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Sun. July 14, 2024
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IA-Forum: Discussion with Dr. Abdul Aziz Said
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Dr. Abdul Aziz Said, founder of the Center for Global Peace, founder and director of the International Peace and Conflict Resolution Division, Chair of Islamic Peace, and senior professor at American University. International Affairs Forum: President Chirac recently said the world is now a more dangerous place because of the war in Iraq. Do you agree? Dr. Abdul Azziz Said: The world is not safer now. It is not safer because the issues and the causes for violence, that produce violence, are still there. Some of them have been exacerbated. In the Middle East, we are talking about Palestine, Israel, and authoritarian regimes. We are talking about the absence of democracy in the region. Now what has happened in Iraq is that it has become a place for those displeased or dissatisfied with their governments, Muslims. In that sense I would agree with him. IA-Forum: Has the war has strengthened Al Qaeda? Dr. Said: It gives Al Qaeda more recruits, unfortunately. Because when we look at terrorism, we have to deal with the supply and demand side of terrorism. The United States had been dealing with the supply side. That is, the traffickers of terrorism and violence. Bin Laden and others are traffickers of terrorism. But we are not dealing with the boys and girls who are being used by the traffickers, and are being recruited by them. These are men and women living outside the systems that are now autocratic not democratic, not that Bin Laden or their traffickers are democratic, they are not. But they manipulate them. So when I talk about the demand, I talk about the issues that give rise to and enable the traffickers to recruit. We are not prepared to deal that. IA-Forum: Insurgency is, and has been, a thorn in the side of U.S. efforts in Iraq. What are the causes and possible solutions? Dr. Said: There are many causes. Don’t forget Iraq has historically been the most difficult part of the Arab-Islamic Empire to govern, before the Americans came, before even Sadaam Hussein came. Iraq is a country that is home to many different groups, ethnic and religious. So that’s one factor. Another factor is that under Saddaam Hussein, their infrastructure was destroyed. Not only was it destroyed but the Iraqi spirit was destroyed. Moreover, America has made mistakes in Iraq, mistakes that could have been avoided, and still is now making mistakes that could be avoided. America says we are trying to deal with security but security is a function of legitimacy. As long as Iraqis and Arabs feel that the situation in Iraq is not legitimate, it will be insecure. We have to think more and more about legitimacy and help Iraqis have legitimacy to seek solutions. IA-Forum: It appears that reconstruction efforts have been a mixed bag to date. Dr. Said: They have been undermined by the violence and by tremendous corruption on the part of the American firms, the international firms, and the Iraqis. There is a great deal of corruption going on. IA-Forum: What controls that can be put into place to help curb this corruption? Dr. Said: We are trying, we are trying to. Our center (Center for Global Peace) has performed work regarding issues such as education and job creation. Can the government do better? Sure, but so far I am not very impressed by what I have seen with any collective mechanism that have been put into place IA-Forum: Thank you, Dr. Said. Dr. Said: Thank you. We welcome your comments and responses. Please send them to editor@ia-forum.org.

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