7.30.2005

Muslim-American Scholars Issue Fatwa Condemning Terrorism

Dozens of Muslim-American organizations endorse the ruling

By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – A group of top Muslim-American scholars issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, July 28 condemning all acts of terrorism and religious extremism as being fundamentally un-Islamic.

Reading the text of the fatwa at a press conference, Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America Muzammil Siddiqi said, “Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism.

Targeting civilians’ life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram – or forbidden – and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not ‘martyrs.’”

The Fiqh Council is a body of 18 Muslim scholars who have been trained in Islamic jurisprudence and are deemed qualified to interpret Islamic law as it is revealed in the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

The scholars based their ruling on several Quranic passages, including the verse, “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]… it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Quran 5:32)

The fatwa also cited the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said, “All creation is the family of God, and the person most beloved by God [is the one] who is kind and caring toward His family.”

The fatwa made three basic declarations: first, that all acts of terrorism targeting civilians are forbidden in Islam; second, that it is forbidden for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in acts of terrorism or violence; and third, that it is the civic and religious duty of all Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in efforts to protect the lives of civilians.

As many as 130 Muslim organizations in the United States already have endorsed the fatwa, and representatives from several of the groups participated in the press conference to show their support.

“We’re here to underscore that this is the mainstream, moderate voice of Muslim Americans and Muslims worldwide, as opposed to the extremist forgery of Islam by radicals,” said Salam al-Marayati, executive director of the California-based Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

“The radicals do not have any Islamic legitimacy. They have no Islamic foundation. It is artificial, what they say, and it is outside the norms of Islam.”

MPAC recently launched a public awareness campaign within the Muslim-American community aimed at reaffirming Islam’s rejection of terrorism and training members of the community to be aware of those who would attempt to use the open environment of the mosque to pursue criminal ends.

Al-Marayati said that MPAC’s anti-terrorism campaign and its support of the fatwa are not a matter of political expediency, but rather an expression of religious duty, particularly toward the younger generation.

“We hope that this would influence other parts of the world, but more importantly, I think we’re doing this for our children and our future. Our children need to be very clear on these matters. There should be no confusion, no ambiguity,” he said.

Representing the younger generation, Rubina Khan, treasurer of the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA), added her organization’s endorsement of the fatwa.

“MSA national denounces in the strongest possible terms any terrorist attack. Attacks and bombings of this nature are not only attacks against the innocent people of the world, but attacks against God’s divine revelation, which condemns indiscriminate violence and the targeting of innocents,” she said.

Khan said the MSA regards terrorist attacks as “repulsive and cowardly acts, irrespective of the motivation or perpetrator.”

The Muslim scholars closed the fatwa with a prayer for the triumph of peace and harmony over extremism and violence.

They said, “We pray for the defeat of extremism and terrorism. We pray for the safety and security of our country, the United States, and its people. We pray for the safety and security of all inhabitants of our planet. We pray that interfaith harmony and cooperation prevail both in the Untied States and all around the globe.”

Text of the fatwa issued by the Fiqh Council of North America is available at the Web site of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

Iraqi Leaders From Babil Province Meet with President Bush

Delegation visits U.S. to study methods of local governance

Washington -- President Bush welcomed a delegation of Iraqi leaders from Babil province to the White House July 26 as part of the officials’ visit to the United States to study the operation of state and local governments.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the visit was organized by Representative Chris Cannon (Republican from Utah) and University of Utah professor emeritus James Mayfield.

Speaking to the press July 26, McClellan said that during their meeting with the president, Bush “talked to them about his strong belief in freedom and how free societies are peaceful societies and how free societies are committed to the betterment of the people in those societies.”

According to press reports and information provided by the office of Representative Cannon, the Iraqi delegation was led by the chairman of the Babil Provincial Council and included the Babil province governor, the mayor of Hillah, the chairman of the Babil Human Rights Association, and Babil’s regional director for local government development for Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International.

The five-person delegation recently concluded a five-day visit to Cannon’s home state of Utah, where they attended workshops on agriculture, irrigation, health care and education at the state’s universities, as well as instructional sessions with Utah state and local government and nongovernmental agencies on economic development, women and family initiatives, government services and the judicial system.

They also received a demonstration by municipal officials in Salt Lake City on how the local authorities operate public services and safety systems, as well as city planning and zoning.

In a July 24 statement released by the humanitarian organization New Hope Humanitarian, which took the lead in coordinating the visit, Professor Mayfield said that in Iraq there is “no precedent” for governance “at the state-to-province level.” Mayfield, whose expertise is the Middle East, spent a year in Iraq advising local leaders on democratic transition as part of a U.S. Agency for International Development program.

“We are bringing together provincial, state, municipal, community and nongovernmental organizations in a project unique for both its opportunities and its scope,” Mayfield said in the statement. “This is the initial visit. Hopefully, there will be a series of visits.”

Speaking to a Salt Lake City television station July 25, Mayfield praised the delegation members for their courage in promoting democracy in Iraq. "Every single elected official in Iraq has been targeted by … extremists,” he said.

The Babil delegation members in turn expressed appreciation for American soldiers from Utah who were killed in Iraq and called for unity in the face of terrorism.

"So many people want to convince people that the presence of the United States military in Iraq is some kind of occupation," the human rights center director said. "We wish to thank you and thank God for your participation."

According to the July 24 statement by New Hope Humanitarian, the Iraqi delegation visit was funded by donations from Utah businesses and individuals, and was supported by the U.S. State Department, Representative Cannon, the Economic Development Office of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr., and South Jordan City, which is located near Salt Lake City.

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza

Wolfensohn Reviews Gaza Development Plans after Israeli Withdrawal

Special envoy tells Congress early progress essential to peace process

By Phillip KurataWashington File Special Correspondent

Washington -- James Wolfensohn, the special envoy of the international community to facilitate the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank, says the six months following the Israeli evacuation will be crucial in laying a foundation for future success in the peace process.

Wolfensohn testified before the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs of the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives July 26.
"It is absolutely essential that the Palestinians see that after the withdrawal there is a difference in their lives," he said.

Israel is planning to start evacuating 8,000 settlers from Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank in mid-August. The operation is expected to last until early September.
The former World Bank president said creating greater incentive for peace among the 1.2 million Palestinians in Gaza, 50 percent of whom are without work, means bringing in jobs, visible infrastructure and functioning schools and clinics, and a cleanup of vast expanses of untreated sewage.

Wolfensohn told the subcommittee that his principal concern is trying to put together a Gaza development program backed by the international community that "frankly can hold people for six months at least."

"Why? Because you will have the Jewish holidays. You will have Ramadan. You will have two elections, one of the Palestinians and one of the Israelis, and so you're going to have to keep hope," he said. "You need to have visible hope because at the time of the elections God knows what will be said."

Wolfensohn has been named "special envoy for Gaza disengagement" by the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, known as the Quartet when dealing with the Israeli Palestinian issue.

Wolfensohn praised the leadership of President Bush at the G8 summit in Scotland in generating greater international support for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said that international support is needed to help the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, win in its political competition with Hamas, which the U.S. government has branded a terrorist organization, for the loyalty of the Palestinian people.

Wolfensohn said that "it is exceedingly important" that the Palestinian people see that the Palestinian Authority is "an alternative to Hamas, that it can be run honestly, that it will be run honestly and transparently and that it can provide the social services that are needed."

"Otherwise, Hamas, because of its provision of social services and a better reputation, has the opportunity of gaining political ground, which none of us would like to see," Wolfensohn said.

Wolfensohn said relieving the blockages at Israeli-controlled border crossings and checkpoints is a major focus of his work.

"This is not a gift by the Israelis to the Palestinians and it is not something that the Palestinians are asking for just to win a debate. What is necessary here if you want to have enduring peace is not a prison in Gaza and the northern West Bank, but an environment in which there can be movement of goods and people in an atmosphere of respect for the Palestinians," Wolfensohn said.

Wolfensohn praised the cooperation of the Israeli military to analyze the effectiveness and value of the Israeli checkpoints in Palestinian territories.

He said he is engaged in a three-stage program to facilitate the movement of people and goods at border crossings. He said trucks can wait as much as two weeks as their cargoes are unloaded, inspected and reloaded. The first stage involves improving the system in place at present, which he said is beset by high levels of corruption on both sides. The second stage involves introducing technology to unload and reload trucks and x-ray the cargoes. The third stage involves rebuilding the transportation corridors.

Regarding efforts to connect Gaza with the West Bank, which are separated by 40 kilometers of Israeli territory, Wolfensohn said the Israelis favor a rail link and the Palestinians seek a rail and a road connection. He said an effort is under way by the Quartet to mediate an agreement.

Wolfensohn said that building a seaport and an airport in Gaza are important steps to connecting the area with the outside world. He said that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given the go-ahead for the seaport but is delaying authorization to proceed with the airport, which Wolfensohn said could be opened in six months.

