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West, war on terror, and the rest of us

21.11.2015 16:19

Mustafa Fetouri

I am very worried and unhappy about the fact that after the massacre in Paris France and its allies will double their efforts to eradicate ISIL within the "merciless" war as announced by President Francois Hollande. The West is planning even more wars, more destruction, and more refugees than what we already have eating away our world.

I was not happy writing this and I am not sure if many of you would really like to read it.

My concern is simply this: does the West, led by the United States, have any reasonable workable plan to solve the terror puzzle? In fact it never had any an events over the last two decades confirm this fact. The United States has been leading the so called war on terror since 2001 right after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. In that effort it has created the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 with billions of USD annually allocated budget to do one thing: keep America safe. In October 2001 it invaded Afghanistan, toppled the Taliban government, and killed unknown number of people including none "combatants" to use the psychopath Rumsfeld’s sexy term. Once that was done it started sending drones to kill hundreds of people. After each drone we are told that some big terrorist leader was targeted and killed. No news is ever given about any other "collateral" damage which include innocent civilians killed, animals obliterated, wedding turned to funeral and homes destroyed by the same drone. In 2003 the US ganged up with the UK to invade and occupy Iraq because, among other reason, Saddam Hussein was evil and eliminating him contributes to the war on terror efforts making America and the world a better place. In that war America lost over 4000 young men including those who were offered US citizenship in return for fighting in Iraq –  that is if they made it back. Iraqi death toll is well over half a million (some estimates put the number above one million) with over two thirds being none enemy combatants to keep Donald Rumsfeld happy! During the subsequent occupation US soldiers committed some of the most heinous crimes against Iraqis in the infamous Abu Ghareb jail. It is from that notorious jail Caliph Al-Baghdadi was graduated or so we are told by US experts. Almost fifteen years later and neither Iraq nor the world is better place. They are worse!

While the war in Afghanistan was work in progress targeting Al-Qaeda as primary target with little focus on smaller less lethal terror groups doting the world map US and UK occupied Iraq. By 2011 Ben Ladin himself was killed and jubilant Obama personally reported the news to "the American people and the world." Many of us shared his jubilation at such great victory! Yet Al-Qaeda continued to bring havoc to our world and even more dangerously hatched new more murderous offspring. More drones were sent to kill more "terrorists" than before and by September 1, 2015 the US sent 421 drones to places like Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya. Yet terror seems to increase and organizations preaching it seem to multiply, and more recruiters/volunteers are available in places never thought of before.

In 2011 America, France, UK, and other major western powers were busy planning and helping the so called "Arab Spring" to bring us, in the Middle East from Yemen to Tunisia, freedom and liberation. It turned out to be a metaphor for more terror, death, destruction, insecurity, displacement of millions sending nearly a million migrants to Europe, and outright civil wars – Libya, Syria, and Yemen are stark shameful examples.

Despite all the efforts, billions wasted, thousands killed and even more displaced terror is increasing and widening its reach from Beirut to Paris forcing major powers like France, just like the US before it, not only to panic but to take unprecedented measures in its history including the imposing of state of emergency and passing new laws further limiting freedoms and legalizing previously unthinkable steps including citizenship withdrawal, and around the clock surveillance of civilians in streets and apartment blocks. Between 2001 and now we have been cursed with more terror organizations whose scope and brutality has not been witnessed since World War II. ISIL's terror tactics, ability to recruit, and media dominance has surpassed any other in the world's recent history.

ISIL never existed before the invasion of Iraq just as Al-Qaeda never appeared before the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and Ansar-Alsharia never heard of in my country Libya, let alone in Yemen and Tunisia, before the so called "Arab Spring" of 2011.

Why I said leave our terrorists alone which might sound like an open call for Mr. Al-Baghdadi & co. to continue what they have been doing in my country for the last two years. I said this because when I look around and see how much have been invested in the war on terror and how many lives have been lost in the process, and how many innocents have been tortured and incarcerated I tend to think what the West is doing, and leading regional countries to do, is not working if not outright wrong. Far from it. It is neither appealing nor succeeding to achieve its goals of eradicating terror; on the contrary it is helping spread it further. ISIL’s overwhelmed by volunteers particularly among more and more disillusioned young Western youth especially Muslims. It is dominating the news waves and its propaganda videos are watched by billions more than those of Francois Hollande and Obama combined.

