LCCC Web Site/Selected English analysis
September 26/08

Selected Six Political analysis related to the Lebanese Dilemma
Is Reconciliation with Hezbollah Possible?By: Tariq Alhomayed 25/09/08
Can Iraq and Lebanon sever Iran's stranglehold over their Shiites?. By: David Schenker 25/09/08
Lebanon: Reconciliations, Apology & Dialogue. By:Abdullah Iskandar 25/09/08
Syria pushes the envelope in the North.By Michael Young 25/09/08
To counter the Jihadi lobbies, you need independence from Petro Dollars. By Walid Phare 25/09/08
Appease Iran?By Daniel Pipes 25/09/09

Is Reconciliation with Hezbollah Possible?
By Tariq Alhomayed/Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, 
To see Saad al Hariri, Michel Aoun, Walid Jumblatt and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah embrace one another in front of the cameras wouldn’t be a great achievement in comparison to the importance that lies in whether they would be able to work [together] to build a state. Optimism is one thing and reality is another, especially if we look at what unites and what divides the Lebanese factions.
Raising the ceiling of expectations with discussions here and there on interests will only lead to this ceiling caving in on the Lebanese themselves. This is what happened with the May 7 Beirut coup and the July 2006 war with Israel that Lebanon was dragged into by Hezbollah and that has divided the Arab ranks until today.
The degree of danger has increased at present with the deployment of 10,000 Syrian soldiers on the borders of north Lebanon regardless of what Damascus’ explanations for this may be. It is feared that such action is a threat to speed up the acceptance of “a temporary marriage for pleasure” between the Future Movement and Hezbollah.
In order to understand the danger of superficial reconciliation or a “temporary political marriage,” one must ask a number of questions. Is Hezbollah prepared to accept that its weapons would be under the control of the state rather than Nasrallah and Wilayat-e-Faqih? Is it prepared to accept that the decisions over war or peace would be made by the state and that the Lebanese army would have the right to practice its authority over Lebanon in its entirety without the risk of its helicopters being shot down or its soldiers being targeted, which has been the case in the past?
Is Lebanon a state for all Lebanese? Is it independent and free from taking instruction from Syria or Iran and is it based upon a constitution with its own state institutions or is it a resistance state? Is Nasrallah prepared to accept that the airport would be under state authority and that he and Hezbollah will not responsible for everybody’s safety?
Is Iranian-backed Hezbollah prepared to accept that its telecommunications network would be under the responsibility of the ministry of communications and be willing to hand over control of the southern suburb to internal security apparatus to be under its authority like other Lebanese suburbs and districts, or will it remain one of Hezbollah’s protectorates?
Above all, are Hezbollah and the Lebanese factions, and Nabih Berri in particular, willing to conclude the international and internal investigations into [the assassinations of] Lebanon’s martyrs, most notably Rafik al Hariri, and to bring the criminals to justice?
If the answers to the questions above are affirmative, and they are just handful of many, then we would welcome reconciliation. However, we must remember that that does not mean that Nasrallah will forsake his principles and [the concept of] Waliyat-e-Faqih; this would be idealistic.
Therefore, the reality of Lebanon states that it is as far away as it could be from the concept of the state and its current situation is against all political notions.
Politically, Lebanon will either be a state that is protected by a strong neighbor, which means Syrian occupation of Lebanon, which is equivalent to the Lebanese throwing themselves into the ocean, or it will be a neutral demilitarized state, the protection of which remains the responsibility of the state. Of course this will not happen as the Lebanese political mentality is against that. Therefore, any talk of reconciliation is like giving a patient medicine to subdue the pain when in fact he needs to be operated upon!
The battle of the factions, and their agreement, is not for the sake of building the Lebanese state as Lebanon today is subjected to three-way ambitions, which are bigger than it could bear, that is Israeli, Syrian and Iranian ambitions…what a combination!

