August 06, 2005

Islamic cultural centre coming to the Netherlands

by Michel Hoebink, 3 August 2005

Four districts in the western part Amsterdam are joining forces to create an Islamic cultural institute. If all goes according to plan, the first activities should take place towards the end of this year.

Amsterdam initiative

The city initiative was taken by a group of public figures from indigenous Dutch and immigrant Muslim backgrounds. Two of them represent large national Muslim organisations: Haci Karacaer is director of the Turkish group Milli Görös and Ahmed Marcouch is from the Union of Moroccan Mosques in the Netherlands.

The men describe their project as a reaction to negative publicity in the Netherlands - and particularly in Amsterdam – for the Islamic religion and the wider Muslim community.

Based on a French example

The centre will be modelled on the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, a joint project between France’s government and the Arab League. Since it was established in 1987, the Institut has become a successful place for the French and Arab worlds to meet. Like its French counterpart, the Amsterdam institute intends to provide a space for exhibitions and education, arranged in conjunction with museums from all over the Muslim world.

Educate and inform

It will also be a place for debate, say the founders, who plan a “free space for discussion in favour of the emancipation of Muslims in the Netherlands.” International speakers will be invited to debate many subjects: the development of Islam in the future, for instance.

The first talks are scheduled to take place in September at a temporary location. The organisers hope to find a permanent base for the institute before the end of next year, preferably in Amsterdam West, home to many of the city’s Muslims.

The educational element of the project will consist mainly of informing young Muslims about different ideological trends within Islam. Hans Luiten, another of the scheme’s organisers, speaks of an “enormous hunger for knowledge” among young Muslims. He says there is considerable support for the initiative from the Muslim community and also from Amsterdam’s mayor, Job Cohen.

Co-founder Mustapha Baba thinks that the building should capture the right atmosphere using architecture with Moorish influences. “But don’t worry,” he says, “not with 26 minarets on the roof.”

Original idea

The initiative has also come in response to an earlier invitation by the Dutch government. At the beginning of June, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende suggested that a cultural institute would encourage the integration of immigrants with an Arabic background.

Mr Balkenende’s suggestion, in turn, was inspired by Henk Propper, former director of the Dutch cultural institute in Paris. While there, Mr Propper became a fan of the Institut du Monde Arabe, and when he returned to his home country he managed to mobilise policymakers into supporting his idea for a similar establishment here:
“It was after 11 September and the tensions between communities in the Netherlands were rising. An institute seemed a good way to initiate dialogue between indigenous and immigrant communities in the Netherlands and between the Netherlands and the Islamic world.”

In June of this year, the Foreign Affairs and Education, Science & Culture Ministries began investigating whether a project of this kind would be feasible. It was agreed that immigrant communities in the Netherlands should initiate and partly finance the institute, and that the Dutch government would merely support it.

The present initiative, however, is not the only response to the authorities’ invitation. Henk Propper says that similar plans are afoot in Utrecht and Rotterdam, and so he is asking for cooperation between the different schemes, but he leaves open the question of location. Mustapha Baba does not rule out cooperation, but is worried that the Rotterdam group wants to take the project away with them: “We think the Institute should be in Amsterdam.”

Disputed identity

Another unresolved controversy concerns what identity the institute should have. Although nothing is as yet resolved, one thing is clear: it should not be a small-scale copy of the Paris endeavour. A purely Arabic institute would not reflect the composition of the immigrant population; many Dutch Muslims do not have roots in Arab countries, but in Turkey and Surinam. Meanwhile, the largest immigrant community from an Arabic country – Moroccans – mainly come from a non-Arab Berber background.

For this reason, Mustapha Baba thinks an Islamic Institute would be more appropriate:

“It will not be an Arab Institute because there are hardly any Arabs in the Netherlands. For the time being we’re call it an Islamic Centre.”

Others, however, fear that Islam as a common denominator would confirm precisely the ‘clash of civilizations’ worldview that the institute is seeking to offset. Therefore, some people suggest it should become a ‘Mediterranean’ institute. Henk Propper is among those who are not in favour of a strong emphasis on the Islamic identity of the institute: “I hope the Netherlands will establish a large institute with an international orientation, directed towards Turks and Moroccan Berbers, not to Arabs or Muslims.”

SOURCE: Radio Nederland Wereldomroep

Welcome to WEST Bangladesh , Mamta's cry must be heard

Mamata's cry must be heard

Udayan Namboodiri/ New Delhi


On Thursday, during Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee threw a bundle of papers in the direction of Deputy Speaker. Her act, though downright unparliamentary and quite condemnable on the face of it, has a context.



That context was all over the papers she hurled in full view of the nation. In them was damning evidence how the CPI (M) has, over the past two decades, padded the voter's list of West Bengal with Bangladeshi nationals. Over the past few years, committed supporters of the Trinamool Congress had documented the evidence at great risk to their personal safety. They had even crossed over into Bangladesh to establish the antecedents of these "voters".


Had the CPI(M)'s omni-present cadres found out, the whole exercise would have been scuttled. But, having hoodwinked them, Bengal's Agni Kanya found the last line of defence impregnable. And that was the Lok Sabha Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, who stood like a rock to prevent her from making a statement in the House.


For over a year now, the lone Opposition parliamentarian from West Bengal has been obstructed by the political establishment from raising the infiltration issue in its true light. The Congress-Left combine has deployed every trick to ensure that Bangladeshis not only stay on the electoral rolls of West Bengal - into which they were tucked over the preceding two decades - but also change forever the political geography of that state.


Parliament is not the only forum where Ms Banerjee has been repeatedly denied the opportunity to state her case. She was also illegally removed from the Delimitation Commission (DC). Of the five MPs and an equal number of MLAs accommodated from the state in the DC, the dice is today loaded heavily against the Trinamool Congress. Nine of these ten "associate members" are from the Left-Congress axis. The lone Trinamool representative, former IAS officer Dipak Ghosh, struggles hard at each meeting to resist a draconian proposal promoted by the two groups to give the border districts of West Bengal a disproportionately higher number of seats.


In lay terms, the same Bangladeshi infiltrators who have caused West Bengal's population explosion, are about to be rewarded with such political clout that it would be impossible for future governments in New Delhi and Kolkata to counter the destablising effects of demographic change.


Eighteen of West Bengal's 294 Assembly seats are to be shifted from low population growth areas to the very places where the results of the 2001 Census have shown a dangerous increase. In North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, Nadia, Uttar Dinajpur, Dakkhin Dinajpur, Malda and Darjeeling -all border districts - the Muslim population has soared not because of "natural growth" and cannot be explained by the community's general refusal to adopt the two-child norm. It is confirmation of the phenomenon of mass exodus from West Bengal.


And all those 18 are going to be taken away from the very regions where the population had seen low growth during the 1991-2001 decade. Five are to move to North 24 Parganas ( 7.28 million to 8.94 million; share of Muslims 24.2 per cent ), three each to Murshidabad ( 4.74m to 5.87m; 63.7 per cent) and South 24 Parganas ( 5.71m to 6.91m; 33.2 per cent), two each to Nadia ( 3.85m to 4.63m ; 25.4 per cent) and Uttar Dinajpur ( 2.44m in 2001 did not exist earlier ; 38.4 per cent) and one each to Malda ( 2.63 million to 3.30 million ; 49.7 per cent ) and Dakkhin Dinajpur ( another new district with 38. 4 per cent Muslim) and one in Darjeeling ( 1.02 million to 1.61 million ; 27. 3 per cent).


The districts to lose out are Kolkata ( ten seats), Paschim Medinipur, Purulia and Hooghly (two each), and Bardhaman and Birbhum (one each).


The script for this political reorganisation of West Bengal was written in the Alimuddin Street office of the CPI(M) in Kolkata. The official seal of approval was given by the state's election commissioner. The Congress, which found to its surprise in the 2004 election that it was still a favoured party of the state's Muslims (it won six seats in the border districts) gave its tacit approval.


That is why the two groups maintain strategic silence on the issue of infiltration at each meeting of the DC. But when the Trinamool's lone representative brings it up, as he did in the June 8 meeting at Vigyan Bhavan, Rupchand Pal, the CPI(M) MP from Hooghly, was quick to rise to his feet and shout him down with the preposterous claim that the "percentage of voters to the census population" is less in West Bengal than in Uttar Pradesh and some other states.


But the July 3 statement of West Bengal Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjya, admitting the graveness of the infiltration issue, queered the pitch somewhat for the CPI(M). Five days later, when the DC met again, the Trinamool member impressed the Chairman, former Supreme Court Judge Kuldeep Singh, with his presentation on the secruity ramifications of the move. The Election Commission's nominee, N. Gopalaswami, assured him that the matter would be referred to the Home Ministry.


Most observers fear that the national yardstick of giving high-population areas more seats, if applied mechanically to West Bengal, can have disastrous consequences for national security. A former Governor of West Bengal ( now the incumbent in Lucknow's Raj Bhavan), TV Rajeshwar, had famously remarked that a "third partition of Bengal" may be in the offing if infiltration is not checked. That was back in 1990. Today, infiltrators are not only flattered by the Left with voting rights and ration cards, but are also about to be gifted with political domination.


Elbowed out of the DC and marginalised in Parliament, Ms Banerjee was perhaps at the end of her tether. The last date for submitting objections to the Left-Congress' seat re-distribution scheme went by on July 29. Ms Banerjee's plaintive cry must be heard. Unless the nation wants to gift Bengal away.

Indian to strengthen Coastal Security

The Central Government funded Coastal Security Scheme envisages strengthening infrastructure for patrolling and surveillance of the coastal areas by providing assistance to the coastal States and UTs to set up police stations equipped with vehicles vessels, equipment, trained manpower etc. in the coastal areas. The total non-recurring expenditure is estimated at Rs. 400 crore. The recurring expenditure on fuel, repairs and maintenance of the vessels for 5 years is estimated at Rs. 151 crore.

Areas vulnerable from security angle in the Orissa coast will be covered under the coastal security scheme

First-ever launch of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle from a surfaced submarine

Submarines take on new technology

UAV launched from Albany

By JO1Jennifer Spinner, Periscope Staff


Dr. Warren Schultz, associate supervisor of the chemistry division at Naval Research Lab, prepares to launch a ''Dragon Eye'' Unmanned Aerial Vehicle July 20 aboard USS Albany (SSN753), approximately 12 miles off the coast of NSB Kings Bay. The UAV was being tested to prove its value in supporting force protection.
Photo by JO1 Jennifer Spinner

The first-ever launch of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle from a surfaced submarine July 20 was a great success, proving the expanded utility of a technology already being used by United States Marines in Iraq.

