To end the horrifying pattern of violence against the innocent, official regimes must end their exploitation of extremism to serve their own short-sighted agendas. Of the several lessons that initial evidence suggests can be drawn from the latest attack by (according to Ankara) Islamic State against Turkey, the guilt of various regimes is the most prominent.
Ankara is guilty of facilitating this week’s attack on Turkey by its encouragement of Salafi extremism as a tool for Turkish foreign policy and by its use of Salafi extremism as a cover for the political, economic, and military repression of the Kurdish population of Turkey.
Moscow is guilty for having chosen repression of Chechnya’s aspirations for independence back when Putin was building his power grab. That decision empowered Chechen extremists by denying both independence and participation in Russian politics as equals to all Chechens.
A third lesson from this week’s attack is the timing of the Salafis’ attack–taking advantage of the particular religious schedule of Ramadan to facilitate their attack on “fellow Muslims.” What true Muslims would behave like this? The real Muslim community needs to wake up and clarify its position toward the violence-prone individuals who claim ownership of the concept of “Islam,” and this of course includes the AKP: Salafi extremists are not legitimate partners.
Playing ball with extremists, who win by spreading chaos to confuse the masses, is playing into the extremists’ hands. Any number of countries over the past generation have suffered at the hands of leaders who played this selfish game, often winning elections, always harming their own societies. Another complicit politician will always be ready to take such advantage of ignorant voters until voters learn the price they pay for electing such leaders. Many of the world’s major countries have been led by politicians who pretend to be modern and responsible but act more like the semi-barbarian leaders of Europe during the Thirty Years War or of France during the 16th century religious-based civil war. If we stop and think, we of the 21st century know better…don’t we?
When Moscow offers Chechnya a just compromise, and when Ankara offers its own citizens of Kurdish descent a just compromise, and when both stop using the Islamic State as a tool for their ambitions in Syria, then the world will be on the road to resolving the issue of “terrorism,” as others are fond of labeling Muslim instability.