Thursday, September 27, 2012

Planting The Seeds Of Tunisia's Ansar al-Sharia

By Louisa Loveluck

The attack on Benghazi's U.S. consulate propelled a new jihadist organization into the political spotlight: Ansar al Sharia. As a number of groups sharing the same name have emerged across the Middle East and North Africa, pundits now scrabble for details of this little known yet seemingly ascendant force of global jihadism. This week, an interview with Hassen Brik, a spokesperson for Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, offered some clues as to the motivations and personalities behind the organization's development in Tunisia.

As we enter the family home in Tunis, it becomes clear that the lives of Tunisia's vilified jihadists cannot be reduced to the images of pious fanaticism on which the western media relies. We are greeted by his sister; unveiled, she is casually dressed in khaki cut-offs and a vest top. She says she feels under no pressure from Hassen to dress conservatively. His brothers, too, have followed very different life trajectories. Karim, in fact, goes by the stage name "Minissi" and has gained a large domestic following for his self-produced rap music. In contrast, their eldest brother is a military man, having served as an army sniper during the Ben Ali era.

The life of 34-year old Hassen has, of course, taken a different turn. In 2003, he traveled to Iraq as a fighter but ended up stationed across the border in Syria, operating a safe house for potential jihadists as they were vetted and trained for the mission ahead. There, he was arrested and deported back to Tunisia where he was imprisoned under the anti-terrorism law. And it was in these jails, Hassen tells us, that Ansar al Sharia was born. He claims that communal prayer time served as a forum for discussion and refining ideas that would be put into practice on release.

Ansar al Sharia's moment arrived with Tunisia's revolution. In March 2011, the new transitional government pardoned a number of prisoners who had been convicted under the Ben Ali regime's repressive anti-terrorism laws. Among their number was Sayf Allah bin Hussayn (more commonly known as Abu Iyadh), a former Guantanamo detainee who would lead a press conference the following month to announce the public debut of Ansar al Sharia.

A fighter abroad and a preacher at home, Hassen believes that it is now his duty to open da'wa offices across the country, offering a religious education that conforms to Ansar al Sharia's interpretation of Islam. "This is a long-term vision to prepare society," he says, "We are for jihad, armed revolution, but we cannot do this if the people are not with us. It will only be possible when everyone is behind the vision. Look at Libya, the insurrection was only successful once armed and sharing a common vision."

Although little is known about Ansar al Sharia, Hassen emphasizes that its members do not want to stay in the shadows. "Now we want to talk," he says, "We want to be open, even if you are from the CIA."

References to American power run through many of his assertions and he attributes his own imprisonment to the counterterrorism policies of the Bush administration. "It used to be permissible to study the Koran openly," he says, "but after 2004 the government terrorized us on American orders."

He is referring to Tunisia's 2003 Anti-Terrorism Law, legislation that allowed security forces to arrest civilians with alleged links to terrorist organizations drawing praise from the U.S. State Department. Cases were usually held in private court sessions and many defendants claim that their convictions were based on confessions extracted through torture.

Popular reactions to Ansar al Sharia's emergence have been hostile. Described in the Tunisian media as an "Islamist cancer," the secular middle classes have greeted its rise with a mixture of horror and revulsion. Nor has it found favor with more moderate Islamist groups. The ruling Ennahda party has blamed the organization for this month's attacks on the U.S. embassy, and followers of the more moderate "scripturalist" brand of Salafism also distance themselves from the violent tactics of their theological counterparts.

When asked if Ansar al Sharia can realistically attract wider support, Hassen counters that Tunisian society has failed to listen to its message: "We are trying to extend our hand to the Tunisian people but they aren't taking it yet. We bring a new vision of politics for the Arab world, but we know this will take time. After 50 years of Bourgiba and Ben Ali, people have lost their religion and we are feeding it."

References to the broader regional context litter his speech, although he denies that his organization is operationally linked to organizations in Libya, Yemen, Egypt, and Morocco that share the same name.

Turning to the subject of attacks on U.S. targets in Tunis the previous week, Hassen chooses his words carefully. Young Ansar al Sharia followers were involved, he says, but not on the direct instructions of the leadership.

"We do not deny that violent acts were committed in our name. We have made mistakes and many of our number have been behind bars. Now we are rehabilitating them, but this will take time. They need to be educated in the very foundations of Islam.

