An eternal state of emergency?
The way the terrorist act in Nice was conducted on Thursday evening reveals how terrorism has transformed and shifted to a totally new phase recently.
Terrorists used to have a concrete, specific and definite political agenda in the past. Hence they were targeting the ones connected with and representing that political entity or ideology. Yet today the political aspect has vanished. Terrorists target everyone who is “against” them, hence killing civilians without making any distinction. This, in turn, has also removed any geographic boundaries.
Terrorists also don’t use limitations in their methods anymore. Nothing is “unthinkable.” They kill people with the most simple, basic means just as the Tunisian-origin terrorist killed people by driving a truck in Nice, displaying an unprecedented brutality with the simplest form of barbarity.
Moreover terrorist organizations themselves have become ambiguous. Anyone around the world feeling like an outsider or depressed, with no connection to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or any other terrorist organization at all, could easily conduct a terrorist act, using religion just as an excuse. Hence fighting against ISIL in Iraq and Syria is not of great use. What is worse is, to the contrary, the more ISIL loses ground in the region, the more terrorist acts it conducts elsewhere around the world.
As a result, terror has become much more frequent. We have gotten used to hearing at least one or two acts every week from every corner of the globe. It has become a common, daily incident.
Beyond these, the attack in Nice took place during the state of emergency in France, which was in place since the Paris attacks of Nov. 13, 2015. The police used to patrol the streets all around the country. Plus a new intelligence bill recently passed through the French parliament, granting more powers to the intelligence services. As a bitter twist of fate, just a couple of hours before the attack French President Francois Hollande said he “cannot prolong the state of emergency eternally,” and it was going to be lifted next week. Yet this attack forced him to extend it for another three months.
This all reveals the new reality we are going through. Nation-states are not capable of preventing terrorism on their own anymore. They don’t have the luxury not acting together. Moreover it is not enough for the West to develop such cooperation within itself. Since these terrorists are overwhelmingly Muslims living in the West who feel isolated and excluded by their community, cooperation with Muslim countries is more than a must.
Yet the Western world reacts in the opposite direction. First and foremost they connect terrorism to Islam by defining it as “Islamic terrorism.” Hollande, who had avoided using this term, pronounced it for the first time right after this attack.
Hasan Selim Özerten, who is heading security studies at the International Strategic Research Organization (USAK) said that “by doing these leaders not only marginalize the affiliates of this religion and thereby increase the number of the supporters of terrorist organizations, but also block cooperation with Muslim countries.” In addition, Western countries embrace their borders much more strictly in the aftermath of terror acts and strengthen their border security.
This all, in turn, serves only to trigger further disintegration and Islamophobia, which already exists within their boundaries. It is far from being a coincidence that the terrorists involved in the recent acts have largely been French citizens of North Africa origin. Ghettoization has peaked in France, especially in urban cities like in its capital, Paris. In other words, social integration has not been achieved at all, pushing distinct communities into their own neighborhoods. Common living spaces almost don’t exist.
After all, this “new terror” forces countries to integrate not only within themselves, but also with each other. Moreover it actually provides an opportunity to this end. Yet the world is acting in the very opposite direction. And this, in turn, only escalates terror.
It is impossible to prevent terror completely within this new reality. Özertem said that “even if one would be able to prevent 99 percent of it, that 1 percent would still come and hit you.” In order to prevent that 99 percent, a global awakening is urgently needed. Otherwise humanity will condemn itself to live eternally in a state of emergency.