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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Security Challenges We Face in a Troubled World

In humanity’s millennia old history, issues of safety and security have always been primary concerns for human societies, leading communities to develop technologies, strategies and laws to ensure their survival and well being. In today’s modern world, the demand for safety and security still exists while the integrated design of modern life has given birth to the concept of home security. As households become more isolated from their neighborhoods and individuals lead more privatized lives, security measures are also subjected to significant change to be able to infiltrate into such private spheres. Security, the general definition of technology, laws and principles providing safety for human beings, is undergoing a transitional phase within which individuals and societies are expected to maximize their benefits through intelligent strategies. This way, the current global society which operates on premises of integration, cooperation and mutual gains may continue its existence by utilizing new measures of security, both on a personal and communal level, and a new era of global development might begin.

The United States encountered one of the most severe terrorist attacks in contemporary history with 9/11, while the incident raised significant concerns over the existence and activities of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden’s affiliation with the group initiated a US-led military operation in the country, resulting in the death of the terrorist leader as well as the total destruction of the country’s infrastructure. Taliban continues its existence in Afghanistan but recently the group’s representatives attended a meeting with the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) in Qatar, negotiating on terms and conditions to allow ICRC re-initiate its operations in Afghanistan. The situation of prisoners held in Afghani jails is of serious concern or ICRC officials as they wish to restart their medical programs in the country and help prisoners in poor health conditions. In August, following a hunger strike in Kabul’s Pul-e Chakri prison, the Taliban leadership withdrew its security cover for the organization’s workers in Afghanistan, accusing ICRC of cutting down on crucial medical supplies on purpose. The organization was forced to suspend all of its programs in the country, while seven ICRC workers were killed by the Taliban as retaliation. The Taliban also co-operates with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan for territorial control and as part of the agreement, the Mujahideen fighters will also allow access for ICRC staff in the lands they control. The ICRC is still maintaining its firm stance regarding its services, pointing out that the organization’s medical staff treats all parties of any given conflict, believing that Taliban’s previous unjust decision has been rightfully reverted.     

Assassinations have become an ordinary part of global politics and regardless of their implications they have on national security, they are still frequently used by numerous states and governments. The recent killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Turkish consulate has raised significant concerns in the international political community as the Turkish authorities have denied involvement in the assassination. All roads lead to Rome and in this case all the evidence points towards the Saudi Royal family as the sponsor of the assassination, as Khashoggi’s persona constituted a threat to Saudi national interests. Although Rhiyad denied any sort of involvement in the assassination, several investors have already pulled out of business deals with the Saudis following the incident. The American president Donald Trump on the other hand is against an official economic sanction, citing that the Saudis are buying military equipment worth more than $110 billion from the States annually and such a move would hinder economic growth in America. He also stated that the incident took place in Turkey, a foreign country, and the murdered individual was not an American citizen and therefore the United States has no obligation to retaliate against the Saudis. Following the controversy, certain political figures have also voiced their concerns over American-backed Saudi aggression in Yemen where the Saudi military has been accused of committing war crimes such as attacking school buses. The point they make is simple: if the Saudis are investing into the deaths of thousands in Yemen, what stops them from assassinating a person in Istanbul? Speculations continue to circulate and it has become obvious once again that in today’s world, no one is really safe as long as they pose a threat to a powerful family or organization. 

Terrorism, the new age social plague, has been tormenting authorities in the developed world and creating chaos among developed societies. The recent Manchester Arena bombing that killed 22 people and seriously injured 119 more gave Max Hill QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism in the UK, the chance to evaluate “the impact of large-scale operations on communities”. Following the attack, he discovered a 35-year old woman who was wrongfully arrested following the bombing and released with compensation. The police raided her home, which was situated in close proximity to an area of investigative concerns, and admitted to her being exposed to ‘collateral damage’ as ‘Subject G’, her nickname given by the police force, was simply “in the wrong place, at the wrong time”. The attack was carried out by Salman Abedi, a 23 year old male, who walked into an Ariana Grande concert and set off the explosives he implanted on himself. The Joint Terrorism Analysis Center increased the national security threat level to ‘critical’ following the attack and ‘Operation Manteline’ was initiated, resulting in the arrests of 23 suspects. Although the operation was considered to be a success story by the department, Hill voiced his opinions regarding cooperation with ethnic and religious minorities in the war against terror to emphasize the importance of social cohesion and trust. In a similar recent event, namely the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks that took place on the 3rd of June, 2017, three terrorists were shot to death by the police while during the pursuing investigation, 11 family members were also arrested on supposed yet unproven involvement in the attacks. 

Max Hill QC is not alone in his pursuit to increase awareness to human rights violations by the British government as recently, a powerful parliamentary committee also voiced its concerns regarding possible ramifications of the new counter-terrorism bill that was recently passed and legislated in the UK. The main points of concern are that the bill makes it possible for counter-terrorism units to restrict free speech and obstruct access to crucial information as part of the new political agenda. The bill also enables border guards to be able to search individuals without any warrant or suspicion while also criminalizing individuals travelling to areas of the world that have previously been linked to terrorism as well as individuals who access terrorism-linked information online. The Home Office is confident in its new legal capabilities, officially defending the idea that the bill is “closing gaps in existing counter-terrorism legislation” to target radical groups before they achieve their terrorist goals. The committee has proposed a new revision for the bill to the British parliament within which clauses related to free speech in support of a banned organization, accessing terrorist materials over the internet and visiting ‘terrorist hotspots’ are expected to be changed or deleted. The advocates of such revision believe that the UK government’s deviation from universal human rights is an unjustifiable strategy, destined to create significant socio-political turmoil in the years to come. The current version of the bill also targets journalists, academics and activists for their supposed involvement in promoting and supporting terrorism on British soil, showing how deeply rooted the status quo’s fear of its own citizens and social values has become.  

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