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Terrorism and homeland security

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                The region around the Persian Gulf has been the focus of world attention during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and the 1991 gulf war when Iraq invaded Kuwait but was expelled by American forces.  The Persian Gulf region has huge oil and natural gas reserves and as a result, the countries located there have high revenues and income per capital levels.  The Persian Gulf states are Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman.  The region has been in the eye of the storm in as far as the war on terror is concerned.  After the 9/11 attacks, the United States invaded Iraq overthrew Saddam Hussein and are currently still occupying the country.  Iran features prominently in the axis of evil list for its support of groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.  Other nations in the region though not as extensively involved are engaged in the war.

                United States intelligence officials allege that wealthy individuals in the Persian Gulf countries are funding terrorists (CNN, 1996).  Contribution to terrorist organizations is often disguised as legitimate charity. For others secret means are used to knowingly direct funds to radical groups. The most notable of all is former Saudi national Osama Bin Laden who was stripped of his nationality in 1994.  Osama and his Al Qaeda group have been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks against western targets as well as funding and training other terrorist organizations.  Militant Islamism poses a threat to the nations of the Gulf especially in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran.  The fire is fanned partly by the failure to undertake reforms of political and institutional nature.  After the gulf war, individuals and organizations that opposed US hegemony made US a primary target.  They target the values that America represents such as democracy, individual liberty and capitalism.  The goal of the terrorist groups in the gulf region is to force the withdrawal of American military and economic presence in the region because they claim it has a pervasive influence on the people of the gulf. Insurgency in Iraq for instance has been legitimized by a strong emotional resentment of the US occupation in Iraq. The insurgency in Iraq currently is dominated by foreign fighters principally from Saudi Arabia. The Gulf countries have in the past produced many terrorists who have engaged in struggle elsewhere such as involvement of Saudi nationals in Afghanistan.

    Danger Posed by Iran

                Iran has for a long time been a present name in the US list nations that sponsor terrorism.  President George Bush included Iran in the axis of evil nations alongside North Korea and Cuba.  As a result of large reserves of oil and natural gas, Iran is an influential regional power and is an important player in global energy issues and would economy.  It’s location in the Persian Gulf gives the country geo-strategic significance as it is centrally located in the Eurasia region.  Iran therefore is a country with significant leverage and power and is thus a major player in the Middle Eastern region.

                Following the Iranian revolution of 1979, the country adopted radical Islamic position.  The foreign policy of Iran is influenced primarily by antagonism against the western world more so the United States.  During the Iran-Iraq war with the US supporting Iraq and Soviets supporting Iran, the relationship drastically plummeted to a point where Iran views the US as a mortal enemy.

                After the Islamic revolution in Iran, the Islamic revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was formed to protect and advance the ideals of the revolution.  The IRGC have not only done that internally, they have also exported the revolution elsewhere.  Evidence exists linking the organization to Hezbollah (Amy, 2008).  The IRGC is also believed to be responsible for inciting and funding the Shiite uprising in Iraq.  Direct engagement through delivery of arms and gathering of intelligence is undertaken by Iran.

                The most well known proxy terrorist organization affiliated to Iran is Hezbollah which means party of God. Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamist organization that is based in Lebanon.  The organization was founded in 1982 after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to expel PLO.  The IRGC members were sent by Iran into Lebanon to assist in resisting the Israeli invasion.  More recently in the 2006 conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, it is alleged that Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ soldiers aided Hezbollah through supplying intelligence and firing rockets.

                Iran has also been accused of co-operation with Hamas.  The win by Hamas of the 2006 parliamentary elections saw Iran pledging to fund the party.  Hamas relies on terrorist tactics such as suicide bombings to fight against Israeli occupation.  It is believed that the Iran-Hamas relationship began in the 1990s. Palestinian Islamic Jihad is yet another group that has support of Iran since the 1980s.  The group operates from Lebanon.

                The constant pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by Iran is also a major worry to other global players.  Though WMDs on its own does not constitute state terrorism, Iran’s confessed aim of wiping out the state of Israel makes it a major factor.  With so many ties to terrorist organizations, nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran could lead to proliferation of the weapons to terrorist groups.

