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Mumbai: A Message to Obama - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Over the past few years, it has been easy for most people in most places to attack US President George W. Bush, who is preparing to leave the White House, as they attributed mistakes and crises to him forgetting that the war on terror is still in its early stages. Not only did they criticize him for the methodology in dealing with terrorism, rather they have made him a scapegoat for everything.

The one to benefit the most from all of this was US President-elect Barack Obama. However, the Mumbai terrorist attacks in India that have left over 130 people dead represent a clear message to Obama, if not the entire world. It is a message for one person specifically whose positions are still being formed.

The Mumbai operation is a message to President-elect Barack Obama to say: you have dreams of a better world but this is the real world that you must deal with. In spite of how you have arranged your priorities, terrorism will always be at the top of the list.

The coordinated terrorist attacks that targeted roughly ten places in Mumbai including a hospital, cafes, restaurants, hotels as well as communication outlets, and foreign tourists, are evidence that the serpent of terrorism is still alive and strong.

Moreover, the methods that were used in the terrorist operation prove that [fighting] terrorism is not the responsibility of one country, it requires international efforts. According to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the attackers came from outside India “to create havoc in India’s commercial capital.”

As the hostages of various nationalities remain in captivity in India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, global interest of the event continues to grow and when the terrorist operation is over, the facts that cannot be ignored will remain.

India is an influential country politically, economically, and even with regards to technology. It has international weight as it is not a marginal country that the world can overlook. In addition, there are other significant meanings to the statement that the perpetrators came from outside India.

This reminds us of the raging battlefronts in Pakistan and Afghanistan where there is open confrontation with Al Qaeda and the Taliban and this is an issue that President-elect Obama has spoken about several times on the basis that the foundation of the war on terror is Afghanistan.

But the questions remain: Can America fight terrorism on its own? Can it rebuild Afghanistan that has been destroyed essentially since the Soviet invasion? Can Washington ignore Iraq at the expense of Afghanistan?

The problem of terrorism does not only afflict the country in which it exists; the danger lies in ignoring it. For the countries that believe that they are distant from the issue of terrorism, it will soon catch up with them; in fact it is on their doorstep. The danger of what is happening in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan is that it is concentrated in a region in which ignorance, tribalism and nuclear weapons come together.

However it is important here to highlight that the terrorist incident in India may be indicative of greater danger to come. On Wednesday, a warning was issued that terrorists might target the New York transit system and this reminds of the circumstances the surrounded 9/11 – it started with the targeting of American embassies and the USS Cole bombing in Yemen and then came the New York attacks that shocked the world – bearing in mind that America is going through transition of power.

Therefore, we must say that those who love peace and who want to wipe out terrorism are countless…but the road to its elimination is a long one

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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