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Terrorism

The Rome Conference for Libya

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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Photo: State Department

As many as twenty-four countries gathered on February 2 last to finally decide how, to what extent and where to start opposing the Daesh/Isis expansion to Syria-Iraq and particularly to Libya.

Those countries included Turkey, accused by various sources of being part of the problem and not of the solution, as well as Saudi Arabia, which has never hidden its support for some Islamist factions in Syria and Iraq having connections with the Caliphate.

They also included Qatar, the Emirate which directly supports – in opposition to Saudi Arabia – the Muslim Brotherhood and some groups of the insurgency against President Assad in Syria.

Also the United States, however, supported and sometimes trained the Syrian group linked to Al Qaeda, the Jabat Al Nusra Front, with a view to combating Isis, as also recommended by General Petraeus, mindful of his surge in Iraq against Al Qaeda, organized with the mobilization of Al Anbar Sunni tribes.

Using the enemy against the enemy is an old formula of the 15th century alchemy and ruses, but I fear that strategic thinking is another thing.

Furthermore, according to some reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Hillary Clinton – when she was Secretary of State – was supposed to have supported and armed Qaedist and Muslim Brotherhood to combat Isis-Daesh both in Libya and in the crisis region stretching from Iraq to the Syrian coast.

Therefore, within the narrow scope of the war waged against the Caliphate, the meeting held on February 2 last at the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs – officially called “Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition against Daesh/Isis in the Small Group format” – is not a “coalition of the willing”, but rather a coalition of those who do not want to take actions or which take them so late as to jeopardize any action taken to oppose Isis/Daesh both in Libya and Syria.

In fact, the meeting was not attended by the country which has really taken decisions in the region threatened by Al Baghdadi, namely Russia, which has so far launched thousands of air strikes against the Caliphate, thus reducing its territorial size significantly.

The same holds true for Assad’s Syrian Baathist regime, with the Syrian Arab Army strengthened by the Russian contribution, or even for China which, while refusing to participate in any coalition, supports with weapons, equipment and intelligence the Russian effort that has so far avoided Al Baghdadi’ strategic point: reaching the Mediterranean coast and directly threatening the Atlantic Alliance and the “moderate” Arab countries.

Moreover, the US-led operation Inherent Resolve has so far launched over 20,300 attacks on Isis targets.

Hence why is Daesh/Isis still a terrible threat? Obviously because its territory is limited to the minimum required to manage the operations and also because the Caliph Al Baghdadi has been extraordinarily good at handling complex and differentiated relations between his Islamic supporters.

He has played the enemy with the friend and his enemies with each other.

“Allah (himself) does mock at them, and he leaves them alone in their inordinacy, blindly wandering on” (Surah Al-Baqarah, The Cow, verse 15)

Nevertheless the Caliph Al Baghdadi’s Islamic State has already lost about 14% of its original territory, mainly thanks to the Russian-Syrian and Iranian-Iraqi actions, but still rules essential cities for the passage of fighters, means and resources throughout the region: Mosul, Sinjar, Qaim, a large part of Fallujah, the suburbs of Ramadi and the refineries of Baiji.

Turkey has only waged its regional war, especially against the PKK Kurds, sometimes covertly by supporting the Caliphate so as to combat the Kurds and has then managed some Islamist groups with a view to opposing Russia.

In that region, every country has waged the war it liked most.

In fact, the Turkish leaders’ goal is the de facto annexation of the Syrian Sunni area which accounts for 74% of the population and, starting from there, the hegemonic reunification of Central Asia, by using the many Turkmen minorities , up to reaching China’s borders.

A return to the past of the Turkish civilization – turning from a tribe moving from Northeast Asia towards the sea and the region of the old Argonauts’ Golden Fleece into a civilization returning from the Mediterranean to its Asian roots.

Many years ago Carl Schmitt had that insight while thinking of rebuilding the great land empires against the North American and British “thalassocracies”.