    Land reforms in Zimbabwe

                The most bitterly contested and most important issue that has had devastating impact in Zimbabwe’s political landscape is no doubt the land reforms carried out by President Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party.  The seizures of white owned farms in Zimbabwe have led to serious negative economic effects notably hyper inflation.  Zimbabwe currently has the highest inflation rate in the world.  Food shortage continues to bite as the country’s economy shrinks even further.   The current economic crisis is considered to be the worst humanitarian situation in the country’s history.

                The crisis has resulted in acute shortage of basic commodities and imported oil. Observers identify the causes as economic mismanagement by the government, prohibition on relief activities carried out by foreign NGOs, drought, HIV/AIDS pandemic and the bungled land reforms.  President Mugabe’s administration though blames UK, USA and the European Union’s measures such as the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic act of 2001 passed by the US congress.  The act prohibits the US from aiding efforts by multilateral lending institutions to provide loans, credit or debt cancellation to the government of Zimbabwe.

                Since the advent of black majority rule in Zimbabwe in 1979, land reform has been an issue in Zimbabwean politics.  In fact there was a general consensus among most western officials and donors that land in Zimbabwe needs to be redistributed (Swarns, 2002).  The redistribution of land mostly affected the white farmers who occupied the best lands. Blacks, who were pushed out to rocky farms by British colonial settlers, were to be integrated better into the Zimbabwean agricultural system. (Swarns, 2002).  In the year 2000, the government of President Robert Mugabe attempted to introduce a new constitution that would empower it to seize white owned farms without compensation.  The constitution was rejected in a referendum.  A short while later war veterans association with tacit government approval organized an invasion into white owned farms. In 2000, there were about 4000 white farmers in Zimbabwe.  The number had dropped to 200 in 2003.  About 60 farms that remain have been singled out for invasion and so far 20 have been taken over.

                In the 2002 and 2008 general election, the incumbent has run on a platform of land reforms. Observers see land reforms as a means through which the increasingly unpopular government of President Robert Mugabe is attempting to win the support of the population especially in the rural areas.  Most interested parties agree on is that land reform was necessary in Zimbabwe but what is not acceptable is the manner in which it was carried out based on cronyism and nepotism.

    Apartheid and the Legacy of Nelson Mandela

                Apartheid refers to a system of institutionalized racism that was practiced in South Africa between 1948 and 1990.  Apartheid was founded on the colonialism of southern Africa which resulted in domination by minority white settlers.  During the apartheid period, racism was ingrained in the law and any opposition in to the law was brutally suppressed.  Racism was made legal.  The law in minute details set up the definitions of the various races where each race was supposed to live, work and die.  The system was blatant disregard of the United Nations Charter and the Universal declaration of Human Rights for it allowed the dominant white minority to exploit, segregate and terrorize the majority black people.

                After the general election of 1948, the Afrikaner led government introduced the policies of apartheid.  The government embarked on classification of citizens and visitors according to race.  Black South Africans were stripped of their citizenship instead being awarded citizenship of the tribal homelands or Bantustans which were self governing (Chokshi, 1995) Apartheid imposed restrictions on labor and migration and strengthened state security control.

                Apartheid was dismantled in 1990 after a series of negotiations that came about because the ruling elite realization that the system was no longer sustainable. Nelson Mandela played a key role in the negotiations eventually emerging as South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994.  Prior to 1990, Mandela was a prisoner at the infamous Robben Island.  He had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 accused of engaging in anti-government activities.  He was among the senior members of ANC and was the leader of the militant wing called Umkhonto we sizwe which advocated for the use of violent means in resisting apartheid.  For the years that he spent in prison and his contribution to ANC, Mandela became an iconic figure in the liberation struggle.  After his release from prison, Mandela took over the leadership of ANC and led the negotiations to end apartheid.  For his efforts he was awarded the Nobel Peace Price with President Fredrick de Klerk in 1993.

