November 17, 2015
Why does Daesch (or Islamic State) target France? This is one of the two only questions that are worthwhile to be debated. I heard in these days several commentators associating the terrorist attack in Paris with France’s air strikes directed to the IS controlled area. That does not convince me at all. French airfighters started bombing at the end of September. What about Charlie Hebdo? What about the attack that was prevented on a French train at end of August and the beheading of a man this Summer? What about the ‘isolated’ attacks in December last year? From Brussels, where the perpetrators of last Friday’s attack are apparently coming from, Düsseldorf, Bonn or Amsterdam are not farer away than Paris. Yet, they targeted Paris, again.
Terrorism does not only want to generate fear. This attack was not intended to induce France to stop bombing the Islamic State’s territory. Please. Terrorism aims at destabilizing and provoke strong political reactions. France is one of the most important pillars of the European Union and, at the same time, it is politically one of the most fragile because of the high popularity of the Front National.
The second question worthwhile to be asked is: what to do now? I have heard the silliest proposals these days. Loosen gun controls so that people can own a gun and directly shoot at terrorists in case of attack. Mass deportation of Muslims. Enter into war with the Islamic State, boots on the ground.
Osama Bin Laden was probably celebrating in 2001 when the US officially declared to invade Afghanistan and, later, Iraq. These two war campaigns not only generated the political vacuum in which the Islamic State later got established, but also deep resentment in the Islamic world that made Al-Qaeda and Daesch’s proselytism campaigns more successful.
The Islamic State is a small organization that nourishes itself with being on the cover page of newspapers. A frontal fight between Western countries and the Islamic State would only grow its popularity and influence. In these days some commentators have wisely remembered that a direct military intervention would be a mistake. President Obama agrees.
What about the internal front? Again, the attacks have the purpose of spreading fear and anger against potential terrorists at home. One of the terrorists went on the attack scene with a Syrian passport to leave a trace linking the mass flow of refugees with terrorism. Smart. Maybe he actually came from Syria through Greece, but it can also be that he got the passport (and the piece of finger) from an unlucky refugee. No pieces of his body have remained after he blew himself up, except for a finger. The passport is likely plain fake, we still do not know. Yet, this is very important because the political debate on the mass arrival of refugees in Europe was already highly tense.
If we keep in mind that the primary purpose of terrorists is to induce Europeans to take stupid political decisions, I warmly ask everyone to keep calm and think. The only useful actions to take now are:
- to strengthen the cooperation between intelligence services across Europe;
- keep bombing the IS’s oil facilities, their major source of financing;
- understand that there is no easy solution to such a problem. Let police and institutions do their job;
Suspend Schengen? Ok, but then what? That cannot be a permanent solution.