Excerpt : Military actions by the West in Muslim countries breed terrorism
The Pope was welcome in our great country which is neither a hotbed of terrorists nor a war-torn country as the Western media disdainfully depicts our nation. Aside from his usual call for co-existence between the people of various faiths and the condemnation of radicalization of our youth, what resonates most with me is his call for dialogue globally to resolve political crisis rather than resort to the use of force. The militarization of conflicts in many parts of the world has created political instability and erosion of peace in many parts of the world, and resulted in creating breeding grounds for terrorists.
From Afghanistan to Palestine, Yemen to Syria, Ukraine to Iraq and beyond, the trend is the same – the massive use of military force to eliminate rebels, suspected terrorists and perceived opponents. This policy has regrettably led to enhanced emergence, and proliferation of terrorist groups and dismembering of countries, creating further instability in the world. Terrorists have spread their reach, rather than decline. Al Qaeda has expanded from Afghanistan to Mali to Yemen and beyond. It has mutated into other groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, and others.
Yet, again the international community continues to pursue the same policies in the escalation of air strikes in Syria and Iraq. Experts and analysts have criticized the unending bombing of nations into medieval times, destroying the most basic infrastructure, killing thousands in what is called collateral damage, and sending millions out of their homes into desperation and hopelessness. The outcome is millions now streaming into Europe as refugees, presenting it with a real human issue at its door step for the first time in decades. Thousands of their citizens have joined the terrorist groups operating in Syria and Iraq, with growing consequences of potential attacks in European capitals.
When the Arab spring swept across the Middle East, Western nations acted in the best interests of their economic and geopolitical concerns, ignoring the social revolutions in pursuit of democracy and freedom by the people. Syria was one such example. Attempts to remove its president through popular, and initially peaceful protests led to the use of military power by the President, calling his opponents rebels and terrorists. Soon after, thousands were dead, millions displaced, and the country flattened in a scorched earth policy as the world watched.
A good example of the self-interests of the world’s powers can best be seen in the recent Russian and Turkish contexts. When the Ukrainian government moved into quell political riots, Russia swiftly engineered a revolt in East Ukraine dominated by its kinsmen, and annexed it through the use of force to protect their folks. When Turkey moved in to protect the decimation of its Turkmen community legitimately fighting Assad in Syria by the pro-Assad Russian military, the latter accuses it of supporting terrorism. We see a world where might is being touted as right, in disregard of the lives of millions who are merely pawns in geopolitical contests.
There would have been neither a civil war nor ISIS in Syria had Russia and other Western powers collectively forced Assad to relinquish power during the Arab spring. Nor would ISIS spring up in US-controlled Iraq had the US forced its installed administration to share power equitably with other groups. The UN too has ceased to pursue dialogue to resolve political conflicts, instead routinely sanctioning military and air bombardments.
Perhaps the Pope is just about the only authority these world powers respect, if at all. Hence my message to the Pope – please exert your influence around the Western capitals to make the world safer for all.