Plague of Our Days

The area of terrorist attacks is expanding – recently Turkey has been added to the list along with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Israel and Palestine. What are the reasons of terrorist attacks and how to avoid them?  Surely, all the countries mentioned above have different social and politic situation. But they are all targets for terrorists for different reasons. In some countries, such as Iraq and Israel terrorists claim they are fighting occupation. Or they announce they are fighting the regime (in case of Saudi Arabia). The situation in the Far East has always been unstable, and for the last ten years it has changed for the worse.

Nobody could imagine several years ago that Saudi Arabia is going to be a target for terrorists. There was no sign of terrorism, the Saudi regime oppressed its political opponents and allowed no opposition. The Saudi government has always been a loyal ally of the USA. Today its strong ties with the United States causes terrorist activity in Saudi Arabia.

The governments and security services of Middle Eastern countries themselves raised the terrorism. The current terrorist organizations were established to fight the Soviet Union and the regimes loyal to it. Special services of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan were working on this in alliance with their US counterparts. The experiment was of success, but only until the USSR collapsed.

Initially these terrorist organizations were motivated by the radical Islam ideas (the term "radical Islam" can be questioned but here we use it as a stereotype). The reason for accepting these ideas was simple – both the Soviet ideology and Western values could never fit the terrorists. The ideas of the moderate Islamic theologians were rejected as well because of their lack of aggression. However, they needed the ideological ground to justify murders of other people, including innocent civilians. There was no need to invent something new and they accepted the idea of "killing another person because he/she is different."  It is simple and therefore effective for terrorists.

This radicalism was encouraged by special services that needed the organizations of such kind – aggressive and cruel. However, both the Americans and their allies in the Middle East overestimated their ability to control the extremists. The extremist leaders got rid of their patrons as soon they became strong enough. In mid-90s the USA and their loyal Middle Eastern regimes faced the new problem of the new enemy they themselves created. This enemy armored with the ideas able to justify everything to achieve the purpose was quick to challenge them.

First the power of terrorists   was underestimated. Certainly, their attacking US military bases caused some trouble. Meanwhile, few people realized that not only the lives of American soldiers, but the existence of the regimes loyal to the USA is in danger.

However, Americans have doubts if this loyalty is true, they started question this often after September 11 attacks. Saudi Arabia is publicly called the main sponsor of terrorism, but little attention is paid to the assistance the US special servicesprovided Saudi Arabia in creating Al Quaeda. It is possible that Saudi special services could support the terrorists distracting their attention from targeting the Saudi government to attacking the USA and Israel. The recent terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia could be also planned by the Saudi special services with the purpose to depict Saudi Arabia as a victim of terrorism.

The current situation in the Middle East is changing for the worse. The US administration can be right in its statement about the increasing activity of terrorist groups. However, it is not correct in presenting the occupation of Iraq as fighting global terrorism. The USA itself created another area of instability in the explosive Middle East region. Its occupation of Iraq gave terrorists the excuse of protecting their "suffering co-religionists" from "aggression of the West." This was a big mistake of the US administration that causes danger not only to Americans but also to the people of other countries supporting the war in Iraq. The Middle Eastern countries became the primary target for the new wave of terrorist attacks. Their location is convenient for the terrorists who are well aware that the statements of these countries' governments of their success in fighting the terrorist networks are far from reality.

The current strategy of fighting terrorism seems to reach a deadlock. The killed militants are replaced by the new and even more radical ones. The terrorist organizations still exist and from time to time conduct new series of attacks.

Meanwhile, for the US administration fighting terrorism can also have other purposes, such as pursuing its own political interests. The instability in the Middle East allows Washington to maintain the feeling of alarm in the American society and throughout the world: there is a danger until the enemy is defeated. As the enemy is strong and cruel, there is a need to sacrifice something.

However, this strategy is vulnerable because people can get tired of living under constant fear. Finally, it can undermine some politicians' careers.
There is no easy solution to the problem of terrorism. Terrorists have become an independent force dictating its own rules. Meanwhile, these rules can bring benefits to the politicians campaigning against terrorism in the West and Middle Eastern countries. At the same time, the area of instability can expand to other regions, such as Europe. In fact, this is happening right now as Istanbul is situated in Europe. And this fact can cause much more serious problems than the ones we experience today. The "areas of instability" can take over the "areas of stability." If this happens, it will be too late to seek the solution to the problem.
Author's note: This column cannot be considered as the final opinion, but it gives the opportunity to discuss the problem. The readers of "" are invited to participate in the discussion by sending their opinions and remarks to the following e-mail address: [email protected]. All interesting opinions will be published.

Oleg Artyukov

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Author`s name Olga Savka