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PRECISION IN THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR:

Šerifa zuhur

Seven years after the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks, many experts believe al-Qa’ida has regained strength and that its copycats or affiliates are more lethal than before. The National Intelligence Estimate of 2007 asserted that al-Qa’ida is more dangerous now than before 9/11.1 Al-Qa’ida’s emulators continue to threaten Western, Middle Eastern, and European nations, as in the plot foiled in September 2007 in Germany. Bruce Riedel states: Thanks largely to Washington’s eagerness to go into Iraq rather than hunting down al Qaeda’s leaders, the organization now has a solid base of operations in the badlands of Pakistan and an effective franchise in western Iraq. Its reach has spread throughout the Muslim world and in Europe . . . Osama bin Laden has mounted a successful propaganda campaign. . . . His ideas now attract more followers than ever.
It is true that various salafi-jihadist organizations are still emerging throughout the Islamic world. Why have heavily resourced responses to the Islamist terrorism that we are calling global jihad not proven extremely effective?
Moving to the tools of “soft power,” what about the efficacy of Western efforts to bolster Muslims in the Global War on Terror (GWOT)? Why has the United States won so few “hearts and minds” in the broader Islamic world? Why do American strategic messages on this issue play so badly in the region? Why, despite broad Muslim disapproval of extremism as shown in surveys and official utterances by key Muslim leaders, has support for bin Ladin actually increased in Jordan and in Pakistan?
This monograph will not revisit the origins of Islamist violence. It is instead concerned with a type of conceptual failure that wrongly constructs the GWOT and which discourages Muslims from supporting it. They are unable to identify with the proposed transformative countermeasures because they discern some of their core beliefs and institutions as targets in
this endeavor.
Several deeply problematic trends confound the American conceptualizations of the GWOT and the strategic messages crafted to fight that War. These evolve from (1) post-colonial political approaches to Muslims and Muslim majority nations that vary greatly and therefore produce conflicting and confusing impressions and effects; and (2) residual generalized ignorance of and prejudice toward Islam and subregional cultures. Add to this American anger, fear, and anxiety about the deadly events of 9/11, and certain elements that, despite the urgings of cooler heads, hold Muslims and their religion accountable for the misdeeds of their coreligionists, or who find it useful to do so for political reasons.

Islam and Democracy

ITAC

If one reads the press or listens to commentators on international affairs, it is often said – and even more often implied but not said – that Islam is not compatible with democracy. In the nineties, Samuel Huntington set off an intellectual firestorm when he published The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, in which he presents his forecasts for the world – writ large. In the political realm, he notes that while Turkey and Pakistan might have some small claim to “democratic legitimacy” all other “… Muslim countries were overwhelmingly non-democratic: monarchies, one-party systems, military regimes, personal dictatorships or some combination of these, usually resting on a limited family, clan, or tribal base”. The premise on which his argument is founded is that they are not only ‘not like us’, they are actually opposed to our essential democratic values. He believes, as do others, that while the idea of Western democratization is being resisted in other parts of the world, the confrontation is most notable in those regions where Islam is the dominant faith.
The argument has also been made from the other side as well. An Iranian religious scholar, reflecting on an early twentieth-century constitutional crisis in his country, declared that Islam and democracy are not compatible because people are not equal and a legislative body is unnecessary because of the inclusive nature of Islamic religious law. A similar position was taken more recently by Ali Belhadj, an Algerian high school teacher, preacher and (in this context) leader of the FIS, when he declared “democracy was not an Islamic concept”. Perhaps the most dramatic statement to this effect was that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of the Sunni insurgents in Iraq who, when faced with the prospect of an election, denounced democracy as “an evil principle”.
But according to some Muslim scholars, democracy remains an important ideal in Islam, with the caveat that it is always subject to the religious law. The emphasis on the paramount place of the shari’a is an element of almost every Islamic comment on governance, moderate or extremist. Only if the ruler, who receives his authority from God, limits his actions to the “supervision of the administration of the shari’a” is he to be obeyed. If he does other than this, he is a non-believer and committed Muslims are to rebel against him. Herein lies the justification for much of the violence that has plagued the Muslim world in such struggles as that prevailing in Algeria during the 90s