Take the four days onslaught on the tiny, over populated Molenbeek district northwest of Brussels, and how the world media turned it into a circus. Yet the circus failed to produce anything of value to investigators trying to solve the Paris massacre but it did produce something no one wants: fertile ground for more radicalized individuals. Just as the entire war on terror failed to element the threat but helped create more threats in more cities and countries than before.

My own country for example was one of the safest in the world and certainly safest in Africa until 2011 when France, USA, and tiny Qatar among others decide to help the "Arab Spring" pass by the unsuspecting Libyans. NATO finished the visit by launching eight months air campaign killing over one hundred civilians, unknown number of military personnel, and destroying any military capabilities the country had to counter any threat. Right after that the entire country was handed over to be shared by unruly militias, fanatics, terror groups, and finally ISIL whose tentacles have now spread westwards, one year after appearing in Derna, in eastern Libya, forcing thousands of Libyans, myself included, to leave the country. 

It was France, UK, and USA who kept preaching about the "Arab Spring" but it's us who are paying the heavy price everyday of our lives since 2011. Now we are going to pay even heavier price after each drone or bomb you send to us in the attempt to kill some hardly known "terrorist" in our part of the world.

Does the West really want us to believe that with its intelligence agencies, spies, spy satellites, and think-tanks did not know who's benefitting the most from its funding, cheering, and arming of the so called "Libyan Revolution" or the "Syrian Revolution" for that matter? They damn well knew what they were doing but assumed that we will be able to settle things down once dictators are out of the picture. Unfortunately today even our most extreme "revolutionaries" not only regret their "revolution" but wish that dictators stayed or at least their security structures remained in place to guarantee us minimum security.

With each drone you send to kill someone in our part of the world you make sure you radicalize more of us and send them right into the arms of ISIL and whoever will inherit it if you ever destroy it. Each bomb you drop on Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan you are making sure that someone somewhere is already seeking desperate revenge in a peaceful city be it Paris, Beirut or Tripoli. ISIL or something similar is already being hatched in each and every country around the world.

France’s black Friday is likely to be repeated just as Beirut's atrocity was repeated in Paris. And any politician, strategist, intelligence analyst thinking that ISIL will be destroyed once its HQs in both Iraq and Syria are reduced to ashes is absolutely wrong. ISIL is here to stay and its strategy is based, primarily, on alternative territories. If it loses Iraq it still has Syria. If both are lost then it already has created secure footholds in Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, and even Nigeria. Local groups usually declare allegiance to ISIL but Mr. Al-Baghdadi is not stupid. He only approves after he sends in a trusted brother to verify it. This is what happened in every territory ISIL claims presence at from Libya's Sirte, to Afghanistan's Nangarhar.

So please leave our terrorist alone. We know them, we know who supports them, and who funds them as well. The West, USA in particular, has long been part of the problem and can only be part of the solution if they listen to us first. Intentionally or otherwise fundamentalism, in its most outrageous form i.e. terrorism, is a western product whose most demanding market is our region with plenty of available successful marketers! It is that simple.

We are not going to accept our terrorists' brutal reaction to your drones, and secret killings. In fact we can not since we have already had enough of wars, destruction, displacement, and millions of our potentially best brains becoming unwanted refugees falling preys to jihadists and the ugly right wing European politicians ready to capitalize on our tragedies.

The West has tried almost all possible remedies but none seem to work. Laws changed to imprison more people, jails built to contain them, brutality applied from Guantanamo to Bucharest, drones send to far afield places but none of that has shown to be a solution. Something must be fundamentally wrong and the world, the West leading, must find what it is.

If ISIL and terror in general is an idea or a belief stemmed in some kind of dogma then defeating it requires more of the same and less bombs, wars, and drones. In fact since 2001 and after the huge sacrifices made and expenditures there is no return on such huge investment in fighting terror. If terror is anything else then the world has to come up with something else. So far nothing has worked and nothing proved to be anywhere near being a good remedy. All solutions at this stage are costly and all of them are late meaning any results will take a very long time in a world in which seconds matter.

I am a Muslim from the region which give me some advantage to better understand the puzzle, may be little better than most of you, yet if you ask me what is the solution I can hardly answer your question. I can only say it's too late, too costly, too long, too difficult, and too demanding. Yet I believe it's better than all solutions being applied so far.