Fight against terrorism should strike at roots

14:54, May 05, 2011      

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The death of Osama Bin Laden is a significant event and marks positive progress in the fight against terrorism being waged by the United States and the international community. However, we must be aware that the international fight against terror still has a long way to go and the death of Bin Laden does not mark the end of terrorism. The fight against terrorism should focus on addressing direct threats and the root causes of terrorism and strive to eradicate the soil in which terrorism sprouts.

It is well known that Bin Laden was not only the spiritual leader of Al Qaeda but also a symbolic figure of international terrorism. The death of Bin Laden will indeed result in the chaos among the now leaderless terrorist forces. However, if the roots of terrorism cannot fundamentally be removed, the anti-terrorism methods of using violence to check violence will be unsustainable.

As Bin Laden existed only as the spiritual leader of Al Qaeda and seldom directly commanded terrorist attacks during recent years, his death will not enable the United States to move out of the vicious cycle of "terrorist attacks and counterattacks."

As there is still much room for the survival of Al Qaeda, it is predictable that the Al Qaeda network will show three major development trends after the death of Bin Laden.

First, the backward tribal areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan will remain as the major base areas for Al Qaeda to hide and develop. The impoverished and backward conditions and many extremist organizations in these regions will provide Al Qaeda with broad development space. After Al Qaeda goes through a power vacuum period, a new leadership including Ayman al-Zawahri will emerge and raise the flag to fight the United States and the West.

Second, the unrest, poverty and tribal society in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa will become the new source of Al Qaeda's rapid development. These regions have long featured an underdeveloped economy, disordered society, poverty, and extremist thoughts have enjoyed great popularity here. However, Western countries have cared only about their own interests, either doing nothing or interfering and instigating the turmoil there. This has resulted in the uncontrollable development of the arms of jihadist groups and Al Qaeda, turning these regions into new birthplaces of international terrorist activities.

On the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda has taken advantage of the accelerated deterioration of the political, economic and social situation in Yemen and has become a major terrorist force against the United States. The Al-Shabab group in Somalia has colluded with pirates and seeks to develop a birthplace of terrorism. Through the Islamic Maghreb, Al Qaeda in has intervened in the unrest in North Africa and attempted to establish a new terrorist network targeting the United States and Europe.

Third, as the conflict between the West and the Islamic world is deep-rooted, the expansion of the war against terrorism has made the situation more complicated. The war on terrorism launched by the United State is like "sand in the water," an Arabic proverb that means it will only make the sand more and heavier, intensifying the conflict between the Islamic world and the West, and provoking the clash between civilizations. Therefore, the problem of terrorism and extremism will not be fundamentally solved. In addition, it will inevitably lead to a new round of cause and effect if the mess left by the Afghan War and the Iraq War is not properly cleaned up after the death of Bin Laden, and the national, religious and racial issues in these areas are not solved.

Although Bin Laden is dead, the roots of terrorism are far from being eradicated. International terrorist forces are still expanding from Europe and America to developing countries and even the entire world. The situation after the death of Bin Laden might be more severe. The United States can cheer in the meantime after Bin Laden’s death. However, if it wants to enhance its homeland security and world peace, it needs to further strengthen the international cooperation to combat terrorism and root out the causes of terrorism. This is the fundamental road to eradicate terrorism.

There are still three things that the United States needs to do to consolidate their victories against terrorism after Bin Laden.

First, it must correct the negative consequences of the expansion of the war on terrorism and make great efforts to promote the post-war reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan to prevent the breeding of terrorism and extremism.

Second, it must attach great importance to the development problem, narrow the North-South gap, and establish a just and rational international political and economic order to give full play to the role of the United Nations in the international fight against terrorism rather than create a new international anti-terrorism mechanism for its self-interests.

Third, it must abandon double standards on fighting terrorism to fully consider the interests of other countries and address both the symptoms and root causes to root out the spread of terrorism-breeding soil.

Written by Fu Xiaoqiang and translated by People's Daily Online

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