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l September 03 l

The Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

l Vol 2, No 5 l


Policy on Terror needs reconsideration

Swaraj Singh

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush declared that to fight and curb terrorism was his top priority. After almost 2 years, if we review the situation, then one factor becomes evident: the fight against terrorism is far from over.

Actually, terrorism seems to be increasing. The recent attack on the UN office in Baghdad was the worst in the history of the UN. The killing of Ayatollah Al Hakim, an important American ally in Najaf, is a severe blow to the efforts of establishing a pro-American government in Iraq. Not only American soldiers are coming under attack, but the infrastructure such as oil pipes, water lines, and power supply sources are also being attacked. Iraqi collaborators are also being attacked. In Afghanistan, the attacks by combined elements of Taliban, Al Qaeda operatives, and the forces of Gulabadin Hikmatyar are not only increasing in frequency but are also becoming bolder and more dangerous. In one of the attacks, hundreds of fighters in many armored vehicles attacked and occupied a regional police headquarters. Another convoy carrying high police officers was ambushed and all of the officers were killed. This attack occurred just south of Kabul while President Karzai was viewing an independence day parade. Similarly, the recent suicide bomb attack on a bus in Jerusalem shows how fragile is peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. All these terrorist attacks show how difficult it is to win peace, certainly much harder than winning war. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai seem to be in retaliation for antiMuslim riots in Gujrat. This situation may lead to an endless vicious cycle of revenge.

What are the reasons of not winning the war against terrorism? One reason is obvious. This war cannot be won by the use of force alone. We have to understand the political, economic, cultural, and religious factors which can be exploited by the terrorists. Perceptions are very important. They may or may not be true but still have to be taken into consideration. Doubts continue to linger about the real motives of starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some people still feel that oil played a significant role in these wars. Some even think oil also played a role in breaking the Soviet Union.

The Central Asian republics happen to have very large oil deposits but their oil has to be brought to the Arabian Sea. The oil pipes carrying oil from Central Asia have to pass through Afghanistan to reach the Arabian Sea. Iraq has the second largest oil deposits in the world. Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussein, who represented the Sunni Arabs, a minority which faced a hostile Shiite majority in the South and equally hostile Kurds in the North. Therefore, it was easy to overthrow him and take control of Iraqi oil. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, these presuppositions and calculations did not prove very credible. It soon became obvious that Afghanistan is too unstable to even think of passing oil pipes through the country. As far as Iraq is concerned, both Shiites in the South and Kurds in the North did not prove very effective allies against Saddam Hussein. Shiites could not join a superpower which is perceived as antiMuslim. Turkey made Kurds ineffective. Turkey is concerned that if the Kurds break away from Iraq and form a separate country, then the Kurds in Turkey may also demand to join that independent country, therefore it can lead to the destabilization of Turkey. This was also felt that India can join the war against terrorism, particularly when there is some antiMuslim and antiChina sentiment in India which can be exploited for prompting India to join the antiterrorist alliance. But there are many people in India who feel uncomfortable about an alliance with America and Israel which can be perceived as an antiMuslim and antiChina alliance. They feel that this will be against the fundamental interests of India since India is an Asian country belonging to the third world; an alliance against the leading forces of Asia and the third world can create great problems for India. Some Indians feel that the best option for India is to form an alliance with Russia and China because India can then help in strengthening the neutral forces. Such a role is more compatible with India’s image as well as suits more its ground realities. The war against terrorism is more likely to succeed if it tries to address the various issues associated with this problem and a serious attempt is made to form a consensus against terrorism. A unilateralist approach to terrorism is unlikely to work.

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