By Liu Zhongmin
Unidentified gunmen attacked two villages in western Niger, killing about 100 people on January 2. This incident brought international terrorism, which remains relatively silent under the pandemic, to the attention of the international community. In fact, the global counter-terrorism sees undercurrents lurking and even situation rebounding under cover of the pandemic in some regions. The utilitarian and passive anti-terrorism policies of the US and other countries have also made the international counter-terrorism situation more complicated.
No large-scale terrorist attack occurred in 2020 due to the pandemic. All countries are turning their human, material, and financial resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced their anti-terrorism investment. Terrorist organizations, especially the Islamic State, are able to rebuild in secret. Affected by factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidential election, and the strategic contraction in the Middle East, US counter-terrorism policies have become increasingly negative and utilitarian, which also contributed to the development of terrorism.
At the same time, the inherent conflicts in Syria, Libya, and Yemen have been dragging on for a long time. New hot issues such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan have emerged one after another. This also provided conditions for the development of terrorism, especially the cross-border movement of "jihadists". Moreover, the economic and social crisis, especially the crisis of people's livelihood caused by the pandemic, is more conducive to recruiting terrorist organizations in the long run. Affected by this, the recovery and reconstruction of the terrorist forces and even the momentum of the rebound of terrorist attacks in the Middle East and South Asia cannot be underestimated.
In addition, the vicious interaction between European right-wing forces and radical Islamic forces has also continued to deepen the chronic diseases of terrorism and extremism in Europe.
The adverse effects brought about by the increasingly negative and utilitarian counter-terrorism policies of the US also require in-depth study and judgment.
First, the US continues to withdraw its troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Although it maintains a flexible policy of increasing and decreasing in different periods, the general trend is contracting. The current deterioration of the counter-terrorism situation in Iraq is closely related to this reason.
Second, US policy of helping and fighting against the Taliban forces in Afghanistan contributes to instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Even the possibilities of internal divisions within the Taliban and the reorganization of extremist forces in South Asia cannot be ruled out.
Third, the US’s assassination of the general of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, its unbridled favoritism towards Israel on the Palestinian issue, and the advancing of the reconciliation between Arab countries and Israel regardless of the rights of Palestine are all negative approaches which can stimulate terrorism.
Fourth, the US links China's counter-terrorism and de-radicalization policies with human rights issues, slanders and accuses China, and uses the stigmatizing link as a tool for the strategic competition with China.
(The author is a professor of the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University)