Beyond the Wall - Politics of Brexit and ISexit

THERE were two earth-shaking events that took place about the same time recently which have global significance – Brexit and ISexit.

The former, about Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) is more economic in nature and done on a democratic and voluntary basis while the latter is more political with the IS being blasted out of their illegally occupied "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq.

The EU was formed in 1993, nearly five decades after World War II, as a political and economic union of 28 member states (currently) and with a population of over 500 million people.

Not only is the total population of the EU similar to that of Asean, the key objectives of its formation – preventing wars and promoting peace, synergising economic development and adopting greater neutrality from the superpowers – are similar to those of Asean.

After two world wars which originated in Europe, the key member states felt it necessary to forge a new union to prevent and pre-empt further wars arising out of Europe due to the latent and strong nationalism there (reinforced by centuries of colonial conquests and imperialism).

Herein lies the main reason why 52% of the voters supported Brexit.

A major complaint of many white British, was their country being "swamped" by people from the new EU members of the poorer eastern European states (such as Poland and Hungary) who are providing professional services at more affordable prices and taking up jobs which the British were not keen on.

This has resulted in a backlash and resentment against these "foreigners" by the "proud" British people who also fear their culture being diluted by the new arrivals.

In some ways, the situation now is similar to the post-WWII period when many coloured immigrants from former colonies were asked to come to Britain to help rebuild the ravaged economy.

Since then, whenever there were any signs of economic recession, the immigrant community, as the most vulnerable section, were often the first to be singled out for blame by racist politicians and NGOs.

If you look at Brexit from the economic angle, it does not make any sense at all, in fact, it's suicidal.

But if you know the politics there, you would understand better. Britain has always been somehow a "reluctant" member of EU due to its right-wing nationalism and its close ties to its Anglo-Saxon big brother United States, while the rest of Europe may not feel the same way.

It is therefore, not surprising that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump welcomed Brexit so enthusiastically.

With Brexit, the future of Britain does not look bright at all in a competitive and hostile world. Hopefully, common sense would prevail soon for the British people to have a second referendum to re-join the EU for its greater good. God bless our old colonial master.

On the recent "IS exit", the terrorists have been defeated by pro-government forces of Iraq and Syria, with the help of aerial bombardments by Russia.

Much of the land previously under the control of the IS "caliphate" has now been taken back. But to sustain the victories over the IS, the legitimate concerns of the Sunni populations in Syria and Iraq must be addressed in a just manner.

Intelligence and security analysts have warned that IS would now focus on orchestrating more terror attacks in the West as a diversion of its own failures and defeat.

For Asia, there is also a greater emphasis on setting up an IS "caliphate" in the southern Philippines as conditions there, such as extreme poverty and lawlessness, may be ripe for the IS to exploit.

In organising more terror attacks, especially in the West, IS would be doing what their former ally but now arch enemy Al Qaeda has always been doing but in a more selective manner. IS and Al Qaeda share similar extremist ideology, their only difference is on their modus operandi.

Our police force has repeatedly been warning about the national security and terrorist threat of IS in Malaysia. There are many IS supporters and sympathisers here and our police must have been monitoring their every move before pouncing on them. But the support of the public in providing relevant information to the police is crucial in ensuring their success.

IS's biggest strategic mistake seems to be making more enemies than it needs to. It has angered powerful Muslim countries such as Turkey and Egypt and superpower Russia with its terror attacks on their territories and airlines.

So far, it has made an enemy of four (US, Russia, France and Britain) out of the five nuclear-powered permanent members of the UN Security Council. It's only a matter of time before IS offends China and the "whole world" would be targeting IS in a co-ordinated manner. If only there were some consensus by these five powers on how to deal with the Assad regime of Syria, the fate of IS over there could be easily sealed.

The IS strategy appears to provoke and welcome a massive counter attack by the big powers on the territories they control (using Muslim people there as cannon fodder) to generate mass sympathy and anger by Muslims, instigate uprisings by Muslims everywhere and to have more supporters and followers to join its cause.

The PISS (provoke, instigate, subjugate to cause maximum suffering) strategy by IS is an extremely negative and self-destructive one caused by its own flawed and dishonest ideology, which would eventually lead to its own demise. But the challenge to humanity is how to minimise the collateral damage to civilians before the decimation of IS.

For comparison, the PISS strategy is different from MAD (mutually assured destruction) which was the prevalent strategy deployed by the US and Soviet Union during the Cold War era (and even now) which the superpowers hold each other to account.

A destruction of one power will lead to the destruction of all and the end of the world as we know it. MAD is preventive whereas the PISS is intent on causing wars and conflicts and sacrificing the lives of innocent people. The IS would rather destroy the entire world if it cannot have its way to impose and spread its murderous ideology.

The civilised world needs to deal with the IS menace by using education and psychological warfare to counter their vile ideology. IS is responsible for heightening Islamophobia and it wants non-Muslims to fear and hate Muslims and vice versa. IS thrives on hate, fear and conflict and it despises peace, goodwill and economic progress.

The most important message is to expose how IS has hijacked a religion of peace, justice and compassion and used legitimate causes such as the plight of the Palestinians, to turn this good religion into a cult to serve its own evil agenda.

Perhaps, the only direct link between Brexit and ISexit is that as a result of the recent defeat of IS and its plans to have more terror activities in Britain and Europe, IS would welcome Brexit or any kind of disunity in Europe.

IS would hope that such a scenario would isolate Britain or weaken the co-ordination of the intelligence and security agencies in dealing with any terror attacks.

The writer, a think-tank analyst, was a former student leader in Britain and did a course on "militant Islam".

Comments: kktan@thesundaily.com