Despite its small size, the UAV has the potential to radically expand the role of the submarine force in the Global War on Terrorism, according to Lt. Cmdr. Rob Jezek ,USS Albany (SSN 753) executive officer.

''It is exciting to be a part of this launch,'' said Jezek. ''This technology extends the submarine's reach. We already pride ourselves on being stealthy and the Advanced Tactical Recce within the UAV adds to our range of senses. It has many implications, including the ability to gather intelligence, and perform advanced reconnaissance for Special Operations Forces insertion.''

The UAV was launched from the bridge aboard Albany while the submarine was operating on the surface. The UAV is similar to the ''Dragon Eye'' Advanced Tactical Recce Monitoring Platform, or DE-ATR, used by U.S. Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. The DE-ATR offers a great deal of power and flexibility to operators.

Weighing in at approximately five pounds, the ''Dragon Eye'' carries two color cameras and can be outfitted with chemical and biological sensors in the nose cone. The UAV also offers night-vision capabilities, especially valuable to Force Protection uses and SOF.

''In today's demonstration, USS Albany had complete control of the UAV utilizing systems within the Type 18 periscope,'' said Warren Schultz, associate superintendent of the chemistry division at Naval Research Labs.

The bow of USS Albany us seen though the lens of the Dragon Eye, which carries two cameras that can beam color pictures back to its operator.


''In a real-life scenario, a submarine could launch the UAV 20 miles off the coast while performing special operations insertion,'' said Schultz. ''The sub could maintain control of the plane and then hand it off to the Special Forces before they landed on shore. Control of the UAV is easily transferred from one operator to another.''

That ease of operation is one of the key selling points for UAV technology. According to Schultz, the UAV has a payload capacity of 12 ounces and researchers are developing lightweight zoom lenses to further improve the UAV's value and utility. The aircraft can fly at altitudes up to 10,000 feet, over a range of 40 kilometers, for approximately one hour - all on a single battery charge.

''It's quick, quiet and stealthy,'' said Christopher Povloski, Naval Research Lab program analyst and flight technician. ''During a demonstration in Yuma, Arizona, no one could see or hear it until it was right on top of us.

Although the modular UAV was designed to be a ''throw away,'' some have been flown and successfully recovered more than 30 times.

This launch follows a successful demonstration in February of the UAV's capabilities at NSB Kings Bay. A prototype UAV was launched and controlled by force protection personnel ashore to search out the waters ahead of a submarine as it entered port.

The new UAV design is ideal for stealth, due to its ultra-quiet electric motor and small size. This is part of the submarine force's future capabilities in varied payloads for joint warfighting in the Global War on Terrorism.

August 05, 2005

Symposium on Radical-Islamist Threat to World Peace

"The Radical-Islamist Threat
to World Peace and National Security"

A Dinner/Symposium Sponsored by The People's Truth Forum
6:00 PM Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Aquaturf Club, Mulberry Street
Plantsville, CT.

http://www.peoplestruthforum.com/symposium.htm


The People's Truth Forum (PTF) is hosting an educational symposium at the Aquaturf club in Plantsville, Connecticut, on September 21st. The organization's primary objective is to heighten public awareness with respect to matters of national security.

Warmly invited are those patriotic Americans who share PTF's concerns for the future of our nation - especially those interested in learning more about Islamic terrorism and the threat it poses to future generations.

The Speakers

Harvey Kushner, PhD., noted author, lecturer, professor and internationally recognized authority on terrorism. Dr. Kushner has advised and provided training to numerous government agencies, including the FBI, FAA, INS, and U.S. Customs. He is a frequent guest of all major television networks and is often quoted by news media worldwide.

Brigitte Gabriel, a former anchor for world news in the Middle East and a prominent Arab-American journalist, will provide a first-hand account of her experience with Islamic Jihad. Ms. Gabriel, a Christian native of Southern Lebanon, survived a bombing in which her family's home was reduced to rubble by radical Muslim forces. Prompted by the serious wounding of her mother, the family sought medical treatment in Israel - a place of refuge where the generosity and compassion of the people overwhelmed them.
Robert Spencer, is the Director of Jihad Watch, a writer and researcher who has studied Islam for more than twenty years. He is an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation and has written a selection of critically acclaimed books on the subject of Islam. He has a regular column in Human Events titled Jihad Watch and has had his articles published in a variety of publications including the National Review and the Washington Times. He has appeared on CNN and Fox News and has been heard on Vatican Radio.

Laura Mansfield
Laura is an author and counter-terror analyst. She uses her knowledge of the Arabic language and of Islamic culture and history to investigate jihad and jihadis both in the US and throughout the world.
Entertainment: For your listening and viewing pleasure, the Manhattan USO troupe will perform its extraordinary revue of patriotic and period music. We are extremely fortunate to have been able to get these outstanding performers. It is rumored that other distinguished guests will be added to the program. This event is going to be groundbreaking in nature; don't miss it! And the food at the Aquaturf is truly outstanding...

War Gaming : The Pentagon's New Map?

intellibriefs.com/NMG Gamebook II.pdf

How THE NEW MAP GAME Works

Participants will be divided into four teams, each representing a country from each of the four geo-political segments described in The Pentagon's New Map: the Old Core, New Core, Seam States, and Gap. Think of each team as a collection of the most powerful people from across their respective countries. All participants will be provided a Game Book (prior to the game) describing their country's background, its relations with the other teams, and what types of actions are available to them.


Old Core —established politically and economically, helped create and maintain modern international structures (e.g. U.S., E.U., Australia, Japan)

New Core —representing emerging economic markets and centers of geo-political power (e.g. China, India, Russia)

Seam States—countries where elements from the Gap look to infiltrate the Core (e.g. Mexico, Brazil, Greece, Pakistan)

Gap—those states that are disconnected from the international system, characterized by repressive regimes, chronic poverty, disease and conflict (e.g. Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan)

The game will follow a turn-based system of play and an evolving narrative will help guide action during the competition. There will be five turns, each representing two years of “real” time. Each team will have a number of potential actions available during each turn, ranging from economic to military to diplomatic activities. At the end of each turn, members of a Control Team will be briefed by the individual teams on the actions they wish to take during the next turn's timeframe. Turn 1 will start in 2006 and the game will end in 2016.

The Control Team, led by Thomas Barnett and made up of a select group of experts, will evaluate teams' decisions and determine the consequences of teams' actions. The Control Team will inform the teams of the success or failure of their chosen actions, which will influence the decisions they make in the next turn.

Each team will be assigned a Team Captain and Facilitators. The Team Captain (a game participant selected and notified before the start of the competition) will manage their team and be responsible for all final decisions. The Facilitators will help guide the conversation and record discussions for the team.

The ultimate goal of THE NEW MAP GAME is to investigate what conditions in the simulated world will foster the rule of law, collective security, economic connectivity, political community, and free markets that are protected from destabilizing strife.

What is The Pentagon's New Map?

www.newmapgame.com/graphics/map-large.jpg
Thomas P.M. Barnett
author, The Pentagon's New Map


In December 2002, Esquire magazine selected Thomas P.M. Barnett as “The Strategist” in a special edition titled “The Best and the Brightest” and followed in March 2003 with the publication of his landmark article, “The Pentagon's New Map.” The compelling brief that he has created and delivered to several thousand high-level U.S. government officials was expanded and published as The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty First Century and quickly became a New York Times bestseller.

“America stands at an historical tipping-point,” Barnett says, “filled with unprecedented dangers but also the promise that globalization may be expanded from a closed club of rich countries to a planet-wide reality.” He envisions this “future worth creating” and outlines how U.S. “security exports” can make it happen. Offering readers the equivalent of a top-level Pentagon strategy seminar, he provides answers to the crucial questions we are all asking: What have we gained (or lost) in Iraq? Where does the payoff lie? How will we know when the war on terrorism is won? Will we ever be truly safe from attack? What does the future hold?

Drawing a new map around much of the world's mid-section, Barnett identifies the regions where threats to national and international security are likely to emerge, which he calls the Non-Integrating Gap. The Gap stretches from the Andean nations of Latin America and the Caribbean Basin to sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, and much of Southeast Asia. In Barnett's view, the Gap is dangerous because it is disconnected from the institutions and infrastructure of economic globalization. He contends that the Gap needs to be integrated into globalization's Functioning Core in order to prevent further terrorist attacks like 9/11, and to bring about lasting peace. His mantras of national security thus become, “Disconnectedness defines danger,” and “Shrink the Gap.” Furthermore, Barnett says, the U.S. military must shift from preparing for war against great powers to an entirely different strategy that anticipates a series of long-term engagements in the Gap in the service of a “future worth creating.” The implications of Barnett's new grand strategy are profound and controversial, since they involve major changes in every aspect of military organization, foreign policy, and national strategy.

Laying out a new security strategy that the U.S. government and the American public have been waiting for since the end of the Cold War (and even more urgently since 9/11), The Pentagon's New Map is the intellectual successor to George Kennan and his famous X Article, which revealed the grand strategy of Soviet containment in the aftermath of World War II. Unlike the authors of other books dealing with similar themes, Barnett is not a media commentator or an academic observer, but an experienced practitioner of national security strategy at the highest levels. His outlook has been driven and shaped by the massive shift in strategy that has occurred within the Bush administration since 9/11. Indeed, his book is in many ways an insider account of the emerging logic of the new national security strategies of preemption, regime change, and the global war on terrorism.

http://www.newmapgame.com/introduction.htm#map

PAKISTANI MADRASAS: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

by B.Raman

What are madrasas?

Madrasas are Islamic religious seminaries, which were originally meant to train young persons, who wanted to take to religion as a profession. They wanted to work as clerics in mosques and as members of the staff in Islamic charitable institutions. In view of the limited career opportunities open to the students of the madrasas, only those who were keen to become religious clerics joined them. Till 1977, the number of madrasas in Pakistan was therefore, very small. There were only 244 madrasas in Pakistan in the 1950s. This number went up to about 500 in the 1960s and about 700 in the early 1970s. The military regime of the late Gen. Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988) saw a mushrooming growth of the madrasas.

