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Blasts in London: only Britain's problem?


MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Yuri Filippov.) -- Next year, when Russia will be presiding over the next summit of the world's leading powers, it will have substantial reasons to focus the discussion not only on energy issues as planned, but also on struggle against international terrorism.

The series of terrorist attacks in London on the day of the G8 summit's opening demonstrated clearly that neither the efficient fight against poverty, nor the global climate change, nor any other problems that worry humankind could be even discussed safely, while issues of security and counteracting international terrorism are not resolved. If the world leaders continue to confine themselves to ritual declarations about the need to fight terrorism, without working out a coordinated plan of action and controlling its implementation, the Group of Eight will very soon turn into a Group of Nine. And the ninth invisible member of the discussions will not be a new world power like China, India or Brazil, but international terrorism, which dictates its own agenda and tries to disrupt all good initiatives of the modern world leaders.

After the events in London it is very relevant to ask: why has a coordinated international anti-terrorist system not been set up yet? It is perfectly clear that such a system does not exist, and that the international community has not worked out a common policy of struggle against terrorism, despite numerous declarations at the very top level and even the visibly improved cooperation between the special services of different countries, which have established exchange of information on potential terrorists and terrorist organizations.

Perhaps, the main reason for this failure is that so far any terrorist attack has been subconsciously seen by the victim country and all others as a strictly internal problem. In such circumstances an inevitable response to attacks is unilateral retaliatory steps taken at the national level, which are not always understood or supported by the international community or its individual members.

The September 11, 2001 attacks shocked the world and scared the United States, pushing it towards a tough unilateral response - intervention in Afghanistan and later in Iraq. In turn, American occupation of Iraq earned a most powerful opposition in Europe, but, as time has shown, neither the intervention nor its criticism have brought the world any closer to the victory over international terrorism.

The attacks in Madrid last March brought about an opposite result: Spain withdrew its troops from Iraq, which naturally displeased the United States and Britain. Perhaps, the Spanish government has managed to protect its national territory from large-scale terrorist attacks for some time, but it has in no way brought closer the solution of the problem: terrorist activities have just been shifted to other targets.

Russia, which in last August-September witnessed the biggest terrorist assault in the years of war against terror (the Beslan tragedy killed 330 people, half of them children), has chosen its own national response to the terrorist threat: it has been actively strengthening the state. Strangely, even this perfectly natural reaction has been criticized by some members of the anti-terrorist coalition. U.S. Congressmen McCain and Lantos said that Russia was restoring authoritarian rule and so should be excluded from G8. A more absurd proposal is hard to think of, but it proves the trend that has recently been witnessed everywhere: a terrorist attack on a country causes its unilateral response, which is then sharply lashed out by its formal allies in the anti-terrorist coalition. The sad outcome is the increasing disunity and perplexity of terrorists' victims and the increasing coordination and organization of international terrorism.

By the way, London has been especially successful in criticizing Russia's fight against local and international terrorism entrenched in Chechnya and the North Caucasus. This is not directly related to Tony Blair and his Cabinet, who are good at political correctness. But it is London that until present has been the main European center of radical Islam and it is there that Russian citizen Akhmed Zakayev found a political asylum when the British authorities refused to extradite him despite the produced evidence of his involvement in terrorist activities in Russia. As to everyday sarcastic comments on Russia's fight against terrorism, it is hard to find a British publication that does not offer its mite.

Perhaps, after the July 7 tragedy, the British will look at the problem in a different way. Anyway, Vladimir Putin's words about double standards in assessing international terrorism, voiced in Gleneagles soon after the London attacks, should not hang in mid air.

Russia has every reason, as well as the moral right, to make anti-terrorist struggle a focus of the G8 discussion next year. Of course, terrorism will not be the only topic on the agenda, but Russia's stand is that global disunity in efforts against this evil leads to suicidal results and should be overcome once and for all.

By the way, we do not have to wait for another year to do so.

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