As for the issue of what to do with the houses evacuated by the Israeli settlers, Wolfensohn said there is agreement on both sides that the houses should be demolished and new ones built.

He said the housing for 8,000 Israeli settlers sits on 25 percent of Gaza's land, a disproportionately large area compared to the living space allotted to the 1.2 Palestinians inhabiting the rest of Gaza. He said the United Nations is drafting a proposal for overall land use in Gaza.

USAID Works To Facilitate Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza

Congressional testimony of USAID director for Palestinian areas

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is working to facilitate the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and lay the foundation for a Palestinian state, according to James Bever, USAID mission director for the West Bank and Gaza.

"The Palestinian political leadership transition, the current municipal elections, the upcoming legislative elections, and the government of Israel's disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip and settlements in the northern West Bank all present an unprecedented opportunity to enhance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and pave the way for the state solution," Bever said in prepared testimony before the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee July 26.

Bever said the USAID programs dealing with the Palestinian political leadership follow three objectives:
• support a moderate Palestinian leadership,
• support Gaza disengagement,
• promote longer term stability toward a Palestinian state.

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

Officials Report to Congress on Funding for Iraqi Insurgents

Assessments, views from Defense Intelligence Agency, Treasury, Defense

By Phillip Kurata
Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington -- A senior U.S. intelligence officer says that some terrorist and insurgent groups in Iraq have enough financing to continue "indefinitely" their current level of anti-Coalition violence.

Caleb Temple, senior intelligence officer of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), presented his assessment of the Iraqi insurgency's financial resources in testimony July 28 before a joint congressional panel consisting of members of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities and the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Temple added that groups linked to the former regime of Saddam Hussein control enough assets to finance increased levels of insurgent violence.

"We believe terrorist and insurgent expenses are moderate and pose little significant restraints to armed groups in Iraq. In particular, arms and munitions costs are minimal -- leaving us to judge that the bulk of the money likely goes toward international and local travel, food and lodging of fighters and families of dead fighters; bribery and payoffs of government officials, families and clans; and possibly into the personal coffers of critical middlemen and prominent terrorist leaders," Temple added.

Temple said the main external sources of financing for the Iraqi insurgents are wealthy private donors in the Middle East and elsewhere, former elements of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime, and corrupt members of transnational charities.

Temple said many members of Saddam Hussein's regime fled to Syria, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries where they have established financial bases to support the insurgency.

The intelligence officer said Islamic charities supporting the insurgency effectively conceal terrorist connections and launder funds by mixing them with money destined for legitimate humanitarian projects.

Temple said the DIA has significantly sharpened its focus on analyzing and defeating terrorist and insurgent financial activities since 2004 and has developed a "comprehensive functional defeat study" on behalf of U.S. Special Operations Command.

"Drying up money and stopping its movement degrades terrorist and insurgent operations," Temple said. "It hinders recruitment and impedes couriers, disrupts procurement of bomb components, and creates uncertainty in the minds of suicide bombers regarding whether their families will receive promised compensation."

Testifying alongside Temple were Acting Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser, who heads the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism James Q. Roberts.

Glaser identified the insurgents as coming from three distinct, but often overlapping, groups:
-- Sunni jihadists, such as Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and his network and the Ansar Al-Sunnah/Ansar Al-Islam network.
-- Former elements of Saddam Hussein's regime and their family members and agents.
-- Indigenous tribal groups and local militias whose tribal loyalties, nationalist goals or Islamist ideologies have drawn them into the insurgency.

In addition to funding sources named by Temple, criminal activities, such as kidnapping for ransom, narcotics trafficking, robbery, theft, extortion smuggling and counterfeiting of goods and currency also fund the insurgents, Glaser said.

He said the prime method of transferring funds to the insurgents from outside the country is "the physical transportation of cash into Iraq, particularly across the Iraqi-Syrian border."

Glaser said that the Treasury Department, given the prominent role of the military in Iraq, has taken steps to ensure maximum cooperation with the U.S. Defense Department in the area of insurgency financing.

Roberts said the Defense Department is taking a two-pronged approach to thwart "terrorist financing" and "threat financing."

He said terrorist financing focuses on organizations, cells and individuals directly linked to terrorism, while threat financing is a broader-based concept and includes WMD (weapons of mass destruction) funding, narco-trafficking, organized crime and human trafficking.

The DIA, Defense Department and Treasury officials said U.S. government interagency cooperation is central to the efforts to stop funds from reaching the Iraqi insurgents.

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

7.29.2005

Report: Suicide Bombs Potent Tools of Terrorists

Deadly Attacks Have Been Increasing and Spreading Since Sept. 11, 2001

Washington Post

By Dan Eggen and Scott Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, July 17, 2005;

Unheard of only a few decades ago, suicide bombings have rapidly evolved into perhaps the most common method of terrorism in the world, moving west from the civil war in Sri Lanka in the 1980s to the Palestinian intifada of recent years to Iraq today. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide attacks in the United States, suicide bombers have struck from Indonesia to India, from Russia to Morocco.

Now governments throughout the West -- including the United States -- are bracing to cope with similar challenges in the wake of the deadly July 7 subway bombings in London, which marked the first time that suicide bombers had successfully mounted an attack in Western Europe.

The pace of such attacks is quickening. According to data compiled by the Rand Corp., about three-quarters of all suicide bombings have occurred since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The numbers in Iraq alone are breathtaking: About 400 suicide bombings have shaken Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003, and suicide now plays a role in two out of every three insurgent bombings. In May, an estimated 90 suicide bombings were carried out in the war-torn country -- nearly as many as the Israeli government has documented in the conflict with Palestinians since 1993.

Yesterday, a suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body inside a Shiite mosque south of Baghdad, triggering a huge fuel-tanker explosion that killed at least 54 people, according to police.

The bombings in London, which killed 55 people, illustrate the profound difficulty of preventing such attacks, experts say. Intelligence officials believe the bombers, in a common pattern, were foot soldiers recruited for the occasion, young men of Pakistani and Jamaican backgrounds reared in Britain who had recently converted to radical Islam. The four bombings required no exit strategy and were pulled off with devices that apparently were made in a bathtub and were small enough to fit in backpacks.

"With the exception of weapons of mass destruction, there is no other type of attack that is more effective than suicide terrorism," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert who heads the Washington office of Rand, a California think tank. "The perception is that it's impossible to guard against."

The motives behind suicide bombings are often mixed. Terrorism experts and intelligence officials disagree on the extent to which political strategy and religious fervor have led to the rising frequency of such attacks. But in addition to the death toll, a key objective of such bombings is clearly to sow terror by violating deeply held cultural and religious taboos against suicide, experts say.

Daniel Benjamin, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former Clinton administration counterterrorism official, points to the frequent glorification of death and martyrdom by the leaders of al Qaeda and other extremist groups. In his famous fatwa , or declaration of war, against the United States in 1996, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden told U.S. officials: "These youth love death as you love life."

"This is their way of saying they are much more determined than we are," said Benjamin, who co-wrote the 2002 book "The Age of Sacred Terror."

"They realize we are very unnerved by this. . . . I see the spread of it as a tactic as an indication of the strength of the ideology for Muslim radicals," Benjamin said.

History of Suicide Attacks

The use of suicide attacks is not new. Japanese kamikaze pilots in World War II tried to cause maximum damage by crashing their fighter planes into U.S. ships. Walter Laqueur, an expert in the history of terrorism, also says that, for centuries, any attack on military or political leaders was a form of suicide because the act usually occurred at close quarters and brought swift and certain death for the killer.

One watershed came in 1983, when a Hezbollah operative drove his truck into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. service members in an attack that remains the deadliest terrorist strike on Americans overseas. Hezbollah would later carry out several dozen more suicide attacks.

Most experts agree that the modern style of suicide bombings first gained its greatest prominence outside the Middle East, in the island nation of Sri Lanka.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, popularly known as the Tamil Tigers, is an avowedly secular rebel movement of the country's Tamil ethnic minority. It carried out scores of suicide bombings from the late 1980s until a cease-fire in 2002. The conflict between the Tigers and the government, which is dominated by members of the Sinhalese majority, began in 1983 and claimed an estimated 65,000 lives.

Though dominated by Hindus, the Tigers are predominantly ethnic and nationalist in outlook, with religion not playing a significant role in their actions. The Tigers' early and aggressive use of suicide attacks, analysts say, reflected a pragmatic calculation of the need to level the military playing field against a larger and better-equipped foe.

The group created an elite force to carry out such attacks, the Black Tigers, whose members underwent rigorous training and were reportedly treated to dinner with rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran before being sent on their missions.

The rebels carried out their first suicide bombing in 1987, when a captain blew himself up along with 40 government troops at an army camp in the northern part of the country. Tamil Tiger spokesmen emphasize the use of suicide attackers against military targets, but the group has also used them against political and economic targets in strikes that have cost hundreds of civilian lives.