What were the reasons for this mushrooming growth?

Firstly, Zia allowed the Government Departments and the Armed Forces to recruit madrasa graduates to lower posts. This tremendously expanded the career opportunities available to the products of the madrasas. Secondly, Zia, a devout Deobandi, was attracted by Wahabism. He permitted a large flow of money from Saudi Arabia for starting madrasas to spread the Deoband-Wahabi ideology. Thirdly, Zia's military regime saw a decline in public investments in the social sector, particularly in education. As a result, in many rural areas, the only affordable schools available to the poor people were the madrasas. Fourthly, helped by the Saudi money, the madrasas started providing free boarding and lodging to their students. Many poor parents chose to send their children to the madrasas. This spared them the responsibility of finding money for their upbringing. The radicalisation of the madrasas was a post-1980 phenomenon.

What were the reasons for the post-1980 radicalisation of the madrasas?

Firstly, the Afghan jihad against the Soviet troops. The intelligence agencies of the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan used the madrasas for radicalising the Muslim youth and motivating them to join the Afghan Mujahideen in their jihad against the Soviet troops. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) got a number of text books prepared with the help of Wahabi clerics of Saudi Arabia projecting Communism as anti-Islam and calling for jihad against the Communist evil in Afghanistan, had them printed in printing presses in the US and distributed to the madrasas. According to Mr.Ishtiaq Ahmed, Associate Professor of political science at the Stockholm University: "The joint CIA-Saudi initiative resulted in a proliferation of madrasas, regardless of the genuine need for maulvis. Thanks to the CIA’s 51 million US dollar grant to the University of Nebraska to produce pictorial textbooks glorifying jihad, killing, maiming and bombing other human beings was made sufficiently entertaining. Sadism could now be cultivated as a virtue. That was when madrasa doors were opened to the mass of the poor. The new “education” they received was to hate the Russians, later generalised to include any non-Muslim. Jews, Hindus and Christians figured prominently and out of it came the expression of a Yahud-Hunud-Nasara conspiracy against Islam. The phrase had never existed previously, but because of its Arabic sounds, it went readily to the hearts and minds of the Islamists. The Buddhists did not fit into the Yahud-Hunud-Nasara formula. But the Taliban by destroying the Buddha statues at Bamiyan indicated that even Buddhists were against Islam and therefore their symbolic presence in Islamic Afghanistan had to be annihilated." The text-books prepared at the instance of the CIA taught the students that it was their religious obligation to wage a jihad against the Soviets and their stooges. The same text-books are now being used after appropriate revisions to tell the students of their religious obligation to kill the Americans and their stooges. Secondly, Zia's concerns over the impact of the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 on the loyalty of the Shias of Pakistan. He encouraged the madrasas controlled by the Sunnis to include in their teachings the need to counter the Shia assertiveness.

What was the role of the madrasas in Afghanistan?

Nearly 3,000 students of the madrasas joined Gulbuddin Heckmatyar's Hizbe Islami and fought against the Soviet troops. In April,1992, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) asked the madrasas controlled by the religious fundamentalist organisations to declare a vacation to enable the students to join the Afghan Mujahideen in their final assault on Kabul, which led to the collapse of the Najibullah Government. The ISI issued them arms and ammunition at the border before they crossed over into Afghanistan. Similarly, in September ,1996. the ISI asked these madrasas to declare a vacation to enable their students to assist the Taliban in its final assault on Kabul. They came back to the madrasas and resumed their studies after the Taliban had captured Kabul. The Taliban was and continues to be made up of the products of the madrasas, Afghans as well as Pakistanis.

What has been the role of the madrasas in the spread of jihadi terrorism in and from Pakistan?

All the leaders and cadres of the Sunni extremist Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) and the Shia extremist Siph Mohammad, almost all the leaders of the Taliban and over 90 per cent of its cadres and over 70 per cent of the leaders and cadres of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) are products of the madrasas. However, less than 15 per cent of the members of the Al Qaeda are madrasa products. No leader of the Al Qaeda is known to have been a madrasa product.

What has been the role of the madrasas in the spread of jihadi terrorism to other countries?

The madrasa products of the HUM, the HUJI, the JEM and the LET play an active role in jihadi terrorism directed against India. All of them are Pakistani and not Indian nationals. A large number of foreign Muslims come to the madrasas to be qualified as religious clerics. The largest number of foreign students in the Pakistani madrasas are Afghans---from inside Afghanistan as well as from the Afghan refugee camps in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan. The second largest number are from South-East Asia, mainly from Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia. The third largest number are from the Central Asian Republics (CARs), mainly from Uzbekistan, and the Chechen province of Russia and the Xinjiang region of China..The fourth largest number are from the Muslim communities in West Europe and North America. Of these, Pakistanis and persons of Pakistani origin constitute the maximum. The fifth largest group is from countries such as Yemen, Somalia, Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Australia. Presently, next to the Afghans, the Thais constitute the second largest number of persons enrolled in the madrasas, mainly of Karachi. Uzbeks constitute the third largest number, in terms of individual nationalities. Not all madrasa students go back to their respective countries as motivated jihadi terrorists. But all go back as Western-haters. Many of these Western-haters ultimately function as clerics in the mosques of their countries and use their position to preach hatred against the West, against the US in particular. Often, jihadi terrorists are made not in the madrasas, but in the mosques headed by clerics who had studied in the madrasas of Pakistan. Saudi religious organisations use the madrasas of Pakistan for spreading Wahabism to the Muslims of other countries and for the Arabisation of the Muslims of South-East Asia, who are viewed as soft because of the influence of the Indian culture and the Hindu religion on them. In its election manifesto for the October,2002, elections to the Pakistan National Assembly, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the six-party fundamentalist coalition, had stated that if it came to power it would assist the jihad being waged by the people of the Southern Philippines, the Arakan area of Myanmar, the Jammu & Kashmir area of India, Palestine and the Chechen area of Russia. They have since included Southern Thailand also in the list of countries where Muslims are waging a jihad and whom they would assist. It is believed that the command and control of the jihad in Southern Thailand is now located in Karachi. In an editorial published on August 4,2005, the "Daily Times", the prestigious newspaper of Lahore, wrote: "To our shame, nearly 1,200 religious schools under one organisation in Karachi alone are “teaching” all sorts of refugees from Southeast Asia, including those from Thailand, many of whom have been returning home to raise the flag of a futile Islamic revolt."

What has been the role of the Pakistani madrasas in the radicalisation of the Muslim youth of Pakistani origin in West Europe and North America?

The Muslim youth of Pakistani origin studying in the madrasas of Pakistan fall into two categories---those who are sent by their parents in order to dilute the Western cultural influence on them and those, who come on their own in order to contribute to the cause of their religion. Some of them are already strongly anti-West before joining the madrasas and some become anti-West during their stay in the madrasas. In the last 20 years, there has been a steady increase in the number of Pakistanis, who have migrated to the West and in the number of mosques, which have come up in the West to cater to their religious needs. Since there are not many madrasas in the Western countries to produce qualified clerics to man these mosques, the Western Governments liberally issue medium and long-term visas to qualified clerics from Pakistan to come to the West and work in these mosques. Almost all of them are hate-mongers and use their position to spread hatred against the West to the religious congregation.

How are foreigners admitted or recruited to these madrasas?

Sometimes, foreign students directly apply. Sometimes, they are recruited by the preaching missions of the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), which visit these countries and then they are helped to join the madrasas, with offers of scholarships. When foreign students apply for a visa to come to Pakistan, they are expected to produce a no objection certificate from their Governments. Many circumvent this requirement by coming to Pakistan on tourist visas, joining the madrasas and then getting their visas extended with the help of the madrasa authorities. Those, who came on a tourist visa and manage to stay on, constitute the largest group. Their Governments are often not aware of their enrolling themselves in the madrasas. After the arrest of the brother of Hambali, the operational chief of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), and some other Indonesians and Malaysians from madrasas of Karachi controlled by the LET and their deportation in 2003, the Pakistani authorities had issued instructions to tighten up admissions to the madrasas and to prevent persons with tourist visas from joining the madrasas. These instructions have been observed more in their breach.

What kind of courses are run in the madrasas?

There are two kinds of courses.The certificate issued at the end of the first course is treated as the equivalent of the School-Leaving Certificate and the certificate issued at the end of the second course is treated as the equivalent of a university degree. Before Gen.Pervez Musharraf came to power, this equivalence was valid only for recruitment to Government jobs. In 2002, he modified the electoral laws of the country and laid down that only persons holding at least a School-Leaving Certificate can contest elections to the local bodies and that only persons holding at least a university degree can contest elections to the provincial and National Assemblies. He made this equivalence valid even for election purposes in order to favour the candidates of the religious parties over those of the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League of Mr.Nawaz Sharif. As a result, a large number of products of the madrasas, who had never had any general education, managed to get into the local bodies councils and into the provincial and National Assemblies. Many non-religious political leaders were weeded out of the political process on the ground that they were not graduates. Recently, he has abolished this equivalence in respect of the elections to the local bodies by laying down that a product of a madrasa cannot contest the elections unless he or she has also done, in addition to the madrasa course, a general education course in English, Urdu and Pakistan studies. The madrasas mostly teach Arabic and not Urdu. Nine students of madrasas challenged this order in the court of Chief Justice Iftikhar Husain Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court. On August 3,2005, the court upheld the order and dismissed the petitions. Does this mean that the equivalence would no longer apply even to the elections to the provincial and National Assemblies and for recruitment to Government jobs? Possibly so, but the position is not yet clear.

What kind of training is given in the madrasas?

Eighty-per cent of the madrasas, which are not controlled by the fundamentalist organisations, mostly give religious education and no military training. Some of them even teach general subjects such as English, Urdu, Pakistani history, general science and even computer science. Those controlled by fundamentalist and jihadi terrorist organisations, which constitute about 20 per cent of the total, impart religious education plus basic military training with the help of ex-servicemen. Even they do not impart any terrorist training in subjects such as fabrication of explosives, assembling an improvised explosive device (IEDs), hijacking an aircraft etc. Such jihadi terrorist training are given in separate training centres, which are more often than not located away from the madrasas, though instances of the madrasas and the jihadi terrorist training centres being located within the same premises are not unknown as in the case of the LET.Only those students of the madrasas, who volunteer for jihadi terrorist training, are sent to these training centres. Hence, not every madrasa product is a potential jihadi terrorist, but every product of these training centres is a potential terrorist.

