Investigations | 28 Jan 2015

As part of Rozana's follow up of the attack on the "Charlie Hebdo" newspaper in Paris and its reflection vis-à-vis Syria, we spoke to Khattar Abu Diab professor of International Relations at the University of Paris. He explains that this is "a game, an attempt to give credit to an authoritarian regime under the pretext of terrorism. This is an issue that may gain traction in countries such as the U.S. among others; but which will not pass in France."

He adds, "France possesses a sound grasp of terrorism. The words of President Francois Hollande, two days prior to the incident, about the folly of making a choice between two beasts, and France's unwillingness to deal with the Syrian regime, was both conclusive and decisive."

He also says that France will assume a more stringent stance against the brutal and senseless terrorism that hit it, as well as its source locations. It will not change its policy, because it considers tyranny as a facilitating environment for such types of terrorism to flourish.

In turn Hassan Abu Haniya, an expert on Islamic groups, told Rozana in a telephone interview that a process of serious consideration and rethinking will commence in France to determine the deep reasons for these incidents; to establish whether these lie in defective policy, lack of integation, or an ambiguous identity. A rational discussion should commence, with a more serious and stringent accountability.

Abu Haniyeh alludes that the debate that began currently in France and Europe, and which he describes as rational, will prompt France to reconsider how to deal with these authoritarian regimes. There will be a questioning of why a solution is not forthcoming, and why dealing with the authoritarian regime of Bashar al-Assad was delayed. He explains that simply leaving matters develop of their own impetus as well as the complete absence of solutions has led to the existence of these regimes which, in turn, caused the emergence of these movements. This, according to Abu Haniyeh, is evidenced by the Syrian Revolution in 2011 and the transition in Iraq; where there had be no al-Qaeda presence. Yet today its presence and influence is waxing, in tandem with authoritarian policies. The war on terror must, therefore, be reconsidered with deeper consideration of the deeper root problem causes of the phenomenon, rather than its outcomes or outputs.

With regard to the modus operandi of this particular incident, Haniyeh says that we should differentiate between two stages: before the events of September 11, 2011, and the American occupation of Iraq and beyond. There were numerous groups and cells that had received training in Afghanistan, Iraq, or other jihadi hotspots such as Chechnya or Bosnia.

These groups possessed an infrastructure large enough to enable them to carry out large terrorist operations, such as the Madrid attacks. "The same cannot be said of them today. They have been largely decimated, with their efforts going into individual jihadi operations, with one or two individuals launching lax and small-size operationsin terms of implementation."

He argues that this incident might happen again in the future, afer the initial shock. The jihadi operational level can also develop, as there are about 500 French jihadists fighting in the ranks of ISIS, with in excess of an additional 5 thousand jihadists in Europe, America, and Australia.

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