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How much of it is state terror?

Apr 16,2015 - Last updated at Apr 16,2015

Terror is plaguing many countries in our region, like never before.

Several countries — Iraq, Syria, Libya and now Yemen — are falling apart as states due to the emergence of terror groups such as Daesh, Al Qaeda and many others who are waging wars and occupying territories within these countries.

The emergence and power of such groups is attributed to a plethora of factors.

One is, clearly, the authoritarian regimes themselves that ruled these countries for decades.

Oppressive regimes do impose order. But they also create a lot of discontent.

Much of the violence and terror we see in many countries in our region is a direct outcome of the discontent that kept mounting for decades and the oppression that was inflicted both on people and on political opponents.

Had the regimes in all the countries mentioned above, and others, been democratic, we would have been spared much of the chaos, terror and destruction currently witnessed.

Another is due to the opposition’s resort to armed struggle in the attempt to topple dictatorial regimes.

The early days of the Arab Spring were both successful and promising precisely because civilians who rose against authoritarian regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen did so in civil, nonviolent ways.

If Tunisia is still seen as the most successful or promising case, it is precisely because Tunisians refused to resort to violence as a means to settling differences, which is not the case in the rest of the Arab Spring countries.

Unfortunately, disaster struck when the opposition, which hijacked the Arab peoples’ uprising, resorted to armed struggle in order to bring about change.

The armed struggle — as in the case of Syria, Libya and now Yemen — gave the regimes the opportunity and justification to use violence, and gave all kinds of opportunists, mercenaries and terrorists the vacuum and disorder needed to infiltrate and begin to wage their evil wars.

Just as the dictatorial regimes are to blame for resorting to oppression, the opposition is to blame for resorting to arms and violence.

The third factor is the mistake the US and its allies made in wishing to change regimes by force.

It all began with the US invasion of Iraq and the toppling of the Saddam regime.

The invasion and subsequent American mismanagement of the situation in Iraq created the circumstances for Al Qaeda, and now Daesh, to thrive and prosper at the expense of Iraqi stability and prosperity, just as it created the opportunity for Al Qaeda and the Taliban to thrive and prosper in Afghanistan when the US abetted, supported and manipulated Islamists in the war against the Soviets.

The point to stress here is that the misguided step and strategy of states to use armed groups and of terrorists to change regimes in independent states became a pattern.

Israel used this same evil strategy against Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s, America in Afghanistan in the 1980s and in Iraq in the 1990s and early 2000.

In viewing the causes of emergence and spread of terrorism that is plaguing many Arab countries now, it would be both naïve and misleading to assume that terror has emerged and spread simply and solely because of the vacuum created in these failed states.

It has emerged and spread because several countries from abroad and from the region itself are flagrantly and shamelessly using thugs, mercenaries and terrorists to change regimes in independent countries.

This is the sad story of Iraq, Libya, Syria and now Yemen. This is the sad story of our entire region.

Al Qaeda, Daesh, Al Nusra and many other terrorist groups are not reigning supreme now and are impossible to fight and defeat simply because they have found niches here and there, and are reportedly hiding among civilians.

They are mighty and powerful because some mighty and powerful countries are still aiding, abetting and using them to change regimes and settle scores with other countries.

Therefore, for the current wave of terror and destruction to stop, states in the region and beyond need to stop this evil strategy.

Only when they do will we be able to fight and eliminate terrorism, and live in peace.

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