It has been reported that two of the perpetrators of the London explosions of July 7,2005, had visited the madrasas of the LET and the JEM? Could they have undergone any training course there?

Not necessarily. Many foreign Muslims with extremist views visiting Pakistan prefer to stay in the hostels and the guest houses of the madrasas because boarding and lodging are free and they are not subject to police surveillance during their stay there. Thousands of foreign Muslims attending the annual congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat stay in the hostels and guest houses of the madrasas. Before 1996, during his visits to Pakistan, Osama bin Laden used to stay in the guest house of the LET at Muridke, near Lahore. Just because a foreign Muslim visited a madrasa or stayed in its hostel does not necessarily mean that he underwent a training course there.

How many madrasas are there in Pakistan presently?

According to official figures of the Government of Pakistan, there are presently 11,221 madrasas in the country.Of these, 6,148 have been registered with the provincial governments under the Society Act 1860. The remaining 5,073 have refused to register themselves. According to unofficial figures, there are nearly over 20,000 madrasas. According to Mr.Ijazul Haq, Minister for Religious Affairs, who is the son of the late Zia, 8,000 madrasas were being run by Deobandi organisations, 1800 by Barelvi organisations, 400 by Alh-i-Hadees organisations, 382 by Shia organisations and 1,200 by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI), the leading party of the MMA coalition. The total of the approximate figures (11,782) given by him slightly exceeds the total number of 11,221 given above. Eighty per cent of the total madrasas are run by different religious organisations with funds received from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait . The remaining are run by different fundamentalist and jihadi terrorist organisations, with funds from Saudi Arabia. Some of them such as those controlled by the HUM, the HUJI, the JEM and the LET also receive funds from the ISI.

What action has the Pakistan Government taken against the madrasas?

Successive Pakistan Governments since the days of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto have been concerned over the uncontrolled and uncontrollable activities of the madrasas. These madrasas, particularly those controlled by Deobandi organisations, not only spread anti-Western hatred, but also anti-Shia hatred. Madrasa products have been involved in almost all sectarian terrorist incidents in Pakistan. After 9/11, under American pressure, Musharraf announced a number of measures against the jihadi terrorist organisations and the madrasas. He banned many of these organisations, arrested their leaders and cadres, ostensibly froze their bank accounts, stopped their fund collection drive and issued an ordnance for the compulsory registration of the madrasas, which might have given the Government some control over their curriculum. Subsequently, under pressure from the MMA, which opposed the legitimisation of his election as the President in a referendum and of the various powers assumed by him through ordinances, he held in abeyance the implementation of these measures. The jihadi terrorist organisations banned by him started operating under new names with new bank accounts and no action was taken against them. Their arrested leaders and cadres were released on the ground that there was no evidence of involvement in terrorism against them. No action was taken against the madrasas, which refused to register themselves. After the London explosions, he has again recycled the unimplemented orders of 2002 and re-enacted---for the third time since 9/11--- the charade of strong action against terrorist organisations and their infrastructure in Pakistani territory. He has ordered the police to act against the terrorist organisations, under whatever name they may be operating, arrest their leaders and cadres and stop their fund collection. He has also ordered all the unregistered madrasas to register themselves by December 31,2005, and asked the Government to expel all foreign students in madrasas. The madrasas have already announced that they would defy his orders. He has told foreign correspondents that he could not implement his previous two crack-downs strictly due to fears of a backlash and has promised that this time he meant business and would act firmly to put down terrorism from the Pakistani territory. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

What are the options before the international community and the Western governments?

To make it clear to Musharraf that continued economic and other assistance to Pakistan would depend on his implementing his promises this time and to free the mosques in the West frequented by residents of Pakistani origin of their present dependence on imported clerics from Pakistan for running them.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Distinguished Fellow and Convenor, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Chennai Chapter. Email: itschen36@gmail.com )

Indo-Iran Gas pipeline: Pakistan, Iran decide to invite India for talks

Islamabad, July 7 (ANI): In order to speed up the process of implementation of the proposed Indo-Iran gas pipeline through Pakistan, Iran and Pakistan have decided to invite India to hold trilateral talk on the issue.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, who is in Islamabad for talks on the project, held detailed discussions on the project with his Pakistani counterpart Amanullah Khan and decided to invite India for the talk who has taken initiative for the project.

According to a report in APP, the official news agency of Pakistan, the Iranian Oil Minister and his Pakistani counterpart exchanged views on the talks they had with Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer last month in Islamabad and Tehran respectively and decided to hold trilateral talk on the issue.

Jadoon and Zanganeh exchanged views on the talks and resolved to invite India to all ministerial or secretary level talks on the ambitious project, the report said.

Iranian officials would also attend the proposed Joint Working Group meeting to be held between Indian and Pakistani officials in New Delhi next month.

India and Pakistan had last month agreed to constitute a Secretary-level Joint Working Group to thrash out issues and modalities for getting the project off the ground by January 2006.

Earlier, on his arrival in Islamabad, Jadoon said that Iran was hopeful of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the 2600-km gas pipeline project.

"I am hopeful that an MoU will be signed during the talks here, which will determine the major topics regarding the import of gas," said Jadoon, while talking to reporters upon his arrival.

He also hoped that the multi-billion dollar gas pipeline project would bring sustainable peace in the region. (ANI)

Indian technical team to visit Iran


New Delhi, Aug 4 : An Indian technical team will visit Teheran in the third week of August to review the pre-feasibility report, prepared jointly by the National Iranian Gas Export Co (NIGEC) and BHP Billiton, on the multi-billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

This was decided at the first Indo-Iran Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting which ended here today.

''In order to facilitate the work of the Indian consultants, the two sides agreed that an Indian technical team will visit Iran to review the pre-feasibility report,'' a joint statement issued at the end of meeting said.

Additional Petroleum Secretary Talmiz Ahmad said, ''This technical review will provide valuable inputs for our financial consultant that we expect to appoint towards the end of August or by early September.'' He said altogether three consultants - financial, legal and technical - will be appointed.

''The consultants will be appointed jointly by the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and GAIL India Ltd (GAIL),'' he said.

This was the first JWG meeting between India and Iran. Last month, India and Pakistan also held the first working group meeting.

The second meeting of the Special JWG between Iran and India is scheduled for end-September.

During the two-day talks, matters of security concerns and technical, commercial and legal issues were taken up for discussion.

Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline Talks - A Special Press Summary

U.S. REVIEWING OPTIONS IN CENTRAL ASIA

Faced with restrictions on the use of its air base in Uzbekistan and, now, an eviction notice (see EDM, August 4), the United States is looking for alternative or substitute basing options in the region. An active search had begun in the wake of the Andijan events, as the deepening political rift between Washington and Tashkent jeopardized the American military's use of the Karshi-Khanabad air base. Now that the United States has been given six months to close that base (or, hypothetically, to renegotiate arrangements with Uzbekistan), basing options in other Central Asian countries acquire growing importance, as does the need to reorder the political priorities in U.S. bilateral relations with some of those countries.

U..S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld discussed a possible transfer of some operations from Karshi-Khanabad to Manas in Kyrgyzstan during his July 25-26 visit there. Rumsfeld succeeded in negotiating Kyrgyz consent in principle to an indefinite prolongation of American use of the Manas air base, despite Russian and Chinese pressures on Kyrgyzstan to set a deadline and suggestions that it be a short-term one. Bishkek proposes to Washington to revise the terms of the 2001 agreement on the Manas base, beginning with the financial terms, so as to increase significantly the compensation to Kyrgyzstan.

In that context, a transfer of some operations from Karshi-Khanabad to Manas seems acceptable to official Bishkek. Following Uzbekistan's request to the U.S. military to leave that country, Kyrgyz Security Council Secretary Miroslav Niyazov declared that Washington has not yet officially submitted a transfer proposal to Bishkek, but that Bishkek would consider such a proposal. Some leaders of U.S.-supported political parties openly call for a stable U.S. military presence as a matter of national interest for Kyrgyzstan. According to some local reports, the U.S. military is already moving some equipment from Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan (Interfax, August 4; Institute for War and Peace Reporting [London], report no. 399, July 27).

In Tajikistan, however, the Defense Ministry's chief spokesman hastened to discount the possibility of American use of the Ayni airfield, which is situated close to Dushanbe. According to the spokesman, the United States has not made an official request, Tajikistan is not considering the issue, the airstrip and installations are unable to service flights and are undergoing reconstruction, and -- for a clinching argument -- Russia's military intends itself to use the Ayni airfield At present, only Tajik Defense Ministry helicopters are stationed at Ayni. The United States used that airfield for refueling American planes that operated in Afghanistan in 2001-2002, but Russia reclaimed it for itself during President Vladimir Putin's 2004 visit to Tajikistan (Avesta, Interfax, August 4).

Moscow does not seem to object to the small French and German military presence in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, respectively. A German contingent is stationed at the Termez airfield and military base in Uzbekistan, the key logistical point on the border with Afghanistan for German and NATO forces operating in the north of that country. In Germany, left-leaning and pacifist opinion calls for abandoning the Termez base to protest Uzbekistan's crushing of the Andijan rebellion. For their part, German mainstream-conservatives caution against such a self-defeating move (Die Tageszeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, August 1).

A small French Air Force contingent is stationed at the Dushanbe airport. On August 4, six Mirage planes arrived there, carrying a 400-strong French unit en route to Afghanistan to strengthen coalition forces during the period of parliamentary elections there. An agreement signed during French Defense Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie's July 21-24 visit to Tajikistan authorizes a temporary increase in the French contingent at Dushanbe airport and additional servicing of French planes there. A small French contingent at the U.S.-led base Manas in Kyrgyzstan is also being slightly increased in order to support coalition operations in Afghanistan during the elections (Avesta, Interfax, August 4).

Facing a strategic loss in Uzbekistan, Washington on August 1 made an abrupt, if overdue, move to improve relations with Kazakhstan. In a long letter made public that day, and glowing in many passages with praise for Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's policies, President George W. Bush termed Kazakhstan a "strategic partner of the United States in Central Asia." Noting Kazakhstan's anti-terrorist efforts in Central Asia in cooperation with the United States, Bush's letter announces, "We want to expand that cooperation." Bush goes on to underscore Kazakhstan's troop contributions to U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Kazakhstan's "impressive economic performance," and the country's internal political stability, by all of which "Kazakhstan has set an example for other states in the region." Further democratic reforms and a free and fair presidential election should give Nazarbayev a strong mandate for another presidential term, Bush concludes in his letter, delivered in Astana three days after Uzbekistan's "eviction notice" (Kazakhstan news agency, Khabar news agency, August 1).