The Muslim Brotherhood’s U.S. Network

Zeyno Baran


Washington D.C. has suddenly become very interested in the Muslim Brotherhood. American policymakers are debating whether to engage non-violent elements of the Muslim Brotherhood network, both inside and outside the United States, in the hope that such engagement will empower these “moderates” against violent Wahhabi and Salafi groups such as al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, this strategy is based on a false assumption: that “moderate” Islamist groups will confront and weaken their violent co-religionists, robbing them of their support base.
This lesser-of-two-evils strategy is reminiscent of the rationale behind the Cold War-era decision to support the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet army. In the short term, the U.S. alliance with the mujahideen did indeed aid America in its struggle against the Soviet Union. In the long term, however, NAS. support led to the empowerment of a dangerous and potent adversary. In choosing its allies, the U.S. cannot afford to elevate short-term tactical considerations above longer-term strategic ones. Most importantly, the U.S. must consider the ideology of any potential partners.
Although various Islamist groups do quarrel over tactics and often bear considerable animosity towards one another, they all agree on the endgame: a world dictated by political Islam. A “divide and conquer” strategy by the United States will only push them closer together.

Commentary: Hollow ring for democracy

ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE

WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) — The White House’s crusade for democracy, as President Bush sees it, has produceda critical mass of events taking that (Middle Eastern) region in a hopeful new direction.And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just toured the area, making clear at every stop whenever the United States has a choice between stability and democracy, the new ideological remedy would sacrifice stability.

Veteran Mideast hands who have dealt with five regional wars and two intifadas over the past half century shuddered. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger first among them.

For the U.S. to crusade in every part of the world to spread democracy may be beyond our capacity,” he says. The U.S. system, he explains, “is the product of unique historical experiences, difficult to duplicate or to transplant into Muslim societies where secular democracy has seldom thrived.If ever.

If stability had been sacrificed for democracy, the former national security adviser and secretary of State to Presidents Nixon and Ford could not have negotiated major Arab-Israeli disengagement agreements: Sinai I, Golan and Sinai II. Without the undemocratic, benign dictatorial figure of Anwar Sadat at the helm in Egypt, or without the late Syrian dictator and master terror-broker Hafez Assad, yet another page of war history would have been written.

With a democratic parliament in Egypt in 1974, presumably dominated by the popular Muslim Brotherhood, Sadat could not have made his spectacular, death-defying trip to Jerusalemand suddenly become the most popular leader in Israel. A peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and between Jordan and Israel were possible only because absolute rulersSadat and the late King Hussein, led both Arab countries.

Sadat knew his courageous act of statesmanship was tantamount to signing his own death warrant. It was carried out in 1981 — by Islamist extremistson worldwide television.

Rice proudly proclaims it is no longer a war against terrorism but a struggle for democracy. She is proud the Bush administration no longer pursues stability at the expense of democracy. But already the democracy crusade is not only encountering speed bumps, but also roadblocks on a road to nowhere.

The much-vaunted Palestinian elections scheduled for July have been postponed indefinitely.

In Lebanon, the ballot box has already been nullified by political machinations. Gen. Michael Aoun, a bright but aging prospect who came back from French exile to take on Syria’s underground machine, has already joined forces with Damascus. While denying any deal with Syria, the general’s henchmen concede he was compensated munificently for his retirement years in Paris from his post as army chief of staff and his time as premier. Aoun collected $22 million, which included compound interest.

In Egypt, Rice, presumably attempting to confer respectability on President Hosni Mubarak’s challengers, took time out to receive a known political charlatan who has over the years been exposed as someone who forged election results as he climbed the ladder of a number of political parties under a variety of labels.

Even Mubarak’s enemies concede Ayman Nour fabricated and forged the signatures of as many as 1,187 citizens to conform to regulations to legalize his Ghad (Tomorrow) party. His career is dotted with phony academic credentials, plagiarism, a staged assassination attempt on himself, charges of embezzlement by his Saudi media employer, and scads of document forgeries.

Rice had canceled a previous trip to Egypt to protest the indictment and jailing of Nour pending trial. And before Rice’s most recent accolade, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had also gone out of her way to praise Egypt’s master political con man. Makes you wonder what kind of political reporting is coming out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

With this double-headed endorsement by the United States, Nour is losing what little favor he still has in Egypt. He is now seen as a U.S. stooge, to add to a long list of failings.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed but tolerated since it renounced terrorism, is more representative of Egyptian opinion than Nour. There is also the Kifaya (Enough) movement that groups Egypt’s leading intellectuals. But they declined to meet with Rice.