The New Republic
by David Schenker
Can Iraq and Lebanon sever Iran's stranglehold over their Shiites?
Post Date Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Conventional wisdom holds that when Iran's supreme leader says, "Jump," millions of Shiites, from the Beirut slums to the Saudi oilfields, ask, "How high?" But a recent meeting in Baghdad between a wealthy Lebanese Sunni politician and an ascetic Shiite theologian twice his age suggests that there is a move afoot to empower Shiite voters throughout the Middle East to cast ballots according to their conscience, not according to the marching orders from Tehran. If that trend gains traction, it could fundamentally alter the political landscape of the region.
In July, a representative of the preeminent Iraqi Shiite religious figure Grand Ayatollah Seyyid Ali Sistani issued a statement expressing the cleric's views on the impending Iraqi elections. Unlike the 2005 national elections--when Sistani endorsed a single Shiite slate known as the United Iraqi Alliance, handpicked the members of the candidate selection committee, and served as the spiritual figurehead of the list--Sistani's aide opined that in 2009, Iraqi Shiites needn't vote for an artificially unified list dominated by Iranian-allied parties. Instead, he said, Shiites should cast their ballots for parties who field the best candidates offering the best policies.
Sistani's support for political pluralism among the Shiite community amounts to a decision to sacrifice his own political power in order to break Iran's hegemony over Iraqi Shi'ites. It's a courageous decision for Sistani, given that other high-profile moderate Shiite clerics, such as Abdul Majid Khoei, have in recent years been killed in Iraq by Iranian surrogates. His shift may be related to the improved security situation, in which sectarian unity is no longer fundamentally necessary to ensure the Shiite community's security. Or perhaps Sistani's change in tact suggests a better appreciation of the pernicious role Iran has been playing in Iraqi politics. In any event, Sistani's new position represents a clear decision to counter Iranian influence in Iraq.
It appears to be a lesson not lost on other Arabs. Lebanon's embattled ruling coalition, a pro-Western bloc dubbed the March 14 group, seems to have picked up the same message.
On July 18, Lebanese parliamentarian and March 14 leader Saad Hariri visited Iraq, where he met with Sistani and other top Iraqi leaders. During his little-publicized visit, Hariri focused on the similarities between Baghdad and Beirut. According to the Lebanese daily Al Mustaqbal, he spoke about the ethnic and religious forces that threatened to destroy the two states encouraged by foreign actors, i.e., Iran, and the need for Lebanese and Iraqi "Arabism," presumably to counter Persian influence.
Hariri's concern with Iran is driven primarily by his own domestic exigencies. Hariri's March 14 coalition, comprised of Sunnis, Druze, and Christians, is increasingly threatened by Lebanon's dominant Iranian-backed Shiite political and military organization, Hezbollah. In May, this Shiite militia invaded Beirut, placing the democratically elected March 14 government in a precarious position. A month later, in Qatar, a victorious Hezbollah dictated the terms of the truce, which stipulated providing the Shiite organization with de jure veto power within the government. Worse, the Doha Agreement deferred indefinitely the critical issue of electoral reform in Lebanon--cementing the current winner-takes-all system so that Hezbollah and its affiliate appendage Amal are able to secure nearly all the Shiite seats.
Within the context of current political alignments, March 14 can do little to expand its base. Recognizing this limitation, March 14 has seemingly reached the conclusion that the future of Lebanon's pro-West orientation depends on the electoral fragmentation of the Lebanese Shiite community. Even a modest shift in Lebanon's Shiite constituency would represent a significant change in Beirut's political dynamic. Not only would it undermine the legitimacy of Hezbollah's authoritarian monopoly on Shiia politics, it would broaden March 14's currently fragile constituency, better positioning the bloc for when proportional representation is adopted.
At present, March 14 has only a handful of Shiites who are willing to openly support the bloc--not surprising given Hezbollah's intimidation of non-conforming Shia. Diversification of its constituency would insulate March 14 from local criticism regarding the party's perceived Sunni domination. The addition of Shiite supporters could likewise conceivably encourage the defection of some of Hezbollah's Christian allies. Perhaps most importantly, by broadening its coalition, March 14 could more credibly claim to be a coalition representing all Lebanese.
There is no doubt that Hezbollah has substantial support among Lebanon's Shiite population, not only due to its military prowess vis-à-vis Israel, but because it provides essential services to an underserved population. Yet the organization does have an Achilles heel: Other than Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah and a few thousand hardcore members of the organization, most Shiites in Lebanon do not view supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khameini as their spiritual guide, or marja'a. Indeed, most Lebanese Shiites consider Sistani their religious authority.
The fundamental difference between Sistani and Khameini is that Sistani believes in a separation between religion and state, while Khameini views religion as the state. Most Lebanese Shiites do not favor this formulation, known in Farsi as "Vilayet al-Faqih." While it is too late for Hariri and March 14 to significantly affect the agreement on the electoral law reached in Doha, if leveraged, these divergences could provide an opportunity to erode Hezbollah's political monopoly over the Shia.
It is for this reason that the likely purpose of Hariri's visit to Sistani was to explore ways to promote Shiite political pluralism. After all, just weeks after Hariri returned to Beirut, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora--a member of Hariri's March 14 bloc--himself travelled to Baghdad for meetings with senior political leaders. (He did not meet Sistani). And though Hariri has steadfastly refused to discuss the substance of his talks with Sistani, his public statements in Iraq--urging Shiites to be loyal to their states and condemning illegal militias--closely echo positions attributed to Sistani.
Since coming to power in 2005, the March 14 coalition has lacked a Shiite strategy. March 14 has not sought to cultivate and co-opt alternative, non-Hezbollah Shiites. In fact, pro-west anti-Hezbollah Shiites have long complained that March 14 has ignored them. Hariri's trip to Najaf is a sign that this might be changing. In Lebanon, senior March 14 leaders--in particular Hariri and Druze community leader Walid Jumblatt--appear to now be taking a more active interest in supporting Shiites who are not allied with Hezbollah. Hariri himself is said to be expanding his circle of Shiite consultants, and even took an unprecedented three-day trip to the predominantly Shiite Bekaa valley this month to visit with local leaders. Contacts between the March 14 leaders and fledgling anti-Hezbollah Shiite political organizations, while still admittedly minimal, are also increasing. Perhaps the most significant development in this regard, however, was the July cabinet appointment of Ibrahim Shamseddine--the scion of one of Lebanon's premier Shiite religious authorities known for opposing Hizbollah and supporting a secular Lebanese state.
Clearly, Beirut's pro-west government cannot counter Hezbollah's overwhelming military capabilities. But it is possible over time to encourage political pluralism among Lebanon's Shiites and chip away at the perception that Hizbollah speaks for all Lebanon's Shiites. Except for the hardcore of Hezbollah supporters, Lebanese Shiites do not possess a natural affinity for Iran and the religious proscriptions of its leadership. Neither, would it seem, do the majority of Iraq's Shiites. Hariri's recent meeting marks a long-overdo effort to exploit this cavernous divergence. Hopefully, Beirut's change in approach is not too late.
*David Schenker is director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute.

