We Need to Treat This Like a War

My heart goes out to the victims of the recent bombing in Manchester and their families and friends. There aren’t any words big enough to express the awfulness of it all.

I’m really sorry for everyone who has been affected by this. I generally don’t post anything after one of these attacks because – there are no words to cover it.

To be honest if you have been affected by the attacks please don’t read this because as usual I strayed off topic – and really all I want to express to you is how sorry I am for what you’re going through.

The reason I am posting this is yesterday there was some criticism of information being published in the media about the investigation of the bomber and his accomplices and I really strongly agree that this kind of information should not be published anywhere. It could hamper the investigation and possibly prompt others involved to go into hiding or destroy evidence.

I understand that it’s important to break the story and to inform the public but maybe focus on the victims of the attack instead. Mourn those who have had their lives taken and also highlight the kinds of injuries people have to deal with because of this senseless attack.

The attack in Manchester seems to have been well planned. It doesn’t seem like the other recent terrorist acts in Europe. It seems more like the November 2015 attacks in Paris. Is this part of the Daesh’s strategy? To have well organised attacks and then let the media coverage possibly inspire crazed lone-attackers to carry out their terrorist acts like the one Nice, like the one in Berlin and like the recent one in London, while they prepare for something bigger? One way to ensure that the media coverage isn’t accidentally promoting these senseless attacks, in the minds of some very unwell people, as a way to gain infamy, is to have very very little mention of the actual attackers in the press or media. And definitely no mention of how they went about their attack – apart from what was immediately obvious to witnesses.

I’m not trying to give out about the media here. I get that journalists are just doing their job. I just think we need to treat this like a war. In wars there are many things that won’t be reported if they might possibly aid the enemy. Perhaps a change in the way these attacks are reported is needed? I don’t know. But it certainly sounded from the some of the news yesterday like this might be the case.

I do not believe that this is some war between Islam and Western society – that kind of commentary is racist and unhelpful. I do not believe that Daesh is representative of Islam.

I call ISIS or ISIL Daesh because they hate this name. Daesh is a shortening of the Arabic for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but it is shortened in a way that robs it of any link to Islam and also it’s difficult for non-Arabic speakers to pronounce correctly and it can sound as if you are saying something else. They hate this name. I think it is the only name our media should use for the group.

I very strongly suspect that the people at the top of this terrorist group have zero interest in Islam or in the fate of those living in Iraq or Syria. I think they have business interests in the Middle East that are best served by unstable regimes that can be easily manipulated. I think they prey on people who are embittered by what people in that region have had to endure. They take people who want to fight for a more just world, who want justice for their part of the world, and they turn this noble and natural instinct into something twisted that ends up destroying countless lives often including their own and ultimately works against what the people on the ground believe they’re fighting for. I have no evidence to back up this suspicion that wealthy business interests are behind Daesh – it’s just something that I feel very strongly is the case.

I’m sorry if that last paragraph wasn’t helpful but it’s something that needs to be given more attention. Who exactly is behind Daesh? If you’re thinking it’s the US I don’t think that for even one second. I don’t think these people are particularly tied to one country.

Daesh promotes a false and hollow ideology. On first contact it may sound informed, they may use accounts of events you know have happened because you’ve read or watched them yourself. Or their talks may speak directly to your own personal experience and mention things that seem missing in today’s world – like the fight for justice, like having a life that has a deeper meaning. But from the get-go it’s an Us versus Them mentality. The innocent victims versus the all-powerful aggressor, the down-trodden overlooked masses versus a shrewd, cunning and uncaring elite. The Us versus Them rhetoric is very seductive. Those who see the world this way may well have a stronger sense of belonging. And if they see you as one of their “Us” they will fundamentally accept you in a way that is very rare in our disconnected societies. Though it must be said people who are very well intentioned use this sort of rhetoric too – but really it’s blind to the true reality of the human experience. Us versus Them arguments, whether done consciously or not, always imply that there is something inherently wrong with the other side, that one side is inferior to the other. We are all equal. Both history and our own individual experiences show us this.

Sorry I’ve gone off a little off topic. All I really wanted to say here is maybe we need to treat this like a war and don’t let the enemy know what we know. And at the same time let’s do everything we can to make sure that our societies are inclusive and cohesive – fight any and all social or economic exclusion as best we can – so that vulnerable people aren’t beguiled by a hateful, hollow and false ideology.

I think the kind of solidarity the British people have shown in the wake of this attack and also after the one in London is brilliant. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.

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Since I added the last post there has been the bombing in Kabul which killed around 90 people and injured hundred, more attacks in the Philippines, the attack in London and earlier this week the attacks in Iran. Again, I just want to offer my condolences to all those who have been affected by these utterly senseless acts of violence.

The reason I’m posting this is because on Monday Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar. Although tensions have been brewing for some time this was still a very shocking development. To make matters worse Donald Trump appeared to endorse this move – which seems crazy since Qatar is an important ally of the US in the region. It’s worth noting that the Pentagon and the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, have been critical of what is effectively a blockade by these other GCC states against Qatar. Yemen, Libya, Mauritania, the Maldives and Comoros have also cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, and Jordan has downgraded their ties to the country also.

I think this is a really terrible development. Obviously I only know what I read and watch on the news so rather than ramble on with my thoughts and concerns about the situation for the moment I’m just going to share some coverage of it here below.

I should mention, just in case you are not aware, Al Jazeera is a news channel from Qatar. I think their content is very good. I would generally trust Al Jazeera’s content as much as I would trust the content of any major European news channels. I think that all news channels have biases but Al Jazeera don’t seem to be afraid to be critical of Qatar so that makes me think they are as trustworthy as the news channels we have here.

GCC rift: Five nations cut diplomatic ties with Qatar – report by Al Jazeera English

Here’s What’s Behind the Qatar Diplomatic Split – report by Bloomberg TV Markets and Finance

How Powerful Is Qatar? – report by NowThis (formerly Seeker Daily)

Inside Story – What’s behind the diplomatic breakdown in the Gulf? – report by Al Jazeera English

Qatar: A tiny country asserts powerful influence – report by CBS News posted 5 years ago, adding to the list as it shows the friendly relations that exist between Qatar and the US

I hope this rift doesn’t further destablise the Middle East – it’s has the potential to be really catastrophic. I’m being alarmist I know – but honestly this has me worried.

I wonder why Donald Trump is in favour of it. There was an article in The Guardian the week before about a UK Intelligence report/investigation into funding of terrorist groups. The article said that the investigation had been halted and that the report was unlikely to be published as it might offend allies. I would agree with not publishing intelligence reports, particularly in the current climate – I really think we need to treat this like a war – but surely investigations should continue? And if the UK has intelligence that suggests important allies might be sending the wrong signals at the moment then please tell them that in no uncertain terms.

If you want to keep up to date with this – here’s a link to rolling coverage on Al Jazeera.

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Just want to link to the One Love Manchester concert – great act of solidarity.

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