Warm Up • Why do you think there are so many terrorist groups based in the Middle East? • Why do you think terrorist groups have been targeting the U.S. in recent years? • What are some of the things our country has done since 9-11 to fight international terrorism?
U.S. Policies that Shape the Middle East Created by Mrs. Jennifer Nix Hightower Trail Middle School August 2004 *Information derived from a presentation by Mr. Craig M. Kauffman, Director for the Current Events Research Library at the Southern Center for International Studies
This Power-Point presentation will focus on several questions: • Why are there so many terrorist groups in the Middle East? • Why are they targeting the U.S.? • Is the U.S. winning the war on terrorism?
This PowerPoint Presentation is intended to promote class discussion or a Question/Answer session. • Pay attention! This information is relevant to our lives as citizens living in the United States today! ?Q & A?
Why are there so many terrorist groups in the Middle East? • First, understand that 9/11 was a turning point. • Before 9/11, policy objectives included: *dual containment (Iran/Iraq) *preserving access to oil *promoting democracy • After 9/11, policy shifted to focus on changes in security *promoting pre-emptive action (“real and imminent threat”) *regime change ? ?
Where do we begin? • We must begin by looking at the War on Terrorism because it is the lens through which the others are viewed.
Why has the War on Terrorism impacted the Middle East? • There are many terror organizations BASED in the Middle East. • ½ of the U.S. State Dept.’s list of recognized terrorist organizations exist there.
What is a “recognized” terrorist organization? • No one has defined it completely… • Basically, they: • Use violence against civilians or non-combatants (as opposed to gang violence or organized crime which use specific targets) • The purpose is to send a political message and to induce fear • May be state-sponsored at times (i.e. “The Disappeared” in Argentina or El Salvador) • Many are fighting against outside (Western) influence in their homeland
What is the difference between a Nationalist Movement and a Terrorist Organization? • A Nationalist Movement typically has an issue with it’s own government and/or land (i.e. the Hamas Palestinian movement in Israel) whereas the Terrorist Organization has political interests outside the scope of one area. • Many times, a Terrorist Organization may be trying to pressure Western influence out of their countries through terrorist attacks. (Interesting Fact: The Al-Queda was founded to overthrow the Saudi Arabian government and grew to have a larger scale agenda.)
Overthrow of Authoritarian Governments To provide a political forum for citizens for dissent to be expressed To replace current government with Islamic governments Force outside troops to leave region To distance themselves from Western Influence Many of the Terrorist Organizations based in the Middle East begin with specific goals.
By no means do all Muslims support these groups! In fact, only 3-4% of Muslims support the beliefs of these Muslim extremist groups. Islamic Nation=a country whose majority religion is Islam (Muslim) Islamist Group=a merging of political and religions systems (the category into which many of these terrorist groups fit) Please do not mix up your terms and create stereotypes or generalizations!
Why are they targeting the U.S.? • The U.S. is perceived as “propping up” these authoritarian regimes for our own interest. • In the past, we have backed governments that support U.S. interest (oil, geographic convenience for military bases, etc.) • The continued cry of “wanting to bring democracy” is meaningless to some Middle Eastern people when they look at our policies in the region which support the Saudi Royal Family, Egypt, Saddam Hussein until 1990, and Israel… • There is a definite negative PERCEPTION of U.S. policy in the Middle East.
They want to pressure the U.S. to remove western influence and troops from this region (remember: we have troops stationed along the border of Saudi Arabia…home of the 2 most holy Muslim places in the world—Mecca and Medina). There is a general feeling by terrorist groups that if the U.S. wasn’t present in the region, maybe the popular opinion would support their own interests. U.S. support for Israel in conflict with Palestinians is against popular opinion among many Arabic countries. So what do the terrorist groups want to do?
We have the challenge of trying to marginalize the terrorists. Arab Development Index Young countries easily influenced (regenerate) We must make it difficult for terrorists to “sell their message” (get rid of their public support) We will have to go after those people who are organizing terrorist groups U.S. support vs. terrorism is dependent upon public support in that region to a great extent Middle Eastern leaders have to “tow the line” between supporting the U.S. (keeps them in good standing w/ United Nations) and holding public support (protecting Islam and culture) Two challenges for combating terrorism:
Is the U.S. winning the War on Terrorism? You decide…Here are some of the facts… • Saddam Hussein is gone, but who will replace him? • Afghanistan’s government is unstable. • Some countries (recently Syria) allow terrorists refuge within their borders. • Some Middle Eastern people perceive our support of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc. as support of authoritarian or “terrorist” regimes. • We still have troops in Germany and Japan…will we leave troops in Iraq forever? • Libya and Iran disarmed their nuclear weapons (but Iran is believed to be continuing nuclear research).
What is our greatest challenge in trying to prevent terrorism? • Economic instability and lack of growth and development produce these terrorist groups. (lack of opportunity…hope in movement) • Economic growth cannot begin without stability within the region. • Catch 22? Catch 22? ?
So what can we do? • Educate ourselves and follow our country’s political involvement in the middle east. • Pay attention to Homeland Security’s threat advisory level warnings. • Support heightened security measures in our country.
Why is there such an insurgence in Iraq since Saddam is gone? • MANY REASONS… • Baathists were excluded in the new Iraq. • The Kurds want to be a part of the new government • Foreign insurgents (Al-Queda, etc.) look at the chaos in Iraq as an opportunity to weaken the U.S. and take control. • The interim government of Iraq was appointed rather than being elected—this offended many Iraqi people. • Local political leaders are gaining support by opposing the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Did Saddam Hussein support the Al-Queda? • Not officially—there is no evidence that directly links Saddam Hussein to terrorist organizations other than his own regime • There is evidence that Saddam told his people not to trust such groups. • They did, however, have a common interest: Remove the U.S. from the Middle East
Is the Al-Queda the only terrorist group? • No. There are MANY different international terrorist organizations—it just happens to be one that has directly targeted the United States (among other countries) publicly for a number of years.
What about the infamous “Weapons of Mass Destruction?” • None have been found in Iraq at this time. • The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1972 only allowed 5 countries to research and create nuclear weapons: • The United States • Russia • France • Britain • China
Now two more countries are recognized by the NPT as nuclear nations. • These countries include India and Pakistan. • North Korea and Israel are also known to be developing weapons without the NPT’s permission, but have not been subjected to a search yet. • South Africa, Iran, and Libya are known to have dismantled their weapons after “engagement” (negotiations with members of the NPT) but Iran is believed to be working on their nuclear program again.
What is ultimately the answer to stopping international terrorism? • Opinions vary. • Many people believe that political and economic development will help. • Many believe that the spread of democracy will help. • Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer!