Waving, not Drowning: Strategic Dimensions of Ceasefires and Islamic Movements

Alastair Crooke & Beverley Milton-Edwards

Security Dialogue, September, 2004

In the arena of ethno-national conflict, the adoption of a ceasefire is regarded as a key trigger for allowing the development of subsequent political initiatives in peacemaking. Armed elements within Islamism, however, are often understood as ruling out ceasefire and promoting a counter-agenda of armed struggle without compromise. Thus, in Israel and in the international community, most regarded the Hamas and Islamic Jihad ceasefire (hudna) of June 2003 with suspicion. Yet, in this respect, there was a failure to recognize that Islamists were waving, not drowning, with respect to signalling a new attitude towards the political process that animates Palestinian–Israeli encounters. This article seeks to analyse the contradiction inherent in current demands on contemporary Islamists and the part that they can play in reaching the strategic goal of peace and security. Principally, the concept of ceasefire and Islamist discourse on contemporary security issues will be examined in order to illustrate the relevance of these issues to wider dimensions of regional and global security debates.

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