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Terrorism in the 21st Century

Emergence of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as an aftermath of unjust Iraq war had far-reaching implications for global peace and security condition.

The quick rise of ISIS had not only jeopardized peace but has also endangered the safety and territorial integrity of other regional actors and outside the region too as they want to capture those areas once under Muslim empire to establish a global caliphate.

Terrorism has become a major challenge of the present century, and hence it is important to understand the reason for its appearance.

Rise, downfall, and breakdown of any groups into new splinter groups have always been influenced by certain significant events that help create the circumstances in their favor. Similar is the case of the emergence of Islamic State of Iraq and later adding Syria to its self-proclaimed caliphate.

The redrawing of world map under Sykes-Picot agreement 1916 was an important turning point in the history that was followed by a series of complex conflicts and challenges that the world faces today.

The Middle Eastern world was divided among British and French empires according to the agreement.

Occupying culturally and religiously different areas made the start of “Clash of civilization” between Muslim and the Western world. Back in 1915 when Britain needed the help of Arabs to defeat Ottoman Empire, it made some promises to Arab.

These promises were made in a letter “McMahon–Hussein Correspondence.” According to this, a give and take policy was presented. If Arabs agree to rebel against the Ottoman Empire than Britain ensured the formation of independent states.

Later on, Balfour Declaration 1917 promised the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestinian territory which opened a face to face war between Arab and Israel.

These three different agreements were made at the same time and thus infuriated the sentiments of Arabs who didn’t get anything as a result of their sacrifices made for Britain during World War 1.

In 1921, Britain controlled area of Palestine from Ottoman Empire as a mandate known as “British Mandate Palestine.” Inter-communal violence erupted when Britain gave the area to the King of Jordan in late 1921.

It grew worse with time and finally in 1947 when UN recommended the partition of British mandate among Jews and Arabs which was welcomed by Jews and rejected by Palestinians and Arabs.

Jews proclaimed the Zionist state in 1948 and thus initiated a war between both the parties. Zionist called it “war of independence” whereas for Muslims it was a catastrophe.

In 1967, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq launched a six days war against Israel and got a huge setback as Israel annexed huge portion of Palestine.

Later, in 1973 Youm-Kippur war Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel, but Israel managed to maintain its control over the territories it annexed during 1967 war.

Arab-Israel conflict never met an end and the violence kept erupting at different times.

It was followed by a coalition of the Arab world against the West by blocking the oil to the Western world, but the stroke of “Camp David Accord” 1978s shattered the umbrella of Pan-Arabism and created more divisions among the Muslim camps.

The states furthered their relations with the outside world to compete with the rival Muslim countries.

In such a scenario, religious ideologies served as an important tool to fight each other and to gather public support by fueling their spirits against the other ethnic group.

Thus, it made an obvious distinction by highlighting the Shia-Sunni divide and making an environment that was not favorable for peaceful co-existence between the two sects.

Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, marking the revival of Shia-ism in the region, initiated a “cold war” between Saudi Arabia and Iran by sectarian differences.

The advantage of this infighting was taken well by the United States. So, it started backing one group against the other and with time changing its allegiance with the state against the other. Also, by supporting the insurgent groups against the government and then facilitating government to crush the groups.

The situation grew worse with time when the two poles of the Middle East started proxies against each other with the dictations of the major powers.

It made the region a horrible place to live.

Learning through the historical facts the terrorism that the world faces today either in form of ISIS, Jab-hat-un-Nusra, Taliban or Al-Qaeda it is important to analyze the circumstances that paved way for a smooth emergence of these groups.

Their roots can be traced back in the colonial times which, later on, accompanied with political, economic and psychological factors became an immediate cause for the emergence of each group.

Without understanding these factors, global counter-terrorism strategy can never achieve its goals to the fullest.

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