- On November 13, France faced its 26/11 moment. During three hours of indiscriminate killings that have already claimed 129 lives.
- Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility, threatening more such attacks.
- President Francois Hollande responded by calling it ‘an act of war’ and has vowed to respond ‘without mercy’.
- A state of emergency has been declared and movement across French borders curtailed.
- There has been an outpouring of sympathy across the world, reflected in the ‘We are all Parisiens’ vigils.
- Monuments across the world were lit up in the French colours. Leaders at the G-20 summit in Turkey observed a minute of solemn silence and pledged (once again) to strengthen and coordinate their efforts to combat terrorism.
Reason for paris attack:
- Among the European countries, France has a relatively high immigrant population, drawn largely from its ex-colonies in the Maghreb and Africa. Though religion is not included in the census exercise, it is estimated that the number of Muslims in France would be nearly six million, close to 10 per cent of the overall population
- Alienation of Muslims
- Unlike the first generation migrants who focussed single-mindedly on economic betterment, the second generation has been more susceptible to radicalisation, particularly after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Though France opposed the invasion, in the ensuing polarisation between the West and Islam, France was seen to be firmly in the Western camp.
- Muscular interventionist policies pursued by Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Mr. Hollande in Libya, Mali and now Syria have also contributed to the alienation of the Muslim youth
- Following the 2008 economic crisis, general unemployment in France has risen to 10 per cent but among the Muslims , the unemployment rates are nearly twice.
- Given the concentration of Muslim communities in and around certain urban agglomerations (like Paris, Marseilles and Toulouse), networks of mosques and Internet cafes have linked up with jihadi networks .
- France has been proud of its rather strict separation of the Church and the State, first legalised in 1905 and then enshrined in its subsequent Constitutions, as the concept of laicite or secularism. This was further strengthened by the 2004 law which prohibited the ostentatious display of religious symbols in public institutions.
- The law alienated sections of the Muslim population as it prohibits the wearing of the hijab which was becoming increasingly visible in French cities, causing concern.
- As evidence of radicalisation grew, new laws were introduced to provide additional powers to the security agencies to monitor and track individuals and organisations engaged with external radical entities even if no criminal act had been committed on French
- Failure of 20th century measures
- Yet, all these traditional policy measures have not prevented an alienation of large sections of the population, with its attendant risks of radicalisation. One reason is that these policies operated within national boundaries and failed to take into account the appeal of the ideology of global jihad.
- Western intervention in traditional societies has led to the dismantling of the state rather than making it more accountable. Al-Qaeda was incubated in the jihad sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the lawless Af-Pak region.
- The IS was born in Iraq following the disastrous U.S.-led intervention and has morphed into a Caliphate, aided by Western interventions in Syria and elsewhere, together with the virus of sectarianism within Islam introduced by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
- Lacking the necessary political space and resources, moderate Muslim leadership has often remained a helpless spectator to this hijacking of Islam. Military action in Syria and Iraq by itself cannot decimate the IS just as drone strikes have not eliminated Al-Qaeda.
- Another key reason for the failure is that the people in the West and the international community did not feel the same solidarity when Beirut or Ankara or even Mumbai were subjected to terrorist attacks, though the Mumbai attacks have now become the preferred model adopted by the terrorists.
- Yet, effective international coordination has been missing, though, for over a decade, world leaders have pledged to deal with this ‘global threat’ at every summit gathering.
- Global leaders gathered soon after the Paris incident in Antalya, Turkey, for the G20 summit. While the G20 is a forum for enhancing economic cooperation, the Paris attack shifted the attention to issues related to terrorism and security. Leaders of the G20 were united in condemning the incident and have issued a “strong statement on the fight against terrorism”.
- The statement called for preventing and suppressing “terrorist acts through increased international solidarity and cooperation, in full recognition of the UN’s central role
Problems in global action:
- Differences often emerge when it’s time for action against the perpetrators of terrorism and those who support such acts.
- The G20 statement does not reflect any major change in strategy to collectively deal with terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State.
- In fact, Russia is unilaterally acting against the Islamic State in Syria and now claims that some countries in the G20 are funding the organization.
- There are vast differences among global powers on the issue of Syria and how to deal with the Islamic State. This is the reason why it has been able to gain so much ground. Also,
- Russia’s intervention in the region is widely seen as an attempt to help Syrian dictator
- Bashar al-Assad, who the western powers want to go; and they have been helping the rebel forces in the region to attain this objective. Certainly, despite renewed commitment, things are not going to be easy either in Syria or the fight against terrorism in general.
- Such differences are not restricted to matters of security and are equally profound in the area of economics and finance.
- Essentially, what the world needs is better coordination in dealing with the emerging economic and geopolitical challenges. The joint communique at the end of the two-day G20 summit, for example, pledged to promote financial stability, clearly communicating policy action to avoid uncertainty, and resist protectionism. However, the reality is that the
- individual states are driven by their own policy objectives and are not necessarily worried about the consequences on the rest of the world.
- Several large economies today have the lowest possible interest rates and are using quantitative easing to competitively depreciate their currency, creating distortions in other parts of the world. Leverage has increased significantly in the emerging market economies which can pose a threat to financial stability.
- There is no system in place today to check the excesses of monetary easing by some and its impact on others. Further, trade restrictions have grown in recent times which can have long-term consequences for the global economy.
- From geopolitics to economic growth and financial stability, the challenges and complexities for the world have increased a great deal, and it requires greater coordination among nation states at various levels.
- One of the ways to attain this is by strengthening and expanding the role of global institutions such as the UN and the International Monetary Fund so that they are in a position to devise rules which are fair to all and monitor implementation.
- The war against terror or maintaining global economic and financial stability are not the responsibilities of one country or a small group of countries alone. In an interconnected and interdependent world, such challenges can only be met with greater international coordination through capable institutions.