Gaza and Barcelona: Same Attacks, Different Reactions

By Leandro Albani on August 18, 2017

On Thursday morning, a suicide attack shook the Gaza strip, that fragile portion of land that still belongs to Palestinians. A man trying to cross the border towards Egypt detonated a bomb on his body in a border crossing, ending his life and killing a Palestinian security agent of the Hamas Islamic Resistance Movement, which governs the Gaza strip since 2007. The attack also injured five. According to media, the suicide bomber could be linked to ISIS.

Until Thursday afternoon, when another attack took place in the city of Barcelona, Catalunya, no international news outlet nor any of the political personalities of the world had said anything about the terror in Gaza. What’s more, nobody seems to be moved by the humanitarian disaster in the Strip. Imagine suddenly, people in Barcelona were isolated by a wall and military forces, all commerce blocked so there is not even medicine in the hospitals, electricity only works for a few hours a day, 60% are unemployed, and every day people wake up hoping there’s not another bombing from the sky. This is what Palestinians suffer under Israeli occupation. As Noam Chomsky once said, this is the largest open-sky prison in the world.

The attacks committed on European land are, in many cases, a consequence of what Europe has generated in the Middle East: death, hunger, displacement, poverty, political instability. The destructive role of the European union in the current war on Syria is an open secret: they supported hundreds of people travelling to that country to join the ranks of irregular armed groups, including ISIS, they financed and armed mercenaries who they still hypocritically call the “moderate opposition” to Bashar al-Assad’s government; European intelligence services were hugely flexible when allowing their own citizens to travel to Syria to combat the Syrian army. And these people, many of them young people (some Muslim, some not), began to travel back to their countries of origin, in Europe. Unemployment in the old continent, lack of hope in life and of expectations regarding the future, poverty and the resurgence of the right-wing in European societies are a breeding ground for attacks like the recent one in Barcelona. To this we must add the fact that Daesh has been almost defeated in Syria and Iraq. And, like ISIS itself has stated, now their battleground is the world, and Europe is the main target.

The reasons behind the latest attacks in Europe must be found in the history of the interference that governments of that continent have in the Middle East. The invasion by the US and its allies on Iraq in 2003, justified by the non-existent weapons of mass destruction allegedly owned Saddam Hussein’s government, were perhaps the critical point from which dozens of terrorist groups were born. The entire structure of the state was annihilated, thousands of people were killed, sectarian differences were deepened, the US left Iraq fragmented and plundered. In this scorched earth policy, terrorist groups were, for a long while, the only option for hundreds of civilians who day after day endured the repression of the US troops and their allies—Great Britain and Spain being the most active ones.

Both Daesh and Al Qaeda have a clear origin: Saudi Arabia. Since the 1970s, the monarchy of the Al Saud family has been financing irregular groups that, over the last few years, flourished in Syria and Iraq. They were formed in a reactionary ideology—wahhabism—,millions of dollars have been handed out to them, and they have permission to move freely across borders and play on their media impact. They will continue to be in good health if the diffuse “international community” doesn’t deal with the root of this problem. And the root goes deep into the Saudi territory.

24 hours after the attacks I think about Gaza, about the people who live in the Strip, about the children of Palestine who are locked into Israeli prison, and about the silence of politicians, journalists and analysts who say much without really saying anything.

The innocent lives lost in Barcelona are a tragedy. But we can’t go on thinking that attacks on Europe are isolated events, committed by unstable people and have no relation to the decisions made by the states who are suffering these attacks. Terrorism is a daily event in Syria and Iraq, but few are moved by the deaths in those countries.

The veracity of the US and the European powers, who are punishing the peoples in the Middle East for decades, causes despair, corners many people and leads them to hold on to the whatever is left to give them hope, even if this hope is represented by armed groups who profess a conservative and backwards ideology—which is criticized by most of the worldwide Islamic community. These groups, of which ISIS is the most radical and cruel, are the same ones that the US armed and supported to combat the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. And they are the same ones that Saudi Arabia—Washington’s number one ally in the Middle East—economically supports every day. To cut this flow of money and support is fundamental to stop terrorist attacks like the ones on Gaza or Barcelona.

Source: Resumen Medio Oriente