Friday 21 October 2016

The risks of declaring war on terrorist groups

Published 18/11/2015 | 02:30

French fighter jets flying towards Syria in September, 2015, to take part in the US-led coalition’s bombing raids on Isil
French fighter jets flying towards Syria in September, 2015, to take part in the US-led coalition’s bombing raids on Isil

The French government was at war with Islamic terrorists and Isil long before last week’s Paris attacks took place.

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France has been one of the most vocal countries in its condemnation of worldwide terrorist organisations and should certainly be aware of the risks of declaring war on terrorists – which it has done many times.

The massacred people in Paris were completely innocent. However, the military involvement of France in other countries, especially Syria, cannot be regarded as innocent.

France’s reprisal attacks may be ill-judged, given that it may spur on further assaults on the French people and other allied countries that are heavily involved in other countries where militants are situated.

The French declaration of a “merciless response” could generate even more hostility from militant groups, even though the reaction is understandable.

There are always huge risks in becoming militarily involved in other countries.

France has an extensive military presence in Africa, where there are many militants, who see foreign troops as legitimate targets.

And French warplanes are taking part in coalition airstrikes against Isil in Syria.

There are undoubtedly inherent risks in taking on terrorist groups who are capable of launching highly successful attacks without warning and without misgivings. 

The 21st century will be no better than the 20th century in terms of war, conflict, and fundamentalism.

It’s the same old world with the same old problems, with the added twist of increasingly ruthless terrorism brought into the mix to make it ten times worse.

Maurice Fitzgerald

Shanbally, Co Cork


Isil is existential threat to EU

In total, 129 people were murdered by jihadists on Friday, November 13, in Paris.

While France went into total lock- down, Europe at large searched for a reason why such a cowardly and barbaric attack took place in Paris, the cultural epicentre our union of like-minded, democracy-espousing people.

Doubtless, every right-wing politician, fascist and neo-Nazi stood up pointed at their TV screens and shouted “this is what we warned about, Isil has sent their warriors to destroy Europe”. 

Their claims are probably gaining some traction, with a definite shift in opinion regarding the refugee crisis.

Among those of us who supported the arrival of Syrian refugees fleeing the horror of war there is silence. Silence because we do not know what to say because, perhaps, deep down inside we now know that one of the attackers, Ahmed Almuhamed, a Syrian passport holder, reportedly entered Europe through the Greek island of Lesbos and moved on to France.

Strangely, he travelled unhindered in Europe before arriving in his final destination, the Bataclan theatre in Paris, where he blew himself up.

France declared a state of emergency while President Francois Hollande declared the attacks as an ‘Act of War’.  Every arm of the security apparatus was mobilised to catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice for an attack on the French Republic, the cradle of European freedom.

Belgian-born fugitive Salah Abdeslam is now being hunted after the attacks. He is said to have been born and lived in Belgium, although French police have described him as a French national.

It is up to Europe to decide what the next steps are in terms of protecting the union and its citizens from further attacks. 

European nations, including France, have committed to fighting Isil and crushing them in Syria and Iraq. Why?  Because Isil is an existential threat to the entire EU. Schengen is already under threat, with member states closing borders and now refusing to take refugees.

These actions and disagreements are not simply because of fears about lack of space in towns and cities or resources to support refugees. Nor is it only about xenophobia, which sadly exists in Europe. It is about a real and present risk of a terrorist attack, carried out by Isil jihadists hiding among genuine refugees. 

Citizens in Europe now live in fear of further attacks. Is it safe to get onto a flight? Is it OK to go to Paris this weekend, or take the London Underground? Are cities like Dublin, Helsinki and Lisbon safe?  Should we be worried about our neighbours’ religious or political beliefs?  I have no doubt in my mind that people are asking these questions.

It is highly likely that we have not seen the end of these attacks, but as with all wars, life must go on, we must go to our jobs, take the bus or metro, send children to school and do what we have always done, that is to live.

To do anything less would be tantamount to letting the terrorists win, and we must never do this.

We must stand resolute as one indelible, united European citizenry with the future of our union and all it stands for at heart. We must not let this tragedy destroy what we have built or change how we treat other people, in particular those who are suffering. 

If anything, the Paris attacks must strengthen our resolve as a people to move forward and protect the principles of  “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”.

Martin Luther King Jr once said “the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people”. Europe must not be silenced by the tyranny of evil and the actions of a few.

Philip Jones

Ballyvolane, Cork


Ireland must be vigilant

I cannot understand the sheer stupidity of Government ministers who would shout from the rooftops that Ireland is at very little risk of a terrorist attack by Isil.

By doing so, they are offering the terrorists the opportunity of infinite publicity by attacking a soft target which, by  thinking it is immune, is almost totally unprepared.

David Bradley

Drogheda, Co Louth


Roy sticks it to the naysayers

The anti-Roy Keane factions in the media, and in the disgruntled ranks of supporters of the Republic of Ireland team, must be sick as parrots that he has played a major part in our qualification for the Euros. Bazinga!

Robert Sullivan

Bantry, Co Cork

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