Paris Bombing: Russia and West Need to Join Forces to Repel Common Threat
|Andrei AKULOV | 14.11.2015 | 22:00|
In today’s world, terrorist activities run rampant, with the Islamic State (IS) still expanding to pose an immeasurable threat to world peace and cause anxiety and anger in the international community.
Almost one year after the terror attack at Charlie Ebdo, a French satirical newspaper, Paris was hit by a series of terror attacks on Friday, Nov. 13 — a shooting rampage, explosions and mass hostage taking — in several places at once.
This is the worst terror attack in France’s history. The official death toll stands at 128, with nearly 100 more people seriously injured with hostages taken at The Bataclan, a concert hall, during a concert of pop music.
«This is an act of war», Hollande said on his way out of a specially convened session of France’s Defense Council.
It’s hardly a coincidence that the attack took place two weeks before some 80 heads of state, including possibly Obama and Putin, are expected for a critical climate summit in two weeks. And Paris-based UNESCO is expecting world leaders Nov.16 for a forum about overcoming extremism. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani canceled a trip because of the attacks. In June, France is to host the European soccer championship. The bombing calls into question any international meeting in a country that has sealed itself off to thwart attacks and catch any terrorist attempting to leave the country.
As an immediate consequence of the attacks, Hollande called off his trip to Turkey for the G20 summit to start on November 15.
Witness reports of attackers shouting «It’s for Syria» show that the act was vengeance for French airstrikes being carried out against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria. There is a great possibility the Russian passenger plane went down a few days ago under the Sinai Peninsula as a result of terror act. It makes Russia and France natural allies in the fight against a common threat. One of the goals pursued by Russian military operation in Syria was to prevent its citizens, who had joined the Islamic State (IS), from coming home.
Over the past few years hundreds of French citizens have joined Islamist groups in Syria, straining authorities’ ability to monitor all who return — a group that security officials consider particularly dangerous given their wartime experience. No doubt the coordinated attacks likely required months of planning, based on their sheer number, the locations including a site where the president was present and the variety of weapons used. The same way, if the Russian airliner accident was a terror act, it was a result of a well-planned and thoroughly prepared operation. The similarities are obvious.
The US-led coalition has quietly come to accept Russia’s campaign of airstrikes, realizing that the Islamic State today is the main threat to world peace. Syria is a real patchwork, where the positions of Russia, Iran and Syria coalition, the US-led coalition, the armed opposition, Islamic State militants and the Kurds overlap with one another.
In order for head-to-head clashes to be averted, US and Russian operations must be conducted at least parallel to one another. They should be coordinated, if not united. The special arrangements to prevent being targeted by friendly fire and other accidents are already in place. A direct link between Russia’s Defense Ministry and the US Defense Department is established – that’s a good start. We can do it.
If Russia and the US-led coalition could agree to coordinate their activities in Syria, they could also come to an agreement on other issues, including fighting the Islamic State in the Middle East and Europe, and even the crisis in Ukraine.
The Nov. 13 Paris terror attack indicates that the world has to tackle the fight against extremist Islamism with more rigor and tenacity. After 9/11 and the Beslan terrorist attacks in 2004, the West and Russia have shown signs that cooperation in a global fight against terrorism is possible. Yet, the past two years have witnessed a number of notable setbacks, culminating with the current crisis in Ukraine.
Cooperation is now more important than ever, as the Islamic State continues to threaten both the West and Russia with further terrorist attacks. On September 2, the Islamic State threatened not only to execute additional Western journalists, but also to come to Russia to «free Chechnya and the entire Caucasus» as well as to destabilize the country. From Russia’s perspective, the picture is more than alarming. The Islamic State has recently received the allegiance of a group of local terrorists in Chechnya and announced that it intends to declare an «Emirate» there. There are a considerable number of Chechen fighters in Syria and Iraq. The conference of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held in July 2015 in Ufa showed that participants, including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan expressed the same concern of the US and the EU.
The White House announced on September 29th that U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin had reached consensus on coordinating their actions in fighting IS during their talks on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The world has been eagerly awaiting the achievements of their joint actions. However, the outcome has been disappointing so far, as the parties are divided by too many differences on crucial issues. The time has come for making more progress. At a time, when the Islamic State expands and the situation becomes more challenging, there is urgency for them to cooperate. The peoples of all countries, particularly people of the Middle East nations, all hope that the United States and the West on the one side and Russia on the other could join together in the war against terrorism.
The major actors should realize that cooperation brings benefits to both sides while confrontation only harms them. The war against terrorists in Syria should not become a battlefield between the Russia and the West. If they choose confrontation, neither side will win, only wreaking havoc for the rest for the rest of the world. Russia is calling for the creation of a new anti-terror international alliance led by the United Nations. The tragedy in Paris proves the proposal to be timely and substantiated. Russia and the West have no choice but cooperate in fighting the common enemy.
This is the time for Russia, the US and the EU to set aside differences and join together in an effort to counter the burgeoning common threat posed by the IS. For, perhaps, the first time in the counterterrorist struggle, the United States, the European Union and Russia share a common concrete enemy in the form of Islamic State. None of them can put up with the existence of a terrorist quasi state, which is staging terrorist acts in other countries, actively training its nationals and interested in acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Russia, the US and the EU go separate ways to make the terrorists’ mission easier to accomplish and sustained terrorist campaigns are launched against all of us.