Whether the strategic partnership with Uzbekistan is lost or -- as still seems possible -- retrieved, a reordering of Washington's policy priorities in Central Asia seems necessary.

--Vladimir Socor

''The Implications of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership''

Just prior to the July 18, 2005 meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a senior official commented that the two parties would talk about "whatever is on their minds"; apparently, this turned out to be a lot. Some pursuits, like a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, did not come to fruition. Still, India made major gains in one area of particular note: access to dual-use technology. Nuclear technology will lift India's masses to a higher level of electricity and convenience. Rocket technology will offer India's space program a giant leap forward.

However, this same equipment and technology has another possible function: serving as a means to build a better bomb or a longer range missile. India and the United States have charted a course towards transforming India into a "major world power in the 21st century." While the joint U.S.-India statement issued on July 18 represents a significant step forward in strategic bilateral relations, it presents an equally significant step backward in nonproliferation norms.

One may well ask whether India has taken the steps necessary to merit concessions in the domain of the "grand bargain" of signing onto the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (N.P.T.). India remains outside of the N.P.T., as well as the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime. However, India has not been plagued with the widespread proliferation scandals that sully its neighbor Pakistan.

As of April 2005, India passed its Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Bill to cover activities of its nationals, whether domestic or abroad. Many of India's recent technological advancements, especially in the nuclear field, have been indigenous. This is exemplified by India's reprocessing of mixed uranium and plutonium carbide fuel in its Fast Breeder Test Reactor at Kalpakkam in June 2005 and construction on the 500 MW Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor in October 2004. While largely self-sufficient, India continues its pursuit of technology to advance its nuclear and rocketry programs forward. The United States, for its part, has chosen to tread into the supplier territory that it once admonished Russia for entering.

Prior U.S.-India Steps

While nearly a year ahead of schedule, the July 18, 2005 U.S.-India joint statement is not a sudden tectonic shift. The erosion of export controls on India began nearly as soon as they were imposed. Following India's May 1998 underground nuclear tests, President Bill Clinton placed sanctions on India. However, merely a day after imposing sanctions, the U.S. Department of Commerce approved the sale of computer software for designing printed circuit boards to Bharat Dynamics Limited, a known missile maker.

A few months later, this individual sale no longer appeared to be an example of an item that simply slipped through the cracks. On October 21, the U.S. Congress authorized the president to waive the existing economic and financial sanctions against India and Pakistan for up to 12 months. By February 1999, citing a more flexible policy on India and nuclear nonproliferation, the Clinton administration relinquished objections to India's request for a $150 million World Bank loan. And by October 15, 1999, Congress adopted an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that granted the U.S. president the authority to waive all sanctions against India.

Clinton never had the occasion to take this next step of eliminating sanctions. Instead, President George W. Bush did it for him. In October 2001, Bush waived sanctions placed on India following the 1998 tests. By November 2002, India and the United States agreed to set up the High Technology Cooperation Group (H.T.C.G.), a body to facilitate the transfer of sophisticated civilian and military technology and to discuss space and nuclear cooperation.

Following its establishment, former Under Secretary of Commerce Kenneth I. Juster lauded the H.T.C.G.'s contribution to the United States' 90 percent approval rate for dual-use licensing applications for India in 2003, more than doubling the value of such approvals to $57 million. This organization soon became a part of the larger India-United States Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (N.S.S.P.) initiative begun in January 2004. The N.S.S.P. assumed the function of expanding U.S.-India cooperation in civilian nuclear activities, civilian space programs, and high-technology trade, leading to modification of the United States' export licensing policies.

By May 31, 2005, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and the deputy chairman of India's Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, had formed five working groups and nuclear technology exchanges under the "India-U.S. Energy Dialogue." Discussion topics are anticipated to include "fusion science and related fundamental research topics," which would ostensibly not require approval under the U.S. Department of Energy's regulations for "fundamental" technology transfer. Still, fusion technology may also be used to create an energy boost for nuclear weapons, allowing the same destructive yield with a smaller size and weight for deployment.

Finally, in a decidedly overt military development, India's Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee and United States Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed a 10-year defense agreement entitled "New Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship" on June 27, 2005, just prior to the U.S.-India joint statement. This agreement called for expanding the bilateral defense trade including technology transfer, as well as joint research, development, and production programs.

The Newest Step

As the most recent and contentious measure, the joint U.S.-India statement creates a political quagmire in which strategic and economic bilateral gains affect the international community's nonproliferation momentum. In terms of the United States' part of the bargain, the decision to sign a Science and Technology Framework Agreement for joint research and training and public-private partnerships posits U.S. provision of high-technology to India. These transfers could extend to any number of exchanges previously banned under U.S. sanctions and export control legislation.

Both sides agreed to build closer ties in space exploration, satellite navigation and launch and in the commercial space arena through mechanisms, such as the U.S.-India Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation. Yet, space technology also doubles for missile technology and U.S.-provided advances could be used in enhancing India's pursuit of intercontinental ballistic missile (I.C.B.M.) and submarine-launched ballistic missile capabilities.

The United States also pledged to work to achieve "full civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade" with India, seeking congressional adjustment of U.S. regulations. Specifically, the July 18 joint statement mentions fuel supplies for safeguarded nuclear reactors at Tarapur. Tarapur is under International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) safeguards, but more than a dozen of India's nuclear reactors, heavy water production facilities, enrichment plants, and uranium purification sites are not. Full civil nuclear cooperation lends itself to dual-use dangers given the near impossibility of separating between civilian and military nuclear facilities and India's already selective approach to safeguards.

India has already demonstrated its shaky commitment on both of these counts since plutonium used in its initial 1974 nuclear detonation originated in its Cirus reactor, supplied under a civilian use pledge. Even if India fulfills its pledge to place a few more civilian facilities under I.A.E.A. safeguards, the Indian Express stated it best in exclaiming that India would retain its "nuclear jewels" and keep Cirus, Dhruva and other weapons-related nuclear reactors away from inspectors. Moreover, full civil nuclear energy cooperation with a non-signatory to the N.P.T. contravenes the very essence of the treaty.

India's promise to continue its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing demonstrates an offer that, while feasible, already exists in practice. Similarly, in promising to refrain from the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to non-nuclear weapon states, India is merely reiterating its current stand and does not represent new initiatives. In promising to work with the United States for the conclusion of a multilateral Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty, India has furthermore signed onto a promise of working towards a treaty that is not expected to succeed. While the United States has relinquished many of its former policies, India has merely restated its own.

The Role of U.S. Interests

While the July 18 joint statement in terms of technological gains is weighted in India's favor, this does not indicate that there are no advantages for the United States. For the United States, benefits rest in the financial gains to be made through military sales to India and the preferential placement of U.S. military bids vis-à-vis European, Israeli, and Russian competitors. The Indian Air Force plans to purchase 126 new jets over the next four to five years. Not coincidentally, on March 25, 2005, the United States agreed to allow Lockheed Martin to sell F-16 fighter planes, which may be used to deliver nuclear weapons, to both India and Pakistan. If F-16s are selected over Swedish, Russian, and French competitors, the total price tag for supplying India alone could reach $3 billion.

The U.S. also has been looking for markets to peddle such wares as the much touted and much failed PAC-III missile defense system, which figures prominently into the Rumsfeld-Mukherjee "New Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship." Strategically, India offers the potential for increased cooperation with a country that is rapidly growing as an economic and military pole in a region increasingly dominated by China. The United States has also been searching for a means of expanding the Proliferation Security Initiative and interdiction into the Indian Ocean. On issues of terrorism, India has also presented itself as a point of intelligence sharing in a crucial region. [See: "India's Project Seabird and the Indian Ocean's Balance of Power"]

Among the negative points for the United States, many of India's gains demand few if any new requirements. India remains outside of the nonproliferation regime. Cooperation on dual-use technology may one day threaten regional and international stability since India will be gaining access to missile and nuclear technology that could be used in an I.C.B.M. or for expansion of or improvements in its nuclear weapons program.

While India does not have a reputation for proliferating to other countries, it remains a source of concern for its own capabilities and for its impact on other states wishing to proliferate. The United States nonproliferation principles and arguments used vis-à-vis Iran and North Korea will become more tenuous. The United States will also increasingly find pressure from Pakistan to provide similar technological exchanges, potentially leading to greater strains on U.S.-Pakistan cooperation. [See: "Pakistan: a Geopolitical Crux"]

In fact, on July 25, 2005, just a week after the U.S.-India joint statement, Pakistan's foreign office spokesman Naeem Khan voiced his government's interest in U.S. cooperation on "nuclear energy, high technology and the peaceful use of space technology." Ominously, that same week, Pakistan's Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz cancelled his visit to the United States. For Russia and China, criticized in the past for their assistance to India, Iran, and Pakistan's nuclear programs, the U.S.-India joint statement opens up the playing field for future transfers to more countries than just India.

The Role of Indian Interests

For India, domestic news articles lament India for selling out to U.S. demands with particularly sharp criticism emanating from India's left and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. On the whole, however, the removal of sanctions and mitigation of dual-use restrictions work in India's favor. India will gain access to technology that will enhance its civilian nuclear and space programs, as well as its nuclear weapons and missile fields. Not only will access expand, but India's market and negotiating leverage will grow vis-à-vis Russia, Israel, France and other suppliers.

Russia and France have already voiced approval of the United States' broad lifting of constraints on trade with India, hoping soon to be able to provide fuel and technology for India's nuclear, space, and defense programs. Increased U.S. presence also creates an incentive for China and other states to engage India further economically, politically, and militarily to prevent the U.S from becoming India's primary partner. Cooperation in the nuclear and missile realm will spillover into all areas of trade and economic cooperation with India.