Lebanon: Reconciliations, Apology & Dialogue
Abdullah Iskandar Al-Hayat - 24/09/08//
The excessive talk about reconciliations in Lebanon does not mean that the parties involved are heading toward a minimum common denominator that allows the state to retrieve its role and to preserve the right of the nation to sovereignty or the right of citizens to a decent life. As a matter of fact, reconciliations do not attempt to achieve any of these goals. So far, each of the parties involved seeks goals that serve his interests alone, turning a blind eye to the interests and concerns shared with others.
Even on the technical level, these reconciliations do not fall within the framework of the Doha Accord, which determined national dialogue, sponsored by the president, as a place to agree on civil peace. It is a dialogue whose outcomes are binding, whereas bilateral reconciliations are at best binding to their parties.
The first episode of reconciliations started in the north, where the Sunnis were believed to be pitted against the Alawites. Its aim was to end the armed skirmishes between the residents on both sides. The second episode was between the Progressive Socialist Party and Hezbollah following the meetings between the former and the Amal Movement, that is, between Druzes and Shiites. Saad Hariri, chief of the Future Movement, may today receive a Hezbollah delegation in preparation for his meeting with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in the hope of crowning conciliation between the Sunnis and Shiites. This is all at a time when the famous "understanding" between the Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah is being presented as Christian-Shiite reconciliation.
Regardless of the objectives of each side behind the type of the opted for reconciliation and the chosen party to the reconciliation, the Christian-Christian reconciliation between the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement is getting more complicated and facing more stumbles. In fact, turbulences and even more violence are likely among the Christian sides.
Until the national dialogue sponsored by the president reaches its farfetched goal, binding agreements to all, the realities on the Christian ground contradict the climate of reconciliation prevailing in other scenes even when the objectives and outcomes of those reconciliations are at best limited.
The "apology" made by Dr. Samir Geagea over the war practices of the Lebanese Forces revealed the weaknesses of these reconciliations, of the national dialogue, and even the Taef Accord that set the grounds for the second republic. The timing of the apology and the generated responses show that none of those who had committed similar practices and are now seeking reconciliation believe that their history is subject to discussion and their policy to review. This is exactly what happened after the Taef Accord, especially with the general pardon which absolved all criminal acts related to those practices. Back then, under the Syrian mandate, the regime had to fabricate charges of bombing a church against Geagea to exclude him from the pardon and ensure another trial for his practices although he had been forced to fight the war of elimination against General Aoun to make the Taef Accord acceptable for the Christians. In other words, the Christian side which paid the heavy price for the Taef Accord is the same side which may now pay the price of the ongoing reconciliations, especially with the efforts to neutralize as many of its allies in March 14 as possible, making it stand alone face to face against its Christian foes such as the Patriotic Movement, the Maradah and other parties in March 8. The focus is on this Christian front in particular because it constituted a central player during the civil war and continues to exercise the capacity to object.
To set the ground for national conciliation, the apology should have been made by all the forces that participated in the war. At the same time, the general pardon should not have been a replacement for the need of every side to review and correct its experience in a direction that makes conciliation with others possible. When the apology finally came, although late, by Geagea alone, his foes saw in it nothing but another condemnation at the time when such an apology should have been a moral and political introduction to national dialogue. If anything, this is a negative indicator of the extent to which this national dialogue will come up with the desired reconciliation