These boys of the districts follow us because they are tired of politicians' immorality. They appreciate our coherence: our words come straight from the heart."

A visit to Tunis's working class El Khadra suburb the previous day suggested that there is truth in this sentiment. Although few were willing to openly align themselves with Ansar al Sharia, several young men expressed admiration at the organization's piety and its refusal to engage in high-level political squabbles. Abu Iyadh's name commanded particular enthusiasm, in the words of one young man, "he is strong where Ennahda are weak. He is the only man to stand up against the Americans."

Demographic studies of those convicted under Tunisia's anti-terrorism laws show that the jihadists have previously found these neighborhoods to be fertile ground for recruitment. Today their inhabitants remain as socially and economically marginalized as they were under Ben Ali, a reality which continues to escape many who rail against Ansar al Sharia as an aberration within Tunisia's cosmopolitan society.

"We stand in solidarity with the weakest," Hassan says, "and in time we will have local leaders who organize the boys."

Yet the notion that Ansar al Sharia's message has found real resonance within small sections of Tunisian society continues to escape the country's chattering classes. High-level political discussion revolves around constitutional issues with little attempt to address the grievances of the most vulnerable. But this is a social blindness that they cannot afford to maintain. "For us, this is an opportunity to plant our seeds in the sunlight." Hassan concludes, "and we are starting to see the fruit."

-This commentary was published first in Foreign Policy on 27/09/2012
-Louisa Loveluck is a freelance journalist specializing in Middle Eastern affairs and a researcher at the International State Crime Initiative

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Iraq Red Team

A year and a half before the surge, a secret review group in Baghdad recommended a drastic change in U.S. strategy. If that advice had been heeded, might the war have turned out differently? An exclusive excerpt from The Endgame, a new book on America's final days in Iraq.


Seventeen months before George W. Bush announced that he was sending five additional brigades to Iraq for the 2007 "surge," a team of officers and civilian analysts gathered in Baghdad to conduct a classified review of America's military strategy in Iraq.

In a June 2005 speech at Fort Bragg, President Bush had told the nation that the Iraq war was difficult, but winnable. "Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down," Bush said. "We have made progress, but we have a lot more work to do."

But when it convened in August, the Red Team, as the review group was known, came to a very different conclusion. "The perception of many Iraqis is that their government, and by implication, the Coalition has failed the Iraqi people," the report noted. (Read exclusive excerpts from the report.) Not only that, but the strategy Bush so confidently endorsed, the team asserted, would merely burden the Iraqis with a problem they could not handle. Iraqi forces might end up ceding ground to the insurgency in central and western Iraq, and perhaps even in Baghdad. A new counterinsurgency strategy -- one that, in concept though not in resources, bore a striking resemblance to the approach Gen. David Petraeus would oversee two years later -- was needed.

The team's diagnosis and its remedy were both ignored. It was one of the most important -- and until now, unknown -- missed opportunities of the war.

The annals of military history are replete with intelligence failures -- debacles that were not foreseen as a result of cultural ignorance, wishful thinking, or a lack of sources. But what is striking about the early years of the American war in Iraq are those episodes in which dedicated officials correctly discerned the problem and suggested new strategies -- only to be ignored by generals and Bush administration aides who were wedded to their faltering plan.

These missed turning points might have shortened the conflict and provided more breathing room to establish a more inclusive Iraqi government at a time when the United States had maximum leverage in the country. Nobody can say for certain what might have happened, but it is instructive that some of the spurned recommendations were very effective when belatedly implemented years later.

To this day, some of the missed opportunities are not widely known. For all the partisan debate over the Iraq conflict in Washington, only a handful of insiders seem to know what happened during some of its most fateful moments.

As the insurgency began to develop in 2003, for example, a group of officers in the U.S. military's intelligence cell in Baghdad developed a plan to work with the Sunni tribes in the western province of Anbar that was never carried out. Col. Carol Stewart had met with a group of Anbari sheiks and devised a plan to bring them into the fold. The strife-ridden Ramadi and Fallujah areas would be designated a "tribal security zone." Tribal leaders would be authorized to police their own areas and given vehicles, ammunition, and money to pay their men, who would be dubbed the "Anbar Rangers." The entire program would have cost $3 million for six months, a tiny sliver of the multibillion-dollar reconstruction fund for Iraq, officials said.