On the negative side, India will be losing a degree of its non-alignment policy, and its military policy will face greater U.S. interference. U.S.-India alignment, even if only nominal, could lead to other countries regarding India as a U.S. lackey. This newfound role will limit India's ability to intervene as an international player, especially in areas of nonproliferation. Not only will it be seen as a U.S. "ally," India will serve as a shining example of what some countries would aspire to, establishing a nuclear weapons program outside of the N.P.T. and later receiving acceptance and rewards. India may also wind up fulfilling the dire predictions of Indian analysts that see the United States attempting to dominate the Indian Ocean. Finally, if the cooperation develops a heavier strategic tone, any inkling of the U.S. using India to balance China or Pakistan could endanger India's own security through regional arms racing.

Conclusion

India has eschewed nonproliferation constraints and tested nuclear weapons. Yet, less than a decade later, India receives benefits in not only the military realm, but also with nuclear and missile related dual-use technology. This sends a hypocritical message to countries playing by the nonproliferation "rules," as well as to those that are trying to break them.

The U.S.-India joint statement has already set in motion mechanisms that promise to test the U.S. Congress and the Nuclear Suppliers Group as to their stand on nonproliferation. While the parties pushed the joint statement nearly a year ahead of schedule, the outcome remains distant due to demands for changes in U.S. and international nuclear legislation.

In the meantime, the United States has tied its hands on demanding more concrete pledges from India on cutting its fissile material production, much less placing its nuclear facilities under feasible safeguards. The United States stopped just short of calling India a nuclear weapons state and yet it conferred upon India the same benefits as a N.P.T. signatory.

Cooperation between the United States and India has the potential to generate economic and strategic benefits for both parties in military exchanges and confidence-building measures. For the moment, however, the scale is decidedly tipped in India's favor on technology transfers. India is on its way to becoming a great power in the 21st century, and for India a large part of this accomplishment will remain vested in its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Ultimately, while the U.S.-India joint statement is bilateral in tone, its repercussions will be global. Nuclear weapon states and military suppliers like Russia, China, and France are carefully observing the outcome to guide their own future sales. Similarly, countries outside of the N.P.T. or contemplating violation of the treaty are also watching. If the agreements and changes in U.S. or international legislation that come out of the joint statement are not made with this understanding, India's gain may be the nonproliferation regime's loss.

Report Drafted By:
Lora Saalman


The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. This report may not be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast without the written permission of inquiries@pinr.com. All comments should be directed to content@pinr.com.

How to Deal with Britain's Muslim Extremists?

An Interview with Kamal Helbawy

Dr. Kamal Helbawy was born in Egypt in 1939 and joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of twelve, largely receiving his education in Islam from them. After working in Nigeria, he traveled to Saudi Arabia where he was among the founders of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and became their first executive director. After six years at the Institute of Policy Studies in Pakistan, Dr. Helbawy moved to London and helped create the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the Muslim Assembly of Britain (MAB). He was the MAB's first president and currently serves as an advisor to the organization. Dr. Helbawy is also a researcher in Islamic and strategic affairs. He has a history of working in the relief sector and is currently the owner and supervisor of a care home for the elderly in northwest London. This interview was conducted by Terrorism Monitor editor Mahan Abedin in London on July 27, 2005.


Mahan Abedin: Some people might say your association with WAMY disqualifies you from engaging in the fight against extremists?

Kamal Helbawy: My association with WAMY was limited to the 1970s and early 1980s. WAMY was created to help young people to work properly and peacefully for Islam. WAMY was at that time considered a progressive organization with links to influential personalities all over the world, including Anwar Ibrahim, the former deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia who was representing Asian Youth within WAMY at the time. I don't know much about the present day WAMY but it is unfair to brand it an extremist organization. WAMY is a very large organization and it is entirely possible that there are a few extremists within its ranks, but this should not be used to brand the entire organization as extremist. Besides, I don't care if people consider me fit to fight extremism or not, I will continue to fight this scourge because Islam is a religion of peace. Moreover, I have long experience and strong credentials in this field as evidenced by the vast number of youths who are attached to our programs.

MA: But some people are adamant that WAMY is a Wahhabi organization with possible links to terrorism.

KH: WAMY is not a Wahhabi organization, it is a Muslim organization. And as for terrorism, this is a very broad-brushed accusation to make against a large organization like WAMY. It is entirely possible that some extremists could have infiltrated the organization but as I said earlier, this does not give people the right to tarnish the entire organization.

MA: Do you still consider yourself affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood?

KH: Yes, I still consider myself a member of the Muslim brotherhood. I resigned from the leadership in 1997 but I don't know if the current leadership has cancelled my membership in this great movement. I hope they have not done this, so that I remain a member until the end of my life. Nevertheless, I do differ with the leadership over some of their approaches toward current challenges and crises.

MA: What are the core objectives of the Muslim Association of Britain?

KH: It is to work in da'awah (inviting people to Islam), to teach the proper fiqh (jurisprudence), teach Arabic and to train young people to become good citizens in British society.

MA: Is MAB a grass roots organization?

KH: Yes, we work mainly with young people but have members from all fields and walks of life.

MA: Apart from promoting good citizenship, do you work with young Muslims who have been radicalized by certain organizations?

KH: Yes, we do. We try to moderate them through dialogue and consultation. We also hold seminars where we try to explain that Islam rejects any form of extremism. Not long ago, twice I had a 3 hour video-taped discussion with some of the radicals and self-described jihadis in London, and that was an interesting encounter.

MA: From your experience, how deep-rooted is radicalism in the UK? Is it a big problem?

KH: Yes, it is. It has spread for a number of reasons. Many young Muslims feel alienated by events overseas and by injustices here in the UK.

MA: Please discuss the UK-specific factors.

KH: Young Muslims are not well represented here in society. There is also extremist teaching in some mosques and other places. And then there is the problem of the "Abus"; the Abu Hamzas and Abu Qatadas who have had an influence on some young Muslims. Radicalism is like a virus, and it will spread even more if we treat it harshly. Violence is a disease and it is likely to spread through wrong treatment.

MA: What has been the primary radicalizing agent here; is it the presence of the radical groups?

KH: I would say certain individuals have been primarily responsible for manipulating disaffected young men through false teachings and bogus fatwas.

MA: Is there a link between this radicalization process and the recent events in London?

KH: That is difficult to say, but there could be a link.

MA: How many potential suicide bombers do we have here in the UK?

KH: That is also difficult to say. But there are people who are willing to do this to correct what they see as injustices against Muslims both here at home and abroad.

MA: Who do you think was behind the bombers?

KH: It could have been a network that had roots in Pakistan or elsewhere. But I also think the government is responsible as well, as it would be for any security-related problem.

MA: What do you mean by that?

KH: As the London mayor Ken Livingstone said, the events in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine was a factor that should not be neglected.

MA: Are you saying that if the UK had not participated in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the bombings would not have occurred?

KH: If the UK had not taken part in the invasion of Iraq and had a more balanced policy toward the issue of Palestine, it is entirely possible that the bombings would not have occurred.

MA: But given that UK foreign policy is unlikely to change, in the near-term at least, how best can the authorities deal with the terrorist challenge?

KH: The government should give stronger support to mainstream Muslims. The media should not promote Islamophobia and the government really ought to reconsider its support for tyrannies in the Muslim world.

MA: Do you think the high concentration of Islamic activists here in the UK played a part—no matter how remote and indirect--in the attacks?

KH: It is possible.

MA: How?

KH: It gives refuge and protection to certain individuals. But we must be careful to distinguish between legitimate political activities and a handful of individuals who spread hatred and ignorance. This is not an invitation to curb freedom at all.

MA: Where were the successful and failed bombers radicalized? Were they radicalized here, or by networks that operate outside the UK?

KH: It could be both. But I think the radicalization process mainly occurs inside the UK.

MA: So, do you think the government ought to clamp down on certain organizations here?

KH: The government has a duty to protect society, while safeguarding freedoms at the same time. We need a balanced policy.

MA: Who should it suppress? Please be specific.

KH: Clamping down or suppressing is not necessarily the words I would use. I wrote to the mayor of London recently and proposed the establishment of "Treatment Centers" or "Houses for Extremists" for people who have been exposed to this sick ideology. I am referring to the kind of establishments we have for old or disabled people. I consider these boys to be sick and diseased, and it is not fair to send diseased people to other countries or suppress them harshly.

MA: What exactly are you proposing here, some kind of mental health institution?

KH: I am proposing the creation of establishments where people can be treated, and where their freedoms would be curtailed. But they should be treated with respect and engaged in dialogue. I remember once Abu Qatada appeared on al-Jazeera and said that he regards Western society or civilization as a toilet. When you use that kind of characterization for a civilization that has created very successful societies and managed to invade outer space, then you are a very sick and diseased individual.

MA: Do you think your proposal will be taken seriously by the mayor?

KH: I hope so! Anyway I have done my duty.

MA: How many people do you envisage being housed in such establishments?

KH: I would put all dangerous extremists in these establishments.

MA: And what would treatment consist of?

KH: Discussions and dialogue with the Ulama (scholars), philosophers and Westerners as well as teaching the seerah (biography) of the Prophet and fiqh of minorities and the role played by the West in advancing human civilization.

MA: Do you think the UK government has a high enough credibility with Muslims in this country to oversee a sensitive and controversial project like that?

KH: I think they have a good record.

MA: But many Muslims in this country consider Tony Blair as the invader of Iraq!

KH: But Britain is much bigger than Tony Blair. We have people like London mayor Ken Livingstone and many members of parliament who strongly opposed the invasion of Iraq.

MA: So you don't think the British government ought to change its policy toward the presence of radical Islamic elements in the country?

KH: Curbing freedoms is not the solution. The terrorist regime in Egypt has been curbing freedoms for decades but it is no nearer to a solution than it was when it started. Muslims in this country strongly appreciate the freedoms the British state grants them and everybody else. Besides, the tabloid media in this country give too much publicity to certain individuals and hence create the impression that the UK is awash with Islamic extremists.

MA: Are you saying that the fault is not with government policy but media irresponsibility?

KH: Exactly! The media ought to stop spotlighting people who are not really representative and seem to have made it their mission to make life difficult for Muslims in this country.

MA: But why is the government seriously thinking of changing its policy toward Islamists?

KH: Because they are thinking alone. We urge the government at this critical time to consult widely and not make any hasty decisions.

MA: Has your organization (the Muslim Association of Britain) been approached for advice?

KH: Yes, we have been approached from different bodies but not by the government. But I am saying much more consultation is needed. This is a very complex and deep-rooted issue and it needs to be debated widely and intensely before any major decisions are made.

