It is Essential to Talk to the "Terrorists"

(Guardian-UK) Alastair Crooke - We in the West are not facing "terrorism" in the Middle East, but something quite different: a sophisticated, asymmetrical, broad-based and irregular political insurgency. "Terrorism experts" often note the existence of "terrorist training camps" in Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. I knew these camps. For 20 years they produced guerrillas, in the tens of thousands, trained in irregular warfare techniques, in modules that allowed men with different linguistic and ethnic backgrounds to mesh as a single fighting unit. They were trained to fight an insurgency against Western forces and against pro-Western regimes in the region. By failing to call an insurgency an insurgency, we have clung to a misreading of the situation that represents all violence by Muslims as criminal and people who use violence as marginalized within their own societies. A small proportion of Islamists, the extreme jihadists, are marginal, and have alienated many Muslims by their capricious use of violence. But for both, this is a struggle to restore the standing of Muslim societies, to assert Muslim identity and autonomy, and to find the transition to modernity of their economies and society on Muslim terms - not on Western secular ones. I have witnessed many insurgencies. The Afghan mujahideen understood that their task was to gain the psychological advantage and to keep it, that more and more people should be convinced that your current would ultimately prevail - not only in military terms, but by winning the struggle for legitimacy. The writer, a former British intelligence officer, served as the EU Security Advisor, working with the Palestinians until 2003.

2004-12-10 00:00:00

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