But when Stewart briefed the idea to an aide at L. Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority, she was told that CPA did not plan to make the tribes a formal part of Iraq's security structure. Leaving one meeting in frustration, Stewart muttered, "If the United States was not going to be working with the tribes in the new Iraq, where was this new Iraq going to be? On Mars?" Stewart had no more luck with more senior civilian and military officials in Iraq, and the idea was shelved -- only to be revived when the Anbar Awakening emerged three years later.

The Red Team

But first came the buried Red Team report, in which a select group of mid-level officers and officials who challenged the prevailing orthodoxy were ignored. This account is based on interviews with current and former American and allied officials and military officers -- and access to the 74-page classified report.

The origins of the Red Team go back to the appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as the United States ambassador to Iraq. A former Pentagon official who was coming to Baghdad from a tour as the American ambassador in Kabul, Khalilzad began to think anew about the military situation in Iraq. Canvassing the experts, he pondered the work of Andrew Krepinevich, who had written a book about the Army's experience in Vietnam and was a proponent of population-centric counterinsurgency.

During Khalilzad's Senate confirmation hearings on June 7, 2005, a skeptical junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, asked Khalilzad if it might take 10 or 20 years to defeat the insurgency. It could be done in much less than that, he responded reassuringly.

After arriving in Baghdad in July, Khalilzad and Gen. George Casey, the commander of multinational forces in Iraq, commissioned an internal review -- one that was to be carried out by an eight-person team of military and civilian officials. Col. Bruce Reider, a strategist who was working on governance issues for General Casey, co-chaired the effort on behalf of the military. Other members of his military team included a British intelligence officer, an Australian officer, and one of General Casey's planners. Marin Strmecki, a conservative defense consultant and an advisor to Khalilzad, led the civilian side of the review. A CIA analyst was part of the team as well.

Khalilzad met with the group and outlined the questions they were to consider, the most important being: What would it take to "break the back" of the insurgency in one year and "defeat" it in three years? The entire review was to be done in 30 days.

Although Casey had signed off on doing the study, the four-star general was convinced his plan was generally on track and not in need of a major overhaul. He was supporting troop-intensive counterinsurgency efforts in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar and the border town of Al Qaim in western Anbar as a way of interrupting the flow of foreign fighters from Syria. But they were the exceptions to his broader approach to gradually withdraw American forces and hand the fight over to the Iraqis. It was more than an exit strategy for Casey; it was a means to reward, encourage, and prod the Iraqis to step up. The paradox, as Casey sometimes put it, was that the United States had to draw down to win.

As Reider and the rest of the Red Team worked on their assessment in August, they sensed that the general had a different view of the problem. "There is a fundamental issue over what we are trying to achieve," the colonel wrote in his diary. "Gen. Casey believes we are trying to develop ISF so we can hand the fight to Iraqis. The ambassador believes we are here to defeat the insurgency."

The Red Team's diagnosis of the war was, indeed, a far cry from Casey's. The effort to disrupt the insurgents' planning had not been decisive, it concluded, and the enemy had been able to retain freedom of movement. Many Iraqis had no faith in their leaders. What's more, the Iraqi troops who were being trained were not schooled in counterinsurgency. "Iraqi Security Forces have been stood up at great speed," the review noted. "This tremendous achievement to get them ‘in the fight' has not yet delivered sustainable forces with robust leadership." American aid programs were not reaching Sunni areas.

More importantly, the team did not see how the plan could work. "The current plan hinges on an ability to suppress the insurgency to levels that the ISF [Iraqi Security Force] can handle on its own, which implies that the threat will be reduced before the transition," it notes. "Current operations have not succeeded in suppressing the level of the insurgency, and the campaign plan does not provide new or different approaches that offer greater promise in this regard."

And if the Americans were making little headway, the Iraqi security forces would fare worse. "The planned size of the ISF is likely to prove insufficient based on historical cases. The ISF, still an immature force, will be taking on the burden of security in 2006 and 2007 with inadequate funding and less experience, training and equipment than MNF-I," it added, using the acronym for Casey's multinational command.