MA: But do you recognize that the UK has a very different policy toward Islamists than the continental Europeans, particularly the French?

KH: Yes, of course and this is strongly appreciated. It would be very sad if the UK started behaving like the French, the Americans and the Dutch.

MA: Do you also recognize that if there are further attacks, this is exactly what might happen?

KH: Attacks can happen if you are a dictatorship or not. The disease will spread regardless. Clamping down or adopting over-zealous counter-terrorism policies will not work.

MA: Let us discuss ideological counter-terrorism. How important do you think the deconstruction of Jihadist ideas is to the counter-terrorism struggle?

KH: It is important, but this deconstruction should come from within Islam and not be forced upon it by outsiders. Westerners do not really understand the disease and are likely to give the wrong injections. They are also wrongly informed by some third world tyrants.

MA: How should this ideological deconstruction take place here in the UK?

KH: Through the establishment of a central terrorism/extremist center and a research unit designed to propose and appraise methods for treating extremists.

MA: But are you not underestimating the strength and resilience of the jihadis?

KH: I don't underestimate the strength of any ideology. I read a story about a boy in Afghanistan who professed to be a communist and was given a chance to repent otherwise he would be shot. He refused, insisting he was a communist and was subsequently shot. Ideology is very powerful and can completely consume individuals.

MA: Do you really think the ideological apparatus of the Salafi-Jihadis can be undermined through the methods you have outlined in this interview?

KH: I can cite you a good example from Egypt where some former jihadis wrote books in prison called "Muraja'at", in which they deconstruct their own ideology and values.

MA: But there is a difference here insofar as these people were engaged in a localized conflict and considered themselves to be part of the Egyptian political landscape, irrespective of their militant Islamic ideology. What we are confronting today are essentially rootless individuals whose amorphous aims and grievances can not be accommodated.

KH: But Ayman al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian!

MA: Yes, but you know very well that he abandoned Egyptian politics many years ago. My point is that we are dealing with elements which have no roots.

KH: No, that is wrong. These people believe the whole world constitutes their roots. Their roots are in themselves, in their history and their understanding of Islam. They also have their imams and religious instructors.

MA: But the bombers in London, they had no roots and they had no clear objectives. For instance they were not trying to overthrow the British state.

KH: This was clearly not one of their aims. But maybe they wanted to pressurize the British government to withdraw the UK military from Iraq, to adopt a fairer attitude toward the Palestinians and give minorities their due rights.

MA: Given the amorphous nature of Islamic ecclesiastical structures and the fluidity of its jurisprudence (fiqh), is it possible to engage in an "ideological war" with the extremists?

KH: But Islam has well known Ulama and scholars whom the people trust.

MA: But the core texts of Islam are open to all sorts of interpretations. For instance jihadi ideologues can sit here and quote from Islamic texts and their arguments would be as compelling as yours.

KH: They can convince those who are not well educated in Islamic texts and traditions. They can influence the ignorant, but in reality what they peddle can be easily broken.

MA: If it is easy to undermine the jihadists' ideology, why is it not being done?

KH: I did not necessarily say it was easy. Anyway it is being done otherwise you'd see a lot more extremists.

MA: Some British and western commentators complain that Muslim scholars, thinkers and ideologues are ambiguous on the question of terrorism, particularly suicide bombings. They say some scholars are quick to condemn the London bombings, but they approve of suicide bombings in Palestine/Israel and Iraq.

KH: Let me ask you a question, if I am a British citizen and the French are threatening to occupy my country, what should I do? Do I not have the right to resist in a manner that compensates for my technological inferiority? Surely, I should defend my country by using all reasonable means. We don't condone the indiscriminate killings in Iraq, but we approve of those who fight against an oppressive regime that has been occupying Palestine for more than 50 years and demolishes people's homes on top of them. We should make a distinction between people like Bin Laden and Zawahiri who are simply fighting a wrong battle and those people who fight for their freedom and dignity, whether in Palestine, Iraq or Chechnya.

MA: But Tony Blair has come out and said that suicide bombings are wrong everywhere, including Palestine/Israel.

KH: Well he is wrong. It is as simple as that! He is not a Mufti. He is a British Statesman.

MA: It is not a question of whether he is right or wrong, the point I am trying to make is that there are fundamental differences between people like yourself and the British establishment. Therefore how could you cooperate together in this "ideological" war?

KH: But many people in the establishment disagree with Tony Blair. Does London mayor Ken Livingstone agree with Blair on this issue? Of course he doesn't! We can differ, but we should work together to find a solution.

MA: Let us discuss the representation deficit in British Muslim communities and how it may contribute to the radicalization process.

KH: I don't agree that the representation deficit is a serious factor in these issues. In democratic countries, the majority tends to eliminate the minority. For instance in this country, the Liberal Democrats have no real power.

MA: But they are represented at all levels of society. But anyways Muslims in this country are not a political party, they are diverse communities. And it is a real challenge to develop proper representation when people come from different continents and yet insist they constitute a distinct and coherent community because of their Islamic faith.

KH: But they have representation.

MA: But it is not effective, is it?

KH: It is not effective and the current situation is not ideal.

MA: Let us discuss the different layers of Muslim representation. How would you critically evaluate the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which is supposed to be the highest form of representation for British Muslims?

KH: I played a role in the establishment of the MCB. Our objective was that the MCB should remain independent and its primary function should be to represent and protect the interests of Muslims. Later on there was some government pressure and the organization was forced to make some compromises that would not appeal to all Muslims.

MA: Give me some examples.

KH: For instance some MCB members were embarrassed to use the word "jihad" because they thought British society would interpret that as holy war. And this is completely wrong, because jihad is primarily about addressing injustice and correcting wrongs.

MA: Many Muslims say the MCB does not criticize UK foreign policy enough.

KH: They are very soft on this. The problem is that they became over-influenced by the British government and this prevents them from protecting Muslim interests to the full.

MA: Correct me if I am wrong, but the original purpose of the MCB was to act as a forum for connecting Muslim representatives to the British establishment at the very highest levels.

KH: That is right, but there is now some concern that the MCB is acting more as a tool for the government. Muslims should cooperate with the government and the police, but we should also be free to have our beliefs and practices in accordance with the law.

MA: What about community representation. How do you evaluate that?

KH: The mosques and Imams are very influential inside the communities all over the country. The grass roots organizations like the "UK Islamic mission", "Muslim Association of Britain", "Islamic Society of Britain", "Islamic Forum of Europe" and "Daawatul Islam" are all very influential.

MA: What function do these organizations perform?

KH: They invite people to the mosques, particularly young men with problems. They try to make them into good citizens through educating them in weekly or monthly meetings, camps, seminars, conferences, and in full or part time schools.

MA: Can these organizations be mobilized to counter the radical groups?

KH: Yes they can. When you speak of "radical" organizations, there are basically two groups that are organized enough to cause concern; Hizb ut-Tahrir and the [defunct] al-Muhajiroun

VivekaJyoti: Communist-Islamist axis in India

VivekaJyoti: Communist-Islamist axis in India

August 04, 2005

America, Europe and the Challenge of Bringing Democracy to Iran

Written by: Philip Gordon,
03-Aug-05.



Newly elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iran poses more and greater challenges to the United States and Europe—and to the transatlantic relationship—than practically any other country in the world. Its suspected nuclear weapons program, if allowed to be brought to fruition, could directly threaten European and American security. Even short of that, an Iranian nuclear weapons capability could fatally damage the nuclear nonproliferation regime and lead other regional states—including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey—to rethink their own non-nuclear status. A nuclear Iran might also feel more confident in continuing to support regional terrorist movements like Hizbollah and Hamas, which is another way in which Iran threatens Western interests. Iran’s support for terrorism and opposition to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts continue to make it harder to stabilize a region in which both America and Europe have fundamental strategic, economic and moral interests.

Iran’s ability to cause trouble for the West—and within the West—underscores why Europe and the United States have a stake in the democratic evolution of the Iranian political system. To be sure, even a democratic or liberal Iranian government would have national interests, historical grievances with the United States, nuclear ambitions, and differences with the state of Israel. But it would also provide a much better opportunity for resolving these differences, to say nothing of what such a change would do for the well-being of the Iranian people. A more democratic and liberal Iran that ended its support for terrorism and stopped undermining the Arab-Israeli peace process would immediately become a friend of both Europe and the United States. It would not necessarily foreswear nuclear weapons, but it would be more easily persuaded to do so with economic incentives, and less threatening even if it did procure such weapons. Trade and investment would pour into Iran, to the benefit of the Iranian people, while the West would have new and secure access to energy that would help reduce its dependence on countries like Saudi Arabia. It is hard to see how such a change in Iran’s government would not be positive either for the Iranian people or the West—only the Mullahs and their (diminishing number of) current supporters would lose.

The question, of course, is how to help Iran move in such a direction, and the answers are not obvious. Even if most evidence suggests the Iranian people want change, it is not clear how to support their efforts to achieve it. The hopes that the regime would reform from within, stimulated initially by the surprise election of Mohammed Khatami in 1997, have largely faded. Khatami has not turned out to be Gorbachev, or at least the clerical regime has not turned out to be the Brezhnev Politburo. Similarly, hopes that student protests of the early 2000s would produce change from outside the regime have also failed to pan out. Either the student movement proved too weak, or the regime itself proved too resilient, but there are few today who believe that Iran is on the verge of a revolution. The clerics having banned most of the possible presidential candidates from running in the June 17 elections, Iranians are faced with the choice of conservative or ultra-conservative candidates and nothing else.

The issue of helping to bring democracy to Iran is further complicated by the issue of the nuclear program. For even if the West knew how to go about democratization, that goal competes with the necessity of seeking to persuade the Iranian regime to abandon its nuclear aspirations. What to do, for example, if Iran’s condition for abandoning the nuclear fuel cycle—the only possible guarantee that it is not building nuclear weapons—is Western trade and investment, the delivery of which might provide a lifeline to an otherwise failing and unpopular regime? Should the West accept the deferral of its democratization goals in favor of dealing with the nuclear issue? If not, the risk is that the nuclear clock may be ticking faster than the democratization clock—in other words, by the time our efforts to promote a more liberal and democratic Iran succeed, as eventually they almost certainly will—it may be too late to prevent the nuclear proliferation.