Conversely, Saudi Arabia’s goal is to destroy a regime such as the Baathist and Alawite one, linked to Iran. Hence Saudi Arabia wants to regionalize and isolate Iran from the Mediterranean – since Iran has not a necessary buffer like Syria, which is useful to control and manage all oil and non-oil trade originating from Iran towards the Mediterranean and the European Union.

And to think that it was the wisdom of Louis Massignon, a distinguished Arabist and agent of the Deuxiéme Bureau, the Second Bureau of the General Staff (France’s external military intelligence agency) to favor the Alawites (also known, in ancient times, as nusayri, Islamic Gnostics influenced by early Christianity) and to support the quasi-Shi’ite Alawites in managing power in Syria, obviously to prevent the Sunni dominance.

And while Iran and its allies follow, for various reasons, the “party of Ali”, the Shi’a, and Saudi Arabia is closed to the north by a Yemen now run by the Houthi, who are also Shi’ites – while in the Eastern provinces of the Wahhabi Kingdom and in Bahrain the Shi’ite uprising of the workers of the largest Saudi Arabia’s oil fields and gas deposits will break out – on the other side of the Persian Gulf, Iran will manage the uprising thus becoming the absolute master of the Shatt el Arab.

For the Islamic Republic of Iran, managing the maritime, military and economic passageway of the sea crossing where over 70% of world seaborne trade transits is a vital objective. It is the culmination of a no longer regional – and even directly religious – hegemony.

Furthermore, together with the P5+1, the United States have accepted the military Denuclearization Plan of Iran, the Russian pivotal ally in the Middle East.

However, regardless of the actual substance of the JCPOA treaty reached by the P5+1 with Iran, this should make the United States think that the strategic equation of the region must be changed.

This means using Iran to oppose the jihadists and achieve a strategic rebalancing with Saudi Arabia, in exchange for a “new deal” with Israel and the creation of a corridor of alliances between the Iranian Shi’ites, Russia, China and the other nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Instead of being tied down to “the Saudi lobby”, the United States could start playing at many tables, thus having greater strategic autonomy and putting stronger pressure on the Greater Middle East.

Hence a large containment action, which would ease tensions in that strategic region and put in place – in addition to SCO – a new possible loose alliance linked to the European Union and the United States.

This is the only way to better manage the next land and maritime Silk Way designed by President Xi Jinping.

But our ruling classes are still hostages to what the 17th century libertines called “the old thinking” and swing between a global strategy of generic economic agreements and the return of the old Cold War, while the global jihad is knocking at our doors and, indeed, has already cruelly entered our homes.

Hence is there someone who can really think of using “moderate” Islamists in the new Cold War? And to what end, given the expansion of China and its economic dominance?

Apart from the Russian Federation and the Sunni countries, in addition to Iran, which actively supports, also with ground forces, Assad’s regime and Russia itself, none of the twenty-four countries gathered at the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs has clear ideas on what to really do against Daesh/Isis both in Syria and Libya.

Obviously the United States want to avoid the Russian mainmise on the Syrian-Iraqi region, but this logically means that they must somehow support a few Islamist groups that claim they are fighting against the Caliphate. Tertium non datur.

It is worth recalling that some US military trainers were precisely those who set up – with moderate “Islamists” somehow linked to the Muslim Brotherhood – the real “Kominform” of the jihad, a sort of 30th Brigade which, in a first phase, after its passage from Jordan, refused to fight against the Al-Qaeda faction in Syria. Later on some members of the Brigade even defected to Isis, starting from Turkey. Hence the result was exactly the opposite of the one initially planned.

Basically the United States do not want a Syrian-Iraqi area where Russia can “give cards” and master the game in view of a new bilateral confrontation between the United States and Russia. But, apart from the old needs of the “military-industrial complex” that also President Eisenhower feared, what is the strategic logic of a new world bipolar structure, with China which is going to be the first global economy?

In fact the US Forces in Europe are increasing in number (by several thousands) and efficiency, so as to “strengthen” the Eastern European countries’ resistance against Russian influence.

