There is much to write about and comment on this week, so much so that a single weekly blog will not do. Syria’s ongoing tragedy continues to dominate the news, with a reported chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria and a rapid and unexpected US response. These are indeed major events, and there is much talk about the impact on US-Russia relations while Syrians are dying, as they have done every day for nearly seven years. Syria will be covered in an extra blog.
On the 3rd April 14 people were killed and over fifty injured when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb on the St Petersburg metro. A second device did not explode and at the time of writing we do not know if there were more attackers, or what links there are to Al Nusra, who have claimed the attack. The method was different to that of attacks in other European cites but the outcome was the same: the murder and maiming of people going about their daily business, unity and bravery in responding to help the victims, and messages of solidarity from abroad. And as the bombing took place in a cosmopolitan city, the victims are not only Russian, but included people from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan also.
In London, a Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea died, a result of the events in London on the 22nd March. In the ending of one life we see the randomness of the actions of ‘lone attackers’ exposed. As with all the victims in London, St Petersburg, and Stockholm, Ms Cristea had her life taken because someone felt they had the right to take life in order to exact revenge in the name of a cause. She was an architect who was 31 years old. It should be said that none of the deaths and injuries from recent attacks were in any way less pointless, or for that matter less deserving of attention, rather that the perpetrators achieve nothing but take everything.
On the 7th April Stockholm suffered an attack by an individual using a lorry as a weapon, in what has been an ongoing trend, and this time four people were killed and a dozen people injured. The names of those affected are yet to be released, but the reaction was similar to that in London and St Petersburg: We will not change who we are, or what we are because of a single act.
In rare good news, the Basque Separatist group ETA has disarmed, having declared a permanent ceasefire in 2011. The group emerged in the days of the Franco regime and had continued its campaign for independence during and after the transition to democracy. They ultimately reasoned that more could be achieved through political participation than armed violence. We should not confuse ETA’s armed struggle with the actions of lone attackers, or for that matter the very different approaches and motivations of Al-Qaeda or ISIS, but should take heart that in the long run, terrorism does end, and while some groups are able to persist for decades, most do not.
Later this week, Syria, and we must ask the question: If World leaders are able to demonstrate solidarity when tragic events take place in their own countries, how is it that they are unable to do so with regard to Syria?
Dr Carl Turner,