Americans and Europeans do not see eye-to-eye on all these issues. Americans are certainly preoccupied with the Iranian nuclear issue, but they are doubtful a deal can really be struck that would guarantee and end to the Iranian nuclear program, and they are reluctant to reward Iran for bad behavior. Europeans also have concerns about Iran’s support for terrorism and opposition to peace with Israel, but they are skeptical about our ability to bring about regime transformation, and more willing to set those issues aside if a nuclear deal can be done. What is really needed is a common Western strategy that seeks both to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program without foregoing efforts to bring about political change in Iran.

The US, Europe and Democracy in the Middle East

The Bush administration’s decision to put democratization at the heart of American foreign policy began, like much else, with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Americans cared about democracy before 9/11, of course, but the priority was nowhere near the same. Before America was attacked, Washington had an informal “deal” with Middle Eastern regimes, which essentially consisted of telling them that their internal affairs were their own business so long as they provided the United States with energy supplies and did not threaten its strategic interests in the region. But after 9/11 that old deal was no longer valid. To be sure, the United States could not from one day to the next withdraw its support from all its longstanding allies in the region, but it now the price of supporting repressive regimes was clear—not just for the people of the region but for the United States itself.

What many Americans decided after 9/11 was that the fundamental problem besetting the greater Middle East is the frustration and even humiliation felt by so many of those who live there because of the repressive nature of the regimes that govern them. Many Europeans (and Americans, for that matter), are uncomfortable with President Bush’s expansive rhetoric about “freedom,” and it is true that Bush and other Americans sometimes talk too simplistically about bringing democracy to the Middle East. That does not, however, change the fact that Bush is right when he declares that “[Sixty] years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe.… As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export.”[1]

Iran's supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Muslims themselves, of course—at least in the Arab world—have been making much the same point, noticing that they missed out on the wave of democracy that transformed Latin American and East Asia in the late 1980s and 1990s. They have often stressed that “reform from within … is a far more proper and sustainable alternative” to change imposed from abroad, but they also welcome Western support for their efforts to spread democracy in the region.[2] Middle Easterners and outsiders as well acknowledge that the region suffers from some distinct and deep-seated social, demographic and political problems and that most societies have fallen well behind in terms of modernization. The result has been a growing level of frustration and resentment among its peoples—which can only be addressed through fundamental political and economic change.

Europeans have often been reluctant to run the risk of instability associated with political change, and they certainly do not share the Bush administration’s belief that force may sometimes be necessary to make democracy possible. But there have been some encouraging signs of transatlantic convergence on this issue. In June 2004, the G8 and NATO summits committed the United States and Europe to work together with the countries and peoples in the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) to strengthen freedom, democracy, and prosperity throughout the region. These efforts build and supplement long-standing European and American efforts to engage the region through the EU’s Barcelona process and new neighborhood initiative, NATO’s Mediterranean dialogue, and the U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative.

Moreover, some recent progress toward democratization in the Middle East also led some Europeans to be more supportive of the Bush agenda. Successful elections in Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq; “people power” in the streets of Lebanon leading to a Syrian military withdrawal; women voting in Kuwait; Egypt’s announcement of more competitive presidential elections; and even regional elections in Saudi Arabia all contributed to the notion that perhaps the region was not entirely immune to the democratic wave after all. Many Europeans now accept, as French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier put it in March 2005, that “a more democratic world is the guarantee of a more secure world.”[3] While major transatlantic differences thus clearly remain, there are growing indications that Europeans increasingly acknowledge the virtues of America’s democratic agenda. Leaders and experts on both sides of the Atlantic are looking at ways to help: increasing contacts to local NGOs; sponsoring free media; supporting education reform; imposing diplomatic penalties for the lack of reform; and making foreign aid, trade and investment conditional on more open political systems.

The Unique Case of Iran

Even to the extent Europeans and Americans agree on promoting democracy for the Muslim world, Iran poses particular challenges—and is in many ways different from the Arab world. First, whereas in most Arab countries the West must deal with relatively pro-American leaders and deeply anti-American populations, in Iran the reverse is true. Much of the population seems supportive of the United States, while the leadership is extremely hostile and unwilling to consider engagement with the United States. This is a potentially positive difference with most Arab countries, since it means that genuine democracy might lead to a more pro-American orientation, whereas free votes in many Arab countries might produce the reverse.

A second major difference is that, to the extent that one democracy promotion tool might be the threat of withholding trade or aid from the regime in question, in Iran the United States has no aid or trade to withhold. Short of the use of military force—which is impractical as a way of promoting democracy in Iran, since it would probably provoke a nationalist reaction and give the regime an excuse to hold power—Washington has few “sticks” at its disposal.

The fact that it can only offer “carrots” brings us to a third major difference between Iran and most of the regional Arab regimes: Iran is believed to be pursuing a nuclear weapons program, which makes offering “carrots” in exchange only for democratization extremely problematic. Absent the nuclear threat, it might make most sense to flood Iran with aid and trade, and count on the development of an Iranian middle class to demand democratization, a process seen elsewhere in places like South Korea, Mexico and Indonesia. But the United States—and even Europe—are reluctant to provide major economic incentives to Iran so long as it is not providing objective guarantees that no secret nuclear program exists. As noted before, to the extent that the nuclear issue is the priority, the United States and Europe might feel obliged to use all their leverage to deal with that issue, leaving no incentives or disincentives left to use for democratization.

Finally, Iran is different because whereas in most Arab countries the terrorism stems from repressed citizens who have turned to violence and Islamic extremism to get their way, in Iran it is mostly the other way around. The terrorism is state sponsored, and public anger seems directed more at the regime itself than at the outside world. None of the 9/11 hijackers were from Iran (as opposed to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where the governments are allied with the United States), nor have Iranians been prominent or even present on the battlefields in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Promoting Democracy in Iran

Some of these factors make democracy promotion in Iran even more difficult than it is in Arab countries, but that does not mean that nothing can be done. The first step is to persuade Western—particularly European—governments that the emergence of a more democratic and liberal Iran is strongly in their interest. Such an Iran would be a good friend of the West, would contribute to stability in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, and would help lessen Western energy dependence on Saudi Arabia. Even as they pursue their diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program, and while accepting that democracy cannot be imposed from the outside, it would be an important step at least to acknowledge what the goal should be.

Iranian judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi (R) talks with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a meeting in Tehran July 19, 2005.
Beyond that, both the United States and Europe can do more than they currently are doing to promote democracy in Iran—some of which are similar to what both are doing in the BMENA program—and some of which are different. Most important would be to do more to promote a free and open media in Iran, including Persian language broadcasts from beyond Iran’s borders. The more aware the Iranian people are of their government’s corruption, and of developments toward freedom and human rights in other countries, the less tolerant they will be of the restrictions that exist in Iran. The U.S. government currently sponsors four news broadcasts per day by the Voice of America, which (despite an ill-enforced ban on satellite dishes) recent surveys suggest are seen by some 10% of the Iranian population. Those broadcasts recently included interviews with a student leader and a political activist who criticized Iranian clerics for barring hundreds of candidates from the upcoming presidential election.[4] That is the type of open debate and information that Iranian citizens need continuous access too—and it would have even more of an impact if Europeans operated the same sort of station. The $2-3 million per year the United States government spends on such programming is a very small amount given the stakes involved. (It is, for example, less than the United States spends every day in Iraq.)

The West should also do more to promote contacts between Iran’s citizens and the West, including through educational and cultural exchanges. Given the deep suspicions between the United States and Iran, much of this might be better done initially with Europe—to which Iranians can more easily travel—and with Europeans who can travel to Iran. Again, the more isolated Iran is, the easier it will be for the clerical regime to keep a grip on Iranian society. The more Iranians see of the outside world, they more they will want to take their fate into their own hands. Efforts by Europeans to show Iranians what living differently might look like could have an effect in Iran, much as East German exposure to West Germany gradually created a desire among East Germans to get rid of their corrupt and autocratic leaders. Western contacts with democratizers and opposition groups in Georgia and Ukraine over the years—even at times when it looked like democracy in those countries was only a distant prospect—paid off in recent years when people there took to the streets to demand political change. Westerners will obviously have to be careful lest anyone they support be tainted by charges that they are serving outside interests; but this is probably less a problem in Iran—where average people appear to want outside involvement—than in most of the Arab world.

Finally, Americans and Europeans who want to see an evolution of Iran’s political system must not let a prospective nuclear deal get in the way of the pursuit of that goal. If an airtight deal on the nuclear issue can be done with Iran—the elimination of Iran’s nuclear enrichment, reprocessing and related activities in exchange for economic and diplomatic incentives—it is probably worth doing, on the grounds that a bird in the hand (elimination of the nuclear program) is better than two in the bush (the prospect of a more democratic and liberal Iran). Since we really have very little understanding of the dynamics of political change, and have little idea when that might come about in Iran, it is probably not sensible to oppose a nuclear arrangement with Iran in the hope that doing so will somehow quicken the pace of democratization. But America and Europe should both agree that the real rewards for Iran—normalization of relations and investment in the energy sector—will only come once Iran ends support for terrorism and provides more freedom for its own citizens. We might have to deal with the Iranian regime in order to end its nuclear program (just as we dealt with the Soviet Union to preserve détente in Europe) but that does not mean that we have to legitimize it or cease our efforts to promote political change.

Americans and Europeans should not exaggerate their ability to shape the political future of Iran. As their own efforts in that country just over 50 years ago demonstrate, it is not easy to determine another country’s government, and efforts to do so can sometimes backfire. U.S. efforts over the past 15 years to bring about positive regime change in Iraq have not exactly been without setbacks either. Still, the difficulty of changing the status quo Iran does not require Westerners, or anyone else, to accept it, nor should it deter them from doing what they can to change it. To the extent they succeed they—and surely the Iranians themselves—will be much better off.

[1] See George W. Bush, “Freedom in Iraq and the Middle East,” Remarks at the 20th Anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C., November 6, 2003, p. 2.
[2] The quote is from the Arab Development Report 2003 (New York: United Nations), p. 2.
[3] See the interview with Barnier, « Un monde plus sûr, plus démocratique devra être aussi un monde plus juste, » Le Monde, March 2, 2005.
[4] See Steven R. Weisman, “U.S. Expands Aid to Iran’s Democracy Advocates Abroad,” New York Times, May 29, 2005.