We must do more: Cameron and Hollande

Ahmed Abbas
6 Min Read

Britain and France agreed to step up their collaboration and efforts in counter-terrorism and information sharing.

In a press conference between French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron, the latter said the world is “coming together” to tackle the threat posed by “Islamic State” (IS).

“It is clear that the world is coming together to tackle this terrorist threat. That was clear on Friday night when, almost one week after the brutal terrorists murdered people here in Paris and sought to divide us, the world united in New York,” Cameron said.

Cameron said it is his “firm conviction” that Britain should be bombing IS in Syria. “The UK will do all in our power to support our friend and ally France to defeat them,” he said.

Cameron said Europe must do more to tackle the threat of returning foreign fighters. “We need a stronger external EU border to protect our security more effectively with screening, systematic security checks, and greater sharing of data amongst member states,” he said.

Hollande pledged to “intensify airstrikes” in Syria and urged the EU to swiftly enact measures agreed last Friday, including passenger name records.

Both agreed that the tentative political discussions that started in Vienna over the future of Syria must continue.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, Belgian police arrested 16 people in anti-terror raids. However, suspected Paris attack gunman Salah Abdesalam remains at large, the authorities said. Some 22 raids were carried out Sunday across Brussels and Charleroi, the federal prosecutor’s spokesman said.

Schools and metro stations remain closed Monday as the Belgian capital is still on the highest level of terror alert.

“The capital is lockdown: the metro is closed, most of the tram lines are off, schools and universities are closed, many shops, cafes, and restaurants are shut down, the streets are mostly deserted, tourists are really a few,” Alessandro Di Maio, a journalist and political analyst based in Brussels, describing the situation.

Di Maio told Daily News Egypt that local authorities in Brussels told the population to avoid crowded areas and to leave the house only if necessary.

The real reason why Jihadists are targeting Europe, he said, is because they are trying to deteriorate relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. This would radicalise Muslim communities in Europe and worldwide and obtain more recruiters. “ What jihadist movements want is a clash of civilisation and by attacking the heart of Europe they are follow through with this strategy,” he said.

Hollande will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin this week to discuss the war against terrorism. The French government said it wants to tighten rules on the use of prepaid bank cards as part of a crackdown on extremist financing, as reported by AP.

French Minister of Finance Michel Sapin said the aim is to restrict the ability of extremists to use such cards for anonymous money transfers. He said on Monday that those who carried out the attacks in Paris used prepaid cards. He outlined a proposal to expand the authorities’ power to freeze the assets of suspects to include real estate and vehicles.

Putin visited Iran to participate in the Gas Exporting Countries Forum. Both sided are expected to discuss regional issues including the Syrian crisis.

According to Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, considerable attention will be paid to urgent international issues, such as settling the Syrian conflict, implementation of the joint comprehensive action plan on the Iranian nuclear programme, and fighting terrorism, as reported by Russian agency TASS.

The world powers agreed to start a political process in Syria and to fight IS, but have so far disagreed on the fate of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. While the US and its allies believe Al-Assad cannot be a part of any peace process, Russia said the Syrian people should choose who can rule their country.

Di Maio believes the current situation pushed Europe to consider Al-Assad as an option for stability. “Al-Assad is a dictator who directly and indirectly caused the death of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, but considering the current situation on the ground in Syria, Western countries started to consider him as the only option for stability,” he said.

“It is well known that airstrikes against IS are important, but not enough to destroy them,” Di Maio said, positing that soldiers on the ground are necessary. “Americans and Europeans will not do that, Kurdish forces will not do that in non-Kurdish populated areas, the Free Syrian Army is too weak and unreliable . The only option remaining is Al-Assad’s infantry.”

Di Maio believes US, European, Russian, and Iranian leaders will probably meet to find an agreement that will keep  Al-Assad in power at least temporarily to fight IS.

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Ahmed Abbas is a journalist at DNE’s politics section. He previously worked as Egypt based reporter for Correspondents.org, and interned as a broadcast journalist at Deutsche Welle TV in Berlin. Abbas is a fellow of Salzburg Academy of Media and Global Change. He holds a Master’s Degree of Journalism and New Media from Jordan Media Institute. He was awarded by the ICFJ for best public service reporting in 2013, and by the German foreign office for best feature in 2014.
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