The War on Terror: How to Diminish Terrorist Organisations Without Dropping Bombs

by Charlie_East_West on November 18, 2015

The acts of terrorism inflicted on Paris on Friday evening were despicable. It was a barbaric act of terrorism that focused on the soft targets of people having fun, relaxation and entertainment on a Friday night out – either through attending a football match, a gig or breaking bread with family and friends in a Parisian restaurant. The attacks hit the most cosmopolitan areas of one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. They hit the targets of music, culture, sport and dining – areas of freedom, enjoyment and social life within our western society were mercilessly attacked. As ISIS set out to achieve, they hit out right across our daily way of living.

Predictably, the debate as already been framed towards swift military retaliation in response to this barbaric act of terrorism. But, as history has repeatedly taught us, an eye for an eye only makes the world go blind. Bombing innocent civilians in the Middle East as a response to innocent civillians being bombed in Paris will not solve the problem. It will only intensify the problem.

Francois Hollande, has already promised that France will conduct a “pitiless war” against the organisations that composed and executed the attacks. We have been here many times before. We need to tread very carefully with this type of response. The US/UK led reponse to the dispicable terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have been proved to be a disaster.

Fighter planes dropping bombs, deploying ground troops and lobbing yet more cruise missiles will not stop a terrorist. All this will achieve is some sort of ego short term fuelled political gain by our Western political leaders – who want to be seen to be acting tough. Instead, it will cause even more tension and resentment across the lands of the Middle East, even more death to civillians and eventually, more casualties to Allied force soldiers, potentially a lack of a strategically thought out end game and a heightened risk of yet more terrorism being inflicted upon our own citizens. Flexing interventionalist muscles will not solve the problem. It has in many ways, become the problem.

The ugliness of xenophobic rage and islamophobia already disturbingly lurk as a knee-jerk response to the events in Paris. The cartoon published in yesterday’s Daily Mail had a whiff of fascism about it – slyly depicting Syrian refugees who cross EU borders as vermin. Bible Belt US States have already collectively announced that they will not allow Syrian refugees to enter. These responses are ignorant, insular and dangerous. We need to always remember that refugees are not terrorists. Refugees are fleeing terrorism.

There has to be a better way than this. So rather than ratcheting up the levels of military interventionalism and propaganda based xenophobia narratives (which is exactly the type of Western response that ISIS want), a response to the terrorists should be both equally measured and ruthless – but actually have a workable chance of diminishing their power base. The only solution to undermine ISIS is to find ways to defund them to try and stop their revenue streams through diplomacy and collective geopolitical financial aggression.

Hillary Clinton has previously stated that “more needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban and other terrorist groups…Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”. As well as the Saudis, three other Arab countries are also listed as sources of dirty money to fund terrorist organisations – Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

This bankrolling of terrorism has to be destroyed. The West should follow the money trail to ISIS. No stone should be left unturned. The sources and funders have to be named, shamed, exposed and prosecuted. If this means that key influencers and finance houses are caught up in a tangled web of disclosure and exposure then so be it.

As well as tightening up the pathways of financing to the terrorist organisations, the West should stop selling weapons or financially propping up any state or regime that has a risk of passing on these weapons and funds to terrorists. Again, this may well expose a few inconvenient truths about those involved in this process, but so what? If we really want to hit terrorists where it hurts, their supply of money and weapons has to be cut off.

Adopting this approach will not completely destroy terrorism, but it sure as hell offers a more rational, compassionate and pragmatic global response to target funders of terrorism than yet more ill-conceived bombs thrown onto innocent civilians.

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