two processes, one at individual level and one at political level. At individual level we need to learn as citizens to be more aware of our environment, in order to proactively be able to self-protect us more, controlling abandoned packages, reporting suspect people etc. in order to live free to move where we want and at the same time being aware of living in dangerous times. But on the other side, at political level, we need to build a more efficient and less frightening Big Brother, based on real intelligence control, that doesn’t mean necessary loss of privacy or principal freedoms, but instead more integration and exchange of information among European states and agencies, to facilitate a real common police and common security policies. It is not a question of suspending our rules and Constitutions, like France did last year, it is a question of maintaining our freedom and at the same time work in a more efficient way. It is not possible and neither acceptable that one of the most advance security system in Europe, the Belgian police, took 4 months to get one of the attackers of Paris. This is the right thing to do, find the perpetrators and arrest them as normal criminals, without making them dangerous heroes reacting to their action with full military force, but cannot be done in an amateurish way.

If we will be able to do all this, the Jihadist terrorism will end sooner than later. The path is still long though, it will take probably one generation, but we will then be able to go on with the development of the Middle East and also the other excluded parts of the world, in particular Africa, helping the progress of all the nations on the Earth. If we will fail, terrorism will continue for generations to come, at least until some people of the world will be marginalized and will not share an equal Liberté Egalité Fraternité.

Daesh attacks and the European fight against terrorism

Who speaks about the Third World War already started is either an ignorant or a fool. The two world wars were total wars, fought among states with gigantic armies and making millions of victims. DAESH is an armed Wahhabi/Salafi extremist militant group, based on a destructive cult, that took advantage of two failed states and Western proxy wars to take control of Mosul, Raqqa and a piece of territory between Syria and Iraq. It would be not difficult to defeat a small terrorist pseudo state that declared war to everyone apart them, first of all against their fellow Muslim brothers, as we can see from the bombs in Baghdad and Beirut. But the terrorism that they are using abroad will not stop. To limit terrorism we need securitization but to stop it there is only one way: integration.

After the new Paris attacks now we are waiting for a French Patriot Act on the style of the American one after 9-11 and French boots on the ground against DAESH. Europe and NATO too could intervene as France is part of NATO and could be considered under attack (according to Article 5 “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all”). But as we know from the past (Iraqi war that contributed to create DAESH) a war, even if important, will not be enough, and could be also counterproductive, if not done with a long vision and proper tools of inclusive state reconstruction. This is what the EU and also the UN should start to think about now: how to help to reconstruct a new order in the Middle East. Yes we need a new order in the region after the end of the post-Ottoman one based on the Sykes-Picot agreements, but it has to be an autochthonous order, not an imperialist one. Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia will have to compromise sooner or later with Iran, and they will have to help reconstruct the new states coming out of Syria and Iraq (probably four new states) like Europe helped ex Yugoslavia to build the new countries. The EU, US and Russia will have to support from outside, not put their hands inside again, as they did in the past. Otherwise the terrorist groups will start again, under new forms.

On the other front, to stop terrorism abroad, we need first of all to understand that we are facing a new type of war, asymmetric, hybrid and dynamic, and so we need new tools to face it, not armies and bombs but intelligence and police. Otherwise as the US failed to understand the guerrilla warfare in Vietnam we may fail to understand the terrorist war in our countries. Unfortunately this new tools could create permanent “state of emergencies” as already in France, so we will need to take care of not falling in the risk of Big Brother as the NSA did in the US. But is the temporary solution needed to control the terrorist cells. In the long run though to really stop terrorism, as we did with Nazism, we will need a new integration in Europe and the West in general, between the old inhabitants and the new immigrants. The foreign fighters born because of lack of integration and strong identity, not because of some innate hate towards the West, as racists everywhere say. Therefore a Patriot act and policy and intelligence measures will just limit but not solve the problem. Europeans are mourning now some innocent victims, like the US did 14 years ago, and like different parts of Middle East suffered for decades, because of European colonialism and Western imperialism. Yes we rich people of the West, we are responsible of the suffering of many populations, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly and often without completely knowing it (as the media didn’t show us the suffering we created with our wars and our economic exploitation). But today is the time to invert the trend: we need a new reconciliation between the ex-invaders and current hosts and the ex-invaded and current refugees. In Europe we need to build a new integration, this time social instead of economic, we need a new multiculturalism, based on respect of diversity. Europe until now thought too much about the money and too little about the souls. But the new wave of immigrants and refugees will help the continent to reflect that to live together we need rules but also awareness, to live together means to eat together but also talk together, and learn from each other. We need to teach tolerance and respect of different cultures, starting with the children and their program of education and following with ethical/solidarity/cultural tourism instead of those useless, ridiculous and offensive holiday resorts, counterproductive also for the local economies that remain dependent on foreign flows. If wars and neocolonialism are the parents of terrorism, racism and Islamophobia are its siblings: they don’t limit terrorism they fuel it. The path is long but is not eternal. As Giovanni Falcone once said of Mafia we can say today of terrorism: terrorism is a human phenomenon, and as all human phenomena has a start, an evolution and will have also an end.

