Shu Meng: Middle East key to solving the normalization of terror attacks
Publish time: 2016-12-22 Browsing times: 10

Multiple corners across the world saw gun violence in deep grief within roughly 12 hours on Monday night. In Germany, a tractor-trailer truck plowed into a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market, leaving 12 people dead and 48 injured. In Switzerland, three people at prayer were injured when a gunman stormed into a Zurich mosque and opened fire. In Turkey, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated at an art gallery in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Such attacks which happened almost simultaneously in different places indicate a peak in the ever-surging terrorism.

As extremist groups have attached greater importance to implementing localization strategies in Western countries, the regions suffering from terrorist attacks have gradually changed. Under air strikes by the international community, an increasing number of extremists from Syria and Iraq either returned home or fled to other countries after their strongholds were destroyed. Lone wolf terrorism is on the rise and terrorist attacks are becoming a terrible norm.

The normalization of terrorism is a rather perilous trend, which means we will have to live in and adapt to an environment where dangers can arise anytime.

Counter-terrorism remains a highlight of the international community, which, however, is witnessing a growing divide in the definition of terrorism and its coping measures. Furthermore, major powers have their own desire and ambition to scramble for dominance on the world stage and to garner clout in certain regions that are also afflicted by terrorism.

Domestically speaking, many countries have failed in their deradicalization policies that are often associated with domestic politics, making counter-terrorism efforts all the more complicated.

More importantly, current anti-terrorism endeavors are mainly aimed at lowering the risk of terror attacks after getting accustomed to them, but this ignores the root of terrorism and extremism.

The radical off-duty policeman who gunned down Karlov screamed in Turkish: Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria. This might give us some enlightenment: the radicalization of lone wolves riding roughshod over the Western world derive, admittedly, from the internal policies of the countries where they are, their living environment and discrimination from the outside, but also from the wide spread of extremist ideas. The conundrum of refugees and the localization of terrorism have prompted governments to focus on domestic security. Nonetheless, the Middle East is where to break through on the normalization of terrorism and consequently ensure long-term security.

Only by abandoning divergences and conflicts of interests and turning to find resolutions to the legacy in the Middle East will the international community band together and achieve deradicalization in a real sense. Palliative measures will do nothing but trigger preventative measures against terrorist attacks to lag behind the spread of extremist thought.

It is easier to wage a war than to end one. And the war on terror has commenced and continued unabated since Western powers meddled in the Middle East and gave rise to the development and overflow of terrorism. The US battle against terrorism has proved a failure, and the joint effort through international cooperation has been to little avail. At this critical moment, we need to consider the bigger picture and reflect on the measures we have taken, or we will have to get accustomed to this war on terror lasting for a very long time.

The author is a research fellow at the Middle East Studies Institute, Shanghai International Studies University.

Source: Global Times