Towards a New International Alignment Against Terrorism

  • 12 August 2008

There is firm international agreement about the great danger terrorism poses to the world's security, stability, and development as well as to the nature of relations between its peoples and their cultures and traditions. This is made more salient as terrorism uses religion as a slogan to cover up its bloody practices or when some seek to connect it to certain religions and cultures. The agreement on the danger has made possible a global war on terrorism that has gained in importance and thrust and has accomplished real successes on many levels in the past few years.

There is no doubt that international differences have negatively affected the war on terror since its inception. But these differences have increased and become more dangerous lately, thus threatening the effectiveness of the war and its ability to continue and succeed. Two important considerations are at work. The first is the increasing tension in relations between the principals in this war, as is evident in relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan or between the former and India, which could lead to an environment conducive to the re-invigoration and re-building of terror's infrastructure and networks. The second is the noticeable increase in international conflict which some use to talk of a new cold war. Such a situation is evident in the current struggle between Russia and Georgia in the Caucasus which saps international efforts and diverts them from common action in the face of danger. Al-Qaeda has thus noticeably resurfaced in Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Africa, and other areas, indicating an awakening of the forces of terror after a period of retrenchment and retreat. Such resurgence was possible in light of sharp divisions that characterize regional and international conditions.

The United Nations and research centers around the world warn against global dangers threatening humankind and call for more international cooperation to confront them since they are larger than any one state can handle. But the worst and most problematic of these dangers is that of terrorism because it can easily re-configure and re-cast itself in different tactics and styles and can become malleable to different conditions. What also helps terrorism is its natural ambiguity and the fact that fighting it should be long-term. That's why the worst that can happen now is that the world become lax in its war against it while it gambles that it is more enduring than those fighting it.

Terrorism suffered many defeats in funding, operations, and even the spread of its extremist ideology during the effective international war against it. But the apparent retreat in fighting it lately poses dangers to international security. There are indications that a new terrorist wave may be more intense because of the large expansion of known and underground terrorist cells which have learned many lessons in the fight that was waged against them over the last few years.