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ANALYSIS: 20 years of counterterrorism proves holistic approach, global cooperation as true solution

Beijing, China | XINHUA | Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, which ushered in a global war on terror. Despite the progress made in international efforts to fight terrorism, the world remains beset with its tangible threats.

If history is any guide, military predominance and hegemony cannot eliminate terrorism. Nor are double standards and selective counterterrorism conducive to the global fight against terrorism.

Mankind has entered a new era of interconnectedness, with countries sharing intertwined interests and their future interwoven together. As a result, the pressing global threat of terrorism requires holistic global responses, said experts.

“International terrorism is a global threat that no country acting alone can defeat it. The world needs a collective action to counter this threat,” Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, told Xinhua.

“The world needs a collective action to counter this threat. China has exemplary practices in countering terrorism that need to be shared with the whole world,” Banlaoi said.

While the root causes of terrorism are complex and profound, involving political, economic, social and cultural factors, the blatant interference in a state’s internal affairs and hegemonic actions to protect one’s own security at the cost of others’ stability are undoubtedly among the key factors.

Five days after the 9/11 terror attacks, then U.S. President George W. Bush announced U.S. “War on Terror,” a blanket term for all preemptive military strikes meant to reduce the threat terrorism posed to the U.S. homeland. The first U.S. move was the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, which began a war that only comes to its end recently.

In the following two decades, Washington and its allies have launched invasion into Iraq based on deplorable lies, as well as military interference in countries including Libya and Syria, all under the guise of counter-terrorism.

Though wars launched by the United States and its allies may have yielded immediate success, such outcomes have proved to be short-lived at best. Lamentable injustice and civilian casualties brought about by western interference and hegemonism have created a breeding ground for radicalisation and violent extremism.

Take U.S.-Britain invasion of Iraq as an example. Throughout the year 2002, Washington claimed that then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was allied with terrorists and developing “weapons of mass destruction.”

Despite strong opposition from the international community and scant evidence that Iraq was developing nuclear or chemical weapons, the United States and Britain went ahead with the invasion and toppled the Iraqi government.

What followed were years of insurgency and sectarian violence, and according to The Atlantic, “most historians of the Islamic State agree that the group emerged out of al-Qaida in Iraq as a response to the U.S. invasion in 2003.”

“I believe that the military occupation and the devastation, destruction, economic and social effects it leaves behind, and the targeting of the central power of countries, creates a suitable environment for terrorist organizations to exist and grow in these countries,” Muhammad Omari, a Syrian political expert, told Xinhua.

The two-decade-long war on terror has taught the world that security should be universal and embrace all countries. It is impossible to maintain the security of one or some countries while leaving the rest insecure. What is more, no country should seek the so-called absolute security of itself at the expense of the security of other countries.

Some observers of the global security status have also voiced concern about how double standards and selective counterterrorism can hinder global cooperation on fighting terrorism.

Although the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is an internationally recognized terrorist group listed by the United Nations Security Council, Washington flip-flopped on the UN designation in November 2020 by removing the ETIM from its list of terrorist organizations, and brazenly whitewashed the terror group.

The employment of double standards has shown that actions taken by the United States are not credible, said Syed Hasan Javed, director of the Chinese Studies Center at Pakistan’s National University of Sciences and Technology.

“It also sends a message to the world that they are grading terrorist organizations in the view of their own interests. It shows that the terrorist groups are being banned on the basis of religions and ethnicities, but not on the actual terrorism they are involved in,” he said.

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