A dangerous bipartition of European security, which is either unitary or does not exist.

But here the strategic equation becomes trivial: either Russia is opposed at global level – and hence the Caliphate’s wound in Syria and Iraq is left open – or a new type of relationship between NATO and the Russian Federation is redefined so as to have a political project and sufficient human and material resources to eradicate the jihad from Syria and Libya.

Once again, tertium non datur.

It is also worth recalling that the magnitude of terrorist attacks will certainly increase, along with their apparent randomness and their distribution throughout the world.

It is a war for infra-Islamic hegemony between the jihad and the Koranic “apostate” areas, but the end point is also domination over Western countries and over their immigrant populations, as well as over the “infidels.”

And we must not forget that this is the real stake.

In the case of Libya, we are faced once again with an almost total lack of strategic and geopolitical vision.

Meanwhile, the various Libyan factions have no interest in coming together to then accept military aid from Italy, Great Britain, Holland, the United States and France.

Indeed, it is now likely for the tripartite territory of post-Gaddafi’s Libya to remain what it is today: Fezzan, Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and the areas of the Toubu and the Tuaregh, with further internal differentiations.

It is true that some Europeans maintain we could intervene also without the official request for a joint Libyan government, but obviously our alliance with one single Libyan force on the field would automatically mean that the others are at war against us.

As is well-known, the Parliament of Tobruk – which is the only internationally recognized one – has not accepted the list of Ministers proposed by Al Serraj, the candidate as Prime Minister of the “national unity government”.

The official excuse regards the excessive length of the list of Ministers – as many as thirty-two – but the essence and the substance of the political conflict is different.

It regards the tough opposition of General Khalifa Haftar, the Head of Operation Dignity and Supreme Commander of the Army of the same Parliament in Tobruk.

Meanwhile Caliph Al Baghdadi’s “sword jihad” is organizing itself along the coast; it targets oil infrastructure and therefore aims at biting the jugular vein of the European system.

It does so through oil and, in particular, the jihad strategic point is the management of the over ten million migrants who will leave Mesopotamia to come to Europe according to the pace and time-schedule set by the jihadists.

And Turkey will demand a high price by using its three million refugees as an indirect strategic weapon against the European Union, the Middle East and Libya.

A demographic bomb intended, at first, to destroy the EU Welfare State and later to destabilize our democracies.

Obviously, behind the superficial idea of a “surgical” action in Libya, there is mainly the EU governments’ desire to reduce the tension and concern of their publics, still worried by the para-terrorist attacks in Paris and in many other nations: just think of the 635 women in Cologne who reported to the police the rape attempts and the other offenses perpetrated by over a thousand Maghreb Arabs.

But “feelings” and psychology do not define a strategy.

And the jihadists in Libya already range between 2,800 and 3,500 – including 1,600 in the Sirte region, in the Libyan “oil crescent”.

The Daesh/Isis members are not so many, but quite enough to trigger off a mesh of power similar to the Syrian-Iraqi one: the management of some cities and points of contact between them, without expanding on a desert territory which is useless to retain.

The Caliph Al Baghdadi is the Islamist and jihadist revival of Lawrence of Arabia: the British lieutenant was not interested in land. For him the desert was to be militarily intended as sea: only the lines and routes, and not the entire and huge expanse of water, are to be controlled.

I would define the Isis/Daesh war as an interdiction war – hence the issue does not lie in “eating” the territory away, but in developing a strategy and a tactic which are equal and opposite.

We must organize the resistance and protection of the cities that Isis needs to conquer, as well as the very tough management of connection and communication lines, and finally make the enemy drown into the void stretching between our nerve centers and their lines.

Furthermore, considering that the Isis/Daesh strategy is asymmetrical and “hybrid”, we, too, should do the same.

We can and we must use against Daesh/Isis what is improperly called “terrorism” (which is, in fact, the jihad) so as to destabilize it, intimidate and frighten its militants and especially eradicate its covers among civilians, as well as finally restrict the terrorists’ scope of action.

