Hope, Not Despair, Causes Terrorism

Aug. 31 2017

Alienation and despair, according to most Western experts, are what generally lead people to join or support jihadist organizations. In some cases that is true, writes Gershon Hacohen. But more often the motivations are quite different:

Many times, it is precisely those who had hoped to integrate into affluent Western society who chose the path of terrorism. Some of the world’s most notorious terrorists, such as those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, studied at leading universities. At a recent international symposium I attended, I learned from a Malaysian researcher that in his country it is mostly outstanding students with exceptional prospects who choose to join Islamic State.

Projecting despair and alienation onto everything may blind us to the existence of other significant motives. . . . Besides security and prosperity, people also seek meaning. . . .

That sense of meaning can be found in religion, and religious zealotry especially. But why turn to violence? Hacohen notes that many Islamists believe that now is the time to overthrow the West by waging war against it, a conclusion that stems as much from observation as from religious doctrine:

To a large extent, [terrorists’] sense of opportunity is rooted in the way Islam perceives Western society: as a decaying and declining society. This perception stems first and foremost from the significant decline in birthrates in the West, which Islam views as the weakness of an ailing society. No children means no future, no labor force, and no manpower pool to fill the ranks of the soldiers.

With their liberal aspirations and their emphasis on human rights as a basic principle that trumps a state’s authority, Western countries seem to have relinquished the need to exercise their sovereignty. . . . It is the perceived manifestation of the West’s weakness that gives hope in terror operatives.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Liberal West, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Terrorism

Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?

Sept. 23 2022

On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:

The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.

Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.

Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.

Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria, War in Ukraine