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2016年1月 4日 (月)

脅威増す世界 対「イスラム国」で結束強めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
International community must solidify its unity against ISIL
脅威増す世界 対「イスラム国」で結束強めよ


The threat of terrorism stemming from extremism is shaking the U.S.-led international order based on law and democracy.

About 25,000 foreign fighters from over 100 countries have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an extremist group based in Syria and Iraq. There has also been a stream of so-called “homegrown terrorism,” with young people who were raised in the United States or Europe, and influenced by radical beliefs, committing violent acts within their native countries.

Terrorism is an issue that is not exclusive to such regions as the Middle East or Europe. It is a challenge that must be addressed by the whole world. The international community must stand together, with the United States taking the lead, to continue fighting a protracted battle.

President must lead

In the November U.S. presidential election, major points of contention will include Washington’s measures to fight the ISIL, its policy on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and its rebalancing to Asia policy. We hope in-depth discussions will be conducted through the election campaigns in a direction that will encourage the United States to take a more leading role.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, has emphasized that “if the United States does not lead, there is not another leader, there is a vacuum and we have to lead.” Her remarks likely express her desire for more U.S. involvement on the diplomatic front.

If the United States falls into isolationism, there will be a power vacuum in various parts of the world, as Clinton has asserted, and turmoil will spread around the globe.

It is a matter of concern that Donald Trump, a real estate giant who aims to win the Republican presidential nomination, has been gaining popularity with his extreme remarks, including a call for banning all Muslims from entering the United States.

Trump may run out of steam as the presidential race gets into full swing. But the fact that he has so far retained strong support, despite his extreme remarks, may indicate U.S. citizens’ dissatisfaction with the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

From the bitter lessons learned from the fatalities of U.S. soldiers and increased anti-American sentiment due to the Iraq war, Obama has maintained a policy of not sending large numbers of ground combat troops to areas of conflict. We can understand his belief that long-lasting stability cannot be built in the Middle East just through the power of U.S. forces.

Ease sectarian strife

Yet his administration’s measures for wiping out the ISIL have been one step behind. It is questionable that Obama has been deciding to increase U.S. airstrikes and inject special forces every time local situations deteriorate. Washington must build a solid strategy.

Many countries in the Middle East have seen their turmoil deepen with civil war and sectarian struggles.

In Syria, it is important to create an environment in which Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and anti-regime groups reach a truce so the United States, Europe and Russia can concentrate on fighting against ISIL.

The international agreement that established a road map for a truce and a transition of power should be steadily implemented.

ISIL is nothing but a terrorist organization that has borrowed the name of a religion. Decisive action must be taken against its propaganda war, which fans the flames of hatred against Western society through the Internet. ISIL cannot be eradicated without the support of moderate Muslims for the United States and Europe.

Iraq, Libya and Yemen share the same problem with Syria — the absence of a government that can control a whole country and unite various religious and ethnic groups allows the emergence of radicals. The international community must help change these situations with diplomatic arbitrations and financial support.

The United States and Europe will begin to lift economic sanctions against Iran as early as in January, based on their agreement with Tehran on its nuclear development. Iran has influence over Syria and other places, and should be involved in the process of stabilizing the Middle East. Countries concerned should also keep an eye on Iran so Tehran will not violate the nuclear accord.

Russia is supporting the Assad government and heightening its military intervention in Syria. Russia is still at odds with Turkey, which shot down a Russian military plane.

Moscow is increasingly making its annexation of Crimea a fait accompli, and the ceasefire agreement between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia militants in the eastern part of Ukraine is not being observed.

Despite economic sanctions by the United States and Europe on Russia, President Vladimir Putin maintains his tough stance. He probably aims to challenge the U.S.-led international order. His attempt to change the status quo with military power should not be tolerated any longer.

Measures for refugees

The European Union is facing a challenge. The number of refugees and immigrants flowing into that region from Africa and the Middle East has exceeded 1 million. Some of the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks in Paris have disguised themselves as refugees to enter Europe.

Opposition to accepting refugees is spreading in East European and other countries. How can the EU strike a balance between its ideal of European integration and maintaining security? The refugee issue presents an enormous challenge to the EU.

The EU is discussing with other entities the creation of an organization to guard its borders with countries outside the EU. It is urgent for the EU to regain the public’s trust regarding security maintenance, with thorough enforcement of border controls with countries outside the region.

A huge number of refugees is expected to flow into Europe this year as well, so the support of the international community in that regard is essential. Japan should keep making contributions such as humanitarian assistance to Europe.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 3, 2016)


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