To negotiate with al-Qaeda?

Does it make any sense? In August Ayman al-Zawahri said a truce offered to the last U.S. administration was still on the table – for example check here http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL353879 .

Questions:

1. Would you say this offer could be in some way real or what is the purpose of such statement from al-Qaeda?

2. I know it is pure speculation but how would you describe the world in which demands of the truce of al-Qaeda are met?

3. To negotiate with al-Qaeda. How does it sound to you? As an option or it is unmoral nonsense? Or it is impossible to negotiate with al-Qaeda because we don’t know with whom to negotiate?

Answers:

Anthony Richards, Senior Lecturer in Terrorism Studies, School of Law, University of East London

The article you refer to includes much what Al Qaeda have stood for – which is the banishment of the US from the Middle East and ‘Muslim lands’, the downfall of what it sees are puppet regimes and the establishment of an Islamic caliphate that also includes much of South and East Asia. The notion of offering a truce may be a propaganda move to give the impression that AQ is not as intransigent as many believe (although the condition of the truce is to concede to all of its demands!). The reminder to Obama that it is still on the table may be a reflection of the fact that Obama is seen as more conciliatory to Muslim concerns (than Bush) – this may be uncomfortable for AQ as they were able to reap great propaganda from the previous Washington administration but now they may see their options as more limited ie. there may be less support for AQ to pursue more radical approaches when there appears to be a more conciliatory President.

The difficulty with negotiating with AQ is: who are they negotiating on behalf of? They do not represent a state. To what extent would negotiations undermine the states whose populations AQ claim to represent? Negotiating would arguably legitimise AQ at the expense of the governments of the so-called ‘apostate’ regimes.

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