When France announced that it would be escalating its aerial operations in Syria after the attacks in Paris on 13 November, it submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council intended to secure diplomatic backing for this move; it has been passed unanimously. Resolution 2249 again emphasises that Daesh is a threat to international peace and security and asks that all member countries with the power and means redouble their military forces in Syria and Iraq and destroy its bases in both.
The main thing about this resolution is that, from now on, the legal framework is in place for every country that so wishes to engage in operations against terrorist targets in the region without being asked to do so by the Syrian government. Indeed, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN, and President of the Security Council, has actually described the resolution as preparing a legal foundation for attacking Daesh targets in Syria, and says that there is no need to seek the permission of the Syrian government in order to do so.
Of course, bearing in mind that tens of thousands of civilians have already been killed by aerial operations in the Syrian civil war, it is hard to imagine the scale of the loss of life, devastation and destruction that will ensue from the arbitrary stepping up of these attacks. Legal cover for bombing Syria is unlikely to eradicate terrorism, or its sources.
France was the first country to go into action. Immediately after the Paris attacks, it sent its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the eastern Mediterranean, carrying fighter jets, a bomber, two early warning and control aircraft and helicopters.
“The resolution frames our action under international law and upholds the UN charter,” said François Delattre, France’s Ambassador to the international organisation. “It provides a guarantee that there will be an effective fight against international terrorism.” Delattre added that this resolution will allow France to multiply its military strikes against Daesh by at least threefold in the coming days, with the arrival of the Charles de Gaulle providing a greater striking capability.
Describing the UN resolution as coming through at an “important moment”, British Prime Minister David Cameron added that the world has “united” against Daesh. “The international community has come together and has resolved to defeat this evil, which threatens people of every country and every religion.”
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said that Moscow supported the draft resolution. “There is increasing understanding among countries regarding the fight against international terror,” he noted.
Everyone is racing to declare that there is unity in world action against Daesh. However, the devastation happening before the eyes of the world in Syria shows that it is the innocent Arab, Turkmen, Kurdish and other peoples of the region whose lives, families, homes, villages and towns are being destroyed. They alone are paying the price for this action.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen insisted that everyone must take part in the “new global alliance”, and went on to say, “The recent resolution of the Security Council speaks a clear language: the fight against Daesh is top priority for France, as well as for the US, China, Russia, Turkey, Iran and the Arab states.” According to General Volker Wieker, the chief of the German General Staff, a frigate, a refuelling tanker aircraft, reconnaissance planes and some 1,200 troops will be sent in support of France.
Britain’s Daily Express, meanwhile, pointed out that China has followed Russia’s lead and is sending troops to Syria. Various Russian media sources report that the Chinese aircraft carrier Lianoning and a guided missile cruiser have entered the Mediterranean, and that Chinese military advisors have long been present in the region and have even joined the Russians in military operations in Syria. Chinese assets in Syria and the oil fields in Iraq have long been under threat from the armed conflict across the region.
In conclusion, dozens of countries keen for a share of the spoils and anxious not to be left out of the game are flooding the region under slogans such as “eradicate Daesh” and “the war against terror”. As if in some kind of macabre competition with one another, they are supposedly waging “a ruthless fight against terrorism” that will invariably rain bombs upon innocent women, children and the elderly. Hundreds of civilian who have nothing to do with terrorists are being bombed for a variety of interests, and thousands of innocent people are being martyred. Villages dating back hundreds of years and thousands of years’ worth of cultural and historical heritage are being destroyed in seconds.
The fact that the terrorists who attacked Paris and other places in Europe were born there, and are French and Belgium nationals, reveals how terrorism has been rooted in the Western world for quite some time. These people have freedom of movement among the Schengen states, which is arguably the main reason for the security and intelligence shortcomings which we have heard about since the Paris attacks.
These radical elements, which follow a grotesquely distorted understanding of Islam, may take advantage of the relative ease with which European citizens may travel, and could well attempt to enter the US with little difficulty. Given that firearms may be acquired easily in America, and that there are already home-grown terrorist groups operating there, the picture looks rather bleak.
Attempts to destroy extremist groups through bombing campaigns will do little more than generate more extremists; those who are already living in the West regard every assault on the Middle East, on their co-religionists, their cousins and their extended families as a reason for vengeance. That is why it should be obvious that the struggle against international terrorist groups should now be more rational and less knee-jerk reaction. That is, of course, if the objective really is to annihilate terrorism and not the Islamic world.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.