The Islamic State: is there any long term solution to this already ‘metastatic cancer’ in XXI century?


The beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians today, well shooted with high video skills as usual, keep on the path of expansionism and barbarization that in the sick minds of ISIS members should create the Western revenge in a sort of Clash of Civilization. Clash that will not happen and even if might theoretically be would result in just keeping down the Arab world instead of helping it to stand up again, after a century of colonialism and dictatorships guided by Europe and the US. Six months ago the American journalist James Foley was beheaded by a British militant of the Islamic State/IS remembered to the ‘West’ that the horrors of Al Qaeda not only didn’t stop but, after a dozen of years of Iraq disasters and a couple of Syrian ones, have been now overcome by a stronger terrorist group in Middle East, richer, more organized and for the first time with a territory that allowed it to build a sort of ‘terrorist state’. The declared goal of this ‘pre-modern state’ (based on submission instead of consensus) is to kill all who think differently from it, being them heretical like Shia or Sunni that are not following their interpretations of Islam, infidels like Christian or other non-Muslim minorities or ‘westerners’ like anyone coming from Europe or America (unless is in their group of brainwashed people) and build a caliphate that should extend from Spain to India (as the map shows).

To stop this terrorism that live between craziness and barbarity the EU decided last summer to start selling weapons to the populations that were resisting to the advancements of the ISIS (mostly Kurds) and start a military intervention based on strategic bombings. But those solutions, besides being late, resulted as we suspected not sufficient to defeat the terrorist group. We all know that to fight against this type of terrorism we need stronger military interventions and also longer term regional policies, and so hopefully soon the ferocious actions of this self-denominated ‘caliphate’ at the doors of Italy will make Europe reflects that its intervention cannot be delayed anymore. The awaking of the EU to its role of regional power, probably again with NATO as we did in Libya, will need to go together with the creation of bigger coalitions of regional powers (in particular Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia) and regional organizations (Arab League and African Union). Even if Middle Eastern powers want to use ISIS for their interests against the neighbors’ ones they will have to come to terms with the fact that cancers when go in metastasis as the ISIS today are much harder to extirpate, so better to start when is not too late. The military actions that the US and Europe (may be with NATO) and regional powers will take in the near future in Libya, Iraq and Syria will decide the future of ISIS and most likely in a relatively short time this group will be reduced to another Al Qaeda with smaller power to harm (even if many analysts are warning about a near European 9/11). But the political actions, that should accompany the military ones, should also put the bases for the future order in the Middle East, as it is not postponable anymore to address the root causes of the terrorism and the consequences of the wars that since the partition of the Ottoman Empire one century ago tormented this area of the world.

What should be the long term policies in order to extirpate this metastatic cancer from the Middle East? President Obama in his speech after the murder of the American journalist last summer spoke about not only military intervention but long term solutions. Unfortunately today he doesn’t speak anymore about those, but just about the “Three years plan”. I am not very happy with his visions as we all expected him to be the “transformational leader” that the US in this era would have need. But anyway to stop once and for all from Maghreb to central Asia this type of barbarity, that appeal to the suffering of the people, manipulate Muslim religion to stimulate clash of civilizations, and use the weapons of ‘Western’ countries against the same Western countries that are too dependent on this industry for their economies, the world will need to address exactly these three main topics: 1) the arms trade to the area 2) the development and democratization of the states with the integration of the moderate political Islam and, most importantly, 3) the new regional order in the Middle East, that will have to deal with the suffering of the populations after a century of colonization and dictatorships. In other words a long term solution against terrorism and a lasting peace in the Middle East need to pass from the control of the arm exportation and financing of terrorism, the support to democratization processes that aim to modern states based on consensus and inclusiveness, and the facilitation sooner or later of a type of EU, a ‘Middle Eastern Union’, that will allow integration, stability and prosperity. It seems an impossible dream for the XXI century? Also a European Union seemed impossible one hundred years ago with the end of totalitarianism and millennial conflicts (in particular between France and Germany) but it happened (even if after two world wars) so we need to believe and work for giving back also to that area of the world the tolerance and prosperity that the Ottoman Empire guaranteed for centuries. It is time for the Middle East to govern itself, as Sachs says, and there are powers that can do it during this century.

