Sunday,22 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1232, (5 - 11 February 2015)
Sunday,22 July, 2018
Issue 1232, (5 - 11 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

A common threat

The criminal attack that left dozens dead in Sinai last Thursday is a cruel reminder that terror is a threat to us all and that fighting it is a primary responsibility for this nation and many others around the world.

Terror is no longer a localised event that one can ignore so long as it is at a safe distance. It has grown into a vicious phenomenon with global reach. With thousands of Westerners fighting in jihadist ranks in Iraq and Syria, one can only imagine the ramifications of the current conflict.

With every passing day, terrorists strike with brazen brutality at targets across the region, and plan further attacks across the world. Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Libya are not safe, but neither is France or the US, for that matter.

Curiously enough, when terror extended its evil tentacles to Paris, the world stood as one in solidarity, but when it mows down innocents in our region, the most one can hear is a half-hearted condemnation. Much more is needed if we’re going to win this battle. The international response must be forceful and united, concerted and well thought out.

The US, which prides itself on being a world leader in the fight against terrorism doesn’t seem to get it. At the same time it was making plans to host an anti-terror conference later this month, Washington hosted Muslim Brotherhood members for talks. The men were received with pomp and invited for a meeting at the State Department. They later boasted about it on the same websites they normally use to propagate violence and calls for terror in Egypt and across the region.

Mixed signals from Washington do not bode well for the region or for the US itself. When it comes to the fight against terror you cannot straddle the fence and hope for the best. You have to stand up and be counted.

The evidence that top Muslim Brotherhood officials incite violence in Egypt and that innocent Egyptians are paying the price is overwhelming. So what excuse does Washington have for granting them such cordiality?

The word from Washington was that US officials like to talk to all groups from across the political spectrum. This seems like a fair argument on the face of it, but is there any line drawn between those who clearly support terror and those who don’t? Washington, one is tempted to believe, is more interested in hedging its bets than in matching its own words with action.

Walish Sharabi and Gamal Heshmat, both top Brotherhood figures, are now all over social media, bragging about how important they are and how special the Americans think they are. This is a disservice to America. For Egypt, the meeting with Brotherhood members can only be seen as evidence that Washington, for all its rhetoric, is in no hurry to stamp out terror in the region.

Whenever the supporters of violence in the region retreat into the shadows, Washington picks them up, dusts them off and gives them the kiss of life. Listening to American officials, you’d think that the US is leading a world war against terror. But Washington’s actions paint a totally different picture.

The showcase of American foreign policy in the region is Iraq. Not only did America bomb and pummel it into the Dark Ages, it couldn’t stop before it dismantled all its institutions, delivered it, stripped to the bones and divided, into the hands of an inept government, and then watched from a safe distance as it slid into chaos and eventually fell prey to brutal jihadists. In other countries, US polices proceed along the same path. One could say that Egypt got off easy.

The Americans plant the seeds of chaos, wait until the ground sprouts an evil crop of violence and then take notice. Later on, they move in with lethal force to wreck whatever the terrorists left standing.

This attitude, Cairo has repeatedly warned, is getting us nowhere. Unless we all confront terror, more innocent people will suffer, and not just in this region. Egypt’s position is that terror is one and the same phenomenon and that what we see in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen are all aspects of the same problem.

In the West, some countries understood our position and cooperated with us in the fight on terror. But others have refused to listen. Instead, they have given shelter to terrorists, justified their methods and given credit to their twisted logic — violence is wrapped in a mantle of human rights and presented as the only way to salvation.

Terrorism is a threat to all, and yet some people are making capital out of it. Some people are waiting for the terrorists to undermine the very fabric of this region, so that it may be reshaped according to the interests of regional and international powers. But those who provide safe refuge to terrorists will live to regret it.

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