by Peter Hain
Addressing Palestinian grievances – from security to jobs to housing – as we did in Northern Ireland, can create more fertile ground for a political process to complement engagement.
However, al-Qaida terrorism is fundamentally different. It is not rooted in political objectives capable of negotiation, but rather in a reactionary, totalitarian ideology completely opposed to democracy, freedom and human rights. Negotiation with al-Qaida and its foreign jihadists is, therefore, politically and morally out of the question.
Yet, offering individuals attracted to al-Qaida a non-violent, political avenue to address their concerns could conceivably help produce change in years to come. Northern Ireland’s chief constable, Hugh Orde, only last week told the Guardian that discussions with al-Qaida “wouldn’t be unthinkable, the question will be one of timing”.
The italics were for the quote, the bold was my emphasis.
Northern Ireland should be the model for negotiating with terrorists. It has worked. The draconian measures used in the 1970 and 80s to pacify the terrorists didn’t do a damn thing. We should learn from our friends across the pond.