No. 8




Terrorism in a changing world

  • Rein Tammsaar

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Director of the Policy Planning Department's First Bureau, PhD candidate at the University of Tartu

Terrorism is not a one-generation probleem.

The global terrorist network can be expected to fragment into smaller partially autonomous cells. This network will be focusing, on a worldwide basis, upon soft targets associated with Western interests, and upon the destabilisation of the Islamic world with the aim of provoking a clash of civilizations. This process will be accompanied by an increase of suicide bombings, and a continuing hunt for powerful improvised asymmetric weapons and weapons of mass destruction. If anti-terrorist efforts are to be successful, it is essential to adjust long term measures for the prevention of terrorism and its financing with short-term military objectives. This will require an appropriate and thorough analysis of the many aspects and causes of terrorism, and based upon this, the formulation of a broad based international counter-terrorism strategy. Despite the many setbacks, which have taken place, decreasing the effects of terrorism as a phenomenon is possible. The problem will have to be approached not only from the narrow practical perspective of everyday politics, but on a broad and systematic methodological and analysis-based footing. This would help us find the missing answers to many important terrorism-related questions.

It will be extremely important to include all Islamic countries in these efforts, as well as to cooperate more closely with international (state and non-state) organizations uniting the Islamic world, and to promote intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding. It is no secret that primarily Islamic states are facing an ever increasing threat of internal destabilization and radicalization caused by terrorism.

More emphasis must be placed upon active diplomacy, negotiations, and economic and development cooperation in order to promote understanding, and to win solid-base support from the people for anti-terrorist programs. Finding a solution to the Middle East conflict would be just one significant step forward in the counter-terrorism campaign. And in addition to this, there are many other conflicts in the world, which require international aid and attention.

Actual global developments and security risks, which make it necessary to pay more attention to counter-terrorism efforts in Estonia, are taking place on two levels. Firstly, in connection with prevention, there is the reducing of the vulnerability of the state, the development of co-operation between various institutions, and the improving of crisis management mechanisms. Secondly, there should be more effective international interaction in the sphere of bilateral relations, as well as greater multilateral (regional) co-operation in the Council of Baltic Sea States, the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and the United Nations. At the same time, it is necessary to avoid a duplication of efforts. Estonia’s choices in the global war against terrorism are actually limited to two options: to be either a marginal bystander, or an active, responsible, and dependable ally for our partners. Marginalisation brings about a weakening process, which would make us a more attractive target in the eyes of the international terrorist network, and might, in the future, lead to scenarios that currently seem dystopian.

Full article in Estonian