    Effects of the Kashmir and Punjab Crisis on Security in India

                One of the most disputed territories in the world that has even prompted a nuclear arms race is the Kashmir region.  Wars have been fought between India and Pakistan in 1947, 1965 and 1999. Violence perpetrated by non-state actors directed towards India and Pakistan has been numerous as well.  India has borne the brunt of the Kashmir conflict.  The conflict has its roots in the partition of the Indian sub-continent by the British in 1947.  The partition created two nations India and Pakistan.  The Kashmir region immediately became a hot point with both countries claiming ownership.  Finally Kashmir was partitioned with India administering Jammu Kashmir and Pakistan taking over Azad Kashmir.  China claims and controls Aksai Chin in Kashmir.

                The state of Punjab in India neighboring Jammu Kashmir and Pakistan is considered as India’s breadbasket.  For more than a decade, the Punjab region has been the center of a bloody conflict.  The crisis was bred by a power struggle between the Indian government and Sikh political elite.  The Punjab region is dominated by followers of the Sikh religion who form 60% of the population (Jones, 2002).  The key cause of violence was the desire by the Punjab Sikhs for independence from India and the Indian government’s refusal to accede to those demands.

                In the duration of the conflict, the Indian army engaged in violation of human rights in Punjab.  Arbitrary arrests, torture, detention without trial, execution of suspected Sikh militant and general disappearances of members of the public was widespread.  Sikh militants responded especially in the period between 1981 and 1992. Sikh groups engaged in a campaign of random and targeted violence.  Attacks on unarmed civilians of Hindu religions affiliations and Sikhs suspected of collaboration were undertaken.  Militants often fired at crowds in markets, streets residential areas public buses and trains.  The Sikh radical groups also assassinated political and religions leaders and extorted money from businesses.

    Falun Gong’s Threat to the Chinese Government

                Falun Gong also known as Falun Daga is a spiritual practice founded by Li Hongzhi in 1992 in China.  Falun Gong is an ancient Chinese meditation exercise also called gigong.  The aim is to nurture the mental and the physical through a combination of Buddhist beliefs, slow movement and exercises similar to those of martial arts.  Emphasis is placed on fundamental principles of truth, benevolence and fore bearing.

                After the introduction of Falun Gong in China in 1992, Falun Gong was catapulted into international prominence with millions of followers in more than forty countries (Chlopak, 2001).  The rise to fame of the movement was viewed with suspicion by the Chinese government which was apprehensive on the effect that such a movement would have on the Chinese society. The Chinese government therefore designated Falun Gong as an evil cult and has launched a campaign to wipe out the movement from china.

                In April 25, 1999, the first major clash between the organization and the Chinese government occurred.  Over 10,000 followers silently protested at the Chinese communist party headquarters in protest to the harassment that they had received (Chlopak, 2001).  The protest was non-violent in nature and it was resolved diplomatically after talks between Falun Gong followers and government officials.  Threatened by the magnitude of the protest, the Chinese government began a massive crackdown on Falun Gong two months down the line.  The crackdown was preceded by an official ban and widespread propaganda campaign against the group through state controlled media.  Reports of torture, illegal imprisonment, forced labor, beatings and other abuses against Falun Gong have escalated since 1999.

                Falun Gong – a structure less organization has been transformed into a global movement thanks to the repressive response of the Chinese government.  The movement has now attracted major support from international human rights movements.

    Terrorism in Chiapas Mexico

                Chiapas region in Mexico is a scene of terrorist actions perpetrated against innocent civilians by paramilitary groups with the complicity of the federal government out of the radar of internationals observers.  It is virtually an unknown conflict outside Mexico.  Members of the Zapatista communities are up in arms against a paramilitary organization called the organization for the defense of indigenous and peasant rights (Opddic).

                The main cause of these acts of violence is access to land.  The Oppdic movement began operations in 1998 but has gained more strength recently.  This is a reflection of the state policy of evicting indigenous people from their land and leasing or selling it to multinational companies that seek to profit from the immense natural wealth contained in the region. Opddic has carried out land invasions, destruction of crops, beatings, harassment and kidnappings aimed against indigenous families in Chiapas.  The group has completely terrorized the indigenous peoples of Chiapas.  The paramilitary group has also issued threats against the indigenous people ordering them to vacate their land or else face dire consequences.

