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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in articles are strictly the author's own, and do not necessarily represent those of Al Nakhlah, its Advisory and Editorial Boards, or the Program for Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization (SWAIC) at The Fletcher School.

Spring 2004

S. Waqar Hasib (MALD/JD '04)

The Iranian Constitution: An Exercise in Contradictions

Since the overthrow of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi in 1979, Iran can best be described as a nation of contradictions. Iranians are often shown on U.S. television burning American flags and chanting "death to America," while behind the camera they listen to Madonna, wear Tommy Hilfiger jeans and watch the latest Los Angeles Lakers games on satellite dishes. Iran ranks at the top of the U.S. State Department's list of nations that sponsor terrorism, yet Iranians lit candles and held mass impromptu vigils in the streets of Tehran for the victims of the September 11 attacks. 

Jan Arno Hessbruegge (MALD '04)

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization: A Holy Alliance for Central Asia?

At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Emperor Francis of Austria, King Frederick William of Prussia and Tsar Alexander of Russia formed the Holy Alliance. While the three monarchs also sought to create a multilateral counter-pole to France, the dominant European power until Napoleon's fall, the Holy Alliance was primarily inward-looking in nature. It was directed against non-state forces. Its key purpose was to preserve the conservative domestic order of its monarchic members against the ideological threats of democracy, human rights and nationalism emanating from the French Revolution. 

Rudy Jaafar (MALD '05)

An Islamic Revolution in Egypt?

Middle Eastern countries-particularly in the second half of the twentieth century-have witnessed the rise of sociopolitical movements that pressure governments to adopt the Shari'a, or holy law of Islam, as ultimate arbiter of social and public affairs. The failures of socialism and pan-Arabism have, more than ever, strengthened the belief in political Islam as panacea to political and economic woes. These Islamic movements, coupled with other popular grievances, can often threaten established regimes and state structures, resulting in violent armed conflict and chaos. 

Rebecca Kinyon (MALD '04)

Osama bin Laden: Legitimate within Islamic Legal Thought?

The Arab world is rife with friction between secular reformists and Sharia-minded traditionalists. The significance of this struggle cannot be underestimated. A way of life is at stake, and the intensity of the conflict has sparked a revolution against the West. Osama bin Laden, Saudi billionaire and mastermind behind terrorist attacks, puts a face to this elusive, and increasingly violent, backlash being waged on U.S. soil. 

Maliha Masood

At the Crossroads of Islamic Feminism: Negotiating the Gender Politics of Identity

Perhaps more than any other time in history, Muslim women today are directly engaged in the process of questioning Islamic precepts and socio-politico values. One of the crucial strategies being employed in this arena is the alternative exegesis of the Qur'an from a woman's perspective. By readdressing the prevailing patriarchal paradigms within Islam, these courageous Muslim scholars hope to develop a more autonomous and authentic female Islamic identity, fostered on increasing women's rights and fully incorporating the stature of Muslim women in Islam. Their theoretical and ethical debate differs from the revivalist male perspectives, by recognizing women as active partners in the reinterpretation process. 

Miriam Netzer (MALD '04)

One Voice? The Crisis of Legal Authority in Islam

On February 23, 1998, Osama bin Laden issued a fatwa, or 'juridical ruling,' establishing a 'fard 'ayn,' (individual duty) upon all faithful Muslims to wage holy war against the United States - on its territory, and against its civilian population-in acts of terror. On September 12, 2001, prominent Qatar-based cleric, Yusuf Qaradawi, issued a fatwa condemning the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, after praising suicide-bombing missions against Israeli civilians, as self-defense. Last year, he designated attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq, as acts of 'martyrdom.' On September 12, and December 3, 2001, Sheikh Tantawi, rector of Al-Azhar University, the premier body of Sunni legal scholarship, issued fatwas condemning attacks on civilians under any and all circumstances, as fundamentally 'un-Islamic.' However, he issued a further fatwa last March proclaiming the killing of American soldiers in Iraq, an 'individual duty,' for Muslims, to act in defense of their Iraqi brethren. 

Jim Ruvalcaba (Fletcher International Security Studies Program Military Fellow, 2003-4)

Understanding Iraq's Insurgency

Many questions have been posited as to which tactics, strategies, and policies, are best and should be employed to counter the insurgent threat in Iraq. Many argue that the military should be the primary instrument involved whereas others argue that more emphasis should be placed on the diplomatic and economic instruments to resolve this threat. However, before anyone can attempt to argue in favor of any recommendation, option, or policy, it is important to understand the problem. The purpose of this article is to provide an understanding of Iraq's insurgency using the detailed framework for analysis developed by Dr. Bard O'Neill and described in his book, Insurgency and Terrorism. This broad framework analyzes insurgencies by examining the international system, domestic context, goals, purpose, means utilized, and strategies. From this analysis, the nature of the insurgency, type, the problems they pose, and the requirements they place on respective actors can be determined. 1 Therefore, with such an understanding, individuals will be better prepared to assess the tactics, strategies, and policies that are recommended and possibly employed in addressing this threat.