In 1991, a suspected Tamil Tiger assassinated former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Two years later, a suicide bomber killed Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa and 23 others in Colombo. Tamil Tiger suicide attackers also staged devastating strikes on the country's central bank, its holiest Buddhist shrine and its international airport.

Robert A. Pape, an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, calls the group the world's "leading instigator" of suicide attacks. In his recent book "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism," Pape says that the group accounted for 76 of 315 suicide attacks carried out around the world from 1980 through 2003, compared with 54 for the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, and 27 for Islamic Jihad.

Some analysts say the group's strategy, though reprehensible, was effective in pushing the government toward a negotiated settlement.

"The suicide bombings in civilian areas, especially outside the conflict zones of the northeast, brought to the people outside the horror of the war and the vulnerability of society, " Jehan Perera of the National Peace Council, an advocacy group in Colombo, said in a telephone interview.

Laqueur, the author of "A History of Terrorism" and other books, disagrees, noting that the Tigers' primary goal -- to gain power -- has not been achieved after more than two decades of bloodshed. But he said Sri Lanka does illustrate how religious extremism has not always been central to the tactic. "It's not purely a religious thing; it's fanaticism," Laqueur said in an interview from London. "It just happens that, now, we are seeing the fanaticism primarily with Islam."

Iraq Is Now the Focus

Even as the Tigers have abandoned suicide attacks, others have adopted the tactic as their own. In Russia, Chechen Muslim radicals have mounted at least 19 suicide operations, according to Pape's statistics, including those in one terribly deadly week last year when hundreds died in a fiery siege at a school, a bombing at a Moscow train station and the downing of two airliners.

Al Qaeda has also favored suicide plots on more than 20 occasions since 1996 against the United States and its allies, including the unprecedented Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people.

But for sheer volume, Iraq is now the global center of suicide terrorism. In the days before yesterday's bombing, 27 people, mostly children, died in a suicide attack staged as soldiers handed out treats, and at least 25 others were killed when 10 suicide bombers targeted vehicles in coordinated attacks in Baghdad.

Though sporadic ambushes and roadside bombings began to plague U.S.-led occupation troops almost immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship in April 2003, the beginning of a full-fledged insurgency is generally traced to the suicide car bombing of the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad on Aug. 7 of that year. The attack, which killed 14, was followed two weeks later by a suicide truck-bomb attack that destroyed the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad and killed at least 20 people.

Delivered primarily in vehicles but also by individuals wearing rigged belts or vests, suicide bombs have killed and injured thousands. Vehicular suicide bombs, in particular, are "very lethal precision weapons that . . . have significant effect wherever they're employed," said the U.S. military's chief spokesman in Iraq, Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Alston.

"If we look at what it takes to drive a bomb-laden vehicle into a crowd of people, it is not that challenging to perform that function -- especially if you're willing to give your life," Alston said.
Who the suicide bombers are, and what motivates them, remains much less clear in Iraq than in Israel and the occupied territories, where the attackers' identities are quickly and widely disseminated by Palestinian factions and Israeli authorities.

Neither side in the Iraqi conflict has been willing or able to release detailed information on suicide bombers. U.S. and Iraqi authorities say they are certain that the vast majority of suicide bombers come from outside Iraq. But gathering forensic evidence is often impossible because of the continuing danger at bombing sites.

Pape says that attacks in Iraq and elsewhere show that "the connection between Islamic fundamentalism and suicide bombing is misleading."

"The logic driving these attacks is mainly a strategic goal: to compel the U.S. and other countries to remove their forces from the Arabian peninsula," Pape said. "The London attacks are simply the next step in al Qaeda executing its strategic logic."

Others disagree, arguing that even if terrorist leaders have strategic reasons for choosing suicide attacks, the bombers and their families are often motivated by religious belief. Hoffman calculates that 31 of 35 groups that have used suicide bombings are Islamic.

"To try to reduce it to an agenda that is purely political is to misunderstand religion," Benjamin said. "The reason that bin Laden and his followers want the U.S. out of the Middle East has religious roots."

The Cult of Glorification

The boys all know the way to Ahmed Abu Khalil's house, tucked along an alley in a neighborhood of the West Bank town of Atil known as Two Martyrs. Abu Khalil, 18, became its third after he blew himself up Tuesday near a shopping mall in the Israeli city of Netanya.

It is safe to say Abu Khalil knew how he would be remembered here for his twilight attack outside the HaSharon Mall, which killed five Israelis, including two 16-year-old girls who were lifelong best friends. Scores more were injured in Israel's third suicide bombing this year.

The neighborhood is named for two local members of Islamic Jihad, the radical Palestinian group, who died fighting in the West Bank city of Jenin in 2003. The stylized posters of young men, posing with assault rifles and draped with ammunition belts, wallpaper the city. Graffiti urges uprising.

"This has given us a lot of pride, what he has done in Netanya," said Ibrahim Shoukri, 14, who used to follow Abu Khalil to prayer at the mosque. "We hope all of us will be like him."

The cult of glorification -- a mix of nationalist, personal and religious fervor -- that surrounds suicide bombers has long been one of the most difficult challenges facing Israeli security officials. Religious justification taught in the more radical West Bank mosques and intense familial pride -- at least in the days immediately after the attacks -- often outweigh the Israeli deterrent measures designed to make would-be suicide bombers think twice.

Judging by statistics, Israeli officials have made significant progress against suicide attacks since the start of the intifada in September 2000. At the height of the uprising in 2002, 42 suicide bombings killed 228 people. Two years later, the number had dropped to 12 bombings and 55 deaths.

Israeli officials say the construction of a concrete barrier that rises 24 feet high in some places and the intensive military operations in the West Bank have helped keep suicide bombers out of Israel. In addition, the Israeli military destroys the family homes of suicide bombers, a practice human rights groups have condemned as an illegal exercise of collective punishment.

Dore Gold, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said the tactic is designed in part to counter the financial incentives offered by enemy governments -- and some nongovernmental groups in Arab countries -- which encourage the bombings. Hussein's Baath Party, for example, sent $15,000 checks to bombers' families, a lot of money in poor West Bank towns.

"If you know your family will be impoverished as a result of your act, then that may affect the calculus," Gold said.

In Atil on Tuesday morning, Abu Khalil left his house at 7 a.m., telling his family he was on his way to check his test scores. He never returned. The family found out about his attack from the television news.

Within hours, Israeli soldiers arrived at the family home. They arrested Khalil's father, who is now in an Israeli military prison outside the northern West Bank. Why and how Abu Khalil carried out the bombing remains a mystery. "God knows how he got through the wall," said an uncle, Burhan Abu Khalil. "The Islamic Jihad organizes those things."

One recent morning, Palestinian television crews filled the family courtyard. As more than a dozen teenage boys looked on, the reporters posed 14-year-old Mahmoud and 4-year-old Othman with their brother's picture, seeking their impressions. They put a black Islamic Jihad cap on Mahmoud's head.

"Put the picture here on your chest," the leader of a crew instructed Othman, the videotape rolling. "What did he tell you, what did he tell you?"

The boys looked nervous, confused. Finally, Mahmoud said, "He told me to pray."

Wilson reported from Atil on the West Bank. Correspondents John Lancaster in New Delhi and Andy Mosher in Baghdad and researcher Robert Thomason in Washington contributed to this report.

7.28.2005

Public Diplomacy Chief-Designate Seeks Dialogue and Advocacy

Karen Hughes says if considered fairly, freedom will prevail over tyranny

In reaching out to publics around the world, the United States is seeking both a dialogue with other cultures and faiths and the opportunity to create “the connections and conditions that allow people to make up their own minds,” says Karen Hughes, President Bush’s choice for under secretary of state for public diplomacy.

Following is the text of Under Secretary-designate Hughes’ opening statement:

Opening Statement of Karen Hughes
Nominee forUnder Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Senate Foreign Relations Committee

July 22, 2005

Thank you Chairman Lugar, Ranking Member Biden and distinguished members of this committee. I thank Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Senator John Cornyn for their friendship and support, and for the outstanding job they do representing our beloved state of Texas.

My husband, Jerry, is with me today, and I thank him for his support. I'm sorry our children couldn't be here; our daughter is picking our granddaughter up at camp, and are son is - story of our life - at a baseball tournament in Texas. They're very supportive. When I asked my son whether he thought I should take on this great challenge he said yes. I asked why, and he said, "Because you really care about it, Mom - and it's really important for my generation."

I am honored and humbled that President Bush and Secretary Rice have asked me to lead America's public diplomacy at this historic time because it is vitally important for all of us and for the next generation, not only here in America but for precious children everywhere.