The political ramifications of a failing strategy, the report concluded, were enormous. The hydra-headed insurgency might be emboldened is it thought that the main American goal was to disengage from Iraq. As a result, the insurgents could be "less likely to cut the political deals that would be needed to shore up the new Iraq."

Iraqis who had stood by the Americans might also lose confidence in their ally. "The fears of abandonment might lead the Iraqis to hedge their bets by developing greater reliance on Iran," the report continued. "If the transition to self-reliance takes place before the defeat of the insurgency, the Iraqi government and the insurgents could seek external support from neighboring states (e.g., Syria and Iran) in order to fight on, potentially leading to civil war along the lines of the one in Afghanistan in the 1990s."

Public support in the United States might be another casualty. "The American public might question whether a muddled outcome was worth the cost, especially since victory was not the goal."

Ink spots

Having assessed the problem, the group proposed an "ink spot" approach in areas that would be secured and developed politically until a patchwork of safe zones was extended across the country. The notion of separating the population from the insurgency was classic counterinsurgency doctrine, the kind Petraeus would later espouse, and ran counter to a Casey strategy that focused on border control and transition to the Iraqis.

The Red Team assumed that the only U.S. forces available were the ones that were already on hand, which meant that there was no way to blanket the country. So it proposed the concentration of forces in specific areas to effect a mini-surge. The command, for example, could use the beefed-up security for the upcoming December elections to establish an initial ink spot, perhaps in Baquba or in the Fallujah-Ramadi corridor. As more ink spots were created in 2006, they would be linked in a "Two Rivers campaign" to control the population centers along the Tigris and the Euphrates.

Without reinforcements from the United States, it would have been an enormously ambitious undertaking. But one of the main obstacles was bureaucratic. Casey had sponsored previous Red Team efforts and saw the report as a means to draw the embassy more into the war effort. But when the Red Team suggested wholesale changes to his military strategy, it was more than Casey had bargained for, one of his former aides said.

The Red Team approach posited a three-year campaign to defeat the insurgents and advanced a plan for concentrating American forces in insurgent-infested areas, which was inconsistent with Casey's vision of progressively handing over the fight to the Iraqis and making troop cuts in 2006 and 2007.

When it came time for the team to brief some of its conclusions on Aug. 23, Casey made it clear that he did accept the rationale behind much of the report. The team never even got around to presenting its PowerPoint slides. Two weeks later, one of Casey's senior officers approached Reider and said that the general had heard that the Red Team had been pressured to go along with the ink-spot approach by Strmecki. Reider denied it.

In his own post-mortem on the war, which is to be published by National Defense University, it is clear that Casey did not give the Red Team report much weight: he noted only that it made some useful suggestions on how to better integrate the coalition's economic, political, and military efforts.  In December 2005, Casey would hold his own Campaign Progress Review, which concluded that for all the challenges, there were "clear grounds for optimism." (When President Bush opted for a five-brigade "surge" in 2007, Casey still insisted that not all of the forces were needed.)

Still, Khalilzad brought a copy of the Red Team report to Washington and mentioned it to Stephen Hadley, Bush's national security advisor, who suggested that it might be submitted through military channels, a former official recalled. But with Casey opposed to the concept, that was unlikely. A member of the British team passed a copy up his chain of command and it eventually made its way to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. By and large, however, the report vanished from sight.

Too little, too late?

The failure to confront the inconvenient facts about America's faltering strategy in Iraq in 2005 had significant consequences. Bush's eventual decision to begin a military surge in Iraq in 2007 and to appoint Petraeus as commander pulled Iraq out of a worsening civil war. The surge strategy succeeded beyond any reasonable expectation in diminishing Al Qaeda in Iraq and tamping down the sectarian violence. It also served as a catalyst for the Sunni Awakening, which would make its way from Anbar to the area surrounding Baghdad and, finally, to the Iraqi capital itself.

But if the strategy change had come earlier, a longer surge might have led to more progress in establishing a more inclusive Iraqi government and improving the poor performance of Iraq's ministries -- issues that still bedevil Iraq today. Those questions might have been tackled sooner in an improved security environment and when American influence was at its height. An earlier surge might have saved treasure and, more importantly, lives.

The episode also raises some pertinent questions about the Obama administration's strategy today in Afghanistan, where the United States military mounted a surge that ended last week. The transition to an Afghan lead and the closing of American bases is being executed with all of the mechanistic rigidity of the United States' initial Iraq strategy.

