A series of coordinated attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen in Paris on Friday night left around 129 innocent people killed. The eight gunmen, armed with assault weapons, grenades and suicide belts packed with explosives attacked a concert hall, restaurants and the national sports stadium to kill as many people as possible.
The so called Islamic State group was quick to claim responsibility for the attacks with French President Francois Hollande terming the attacks an “act of war” and vowing to strike back. France has already carried out the first bombing of IS targets in Syria.
The murderous attack and Hollandes response has evoked a deep sense of de javu. President Hollande has promised to lead a war against IS which will be pitiless. France is part of the broad Western alliance ostensibly fighting IS in Syria and Iraq along with Russia which is bombing extremist rebels in Syria. Now attacks in Paris and the consequent carnage is expected to further harden the Western policy on IS. By striking in France, IS has demonstrated its chilling reach to strike anywhere in the world and not let the war remain limited to Syria or Iraq alone. Ever since the group seized parts of Iraq and Syria to carve out statelet it calls Caliphate, the US efforts to degrade and destroy it have met a limited success. IS continues to largely hold onto the swathes of Iraq and Syria with some insignificant reverses here and there. It has also demonstrated the ability to take war into the countries attacking it.
How will world respond now? The signals from the western capitals point towards intensification of the military campaign against Daesh, another name for IS. The attacks have forced a reassessment of the threat and may prompt a more aggressive strategy against the terror group. The Group of 20 summit meeting being held at Antalya, Turkey has been dominated by the discussion on response to Paris attacks. Will NATO make the Paris attacks a pretext to lead another Iraq-like invasion against Syria, with allies finally resolving to put boots on the ground? Will world relive the post-9/11 history? This does appear a likely scenario. But it was this response of the West towards Al-Qaeda abetted terrorism that is believed to be responsible for the emergence of Daesh. The successive invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq by US and their colossal humanitarian fallout and social disruption has radicalized large swathes of the population. A pitiless war will again inflict untold miseries on the people, repeating the diabolical cycle that has brutalized the Middle East over the past decade and a half.
And once the new war defeats IS and dislodges it from its occupied territory, as could be expected from an all-out Western offensive, would it safeguard the West and address the terrorism? It will not do so. In fact, it might even lead to more terrorism, may be on a much bigger scale. What is the solution then? The answer to this question is very difficult. But there can be no two opinions about the need for creating a more just world, where atrocities wherever they take place and whosoever is responsible for them are taken note of. Where lives in the west, east, north and south also matter. And where longstanding political issues are justly addressed. Then only the military action against Daesh will find wider acceptance and its negative fallout will be arrested. The world will certainly be better off without another war on terror.
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