I believe there is no more important challenge for our future than the urgent need to foster greater understanding, more respect and a sense of common interests and common ideals among Americans and people of different countries, cultures and faiths throughout the world. The mission of public diplomacy is to engage, inform, and help others understand our policies, actions and values - but I am mindful that before we seek to be understood, we must first work to understand.

During one of my visits to Afghanistan, I heard an old Afghan proverb that I believe sets a good standard for our public diplomacy. The proverb counsels: "It takes two hands to clap." As Secretary Rice has said, public diplomacy is a conversation, not a monologue.

If I had the opportunity to say just one thing to people throughout the world, it would be: I am eager to listen. I want to learn more about you and your lives, what you believe, what you fear, what you dream, what you value most. Should I be confirmed, I plan to travel and reach out to both citizens and leaders of other countries, and I plan to mobilize our government to do more listening. And as I travel, I am eager to share the story of the goodness OA' 01 of the American people. Our country, while far from perfect, has been a tremendous force for good, liberating millions and bringing help and hope to countless lives.

I recognize that the job ahead will be difficult. Perceptions do not change quickly or easily. We are involved in a generational and global struggle of ideas - a struggle that pits the power of hate against the power of hope. As Prime Minister Tony Blair said after the horror of the London bombings, "This is a battle that must be won, a battle not just about the terrorist methods but their views. Not just their barbaric acts, but their barbaric ideas."

In the long run, the way to prevail in this battle is through the power of our ideals; for they speak to all of us, every people in every land on every continent. Given a fair hearing, I am sure they will prevail. People the world over want to be able to speak their minds, choose their leaders and worship freely. People the world over want to be treated with dignity and respect. People everywhere want to feel safe in their homes; parents want a better life for their children. Our adversaries resort to propaganda, myths, intimidation and control because they don't want people to decide for themselves. In contrast, we want to create the connections and conditions that allow people to make up their own minds, because we are confident that given a fair hearing and a free choice, people will choose freedom over tyranny and tolerance over extremism every time.

I will be guided by four strategic pillars that I call the four "E's": engagement, exchanges, education and empowerment.

We need to engage more vigorously. We cannot expect people to give a fair hearing to our ideas if we don't advocate them. And research shows, when people know that America is partnering with their governments to improve their lives, it makes a difference in how they think about us. America must improve our rapid response, and, as Secretary Rice has said, we must do much more to confront hateful propaganda, dispel dangerous myths, and get out the truth.

The second E is exchanges. People who have the opportunity to come here learn for themselves that Americans are generous, hard-working people who value faith and family. I want to recognize our new Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Dina Habib Powell, who will be my deputy if I'm confirmed. She is justifiably proud of her rich Middle Eastern heritage and will bring that valuable perspective to our work every day.

Our exchange programs are responding to the new realities of the post-911 world, reaching out to critical new participants such as clerics and community leaders. We need to make our exchange programs even more strategic, attracting teachers, journalists, youth leaders and others who have the ability to influence a wide circle. We want more American young people to study and travel abroad. And I have a special message for young people across the world: we're improving our visa process, and we want you to come and study in America.

The third pillar is education - for we know education is the path to upward mobility and greater opportunity - for boys and girls. Americans must educate ourselves to be better citizens of our world - learning different languages and learning more about other countries and cultures. And through English language training programs, we can give young people a valuable tool that helps them improve their own lives and learn more about our values.

The final "E" is empowerment - people cannot give a fair hearing to our ideas if they are unable to consider them. We will take the side of those who advocate greater participation for all, including women. We will create relationships with those who share our values and we will help amplify the voices of those who speak up for them - like the brave young Pakistani woman who spoke out to say that rape is a terrible crime - not a matter of honor.

Members of the committee, if confirmed, I will seek and I will need your help. I know many of you care deeply about public diplomacy. America's public diplomacy is neither Democratic nor Republican but American - and who better to represent our values than those of you who represent us every day. I will call on you - for input, for ideas, and to represent our country overseas.

I am also indebted to the many citizens who have given a great deal of thought and work to nearly 30 comprehensive reports on public diplomacy. Many leaders of those efforts have taken time to meet with and advise me. I am indebted to them, and I will need their continued help. They have made important suggestions for strengthening public diplomacy. The State Department has responded by increasing our outreach to younger and broader audiences, by inviting more women and representatives of the Arab and Muslim world to visit our country - and we have much more to do.

After this thoughtful and thorough analysis, now is the time for action and implementation. Members of the committee, I welcome your ideas as we go forward and I want to share some of my priorities.

First, almost every report cited the critical need to reinvigorate the interagency process. President Bush and Secretary Rice have asked me to lead that effort from the State Department, to identify and marshal all the communications and public diplomacy resources of our different government agencies and provide leadership to make our efforts more coordinated and more strategic.

Numerous reports also cited the vital need to more fully integrate policy and public diplomacy. Secretary Rice and I learned from working together at the White House that, in today's world, the two are almost inextricably linked. Secretary Rice has told me that, if confirmed, she intends for me personally and public diplomacy institutionally to play a key role in policy development.

To do that effectively, we must invest in our people. I will work to reinvigorate public diplomacy as a vibrant, vital career path. Our professionals in the Foreign Service, the Civil Service and the Foreign Service National cadre are incredibly dedicated; they do important, difficult, often dangerous work around our world. I will do all I can to support and empower them with strategic and policy guidance and the training and tools they need to carry out their mission on the front lines of diplomacy. I intend to serve as the advocate for a reinvigorated public diplomacy community in the State Department.

We also must develop effective ways to marshal the great creativity of our private sector. American companies, universities, private foundations, our travel industry all have extensive contact with people throughout the world.

Our music and film industries, artists and entertainers create powerful impressions - sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always powerful. I welcome ideas to more fully engage the private sector because I believe this engagement is critical to our success.

I will also seek to involve and empower our most important national asset: our citizens. Since the announcement of my nomination, I have received heartfelt letters from my fellow Americans who want to help share our story with the world. Through the Internet, through video-conferencing, through our citizen ambassador program, I will seek ways to foster greater communication between foreign publics and the people of America.

America's public diplomacy has a proud and successful history; today we face new and different challenges. During the Cold War, we were trying to get information into largely closed societies whose people were hungry for that knowledge. Today, we are more often competing for attention and credibility in the midst of an information explosion. We need to be more creative in our communications, using new technologies, and we need to strengthen our use of research and the evaluation of our programs to determine how to be most effective.

President Bush recently told one of our new ambassadors: "Your job is primarily public diplomacy." At a time when rumor and myth reach mass audiences in seconds, communicating with foreign publics is vital to the success of our foreign policy and it is the job of all of us, from public diplomacy and public affairs professional to ambassador, to Cabinet Secretary, to Senator, to President, to every individual American.

Distinguished Senators: I feel particularly privileged to have been asked to serve at this time in our nation's history, when Secretary of State Rice has called for a new transformational diplomacy to advance President Bush's agenda of freedom and dignity for all people everywhere.

I'll never forget meeting a young woman in Afghanistan who told me of her belief that women should be able to go to school and work and choose their husbands. As I was leaving, she asked the translator to stop me: "Please don't forget us," she said, "please help us live in freedom."

I hope that through this work, together we can help many more people live in freedom. I promise I will always speak from the heart, and I will always stand for what the President has called the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, private property, free speech, equal justice and religious tolerance.

We do not expect instant results. This struggle of ideas will span generations. But I am confident our ideals will prevail. As President Bush said, "There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom."

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be happy to answer any questions.

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

Strong International Consensus Backs Two-State Solution in Mideast

State's Brencick expresses U.S. concern over closure of Syria-Lebanon border

A strong international consensus has developed behind President Bush's vision for the establishment of a Palestinian state existing in peace and security alongside Israel, according to William Brencick, political counselor at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

"Right now, the focus of our efforts, as well as those of the international community, is on working toward a successful implementation of the Gaza disengagement plan," Brencick added in his statement to the U.N. Security Council July 21.

He said the central challenge facing the Israeli plan to withdraw from Gaza is improving the security situation.

"[O]verall Palestinian performance confronting terrorism has been far from satisfactory, and this remains an area of concern for us," Brencick said in his statement.

Brencick also expressed deep U.S. concern about Syria's closure of its border with Lebanon.

"This is clearly an attempt by the Syrian government to strangle the economy of Lebanon by impeding trade," Brencick said.

Following is the text of Brencick's statement:

(begin text)

U.S. Department of StateStatement by William Brencick
Political Counselor, U.S. Mission to the United Nations,
In the Security Council
July 21, 2005

The Situation In The Middle East

MR. BRENCICK: The U.S. welcomes the opportunity to discuss comprehensively the situation in the Middle East and reiterate our serious concerns regarding the challenges the international community faces in bringing about a more peaceful, prosperous and democratic region.

With respect to the Israeli-Palestinian situation, it has been three years since President Bush first put forth his vision of two democratic states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace and security. Since then, a strong international consensus has developed behind this vision and behind the road map for peace designed to reach that vision. Both parties have clear obligations under that road map. Progress on the road map and moving toward that vision of two states in peace and security cannot be achieved by rhetoric and blame.

