Paris is under attack again. The heinous carnage perpetuated by militants with alleged links to the Islamic State sent shock waves around the globe. France will most likely plan a response once the dust settles and damages are taken care of. That response should be a concerted effort by the Europeans and not a haphazard strike on militants by France alone. It will lead to nowhere. President Francois Hollande is already cognizant of the environment that led to the attacks. It's his European counterparts who prefer to stay indifferent. The terror attacks manifest the failure of the European community in tackling the root cause of the problem: Syria.
One should not be surprised if there is jubilation in Russia over the attacks, as there would be in IS holdouts, in Damascus and in Iran. Russia is targeting everyone (mostly civilians) in its strikes on Syria but the IS. Bashar al-Assad is the main culprit to begin with. IS is an outcome of the reign of terror unleashed by his regime. He also propped up the extremists by letting them escape prisons and setup strongholds. The regime kept killing its own civilians as IS sprouted in the hinterland, ready to unleash its wave of atrocities. Iran and Hezbollah were and still are part of the killing machines of Assad, sending millions of civilians to seek shelter in neighboring states, and, increasingly, in Europe.
The European community is thus facing a double jeopardy. It has to address the challenge of millions of refugees knocking at its doors. It also has to bear the brunt of the fallout from the Syrian civil war. United States, another party to the conflict, is thousands of miles away and thus immune from the consequences. It's not even taking in the refugees, except for a few thousand. U.S. should take the blame for its four-and-a-half years of foot-dragging on Syria. It's still intent on fighting the IS alone, conveniently ignoring the fact that it will not solve the problem.
Europe is under attack. Europe is facing the tsunami of refugees. Europe is being undermined by Russia on its eastern flank, and in Syria and other parts of the Middle East. Thus Europe has to come up with a plan to take the bull by the horns. IS cannot be defeated if the Assad regime is allowed to stay. The Assad regime won't budge unless its backers are not taken to task. Europe needs to talk to Russia and talk tough this time. It needs to get tough with Iran and Hezbollah. Europe also needs to work with Turkey and other willing states to address the Syrian problem.
Response to the Paris attacks will reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the European Union. It will also show whether U.S. is eager to help its NATO ally. Zealots like presidential hopeful Ted Cruz are all for indiscriminate aerial strikes on Syria. Others may voice similar opinions. The Obama administration, too, has followed that strategy with no real damage done to the IS. Other groups may emerge if IS somehow gets weakened by the strikes.
The Assad regime has to be dismantled to give peace a chance. President Hollande better understands the ground realities than his American counterparts. He has received moral support and condemnation of attacks from around the world. Let's see if he could get tangible support to tackle the beast. Europe should stand behind him. It's a fight against a common enemy. It's time to get your act together, Europe. Stem the tide of the refugees and terror. Go for the jugular!