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Opinion: The Paris Attacks: a Massacre to Exonerate the Murderer and Condemn the Victim | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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ISIS fighters at one of its camps in Iraq (A.F.P)

As expected it didn’t take ISIS long to claim responsibility for the Paris terrorist mass murders.

The evening of ‘Friday the 13th’ of November 2015 is not a date the people of France will forget. I dare say too, it will neither be forgotten by every Arab and Muslim living in France, nor any Syrian still waiting in vain for some justice.

The heinous massacre that killed and injured hundreds of innocent people is the product of the ‘inverted logic’ of a suspect organization, horrible in choosing its targets, and even more horrible in timing and executing its carnage. This ‘inverted logic’ does not harm anyone except the groups that it claims to defend and uphold, and benefits none but those that it claims to be its enemies.

Indeed, if we review what ISIS has done so far we find that both in Iraq and Syria its prime victims have been – next to innocent geographically isolated minorities – the Sunni Arab regions of northern and north-western Iraq and northern Syria as well as its major cities; which has been politically, economically and demographically ruined by ISIS.

These Sunni Arab regions have been the targets of assaults from Iran’s expansionist project, Kurdish secessionist ambitions, and Russia’s full cover for and sponsorship of the sectarian sedition instigated by Syria’s regimes and its backers, against virtual disinterest from Israel, the USA and the European Union with one exception .. France!

Yes, France; Europe’s bravest and most sincere supporter of the Syrian popular uprising, the most consistent in seeking an end to Bashar Al-Assad’s dictatorship, and the most honest backers of legitimacy in Yemen. Yet, despite all this, France was and still is ISIS’ prime target! ‘Conspiracy Theory’ aside, only through ISIS’ ‘inverted logic’ choosing France makes sense.

Firstly, France is a major country in the heart of Europe that was a founding member of both the European Union and NATO, and home to the largest Arab and Muslim communities – mainly, from West Africa. Thus, if ISIS aim is embroiling Islam – as a global religion – in a suicidal war against the West; indeed, against the whole humanity, then France becomes a suitable target.

Secondly, France has powerful extreme right wing political parties that are a serious challenge for power, and get ever more popular whenever they get the chance to be belligerent against Arabs and Muslims. These parties are the ideal ‘detonators’ that speed up this suicidal war that ISIS discourse is striving to launch. It is obvious that those who planned the Paris massacre knew beforehand the likely political, social and cultural consequences of their outrage, but in their calculations the more ‘racist’ or xenophobic the reaction against the French Arabs and Muslims gets the more frustrated and wronged gangs would emerge from their communities, thus, making easier the job of recruiting extremists and terrorists for their future ‘grand war’.

Thirdly, if one does not discount the ‘Conspiracy Theory’, let’s go no further than the main beneficiary from the timing of the Paris massacre. It was committed a few hours before the convening of the ‘Vienna 2’ meeting aimed at finding a solution to the Syrian Crisis. This act of awful violence serves first and foremost the interests of those who have insisted in shifting the ‘Vienna 2’ meeting away from finding a political solution for Syria based on President Bashar Al-Assad stepping down. It is a well-known fact that the Al-Assad’s main backers, Russia and Iran, are still calling to regard the Syrian Crisis merely as a ‘war against terrorism’, and see Al-Assad as an integral part of it. Reports that one of the assailants in Paris mentioned the word ‘Syria’, and then that a Syrian passport (anybody can buy a fake passport) was found near an assailant’s body means that the suspect intelligence-inspired intentions of the planners to link the responsibility to the Syrian people’s uprising, although the carnage took place without its knowledge or blessings.

Fourthly, a well-coordinated and logistically perfected murderous operation like the Paris massacre totally rules out the notion of naïveté or stupidity, at least at the planners’ level, even though those who executed it were willing to become ‘human bombs’ and were brain-washed and dehumanised individuals. Here we are confronting a highly organized network led by sophisticated and knowledgeable authorities that pulls its strings and manages its budget, in a way similar to someone trading in oils and antiquities; buying brand new Toyota trucks and advanced weapons, and successfully handling smuggling, training, media and publishing.

Thus the ‘war against ISIS’, if the international community is truly serious about it, needs to be carried out differently. The suspect role played out by ISIS’ actions and battles – both genuine and theatrical – deserves to be encountered in a way congruent with international pronouncements, instead of turning a blind eye to the tragic realities the extremist organization is forcing on the ground through a frightening partition, that sooner or later will destroy the Near East’s political entities, and sow the seeds of endless animosities and catastrophes.

The Paris massacre, as well as any crime perpetrated by terrorist ‘sleeping cells’ or ‘lone wolves’ in Europe, or any other place on Earth in the name of Islam, is a major landmark in the war against terrorism. However, it is incumbent on any serious analyst to study past incidents of this nature.

In Lebanon particularly, there are amazing examples. Terrorist acts, as well as aborted acts, whose perpetrators – from various religious sects –were discovered, were indeed linked to certain intelligence agencies. Perhaps the most infamous of those were the so-called ‘Abu Adas case’ intended to divert the investigation of the Rafiq Hariri assassination, and ‘the Michel Samaha scandal’ pertaining to attempts to carry out explosions and political assassination with the intention of causing a bloody sectarian conflict. The Syrian regime’s intelligence agencies were later uncovered to be behind both.

Thus, with regards to the cleansing intended to facilitate redrawing of the political maps of the Region, some observers link the recent terrorist explosions in Lebanon – the latest of which was carried out in the Beirut Shi’ite suburb of Burj al-Barajeneh – to justifying the long term plan of uprooting the populations of Sunni towns that are as yet delaying the emergence of one of the desired maps. This is, actually, what was exposed by Iran’s push for population exchange between the Sunni population of the town Zabadani and neighbouring towns and villages west of Damascus and the population of the Shi’ite enclaves in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib in northern Syria.

One last note; ISIS and those who have created and are now exploiting it are two faces of the same coin!