How to Battle Terrorism in 2017

Serviceman holds a Stinger anti-aircraft guided missile. Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

How to beat the plague of the twenty-first century.

Syria's territory has become a “safe haven” of terrorist groups. For the “Islamic state” to do the same is a complicated task. It will have to break all ideological bases, the essence of the organization. For them, the idea of controlling the territories and the subsequent formation of state institutions became a fixed idea. This was the basis of the “Islamic State”. It was a strong point of the organization. The ideologists of this group talked a lot about the need of controlling of areas. In their journal “Dabiq”, they wrote that real “Salafi” is impossible without control over the territories; that it is an imitation of "righteous ancestors"; and therefore a “caliphate” is impossible. In the past caliphs controlled territory that allowed them to establish rules, according to which Islamic world should live, in the radical sense. The ideologues of Islamic state taught their supporters that their is only one way to return former greatness--controlling areas. Nowadays their loss is a blow to the basis, to the essence of the “Islamic state”. It is not the state without controlling the territory. Of course, the Islamic State controls some territories today and will do so in the coming year. However, it is losing territories; its adherents are dwindling.

The number of attacks increase in the periods when the radicals confidently control vast territories. As soon as they lose the "safe haven", opportunities and resources for the implementation of acts of terrorism in any part of the world are reduced. As a result, 2016 became the year, when it became possible to reduce ability of terrorists of preparing and carrying out attacks. It is a definite success.

In this context it is possible to predict that number of attacks that will occur in the entire 2017 will be less than in 2015 and in 2016. This gives a kind of hope.

 The third factor has had a major influence in the failure of the fight against terrorism. Unfortunately, we must admit that the intelligence services, despite the heroism of experts fighting against terrorism, directed its efforts at dealing with symptoms, but not with the disease. This applies to all countries without any exception. As a result, success was achieved towards the end of the year, but it is tactical, operational, but not strategic. Despite unprecedented levels of threat, the fight against terrorism is still accompanied by political engagement.

Consider some examples. Ignoring the obvious facts, the United States still continued to assert, even in strategic documents, that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the main sponsor of terrorism, an assertion that doesn’t fully correspond to reality. Unfortunately, 2017 will bring more of the same. Washington notes that the major terrorist groups are “Islamic state” and "Al Qaeda" with their numerous branches. But at the same time, some officials from the State Department and the CIA argued that Iran is the main sponsor, because it supports Lebanese "Hezbollah" and the Iraqi wing of the “Kataib Hezbollah”. In turn, Russia almost refused to recognize the civil nature of the war in Syria. The Moscow opinion is that the Syrian conflict is a regional war involving terrorist groups and, therefore, participation in it should be reduced only to the fight against terrorism. Frequently, almost all groups are denoted as terrorist even without delving into the details of the Syrian regional reality. This in turn is one of the key mistakes in the fight against terrorism.

However very often in 2016 the Middle East governments blame all failures on terrorism. Their inability to protect interests and promote crisis resolution leads to the radicalization of the “loser part of society”. Protest is gaining momentum and finds a basis in a corrected Islamic dogma. Ultimately, the protests are fanatical. The government toughens fight against the rebels, who are gradually turning into terrorists. As a result, everyone loses. There should be a strict separation between the symptoms of Islamist terrorism and the real causes of this disease.

The struggle with the symptoms rather than with the disease consists in the fact that people who are fighting terrorism take the easy route and don’t fight the fundamental causes of the emergence and existence of radicalism. Consider Iraq and Syria.

In the social and political realities of these two countries we can see the deep conflicts that is underlie the success of terrorists. Specifically it concerns religious, ethnic and political differences. In addition, there is economic and social injustice. Furthermore, there is the ideological vacuum which the representatives of the official clergy couldn’t fill. There is a need for an updating of social contract between the four main pillars of the Muslim Middle Eastern countries: the population-power-army-clergy.

As a result, inter-religious and socio-economic contradictions form the foundation of the growth of terrorism in Iraq and Syria. This is the underlying cause. Moreover, the identity of the Syrians and Iraqis is going through the deepest crisis. As a result, conflicts are on the lines of the Alawites, Shiites, Christians - Sunni (Syria), Shia-Sunni-Kurdish (Iraq). Radicals have successfully used all of these contradictions in their favor.