I tracked down Reider, who has retired from the Army and teaches at the Army's Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. What lessons, I asked, did he draw from the episode?

"You always hear senior leaders talking about the need to adapt," he said. "The plan we had in Iraq was not working and people who had worked on that plan did not want to accept that. This was an opportunity to adapt, and we did not take that opportunity."

-This article was published first in Foreign Policy on 24/09/2012
-Michael R. Gordon is a correspondent for the New York Times. This article is adapted from his new book, The Endgame: the Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, From George W. Bush to Barack Obama, co-authored with Gen. Bernard E. Trainor. Wesley S. Morgan contributed to this article

Staunching Syria's Wounds

By Walden Bello and Richard Javad Heydarian

Almost 18 months after the onset of popular democratic protests, the Syrian revolution increasingly resembles a bloody marathon with no clear finish line on the horizon. Unlike the "lightning" revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, where strongmen were overthrown in a matter of weeks, the Syrian uprising has instead entailed a slow-motion disintegration of the rich tapestry that has characterized Syrian society for centuries.

There is no way to understate the depth of the unfolding tragedy: An estimated 20,000 civilians have been killed, some 2.5 million are internally displaced, and more than 250,000 have risked life and limb to flee the country just to arrive at cramped refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq. 

As the armed revolution enters the two large cities of Aleppo and Damascus, the humanitarian crisis is set to deepen unless all relevant parties—domestic and international—commit themselves to a peaceful and effective political solution. Thus, the first priority should be the imposition of a UN-administered ceasefire to end the bloodshed and provide necessary space for a genuine political dialogue. There must also be an immediate end to the ongoing proxy war that is fueling an arms race inside the country, with Western and Arab powers (directly or indirectly) arming rebels and extremist elements to topple the regime through sheer violence and terror.

A State of War

What initially began as a non-violent demand for political liberalization and social justice has gradually morphed into a large-scale sectarian conflict, placing varying ethnic and religious groups on a collision course.

Notwithstanding the almost universal demand for democracy among the Syrian population, what we are witnessing is the frightening possibility of a Sunni-dominated opposition—spearheaded by a less-than-moderate Muslim Brotherhood and buttressed by the inflow of armed extremists—waging an all-out war on not only the minority Alawite sect that has stood by President Assad and his regime, but also other minority groups, such as the Christians and Shiites, perceived to be invested in the Baath party.

The Syrian uprisings—similar to those in Egypt and Tunisia—were largely founded upon secular principles of tolerance, justice, and democracy. Yet we are inching closer to the possible emergence of a post-Assad state in which reactionary and radical elements could implement an even less tolerant political system underpinned by undemocratic “majoritarian rule,” ultra-conservative values, and—most ominously—the purging of all remnants of the ancien regime.

As Assad’s forces struggle to hold on to their traditional strongholds in Aleppo and Damascus, the Alawite community—fearing a meltdown in the capital—is already fortifying its positions in the northeastern mountainous regions as well as the coastal cities of Latakia and Tartus (incidentally, the site of numerous visits by Russian and Iranian naval forces). Ultimately, if the regime loses control over the capital, it might choose to withdraw to these areas and create a separate enclave defended by its massive stockpile of WMDs and advanced armaments.

The Kurds, meanwhile, have chosen to stay out of the revolution and extend their networks of cooperation with their Kurdish brethren in Iraq (and possibly in Turkey too), while consolidating their de facto jurisdiction over the oil-rich northeastern regions bordering Turkey and Iraq.

The regime has already lost its political hegemony in much of the countryside, with self-governing revolutionary councils filling in the political vacuum. Meanwhile, rebel groups are expanding and strengthening their operations, denying the regime much-needed mobility and tactical space. They have already been busy blocking the highly strategic Latakia-Aleppo highway to choke off Assad’s forces—forcing the regime to increasingly rely on its air force.

Central cities such as Hama and Homs, traditional hotbeds of anti-Assad sentiment, are anything but under the control of the state, forcing the regime to occasionally resort to artillery shelling, helicopter gunship attacks, and carpet bombardments to exert a semblance of control.

In essence, what one increasingly observes in much of the country are self-governing communities intermittently rocked by massacres and hit-and-run operations—by both the regime and the armed opposition.