Right now, the focus of our efforts, as well as those of the international community, is on working toward a successful implementation of the Gaza disengagement plan. U.S. Security Coordinator William Ward has been on the ground since March 9 to assist in reforming the security services and to coordinate international assistance in the area. Quartet Special Envoy Jim Wolfensohn has identified six short-term and three longer-term challenges to economic recovery and is working closely with the parties on these issues. Overall progress has been made but much work needs to be done to ensure that this complex operation is a success.

Gaza disengagement holds out the possibility to reenergize the road map and realize real progress towards peace. We believe the road map and existing mechanisms, including the quartet, are the best avenues for moving the parties forward. Everyone here supports this road map, and the Council has specifically endorsed it.

A central challenge to be addressed between now and mid-August remains improving the security situation and creating the conditions that will be conducive to the success of the Disengagement plan.

President Abbas has taken some concrete steps toward security reform, which we encourage. He has made clear that he will hold his security chiefs accountable for their performance in halting attacks on Israelis. However, overall Palestinian performance confronting terrorism has been far from satisfactory, and this remains an area of concern for us.

Turning to the situation in Lebanon, we urge the new Lebanese government to move toward full implementation of UNSCR 1559, including militia disarmament. Our position on Hezbollah has not changed. It is a designated foreign terrorist organization and cannot play a role as a legitimate political actor until it renounces violence and disarms. The recent violent events initiated by Hezbollah along the blue line on June 29 and July 12 underscore the danger this militia poses to international peace and security.

Mr. President, we are also deeply concerned about Syria's closure of its border with Lebanon. Though we welcome legitimate efforts to interdict illicit trade and the movement of terrorists and their assets, the severity of this effort clearly illustrates an ulterior motive on the part of the Syrians. This is clearly an attempt by the Syrian government to strangle the economy of Lebanon by impeding trade across their border, which is Lebanon's gateway to the rest of the Arab world, and a means of continuing to interfere in Lebanese affairs.

This situation underscores the need for the two governments to establish normal and sovereign relations between themselves in order to resolve problems such as this one. At the same time, this is an issue that is affecting Lebanon's trade with other Arab nations and we would expect that they would also make their views known to the Lebanese and Syrian governments.

This is yet another example of Syria interfering in Lebanon. The Syrian government is signaling not only to the Lebanese, but to the rest of the world, that it is still trying to call the shots there.

Thank you, Mr. President.

(end text)

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

Rice Conveys U.S. Support to New Lebanese Government

Calls on Syria to remove intelligence forces, open border to trade

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced visit to Lebanon July 22 to convey the United States' support to the newly selected government of Prime Minister-designate Fouad Seniora and to urge all parties to implement the provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 that call for the removal of all foreign forces from Lebanese territory and the disbanding of all militias.

After meeting with Seniora, Rice told reporters she traveled to Lebanon “to support the new Lebanon, and the new Lebanon is one that is democratic, the new Lebanon is one that should be free of foreign influence.”

She stressed that Resolution 1559 calls for the removal of all Syrian forces, including intelligence forces. She also urged Syria to open its borders for trade.

Rice said that the United States is prepared to support the new Lebanese government as it undertakes economic and political reforms and that the international community will welcome the changes taking place in Lebanon.

“I think that [Lebanon] is going to find an international system that is very strongly committed to a Lebanon that is free of violence, that is free of terrorism, that is unified and the Lebanon where all people of Lebanon feel represented and safe,” she said.

Rice called the political process under way in Lebanon “a wonderful breakthrough for the Lebanese people.”

The transcript of Rice’s remarks

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

7.25.2005

The Core of U.S. Foreign Policy

In 2003, the undersecretary of state for global affairs Paula J. Dobriansky defended the administration's pro-democracy policies in response to Thomas Carothers’ article "Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terror" in the foreign affairs journal.

The outcomes of the latest two years are in favor of undersecretary Dobriansky but this issue-the contradiction between the war on terrorism and democracy promotion is still in debate.

I see an equation of three elements in the U.S. international relations and policies, which we must consider seriously when approaching this debate, the power and assets of the U.S. (sticks and carrots), the engagement with the undemocratic states, and the U.S. package of demands concerning the war on terror and the democratic reform. The existence of these three elements in every single policy is necessary to its effectiveness and successfulness. Hence, every single policy for every situation or country has its own equation of these three elements, specialized and differentiated from any other one, depending on the empirical reality, the desired result and the relative availability, suitability and fruitfulness of each element under right sense of proportion. The result would be a particular equation which its variables –the three elements- will result in the attempted object.

The engagement with the undemocratic regimes is not always productive or counterproductive. The suitability and scope of this engagement must be determined in each situation. Egypt is an example of the productive case.

The following is the Dobriansky’s account with Carothers’ response:

The Core of U.S. Foreign Policy

Paula J. Dobriansky

Thomas Carothers' article "Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terror" (January/February 2003) critiques the Bush administration's democracy promotion record and offers some broad recommendations on how best to integrate human rights causes into American foreign policy. The author's long-term involvement in democracy-related activities and his passion about this subject are commendable, but both his analysis and his policy prescriptions are unpersuasive.

Carothers alleges that, driven by imperatives related to the war on terrorism, the administration has come to cooperate with a number of authoritarian regimes and turned a blind eye to various antidemocratic practices carried out by these newfound allies. This claim is incorrect. The administration's September 2002 National Security Strategy, which lays out our post-September 11 strategic vision, prominently features democracy promotion. The strategy describes it as a core part of our overall national security doctrine and commits us to help other countries realize their full potential:

In pursuit of our goals, our first imperative is to clarify what we stand for: the United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere.... America must stand firmly for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the absolute power of the state; free speech; freedom of worship; equal justice; respect for women; religious and ethnic tolerance; and respect for private property.

It is also a matter of record that this administration, whenever it encounters evidence of serious human rights violations or antidemocratic practices in specific countries, has raised a voice of opposition to such violations and sought to address these problems. This is certainly the case with such countries as Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia, as well as Russia, Uzbekistan, and China. In general, we do this irrespective of the identity of the offender and, when circumstances merit it, criticize even some of our close allies. We manifest our concerns through a variety of channels, including diplomatic dialogue, both public and private, and the State Department's reports on human rights, international religious freedom, and trafficking in persons.

Bilateral efforts aside, a great deal of our multilateral diplomacy, including American engagement at the UN and the Organization of American States, is shaped by the imperatives of human rights and democracy promotion. Although greatly distressed by the selection of Libya to chair the UN Human Rights Commission, the United States intends to remain a driving force at the commission and will challenge this forum to fulfill its mandate to uphold international standards on human rights. We have also worked hand in hand with other democracies to strengthen the Community of Democracies (CD). I led the American delegation to last November's CD meeting in Seoul, where delegates adopted an ambitious plan of action with many specific initiatives designed to enable emerging democracies from different parts of the world to share "best practices" and help each other.

For the Bush administration, democracy promotion is not just a "made in the U.S." venture, but a goal shared with many other countries. We also seek to broaden our partnerships with local and global nongovernmental organizations and international organizations, so that we can work together on democracy promotion, advancement of human rights, and humanitarian relief. In fact, the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and other organizations have played pivotal roles in the development of a democratic culture and the strengthening of civil society.

Ironically, many of the world's countries, including some of our allies, often chide us not for failing to do enough in the democracy arena, but for trying to do too much, for elevating democratic imperatives above those of trade and diplomatic politesse. Yet we remain committed to doing what is right. President George W. Bush observed in his June 1, 2002, West Point speech, "Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right or wrong. I disagree. Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities." When appropriate, we go beyond words and subject persistent human rights violators to economic sanctions and other forms of pressure. I cannot think of any other country that has been as willing as the United States has to use both soft and hard power to promote democracy.

To be sure, some have argued that we should do even more, and specifically that we should withhold military and intelligence cooperation from certain of our allies whose human rights records leave much to be desired. As they see it, we improperly allow realpolitik considerations to trump the human rights imperatives. But this argument is myopic. No responsible U.S. decision-maker can allow our foreign policy to be driven by a single imperative, no matter how important. Thus, our policy toward a given country or region is shaped by a variety of considerations, including security concerns, economic issues, and human rights imperatives. The most difficult task of our statecraft is to strike the right balance among these imperatives and arrive at the policy mix that best advances an entire set of our values and interests. Invariably, it is a nuanced and balanced approach that produces the best results. And invariably, this administration has struck the right balance. For example, in the post-September 11 environment, as we began to engage a number of Central Asian governments whose help we needed to prosecute the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban, we simultaneously intensified our efforts to improve the human rights situation in these countries. By cooperating on intelligence and security issues, we have actually enhanced our leverage on democracy-related matters. Although a great deal more needs to be done, we believe that this integrated approach is working.

