ISIS: TOUGH QUESTIONS IN FOCUS
ISIS: TOUGH QUESTIONS IN FOCUS
By Al Emid Author Journalist Broadcaster
The Glamourous Life of an Author
Yesterday’s news about the downing of a Russian airliner brought into sharp focus several questions, some of which we began confronting after 9/11 and some new ones. American and British authorities tentatively attributed the disaster to a bomb placed on the Russian airliner by someone connected to ISIS or an ISIS affiliate in the Sharm el-Sheikh airport.
The questions need answers even if the accusation eventually proves mistaken. At time of writing, the Egyptian authorities are insisting on reserving judgement in the absence of firm proof.
Governments can be expected to increase surveillance beyond their current levels, collecting even more telephone conversations and internet traffic in bulk than they already accumulate. We will have to grapple more than ever with that blurry and ever-shifting line between public safety and our individual privacy. How much of our privacy are we willing to surrender in the cause of safety?
How do we fight an enemy that has proven its murderous ability off the battlefield time and again? If authorities eventually prove that the tragedy resulted from an onboard bomb it will mean that terrorists have — again – turned an airplane into an instrument of death. How do we win the fight in every airport in the world?
Will air travel become even more trying and vexing than it has become in recent years? Will this tragedy – again even if we eventually find that reports of a bomb on board prove mistaken – lead to higher levels of security at all airports, border crossings and therefore higher costs of travel? Most likely that will happen.
ISIS has called for war on Russia and the United States in response to their air strikes in Syria. Where does the downing of the airliner by ISIS – if eventually confirmed – leave President Barack Obama’s determination to keep American military involvement to a minimum? If this tragedy amounts to a retaliation for Russian bomb strikes in Syria, what will it mean for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decisions?
And what of Egypt’s role in the ISIS crisis? Western governments see Egypt as a linchpin in their hopes to contain terrorism generally and ISIS and al Qaeda specifically. ISIS will likely continue its current campaign of suicide bombings and shootings aimed at toppling President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government.
And what of President Obama’s belief that peace in Syria means that President Bashir al-Assad has to go? Assad has already had a reprieve of sorts but have recent events served to extend the reprieve?
For both foreign direct investing and retail investing, to what extent will this and the general instability in the Middle East lead to a re-thinking of plans? Foreign direct investors – businesses setting up large operations, making acquisitions or embarking on joint ventures will pause for thought when considering this region. The recent agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers means that one of the world’s few remaining closed economies could become open for business and companies such as Shell plan to move as quickly as possible. Are these plans going to continue? On the retail side of investing will investors shy away from investing in this region?
And what does the future hold, starting in January 2017? None of the men and women currently competing for the right to lead the United States and its armed forces has offered a clear plan for confronting the ISIS crisis. President Obama’s policy of ‘strategic patience’ has paid very limited dividends.
Not all of the questions have desultory or quirky answers. Contrary to an assumption that I sometimes encounter, the entire Middle East is not in flames. The countries of the Gulf – including the seven city-states of United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar still retain their ‘safe haven’ status, attracting huge flows of human and financial capital.
Al Emid’s fifth book entitled What You Need to Know About ISIS – Terror, Religion, War and the Caliphate and set for release by Quidne Press behind the news about ISIS and what might lie ahead. He has begun developing a follow-up book set for release in 2016.