Bands of heavily armed fighters without uniforms seeking to execute anyone they could! While that is what Parisians have recently experienced at the hands of barbaric terrorists, let’s never forget that this is what those under Daesh control in the Middle East experience every day?
The attack on Paris was a horrible tragedy, a crime by radical Islamists obviously necessitating a response. However, one should be mindful of what that response will be and that the nuances must not be sacrificed on the altar of blind patriotism.
But, realistically, these barbaric acts represent the ideology of but a crazed minority carried out allegedly in the name of Islam. While eight men participated in the attack on Paris, no one should fail to recognise the reality that these were eight out of millions of Muslims in France. Most of those Muslims came to France to build a better life for themselves and their families away from the terror of just these types of extremist groups. Hence, while, one must be unrelenting in the fight against the minority of radicals among them, the West is faced with the challenge of accommodating the majority both in Europe and the Middle East.
Daesh should be crushed. There should be zero tolerance for such a blind terrorism. But at the same time, one should realise that Daesh is only one form of Islamic extremism has been manifesting itself. A significant case in point is the Islamic extremism that has been emanating from Tehran in the past three decades.
Despite the façade of normality agreed by the P5+1 in Geneva, Daesh’s so-called Islamic state and the Islamic Republic of Iran are the same ideology under different names. They commit the same sort of atrocities, pursue the same barbaric and sectarian policies and both seek to establish a theocracy (caliphate) under the banner of Islam, the maintenance of absolute power of the clergy, exercised by attacks in the region and abroad. Daesh attacked Paris and Beirut, while Iran sponsored terror in Iraq, Argentina, Bulgaria, Beirut, and beyond. Each one is unrelenting in its radical ideology, each one feeds off of the other and neither will be stopped by words alone.
Combating such groups is no easy task. The toll in soldiers, civilian lives and the perception of imposing democracy, or even moderate values give nations cause for doubts. But this cannot be a task taken on by the West alone, blind to all those outside its borders. Kurdish groups and moderate secular factions push on in Syria and Iraq, despite difficult odds and near constant bombardment. In Iran too, grass roots groups of organised resistance are challenging the Regime, albeit by non-violent means.
They have the will and we have the means, all we have to do is combine the two. Embracing these allies would prevent a top-down, western dictated solution with little longer-term chance of success. Luckily, the groups themselves have huge followings and open visions and democratic values that would greatly improve the region, organically.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) for example, boasts a vast network both in Iran and across the globe, with a particularly strong presence in Europe. Their rallies bring over 100,00 participants of mostly Iranian origin and their actions in Iran have produced the most valuable intelligence on Iran’s nuclear programme, causing the regime to panic. Even more hopeful is the fact that a woman who espouses a democratic and anti-fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, Maryam Rajavi, leads the NCRI who consistently advocate the value of democracy and peaceful policy, over radical Islamisation and terror. With potential allies like these and enemies like the ones that carried out the attack in Paris, what are we waiting for?
Nothing is going to change by words alone. Nor can one expect to defeat terrorism galvanised by Islamic extremism by engaging the theocratic regime in Tehran, the world leading state sponsor of terrorism. The Iranian regime was the first to pioneer the politics of mass kidnappings, exportation of terror and suicide bombings since 1979. Daesh propagates the same radical ideology, the only difference is whether they claim to be Sunni or Shiite and that Tehran has elevated terrorism to nation status, the final goal that Daesh is enviously pursuing.
This threat is not just about Paris, or the Middle East. This threat is about a global movement of Islamic radicalism that threatens all who do not conform to its radical set of values. It will not stop its expansion and waves of terror through any diplomatic impact. It is time for us to show some resolve and fight, both the prejudiced backlash against moderate Muslims and the Radical Islamic ideology that is causing such chaos. Without action and failure to cooperate with moderate Muslims, we will simply be left waiting for the next attack.
Lord Maginnis, a prominent member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, writes about the threat from ‘a global movement of Islamic radicalism that threatens all who do not conform to its radical set of values’.
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass is an independent member of the UK House of Lords and prominent member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom (BPCIF)