Syria pushes the envelope in the North
By Michael Young
Daily Star staff
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Of all the ridiculous reasons explaining the deployment of thousands of Syrian troops along the northern Lebanese border, surely the most ridiculous is that this was done to thwart smuggling. What we're seeing is, quite simply, intimidation and a reminder, against the conventional wisdom, that Syria's President Bashar Assad never truly reconciled himself with ending his country's military role in Lebanon.
Was it a coincidence that Syrian soldiers began their movement on the very day that President Michel Sleiman traveled to the United States? It's hard to say. However, recall that only hours before Sleiman's visit to Damascus last month, a bomb targeting Lebanese soldiers went off in Tripoli. Assad used the incident to insist that the Lebanese president had to strike against "Salafists" in northern Lebanon. You have to doubt that both those coercive episodes were really accidental.
There are contradictory reports about what happened at the quadripartite summit in Damascus a few weeks ago between Assad, Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Some newspapers reported that Sarkozy and Sheikh Hamad were disturbed by Assad's statement that he had told Sleiman to take measures against the northern Islamists, because this suggested that Lebanon was still taking orders from Syria. One account even noted that Erdogan had warned Assad against military moves in Lebanon.
Then a very different story began making the rounds: that Erdogan, and perhaps Sarkozy too, had given Assad a green light to enter Lebanon and intervene against "Islamists." This was highlighted in an article published on Tuesday in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat, which cited "political sources" in Lebanon to that effect. Yet already last week when I visited Tripoli, religious figures there were grimly convinced that Turkish and French approval had been accorded.
Nothing indicates this is true. But you could see that Rifaat Eid, the son of Ali Eid, the head of the Alawite Arab Democratic Party, felt at ease with the "reconciliation" reached in Tripoli, for several reasons: The Eids came out of the process looking the equals of Saad Hariri politically, as they met under the authority of the mufti. They apparently received a commitment that they would be asked to approve an Alawite candidate, or candidates, in the next parliamentary elections; and they also got, Eid insisted, a government promise to establish an Alawite Higher Council, so those in the community would have their own courts to deal with personal-status issues.
However, it was what Eid did not say, but certainly implied in his answers, that was most interesting: The threat of a Syrian military push into Lebanon is what effectively allowed the Alawites to momentarily play on the same playing field as Hariri. Fears in Saudi Arabia and Egypt of the Syrian Army's return to the Lebanese scene, but also very probably fear of Syria's capability to depict its actions as combating Sunni extremism, are what compelled Hariri to head North, then afterward to the Bekaa, to come out with arrangements everyone could live with.
Does Syria plan to return its armed forces to Lebanon? There is no simple answer. If Assad is to have a strong card in his negotiations with Israel over the Golan Heights, he must first show that Syria has the means of bringing Hizbullah to heel . Without his soldiers in Lebanon, he could not seriously make that case. At the same time, there are genuine difficulties involved. Syria is in no position to disarm Hizbullah, while Iran would, plainly, oppose any such move. This would force Syria to choose between Iran and Israel, and despite the unfounded optimism in some Western capitals that Assad is pining for peace, it's far more probable that he will safeguard his relationship with Tehran.
In that case, has Syria given up on returning to Lebanon? Not necessarily. Developments in the North have shown that Assad can use his army to browbeat the Lebanese, without crossing the border. That's bound to continue. But the Syrians are also calculating in the middle and long term. They know they will not get an international green light to enter Lebanon today, but once the parliamentary elections take place and the March 8 forces and the Aounists win them - at least that's what the Syrians are predicting to their Lebanese allies - then the rules will change. Syria might send its troops into parts of Lebanon if needed, or it might not need to; but Assad will be calling the shots, will have wide latitude to do what he wants with the Lebanese, and that he can take to the table with Israel.
You have to applaud the Syrians for having convinced many people that the Salafist threat in the North is a real one. This view was only helped by Walid Jumblatt's echoing the thought in several of his recent statements, most significantly in an interview with the opposition daily Al-Akhbar. In fact, a visit to Tripoli would show that the Salafists are weak and divided, with some groups closely watched by the security forces. Several jihadists, particularly those who participated in networks sending militants to Iraq, are now in Lebanese jails, though observers who have followed their case will remark that they have actually broken no Lebanese laws, which explains why they have remained imprisoned without trial.
An imminent Syrian invasion of Lebanon is not in the cards. But Assad will continue to see how far he can push the envelope in Lebanon, both politically and militarily. And when he realizes he can push it very far, his confidence will rise, and with it the risk that Syria will use its army in more substantial ways. That's not good news, and it's not good news especially when foreign governments seem so utterly without conviction in preventing Syria from reimposing its hegemony over Lebanon.
*Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR.

“To counter the Jihadi lobbies, you need independence from Petro Dollars”
By Walid Phares (bio)

London, Mideast Newswire
During his summer lectures-tour in Europe, Terrorism expert Walid Phares discussed his most recent book The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad at the invitation of the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based Project for “Democratic Geopolitics.” Professor Phares, a Fox News contributor and a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies argued that “in the end, there are strong Jihadi lobbies which are derailing international and US efforts to defeat the Terrorist forces.” Phares said his book outlines a number of strategy recommendations at the 7th year of the War on Terror. Among them: Identify the threat clearly as “Jihadism,” an ideology responsible for the spread of violence in the Greater Middle East and inside the West; achieve energy independence; create wider alliances with countries suffering from the same threat even if they are not part of the Iraq or even Afghanistan coalitions; grant significant support to democracy forces within the Arab and Muslim world.
Phares projected that a McCain Administration will continue the efforts against Terrorism but will bring new expertise into the arena. He also projected that a Obama Administration will not engage in dramatic moves before one year and won’t perform its ideological platform before a second term. Phares predicted Obama would eventually meet with Ahmedinijad and Chavez at some point, barring dramatic developments.
The summary of the round table which included think tanks representatives as well as members of several Government ministries was published by the Henry Jackson Society.

