The key to terror

As the world continued to absorb and react to the terror attacks in Paris over the weekend, the G20 summit at Antalya in southern Turkey released a statement on global terrorism. This is the first time this grouping of the world's richest and most powerful countries has engaged with issues other than the economy and trade with such urgency since these meetings began in 2008. The statement was unexceptional in its robust declaration condemning "all acts, methods and practices of terrorism," and, among other things, pledging to put up a joint front against global terrorism. Significantly however, it made a point of seeking to delink terrorism from any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group - an approach that imposes some sanity against some attempts to encompass all refugees and Muslims within the ambit of the acts of a few criminals.

However, the problem is that one key issue continues to be ignored: the need to address state support of global terrorism. This support can come in terms of direct sponsorship or through indirect methods. A shining example is, ironically, the host country of this G20 meeting. Turkish President Recep Erdogan has been playing a dangerous double game; he has supported the US-led bombing raids on ISIS strongholds while, at the same time, essentially underwriting the terror group's operations by buying oil from it and providing a conduit for jihadi fighters and weaponry. The country has already paid the price, with the deaths of over 100 people from a bomb attack in Ankara in October. Saudi Arabia plays a similar game, if somewhat more overtly, by financing anti-Shia groupings in Iraq, Syria and Yemen as part of its proxy struggle against Iran for hegemony of West Asia.

Direct support, no matter how ambiguously extended, is one dimension of the problem. The other was prudently raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who chose to remind the summit of the growing incidence of terrorist attacks on India by Pakistan, the state that is propped up by the United States and increasingly by China, both G20 members. There has been no shortage of evidence of links between Pakistan's military and intelligence establishment and terrorist groups. Yet such is the nature of the race between the extant superpower and the emerging one that both are unwilling to withdraw or restructure their generous military aid, which as it stands only stokes the institutions of terrorism. "Old structures of terrorism remain. There are countries that still use it as an instrument of state policy," Mr Modi said in a forthright message that also, sensibly, talked of the need to involve religious leaders, thinkers and opinion makers in a social movement against terrorism. The communique also spoke of enhancing cooperation to tackle terror financing - but Russian President Vladimir Putin, by no means a disinterested player in the region, presented examples of business leaders he said were funding ISIS from 40 countries, some of them G20 members. These are issues that need practical solutions; before it comes up with another virtuous statement on the subject, the G20 would do well to do some hard introspection first.

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