by Arley Gill
Terrorism in the major cities of the western world now appears to be the norm. Mainland Europe – and in particular the French capital, Paris – bore the brunt of it for the last 18 months. England, with its major cities of Manchester and London, has experienced terrible incidents of terrorism within the last month or so.
Terrorism at the same time continues to wreak havoc and destabilise societies, taking thousands of lives and causing millions of dollars in losses in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and Syria, among others.
Just this past Wednesday, suicide bombers and gunmen wielding assault rifles attacked Iran’s parliament building and mausoleum in the capital, Tehran, leaving at least a dozen people dead.
The Islamic State (ISIS), the Sunni extremist group that has taken credit for terrorist attacks around the world in the last few weeks, said it was behind Wednesday’s events in Iran, where the majority of people are Shiite Muslim.
Still, Iran has pointed fingers at Saudi Arabia and the United States, blaming them for the assault on the parliament building and mausoleum.
The acts of terrorism in non-European countries do not generate the same amount of news coverage from the western media as those in the western countries. To be fair, one should expect the press in the western countries to cover news that more directly affect their societies. In the same breath, the acts of terrorism are more frequent, and the loss of lives and property much greater in these societies, than in the west. The colours of the Eiffel Tower do not change when there is a massive bombing in Turkey.
The fact is, terrorism wherever it takes place is a crime against humanity. The loss of innocent lives – such as people going to market, walking the streets, or going to the cinema or a restaurant – is simply horrendous. I shudder at the thought of persons going about their daily routine, losing their lives because of a terrorist act.
Where are we now in this war against terrorism? That question must be asked. It appears from the news reports that in both Syria and Iraq, progress has been made in getting rid of ISIS in certain strongholds. However, listening to the news it appears that these extremists are looking for footholds in new areas such as the Philippines.
You see, I am no security expert but I sense that so long as the threat of ISIS remains, the threat of terrorist acts in Western societies also will continue. They will continue to, directly and indirectly, influence persons who are willing to commit terrorist activities.
The Caribbean is not far removed from all of this. It is well-established that many jihadists come from Trinidad. Then, there is the fact that Caribbean nationals reside practically all over the world. Thus, it is not too remote to think that a Caribbean national can get hurt in one of these acts of terrorism.
After all, in the recent stabbings on the London Bridge in England, there were victims from Canada, France, New Zealand and elsewhere. Grenadians, Jamaicans, Dominicans and other Caribbean nationals walk this bridge every day. Therefore, the incidences of terrorism ought to concern us, for good reasons.
In this environment of growing insecurity, we are experiencing an era of political uncertainty from the US, something we have never seen in our lifetime. The serious world leaders like Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin are probably wondering what next from Washington.
In foreign affairs under President Donald Trump, Washington and the White House appear unstable and definitely uncertain. The president is clearly out of his depth, and other countries may very well have to step up to fill that void in world leadership.
In my view, the defeat of ISIS and the senseless terrorist activities throughout the world depends on solid and focused political leadership. And that, my friends, will not come from Washington in the foreseeable future.