The first element, the control of the arms exportation, needs to address the arms flow from both ‘Western’ and Arab countries to these terrorist groups. How to do it for countries so dependent on this industry is the question. The quick answer would be to become less dependent on this industry but in the meantime an international moratorium from Arab League and EU/US/Russia would be also urgent. The second element needs a longer process for the facilitation of economic development and political democratization, first of all because democracy and development are never ending processes that needs inclusion and pluralism and not the easier ‘tyranny of the majority’ (realized recently by inexpert Islamist leaders as Morsi or al-Maliki). Second because the type of democracy adapt for Middle East will not necessarily resemble our ‘Western’ system based on secular state or complete division between Church and State, and instead will have to born from the grassroots level of every country, with also the possibility of “unsecular democracies”, as Jocelyn Cesari explains very well in her last book (1). Finally the issue of democratization will have to go together with the third element, the promotion in the future decades of a new regional order, to answer the needs of security and stability, that a decolonization made with geometrical partitions and secular dictators answered just temporarily, with disastrous consequences today. A regional integration in the Middle East as it happened in the European Union will not only create lasting peace and security but will show that civilizations can learn from each other instead of clash and that terrorism is a global security threat, for everyone, a transnational challenges of our times (like climate change, pandemics, organized crime or gender violence) and cannot be linked to religion, culture or ethnicity. Globalization and transformational leaderships instead of political leaders that foster hatred and bloody conflicts might make possible collective security communities even in a ‘realist’ geographical area as Middle East. We could even think to a sort of confederation in the future also between Israel, Iran and the Arab League. But we need visionary leaders, active citizens and political will of international community to do so.

Will the Middle East be able to do it in the first half of this century avoiding the risk of a world war like Europe experienced one hundred years ago? The future will say it as it will depend on many factors, but the most important thing will be the political intention of the local governments (especially the regional powers that stay at the four corners of Middle East: Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) and the one of the world powers that have always a say in it, in a way or in another, in particular United States, European Union, Russia and China. If the local governments, with the drive of their people, will decide for the ‘future interest of all’ instead of the ‘present interest of mine’, anything will be possible and a first international conference for a new regional order could be called even today by the UN together with the African Union or Arab League. It would be the rebirth of these moribund organizations and may be the occasion to reform them too. In the meantime Europe should think to some kind of military intervention to contain the international threat of ISIS. It will not be easy for Europe, that since WWII never had to think about it, and it hoped that peace would have been forever. But unfortunately, in a connected and globalized world, either there is peace for everyone or peace for nobody.

(1) Jocelyn Cesari. The awakening of Muslim democracy. Religion, modernity and the state. Cambridge UP, 2014

For a new European reconciliation: a path to permanently defeat Jihadist terrorism.

There is no way to beat the new terrorist Jihadism with just more control, police, intelligence or wars. We can reduce its damages but not win it in the long run. The massacre at Charlie Hebdo showed it and all human beings and nations with a little of wisdom know it. Terrorism has to be cut at its root: the root of discrimination, inequality, injustice and separation. Terrorism will end when there will be no excuses for supporting economically, politically or morally fanatics, extremist or fundamentalist that appeal to any religious, ethnic or historical identity for a clash of civilizations. For this reason Europe today has to search for a new reconciliation. After 5 centuries since the Alhambra decree and the tragedy of the Holocaust the Jews are reintegrated in Europe, they feel comfortable, respected and estimated (even if anti-Semitism is always a threat).