Any effort to juxtapose or contrast our efforts to win the war against terrorism and our democracy-promotion strategy is conceptually flawed. Pan-national terrorist groups (such as al Qaeda) and rogue regimes (such as that of the Taliban or of Saddam Hussein) pose grave threats to democratic systems, as do the xenophobic, intolerant ideologies that they espouse. Accordingly, fighting against these forces is both in our national security interest and a key ingredient of democracy promotion. And democracy promotion is the best antidote to terrorism. Significantly, the Seoul Plan of Action, adopted at the 2002 CD meeting, contains a series of actions that democracies can take to counter emerging threats through the promotion of democracy.

Carothers also criticizes what he terms an "instrumentalization" of our democracy promotion. In essence, he complains that, for example, the administration's efforts to promote democracy in a post-Saddam Iraq and, more generally, to advance democracy across the Arab world are somehow tainted because we have other reasons for our actions -- e.g., removing the threat that Saddam's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and his long-standing defiance of the international community pose to the world. Democracy promotion, it seems, should not only trump all other foreign policy imperatives; it should always be the one and only policy driver. This, of course, would immunize human rights offenders and despots who also present security threats -- not an outcome that anyone who cares about human rights causes should welcome. More generally, the fact that we are advancing policies that simultaneously promote democracy over the long haul and mitigate the security threats that we face in the near term underscores the extent to which human rights causes have become integrated into our foreign policy. In a very real sense, this is American statecraft at its best.

Despite the enormous demands of the war against terrorism, this administration has found time for and evidenced keen interest in launching several major new democracy-promotion initiatives. Although human rights and democracy causes have a long bipartisan pedigree, it has been the Bush administration that has reordered the country's approach to development assistance so as to reward and encourage "good governance" through a pathbreaking initiative: the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). In 2003 alone, the administration has requested $1.3 billion for the MCA, which means 15 percent of our foreign assistance will be dedicated to good governance, investment in people, and economic development. In addition to changing our own policy, the leadership and commitment President Bush displayed at the March 2002 Monterrey summit on financing development have convinced many of our allies, international lending and aid-delivery institutions, and the un to change the ways in which they do business.

The administration has also launched a high-level initiative to improve political, economic, and cultural participation by women and combat discrimination against them. This effort began in Afghanistan, where the Taliban regime practiced what amounted to gender apartheid, and grew into a broad, sustained campaign focused on those governments that deprive women of political and economic opportunity. This strategy is spearheaded by the Office of International Women's Issues at the State Department and has featured participation by the president and the first lady, Secretary of State Colin Powell, presidential adviser Karen Hughes, and numerous other senior administration officials. Our overarching goal is to improve women's access to education and health and ensure that nowhere in the world are women treated as second-class citizens, unable to work, vote, or realize their dreams. We have also launched a Middle East Partnership Initiative that seeks to support political, economic, and educational reform in that region.

Overall, the promotion of democracy is a key foreign policy goal of the Bush administration. This sentiment is reflected in all of our international endeavors and is animated by a mixture of both idealistic and pragmatic impulses. We seek to foster a global society of nations, in which freedom and democracy reign and human aspirations are fully realized.

Paula J. Dobriansky is Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs.

CAROTHERS REPLIES

I am frankly astonished that Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky attempts to refute the central thesis of my article: that the war on terrorism has impelled the Bush administration to seek friendlier relations with authoritarian regimes in many parts of the world for the sake of their cooperation on security matters. It is simply a fact that since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has sought closer ties and enhanced security cooperation with a host of authoritarian or semi-authoritarian regimes -- in Algeria, Bahrain, China, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Pakistan, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and even Syria.

Dobriansky claims that the administration always strikes the right balance between democracy and security, and that whenever the administration has encountered antidemocratic practices on the part of its security partners, it has raised a voice of opposition. As I highlighted in my article, in some cases, such as Uzbekistan, the administration has indeed tried to leaven its new security embrace with urgings to do better on human rights and democracy. Even in such situations, however, the overall message of the new relationships -- with their friendly, public words of praise during high-level visits, their heightened security cooperation, and, often, their enlarged aid packages -- is one of support for undemocratic regimes. Moreover, unfortunately, in some cases the administration has not voiced any substantial objection to overtly antidemocratic practices.

For example, the renewed U.S.-Pakistan relationship developed precisely in a period when President Pervez Musharraf was carrying out a series of antidemocratic actions, including rewriting key parts of the Pakistani constitution to ensure his continued rule. President Bush has repeatedly avoided making any criticisms of these measures. At a press conference last August, he made America's priorities with Pakistan crystal clear when, in response to a direct question about Musharraf's manhandling of the constitution, he said the following: "My reaction about President Musharraf, he's still tight with us on the war against terror, and that's what I appreciate." About the Pakistani leader's abridgment of human rights and democracy, Bush could manage only a tepid statement: "To the extent that our friends promote democracy, it's important. We will continue to work with our friends and allies to promote democracy."

The point of my article was not to excoriate the Bush administration for struggling with the tension between the war on terrorism and democracy promotion. Rather, it was to discuss the problem openly and clearly and to identify where and how the tension can be better mitigated.

Dobriansky's insistence that there is no tension, and her relentless portrait of the United States as a country uniquely devoted to democracy promotion, is part of a pattern of rhetorical overkill by administration officials that weakens rather than strengthens this country's credibility in the eyes of others. People around the world are quite capable of seeing that the United States has close, even intimate relations with many undemocratic regimes for the sake of American security and economic interests, and that, like many other countries, the United States struggles very imperfectly to balance its ideals with the realist imperatives it faces. A more honest acknowledgment of this reality and a considerable toning down of self-congratulatory statements about the United States' unparalleled altruism on the world stage would be a big boost in the long run to a more credible pro-democracy policy.

Research: “pacted transitions” to democracy in Arab states

In “Democracy in the Arab Region: Getting There from Here (Middle East Policy, vol. 12, no. 2, Summer 2005, 28-35) Alan Richards discusses prospects for “pacted transitions” to democracy in Arab states.

My realistic approach and methodology put me away from adopting the “pacted transitions” term of this article, but it is useful to highlight the diversity of thoughts in this domain.

The following is the text of this article:

Democracy in the Arab Region: Getting There from Here

Alan Richards

Dr. Richards is professor of economics and environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.1

For a printable pdf version of this article, click here.

Successive Arab Human Devel- opment Reports have extensively documented the "freedom and good-governance deficit" in the Arab region. There is likewise consensus that a "democracy deficit" both exists and contributes to the other deficits that have been the focus of previous reports. Although democracy is no panacea for the problems of the Arab (or any other) region, there are excellent reasons to suppose that more accountable governance would certainly help, and there are firm grounds to support transitions to more democratic governance simply for their own sake.

A "democracy deficit" contributes very strongly to the "freedom deficit," although, as we all know, democracies can also repress dissent and behave intolerantly. After all, freedom, however conceived, may be threatened not only by the actions of a repressive state apparatus, but also by strong demands for conformity from civil society. A transition to democracy would very likely reduce the first threat to freedom, which would be a huge contribution to the peoples of the region and, indeed, to everyone in the world.

It also seems clear that a democratic transition would make a significant contribution to "development as freedom."2 By enhancing accountability, it would also very plausibly improve economic governance and stimulate investment. It could, for the same reason, improve environmental protection and the sustainable growth of the "wealth of nations." It would almost certainly be an improvement over the current scene, in which corrupt elites enrich themselves while plundering natural capital, neglecting human-capital formation by the poor, and impeding physical-capital formation by less privileged economic agents.

Students of democracy employ various perspectives on democratization. Some focus on the meaning of fundamental principles such as freedom, equality, participation and legitimacy. Others concentrate on the institutional structures that are needed, such as an independent judiciary, a functioning parliament and human-rights laws. Still others examine the role and functioning of "civil society" in stimulating the demand for democracy and freedom. Those electing to study civil society typically try to explain what the concept means, why it matters, how it is now faring, and what can be done to strengthen it now and in the immediate future. All such studies are valuable in helping us better understand democratic institutions. They tell us much about the question "What is democracy?" They also tell us something about "Who wants democracy?" To use an economic metaphor, they tell us about the demand for democracy.

They tell us rather less, however, about two other, critical questions: "Who will effect a transition to more democratic governance?" and "How will this transition happen?" They tell us little, in short, about how and by whom democracy is supplied. Now, in an important sense, such questions cannot, indeed should not, be answered a priori. They cannot be so answered for the region as a whole, simply because of the specificity of national experiences and the vast complexity of events such as democratic transitions. Large-scale historical changes of any kind are the product of "conjunctures," the simultaneous occurrence of many disparate forces. The complexity and indeterminacy of such changes are well-reflected in the fact that historians and political analysts continue to debate, for example, the causes of the French, Russian, Mexican and Iranian revolutions. They likewise dispute, and will continue to contest, why and how democracy came to Eastern Europe, Korea, Chile and so on. Such questions also should not be answered in advance, because, after all, the self-selection of who undertakes democratic transitions, and how they do this, is itself part of the democratic process. Such a process, by its very nature, can only unfold with the freely given participation of the relevant social actors.

