Donna Miles-Mojab: Talk can end cycle of terror between Isis and West

Iraqi soldiers fire artillery towards Islamic State positions from a location outside Makhmour, Iraq. Photo / Washington Post
Iraqi soldiers fire artillery towards Islamic State positions from a location outside Makhmour, Iraq. Photo / Washington Post

Former IRA Commander turned Northern Ireland deputy first minister Martin McGuinness believes the peace process in Northern Ireland only became possible when both the British Army and the IRA conceded they could not win the seemingly intractable conflict militarily.

As France grapples with yet another murderous attack on its innocent citizens, the question has to be asked: is there anything the West can ever do to prevent a car, a truck, a suicide bomber, or a jihadi gunman from causing death and mayhem? The answer is no.

The fact is that the military machine behind the war on terror has brought us nothing but more war and more terror.

World-leading experts on suicide bombing, Robert Pape and James Feldman, have examined every suicide terrorist attack worldwide from 1980 to 2009.

Their research shows that the number one cause of suicide bombing is foreign military occupation (not Islam).

This, of course, explains why the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have led to the explosion of suicide bombings worldwide. Terrorism grows out of a desire for vengeance.

Following the Chilcot report, it is worth remembering the victims of the "unjustified" war in Iraq and elsewhere.

How many people were beheaded and burnt alive in their homes by the coalition's aerial strikes?

How do we distinguish between the brutality of the military extremism of the West and that of the Islamic terrorism?

Global terrorist expert Professor Louise Richardson says terrorist organisations are invariably weak which is why they resort to terrorism.

She says the aim of a terrorist organisation is to provoke governments to overreact, and they often do, which attracts support for the terrorist groups.

The bigger the reaction then the more important the terrorist groups will appear and the closer they will get to their goals of glory and renown. So, if a strong response is not the solution, what is?

Professor Richardson, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, believes engaging the enemy is the only way of establishing if there are political goals that can be negotiated on.

She says dialogue with the enemy will offer valuable intelligence such as identifying the potential peacemakers and barriers to peace within the organisation.

In the media, we have heard much about the barbaric side of Isis: the terrorism, the beheadings and the ethnic cleansing, etc., but we have not heard about the other side of the Islamic State.

Italian journalist and political analyst Loretta Napoleon, in her book The Islamist Phoenix: The Islamic State (ISIS) and the Redrawing of the Middle East, describes a different side to the Islamic State.

Napoleon explains Isis is the first armed organisation to successfully transition into a state.

According to Napoleon, Isis is a modern state that responds well to the needs of the population under its control. It acts by consensus and by entering into joint ventures with local populations through the tribal leaders.

Isis might be sending us brutal images of beheadings, Napoleon says, but their message to the Muslim youth around the world appears positive and highly seductive: come help us recreate the Caliphate, the Sunni political utopia that will protect every single Muslim.

If you thought Isis were made up of just uneducated jihadists, you are very much mistaken. Isis has many highly educated followers who understand the full potential of science, technology and social media.

There is no doubt that Isis is barbaric and murderous, but so are the military responses of the Western and regional forces that contributed to its creation in the first place.

We have to shift our thinking from seeing the conflict in the Middle East as "good" versus "evil". The only way to end this cycle of bloodshed is to accept the important role of diplomacy and deep dialogue as a substitute to perpetual wars that only benefit the military oligarchs.

New Zealand is in an excellent position to use its seat in the Security Council to kick off this important process.

Donna Miles-Mojab is an Iranian New Zealander living in Christchurch.

- NZ Herald

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