Toronto Star's View: Terror attack in Paris tests...
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Nov 14, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Toronto Star's View: Terror attack in Paris tests us all

OurWindsor.Ca

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke for all Canadians when he said our hearts go out to the people of France in a dark and terrible time. We too have felt the shock of terror, in the recent assault on Parliament and other attacks. We share France’s grief and outrage and applaud its vow to meet terror with cold resolve.

The sheer barbarity of the Islamic State attacks in Paris on Friday night – machine-gunning and bombing people near the iconic Place de la République and the Stade de France sports stadium, and murdering hostages — was calculated to strike fear across the City of Light. And for a few hours it succeeded.

In a capital still shaken by Al Qaeda attacks last January on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket, the killers left at least 129 people dead and some 350 wounded, many of them critically. And their masters released a statement calling the attacks “the first of the storm.” Today Paris is an armed camp on high alert.

Yet far from being cowed, French President François Hollande vowed to continue to wage a “relentless” campaign against the Islamic State “on all fronts, internal and exterior, working with our allies.” That campaign will now gain added force.

The Islamic State is no longer a regional problem, confined to its “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria. It has morphed into a confirmed international terror threat, murdering more than 400 people in recent weeks. It has been linked not only to the Paris attacks but also to the downing of a Russian passenger aircraft and to bombings in Beirut. It is at war with the world.

That grim development should focus minds at the Group of 20 Summit in Turkey this weekend.

First, the United States and others on the United Nations Security Council need to work the diplomatic channels harder to broker an end to Syria’s ghastly civil war and heal Iraq’s dysfunctional government. Short of that, the Islamic State’s 20,000 fighters will continue to pose a threat not only to the Middle East but to the wider world. That message seems finally to be getting through to the Russians, Chinese and Iranians who have played so ruinous a role in the region.

Second, the world needs to remind itself that the Syrians who are fleeing Bashar Assad’s bombs and the jidahists’ butchery are not a security threat. Already, in the aftermath of the Paris attacks there are signs of a backlash in Europe and elsewhere against the flood of refugees from the region. It would be a tragedy if doors were bolted against desperate refugees and law-abiding Muslims were treated like criminals. In fact, the Islamic State’s victims have been overwhelmingly Muslim themselves. Families fleeing murder and mayhem deserve the world’s empathy and asylum, not rejection.

Finally, the U.S. and its allies need to recalibrate their military campaign. After years of fighting the Islamic State, chiefly through American air strikes with token allied support, the best U.S. President Barack Obama can report is that the jihadists’ gains have been halted. That’s cold comfort to terror victims in Paris, Moscow and Beirut. The U.S. is now putting greater emphasis on training and supplying forces in Iraq and Syria that are capable of taking on the jihadists. But it will be a long slog.

Given these harsh realities, the Trudeau government must make the best it can of a messy conflict that defeats easy analysis.

During the recent election the Liberals drew flak from some quarters for proposing to refocus our Mideast role on training local troops, instead of playing a bit role bombing jihadists.

But whatever stand Canadians take on that issue, there is broad public support for a more concerted diplomatic push to broker an end to Syria’s disastrous war, and to reform Iraqi politics. Canada has also committed more than $1 billion to help the war’s victims. The country intends to provide sanctuary to 25,000 Syrians, after bringing in 20,000 Iraqis. We have Canadian military boots on the ground training local forces. And we work closely and effectively with allies to thwart terror attacks.

As the Islamic State comes to pose a wider menace, our response will have to adapt. But Trudeau can assure the G20 that Canadians, like the French, will meet that challenge with resolve.

Toronto Star

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