Terror in Europe

Europe Pays For Betting On Erdogan And Gulf Petrodollars

The Brussels attacks are a reap-what-you-sow moment for Europe, after biding its time and coddling its dangerous allies for too long.

urkish PM Erdogan and French President Hollande in Ankara in 2014
urkish PM Erdogan and French President Hollande in Ankara in 2014
Hussein Kalout


The terrorist attacks in Brussels are a brutal replay of those in Paris, Baghdad, Beirut, Ankara, San Bernardino. The radicalization impelled by ISIS ideology, focused on the rejection of moderate Islam and the demonization of the Western world, continues to spread with determination.

The brutality and fatality of terrorist actions are reinforced by an objective rationality with a clear political goal. However, refusing to see the root of this evil will only reinforce it. The terrorism that's devastating European nations is the result of their own political inertia, and of the flawed strategies they've adopted.

Paris, London and Berlin, all under the influence of the Persian Gulf's financial magnet, and of Turkey's illusory promise to be a counterweight to Russia's presence in Syria, failed to understand Moscow's cunning strategy in Syria. The European policy's weakness was exposed in the cosmetic international coalition against ISIS, and later with the refugee crisis at its borders.

Turkish territory was turned into a free movement area for desperate refugees and terrorists on the run. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to capitalize on the situation, juggling with these two coefficients. Ankara's strategy consisted in increasing the pressure on Europe using these two levers, while presenting itself as the key to solving all the problems spawned by the Syrian conflict.

Turkey sought to coerce the European Union into supporting its diplomacy during the negotiations in Vienna and Geneva, with an eye on its gradual loss of control and operational capacity on Syria's northern border â€" especially regarding its policy of strangulation of Kurdish movements. Ankara then tried to profit from it by extorting economical and political advantages, bargaining in the meantime the EU's reconsideration of Turkey's potential entry in the Union.

Striking back

On the other hand, European powers have been accommodating in the face of the atrocities committed in Syria by their Arab friends from the Gulf. Their political decisions became mere commercial actions to inject new life into their armaments industry, leading them to block possible peaceful solutions because these would have been politically unfavorable to their clients.

The lack of a clear European strategy to talk to Russia after its military intervention in Syria, gambling on Turkey instead as a point of containment, is the political result of this disastrous scenario.

With a coherent strategy and coordinated efforts, dismantling ISIS" operational, logistical and economical infrastructure wouldn't be so hard. The most difficult part is to debilitate the web of indoctrination that has co-opted and radicalized teenagers who now, as adults, can act horizontally and independently.

The task facing the West is bigger than just destroying ISIS: They must annihilate an ideology and rescue an entire generation.

Betting on Erdogan and on the Gulf monarchies" petrodollars is proving to be a very risky gamble for Europe. Its long phase of inaction has only made ISIS stronger. As for the terrorist organization itself, now abandoned by its patrons and its patrons' allies, ISIS is in a retaliatory war against both.

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Feed The Future

COP26 Should Mark A Turning Point In Solving The Climate Crisis

Slow Food calls for an action plan to significantly reduce and improve the production and consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs by 2050.

A new dawn?

If, as the saying goes, we are what we eat, the same also goes for the animals that end up on our plate. How we feed our own food can have knock-on effects, not just for our own health but also for the planet. We are now aware of the meat and dairy industry's significant carbon footprint, responsible for more than a third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Large-scale cattle productions that favor pure profit over more sustainable practices also add to environmental woes through biodiversity loss, deforestation and pesticide use — with some of the world's richest countries contributing disproportionately: The five biggest meat and milk producers emit the same amount of greenhouse gases as the oil giant Exxon.

The good news is that we could meet — if we would — some of these challenges with an array of innovative solutions, as the fields of farming, breeding and nutrition look at ways to shift from centralized intensive agro industry toward a more localized, smaller-scale and more organic approach to production.

Cows fed corn and grain-based diets may grow larger and are ready to be processed at a younger age — but this requires significant energy, as well as land and water resources; in contrast, grass and hay-fed cows support a regenerative farming model in which grazing can contribute to restoring the health of soil through increased microbial diversity. Compared to highly processed GM crops, natural-grass diets with minimal cereals also lead to more nutrient-rich livestock, producing better quality meat, milk and cheese. Farmers have started focusing on breeding native animal species that are best adapted to local environmental contexts.

This new approach to agricultural practices is closely linked to the concept of agroecology, where farming works in tandem with the environment instead of exploiting it. If mowed a few times a year, for instance, natural meadows produce hay that is rich in grasses, legumes and flowers of the sunflower family, like daisies, dandelions, thistles and cornflowers. These biomes become reservoirs of biodiversity for our countryside, hosting countless species of vegetables, insects and birds, many of which are at risk of extinction. Until recently, these were common habitats in meadows that were not plugged or tilled and only required light fertilization. Today, however, they are becoming increasingly threatened: in the plains, where the terrain is used for monocultures like corn; or in hills and mountains, where fields are facing gradual abandonment.

It is worth noting that extensive agriculture, which requires smaller amounts of capital and labor in relation to the size of farmed land, can actually help curb climate change effects through carbon dioxide absorption. Researchers at the University of California, Davis determined that in their state, grasslands and rangelands have actually acted as more resilient carbon sinks than forests in recent years. Through a system of carbon uptake, these lands provide a form of natural compensation, going as far as canceling the farms' impact on the planet, rendering them carbon "creditors."

In the meantime, grasslands and pastures allow animals to live in accordance with their natural behavioral needs, spending most of the year outside being raised by bonafide farmers who care about animal welfare. A recent study by Nature found that allowing cows to graze out of doors has both psychological and physical health benefits, as they seem to enjoy the open space and ability to lie on the soft ground.

Some might worry about the economic losses that come with this slower and smaller business model, but there are also opportunities for creativity in diversifying activities, like agro-tourism and direct sales that can actually increase a farm's profit margin. This form of sustainable production goes hand-in-hand with the Slow Meat campaign, which encourages people to reduce their meat consumption while buying better quality, sustainable meat.

Others may assume that the only environmentally-conscious diet is entirely plant-based. That is indeed a valuable and viable option, but there are also thoughtful ways to consume meat in moderation — and more sustainably. It also should be noted that many fruits and vegetables have surprisingly large carbon footprints: The industrial-scale cultivation of avocados, for example, requires massive amounts of water and causes great hardship to farming communities in Latin America.

But forging a broad shift toward more "biodiversity-friendly" pastoralism requires action by both those producing and eating meat, and those with the legislative power to enact industry-wide change. It is urgent that policies be put into place to support a return to long-established agricultural practices that can sustainably feed future generations. Although no country in the world today has a defined strategy to decrease consumption while transforming production, governments are bound to play a key role in the green transition, present and future.

In Europe, Slow Food recommends that the Fit for 55 package include reducing emissions from agriculture activities by 65% (based on 2005 levels) by 2050. Agriculture-related land use emissions should also reach net-zero by 2040 and become a sink of -150 Mt CO2eq by 2050. But these targets can only be met if the EU farming sector adopts agroecological practices at a regional scale, and if consumers shift to more sustainable diets. If we are indeed what we eat, we should also care deeply about how the choices we make impact the planet that feeds us.

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