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Experts unpack ongoing terror challenge

China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-05 07:04

Q+A | Terrorist attack alerts

Editor's note: Three Chinese experts -Dong Manyuan, deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies, Ye Hailin, an anti-terrorism expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations - share their views on the closures of Western embassies in Muslim countries.

What is the root cause of the threat of attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond from al-Qaida?

Dong: The main reason for al-Qaida to launch attacks is its resentment against Washington's support for Egypt's interim government and the Egyptian military. The threat serves as a warning to the US and its allies in Europe. Moreover, the deeper reason is the fact that America and European countries have been treating the countries in the Middle East with a double standard over the past decades, resulting in discontent in some countries. Al-Qaida is making use of such dissatisfaction and Islamic fundamentalism, which has widespread popularity in the region. Now the Western countries are bearing the consequences of what they have done.

Ye: The turbulent situation in the Middle East provides the space that al-Qaida and its branches need for further development, which prompted people to regain a clear understanding of Washington's role in this region. That is, instead of bringing tranquility, stability and democracy to the area, the US is aggravating the instability there. The threat from al-Qaida shows people's anti-American feelings and their demand for Washington's absence in this region.

How does the current alert differ from previous ones issued by the US?

Dong: The worldwide alert shows that the diplomatic missions of the US and its allies in Europe are increasingly prone to terrorist attacks, especially after the US consulate in Benghazi was attacked last year. The Obama administration will be faced with greater pressure if injuries are again caused by such attacks.

Ye: The major difference is that the scale of the alert this time is larger than ever before. This could be due to unspecified intelligence information, and thus the US has to adopt a strategy of passive defense.

Li: The US uses a series of alerts that are stronger than they need to be. One reason is that Washington hopes to retrieve its reputation after the revelation of NSA's PRISM and "black bag" surveillance programs. Since America obtained the attack information by intercepting electronic communications, it tries to attract attention from the media and the people by exaggerating the threat and find a reason for future surveillance plans.

What do you think is the future strategy to contain terrorism in the Middle East?

Dong: The key to easing "terrorism" in this region requires the US and its allies in Europe to change their "double standard" policy. However, since it is impossible for them to change it, the threat of attacks like today will persist for a long time.

Li: Generally speaking, the anti-terrorism work of the US has not effectively contained the development of terrorism in this region. Instead, Washington's intervention offers it the space and ground for further growth. No matter whether in the present or the future, western Asia and North Africa will still be important bases for international terrorist activities, as well as the focus of anti-terrorism efforts.

China Daily

(China Daily 08/05/2013 page12)

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