With both the opposition and the regime locked in a state of war, the only way to end the bloodshed is for the international community to come to its senses and forge a unified and effective response under the auspices of the UN.

A Divided International Community

But there is hardly an “international community” to speak of as far as Syria is concerned. There are basically three camps on this conflict.

The first camp is composed of anti-Assad hawks, mainly NATO countries and Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia, which are determined to dislodge the regime in Damascus and checkmate their main regional adversary, Iran. The Assad regime is the strategic node that has allowed Iran to project its influence beyond the immediate Sunni-dominated Persian Gulf neighborhood, establishing the so-called “Shia Crescent” from eastern Afghanistan to the eastern Mediterranean—much to the dismay of Washington and the Sunni powers. Syria is simply their best chance to cripple the core of Iran’s regional network.

Increasingly reducing the Syrian crisis to a simple Shia-Sunni divide, these powers have been among the most vociferous proponents of military intervention, ranging from the imposition of a no-fly zone to the creation of “humanitarian buffer zones” along the Turkish-Syrian border, or even the implementation of a “no-drive zone” to neutralize Assad’s military maneuvering. Some, such as the Qataris, have even floated the idea of placing boots on the ground, with Arab soldiers—together with NATO operational support—implementing peace enforcement or regime change. So far, it seems that the consensus within this camp is to focus on arming the rebels and increasing sanctions and diplomatic pressure to cripple the regime.

The second camp is composed of Eastern powers and Syrian allies such as Russia, China, and Iran. They have been the most vociferous opponents of any form of military intervention in Syria, emphasizing the need for a “managed political transition” without an explicit call for Assad to step down. Russia and Iran have actively supported the regime by providing it diplomatic, political, and financial space. While the Russians have continued to supply the regime with armaments (ostensibly based on prior contracts), the Iranians are said to have played an increasingly prominent role as a source of financial and logistical support. However, none of these powers has ruled out dialogue with the opposition, with each of them either hosting (or expressing an intent to meet with) elements of the opposition to mediate a prospective political compromise with the regime.

The last camp, or the “third way,” is composed of developing countries, from India to Brazil, that are deeply disturbed by the ongoing violence in Syria. They may have already lost their belief in the legitimacy of President Assad, but they are also equally critical of any form of military intervention to resolve the crisis. Their main priority is to kick-start a UN-sponsored political approach, which will combine humanitarian, political, and peacekeeping tools to put a lid on the ongoing violence in Syria and pave the way for a managed political transition.

Toward a Diplomatic Resolution

Among the most prominent in the third camp is Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who has emphasized the need for a regional Syrian Contact Group composed of all relevant regional powers—including Iran, the external actor that wields the largest leverage over Assad—to build an effective framework for a political resolution of the crisis. The framework would be backed by a UN mediation led by the veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi. Morsi’s proposal has been endorsed by both Russia and Iran.

During the recent Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit—which brought about 120 countries, 17 observer nations, and around 30 heads of state to Tehran—the Iranians also proposed the formation of a special NAM committee under the leadership of the organization’s past, current, and future chairs: Iran, Egypt, and Venezuela. This could serve as an institutional bedrock for a coordinated regional and international approach as proposed by Morsi. The key element here is the emphasis on political dialogue, compromise, and pressure on both sides of the conflict to end the ongoing cycle of violence. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Washington, Riyadh, or Ankara will ever agree to such arrangement.

In a recent visit to Moscow, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil hinted at the regime’s openness to negotiating Assad’s resignation. This is a potential turning point in favor of a political compromise, but it opens the way for new and wrenching questions. Should Assad be given political asylum? Could guarantees against persecution facilitate the end of violence and kick-start a process of democratic transition? Given the need to put an immediate end to the cycle of violence, we may see growing discussions on sacrificing some measure of justice for the sake of instituting peace before it is too late.

-This commentary was published first in Foreign Policy in Focus on 24/09/2012
-Richard Javad Heydarian is a Middle East expert who has contributed to or been quoted in the Asia Times, Foreign Policy, The Diplomat, United Press International, Tehran Times, Epoch Times, and Russia Today (RT), among many other publications. FPIF columnist Walden Bello is a member of the Philippines House of Representatives and a senior fellow at Focus on the Global South.