Nevertheless, there remains a place for analyzing both the questions of "Who?" and "How?" One can sketch some broad answers to these questions without presuming to provide definitive answers or preempt the actual political process. One may simply point to a few important forces and issues which, in the analyst's judgment, require the attention of the relevant social actors who, alone, can effect the transition to democracy in any country. This brief paper tries to do this.

PACTED TRANSITIONS

Several insights from the literature on democratic transitions may help us to understand both what forces have impeded democratization in the region and how more accountable governance may be enhanced. One prominent analysis3 distinguishes between two phases of the transition, "extrication from authoritarian rule" and "constitution of a democratic one." When the repressive powers of the state are intact during the transition (Chile, South Korea), the first process dominates. When these institutions have shattered, typically thanks either to military defeat (Argentina, Greece) or to strong civilian-party control of the repressive apparatus (Eastern Europe), the second process is "unencumbered by extrication," which removes (in theory) at least one barrier to success. From a regional perspective, however, one should note that in both the Greek and Argentine cases, the military defeat shattered the legitimacy of the dictatorship and was not followed by any occupation by foreign forces. The salutary benefits of defeat in war for democracy are greatly diminished if these two features are absent, as the current Iraqi situation suggests.

Especially for a transition that requires a simultaneous extrication from authoritar-ianism and a transition to democracy, three features are necessary: 1) A sufficiently large number of reformers within the existing regime must reach an agreement with moderate opponents of the regime; 2) the reformers must persuade military/security hardliners within the regime to cooperate with institutional change; and 3) moderates must contain their allies, the more radical opponents of the regime. Only if all three conditions are met will it be possible for a large enough set of social actors to believe that a credible commitment has been made by both current power wielders and their opponents to follow a set of rules of the game in which defeat at the polls does not mean annihilation. The literature describes (infelicitously, alas) such coalitions and their fruits as "pacted transitions," so called because a tacit agreement or pact between moderates inside the government and in opposition is necessary for a transition toward democratic rule.

POLITICAL ECONOMY OF ARAB AUTOCRACY

Several historical forces have conspired to impede such transitions in the Arab region. One major historical force is the dominant position of the military and security apparatuses in Arab polities, many of whose members are hardliners. The social formation often known as the mukhabarat state is itself very much the product of the struggle against European colonialism and the intersection of that struggle with the Cold War between the United States and the USSR. For at least the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, Arab governments unsurprisingly believed that they needed to be militarily strong to protect their often hard-won independence. (The Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq has revived these fears.) The continued conflict with Israel has been understandably perceived as an extension of this struggle. And, during the Cold War, an authoritarian military regime could always count on support from one superpower, provided that such an Arab regime made suitable political moves against the other superpower. In short, the fact that the often-violent struggle for independence was followed by a half-century of conflict with Israel, in a context of global Cold War, greatly strengthened authoritarianism.

A second critical barrier to transition has been the "low dependence of states on citizens."4 This is a variant, of course, of the "rentier state" argument.5 Although it was first formulated in the context of oil rents, it has been extended to include what we might call "strategic rents," as the preceding paragraph suggests. So long as authoritarian governments have sufficient resources, whatever their other failings, they may have little incentive to reform. Oil and strategic location, from a superpower perspective, continue to provide important barriers to "pacted transitions" away from authoritarian rule in the region.

The decline in oil prices in the 1980s and 1990s led to much discussion of the weakening of the "authoritarian social contract" (a presumed tacit agreement in which the state supposedly supplied social services to the citizens, while citizens reciprocated with loyalty and obedience). Some Arab democrats hoped that softer oil prices would weaken autocrats sufficiently that they would expand the social space for political participation and foster greater accountability in governance. Unfortunately, however, such a change did not occur on any wide scale; further, the current uptick in oil prices -- which many economists think will persist for some time -- does not bode well for any further weakening of the "rentier state."6

PROSPECTS FOR ARAB "PACTED TRANSITIONS"

A necessary condition for a pacted transition is the willingness of reformers within the state to trust that key regime opponents will both "play by new rules" and control their more radical allies. The problem is fully symmetric: moderate reformers need to know that reformist elements within the state apparatus can and will restrain hardliners. Understanding the conditions under which such a situation can come about seems essential for understanding how and by whose agency democracy might come to the Arab region.

In many Arab countries, the best-organized opposition forces are those of "political Islam." The Islamist movement is huge and diffuse, with many national and local variations. Increasingly, what were formerly called "secular nationalists" in opposition have either joined Islamist movements or are cooperating with them politically. The logic of transition to democracy implies that moderates within the Islamist (and nationalist) camp must be willing to play by democratic rules, convince reform elements within the state of their sincerity, and maintain control over their radical allies. It seems highly probable that such a process will be a protracted and complex one, with reversals as well as advances along the way.

Islamists now participate in elections in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco, Palestine and Yemen. They have tried to do so in Egypt (under the banner of the Hizb al-Wasat), where the Muslim Brotherhood has made many statements confirming its support of fundamental democratic changes, such as fair and free elections, the amendment of the laws on political parties and on professional syndicates, and the lifting of the Emergency Law. Such changes are called for by all Egyptian democrats, regardless of other ideological differences. Further afield, Islamists have participated in elections in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan and Indonesia. Most pertinent here, the current governing party of the Turkish Republic is Islamist, and (Shiite) Islamists hold prominent positions in -- and by some calculations, dominate -- the current interim Iraqi government. Many outside observers (Olivier Roy and Graham Fuller) have noted that there exist strong democratic trends within the (still broader) movements of "political Islam." One of these observers (Fuller) has gone so far as to remark, "The charge, ‘one man, one vote, one time' is no more than a slogan wielded by authoritar-ians and Westerners who fear Islamist power at the ballot box."7

Nowhere in the world has the transition from authoritarianism to democracy been simple. The Arab region is likely to be no exception. Vibrant debates over the relationship between cultural authenticity and democracy have been going on for some time in the Arab region. Yet precisely because Arab authoritarians have remained stronger than their counterparts in some other Muslim-majority countries, even livelier debates have emerged in Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey. Friends of Arab democracy have much to learn from these discussions.

These debates are particularly revealing concerning questions of the relationship between interpretations of Islam and various forms of democracy. There is no doubt that for Islam, as for other faiths (Roman Catholicism, for example), religious texts may be interpreted to prohibit democracy. The fact that some prominent Islamic opposition movements (some salafis) oppose democracy as an alien importation is unsurprising and hardly decisive. After all, the Roman Catholic Church vociferously opposed democracy throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, yet Catholic Europe is today entirely democratic, as is most of largely Catholic Latin America. As noted earlier, Islamist thinkers are now finding ways to ensure that democracy in Muslim-majority countries is culturally authentic. In short, despite the deplorably belligerent rhetoric now fashionable in some American circles, there is little reason to suppose that the "culture" of the Arab region constitutes a barrier to the transition toward democracy. The political-economy model that is sketched above seems a far more parsimonious, and therefore to many analysts a far more persuasive, explanation of the absence of democracy in the region than ponderous and often ill-informed theological pontifications.

Nor is it reasonable to argue that Arab countries are somehow "not ready" for democracy, thanks to their current "level of development." The correlation between democracy and economic development was always rendered suspect by the fact that the world's largest democracy, India, was also desperately poor. Current levels of literacy, education and urbanization in the Arab region are certainly high enough to guarantee a vibrant democracy -- if the critical political barriers can be overcome.

Although much attention has, rightly, been paid to the question of whether many opposition forces are willing to play by the rules of the democratic game, rather less focus has been directed to the other side of the equation: why and how moderate reformers within the regime can restrain the hardliners of the mukhabarat and the armed forces. There are two broad reasons why those in power resist democratization: simple material self-interest and deeply held ideology. After all, wielding the levers of power in an autocratic state permits one to garner substantial rents; bluntly stated, tyrants become rich rentiers. The hardliners ask, "Why should we give up our special privileges, our wealth and our incomes?" One possible response by would-be democratizers could be to show a significant portion of these rentiers that democracy threatens their material comfort rather less than they imagine. After all, the knowledge and connections such people enjoy will continue to be valuable in a democracy. Such a conclusion, indeed, seems to have been drawn by many of the former Soviet nomenklatura.