                The Chiapas state is the poorest and the most economically unequal state in Mexico (Reyes, 2007).  Indigenous Indians had for a very long time been rendered landless by Oppdic.  In 1994 the Zapatista uprising saw the native Indians acquire their long lost land.  Indian communities such as Tzotzil, Tselatal, Tojolabal and chol rebuilt their institutions such as the education system, health systems and governance structures.  The aim of the Oppdic group is to force indigenous communities to rescind their ownership of land by declaring it as a communal land or ejido that can then be sold to multinational companies.  What is more tragic is the complicity by the government which supplies guns and grenades to Oppdic and engages in terror against its own citizens (Reyes, 2007).

    Combating Terror in Britain and Israel

                War on terror is the current catch phrase in international relations discourse.  Many states have committed themselves to a goal of eradicating terror.  Most notably is the United States has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in the recent past.  Unlike the US however, Britain and Israel have had to battle terrorist groups for long time internally.  In Britain the incidences of Northern Ireland related terror has considerably diminished.  In Israel, through there is only a slight reduction in incidences of terror. Palestinian terrorist organizations still pose a big threat.  The methods used by security forces in both countries have been similar to some extent.  Due to the different dynamics involved, there have been differences as well.

                With the rapid escalation of violence in Northern Ireland in the beginning of 1970s, the British army was deployed to restore order in Northern Ireland.  This led to a bloody confrontation with the provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) which was the militant wing of Sinn Fein and which advocated for use of violence by Catholic republicans in pursuing their objectives.  The British government responded with a massive suppression campaign deploying 12,000 troops to crush the militant group in March 1972 (Ripley, Chappell 1993).  The strategy was successful in stopping open violent conflict.  The nature of the war then changed with PIRA adopting bombing campaign, assassination of off duty policemen and extortion of protection fees.  The British government consequently adopted a strategy of gathering intelligence and placing the war in the hands of the police.  The regular units of the British army were significantly withdrawn and are engaged only in specialized operations.

                Israel’s security forces exploits in anti-terrorism activities are legendary.  Israel has learned that terrorism is stubborn and unconventional warfare that requires dynamism in combating it. (Tucker, 2003).  Israel’s strategy of fighting terrorism is based on disrupting the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and West Bank by gathering intelligence, destroying safe houses, bomb factories and arresting leaders.  The main aim is to prevent Palestinian terrorists from accessing Israel.  The Israeli security forces prefer to conduct pre-emptive strikes.  Operations of this nature are normally conducted by specialized commando units of the Israeli Defense Forces.  Controversial measures adopted by Israel in countering terrorism include targeted assassinations of suspected leaders and the construction of a security wall to partition Israel from Palestinian territories.

    The U.S-Canada Border and Terrorist Threat to Canada

                The US-Canadian border officially known as the international border is at times referred to as the longest undefended border in the world.  This is because the border is patrolled by law enforcement agencies and not the military.  The contrast is quite clear when compared to the southern US-Mexico border which is heavily patrolled despite it being only a third of the northern border.  It is the longest border in the word totaling at about 5,525 miles long. Large sections of the international border are covered in forested mountainous terrain.  The border has sections that pass through rural open farmlands and maritime surfaces as well.

                After the September 11 2001 bombing, there was an increase in surveillance and patrols along the border.  There is cooperation between US and Canada in border patrol tasks. Persons living adjacent to the border are required to report any border crossing they build.  In remote areas motion sensors have been installed to monitor illegal entry. All people who wish to cross the border are required to pass through a customs post.

                United States congressional investigators consider the northern border to be porous and incapable of stopping any terrorist who wishes to cross it (Bohn 2007).  The number of United States border patrol on the northern border is 972 compared to 12000 on the southern border.  Though Canada has not traditionally been a terrorist target, there is increasing risk of a terrorist attack.  Al Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden has classified Canada as a target because of Canadian involvement in war against terror in Afghanistan. (CSIS, 2008).  Furthermore Individuals who have graduated from terrorist camps in Afghanistan seek residence in Canada and pose a security threat.  Reconnaissance and pre operational planning of attacks have also been done in Canada with the aid of some Canadians.  Lesser threats come from environmental activists and white supremacist groups.