Wars en dentelles or the old cry of the French captains during the Thirty Years’ War, Messieurs les Anglais, tirez les premiers!, are no longer possible.

I dare not even imagine what will be written on the Rules of Engagement (ROE) of a possible Euro-American action on the Libyan territory.

I am reminded of the Italian ROE in the first phase of our engagement in Afghanistan, which seemed written by Monsignor della Casa, the author of the famous treatise Il Galateo overo de’ costumi.

As experienced by Russia during its actions in Ukraine, in modern warfare we cannot make too many differences between civilians and the military, between soldiers and uniformed officers and guerrillas, between psywar actions and real war operations.

Moreover, what should Western troops do in Libya?

Should they curb or wipe out the excessive power of Isis, which can rely on de facto alliances which would remain in place, like the one with “Libyan Dawn”, which is also the enemy of General Haftar’s forces?

Should they carry out the usual UN “State-building” activity, although many local people do not want a State but only their political system? Furthermore, who would participate in this State-building activity?

The forces which are now fighting each other bloodily or the usual “moderate jihadists” revived for the occasion?

Should our troops perhaps organize the protection of cities from ISIS (which is not only a military, but also a political problem) or the protection of oil infrastructure, without considering the network of people traffickers?

In short, there is a fact which has become clear: the West can no longer wage war, hence it will never be able to achieve real peace.

And here we are at war on a ground and with actions defined by our enemy – an opponent we have left basically undisturbed for three years.

Therefore the strategic asymmetry plays completely against us.

And I do not even rule out the possibility that some of the governments which want to take action have already thought of negotiating with some Libyan Islamist forces, with a view to avoiding the worst and minimizing the presence of our military in the country

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs "La Centrale Finanziaria Generale Spa", he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group and member of the Ayan-Holding Board. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d'Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: "A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title of "Honorable" of the Académie des Sciences de l'Institut de France

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Terrorism

Where is Our Sovereignty?

Hareem Aqdas

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In the name of anti-terrorism, the Justice Department of U.S.A has urged its acquisition of all modes of powers since the birth of our country.  Following are some fundamental considerations.

Why, at all, do our civil rights have to be sacrificed in order to protect (so called) us from terrorists by this outside force, called as hegemony? Why even has U.S. taken the responsibility on interfering in Pakistan’s (and the worlds) internal matters as that of security? The argument is whether security is more crucial than our liberty. We are told that the Justice Department requires these powers in order to make us secure.  But the central question goes deeper – will the sacrifice of our liberty actually make us safer, for we accept their dominance and let them interfere in our matters, why?

Can we be made absolutely safe by U.S.’s interference in our security matters? No. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together realizes this. The War on Terrorism, occurring in Pakistan, will not be won, as this war is a political act, done by politicians for political reasons. We had a war on poverty, and lost. We had a war on drugs, and lost. These kinds of wars are not about resolving issues, they are about appearing to resolve issues.

The biggest blind liberty we openly give to The U.S. is the power to name anyone amongst us as a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism, without any proof or any judicial review of the claim; we trust American leaders to name someone a terrorist or a devotee of terrorism only for the reason of protecting from terrorists. They do this in secret, on the basis of whatever information or sources they characterize, and with no one ever able to review their decision.

Once they have determined that someone is a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism (remember no testimony required), they assert (or want) the right to detain indefinitely, and in clandestine.  That is, should they decide you are a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism; they get to secretly arrest you and hold you as long as they want without anyone knowing why or where.  No court is able to review this situation. Where is our sovereignty at this point?

The above, of course, has to do with the eavesdropping they want to do, or their ability to come into our homes without a warrant and copy our hard drive, and make it possible to copy all the keystrokes we make and harass us for whatever petty grievance they hold.

Now ask yourself, how does their interference in our matters of security make us safe from terrorists?  How does their power to name someone a terrorist or a supporter of terrorists, without judicial review, make us safer? Such a power only makes the judgments, of those who hold this power, safe from any abuse of that power. How the power to search and arrest without warrant make us safer? For it threatens not the terrorists, but our sovereignty.

