On the night of 13 November 2015 in Paris, after the ISIS operatives had hit almost simultaneously a concert hall, a major football stadium and some restaurants and bars leaving 130 dead and hundreds injured, the French President Francois Hollande said “we are at war”. Last Tuesday morning the same kind of ‘armed forces’ and suicide killers, inspired and also organized by ISIS affiliated groups hit the Zaventem Airport and the Maelbeek Metro station in Brussels, leaving at least 34 dead and about 250 wounded. Before the day was out, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said, “what we had feared has now happened”. Evidently widespread fear goes together with war.
Who wages it?
The latest assaults in Brussels came only four days after the Belgian security forces had captured ‘enemy leader’ Salah Abdeslam, one of the organizers of the Paris attacks. Yesterday, the Belgian authorities named the Zaventem assailants as the brothers Khalid and Brahim el-Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui. All three of them were known to the authorities as connected to terrorist jihadist forces and the last one was hunted by Interpol. Presumably, together with Abdeslam they constituted the cutting edge of ISIS affiliated armed groups in Western Europe. The Belgians have also revealed that after their success of capturing Abdeslam, the ‘enemy’ camp would try to retaliate, a standard approach in warfare. Unfortunately, it seems that they didn’t make the best out of their prediction and the captive terrorist.
Abdeslam misguided the interrogators?
In the days before the Tuesday attacks the Belgians had left it to be understood that Abdeslam cooperated with his interrogators. This approach was also backed by his lawyer who said that his client didn’t use the right to remain silent and that he was willing to cooperate. Yet, as it turned out, Abdeslam was in close connection with the Khalid brothers and had very probably jointly planned the twin attacks in Zaventem and Maelbeeck. In short, Abdeslam, till the very last moment, tried to protect his unholy plans, succeeding, rather, in misguiding his captors.
Those details are underlined here in order to support the view that there is a real war going on and the European citizens have no means to predict where the next bomb is to explode. The difference from other wars is then that this one is taking place in a globalised environment, making it easy to transfer the fight from the plains of northern Syria and Iraq to the streets of the European cities. Let’s see how we ended up in this mess.
A new kind of war
The first Sunni Moslem Jihadist regular military and otherwise fighting forces were organized many years ago by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam and others under the Al-Qaeda façade. Not to forget that Al-Qaeda was initially a friend of the West, actively supported by the US and directed against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda also tried to infiltrate and create internal conflicts in the Socialist Republics of USSR in central Asia with large Sunni Moslem communities. At some point however the operatives turned against their Western masters, and hit the twin towers of New York in the 9/11 catastrophe.
This attack made terrorism an everyday theme on 8 o’clock news and created a new kind of war. The average man in the streets of US and Europe became addicted to the terror and became positively inclined to believe whatever his leaders were saying. Now the heir or rather a parallel co-operative in the terrorist camp is today’s ISIS, initially organized by the remnants of the fallen Bagdad butcher’s Saddam Hussein regime, plus some other Sunni military ‘experts’ left unemployed in Bosnia, Chechnya and elsewhere.
The differences between Al-Qaeda and ISIS are rather of personality and geographical character. They all are feeding on the destitute Sunni population masses, after the destruction of the more or less civilized Arab state structure, which were tyrannical even murderous but offered relative welfare and security to large geographical areas and populations. Let’s count: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria plus large regions of sub-Saharan Africa.
Terror + recession = more war
It’s not only that though. The 2008 financial crisis in the West deprived Europe of the ability to offer relative economic security to almost all of its own citizens. In the decade 2000-2010 Europe could not only offer a lot to almost all of its citizens, but it was also able to absorb 1 million immigrants a year.
However, the economic situation worsened after 2010 and poverty and exclusion engulfed increasing parts of the inhabitants of the big European cities. Of course, the worst hit groups are those who have a social exclusion problem. Brussels and Paris are very good examples of that. Entire neighborhoods are cut off from what happens in the rest of the country.
As a result, the indigenous European Moslem populations, plus the pushed back aspiring immigrants, have now become a fertile mass of people ready to support the fighters of Islam. After the economic dreams for a better life faded out, for tens of millions of Sunni Moslems in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, religion became the only remaining refuge on earth. For them, the enemy was there, visible mainly in the air, with its war airplanes bombing everything that moves.
Bombing marriages and funerals
Marriages and funerals were the standard bombing targets for the NATO force in Afghanistan. In Iraq, Syria, Libya, Niger, Chad, Sudan and elsewhere European and American war planes became the standard destruction force, not to say anything about the Israeli bombings of the Gaza strip. Add to that the internal fighting which erupted in all those regions after the state structures collapsed and fighting became the standard reality in vast geographical areas.
This is the war Francois Hollande spoke of after the Paris attacks. It’s the same thing the Belgian PM Michel fears. Not to forget that Belgian fighter planes participate in the bombardment of ISIS positions in Syria and probably also in Iraq. Alas, the West has very few means available to counter the ‘internal enemy’, if it wants to remain a functioning democracy and an open society. At the same time its air supremacy is not that effective in order to corroborate the hopes for a total victory in the hot war fronts in the Middle East and Africa.
Who can win the war?
Taking all that into account, the dreadful conclusion is that Europe will continue not only to suffer of insecurity and terrorist attacks, but will be obliged to dent its free going tradition. It will also be much more difficult for every European leader to support the EU plans for open borders and more Syrian refugees.
The four Visegrad countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have fervently denied all that many weeks ago. After the Brussels attacks more countries will be following their example. Will Germany alone be able to absorb all the Syrians? Rather not. Chancellor Angela Merkel will find it very difficult not to back off from its own plans, for a solution in the refugee-immigrant problem of the Greco-Turkish borders.
Obviously Europe is again in the deadlock it had found itself some weeks ago, when tens of thousands of refugees and immigrants were landing in the Greek islands from Turkey but their Balkan Corridorwas blocked. At that point this newspaper commented that the Union had to prove it can remain in one-piece. This is again the case, but under much worse conditions, because terror will continue to reign in the Old Continent.