The Henry Jackson Society: Project for Democratic Geopolitics is a cross-partisan, British-based think-tank. Our founders and supporters are united by a common interest in fostering a strong British and European commitment towards freedom, liberty, constitutional democracy, human rights, governmental and institutional reform and a robust foreign, security and defence policy and transatlantic alliance.
How to Confront Future Jihad
On the 7th of July, and in conjunction with the Centre for Social Cohesion, the Henry Jackson Society hosted a discussion with Dr Walid Phares, an international terrorism expert from the European Foundation for Democracy.

Today I would like to summarise my new book - The Confrontation: Winning the war against future jihad - which is the third in a trilogy. A few years ago I was invited to London by my esteemed colleagues to discuss the first book - The Future Jihad - which is not a discussion of jihad as a concept, but rather a discussion of the strategies of specific jihadist movements, and there is a big difference. One has to begin by defining what these strategies are, and then how far we can go with the definition. However what is more important and more relevant to homeland security or to national security is how the jihadists think. It is not what we scholars in the classroom think about jihad that is important. What is very important is how the jihadists interpret it. Therefore we must examine the strategies for reaching jihadists and this is where most governments - our government in the US and European governments as well - fall into the trap of over discussing issues that are not really relevant in terms of theology. They may be linked to socio-economic issues which may be useful in the future, but in terms of countering the jihadist movement, it’s really about understanding their strategies and then devising the right strategies to defeat them.

That book was followed by my second book, The War of Ideas, which is a reflection on the conclusion of the first book. The first book described who the jihadists are, whilst the second book is concerned with how are they able to carry out jihad. This is relevant because one of the major debates on both sides of the ocean has been based on the fact that we don’t know much about their ideology and strategy, but also how they operate. Not just major operations such as 9/11, 11/3, 7/7, and today is the anniversary of that tragic date, but also in addition to these, how they are able to create that wide corps of jihadists around the world.

Root causes of Jihadism:

The root causes of the jihadist movements that I analyse here are of two classical genres, and I try to push towards a third that is more functional. The two classical genres are promoted by governments, on campuses and in the media around the free world. These are: the socio-economic disenfranchisement theory; and the foreign policy theory. Now, more recently in the States and I’m sure here as well, you have the new theory of social psychological conditioning. According to that theory, apart from foreign policy and apart from other objective theories, the frustration of being an immigrant and not being fully assimilated into a community can lead to the adoption of jihadism. However, I have counter-argued that although these three explanations of the root causes are objectively present, they are flawed because:

With regard to foreign policy, we must remember that the majority of the jihadists had been in action and had developed their theory way before most of liberal democracies they targeted had specific foreign policies towards the Middle East, including the United States. The Salafis and the Wahabis were born before not only the Arab–Israeli conflict, but before Israel was established. That alone is important. Probably the most important issue here is that the jihadists themselves in their agenda do not claim this as their specific objective. There is an objective to be achieved, with or without the Arab–Israeli conflict, with or without what the US did in Vietnam and then everything else aggregates. As a result, this research can fool many who do not have a real understanding of the ideology.

The socio-economic theory is interesting because now we are receiving a lot of additional European research, especially from Germany and elsewhere, that contradicts this argument. It is not that the argument is not solid, but that it is in a sense disconnected. Many immigrants who have dealt with socio-economic stress do not become jihadist suicide bombers, so mathematically speaking, that is an issue to deal with. So, are those who have been impacted by specific ideologies the ones that have produced that kind of violence in response to socio-economic stresses? The analysis shows that stresses do not lead to suicide bombings; stresses plus the ideology leads to the strategies that gives us suicide bombings. This is of course laid out in an over simplified way and could raise a lot of questions, but I am trying to summarise the most recent findings on these issues.

With regard to socio-psychological stresses, these are real factors, but they are not unique to the jihadists. If it were, then every case of pressure, whether it is because of racist reasons or non-racist reasons like divorce, would lead to jihadism. So again, we look at all these cases and we realise that those that have stresses and were impacted by any form of jihadist ideology produced almost the same type of violence. The others produced different kinds of violence, unconnected types of violence, or no violence, but frustration expressed in other ways.

The ideological development of Jihad.

