The vast majority of colonial/imperialist powers of the modern era have been European states. Yet even though the age of formal empire has long since passed, European leaders still show little if any contrition for the crimes of the past. Instead, European powers have frequently championed neo-colonial wars in states ranging from Libya and Iraq to Syria and even the former Yugoslavia which while geographically European, maintained a unique style of governance compared to the other major European powers of the late 20th century.
Today, irresponsible leadership in Europe has led to the horrifying growth in the number of extremist terror attacks throughout the continent. The combination of blow-back from neo-imperial wars, to European governments going out of their way to fund terror abroad while consciously importing other terrorists to European soil, has led to multiple disasters in which ordinary people pay the ultimate price.
Whether it is the German government allowing the PKK terror organisation to operate freely on its soil, the Daesh prisoners freed by the YPG/PKK in Syria fleeing to Europe, the French President hosting a terror leader of the YPG/PKK’s so-called political arm, German involvement with FETO (aka the Gulenist Terror Organistion), the British government’s support for the erstwhile Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and UK “foreign aid” money being used to finance terror in Syria – Europe’s irresponsible relationship with terrorism is not only bad for the African and western Eurasia nations being directly targeted by the extremists, but it is also clearly bad for Europe.
While New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebrations went off without any terrorist disruptions in Asia, Africa and The Americas, two of Europe’s most prominent countries were hit with two deeply worrying attacks. On New Year’s Eve in England, a terrorist armed with a knife stabbed three people in a train station before being subdued by police. On New Year’s Day in Germany, a terrorist rammed his car into a group of people who had an allegedly foreign appearance. Four were injured as a result.
And yet it seems that European political leaders do not realise that foreign policies which support and aid terror groups rather than partner with legitimate states to eradicate terrorism, combined with policies allowing terrorists from groups like FETO, the PKK and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group to live freely on European soil, will necessary result in unimaginable violence being levelled against ordinary European citizens who increasingly oppose the vicious policies of their respective governments.
When it comes to partnering with a nation that is serious about fighting terror, the EU’s neighbour Turkey could teach contemporary European leaders a great deal about a holistic approach to combating violent terrorist extremism.
In Turkey, an attempted coup in 2016 by the Gülenist Terror Organisation (FETO) threatened the country’s stability and internal peace. As FETO had infiltrated elements of the military, intelligence services, police, civil service, mass media and academia, Ankara had to take critical steps in order to cleanse the country of the FETO plague. But after a two year state of emergency, Turkey largely culled FETO from its soil and today, the group’s operations are more prominent outside of Turkey than within Turkey. Likewise, Turkey has taken a firm approach to combating the PKK terror group as well as fighting its foreign arm, the YPG in Syria. On top of this, Turkey continues to fight what little remains of Daesh in Syria.
Crucially, while European leaders have shown that they are incapable of separating genuine refugees from covert terrorists, Turkey has successfully managed to house nearly 2 million refugees from Syria and none of this population have been responsible for committing atrocities in Turkey. Self-evidently, Turkey understands the difference between refugees and economic migrants in ways that most European leaders and even police services simply do not. Because of this, it is imperative for Europe to work with Turkey on learning how to not only be better hosts to real refugees but how to weed out provocateurs disguised as refugees.
And yet for Europe to form a transparent anti-terror partnership with Turkey, Europe must realise that all terrorism most be fought holistically in order for terrorism to be eradicated as a whole. There is no such thing as a “good terrorist group”. By definition, all terrorist organisations pose a clear and present danger to civilian populations. Therefore, Europe must sever all ties with the YPG/PKK, FETO and other extremist groups in order to form a partnership that can help to dramatically decrease the potential of blood soaked violence on the streets of Europe’s major cities.
If Turkey can do it so can Europe – the only difference is that in Europe there is little political will to do so among the current crop of leaders.