    UN Security Council Resolution 1337

                In the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United states, the United Nations security council adopted a resolution 1373 on September 28, 2001. The resolution was aimed at countering terrorism in the world. The resolution was adopted unanimously and is therefore binding to all members of the United Nations.  The United Nations Security Council imposed the resolution on all members in a clear shift from previous practice in international law.

                The resolution’s objectives are to put in place measures against movement, organization and financial support of terrorist groups and activities.  The resolution calls for sharing of intelligence information among member states so as to aid in stopping international terrorism.  Member’s states are required to ratify all international conventions on terrorism by making appropriate adjustments to their national laws.  All member states are also required to criminalize any acts of terrorism.  Immigration and asylum laws are to be tightened not to allow any individual who engages in terror to be sheltered.  The resolution in addition urges members to comply with necessary extradition requests.

                In the history of terrorism, there seems in the recent past to be a shift in trend from terrorism aimed at ideological objectives or secular terrorism to terrorism motivated by religious agenda of Holy terror (Morehead 2008).  Religiously motivated terror groups view their acts as divine duty to a deity.  Religions terrorists act for themselves and take credit for their acts.  Secular terrorists on the other hand are driven by a motive to influence a certain constituency of people or government.  They seek to achieve control over policymaking decisions of a state or organization.  Religious terrorists are more lethal because of their affiliation to causes that are in their eyes beyond human.  Many radical Islamist terrorist groups indoctrinate their followers with Jihadist teachings.  The United States is threatened more by such groups like Al Qaeda because their followers are willing to die for their cause.

    References

    CNN (1996) Source: Persian Gulf Wealth Backing Terrorists
    Retrieved on 24th October 2008 from
    http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9608/14/terrorism.funding/index.html

    Amy, Z. (2008) Iran and Terrorism – State Sponsored Terrorism in Iran
    Retrieved on 24th October 2008 from
    http://terrorism.about.com/od/iran/p/Iran2.htm

    Swarns, R. L. (2002) Zimbabwe Starts Arresting White Farmers Defying       Eviction
    Retrieved on 24th October 2008 from
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9906E1DA153DF934A2575BC0           A9649C8B63

     Chokshi, M. Carter C. Gupta D. Martin T. Allen R. (1995) The History of Apartheid in South Africa

                Retrieved on 24th October 2008 from
    http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~cale/cs201/index.html
    Jones, A. (2002). Case Study: Kashmir / Punjab / the Delhi Massacre (1984)
    Retrieved on 24th October 2008 from
    http://www.gendercide.org/case_kashmir_punjab.html

    Chlopak, E. (2001) China’s Crackdown on Falun Gong

                Retrieved on 24th October 2008 from
    http://www.wcl.american.edu/hrbrief/09/1china.cfm

    Reyes, A. (2007) Low Intensity War in Chiapas: State and Paramilitary         Terrorism

                Retrieved on 24th October 2008 from
    http://www.colectivocasa.org/en/story/news/low-intensity-war-chiapas-state-and-            paramilitary-terrorism

    Tucker, J. B. (2003) Strategies for Countering Terrorism: Lessons from the Israeli    Experience

                Retrieved on 24th October 2008 from
    http://www.homelandsecurity.org/journal/Articles/tucker-israel.html

    Ripley, T.  Chappell, M. (1993) Security Forces in Northern Ireland 1969-92 Osprey Publishing,

    Bohn, K. (2007) Security on U.S.-Canada Border Fails Terror Test

          Retrieved on 24th October 2008 from
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/09/27/border.security/index.html

    Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) (2008) Examples of the Terrorist Threat          to Canada
    Retrieved on 24th October 2008 from
    http://www.csis-scrs.gc.ca/prrts/trrrsm/xmpls-eng.asp

    Morehead, J. W. (2001) Religious Terrorism Apocalypse Now: Armageddon Enters the New Age of Terrorism
    Retrieved on 24th October 2008 from
    http://www.apologeticsindex.org/t22.html

     

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