In my second book – The war of ideas - I tried to make the case that what we are dealing with here is a two way ideological development. One in the 1920s with the Salafi movement that broke into all of the families that we know – Wahabi, Muslim Brothers (MB), Deobandi, and other sub-branches that were not successful. But then I moved to look at mutations of these movements and we are now dealing with the second and third generation of Salafi Jihad, and in that tree, the second and third generation which has mutated into what we call Al-Qaeda is a marriage of experiences between the MB and the Wahabis. So the MB and Wahabis are not really Al-Qaeda. They do have long term goals and the ideology is very clear, but what prompted that mutation, is what I call the jihadi debate of the early 1990s in Khartoum.

At Khartoum most of the representatives of these tendencies met and those who were classical Wahabis and classical MBs decided to move forward in what they called the ‘penetration strategy’ of the Arab and Muslim world, widening the pool of supporters as much as they could. Indeed, with regard to the West, their theory is to infiltrate from the bottom up, so that within each liberal democracy, the real, long term objective of that classical school is to carry out terror attacks on the one hand and on the other, to paralyse the capacity of liberal democracies to respond to external developments in the Muslim world. Thus the force that the jihadists have developed in the West is basically a part of putting pressure on Western potential reactions to what is actually happening there in the Muslim world. The objective is not to conquer or create a coup d’état - at least not at this stage because of the reality of the situation - but it is to make sure that the state apparatus in the West is not going to respond to two things: political change in the Arab and Middle Eastern world towards the jihadists; and foreign policy, for instance in Iraq, Afghanistan and also Somalia. So in a sense that would be the classical jihadi political strand. However the layers are different in Europe, the United States, India, or Africa.

The second strand, which I have coined as the ‘hot headed’ is Al-Qaeda. In the 1990s they adopted the philosophy: we were able to defeat the Soviet Union, so we can defeat the other side. From an oversimplified perspective it seems to be strangely logical, but it has sparked debate between the ideologues of Al-Qaeda and the clerics sent by the Saudis, the Egyptians or Moroccans and Jordanians to counter argue with them. Al-Qaeda basically believes that engaging in the confrontation will deliver victory even without holding the balance of power, although remember that the Wahabis and the Muslim Brotherhood are keen to make sure they always have the balance of power. Indeed, because of the hyper-ideological, doctrinal and theo-doctrinal paradigms in which they believe, Al-Qaeda is certain that by engaging the enemy, somehow the Divine will continue the battle. This is how they explain it to their followers.

Of course there are strategists in Al-Qaeda who believe that if you carry out strikes such as 9/11 or 7/7 and you do not get dividends in foreign policy, you will receive huge dividends in recruitment, by spreading the notion that they were able to strike at infidel powers . Thus all those people who have been ironically indoctrinated by the Wahabi and the Muslim Brotherhood, are the ones that Al-Qaeda recruit, which is causing a lot of problems for the governments that are dealing with it. The reason is that we are fighting Al-Qaeda, but they are recruiting from pools that they are not creating – Al-Qaeda’s infrastructure is not responsible for the madrasas or production factories where they get their recruits. These external pools produce 80% of the intellectual process that creates the jihadists, meaning that history, theology, indoctrination, the division of the world into the categories that we know are all contributors, but what is missing in the equation is that Al-Qaeda’s operatives convince them that they can succeed. Thus ironically, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Wahabis and the less hot headed Salafists from whom the jihadist recruit, oppose Al-Qaeda and say that they cannot engage in warfare with the infidel powers, and additionally that they cannot continue to treat fellow Muslims as enemies through the concert of fear. On the other hand, Al-Qaeda the same pool of recruits to justify their view that the process that they have begun has created enlargement in the support of the jihadist movement.

Spreading democracy:

As I see it, democracy is not simply a question of holding elections. For democracy to triumph in Middle Eastern countries, the West is only a small player in the process and this is what our public opinion does not understand. We can only provide support for the foundation of democracy. In the case of Iran, researchers have predicted on the basis of sociological analysis of the Persian majority, that even if left unassisted, they will have their own revolution in favour of democracy in 20 years or so. If therefore Iran was not a threat to national security in terms of its nuclear proliferation, it may well be the case that the Iranian people would be left to find democracy on their own, like the French and the Italians have done. But if the Iranian regime is going to cause a security threat to its own people: genocide, which could happen, or to the region, then international intervention is warranted, actually, it is warranted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, to speed up the process.

The case of Algeria, which was under the authoritarian FLN regime for so long, is a model which is applicable elsewhere. It is a model within which authoritarian regimes have been able to fully surppress liberal democratic forces and have been able to contain but not suppress the Islamist forces, because one thing they cannot suppress is the ideology. Why were the FLN or the Egyptian government, even Saudi Arabia, not able to go the full way against radical jihadist forces? Because they have not themselves engaged in ideological reform. So obviously when Algeria held its first election, who was going to win? The ideologues: those who are most organised in the vacuum of those who are not organised. In Egypt those who are organised are the Muslim Brotherhood and the others are going to be defeated. In Gaza, Hamas won. This is not a surprise. Hamas is a highly militarised, organised, and financed organisation with exclusive control.

