World / Europe

Terrorist attack in Turkey reinforces need for unity

( Updated: 2016-06-29 20:37

That the barbarity took place during the holy month of Ramadan may make it particularly unacceptable to the Islamic community.

A terrorist attack is intolerable no matter when it happens, who it targets.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan was correct in observing "terrorism strikes with no regard for faith and values". But not so much in saying the attack on Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport, which killed dozens and injured more than 200, had no objective.

By targeting innocent passengers, both Turkish and international, at one of the world's busiest aviation hubs, the plotters behind Tuesday's attack — whether the Islamic State group or not — had an obvious objective: to send, and amplify a message of terror, and create a sense of horror.

Through choosing that specific airport as the venue of coordinated suicide bombings, their message was meant not only for the government and people of Turkey. They wanted to create the impression that no one is really safe, or beyond their reach.

Turkey's commitment to the global campaign against terror has been doubted. But the country's recent vulnerability to terrorist threats should be a wake-up call for any Turkish politicians who may have entertained the naïve illusion that they are different in the eyes of terrorists.

The Turkish president has expressed hope that the "international community, especially the Western countries, including their administrations, parliaments, media organs and civil societies, will take a firm stand against terrorism".

But that should have been an appeal to all countries. Not just Western ones. An international "united front", as the governments of China and Russia just stated in a joint declaration, is essential for the fight against terrorism.

Almost 15 years into the international "war on terror", which started in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept 11, 2001, the world appears just as vulnerable, if not more, to terrorist threats, precisely because countries have their own perspectives and calculations. Countries have even found it difficult to agree on what qualifies as terrorism.

There have been calls for and attempts at cooperation and coordination between countries, which has helped with information sharing. But as the recent terrorist attacks in different countries show, that is far from enough. An international safety net against terror will remain out of the question unless countries work out at least a loosely unified stance on the matter.

However, that will be easier said than done.

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