The United States is seen throughout the Arab world as synonymous with Israel. This automatically limits the Bush administration’s ability to win friends and influence people. Those making the most out of U.S. pressure to democratize are organizations listed by the United States asterrorist.Both Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon are now mining opportunities both above and underground. Islamic legislators in Jordan petitioned King Abdullah to allow Jordanian Hamas leaders, evicted six years ago, to come home. The king listened impassively.

It took Europe 500 years to reach the degree of political maturity witnessed by the recent collapse of the European Union’s plans for a common constitution. Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. But Churchill also said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.This still applies in the souks of the Arab world, from Marrakech to Muscat.

TERORRIST DIASPORAS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND SOUTH ASIA

Shannon Peterson

David Goetze


Ever since the Bush administration’s declaration of a global war on terror after 9/11,academics and policymakers have sought ways to counter the global terrorist threat. However asJeffrey Record (2003) has noted, treating terrorism monolithically and failing to discriminatebetween terrorist groups and other actors reduces the ability to produce effectivecounterterrorism strategies. Moreover, it can set actors “on a course of open-ended andgratuitous conflict with states and nonstate entities that pose no serious threat.” If terrorism andterrorist groups are not homogenous entities, then understanding the differences and similaritiesbetween groups is a crucial first step in constructing an effective counterterrorist response.This research seeks to better discriminate between terrorist groups by examining thegoals, tactics and images embedded in the narratives of terrorist or terrorist spawningorganizations. We define narratives as shared understandings of historical events and relevantactors that are used to justify past political actions or mobilize people for contemporary politicalactions as generally expressed through descriptions or charters issued by organizations orthrough statements of organizational leaders.2 Narrative, as noted by Benedict Anderson, formsthe underbelly of an “imagined community:” the glue binding a group of like-minded individualswho, “will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet inthe minds of each lives the image of their communion” (Anderson 6). Consequently, we believethat narratives are excellent sources for uncovering group conceptions of “self” and “others” thatare key in attracting and maintaining ties to diaspora communities, as well as related group goals,strategies and tactics. We argue that by comparing the goals, images and tactics embedded in thenarratives of these different organizations, we can shed insight on crucial differences andsimilarities between these terrorist groups. These insights not only help discriminate betweenterrorist groups and other organizations, but also shed insight on the evolution of suchorganizations themselves.Specifically, this research examines the narratives of four groups: the MuslimBrotherhood, Hamas, Al Qaeda and the Tamil Tigers. Two of these groups, Hamas and AlQaeda, have roots in the Muslim Brotherhood and therefore can be viewed as diasporas of thelatter. However, while the Muslim Brotherhood takes an evolutionary and nonviolent approachto goal attainment, Hamas and Al Qaeda advocate violence and terrorism to advance their cause,tactics that are also promoted by the fourth group in the analysis, the Tamil Tigers. Since theTamil Tigers have no connection with the Muslim Brotherhood, their inclusion in ourcomparative analysis allows us to determine how much of the commonality of goals acrossterrorist organizations pertains to common roots and how much pertains to commonality oforganizational type, function or tactics.

Assessing the Islamist mainstream in Egypt and Malaysia

Beyond ‘Terrorism’ and ‘StateHegemony’: assessing the Islamistmainstream in Egypt and Malaysia

JAN STARKMalaysia-Islamists

International networks of Islamic ‘terrorism’ have served as themost popular explanation to describe the phenomenon of political Islam sincethe 11 September attacks.

This paper argues that both the self-proclaimeddoctrinal Islam of the militants and Western perceptions of a homogeneousIslamist threat need to be deconstructed in order to discover the oftenambiguous manifestations of ‘official’ and ‘opposition’ Islam, of modernity andconservatism.

As a comparison of two Islamic countries, Egypt and Malaysia,which both claim a leading role in their respective regions, shows, moderateIslamic groups have had a considerable impact on processes of democratisationand the emergence of civil society during the quarter century since the ‘Islamicresurgence’.

Shared experiences like coalition building and active participationwithin the political system demonstrate the influence and importance of groupssuch as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) or the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS).

These groups haveshaped the political landscape to a much larger extent than the current pre-occupation with the ‘terrorist threat’ suggests. The gradual development of a‘culture of dialogue’ has rather revealed new approaches towards politicalparticipation and democracy at the grassroots level.