A very interesting analysis of the situation in Syria and beyond. I agree totally with the view stated in this article. I just want to highlight what I believe to be a key point and add a couple of my own;

  1. The traditional approach followed in the past is for western governments to ally themselves with MENA states in fighting terrorism. However as pointed out in the article some of these brutal regimes are themselves culpable for the rise of extremism in the region and should not be allowed to get away with it just by holding the “Fight Terrorism” banner. So “calibrating” relations with these regimes is critical.
  2. As an extension to point above we already recognise through history that there are key states in the Middle East. In the past this map of key states was merely used by western leaders in developing strategic military alliances with these states irrespective of mode of governance all for the sake of promoting security at home or for purely economic benefits including arms sales (championed in most cases by the military-industrial complex). It is clear now that this is a flawed policy similar to one adopted by the United States in supporting a terrorist organisation like Al Queda and the Talaban in a proxy war against Russian invasion of Afghanistan. We know without a shadow of doubt that political oppression/exclusion is one of the main contributing factors to the rise of extremism. In the past it may have mattered less to the west, but now the effects of this approach are coming home to roost. One of the reasons we are where we are today in my view is for the lack of political & economic engagement/support for states undergoing democratic transition during the Arab Spring. This has effectively created a void which Russia is now trying to fill in a cold-war style power confrontation with the west.
  3. Policies affecting Immigration/Integration are key in our battle against extremism within our shores. We need to engage with moderate Muslim leaders who are seeking to develop/apply interpretations of the Quran that are consistent with our values as a nation without contradicting core teachings of the religion-I believe this is quite achievable but requires focus, commitment and a serious effort. We also need to put more emphasis on developing a national identity that does not distinguish between race, religion or culture. If multiculturalism means tolerance of people with diverse backgrounds living-for all intents and purposes-in separate islands despite of living in the same country then we need to ditch this approach. As an example it seemed absurd to me to find out that within the British Liberal Democrats party-where I was previously a member-they have a group within the party calling themselves the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats. In brief we need a rethink of our approach on that score.

A final point here to say that despite the fact that are tough challenges ahead, there are pragmatic ways to deal with each one of those challenges-what is needed is true leadership and an aggressive agenda to make up for lost time.

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