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Nuclear Terrorism and Pakistan

Sonia Naz

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Nuclear terrorism is a potential threat to the world security. According to the EU representative terrorists can get access to nuclear and radioactive materials and they can use it to terrorize the world. Nuclear security expert Mathew Bunn argues that “An act of nuclear terrorism would likely put an end to the growth and spread of nuclear energy.”After 9/11 the world has observed that al-Qaida wanted to get nuclear weapons. In case terrorists acquire nuclear materials, they would use it for the production of a dirty bomb. A dirty bomb is not like a nuclear bomb. A nuclear bomb spreads radiation over hundreds of square while; nuclear bomb could destroy only over a few square miles. A dirty bomb would not kill more people than an ordinary bomb. It will not create massive destruction, but it will cause the psychological terror which will lead to a panic situation which is more devastating. The world has not experienced of any act of nuclear terrorism, but terrorists expressed their desires to gain nuclear weapons. The IAEA has observed thousands of incidents of lost, left and unauthorized control of nuclear materials and such materials can go into the wrong hands.

After 9/11 terrorism generated negative perceptions about the nuclear security of Pakistan. Often western community pressurizes Pakistan that its nuclear weapons can go into the wrong hands due to the terrorism in it.  The fact is that Pakistan has faced many terrorist attacks, but not any attack towards its nuclear installation facility and radiation has been occurred. Mostly, nations obtain nuclear weapons for the international prestige, but Pakistan is one of those states which obtained nuclear capability to defend itself from India which has supremacy in conventional weapons. It played a leading role in the efforts of nuclear security since inception of its nuclear weapons. The result is that no single incident of theft and sabotage has been recorded in Pakistan.

Pakistan is a very responsible state and it has taken foolproof measures to defend the its nuclear installations and nuclear materials against any terrorist threats. Pakistan is not the member of the nonproliferation(NPT), Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Fissile material cut off treaty (FMCT) because India has not signed them. If Pakistan signs these treaties and India does not, it would raise asymmetry between both rival states of South Asia. Pakistan’s nuclear non-proliferation policy is based on principles as per the NPT norms, although ithas not signed it. Pakistan had also proposed to make South Asia a nuclear free zone in 1970 and 80s, but India did not accept that.

However, Pakistan is a strong supporter of non-proliferation, nuclear safety and security. In this context, it is the signatory of a number of regimes. Pakistan has established the its Nuclear Regulatory authority (PNRA) since22 January, 2001 under the obligations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The PNRA works under the IAEA advisory group on nuclear security and it is constantly improving and re-evaluating nuclear security architecture. Pakistan has ratified the 2005 amendment to the physical protection convention for the physical security of nuclear materials. When Obama announced nuclear security summit in 2009,Pakistan welcomed it. It has not only attended all nuclear security summits, but proved with its multiple nuclear security measures that it is a responsible nuclear state. Pakistan’s nuclear devices are kept unassembled with the Permissive Action Links (PALs) to prevent the unauthorized control and detonation of nuclear weapons. Different US policy makers and Obama have stated that “we have confidence that the Pakistani military is equipped to prevent extremists from getting an access to the nuclear materials.”

The dilemma, however is that some major powers favour India due to their geopolitical interests, despite India’s low score in nuclear security than Pakistan, as is evident from the reports prepared by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).The US has always favoured India for the membership of the NSG ignoring Pakistan request to become a member of the NSG, despite that it has taken more steps than India to ensure nuclear safety and security. It is following United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540(which is about the prevention of proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDS) and it is the first state which has submitted its report to the UN.

The report explains the measures taken by Pakistan to ensure radiological security and control of sensitive materials and WMDs transfer. Although Pakistan has suffered a lot due to terrorism, but its nuclear security measures are strong and appreciable. Recently, IAEA director visited Pakistan and appreciated its efforts in nuclear safety and security. In view of Pakistan’s successful war against terrorism, its success in eliminating terrorism in the country, and strong measures that it has taken to secure its nuclear installations and materials, their should be no doubt left about the safety Pakistan’s nuclear materials.