The impact of the US Presidential election on the fight against Jihadism:

The team working with John McCain on the issue of terror and Jihadism will continue the policy of today. There will be a second battle of the experts however, on the next steps in this process. If Barak Obama wins, I don’t think anything dramatic will happen in first six months because the bureaucrats will be the same bureaucrats. What I would expect after that is that there will be some spectacular moves, depending on the size of the Democrat majority in Congress, and the possibility of him meeting with Chavez and Ahmadinejad. I think that an Obama administration will not engage in overdramatic change in his first term because he would want to enact a more ambitious agenda for a second term. For example in Iraq, he will certainly plan a long term withdrawal. With regard to Palestine and Israel, I don’t think he is going to change much, because that has to do with the culture in the US. Where his advisors may recommend balancing his negatives elsewhere, is Darfur. Hollywood is pushing ‘save Darfur’ and Hollywood is a big constituency for Obama. But he will have his limitations. He will have to explain to the nation who the battle in Darfur is against. He is trying to save Darfur from genocide. However, to assign blame, they have to target the regime and the ideology, and that is a no go area in terms of effective action.

Advice to policy makers:

My third book is centered around advice to policy makers. In this regard it is more than analysis – it is a proposition for a change of management direction. If we look at 2008 compared to 2001 and what has been achieved strategically during this period, we can see that Western countries have been engaged with Iraq and Afghanistan; they have been containing the Arab-Israeli conflict; putting pressure on the Darfur situation, and have been engaging with what we in the US call the war of ideas. The military in the US use strategic communications, the state department uses the battle of ideas, and in Europe there are 27 interpretations according to where you are. However, the essence of the matter is that Western democracies and their allies need to impact on the societies where jihadism is coming from with various strategies. One of these strategies is to use clerics - in other words use the resources that the jihadists use - in order to beat them. A second strategy is to use theology – there is a range of support from theologians to counter Al-Qaeda. But the problem with this approach is that the authorities believe that to tackle extremism you must tackle the theology. To tackle theology is to tackle Islam, which will cause problems and consequences both domestically and abroad.

The other solution is dialogue. Though it is the rational position, entering into dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood could take you on an endless promenade: these are the chief engineers of strategy in the world. What they don’t tell you is that in Muslim communities the likes of Al-Qaeda are still a numerical minority and therefore you have not even begun the real intellectual warfare until this is recognized. Western European governments are sitting down with official Muslim federations but the federations have already been infiltrated so they are already sitting down with the jihadists. What we are not bringing to the table are the counter-jihadists. My suggestion is that for every jihadist we bring in to dialogue, we must also talk to the non radical elements of the Islamic community. I would like to see the real Muslim community engaged in debate. To have the policy makers understand the sociological nature of the Muslim community which, at the moment, they don’t.

The other strategy which I am involved with encourages forces of democracy in the Arab and Muslim world. The term ‘spreading democracy’ by itself is very scientific - you cannot ‘spread’ it. But you can open a space for freedom, either by military intervention when a regime for example is committing acts of genocide; or by applying political, economic and social diplomatic pressures in a way that we have experienced in different levels in the case of Eastern European dissidents. A very eminent case of such diplomatic pressure is in South Africa, where the international community supported the anti-apartheid regime and was successful in changing behaviour. However the comparisons are always difficult as situations do not automatically translate.

So, my first suggestion is that in order to engage in support for democratic forces, so that these democratic forces can fight the battle within their native communities, we need to have a public opinion in liberal democracies that understands the purpose of our actions. At the moment we are at minus 20 - meaning that in order to engage with any policy, whether British, European, or US, governments have to do it with the support of populations. Then also in democracies you have the very dangerous infiltration and penetration by these jihadi lobbies, supported by petrodollars. So we are not talking about ideas versus ideas. It is in fact hundreds of millions of petrodollars versus almost nothing on the other side, reaching out to universities, centres, even agencies within government. Thus the warfare is very real in liberal democracies. Again, if that happens and we don’t have a public which is educated and informed about the issue, then the whole war of ideas and the so called war on terror will go in different directions. I think we are now witnessing the era of strategic defeat or maybe relative defeat in the war of ideas, because we have not produced on either side of the ocean, public opinion which understands the extent of the threat and can therefore support legislative and executive initiatives in that regard.

The second recommendation, with which I’m sure you are all familiar, is to continue a Western trend to provoke economic independence, in particular economic independence from oil producing regimes. Economic independence does not mean solving all the problems of energy today. However, it does mean some measure of diversification particularly in where we get our energy from. However, if we want to have strategic independence in 18 to 20 years as the experts are claiming, we needed to have begun eight years ago! So we are already eight years late on any process that would achieve results. This is because the jihadi use of oil producing revenues is a 30 year old investment already. If you quantify that, it means not that a prince threw $30 million at Harvard or Georgetown University (this is public information), and therefore might be influencing and impacting the way that Middle Eastern or Islamic Studies are taught – that is the most visible part of it which is used in the US as an example. What we are talking about is that from around 1979 onwards, the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in the West has had the goal not of reforming medical studies or agrarian studies for example, but to influence the teaching of Middle Eastern Studies, which provides the expertise to governments which becomes our foreign policy, or the resistance to further changes in our foreign policy. For example the idea of engaging with human rights support in the Middle East is a black hole. This idea is fiercely fought by the lobbies that are the result of this long term investment.

