This column appeared in the Jersey Evening Post on 30 November 2015
The barbaric viciousness of the Paris attacks has left Europe in shock. Simultaneous operations carried out by well organised individuals have created an unprecedented sense of grief, horror and fear. The defiant cry: ‘we are at war!’ is echoing around European capitals as France has declared its first state of emergency since the Algerian war in 1961. The entire world has voiced its sympathies with the plight of the French and their subsequent bombing campaign in Syria. According to David Cameron, the UK has the moral obligation to ‘stand shoulder to shoulder’, as he will ask the British parliament for permission to join the bombing.
But can the threat of terrorism be tackled militarily? The enemy seems to have been unaffected by previous campaigns, in fact, its reach has clearly extended. It seems frustrating that Western leaders are now bent on responding militarily when there are many more obvious options open to them. Numerous studies have shown that ISIS is facilitated by ‘our’ actions in a very real way. While we are preparing ourselves to deploy our bomber planes, we are also strengthening the very forces that sustain the terrorist group.
It has been well documented how our allies in the Middle-East, primarily Qatar and Saudi-Arabia, have financed ISIS. They use the terrorist group as a proxy force in the region. While the world is mourning for Paris, Qatar is funnelling billions to ISIS accounts. We all know that Qatari finance is flowing through Jersey as well. The extremist regime of Saudi-Arabia has spent more than $100 billion on spreading their radical version of Wahhabi Islam through the region. Saudi-Arabia is another state the Jersey States seems very keen on courting. In fact, senator Ozouf visited the kingdom in 2014 and Ian Gorst sent his condolences to the Saudi government after the death of king Abdullah last year.
Finally, the role of Turkey remains questionable. Our NATO ally has reportedly played an active role in harbouring ISIS fighters, again using the organisation as a proxy force against the Kurds in northern Syria. The Turkish state would rather actively facilitate ISIS than empower the Kurds, who are seen as a threat to the Turkish state. This seems tragic, as the Kurds of Syria are the only force on the ground which is actively resisting ISIS. Turkey however, remains a warm friend to the West and to Jersey as well.
The research blog https://jerseydispatch.wordpress.com/ has investigated some of Jersey’s connections to international terrorism. If we are serious about destroying ISIS, we need to look beyond the military option and investigate what empowers ISIS to start with. This includes a serious look at our relationships with regimes which actively foster terrorism.