Economic and status benefits do not fully explain autocrats' reluctance to forge a pacted transition, however. Ideology also matters. The ideological opposition to sharing power that emanates from government circles is usually framed in nationalist terms. Here too, however, Arab democrats have opportunities. After all, autocrats have done rather poorly in defending Arab rights in the international arena. The argument that democracy holds out considerably greater hope for whatever genuine national autonomy remains possible in today's globalized, interdependent world may find a friendly hearing among forward-looking military officers. After all, for nearly all of these men, patriotism runs very deep. It is at least possible that an Islamist-nationalist opposition could forge a "pact" with patriotic reformers within government. The devil, as always, will be in the details of the pact, the level of trust of the respective parties, and the conjuncture within which the pact is negotiated. But such a pact seems to offer the best prospects for a transition to an authentically Arab democracy.

THE DECADE'S DIFFICULT CONJUNCTURE

The key point is that the barriers to a transition away from authoritarianism and toward democracy in the Arab region are fundamentally political. Unfortunately, current developments are far from encouraging here. The ongoing, brutal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has not only greatly weakened or destroyed whatever nascent democracy may have been emerging in Palestine; it has also greatly increased the nervousness of Arab security services and militaries everywhere. The fact that the world's sole superpower simply refuses to restrain the Israeli government helps to ensure that the conflict will get worse, not better. Such a situation, in addition to being a grave and ongoing human-rights disaster, impedes pacted transitions toward democracy by encouraging both hardline authoritarians within governments and extremists in opposition. The American invasion and occupation of Iraq has exacerbated the already high level of nervousness among Arab military and security elites, while greatly strengthening the popular appeal of anti-democratic radicals such as those of al-Qaeda and other jihadi salafis.

The American reaction to the events of September 11, 2001, has also provided a poor environment for pacted transitions. From a political-economy perspective, the main result of the post-9/11 policy shifts in the United States has been to ensure that any authoritarian who resolutely pursued violent enemies of the United States could depend upon U.S. support. Such a policy stance, of course, further bolsters hardliners within authoritarian regimes, giving them fewer reasons than before to seek accommodation with opposition elements.

This is the final barrier, then, to a transition to democracy in the Arab region: the world's sole superpower does not really want it to happen, pious neoconservative rhetoric notwithstanding. As Talleyrand famously remarked, "Nations do not have friends, they have interests." So long as American interests in the Arab region are defined as follows: 1) support for Israel, regardless of its occupation policies in the West Bank and Gaza; 2) opposition to any state having even short-run market power over oil prices; and 3) opposition to any regime that might harbor terrorists, U.S. policies (as opposed to rhetoric and marginal activities, such as support for some NGOs) are likely to undermine pacted transitions.

This is fundamentally the case because the opposition in nearly all Arab countries is dominated by the forces of political Islam. Would the United States really welcome a pacted transition in which, say, moderate Muslim Brothers and reformist, patriotic generals in Egypt agreed to share power? Even assuming that the thorny internal problems of "credible commitment to the democratic rules of the game" had been surmounted, would not the United States oppose such a government, which would vociferously oppose American policy in Palestine and Iraq, for example? Given the current balance of forces in the world today, would not that opposition endanger the transition?

The situation in the Arab region today resembles that of Latin America during the Cold War, when American paranoia about Marxism undermined existing democracies and blocked nascent pacted transitions. As in today's Arab region, the internal and external obstacles to a democratic transition helped to create and reinforce one another. The United States strengthened hardliners (and, therefore, also radicals in opposition), partly because it feared that Marxists would not play by the democratic rules of the game if they won elections. Moderates in opposition were weakened, because radicals could plausibly argue that winning an election would be meaningless, since the hardliners, with U.S. help, would engineer a coup to overthrow an elected opposition government. Substitute "Islamist" for "Marxist," and you have a reasonable picture of the key dynamics thwarting a transition to democracy in the Arab region.

Friends of such transitions, in the Arab region and in the United States, have much work to do in the months and years ahead. Some of us hope that the recent Turkish election may set a standard for an elected, truly democratic, Islamist government. If hardliners in the Turkish military, radicals in the Turkish opposition, and the U.S. government can all refrain from undermining the current government, the Turkish case could set an important precedent for the Arab region. If so, progress toward closing the democracy deficit may accelerate.

It would also greatly help, of course, if the world's only superpower reversed its current declared policy of unilateral military intervention, as well as modified its opposition to the democratic accession to power of the forces of political Islam. Unfortunately, current political and cultural trends in the United States are not encouraging in this regard. On the other hand, Clio, the muse of history, delights in unintended outcomes. To use a different metaphor, politics makes strange bedfellows. Although the United States initially opposed early elections in Iraq, after Ayatollah Sistani turned huge numbers of his followers out in the streets to demand such elections, Washington had little choice but to agree. The United States is now uneasily allied with Shiite Islamist forces in Iraq. Perhaps this experience will help American foreign-policy elites get over their resistance to the accession of Islamist forces to power through elections.8 Skeptics will counter that such a change is unlikely, and that, since the current situation in Iraq is so unstable, the old habits of all agents will soon reassert themselves. In these grim times, however, it may be helpful to remember how quickly historical tides may shift. We can only hope that such a shift may be forthcoming, and soon.

1 This is a slightly revised version of a background paper written in May 2004 for the UNDP's Arab Human Development Report, 2004. It draws on my "On Transition from Authoritarian Rule and the Democratic Potential of Arab Regimes," Newsletter of the Economic Research Forum for the Arab Countries, Iran, and Turkey, Vol. 9, No. 2, Summer 2002 (Cairo: The World Bank).
2 Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999).
3 Adam Przeworski, Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 1991).
4 E.g., Mick Moore, "Political Underdevelopment," paper presented at the Tenth Anniversary Conference of the Development Studies Institute, London School of Economics, New Institutional Theory, Institutional Reform and Poverty Reduction, London, September 7-8, 2000, http://www.ids.ac.uk/idS/govern/pdfs/PolUnderdevel(refs).pdf.
5 E.g., Kirin Aziz Chaudhry, The Price of Wealth: Economies and Institutions in the Arab World (University of California Press, 1999).
6 See, for example, Fareed Mohamedi, "Oil Prices and Regime Resilience in the Gulf," Middle East Report, No. 232, Fall 2004, http://www.merip.org/mer/mer232/mohamedi.html.
7 Graham E. Fuller, The Future of Political Islam (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), p. 138.
8 It is encouraging in this regard to note that J. Scott Carpenter, the American deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, told the U.S.-Islamic World Forum at Doha that the United States was indeed willing to work with Islamists who came to power through elections. "U.S. Will Risk Middle East Reforms," Al-Jazeera, April 13, 2005, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/31ADB105-68FC-4BE8-BC40-90107F2678EF.htm.

7.24.2005

Countries at the Crossroads 2005: A Survey of Democratic Governance

A new Freedom House study, “Countries at the Crossroads 2005: A Survey of Democratic Governance,” assesses governance in 30 countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, and Tunisia. The report evaluates countries according to four broad categories: rule of law, transparency and anti-corruption, governmental accountability, and civil liberties.

The Freedom House description: “Countries at the Crossroads: A Survey of Democratic Governance evaluates government performance in 60 strategically important countries from across the globe, including emerging market countries and at-risk states. The in-depth, comparative analysis and quantitative ratings--examining Accountability and Public Voice, Civil Liberties, Rule of Law, and Anticorruption and Transparency--serve as a valuable tool for policy analysts, educators and students, government officials, and the business community. Countries at the Crossroads covers 30 countries each year in alternating years.”

Thanks to the Freedom House for this valuable study, such surveys are much needed. The following is the conclusion of the included essay, "Meeting the Democratic Governance Challenge":

Conclusion
Recent events in Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Lebanon demonstrate the ability of popular resistance to effect change in corrupt and unresponsive political leadership. These advances have been spurred in part by the information revolution, which allows news of transformations in any corner of the globe to be transmitted across borders with a speed unimaginable even a generation ago. However, in many of the countries covered in this survey, citizens paradoxically face considerable hurdles to obtaining information about their own government’s performance. While transparency has taken a high place on the international agenda, itremains an aspiration in many of the countries under review here.

In countries where corruption and cronyism have become entrenched, average citizens are becoming more frustrated with their leadership’s inability to deliver political goods and to promote public welfare. The directing of public resources under these mismanaged regimes into a relatively small circle of private hands creates an untenable governance atmosphere for average citizens. Over the long haul, such arrangements will lead neither to stable political environments nor to sound and reliable business environments. Key international stakeholders—national governments, relevant multilateral organizations, and the business community—all have a genuine interest in encouraging improved governance in these countries.

Sound governance cannot be achieved by decree. Consensual decision making is required, in which leaders are chosen through free and fair elections and institutions such as the media and the judiciary are permitted to share information and hold the authorities accountable. Open channels between the government and civil society—operating under the rule of law—can contribute to strengthening regime legitimacy. Regimes that claim to rely on self-reform or self-policing, without the benefit of independent institutions and their own citizens’ voices, will be at a severe—perhaps fatal—disadvantage in managing the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.