Luke Powell

Negotiating with the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda

“The United States is prepared to back talks with the Afghan Taliban. It is worth considering whether the same spirit of accommodation—or, more accurately, resignation—could be extended to other groups associated with Al-Qaeda or even the Islamic State.” This is a part of an article in Foreign Policy, written by Martha Crenshaw, an expert on security and terrorism issues.

She approaches this issue from a security perspective. However, the question might also be viewed in moral terms. What happens to the status of human rights in the case of negotiations with the Islamic State, if a terrorist group agrees to negotiate? How will America, which has always claimed to be an advocate of democracy, liberalism, defending human rights and freedom be viewed in the “court” of international public opinion?

How one can negotiate with the Islamic State, a group with the “Long Life Death” motto, (just like Mussolini and Italian fascists,) if death is sacred in the form of martyrdom?

The first condition to negotiate with any party is to accept them. Is the Islamic State ready to acknowledge Western governments especially America? The Islamic State explicitly calls outsiders as apostate and infidels in its publications. It is the enemy of homosexuals and the Jews and enslaves non-Muslim women. This group doesn’t approve of the United Nations or any other international organization and wants to establish a universal Islamic government. Will the credibility of Western countries and the United States regarding human rights be questioned should they negotiate with Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other Islamist internationalist groups?

Currently, the U.S. wants to negotiate with the Taliban, a negotiation that probably will go nowhere. The nature of the Taliban and Islamic governments is different. The Taliban is a local Islamist group within Afghanistan, while the Islamic State is an international Islamist group. The Taliban agrees with reconciliation and compromise, while the Islamic State doesn’t want to compromise with any international and/or state organization. On the other hand, even negotiations with the Taliban has created concerns among women rights activists and civil activists in Afghanistan. They are worried that approving the Taliban by America will help this group to implement restrictions on women and the Afghanistan government agrees with these social restrictions as a political ransom to calm the Taliban.

Negotiating with any group does not lead to being influenced by that group’s ideology. However, it gives credibility to that group. Why negotiate with Al-Qaeda and ISIS, given the fact that they have killed innocent civilians and enslaved countless women and girls?

ISIS justifies the “revival of slavery” and outright glorifies it in the latest Dabiq (ISIS’ propaganda magazine) issue: “After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Shari’ah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the [Mount] Sinjar operation, after one fifth of the slaves were transferred to the Islamic State’s authority to be divided as khums (an Islamic tax).”

“This large-scale enslavement of mushrik (polytheist) families is probably the first since the abandonment of the Shari’ah law. The only other known case — albeit much smaller — is that of the enslavement of Christian women and children in the Philippines and Nigeria by the mujahidin there.”

Like all terrorist groups, the Islamist State uses ransom for releasing their hostages as one of their financial resources. How one can negotiate with this group? Won’t this action strengthen that group?

ISIS has an apocalyptic vision and believes that a war will happen between Muslims and infidels in a place called Dabiq or Final Battle, which will include almost everyone, but them.

To negotiate with a group, that group must, at least, be committed to international rules at a minimum. ISIS denies nationalism and the fundamentals of government and wishes to establish a global caliphate. ISIS writes in Dabiq: “We do not perform jihad here for an illusory border drawn up by Sykes and Picot. Rather our jihad is loftier and more superior. Democracy and secularism are also repeatedly condemned, alongside nationalism, as shirk (the association of others with God), which stands in opposition to tawhid (belief in the oneness of God)”

ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and other Islamic fundamentalist groups have a fascist nature. They are, in fact, the contemporary “religious fascists.” Fascism has a fundamental and severe hostility with the cultural modernity.

It is time for American politicians to review the past in order not to repeat their policies.