After 5 centuries since the expulsion of Arabs in the same 1492, our Old Continent has to strive today for a reintegration of the Muslims, against the Islamophobia. A final real European reintegration between its Christian and its Muslim souls, its Anglosaxon/Indoeuropean and its Arabafrican/Middle Eastern roots, its Northern European and its Mediterranean history is what Europe needs today to win against terrorism. And the path to do so has three ramifications.

First of all the European Union has to stop blocking the entrance of Turkey in the Union, as she is doing since almost 30 years. Turkey has the right and the obligation to enter as it is the only country that can rebuild the bridge between Europe and the Middle East, broken after the end of WWI and the cannibalization of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey is the mean for the reconciliation after European colonization and imperialism.

Second Europe should think, sooner better than later, about an international dialogue to help settle the disputes of the Middle East, first of all the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also the Syrian civil war, the Iraqi too slow post war reconstruction and the Libyan risk of a catastrophe. This can be done only if Europe understands the importance of this moment on its history, ending centuries of colonialism and wars and allowing local powers to take the lead in their own affairs. Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt should sit on a table offered by the EU as impartial actor and external supporter to dialogue for a new regional settlement. Europe has to uphold to its own values of freedom, equality and fraternity, justice and democracy, also in its foreign policy, not only in its domestic issues, stopping power politics and old imperialism and starting a new era of collaboration and cooperation. It is the only way to stop the European decline, and the only path to win against the terrorism and create peace in the long run. Reactions to terrorism with more wars, as the US did after 9/11, will just represent temporary solutions and future problems.

Third Europe has to think about a new education to coexistence in a community of diversity. It is a long run of cultural investment in cohabitation and mutual respect and it is the most important of the three elements. We need to educate our children to more tolerance, respect and common sense when it comes to our motto of “United in diversity”. The attack on freedom of expression has to be condemned by all, Christians, Jews and Muslim, together. Satire always existed and will always do, in all the cultures. But dignity and respect have to prevail if we want to build a better world for our future. My freedom ends when the freedom of the other starts, this require a sense of responsibility, I cannot wanting to be free and at the same time careless: “I care” is the motto that we need to use besides than “I want”. And if we want freedom of expression this has to be really for everyone not only towards one direction (see on this the recent article of Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept (1).

The social and economic crisis that the old continent is living since a decade, together with the increasing in number of immigrants coming from Muslim countries, is opening space to populism, racism, hate speech and polarization. A humus from where young people find on two opposite political ideologies, the one of racist policies and nationalism on one side, and the one of Jihadism, the new religious terrorism, on the other, a place for a strong identity, in particular when they live in a subculture, unemployed and isolated as the young people that attacked Charlie Hebdo. For this reason, besides economic development and social empowerment, we need new processes of integration, resolution and reconciliation. It is a cultural investment for the future, with which we have to build a common house for everyone. There is no other path, no fortress is possible in the future globalized world. We don’t need polarization and “us-them” narrative. We need a real “unity in diversity”. Inshallah, God willing, primero Dios, si Dieu le veut, se Dio vuole.

Finally also Islam as a religion has to do an effort to modernize and reform, primarily clarifying once and for all the term of “jihad”. The meaning has to be defined only as “striving in the way of God”, closing forever the concept coming from the Caliphate of an external struggle, the “holy war” against the infidel, who doesn’t submit to Allah, Mohammed or Islam. It will not be easy to do it as there is not hierarchy in Islam and everyone interpret the dogma, the Qur’an, in different ways. But it is the only path Islam can take to cohabit with the rest of the world in the future, as also Al-Sisi, the president of Egypt recently said at the Al-Azhar mosque (2). Otherwise the new Jihadist terrorism will keep succeeding in proselytism around the world, with new media like “Inspire” magazine convincing young fellows that to kill non-Muslims is a duty of Muslims. As Christianity had its Reformation in the XVI century and Jews their own Enlightenment in the XIX century, also Islam will have probably its secularization process in this century. Will Europe, the Old Continent where Humanisim, Enlightenment and Democracy born, push also Islam to modernization as it did with the other two Abrahamic religions? Some scholars say that Islam will not have its own “Reformation” (3). Future will say but this could be instead exactly the role of Europe, besides integration and respect: inspiration.

Image: Mpatapo, Adinkra symbol of reconciliation, from West Africa

(1) https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/01/09/solidarity-charlie-hebdo-cartoons/

(2) http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/4704.htm

(3) http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/02/islam-will-not-have-its-own-reformation/