Just 4 months after the Paris attacks in November 2015, Brussels became the next victim in a long line of Western targets by the terrorist group Islamic State/Daesh in which 31 souls were taken.
Shortly after 08:00 (local time), 3 coordinated nail bomb suicide attacks occurred, spanning the city of Brussels; two at the Brussels International airport, and a third at Maelbreek metro station. The current prediction of reasoning behind the attacks is that it was a knee-jerk reaction, by ISIL, to the arrest of Salah Abdeslam – one of the accomplices of the Paris attacks.
Now, the aftermath, the grieving, the re-emergence of hope, not only of the people of Belgium, but everyone around the world. But, of course, Brussels and Paris are not the only victims of such atrocities by the hand of Islamic State/Daesh; Iraq, Denmark, Tunisia, Kuwait, Yemen, the downing of Russian Metrojet flight over Egypt’s Northern Sinai region – the list goes on.
But what cannot happen is a further knee-jerk reaction from Belgium, from Europe, from the US in military retaliation. This, however hatred-quelling, would be folly. Here’s why.
ISIL/Daesh is a clever, multi-headed Hydra, primarily fuelled by decades of disastrous Western interventionism in the Middle East. Go back far enough and ties between ISIL/Daesh and Al-Queda around the time of the 2003 Iraq Invasion are visible as the anti-US narrative grew in strength following the 90s and 00’s and the policies and wars of Clinton and Bush. A very much a 21st century terrorist organisation, it is an organisation ruthlessly efficient at spreading propaganda, hatred and upcoming events across social media networks, such as Twitter and Facebook; ISIL/Daesh-sponsored beheadings are now – sadly – a regular occurrence on Newsfeeds the world over.
Back in November 2014 – 12 months before the Paris attacks – the French government headed by François Hollande, began Opération Chammal – the largest airstrike attack by France on ISIL/Daesh to date; initially sending 10 aircraft to drop a total of 20 bombs on ISIL/Daesh-controlled areas. Now, Opération Chammal is – over a year later – still ongoing. The increased military action by France could be tied to the targeting of Paris for November 2015’s terror attacks.
In the aftermath of Paris, the media and national governments (including many Western governments) moved incredibly quickly to react by raising military ground – and air – attacks against ISIL/Daesh. Now here is the crux of the issue, echoed by the Guardian’s Simon Jenkins this morning – Thursday 24th March; such an outspin by the media and respective governments, especially so when combative military action is involved, only adds fuel to Daesh’s fire.
The number of column inches, the level at which the eye of the Western mainstream media storm focusses on an awful, tragic, but singular event, only swells the ISIL ego even more, as more citizens, politicians and lawmakers are caught up in the melee.
If anything is clear now, more than ever, it is unity and strength of Europe that will prove that ISIL/Daesh is no more than a weak terrorist organisation fuelled on the hatred of those having struggled through the last 20-30 years of Western policy with relation to the Middle East.
Stand united. Stand strong. Stare straight at Daesh. Do not blink. But do not continue blanket bombing Raqqa, killing the very citizens who are fleeing – in their millions – to Europe’s shores, from such barbarians.
If hope of change and the fall of ISIL/Daesh is needed, then this may be useful food for thought.