Let me conclude by stressing that the very essence of winning this war of ideas, the war on terror and the confrontation with terrorists is-after the very important opinion of public opinion in the West- to win the democracy battle in the Arab and Muslim world or at least to engage in it. I doubt that we will see real results in one generation, but if we do not engage with it, we will have a recipe for the continuation of clashes. At the moment the policy is the postponement of clashes. However, if this generation is not able to address it then unfortunately the next generation will have to address it with more lethal consequences.

*Professor Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow and the director for Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Appease Iran?
by Daniel Pipes
September 25, 2008
After Hitler, the policy of appeasing dictators – ridiculed by Winston Churchill as feeding a crocodile, hoping it will eat one last – appeared to be permanently discredited. Yet the policy has enjoyed some successes and remains a live temptation today in dealing with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Academics have long challenged the facile vilification of appeasement. Already in 1961, A.J.P. Taylor of Oxford justified Neville Chamberlain's efforts, while Christopher Layne of Texas A&M currently argues that Chamberlain "did the best that he could with the cards he was dealt." Daniel Treisman, a political scientist at UCLA, finds the common presumption against appeasement to be "far too strong," while his University of Florida colleague Ralph B.A. Dimuccio calls it "simplistic."
Neville Chamberlain mistakenly declared "peace in our time" on September 30, 1938.
In perhaps the most convincing treatment of the pro-appeasement thesis, Paul M. Kennedy, a British historian teaching at Yale University, established that appeasement has a long and credible history. In his 1976 article, "The Tradition of Appeasement in British Foreign Policy, 1865-1939," Kennedy defined appeasement as a method of settling quarrels "by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise," thereby avoiding the horrors of warfare. It is, he noted, an optimistic approach, presuming humans to be reasonable and peaceful.
From the prime ministry of William Gladstone until its discrediting in the late 1930s, appeasement was, in Kennedy's description, a "perfectly respectable" term and even "a particularly British form of diplomacy" well suited to the country's character and circumstances. Kennedy found the policy had four quasi-permanent bases, all of which apply especially well to the United States today:
Moral: After the Evangelical movement swept England in the early nineteenth century, British foreign policy contained a strong urge to settle disputes fairly and non-violently.
Economic: As the world's leading trader, the United Kingdom had a vital national interest in avoiding disruptions to commerce, from which it would disproportionately suffer.
Strategic: Britain's global empire meant it was over-extended (making it, in Joseph Chamberlain's term, a "weary titan"); accordingly, it had to choose its battles sparingly, making compromise an accepted and routine way of dealing with problems.
Domestic: The extension of the franchise made public opinion a growing factor in decisionmaking, and the public did not care for wars, especially expensive ones.
As a result, for over seven decades, London pursued, with rare exceptions, a foreign policy that was "pragmatic, conciliatory, and reasonable." Again and again, the authorities found that "the peaceful settlement of disputes was much more to Britain's advantage than recourse to war." In particular, appeasement steadily influenced British policy vis-à-vis the United States (in relation to, for example, the Panama Canal, Alaska's borders, Latin America as a U.S. sphere of influence) and Wilhelmine Germany (the "naval holiday" proposal, colonial concessions, restraint in relations with France).
Kennedy judges the policy positively, as serviceably guiding the foreign relations of the world's most powerful state for decades and "encapsulating many of the finer aspects of the British political tradition." If not a brilliant success, appeasement permitted London to accommodate the expanding influence of its non-ideological rivals such as the United States and Imperial Germany, which generally could be counted on to accept concessions without becoming inflamed. It thus slowed the UK's gentle decline.
Post-1917 and the Bolshevik Revolution, however, concessions failed to mollify the new kind of ideologically-driven enemy – Hitler in the 1930s, Brezhnev in the 1970s, Arafat and Kim Jong-Il in the 1990s, and now, Khamene'i and Ahmadinejad. These ideologues exploit concessions and deceitfully offer a quid pro quo that they do not intend to fulfill. Harboring aspirations to global hegemony, they cannot be appeased. Concessions to them truly amount to feeding the crocodile.
However dysfunctional these days, appeasement abidingly appeals to the modern Western psyche, ineluctably arising when democratic states face aggressive ideological enemies. With reference to Iran, for example, George W. Bush may bravely have denounced "the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history," but Middle East Quarterly editor Michael Rubin rightly discerns in the realities of U.S. policy that "now Bush is appeasing Iran."
Summing up, the policy of appeasement goes back a century and a half, enjoyed some success, and ever remains alive. But with ideological enemies it must consciously be resisted, lest the tragic lessons of the 1930s, 1970s, and 1990s be ignored. And repeated.