The Paris Attacks
In the wake of Friday’s deadly, coordinated attack in Paris, police are concentrating on identifying and apprehending the ISIS terrorists while opinions on what to do next abound. In response to the second attack in France this year, President Francois Hollande has taken a firm hand calling the attacks, which killed 129 and have left hundreds critically injured, an “act of war,” pronounced a state of emergency and pledged to close the borders.
The strong posture taken by Hollande is to be expected as eyewitnesses said the terrorists specifically cited him and his decision to intervene in Syria as the reason for their attack, according to The New York Times.
An analysis by Stratfor said the attacks were to be expected when one takes into account the number of French men who have travelled to the Middle East for training, as well as the number of migrants who have come to France during the recent refugee crisis.
“High numbers of migrants have been entering Germany from the east and south, with very few carrying on to France. As a result, France has kept a relatively low profile in the attempts to stem the flow of migrants, though it has been present at the numerous summits on the issue and has supported Germany’s push for a relocation of asylum seekers across Europe. Nevertheless, this event can be expected to strengthen the argument of those groups that have been calling for a halt in the flow of immigrants and the closing of borders in countries such as Germany, Sweden and much of Central and Eastern Europe,” the Stratfor analysts write.
James Stravidis of Foreign Policy suggests that it is time for NATO to concede that radical Islam is a real threat to its partners and their interests and should concentrate its mission on defeating the Islamic State.
He lays out several steps which NATO should take, including first making a referral to the UN Security Council, to begin training Kurdish Pashmerga-Yazidi forces, and to framing NATO as an “open coalition” in the fight against ISIS.
The last point would open the door to Russia joining in against the terrorists.
“The Russian government claims to want to defeat the Islamic State, and it should have no lack of motivation, given the over 200 dead citizens — including many women and children — who seem to have been massacred by the Islamic State in the downing of a civilian aircraft just two weeks ago. Russia should be invited to participate alongside NATO and other coalition members against the Islamic State,” advocates Stravridis.
While it is expected that declarative statements about the Paris attacks being a “turning point” or the day the West has awakened to the threat of radical Islam, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies notes the reactions and assertions miss the central point – this will be a decades-long engagement against ISIS and its cohorts.
“Politicians and some ‘experts’ have followed the same pattern – overreacting to the most recent event and losing sight of the reality that there are not going to be any turning points in the near future. Years of new tragedies like Paris are almost inevitable, and the struggle against extremism is going to be a long, long battle of attrition,” he writes.