Friday, January 30, 2009

Al-Qaeda: "It's time to talk to Lembit Opik"

The BBC quotes the Cambridge historian John Bew as saying:
"Perhaps there will be a time when negotiations are made public - and an end to the war may be spoken of - so that al-Qaeda can extend its belief that 'people are fundamentally rational' to Lembit Opik."
Actually, I have a lot of sympathy for Lembit's position. And if Private Eye's humour is as predictable as I think these days, this story will be in next week's issue.


Paul said...

Opik in naive in the extreme with these comments of his for that and other reasons I find it impossible to take the man seriously.

As to comparisons with Northern Ireland, simply put there are none as none of the protagonists there had irrational aims foundered upon religon. Al Qaeda are a jihadist movement, they will of course accept a temporary cease-fire but only if it serves to advance their cause. That cause being the establishment of a trans-national Islamic state. Opik either does not know this or so is naive or he does know it and is a fool.

Anonymous said...

Actually it's not such a foolish position.

20 years ago these guys were our allies in the cold war. Over the past 5 or 6 years various of the warlords in Afghanistan have moved from AQ to our allies.

At this stage it's difficult to envisage any meaningful talks or "understanding" until the Palestinian question is resolved, but after that it might be possible to have some kind of "settlement" (e.g. "we'll let your Muslim Brotherhood wing compete for elections in Egypt, etc. and we'll even let you form a government if you win the elections again" and in return "you stick to non-violent methods").

The reason why the analogy to Northern Ireland is relevant is simply to point out that what can seem intractable at one particular time can normally change over the long period when certain tipping points are reached. If Lebit Opik had suggested a settlement with the IRA in 1980 you would probably be pouring derision on him. Fortunately some less naive people than you were starting to contemplate that situation and to prepare.

This is why it appeared as a sudden shift to most of the general public.