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U.S. lead the War on Terror and the Afghan Peace

Hareem Aqdas

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The region known today as Afghanistan has been subjugated to a series of warfare since the soviet occupation, till date, including the United States led NATO’s  is on in full swing. Afghanistan shares its borders with multiple countries, including Pakistan. The unrest in Afghanistan has been a major cause of instability of the region, including the spread of terrorism in the neighbouring countries, particularly along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The people of these areas known by the ethnicity of “Pashtuns” have been the major effected population of the unrest. From training those to become the U.S. backed “mujahideen” against the former USSR to unleashing the war on terror against them when they started to retaliate, Pashtuns are the sufferers.

The purpose of the mention of this scenario basically highlights the fact that the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan- the Pashtuns- have witnessed avery prolong war. This is a war that is neither the creation of their own, nor concerns them directly. It is a war with no clear end, with no particular benefit and it is only hurting the people. In fact, this long war has brought miseries to the people of Afghanistan and the region, that now must end.

The insurgencies in Afghanistan have resulted in the worsening of security situations in Pakistan, as is evident through the course of history. Finally, these insurgencies took the shape of   suicide bombings to widespread terror attacks that resulted in large scale life and property losses. In Pakistan the the spill over of terrorism from Afghanistan has been rooted out successfully with the success of the  “Zarb-e-Azb” and the ongoing operation “Rad-UL-Fassad. Although Pakistan has achieved this grand success after giving immense human sacrifices and suffering heavy economic losses.

The recently announced US Strategy / Policy on Afghanistan is also going to have a significant effect on the future regional developments. The salient points of president Trump’s Afghan Policy announced in 2017 can be summarized under six main headings:

1.Troop Levels: Pentagon authorized to ramp up troop numbers, who will be engaged in counterterrorism and training activities.

2.Military Autonomy: Military commander were delegated authority to act in real time and expand the US operations to target terrorists and criminal networks in Afghanistan.

3.Open-ended: No fixed timelines given for completion of the mission in Afghanistan.

4.Fighting Enemies: But Not Nation-building. Victory in Afghanistan will mean “attacking our enemies” and “obliterating” the Islamic State group. Vowed to crush al-Qaeda, prevent the Taliban from taking over the country, and stop terror attacks against Americans. US will continue to work with the Afghan government, “however, US commitment is not unlimited, and support is not a blank cheque” and the US would not engage in “nation-building”.

5.Pakistan Bashing: The US “can no longer be silent” about alleged terrorist safe havens in Pakistan. Trump  alleged that Pakistan often gives sanctuary to “agents of chaos, violence and terror”, the Taliban and other groups who pose a threat to the region and beyond.

6.Enhanced Indian Role: India to help more in Afghanistan, especially in the areas of economic assistance and development.

These stated interests call for a continued, ongoing unrest in the region. While the U.S. does not realize its own failings in Afghanistan, to cover up its own failures it asks Pakistan to “DO MORE”. In this context, it should be realized by the US and its other allies that Pakistan has already played a major part in the war on terror by defeating terrorism in its border regions with Afghanistan and elsewhere in the country by giving sacrifices much more than what the US and NATO forces have suffered from. Therefore it is the US who has to review its policies in Afghanistan and find a solution of the conflict there to bring peace to the region.

The United States Government should now realize that the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have suffered too much from the war on terror and its backlash in the form of terrorist incidents. Especially Afghanistan people who have suffered since last 40 years want relief and peaceful conditions to resettle in their houses. The region also wants peace to focus on its economic development and welfare of its people.It is therefore better that the US initiates peace talks with the Taliban along with other Afghan groups to agree on a formula of US withdrawal from Afghanistan and holding free and fair elections in Afghan to form a government that is acceptable to all Afghans. This is the only way to end the war and bring peace in the region, so that the people of this region could also lead a normal life, like the people of other regions.

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